Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 Hits Of

Here is a way to hear the music if you are Mogster. (If not try the titles in your music player of choice.) 

Click on to go to list. 

Then click on "Play all tracks" to play.  

-WALLSTREET PART OF TOWN – Ry Cooder - Does Ry Cooder get revenge on Stones’ theft of Honkytonk womae here? Who knows? He shows what he can do with a rock riff that will kill. It is a tribute to the Wall Street Occupiers (seems like ancient history, but was just a mere year ago). From a concept album. But this is beyond concept.

-NORTH SIDE GAL – J.D. McPhersen – He is a reformed punk I hear tell. I dig the sound cause, well it brings back Little Richard. I understand they did this all analog. There truly is something about the sound, it is of the studio era of 1948 – 1960 –when the art was high. By the way, I am from the North Side, myself.

- COME ON BACK JESUS – Willie Nelson. A take on the world gone mad. It’s getting real hairy.  Time to call the cavalry. “C’mon back Jesus and pick up John Wayne on the way. The world its gone crazy and seems to get worse every day. Time to take off the gloves - they just don’t want peace anymore. C’mon back!” Also more than immortal on this lp: “Roll me up and smoke me when I die.”

- MY LAST DAYS ON EARTH – David Grisman. His tribute record to Bill Monroe. I had this by Bill and lost it somehow along the way. Don’t know if it is in release now. David Grisman’s take is fine. Kind of heavy sonar. As with many remakes the effort was to focus a bit more on one aspect of the number. So it is over slow. Anyway it is faithful in a nice way.

- DUSQUESNE WHISTLE – Bob Dylan - gets Carbondale in there, that is interesting, that down needed a booster shot. Not a big step past his more recent CDs – except that there are two immensely great things on the lp this came from : Tempest (about Titanic) and Roll on John. The latter evokes John Lennon in every breath (and beat) , and could only have been done by a superior poet like Bob.

- WATCHING THE LATE LATE SHOW – The Fondas - Don Covay’s Watching the Late Late Show was the B-side of Sookie Sookie. And it had always evoked Dr Cadavarino and Elvira and nugatory time. Couldn’t find it by Don, but found the Fondas did it in 2012. These guys might be from Detroit. Hell if I know nuthin about the Fondas. But at least we got a girl singer in the list here, yknow!?

- THE HEROIC WEATHER-CONDITIONS OF THE UNIVERSE – Alexandre Desplat - This movie has to be seen in theatres: Moonlight Kingdome. Mostly Ben Brittain and Hank Williams. Got that/ This out-tro owest something to the Bonzo Dog Band and their riff on the key of A. Who had to be where? “Thank you very much for listening!”

- FARMER JOHN -   Doug Sahm – Well Doug left us with a cold on the road…but.. here he is through the miracle of media from Stockholm one night out there on that cold road – calling the sound guy for the drummer’s mike (x3) - when he was playing with Rocky Morales, Fran  Cristina, his son Shawnie and others – but released in 2012 – so it fits our format - doing the Tex-Mex Tome Farmer John. “Farmer John, I’m in love with your daughter. The one with the champagne eyes.” God bless-ee, Dougie, where eber thou art there is art!

- DIM LIGHTS, THICK SMOKE – Dwight Yokum – Try to ignore the crazy Yokum whooping hiccups. I like the screams. This is a great update on the song I know best by Lester and Earl (but Vern Gosdin and Joe Maphis and others would be prior). Member: Rock n roll will not necessarily save your soul. But it can shake your libido.

-THE WORLD IS UPSIDE DOWN – Jimmy Cliff - Another take on the world gone mad. But damn essential. Jimmy Cliff walked out of history to sing and create on the top notch in the year 2012 of our lord. Don’t let people tell you he is retired. My friend saw him play at Oracle World. And check out the sound of this – my fave rave of the year past- which coulda-woulda hit pay dirt in any damn time ever. “They say the world is spinning around, I say the world is upside down!” 

2009 list
2007 list

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Christmas 2012

When I was a managing editor on a monthly in the 1980s I had folders for every month. I embellished this one for Christmas. It shows the advent month coming full speed from off stage and emblematic train going round the tree [or tries to show said]. That train is coming! Happy Christmas, happy world! - J.V.

