On Larry Doggett

The first conversation I ever had with Larry Doggett came because he was a professor at the college I’d chosen to attend.  I didn’t know anything about him, but recognized his last name. And because he seemed kindly and approachable, I walked up to him after class and said, “Hello Professor Doggett, my name’s Derek.  By any chance, are you related to Tim Doggett?”  And Larry said, “Well kind of, he’s my son…”  At that time Tim and his family were in the Congo, where Larry had worked for nearly 25 years prior.  We talked for a few moments, then at the end of the conversation Larry said something that I’ve carried with me…  “Don’t try to impress me by becoming a missionary.  Be who God wants you to be.”

Then over the next 17 years, we moved from professor/student to colleagues to friends.  In that time, I’ve heard Larry tell stories of being in the Congo and having to flee because the war shifted a number of times, carrying only what was most important to him.  I’ve heard him tell the story of his daughter in law saving his life in a plane crash a few dozen times.  I’ve heard him talk about the painting that sat in his basement that “one of the Africans” did with house paint; a copy of which Larry presented to the President of Burundi.  I’ve heard Larry mention in passing on his way to other topics that he was responsible for taking the first printing press into the Congo.

And yet, he told me all of that without any of it coming across as bragging.  I had to get details on all of those events that to most would be life redefining from other parties. Larry would mention those things, but only because that’s how the story went…he wasn’t trying to impress anyone. (I’ve said for years that the only reason his name isn’t in history books is because he didn’t want it to be.) The only time I heard Larry brag was when he talked about his wife, his kids, or his grandkids.  I said to his wife today that every time Larry told me a story about Africa, he included the words “…and NANCY…”  In a world where we all want egalitarianism, a man in his 70s/80s always went out of his way to point out how strong his wife was and how much he leaned on her.  That’s something.

Larry signed my ordination certificate when I “officially” went into ministry.  A lot of people can say they’re in ministry because of Larry Doggett…  I’m fortunate enough to have it in writing.  Larry told me he was proud of me on a few different occasions.  I’m glad to say I also made it clear to him that I considered it an honor to call him “bwana.”  He called the people he particularly cared for “bwana.”  I knew that was his habit, so the first time he did it to me, I was so touched I failed to ask what it meant.  It’s Swahili.  The only colloquial definition I’ve found is “master” or “sir.”  Apparently it’s also sometimes used to refer to “God” when uppercase.  Regardless, it seems to indicate a show of respect from the person saying it.  Larry didn’t brag about much…but that he called me “bwana” is something I’ll brag about for the rest of my life.  And I’ll wave my ordination certificate around while I’m doing it.

Larry also used to punch me in the shoulder as hard as he could at infrequent but recurring intervals.  He sometimes did that to people he cared about too, if he thought they could take it.  I’d seen him do it to others before he did it to me, so I was prepared the first time it happened.  And prepared for the smile and laugh that came with it.  He never announced it.  I’d be standing there talking to someone else, and Larry would saunter alongside me, just outside my field of vision, and punch me in the shoulder.  I don’t really have anything else to add about that.  But it used to happen.

I have told Larry a couple of times that I’m honored to call him my friend.  He was humble about it.  Almost dismissive.  I think he found being praised a little embarrassing.  But I told him how much I thought of him more than once.  Larry knew I respected, appreciated, and celebrated his accomplishments on the mission field and also here in the States.  Aside from the fact that we didn’t see each other enough in these last few years, I have no unresolved issues with Larry Doggett, and I’m very, very grateful for that.

Larry Doggett passed away early Monday morning.  His funeral was today.

The funeral wouldn’t fit in a mortuary.  It wouldn’t fit in a church auditorium.  It took place in the gym of the college where Larry worked up until the end of his life.  But even that didn’t contain it.  There were also phone calls from colleagues of Larry’s from Africa that played over the sound system.  There were prayers in English, Spanish, and two different African dialects.  There wasn’t room in the whole COUNTRY for the people mourning Larry today.  As his granddaughter pointed out, there were people on “at least 6 of the 7” who mourned with us today.

