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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Walking Away From Empire

The financial news from Europe is worse every day.  Now (11/23/11) the most stable country in Euro-Land..., Germany, has no buyers for its bonds.  Maybe the Federal Reserve will save the world (again) and Bail Out Germany and the rest of the world’s banks and bond holders..., like they clandestinely did in 2008.  The Fed doesn’t have to buy American T-bonds with QE-2 anymore..., everyone is buying them up now.  Lots of money left to buy Euro-Bonds.  QE-3..., if they  don’t get caught.

I know one guy who hopes they don’t get away with it..., or hopes it fails..., if they do. He hopes the whole shebang comes falling down like the famous bridge in the children’s rhyme. He hopes..., or knows..., that the whole industrial economy of this fragile planet needs to come to a screeching halt in short order. The sooner the better for this Spaceship Earth that we call “ours”. It’s our only hope. He says that if we keep burning the fossil fuels that sustain our industrial economy at the present rate..., let alone at the rate at which it would take to “grow” the current economy enough too “rescue” us from fiscal and monetary collapse..., it would fuel world climate change and global warming to the extent of total extinction of most living species...., including our own.

Some nut-case doomer..., this guy..., you ask? No..., this guy..., is Guy R. McPherson. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Blog Enhancements...,

or at least that is the intention.  We got two inches of rain yesterday..., so I spent a lot of time at the computer.  I finally mastered..., OK..., figured out..., how to insert hyperlinks into the body of a story..., sometimes.  Lots of frustration at times..., but I think it really is an enhancement.  For those of you..., like my brother Larry..., who is a heck of an equipment operator..., but not so much of a computer operator..., a hyperlink takes you to another web site that relates to the statement highlighted.  Like the phase "my brother Larry" is highlighted and if you hover the mouse over it and click on it..., it takes you to a picture of Larry on my Facebook site.  Hit the "back" button and it takes you back to the blog.  Anyway..., I have updated several of the stories I've posted with these hyperlinks..., like links to pictures of the people I profiled in The April Birthday's Party story.  Let me know if you like it or not.  I primarily wanted to link to the Clearwater Log Drive story by Charlie and Sandra McCollister that I mentioned in Shipping Our Jobs Overseas story..., and the idea sort of took over !!!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Shipping Our Jobs Overseas

My dear, sweet Aunt Ethel sent me some old family photographs recently.  Of primary interest to me were the ones of my Granddad and his team of logging horses.  The photos date from some time in the 1930’s and they are a reminder of an era long gone.  There are few…, if any…, occupations in life that I could imagine as being more satisfying than working beside and behind horses all day and attending to their care and feeding in the evening after a hard and productive day’s work.  But I will never know that satisfaction…, because, “those jobs have been shipped overseas”.  Whoops…, excuse me…, it seems that I have read and heard that phrase so many times that it just pops out on its own.  And the image of Granddad sending his horses over to China so some low wage coolies could cut the timber and drive the team and save him a little money compared to a high paid American worker and lower his tax base as well, that is precisely the image a lot of folks want you to believe in. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

You Just Don't Get It..., Unless...,

..., you read David Michael Green.  Here's a link to the full story..., well worth the read.  I quoted a few snippets from the piece to lure you into clicking on the link.

All the Bad News Fit to Print

Sometimes, when certain species (you know who you are) are too utterly daft to recognize the obvious, the Universe sees fit to scream it out in the form of big, bold block letters.
Let me make it simple, in case anyone wants to share this essay with their idiotic, Republican (pardon the redundancy) cousin Buford: The story of American politics over the last generation is the story of the transfer of wealth from the people to the plutocrats. If you think there is anything else essential going on here, you don’t get it.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Windmills On My Mind

Windmills windmills windmills by Sam Beebe / Ecotrust

I didn't take my camera..., and I would need many hundreds of photos to show the number of windmills we saw on the trip.

My brother Larry and I were on our way in his car to Newport, OR for the wedding of his son Bert.  Larry and I only see each other once a year at best, now that our parents are gone..., so the trip was a good excuse to spend some time together.  I flew from Forks, WA to Lewiston, ID and Larry met me there.  I saw some windmills from the plane..., and we were a few miles west of Pomeroy, WA when the giant sentinels began appearing.  Larry..., as always..., knew a bit about them and filled me in on what he knew.  We talked about them and marveled at what a huge undertaking the project must have been.  We had worked together on a big Bonneville Power line job back in the 80’s when we were partners in Spence Brothers Logging, so we weren’t just idling speculating.  Those big windmills  were impressive and intimidating..., but they did nothing to prepare us for the immensity of the scene in the Columbia River Gorge.  Hundreds upon hundreds of windmills..., mile after mile after mile of them. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

George Lawrence Saddle Collection

UPDATE - 5/18l11  I added a link to a youtube video about the George Lawrence Company at the bottom of the post.

