I post a weekly diary of the historical notes, arts & science items, foreign news (often receiving little notice in the US) and whimsical pieces from the outside world that I featured this past week in "Cheers & Jeers". For example .....
The political world has some déja-vu in it, you see .......
SEPARATED at BIRTH - former WSJ (and now Bloomberg News) Washington bureau chief Al Hunt and Democratic Party strategist Peter Fenn.
OK, you've been warned - here is this week's
tomfoolery material that I posted.
ART NOTES - an exhibition entitled The Edge of Vision: Abstraction in Contemporary Photography is at the Clay Center for the Arts in Charleston, West Virginia through September 16th.
CHEERS to spending a wonderful long weekend in western Virginia - where our cousins have a summer place - for our our every-other-year family reunion. I have it good: I get along with all of my relatives, am glad to see them and sad to leave. For many people, I know it's just the opposite.
The laugh of the weekend? Driving down from the Roanoke airport and seeing this sign in front of a storefront. Note, the first line of this is something commonly seen around where I live ... it's simply the juxtaposition of the second line that makes this a classic:
AFTER A WEEK that saw 11 deaths on Mont Blanc - local Alpine guides are starting to take a hard line with visitors who want a "quickie" trip up and down the mountain and make them realize the dangers - and difficulties - of Europe's highest peak.
GUNS and AMMO
ACCOUNTING and TAX SERVICES
WEDNESDAY's CHILD is Sam the Cat - who survived being lost for two days in the Everglades (with snakes and gators nearby) and will soon be reunited with his family thanks to social media and the generosity of strangers.
ALTHOUGH the country of Norway has impressed the world with its spirited response as the one-year anniversary of the Anders Behring Breivik murder spree approaches - for example, there is no armed bodyguard to be seen anywhere near prime minister Jens Stoltenberg - the popularity of the right-wing Progress Party (of which Breivik had been a member for a time in its youth organization) seems to be gaining.
SIGN of the APOCALYPSE - the nation of Argentina is preparing to issue a special series of 100-peso bills (worth about $22) bearing the face of Evita - to mark the 60th anniversary of the death of Eva Duarte, the second wife of three-time President Juan Peron.
THURSDAY's CHILD is the late Monster the Cat - the mascot of the craft beer company Brooklyn Brewery, whom locals and tourists alike were delighted to see prowling about during their tours of the facility.
MUSIC NOTES #1 - the National Endowment for the Arts announced the names of the 2013 NEA Jazz Masters - the nation’s highest honor in jazz - with this year’s recipients including pianist Mose Allison, saxophonist Lou Donaldson, Village Vanguard jazz club owner Lorraine Gordon, and pianist/bandleader Eddie Palmieri.
THE WORLD BANK has voted to approve funding credit for a major transmission line that would link Kenya to the controversial Gilgel Gibe III dam site in southern Ethiopia, pushing back against months of calls by local and international rights and environmental groups to keep out of the project.
ART NOTES - a career retrospective of the lithographer Frederick O'Hara is at the Roswell, New Mexico Museum through February 24th of next year.
OPERA NOTES - the Royal Opera House in Britain sought to transform Edward Lear's famous poem The Owl and the Pussycat into an opera - and asked former Monty Python cast member Terry Jones to write the libretto.
MUSIC NOTES #2 - the fate of symphony orchestras in America - where audiences have plenty of grey-haired couples in their 70's but few people under 45 - may rest in the advent of newer venues, with more social space and huge 'wallcasts' to show what's going on up close.
FRIDAY's CHILD is Andy the Cat - the mascot of the Schoharie, N.Y. Free Library, who returned earlier this year after the library's damage from Hurricane Irene was repaired.
BRAIN TEASER - try the latest Weekly World News Quiz from the BBC.
IN THIS PAST THURSDAY NIGHT's edition of the Top Comments diary - I profiled the president of soccer's world governing body named Sepp Blatter - and his unopposed re-election last year, despite widespread evidence of corruption and a "What, Me Worry?" attitude - that led a writer for Sports Illustrated to conduct a quixotic campaign to run against him (if only to spotlight FIFA's dire situation).
