Friday, January 30, 2009

Surf's Up

Groundhog day is quickly approaching. Its a very significant day, February 2 is. Not only is it the birthday of yours truly, but it has great historical significance as well. On that early morning in 1959, a plane crashed in Mason City, IA. All four passengers aboard were killed. Among the dead were Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson. They had just finished a concert hours earlier at a place called the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, just outside of Mason City.

I've been fortunate to have played the Surf. A couple of times, actually (most recently on a double bill with my boss, Lonnie Brooks, and Delbert McClinton). Now, I've got to say, I'm not easily intimidated, but the spirit of those guys and what they did is strong and very much alive. Walking into the Surf is kind of like walking into an old European cathedral. You can feel the spirits tickling the tips of the goosebumps on your arms. The hair on the back of your neck stands up a little, and you just know that its an important and magical place. I've gotten that feeling before in some other places. Sun studios in Memphis and Hitsville, USA (Motown) in Detroit are the most notable for me. Temples, all of them.

The main stage in the ballroom is large. Huge even. It is situated at one end of the room, with a dance floor extending from the front of the stage to the back of the room. There is a big, pro sound and light system, and a crew that really knows what's goin' on. Good people to work with, for sure. There are several dozen booths on the stage right side of the room, and they are arranged in tiers, so that everyone can see the show if they don't feel like dancing. Ultimately, the Surf has been maintained in its original style and decor as an actual ballroom, down to the phone and phone booth that Buddy Holly used right before the flight. The wood flooring is original. The ceiling is painted to look like the sky, and they even have the original "cloud machine" in working order. Capacity is in excess of 2000, so it can fit a lot of people.

Its now the 50th anniversary of the "day the music died", and the Surf is alive and well. Though the days of the sock hop are mainly long gone, there are still all sorts of acts that come through Clear Lake, mostly national touring acts. On this anniversary, the show that will be presented is called "50 Winters Later" and will feature many groups, including Los Lobos, Graham Nash, Big Bopper Jr., and the Crickets. This humble scribe will not be there in person, unfortunately, for the event. Hopefully, though, I'll get to perform at the Surf again, feel the goosebumps from the spirits, and let it loose like those before me have done.

So it goes...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

the electoral college and middle east progress

It is very refreshing to see that President Obama has taken on the Middle East "issue" (which consists of several issues, actually) with such vigor and conviction.

I was reading an article by Roger Cohen, a New York Times opinion writer, and he had written a very good article about the ramifications of Obama's interview with the Al Arabiya news network based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and what it means in terms of U.S. interests. Essentially, the President has stated that the ways of the old Bush regime are over and that America is going to reclaim its position as a respected nation that can be followed as an example.

Doesn't that sound nice. Nice words. Nice rhetoric. Just. Very. Nice.

We've heard a lot of idealism from Obama and his team. A lot of talk. A lot of words. A lot of rhetoric.

In fact, it seems we've been hearing it constantly. From the early primary campaigns to the general election in November. That was the platform. The idea of change. The President was very meticulous in his approach and tactics, and that is what won him the presidency in the end.

Many people say that he really didn't win by a landslide, as the talking heads in the media generally espouse. He received 52% to McCain's 46%. Not so large. However, he trounced in the Electoral College with 365 votes (only need 270). So even though the country remained, and remains, deeply divided, his planning and his clear vision on what it was going to take to win landed him the election quite handily.

So what does this have to do with the Middle East and terrorism and Islamofascism and all that jazz? Plenty, I'd say.

Cohen sums it up very well, at the beginning of his article, when he says that the war on terror is over, and that what we are really up against are terrorist organizations. It’s not about who's the good guy in the white hat (probably living in Crawford, Texas at this point), and the bad guy in the black turban anymore. That's way too simple of a notion. It always was. It will take talking and listening and negotiating and making mistakes and solving problems. It will take time. It will take perseverance. It will take meticulous planning, much like figuring out how to get the 270 votes in the midst of great ideological division. His strategy in terms of seeing the prize and then getting it has paid off greatly. It is this type of focus that will spark real progress and change in the Arab world.

So it goes...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

this is all we do

i've just jumped into the online lifestyle head on and full force this week. it appears that i've plugged myself into many of the various social networks that are available to all, the ones that i've been trying desperately to avoid. after all, i still use a turntable. in just a few short days of actively "travelling" the net (as opposed to surfing the net, right?), i've realized that this is all we do. we're online, tweeting and texting and youtubing and blogging and...

thanks for getting this far. i'll be getting all of the eye candy for the site in short order, so don't you worry. this is what we do, and so i'll be providing the social commentary for it all.

so it goes...