Nice day yesterday..., don't anyone tell Julie that I was working on saddles..., and The Blog..., instead of doing my chores !!!  You can click on these thumbnail photos and view them in a larger format.

Just don't understand WHY those horses would turn thier backs on these fine George Lawrence saddles?

From left to right..., newest to the oldest by age.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

"Sing the Truth..., Scream it Loud"

wrote about Tom Russell and attending a performance here on this Blog and on The Agonist a while back. At that performance I picked up one of Tom's CD's called "Hotwalker" I am not capable of explaining what it really is..., certainly not a purely musical CD. But when I heard this song "Woodrow" (an ode to Woody Guthrie) out in The Saddle Bar(n) for the first time...,I knew it was something special..., very special.  If I had heard it before the performance at The Tree House I guarantee you that I would have put on a performance of my own..., in insisting that he do "Woodrow".  But it was far too late for that..., and as I played it over and over out in The Saddle Bar(n) I wanted so bad to share it with others. I began to contemplate putting together a video of the song..., but I could never have made anything of the caliber that is demonstrated on this You-Tube video by "paganmaestro". The opening may be a bit disconcerting due to the nature of "Hotwalker"..., read the description of the album on You-Tube for a little insight and/or read Thom Jurek's review of the album here

But whatever you do..., hang in there and give this song a listen.

I would not recommend "Hotwalker" as an introduction to Tom Russell's music..., but it certainly shows another side to Tom and his talents.  So..., that said..., here's another video clip from "paganmaestro" of a song of Tom's that was written back in 1988 that still resonates strongly today.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The April Birthday's Party

We’re calling this one the 30th Anniversary…, but we really aren’t sure.  There was much discussion, debate, and even a fair bit of delusion bantered about before the 25th Anniversary was declared five years ago.  And to this day Dave and I don’t have enough fingers to count back on and figure out just what year we might have thrown in together and started buying a keg of beer and asking a few friends to join us in a celebration of our birthdays, which are just three days…,  and one year apart.  He’s the old fart…, just needed to make that clear.  He’s turning 60 on the 16th of April this year and he feels it’s about time to “retire” from this particular party scene.  And since this Pugilist will be 59 three days behind Dave …, I am backing him up and throwing in the towel too.  Yeah..., that old rock and roll has declared victory in the fight for my soul, it’s time to put down the gloves, live on love, and retire in my prime..., before I am counted out and can’t get up off the mat anymore.  With a very special hat tip to Tom Russell.
In the interest of full disclosure, the seeds of this function were sown in about 1975.  I got my name in the paper for things that didn’t exactly make my parents proud..., OK..., not at all proud.  Thanks to my Dad and brother Larry and the Bail Out Funds they provided..., I wasn’t in jail.  I had a new girlfriend from Lewiston and she hadn’t meet a lot of my Weippe friends yet, so I thought that throwing a birthday party for myself at a friends house would be a good idea.  I miscalculated a little..., and failed to send an engraved invitation to the Clearwater County cops.  They were a bit insulted by that I guess.  It’s not like I sent out invitations, it was all word of mouth..., and they got the word alright.  So I am not sure just what their problem was..., but they definitely had one.  They stopped several car loads of prospective attendees and informed them that the party had been cancelled.  Luckily for those folks, there were laws back in those days against unreasonable search and seizure..., that were respected and observed by even the most zealous of cops and courts.  But it did scare the celebratory intentions right out of a lot of people.  Including yours truly.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Tom Russell

The Show was over and Julie and I stepped outside the Treehouse Café for a smoke in the cool, crisp air of the Olympic Peninsula while we waited for the crowd to thin out. Tom Russell had put on a performance that was everything we had anticipated…, and more. Back inside, there I was with five of Tom’s CD’s in hand, standing in what was then a short line, to get them autographed by him…, and wondering what I should say…, besides, “Thank you,”?