One of Larry’s daughters spoke briefly and asked all of Larry’s family to stand.  It’s a large family, but comparatively made up a small percentage of the room–there were hundreds of us there; one family member posted on Facebook that the estimate was around 700 in attendance.  She then asked that if there were any who considered themselves spiritually part of Larry’s family to stand.  If anyone of the hundreds of people there were left seated, I think it must have been that they didn’t hear the question.  She got pretty much the whole room on that one.  Her name is Jenny.  She serves and lives in Mexico.  She’s the first member of the family to recognize me, walk over to me, and give me a hug.  We hadn’t seen each other in probably ten years.  I hugged several Doggetts (and spouses, etc) that I haven’t seen in ten years today…and each of them were kind, generous, and welcoming.  Must run in the family.

It was a beautiful service.  There were sad moments and also happy ones.  There was some congregational singing…but little of it was sad and teary as you’d imagine of a funeral.  The songs were of the “I’ll Fly Away” variety for the most part–complete with people clapping along on the wrong beats.  It was in some ways a joyous event.  The family made it clear from the start that they did not wish for it to be called a funeral.  They wanted a celebration.  Larry’s wife preferred the phrase “Larry’s HOMECOMING.”  That’s such a strange concept for anyone outside of the Christian faith.  And also for some of us who are in it.  But if they wanted a celebration of Larry’s life…they got it.  Yes, there were tears in many eyes…but they were tears because Larry lived a life that earned the celebration; while we were sad to be there, we were happy to give it to him.

When I heard that Larry had died, I was sad, but content in knowing there was no unfinished business between us.  I only had happy stories.  I was carrying that with me all week.  I was happy to have known him.  Then walking in today, I was half way to the door when I felt the weight of knowing that Larry would’ve been the first person to welcome me if he knew I was there.  He’d come over, call me “bwana,” punch me in the shoulder, and make sure I was comfortable and welcomed.  And it hit me that he wouldn’t be doing that today.  I walked a little slower, then made it into the room, a little unsure of how I was going to do with it.  Then I found others who I knew, and we all had happy stories.  And we all greeted EACH-OTHER and made sure we were comfortable and welcomed.  And it was all okay.  Larry wasn’t there…but he was…

I’ve said that I didn’t have unfinished business with Larry.  And that’s a good place to be.  There was, however, someone there with whom I did have unfinished business.  A LOT of unfinished business, dating back probably a decade or so.  We’d been in the same room a few times over the past ten years, but avoided one another.  There have been events where we’d both be present, and when we’d make eye-contact one would head for the nearest exit.  We made eye contact today and in a moment that I can only think Larry was helping to orchestrate, my thought wasn’t “where’s the door?” Instead I was struck with just one word… “Enough.”  I walked over to the person with whom I’ve had 10 years of anger and hurt, stuck out my hand, and said, “I know the last time we spoke it wasn’t pleasant.  For my part, if anything I said or did made anything hard for you or your family, I am sorry. Life’s too short to keep carrying it.”  Within a few moments, we were hugging.  I went today to bury a friend…and while I was at it, I got to bury a hatchet.  A burden was lifted today.

And maybe that’s the best representation of Larry’s legacy I can offer.  Larry always pointed people toward reconciliation; with God, with one another, with their own past…  Larry wasn’t there today…but he was…  And I think he was probably happy.

I will miss Larry Doggett.  But I’m so glad we met.

Thanks for everything, bwana.

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“The government just issued an Orange Alert, which again means… nothing.” – Kent Brockman

Been meaning to write for a while.  For what it’s worth part of the reason I haven’t is WordPress has made some changes I don’t like and they’re pushing me to add stuff I flat-out WON’T because this isn’t designed to be a monetized blog…but that’s all creator/owner nonsense that shouldn’t impact anyone but me.  Let it be known that unless you see me specifically mention it, no ad you ever see on the blog is endorsed by me and you shouldn’t fucking click it.