Just a panthering train
cross the swells of the carpet
Through oriental valleys
and their piled paisley sockets
Through skyscraper wrappings
the apple spanked harlotty papers
and things
to returnto your feet.
- Christmas Locomotive, 1967

Note: Traveller visitors will notice a few broken links.  I thought the Web was forever. Have back up for those pics and stories, but good luck finding them, Jack.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Edjubication of a Coach

Bill Belichick is respected, not loved, in my neck of the woods. I know it is different elsewhere. Far and wide he is loathed. He is depressively catatonic in most press conferences, and his conspiracy to surreptitiously video the New York Jets has definitely gone down on his permanent record. But even his critics give him great measure as a football coach. Here I agree. I’d say I have never seen a coach so able to prepare his team for games yet at the same time be so able to adjust at half time to whatever the opposition had going for them. [As I kid I grew up on Lombardi – I just don’t remember that many games when they didn’t dominate from the start. Mind may play tricks.]

In David Halberstam, Belichick met a well versed and able biographer. A bit slow and turgid and perfunctory at times, but most of the artifice was used to gain good narrative. Halberstam’s “The Education of aCoach” gives you a great view on the inner game of football, where scouts roam from game to game, and assistant coaches wander from town to town, like rambling blues men.. or Fuller Brush men.

Halberstam’s depiction of the lives of professional and college assistant coaches in the ‘60s and ‘70s, when football was far less central to the public life, is moving. Belichick comes out of this antecedence.

The life of the sports plugger described starts with B’s father, a Navy asst. but a true scion of the cult of football. It proceeds with Bill as he uses his brain to go from nowhere (the Colts, the Lions, the Broncos, the Browns) to the top ( the Giants, Jets and Patriots). B is too enigmatic to ever emerge from the pages of a book. But he does love football, has a tremendous sense of its history, and shares enough with the author to form a touching tome.

Ah, Cleveland. He came there with a three-year plan that blew out the competiton for the headcoaching spot. But it became a precis on the hidden benefit of making mistakes. He made most of his big mistakes in Cleveland, then did leave. Overriding goal became the drive to find people who could fit into the system.

Along the way, a good bit of fatalism. “The more you can do, the more you can do*” is the motto – I think a closeup of Belichick letting go of a long time stalwart might have been leavening. But the author did well to get as much of the underside of football heroics as he did.

Where the book begins to fade is when the story gets good - when the Patriots win three Super Bowls. The timing is just not right on the routes on this part of the book. It is tough. Because it is hard to avoid over dramatization in short format.

What was it that made Tom Brady special? “Determination to excel, high intelligence, inner toughness.” Probably true. Just not good copy. And the first Pat’s SuperBowl win, in these pages, is all about Brady, when in fact, there was a full team around him, defensive and offensive. The story compresses too much. {Funny thing, though, here, in 2012, Brady is the last player left from those teams.} But the probably value is that Halberstam did some real digging: the stuff before the Super Bowl years is the stuff that – most of us – don’t know. 

No, Belichick is not colorful - hence the picture chosen to accompany story is Johnnie Unitas in the Colt's hedays. But Bill is thoughtful, and interesting general.

The buildup of “The Education of a Coach” is well paced, but the climax is anticlimactic. My guess would be that anyone who likes football books, but who is not irretrievably put off by Belichick would like it.  

*This may be effective in sport, where athletic skills are necessarily ebbing for the veterans. Why this motto has to be taken forward to business is another question. This reminds me of when I started ( a youngster, relatively) in publishing business, and half of many editorial meetings went to discussion of how the Giants were doing (as the woman editors rolled their eyes).

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas 1972

Christmas 1972

When i lived in new york
poor as a mouse door

i would go on fifth avenue
shopping the windows

but i  got a white knit hat 
for my sister at abraham-strauss

then there at scrbiners
or coulda been doubledays
and it was on about christmas
i saw danny kaye

brilliant, welcome, witty, immortal,
adored by the store help

i crossed ore a portal
walter mitty in dream trance
in life's dance
a corker
a short time new yorker.

would catch the train outta there
but carry sprite danny

sprite danny
and the hat for my sister

in  a place
in my memory.

until this very moment
when here it is look here and
you stand in front of me.

-Jack Vaughan

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ming the Merciless aims a death ray of some sort at Earth

Thanks to the WayBack Machine, this was rescued from the Netherweb. Originally appeared on the Proud Truth Electric Web Site Jamboree. Let's go back before 2004....

One thing I may never forget is the first episode of the Flash Gordon serial. Ming the Merciless aims a death ray of some sort at Earth.

It is this event that leads Flash to venture into space to counter Ming's death ray. And, pulling from a trove of newsreel footage, the serial directors showed the x-ray results: tidal waves in Samoa, earthquake in China, catastrophe in general.

When I feel bad, and feel the world seems in a tangle too, how often we feel it is Ming and his cosmic death ray disrupting our natural order. When president's totter and the car won't start, we wonder if Ming is at work. Clinton's and Wall Street's (not to mention the Mets') August 1998 troubles seemed to a part of a confluence. And we note that on August 27, 1998, according to Stanford and other researchers, witnessed a cosmic event in which the Earth's magnetic field was extravaganly disrupted by a distant 3-megaton "magnestar."