It had been about a year since I had “discovered” Tom’s extraordinary songwriting and musical abilities. I had read a piece of his writing, posted on The Agonist Blog, which was linked from Tom’s own “Notes From the Borderland” blog. Intrigued by that piece, I began to read his other posts on his blog. They went back in time a bit, and many of them were about the songs from his newly released CD, “Blood and Candle Smoke”. I don’t buy…, or even listen to…, any “new” music these days. The old chain saw, rock concert, barroom boogie days have left these old ears of mine ravaged to a degree that if I don’t already know the words to a song, I can barely discern them. But based on Tom’s writing I decided to take a chance and bought “Blood and Candle Smoke” and “Veteran’s Day – The Tom Russell Anthology”. It had been almost 20 years since a new artist’s work had graced my collection. I wish I could say that it was worth the wait…, but what I really wish…, is that I had discovered Tom 40 years and 25 albums ago.

Here Are Some Links to Tom Russell

Here's a professional review of "Blood and Candle Smoke"

Tom's website with concert schedule

Tom's Blog

Tom's Myspace page

Tom's Facebook page

Jack S. Smith (Part 2 of 2)

                                    Born on July 13, 1952 and passed away on July 26, 2008

I moved to Forks, WA in 1987, not long after Shotgun broke up.  It wasn’t meant to be a permanent move on my part, but it turned out that way.  Jackson had a couple of different bands after that and I got to catch their act a time or two when I was visiting family back in Idaho.  He had taken one of the bands on the road…, and even played the opening act for Molly Hatchet somewhere.  For a few years he and Linda ran the Greer Café and Tavern.  It was a historic old roadhouse on a little railroad siding along the middle fork of the Clearwater River.  Upstream about seven miles from Orofino, just at the base of the mountain highway that leads to Weippe and Pierce.  I heard tell of some of the kick ass parties that took place there…, but only made one of them myself.  On one of those trips to Idaho Jackson gave me a tape he had recorded on a four track machine like Springsteen used to record his Nebraska album.  It was mostly just song fragments that hadn’t been fully developed yet and a few cover songs with the band at the time.  Back in Forks I wrote him a letter filled with as much praise and encouragement as I thought I could get away with and not come off like I was being phony about it.  As the years rolled along, the trips to Idaho became fewer and farther between.  Logging in Alaska for a few years, then a serious career change that didn’t allow me to build up the necessary vacation leave time for several more years didn’t help.  Plus, Julie and I were busy clearing the brush, drilling a well, putting in a septic system, running power and water lines, building sheds and fences on the property that would come to be The Ranch.  Somewhere in the middle of that hectic time we made it over to Idaho again and Jackson gave me another tape, along with the refrain that it was the only one of its kind and please don’t lose or abuse it.  The tape deck in the little blue Toyota had long ago given up on us, so we couldn’t listen to the tape right away.  And with all we had going on back in Forks, the tape got put up somewhere…, unlistened to.

Then I got the call in 2008 from a friend in Idaho saying that Jackson’s condition was indeed, terminal.  As we made ready to go to Idaho for the April Birthday Party and the Benefit Auction, I made a frantic search for that tape.  Julie’s daughter, Jamie still lived in our trailer house in town and she had boxed up all of our stuff there and “stored” it in closets, bedrooms, and the garage for us.  We hadn’t needed a lot of stuff in the camp trailer we were living in while we were waiting for a house to materialize on The Ranch.  I made as concerted an effort as I could to track down the tape, but couldn’t possibly go through every box that Jamie had packed for us.  I was pretty damn disappointed in myself.  So much so that I couldn’t tell Jackson that I knew it was packed away somewhere.  I didn’t mention it…, and neither did he. 

The Benefit Auction was held at the old Weippe Community Hall.  Though Jackson was from Pierce, he had played as much…, probably more…, music in Weippe.   He probably played his first real, paying gig there at the old Community Hall.  I know it was the first place me and most of my friends ever heard him play.  After I had figuratively wrestled that old George Lawrence saddle away from Jim Jensen…, we got to see Jackson get up on that old stage once again and hear him play a few songs that day.  I don’t know how he did it…, barely able to breathe…,  with an oxygen tank strapped at his side.  I take that back…, I do know how he did it.  Sheer fucking determination and will power.  After all…, I was the one who had to walk up behind him on the gridiron, put my hands under his butt, looked at some beast in front of me that was virtually slobbering to get his hands anywhere on me, a beast that out-weighed Jackson by 30 or 40 pounds at least…, and I didn’t worry about it.  But there were a whole lot of people worried about Jackson that day in Weippe.  A whole lot of people that wanted to give back to him just a little of what he had given to them over the years through his music and his friendship.  From a couple of tiny timber and farming communities, both suffering along with the rest of the nation, an economic collapse that was being compared to the Great Depression…, the generosity was nothing short of amazing, phenomenal…, unbelievable.  I have been to a lot of those things and I have never seen anything like it.  Right at $20,000 raised…, for a few songs.  Even Browne and Springsteen don’t rate that kind of pay scale.  Three months later Jackson was gone.  I couldn’t make it back to Idaho for the “services”.  At his request, his ashes were scattered on the North Fork of the Clearwater River.  A touch that he didn’t request…, but seems as fitting a tribute as could be imagined…, an acoustic guitar was set adrift in that River.  The ceremony was well attended and I deeply regret having to miss it.  Oh man…, yeah.