That said…let’s do an everything/nothing post…  Simpsons quote in the title, etc…

  1. We had an eclipse here.  About half the country had an eclipse, in fact.  I didn’t watch it.  Wasn’t interested.  Absolutely every picture I’ve seen looks the same (except, conveniently, the ones from NASA or the ones where somebody fucked up and something artsy happened by accident) so I feel like I’ve seen it, even though I didn’t. I spent most of the day irritated at the businesses that closed for it; particularly at the place I’d planned to go for lunch.  Which closed at noon, with the eclipse more than an hour away.  But I digress…  Hope those who found it mystical (although I’d debate the magic of anything we can accurately predict down to the second) were happy with whatever they saw in it.  I opted to keep staring at my work computer screen.
  2. I’ve started up the podcast I was talking about a couple of posts ago.  It’s going pretty well!  Good amount of listens/downloads.  It’s going a little better than I was anticipating, so that’s nice, especially if it keeps growing.  Go give it a listen.  The Empty Checking blog can be found at http://derekbrink.blogspot.com. Or if you’d prefer to listen to it direct from the host, the no-frills SoundCloud posts can be found at http://soundcloud.com/emptychecking.  I’m having fun with it, and I hope you are too…  New posts every Thursday!  Probably!
  3. One of the things I talked about in brief on the first episode of Empty Checking was the death of Glen Campbell.  He was great.  Not just a country singer, but also a member of the Wrecking Crew, having played on even the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” album.  A great musician and by all accounts a great guy.  I’ve got a decent amount of his music, but with 60+ albums to his name, I’ve barely made a dent.  Big loss to the music world.
  4. Then this week Jerry Lewis died.  I was VERY sad to learn that (although it can’t really be called “unexpected” since he was in his 90s).  I’ve been a big Jerry Lewis fan for a very long time and in the past I’ve been an MDA contributor because of his telethon.  I’ll be talking about him on Empty Checking this weekend in long-form.
  5. Also on the podcast (this is getting dangerously close to just being a promo spot, but seriously, listen to the damn thing!) I updated my thoughts on the new Doctor Who.  In a previous post I said I would be hesitant to see a female Doctor.  Wanted to update my thoughts in writing here in addition to what I said on the podcast…  While I still have reservations about what a female Doctor might mean long-term for the show’s ratings and while I still believe it’s a transparent PC publicity stunt (that could VERY easily backfire)…I like the casting choice.  I’m very familiar with Jodie Whittaker from her work on Broadchurch (which stars pretty much the entire fucking cast of Doctor Who past and future).  She’s great.  If anyone can pull it off, it’ll be her.  I’ve gone from hesitant but still loyal to kinda excited, but still hesitant, and still loyal.  So that’s improvement.  🙂  Assuming it’s well helmed by the new crew, I’m expecting to be completely won over in the first episode.  We’ll see!
  6. Been grumpy lately.  It’s partly because I’ve recently hung out with people I used to go to church with and I miss them and I miss that church and I haven’t felt motivated to do too much about finding a new one.  I’ve been sleeping in most Sundays.  I wish my prior church would start some service it makes sense for me to attend…but they aren’t doing that.  So I’ll just be grumpy when I see the people I never see anymore.  Y’know…the hardest part about that is that I don’t get invited to much stuff anymore…  When you’re a member of a church, they say you’re “family.”  But find yourself unable to attend a service and suddenly you’re acquaintances at best.  The friend circle that regularly gets together outside of church services stops texting you, you don’t get asked to come along to special events, and Facebook sends you reminders of how easily you lifted out with their daily “On this Day” feature…  And that sucks, man.  There are people I’d have helped move bodies two years ago that I’m probably never going to see again because of one stupid fucking time-change.  And I’ve been harping on it all this time.  I just don’t fit in most churches…I’d found the one where I did and finding another one is like looking for a unicorn in a sewer.  But I’ll shut up about it now.