.............. and finally, for a song of the week.............. while in their original incarnation they didn't last long: the English band Blodwyn Pig played a strong role in the blues-rock scene in the late 1960's. Named by a "stoned hippie just back from the Buddhist trail", they have revived from time-to-time ..... and will always find an audience, if-and-when they do.
That was definitely a blues-rock album, but creative differences with Ian Anderson (who wanted to take a folk-rock-jazz direction) led to Abrahams leaving Tull where he was (eventually) replaced by Martin Barre, who remains to this day. (Side note: the first replacement guitarist was Tony Iommi, lasting only a few weeks .... before co-founding Black Sabbath).
Abrahams was joined by multi-reed instrumentalist Jack Lancaster, drummer Ron Berg and bassist Andy Pyle, who later performed in a number of UK rock bands (The Kinks, Savoy Brown, Wishbone Ash, Juicy Lucy and Chicken Shack) in the 1st photo below.
Their 1969 debut album Ahead Rings Out with its notorious cover (bottom photo) was a big success, garnering them tour dates on both sides of the Atlantic. Songs like "It's Only Love" (a driving blues with Lancaster overdubbing a virtual horn section) and Dear Jill (an acoustic blues that calls to mind Mississippi John Hurt) were offset by jazz-influenced tunes like "The Modern Alchemist" and "Backwash".
They released a 1970 worthy follow-up album Getting To This featuring Lancaster's epic "San Francisco Sketches" (based on their touring experiences) and they seemed to have a future.
But the band was hampered by (a) the lack of a strong vocalist, (b) erratic (though often inventive) songwriting, and lastly (c) Mick Abraham's fear of flying as well as his disillusionment with the recording industry (and its lack of support for the band). Abrahams left and without his fiery playing the band eventually did, too: splitting a year later. A re-configuration later in the 1970's failed, as well. After a noted 1971 solo album, Mick Abrahams for years was out of the music business entirely, and Lancaster became a noted session player and record producer for Phil Collins, Brian Eno and the late Stéphane Grappelli.
In the 1990's, Abrahams got the musical urge back again, recording new solo albums as well as leading his own Mick Abrahams band. In the past two years, Mick has been suffering from a debilitating bout of meniers disease (an inner ear problem) but hopes to be able to do some teaching for slide players and will focus on chord tunings and bottle neck techniques. Meanwhile, he has released an excellent 2010 autobiography and has performed with Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull - no hard feelings, after all of these years.
Also in the 1990's, he reformed Blodwyn Pig for a 1993 studio as well as a live album - the last of which reunited the original bandmates. They have gotten together for benefit performances on occasion since - although no longer with original drummer Ron Berg (due to an acute case of arthritis).
Interestingly, whenever The Pig reunite today: their drummer is Clive Bunker - Abraham's old bandmate from the original Jethro Tull, bringing Mick Abraham's career full-circle.
One reason why Abrahams was disillusioned with the record industry was the band's most famous tune See My Way (not to be confused with The Who song of the same name). This tour-de-force (with an instrumental break reminiscent of Ravel's "Bolero") was left off the debut UK album (in Abraham's words) "by the powers that be" until the second album Getting To This ...... but was included on the US version of Ahead Rings Out for some reason. (There was a nice cover version by - of all people - Joey Ramone twenty-five years later).
Below you can hear the original version from 1969, and find out why it became popular:
Need a light to see my hand
and I can't help it if I stumble
Over those things that I set before me
I wanna see... see my way
Make a point of watching my life
I can see it's been so wrong
Climbing mountains without even looking
I wanna see... see my way
Well, I need a friend
to help me through
when I'm down
To pick my body
up and carry me
home...take me home
Then in 2008, Blodwyn Pig reunited for a show on Mick Abrahams' 65th birthday (photo below right). And below you can hear how the band played it (in a different key) nearly forty years after its original recording.