Sunday, June 19, 2011

3 facts about me today 6/19/11

1. I'm fresh from one of the most relaxing (and rewarding) mini-vacations ever, which is strange. I've never imagined myself as Desert Folk. In fact, as someone who has watched horror movies for the better part of his life, Desert Folk scare me only slightly less than Mountain Folk and Swamp Folk on the grand scale of creepy desolate weirdos. They live in the closest thing to a wasteland I can think of, with only rattlesnakes and coyotes (2 syllables) for company. The cultural norms and and legal standards of the nation seemingly vanish with the water vapor, replaced with the mysterious, unwritten code of DESERT LAW. DESERT LAW, it seems, is a lot like the law of the jungle, but with allowances for things like crystal meth and the living mummies that inhabit Palm Springs.
   But weirdly enough, we had a great time out there. Not that I could live there permanently, but there's something refreshing about being out there, with pure spring water coming out of the taps and the massive San Gorgonio Wind Farm. The wind farm is one of the saving graces of the trip. Instead of seeing nothing but brush and corpses for miles, the different sizes, shapes, and speeds of wind turbine provide an almost hypnotic landscape I can only compare to an ocean. Also, it gets so hot there this time of year that everyone just kinda siestas in the afternoons, which I'm clearly a fan of. In all, Desert Folk ain't so bad (some of 'em, anyway), and there are surprising advantage to living out there. I'd describe the trip in greater detail, but it was a) a personal vacation, and b) it would ruin a lot of my next pic dump. But keep an eye out.

2. Once again, my hair is getting embarrassingly long. Right now my 2 options are to comb it super-tight with product for work or to slap on a baseball hat. Part of me wants to grow it out a little (not mullet length, but floppy), but then I remember that in 2 months, it's gonna be too hot to think around here so maybe I'll just chop it. Stay tuned!

3. Clarence Clemons died last night, and while I'm certainly not the only one thinking about this on Father's Day (see Will's similar thoughts here), it's a loss. I've written enough about my father and I's shared love of Springsteen here, so I don't want to bore you with that. Clearly, the band will never be the same. The Big Man was an essential piece of the E Street Band and, like Danny Federici, he is irreplaceable. Sadly, those two were also the most unique pieces of the band, and among the most identifiable musicians I can think of, but so different. Danny's accordion (particularly on "Wild Billy's Circus Story") and organ are ornamentation that fills in the empty spots of the records, painting the rest of the picture. Clarence's sax, on the other hand, just grabs the reins of the song and takes off. Late last night I was listening to one of my favorite recordings of all time, with the guys in Bryn Mawr, PA playing at the Main Point in 1975. It's a super early concert by band standards, and there's plenty of things still being worked out onstage (including the prototype for what later became "Thunder Road"). It's an amazing show, but at some point during "Rosalita" that night, Clarence not only took over the song, but he sent it careening in an entirely new direction, forgetting Bruce's please for love and instead strapping it into a roller coaster. the jaunt resolves itself a few minutes later when Clarence and Bruce start tapping out a call-and-response with sax and guitar, and things right themselves cosmically. It's a thing of beauty.

Go ahead, give it a listen.

There's a great old story about David Sanborn when he was the hottest of the hot shit studio horn men, he was asked by some producer or artist if he could play a song more like Clarence. He thought for a minute, and replied that yes, he could, but in order to do so, the lights in the studio would have to be turned way down, in order to provide mood. They accommodated this wish, and started again, but Sanborn stopped them again, and asked that the lights be turned down even more. They did this, and then a third time Sanborn asked for the lights to be turned down yet again. They did this and started the track once more. They played the song through but when the sax parts came up, there was nothing from silence coming form the darkened booth. When they stopped the track and turned up the lights to see what had happened, Sanborn was gone.

Sure, the veracity of this story is highly suspect, and I'm sure that even if it was true, nobody's gonna admit it. But it's a fitting story to this man, who was introduced in a fantastic way every time he took the stage with Springsteen. He was larger than life in a lot of ways, and while I can't replicate most of Bruce's stories, I can at least repeat one I heard secondhand.

Happy Father's Day to every great dad out there. If I could, I'd send each of you a ridiculous tie and a warm handshake. Keep doing what you're doing.

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