In Spite of Ourselves

Thanks to the WayBack Machine, this was rescued from the Netherweb. Originally appeared on the Proud Truth Electric Web Site Jamboree. 

Early 2001. Dolly and Porter, George and Tammy, John Prine and Connie Smith (and John Prine and Dolores Keane and John Prine and Melba Montgomery) -- the lovebird duet is a one of the war horses of the county genre, and John Prine has breathed new life in the old beast in his recent outing with a host of partners. It's called In Spite of Ourselves. The CD is minus a Prine penning, except for one, but is nonetheless noteworthy. The selections are various and often touching. And the pairings are complementary pretty much across the board.
This marks a welcome return to the scene for Prine, who has recently battled illness. Although his throat was effected, his voice is like a shingled house a little more weathered now. Til a TearBecomes a Rose, When Two Worlds Collide, Milwaukee Here I Come, Back Street Affair, these are featured numbers, all country and intoned in heavenly guy and girl breaths.

Unreal in its sublime laggardliness is In a Town this Size, which is right up there with Kate and Anna's My Town, Iris D's Our Town, the Pogues' Dirty Old Town, Kieran Kane's This Dirty Little Town, and what the heck, Gene Pithney's Town without Pith, in picturing the cozy dead ends that artists tend to seek escape from.

In the interest of fairness to people with perfect pitch we note that Iris DeMent appears twice -- and Lucinda Williams appears once on a two-song medley -- on the CD. Forewarned should not be foreshortened, as John' s unique approach to pitch melds neatly with that of Iris, especially on We Could. Talented Lucinda, too, stays with John and fails to drag the tempo, as is her sometimes want.

Meanwhile, there is Dolores Keane. She partners with Prine on In a Town this Size and It's a Cheating Situation. When we first heard her here we thought Marianne Faithful had flown to Nashville. But this is Dolores, this is a voice. Yikes!

Emmy Lou Harris tends to show up on these things so much that her presence imparts a kind of imprimatur. Here it is especially apt, however. In Spite of Ourselves somewhat evokes one of the best LPs of all time, Grievous Angel by Gram Parsons, which got over the top by virtue of the presence of Emmy Lou's youngster warblings, Gram being just barely a singer in his young and only days. Like Parsons, Prine finds in life a grievousnous, but he finds it worthwhile to temper with bemusement and amusement, which we consider angelic in the highest order.

Wisdom of Desert

Thanks to the WayBack Machine, this was rescued from the Netherweb. Originally appeared on the Proud Truth Electric Web Site Jamboree. Before 2005. 

Thomas Merton's The Wisdom of the Desert takes us to the hermetic wasteland of St Anthony and company and thus sets us about visiting a mess of caves of grasshopper-eating enlightenment-bent monks. Perfect reading for Sunday, on the porch, after church. If you don't visualize yourself there, maybe better pass on tome.
The text is drawn from the Verba Senorium, as found in Migne's Latin Patrology.
Monk himself Merton may never have found a better song to sing. His poesy, prose and journals of the '60s probed in enclosing spirals the monastic state, the enlightened state, and the violent state. The Nothingness hotly pursued by the early Christian mystics of North Africa, as found in early Christian texts, is a flute for Tom to play.

"The Fathers [of the Desert] were humble and silent men, and did not have much to say. They replied to questions in few words, to the point. Rather than give an abstract principle, they preferred to tell a concrete story," writes Merton by way of introduction.

Seven Story Mountain man Merton saw non-profound Nothingness in modern America - sought contemplative model, and, though he found affinity with Asian Zen Masters, the affinity he found with Christian mystics was greater. An example:

"To one of the brethren appeared a devil, transformed into an angel of light, who said to him: I am the Angel Gabriel, and I have been sent to thee. But the brother said: Think again - you must have been sent to somebody else. I haven't done anything to deserve an angel. Immediately the devil ceased to appear."

Koanlike, and Christian. It is literature, transcendent.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Look out Monday - Ebb and Flow Nowhere to Go

Two space probes known as Ebb and Flow, respectively, are due to crash onto the dark side of the moon. Why? Because NASA don't want thesethings to just fall anywhere - most especially to randomly kerplunk where astronaut Neil Armstrong trod. As before in the history of western man the motto is ‘Let’s send our debris to the dark side.’