  7. Haven’t done a damn thing on the new record.  I’ve been focusing all my energy over the last two weeks on–you guessed it–the podcast.
  8. Been watching 30 Rock on Netflix.  It’s fine…but I don’t feel like I’m missing anything during the times where I stop paying attention.  Tracy Morgan and Jack McBrayer are both funny as hell though, so they’re keeping me in it.
  9. In case you’ve not noticed there’s been more racial conflict in the country.  I’ve considered writing a lot of different stuff about it. A lot of my thoughts have been randomly and abruptly tweeted–the empty void of Twitter is pretty much where that stuff belongs.
    Long story short…  I see why people want to tear down Confederate statues and I think their hearts are in the right place…however a lot of Black people I know think it’s a wasted gesture that’s just causing violence and Nazi rallies and that the money could be better spent funding inner city schools.  I have trouble disagreeing with that.  Shit, most of us wouldn’t know where those statues WERE if not for the protests over them coming down.  But that’s irrelevant…
    The violence in Charlottesville was reprehensible, of course.  (Most of us wouldn’t know where that town was either…)  There’s just no excuse for killing in the name of “pride.”  And there’s no excuse for beating a man for the color of his skin.  And there’s no excuse for not arresting every fucking ONE of those racist sons of bitches for using hate speech intended to incite violence.  BLM protesters get arrested…usually those protests aren’t violent until the cops show up.  The milk-toast cops who didn’t swing one baton or fire one gas canister at the Nazi rally…
    Y’know…I’ve been a lefty a long time and again, I think a lot of people MEAN well…but I’ve been a little embarrassed that our response to Charlottesville has largely been a cry of, “THERE’S A NEW CIVIL WAR COMING!!!”  There isn’t…no one’s funding it, no one’s leading it, no one’s succeeding, and no one’s going to be able to have the military presence to stand against their own country’s military.  It isn’t a war unless you’re able to fund a war.  It just isn’t.  But if it were, you’d know you were on the right side if you beat the fuck out of a Nazi.  And those idiots are so mind-numbingly fucking stupid that they don’t even have the sense to wear hoods like the KKK.  (You’d also be right to beat the fuck out of a Klan member, were it war.)
    And on that same note, the division between the left and the others on the FAR left is stupid.  So is the division between the left and the right on this particular subject–because frankly I don’t think there IS a division in general.  “Racism is bad” is an almost universal thought and the people on the right are disgusted to have the racists using their brand to speak their garbage…  And I know there’s a racism of ignorance at play too.  I know a lot of people have racist attitudes, but would be shocked and offended to be CALLED racists…but that’s not who we’re fighting.  We’re fighting ACTIVE racists…and even those who don’t see their own racist attitudes hate the supremacists.  The left should be joining the right in condemning the racist minority (albeit emboldened by Tr*mp) instead of trying to make it all about ourselves.  Yeah, fight ’em on healthcare…but when the right is disowning racists, the enemy of your enemy is your friend.  And we’ve got a lot more friends than the celebrities we’re listening to on twitter are allowing us to believe.  Plug into your own thoughts…talk to your own friends and acquaintences…stop listening to the media who’re only interested in creating the next bloody story and think for your damn self.  You’ll find some common ground to stand on.
    So that’s jumbled…but those are my thoughts.  It boils down to just fucking STOP it and treat people like people.  Unless they’re Nazis.  Fuck those guys.

