South Austin Moonlighters – 29 Miles

South Austin Moonlighters – 29 Miles

Just heard this song from the South Austin Moonlighters on a local radio station this morning and really loved it. It was a great way to start the week. The performance took place at Austin’s legendary Threadgill’s in September of 2013. The band is comprised of Lonnie Trevino Jr, Phil Hurley, and Josh Zee of The Mother Truckers as well as Phil Bass. Enjoy . . ....

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U2 – Christmas – Baby Please Come Home

U2 – Christmas – Baby Please Come Home

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) is my all time favorite Christmas song. It was originally recorded by Darlene Love in 1963. It’s now become an annual tradition – she appears each Christmas season on Letterman and performs it. Here’s her first appearance in 1986. And here she is in 2013. It was U2’s 1987 cover that I first connected with, however. I like Darlene Love’s performances – and her vocals are amazing – but there’s something joyful, something triumphant about her renditions. You know her baby is going to come home, or if he isn’t she’s strong enough to manage without him. Plus she’s got an entire orchestral community as an emotional support system in case things don’t work out. It’s just hard to imagine her crying herself to sleep. The U2 version is much different. Sure, the boys have fun with the song, but there’s something much more plaintive in Bono’s vocals. You know he’s not going to get the girl, even though he’s desperate to have her. And it’s the one time of the year that it really matters. You can hear the longing and the heartbreak in his voice. He had a taste of what he wants more than anything else in the world (last year), but that’s all he’s going to get. There’s no return to innocence, no re-creating or re-experiencing the magic. It’s all just nostalgia and pain. Damn – no wonder I love this version so much . . . U2 Performing Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)...

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Robert Earl Keen – Merry Christmas from the Family

Robert Earl Keen – Merry Christmas from the Family

Here’s one that’s always fun to listen to. Robert Earl Keen’s “Merry Christmas from the Family” has become a modern Christmas classic. What’s Christmas without a little family dysfunction? Or a lot? My favorite line: “Fred and Rita drove from Harlingen/I can’t remember how I’m kin to them.” Enjoy!   Merry Christmas from the Family!     Official Robert Earl Keen...

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Otis Redding – Merry Christmas Baby

Otis Redding – Merry Christmas Baby

The first time I saw Otis Redding was at the Monterey Pop Festival – well, the video of it anyway. He held nothing back at Monterey, from the high energy “Shake!” to his cover of the Stones’ “Satisfaction” to his soulful, electrifying performance of “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long.” But in the spirit of Christmas, I’m posting a different Otis Redding song – his famous version of “Merry Christmas Baby.” Enjoy!  ...

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Baseball’s Lost Ballparks

Baseball’s Lost Ballparks

In this post, I’ve compiled a number of short videos honoring some of Major League Baseball’s old time stadiums and ballparks. There’s a definite mythology to baseball that’s unique in the sports world. Whereas most sports are thinly veiled re-enactments of war or the sex act (i.e. the coordinated and merciless spermatozoan assault on the egg in the form of a goal, an end zone, or a basket), baseball’s attraction is more philosophical and spiritual. Unlike the other sports, the objective in baseball is not to break through your enemy’s defenses and humiliate them by thrusting yourself into their territory. It’s to return from whence you started – home. Baseball lends itself to poetry and nostalgia in a way that other sports cannot. And lest I wax too nostalgic myself, it’s not all idealism and purity. There are ugly aspects to the game as well – the ban on black players until 1947, the psychopathy of Ty Cobb, the politics involved in keeping Pete Rose out of the Hall of Fame, and above all, the over commercialization which has homogenized the game into practical irrelevancy. It’s little wonder that baseball’s nostalgia extends to the old parks where the game was once played – Ebbets Field, the Polo Grounds, Old Comiskey, Forbes Field, and now the old Yankee Stadium. The only uniformity in these parks were that the bases were 90 feet apart. What follows are a collection of short videos honoring and chronicling some of baseball’s great (and not so great) old time ballparks. Videos of Baseball’s Old Time Parks     Crosley Field   The Polo Grounds   Griffith Stadium   Yankee Stadium         Cleveland Municipal Stadium   Shibe...

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Spider Man vs. Batman

Spider Man vs. Batman

OK – I don’t know if this video from the Sean Ward Show Youtube video channel will stand the test of time exactly. I found it equal parts hilarious and stupid. It’s a superhero spoof that features a “battle” between Spider Man and Batman that sprawls across Toronto on a summer night in July of 2012. The initial conflict centers around the pair’s competing movies but quickly escalates – devolves is probably a better description – into a general rivalry on principle. What I enjoyed the most is how lame these guys are. Not only are they ridiculously ineffective superheroes – Spider Man, in his red Converse hi-tops, clearly needs to drop at least 30 pounds, and it’s hard not to laugh at Batman’s lack of mobility in his suit and struggles with his cape – but both “superheroes” are petulant and insecure. The video reminds of that quote from the French novelist, Colette: “You will do foolish things, but do them with...