A few months back, Julie and I sold the trailer house in Forks…, so we finally had to haul a lot of stuff out to The Ranch.  A lot of it got stacked in The Saddle Bar(n).  A couple of weeks ago I was out there sippin’ an ice cold Hamm’s, when the tuner went out in the old Heathkit stereo receiver.  I can’t go without music…, so I scrounged around and found an old tape deck that had belonged to Jamie…, and hoping that it would work, I hooked it up to the old amp.  I started scrounging around looking for some old tapes and found an old Marshall Tucker that I had recorded.  You’ll hear “Can’t You See” every once in a while on classic rock FM stations…, but it had been a long time since I heard, “A New Life”, or “Take the Highway”, or “Fire on the Mountain”.  I was thinking about all the memories music can dredge up…, sorting through boxes of junk that I was wondering why I kept.  Then, there it was amid a clutter of old photographs…, SmithSongs - A Life’s Work / Volume 2 / Copy 1.  Oh man…, oh man.  I put that tape on and let “Jackson” feel my butt for a change.  I cranked the volume up, sat in that old George Lawrence saddle and listened.

90 minutes worth.  Mostly new material.  Jackson had fleshed out several of the song fragments he had done on the first tape he gave me.  I kept waiting to hear the cover songs that I was expecting…, but they never materialized.  The tape wasn’t any half-hearted, fooling around, let’s have some fun, effort.  Every cut was an original that he had written himself and I would guess that most of the music was performed by only him…, laying down each track and mixing them together later.  Though he could have had other musicians set in and he did have a female back up on a couple of cuts, I believe it’s about as close to pure Jackson as you could get.  There were only a couple of the old songs that I knew from the Shotgun era.  Back in those days most of the originals were geared toward a barroom boogie, get ‘um up and dancing genre.  There are a few blistering rockers on this tape…, but mostly it is just Jackson and his acoustic guitar…, and he does know how to make it talk.  Jackson had continued to get better and better as all those years rolled by.  Most of the songs are the singer-songwriter stuff that I am partial too…, Buffett, Browne, Cougar, Crouse, Sam Neely, Tom Russell.  Evidently Jackson wasn’t nearly as competent as a technician as he was as a musician.  The recording level is a bit too low and you can hardly make out one cut at all.  But the material…, some of it…, is awesome.  I hadn’t really heard Jackson on an acoustic guitar much…, but there is plenty of that on this tape.  I couldn’t help but shake my head in wonder as a chill ran up my spine when I heard, “Wannabe Cowboy”.  Sittin’ in that old saddle I was thinking…, oh man…, why…, hadn’t I taken the time to listen to that tape before…, when I could have told Jackson how great it was?  I have often said that I may not be proud of some of the things I have done in my life…, but I don't regret doing them.  What I regret…, are the things I didn't do.  And until my dying day I will regret not listening to that tape and telling Jackson how great it is.  But I will tell him some day.  Whatever road he has taken, or trail he has blazed on ahead…, I’ll track him down.  If I have to be good to get there…, I’ll be a damn saint.  If I have to raise a little hell to get there…, I’ll raise holy hell.  Whatever it takes…, oh man…, yeah.  And I was thinking that when I get there we’ll have the time to take another long ride of one kind or another…,  whether it is in that old Camero, or the old Land Cruiser, or in a couple of old George Lawrence saddles…, and we'll have time to talk again.  And I'll apologize…, and he'll laugh it off…, I hope.  Then I heard this cut from the tape…, my jaw just dropped…, and some other things started to fall.  Oh man…, oh man.  As another Jackson once said, “Here come those tears again…”