That got long…so that’s it.  Go listen to the podcast.  Or make dinner.  Or go to bed.  Or go to work.  I don’t know when you’re reading this.

————

Current Listening:

  • Glen Campbell – Ghost on the Canvas
  • Guided By Voices – How Do You Spell Heaven?

Processing What I Wish I’d Known at the Time

I don’t know if there’s a “trigger warning” on this post or not…but I’m going to talk about rape in it.  And I will also be using some very strong language–because this sort of thing is the time and place for it.  So know that going in…

Brief pause so you can consider if you want to keep reading or not…

Okay.

This weekend a very brave, close friend of mine went public with her story of being raped by a former “boyfriend” in college.  (Part one is herePart two is here.)  And even though I’m posting those links, I’m going to be using pronouns instead of names in this post.  I’m not sure how much is appropriate to say in my own post, so I’m going to at least not use names…  And I’m not going to soften it by calling it “sexual assault” or whatever.  Rape is rape and we need to keep calling it that.

I had no inkling that my friend had been through this, although I knew her well at the time that it happened and had even made small talk on a couple of occasions with the “boyfriend” in question. In fact, I can see his face in my mind right now as I’m writing this…  This entire weekend I’ve been thinking about what I missed, when I missed it, and when I should have known better.  The entire weekend, I’ve been thinking about the fact that if I’d even suspected that after he shot the breeze with me in the Library, he went off and raped my friend, I’d be in prison right now for what I’d have done to him.  I don’t know what happened to him after she (thank Christ) got him out of her life.  I’m not sure I’ve even thought about him since then, and it’s been about a decade.  But right now I hope the motherfucker is dead and no one cared enough to look for him.  If I could say one thing to the cocksucker, I’d want it to be the last thing he ever heard: “Jesus does not love you and God never knew your name.  No one will ever miss you.”

But I digress.

My friend was very brave in sharing her story.  But it took her 10 years.  Ten years ago, I was hoping my church elders didn’t figure out that I drank and cussed in my private life, otherwise I’d have a really awkward conversation…  At that same time, my friend wasn’t sure she could tell the people close to her that she’d been raped.  I know that you can only know what you know…but I’ve felt a deep mix of shame and embarrassment over the past couple of days.  Not only did I miss that someone I care about was going through what is probably the worst thing that’s ever going to happen to her…but when I heard they “broke up” I think I even said, “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.”  I feel sick thinking about those words.

I’ve e-mailed back and forth a little with my friend since reading her blog post. One of the things I’m grateful for is that her story doesn’t end 10 years ago.  She found a great guy to marry and they’ve got kids and everything now.  I’ve expressed a lot of what’s above in my e-mails to her, plus some other stuff that I’m not going to be printing here.  I’m proud of her for sharing.  I’d be proud of her if this hadn’t ever happened and all she’d done was graduate college and lived a nice life with her husband, too.  But knowing that courage grew from fear…she might be the strongest person I know.

I’d have been sad and angry about what happened regardless of when it transpired.  But I’m struggling hard with the fact that it was during a time where I saw my friend at least weekly; usually more often than that.  I don’t know if I could have stopped anything.  But I wish like hell I’d had my eyes open enough to at least suspect something and say, “Are you okay?” rather than, “I’m sorry to hear that.”

I’m learning a lot this weekend.  I’ve decided that this is an opportunity for me to learn and grow and open my eyes more often.  I don’t want to miss an opportunity to help again.  And I want to make some promises to my female friends and family members.  I want them to know that I am among the MAJORITY of men who find rape disgusting.  That I’m furious at the men who do it, the men who cover it up, and the men who pretend that the victim probably brought it on herself.  I want them to know that inasmuch as it depends on me, I will fight for their safety.  That if they’ve been attacked, I will do what I can to defend them, and if they share their story with me they will be BELIEVED and not blamed.  I want them to know that I take personal responsibility for my actions and if I’ve ever been wrong or treated them inappropriately I am not only sorry–but I MEAN that I’m sorry and I will do everything I can to change…

I want to promise to do better, to be better, and to fight against what’s worse.  I hope others will help me do that.  I don’t know what that means just yet.

I do know that I’ve donated to RAINN this weekend.  If you’d like to do likewise, please visit https://donate.rainn.org/.  People who’ve been hurt need to know that there’s a story after the story, and organizations like RAINN help people find it.  Check them out.  But be forewarned…donating to a charity doesn’t take away the pain of knowing what you missed.  It’s just something you can do.

Thanks for your time in reading this post.  I have a lot of internal processing to do.  Probably a lot of people do…I just happen to think out loud.