Background is the two spacecraft were launched in September of 2011 - they entered the lunar orbit earlier this year. Correlating data from the two objects, researchers were able to measure variations in the moon's gravitational field.  Understanding the gravity helps to discern the composition of the moon and in turn it cosmological history. But our probes are running out of fuel. Look out, Dale here comes Ebb and Flow.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Beedle-ee-bum: 8more miles to the Louisville Jug Bands

[For Barney Beal.]
After long listening on blues, there eased up on me a slightly sorcerous curiosity about some of the places the music found on its way. On or off the beaten track as one would construe it is Louisville. Thoughts on which I share with you here.  Not too widely known is it that it was a hot bed once of Jug Band music. There is hardly a music that surreally sounds more like the lost track of a silent movie. Which offers strains of swirling basic American tributaries. Few musics more so that for the cost of closing your eyes can take you back in time.

While New Orleans, Chicago and Memphis were the milestone towns on the rivers of jazz, blues and rock n roll, there were others, Louisville among them. On the Ohio River in the 1920s, it was for a time the center of the Jug Band music sound.

Minstrel shows and string bands roamed the nation in the 19th century, sometimes selling magical elixirs and snake oil. This was songster music, predating the appearance of blues. The string bands set the stage for jazz, which became a more accomplished form.  In the 20th century, string bands began to swing through the south in zephyrs and wind sprites called jug bands.

This was a music of poor people, at least compared to the more trained and proper bands of this or any day. It was marked, or course, by the proletarian earthy incessant and (for the player) mind blowing jug, taking the place of the bass fiddle or tuba. But it was also noted for penny whistles, harmonicas, kazoos, washboards, as well as mandolins, fiddles and guitars. As such it has an element of kid’s fun about it, a bit of the Silly Symphony.  A bit out of tune, the beat often rushed. What the heck!

While Jug Band music is about blues, it is, in Louisville as it comes down to us via old 78 RPM recordings, a bit less about blues and more about a poor man’s jazz. Using what you got – having a good time. Crazy rhythms.

The Louisville jug bands would change personnel and names but revolve around a few figures. None well known. They were John Byrd, Jimmy Blythe, Clifford Hayes, Earl McDondald. The Dixieland Jug Blowers, The Old Southern Jug Band, Whistlers Jug Band. Imagine them strolling through town.

I am talking evocation, baby. There is film footage (now on YouTube) (and below) of this last named  band in action, top-hatted, blowing jugs, making a natural ruckus I tell you. You can imagine the train entering town, gum papers flying, and passengers parting with some money for these minstrels of strange syncopation. Whistlers and some of these are represented in this collection.

Here also are a couple of tunes from Cincinnati and Memphis. In the hands of Gus Cannon and the Mississippi Sheiks as well as Will Shade and the Memphis Jug Band, the music got a bit more bluesy, and further known. 78 RPM record collectors of the 1950s scarfed up this stuff, and it was heard far a field: in the village by the Rooftop Singers, in Fort Hill in Boston by Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band and in Minneapolis by college student for a week Bob Dylan. [Full disclosure: My friend Sunnyland Slim met the Memphis Jug Band in Memphis on Beale St, in Crump Park, and at the Peabody Hotel (where they were recording).]

Included in the collection is “Bandjorino’. For many years WGBH DJ Ray Smith would outro his show with this mildly crazed song - it is something of the 1812 Overture of the Jug Band Era. Like Fletcher Henderson’s Queer Notion, it evokes, marked by me as the movement of trains and automobiles pushing aside mules and riverboats in a tipsy dream. With that we bid adieu. As Ray would say: “Thanks for joining me in my musical evocation of a bye-gone time. It’s all a part of the Jazz Decades.” –Jack Vaughan, 2012

Mog users can hear this music (Louisville, Cincinnati, and Memphis), Go to Then click on "Play all tracks" to play.  

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Raw local honey in the rock

yknow sometimes in the midnight

 hours my heart full of tears i 

get to thinking so many years i


called my god on high he heard my 

feeble cry milk and local honey by 

and by

Passed on Main

Stingray - I remember Dr. Stienle Shroudette would pass us on Main St as I was taken to school in the morning. His Stingray was blue - six lights on behind.  At various times other he owned an Avanti and a Mercedes. His ethos was sporty and precise.

He was going to work in the Great Tower of Science.In the morning we’d drive down Main Street. From 3 Mile Drive to Point Blank. Dr Shroudette in his Vette would pass us – the smallest semblance of a wave once - and we would thereafter tail him. Dr Stienle Shroud in his blue Corvette motoring down to the laboratory. Where they tested and researched. 

Within the Shroud chemical tower complex, the test tubes were vast, it was a tv studio too, for Shroudette did our town's Saturday morning science show. Inside, Shroud orchestrated a flow of chemical elements. I'd watch the show in my sweatshirt with te Dr Shroudette patch symbol from a brown bottled Elliptictine ersatz drink. I imagined in the array of glass tubing a palace of wisdom. Merle Travis was flat pickin through the car speakers. 

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