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KL Tower Jump – What Are We Not Capable Of?

KL Tower Jump – What Are We Not Capable Of?

The Kuala Lumpur Tower is a nearly 1400 foot (421 meters) building in Malaysia. It’s been the site of the KL Tower International Jump for the last two years (October) where more than 100 base jumpers hurl themselves off the tower and parachute (hopefully) to safety. The video below is footage shot and compiled by Scotty Rogers and Andy Lewis of the MrSlackline YouTube channel. Some pretty amazing stuff – and I was particularly struck by Rogers’ commentary at the very end of the video regarding human potential.     Update – KL Tower Jump Footage   Here’s a second video from the same jump with some incredible footage. Enjoy!...

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Tracy Nelson – Down So Low

Tracy Nelson – Down So Low

My good friend Dillon turned me on to this song. Actually, I wasn’t even familiar with Tracy Nelson to begin with, so he turned me on to her as well. Nelson, who has continued with a solo career, formed the blues-rock band Mother Earth in San Francisco in 1968. They’re remembered most for Nelson’s signature classic, Down So Low. It’s been covered by a number of artists over the years, most famously by Linda Ronstadt in the mid ’70s. The Etta James version is pretty cool as well. And more recently, Cyndi Lauper did a good cover of it, too. In this 1987 live performance in conjunction with the Kentucky Center of the Arts‘ Lonesome Pines Specials late ’80s/early ’90s concert series, Nelson delivers a stirring rendition of the song. It begins plaintive and ends – in defiance of the title – quite buoyant. Her vocals are amazing. Tracy Nelson Performing “Down So Low” – Lonesome Pines Special (1987 )       Tracy Nelson Encore Why stop at just one song? Here are a couple more performances from the Lonesome Pines performance . . .   Drowning in Memories     Walk...

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Remembering Lou Reed – New York Album

Remembering Lou Reed – New York Album

American singer-songwriter and punk pioneer Lou Reed died yesterday (2013-10-27) at the age of 71 from liver-related complications. Although he will be most remembered from his time with the highly influential Velvet Underground, it was Reed’s 1989 solo album New York that most influenced and amazed me. To me, Lou Reed’s New York album didn’t just sum up New York at the end of the ’80s – it summed up the entire decade. It blew me away the first time I heard it and remains a personal favorite. While I’ve simmered down over the years, I once had a seething hate-hate relationship with the 1980s and spent way too much energy criticizing that Wasteland of a decade.   And, yes, it was a Wasteland.   When you look at any artist – whatever the genre, whatever the discipline – whose work spanned more than one decade and included the 1980s, the best and most meaningful art was never produced in the ’80s (the only exception I’m aware of is U2’s Joshua Tree album).   No one ever peaked in the ’80s.   There’s a reason why Bruce Springsteen stopped singing Born in the USA a long time ago, why no one ever watches the 1987 Oscar-nominated film Children of a Lesser God, and why we’ve all pretty much forgotten that Bulgarian maniac artist Christo wrapping islands in pink plastic.   A Wasteland is the antithesis of a Renaissance and what we end up with if we fail to conjure, coax, and cultivate a Renaissance.   I’ve since made my peace with the 1980s and can pretty much listen to any music from the period (except Madonna, Michael Jackson, Van Halen, The Smiths, and especially The B-52s).   Still, it’s important to remain vigilant, children . . . because I’ve seen firsthand what happens when we don’t. 🙁   You can listen to Lou Reed’s New York album below:...

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No More Ideology

No More Ideology

The title of this post is “No More Ideology.” Right. Like that’s ever going to happen. America at its best – or at least at its most productive – requires an enemy. And when we don’t have one, we turn on each other. I remember at the height of the financial crisis and Great Recession, circa 2008-2009, I told a good friend that the United States was like a two-headed dog barking at itself. Except this time it was much worse because there was no longer any food in the bowl. I’m so tired of the warring minorities of ignorant bigots on the right and condescending snobs on the left demonizing each other and promoting a vision of fear and hate for the rest of us.   Ideology is Not Reality Ideology is not reality – it’s the reckless and dishonest decision to replace reality with a fantasy that gives us the illusion of superiority. But, of course, when enough individuals embrace an ideological mindset – no matter where on the political spectrum it originates – reality itself changes. It leads to a culture of extremes – increased polarization, decreased humanity, and nightmare results such as Nazi Germany, Stalin Russia, the American Civil War. So here’s my humble attempt to remind all of us that we are not our own worst enemy – unless we choose to make ourselves so.   U.S. Political Anti-Ideology Videos                                ...

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