 

Stuff I’m Working On

Like the title says…here are some updates/announcements about stuff I’m working on…

  1. A couple months ago, a friend started a blog about pro-wrestling.  We were talking about maybe me writing some contributions for it, mostly write-ups of my memories of old angles, Pay-Per-Views, etc…  Stuff that I liked as a kid/teen that maybe a modern audience didn’t see live.  Then he stopped writing the blog.  Don’t know why; haven’t discussed it…  But I liked the idea and I still want to do it.  So occasionally, I’ll be posting those pieces here.  I’ll be calling those posts “Wrestling With My Memories” and they’ll start coming pretty soon.  I’ve got a big list of stuff to write about, and maybe it’ll get me posting more frequently.
  2. As you’re all aware, I’m working on an album for early 2018 called “It Could Be Worse.”  I’ve been on pause with it for the last few weeks.  Things got busy and I need to be in the mood to do vocal takes.  It’ll get done.  Just need to get off my butt.  Right now, the mic stands are out in my car following my last gig with Mike Feldman last weekend…so that’s where we are in the process.  🙂
  3. I’m also going to be bringing back my old podcast soon.  I was doing “Empty Checking” on a weekly or every-other-weekly basis for about a year.  I stopped for a few reasons.  In part, I got a roommate and it got hard to find a quiet hour to talk into a microphone about the shit I bought. But I also got a little burnt out on it.  And I stopped buying comic books, which was making up probably 90% of the podcast at the time.  But I liked doing it and I’m living alone again…so why not?  It’ll be a different experience this time.  Few if any comics.  Mostly music.  And I’m looking into hosting options…the one I was using at the time was okay, but I think I can do better.  I’m actually considering doing the whole thing on YouTube and just posting the videos in the blog.  And there will probably be a *slight* redesign of that blog just to mark the change. We shall see…  As soon as I’ve got a host figured out, I’ll start promoting it here.
  4. I’m also outlining my NEXT musical project.  Yes, I know the first one isn’t done.  But I’ve got a bunch of oddball, proggy songs that’ve been looking for a home for years…so I’m stitching them together.  No idea on a release date for that.  Late next year?  We’ll see…  But I’ve realized that I’ve got one–ONE–ridiculous, pretentious-assed prog record in me, so I’m working on it.  My default is the rock meets folk meets country meets punk thing I’ve always done…  But prog and heavier music have always been a big part of my life, and I want to make my own, humble contribution to the genre…finally..  The working title is “Complete Departure.”  Because it would be–it won’t fit with anything else I’ve ever done.  But, of course, that title is subject to change.  It’s an ambitious project.  And it might even get scrapped as I freak out about it while recording…but if I don’t talk about it, I won’t think about it…so here we are.
  5. The *other* thing I’m working on is losing some goddamn weight.  I’ve been “heavy” for a few years now and I’m willing to accept that I’m not going to get back to “thin.”  But lately, it’s been a number I’m just not comfortable with anymore.  So I’m going to do something about it.  I’m pricing exercise bikes.  So far, I’m only short by the cost of one exercise bike.  Also when I first wrote this, I misspelled “exercise.”  So that bodes well.

And that’s the stuff I’m working on.  Couple more small bullet points below…but wanted to do a post just about upcoming projects, rather than my standard “everything/nothing” posts.

Current Listening:

  • I’ve been getting in to Dinosaur Jr.  Never really listened to them before now.  Wow.  This band is where “grunge” came from in the 90s and most of the kids in flannel had no idea.  A lot of them probably still don’t.  Enjoying the hell out of them.  Present favorite album is “Without A Sound.”
  • Also been listening to solo J Mascis (the front-man of Dinosaur Jr).  He’s great as an acoustic solo artist.  The “Tied to a Star” album is a gem that I’ve overlooked for FAR too long.
  • Manchester Orchestra – “A Black Mile to the Surface”  (aka – “A Bad Title for a Great Album”) – GREAT release.  Took me three listens, but this thing’s an epic and it’s worth every listen.

Recent Reading:

  • I read George Saunders’ novel “Lincoln in the Bardo” about three weeks ago and it’s still with me.  I’ve been wanting to share about it.  It’s a quick read.  Think it only took me like three sittings.  It’s written almost like a play in quickly attributed dialogue.  It’s about the death of Abraham Lincoln’s young son Willie.  What is known in real-life history is that Abraham Lincoln visited his son’s tomb after he was interred and held the lifeless body in his arms for a while–a vision of Lincoln most people probably do not call to mind when he is mentioned.  Saunders took that concept and ran with it.  “Bardo” dives deep into the spirit world and examines what the residents of the graveyard must’ve thought of it…but it’s so much more than a ghost story.  The book is an examination of grief and while yes, it helps to know a ***little*** about the history, it’s largely unnecessary.  The Lincolns are just a backdrop for Saunders’ greater points about death, mourning, and giving the dead permission to die while the living gain permission to live.  It’s chilling, moving, and stunning.  You definitely could do worse than to make this the next thing you read.

And that’s it.  Goodnight.

For Once, I Think I Said It Best on Twitter

No names because I’m not sure who in his life knows and who doesn’t. Some of you might figure it out. Some won’t. Some will assume the wrong person. But I needed to share this for my own sake. This is from my twitter feed in the wee hours of 7/23. I know most people probably missed it. So I’m putting it here too, because it helps me to think about it. Thanks for reading.


* Note – I overestimated. It’s closer to 15 years.

Something happier next time, I promise.

“Woah, slow down there maestro. There’s a *New* Mexico?” – Montgomery Burns

I don’t normally like to do two random posts right next to one another, but it’s been a couple weeks and I don’t have any one subject worth posting about.  (But at least the first one’s long.)  So…Simpson’s quote in the title…and here we go…

  1. Saw Iron Maiden with my brother last night.  I think it was my 7th time seeing them, if I’m counting right.  Maybe eighth?  It gets hard to remember.  It was Dave’s 10th show though.  (He seemed sure.)  Maiden is one of my favorite live acts and they were in rare form last night, all looking to have a ton of fun playing for a crowd that seemed largely unfamiliar with their newer material.  (That always drives me nuts.  They put out a new album last year, have been touring behind it since, and their setlist has been online the whole time.  Look at the set, buy or–ugh–stream the album, and sing along!)  Didn’t buy a shirt last night because they didn’t have the football shirt at the merch booth, so I’ve ordered it from their website.  The regular shirts were $40, and there just wasn’t one I liked enough to pay that much.
    Ghost opened for Maiden.  They’re OK, not great.  I like two songs; in fairness they did play them both.  I’ve really TRIED to like them.  I like what they THINK they’re doing, and the music is strong…but the vocals are kind of weak, in my opinion.  The guy just sounds like he should be fronting a power-pop band, not a willfully Satanic black-metal act.  But, they set a decent tone and served as a strong opener for Maiden.  I think they probably brought in some people who would’ve otherwise been on the fence or not gone at all, too.  So that’s good.
    Maiden’s this whole other thing, man.  I sometimes forget to mention them as one of my favorite bands, but they definitely are.  Steve Harris is one of my top bass influences, and Bruce Dickinson has inspired a lot of the screamier side of my vocal technique (although I don’t do it even a fraction as powerfully).  Their sound is so massive and their songs so energetic and their stage show so fun that seeing them is almost a life-changing experience…from the first time you see them onward, you just start including the phrase “I saw Maiden this one time and…” in your concert conversations.  Good show last night. Not the best I’ve ever seen them, but maybe the most fun I’ve ever seen them have.  And that means a lot as a fan.
  2. I was very disappointed to see that in the space of two days, Message author Eugene Peterson took a stance in support of the LGBTQ community, then immediately back-pedaled when it threatened his bank account.  Coward.  But then, he’s made a whole career of misrepresenting the words of Christ.  Why should he be expected to stand behind his own?  (Sorry…I just think transliterations are a bastardization of scripture that should be avoided.  There are plenty of proper translations that are plainly readable. I do own a copy of the Message.  It sits next to my copy of the Book of Mormon.  Because I put the same stock in them both.)
  3. Speaking of books… I’ve been reading Denis Johnson’s “Jesus’ Son” so named after a line in The Velvet Underground’s “Heroin.”  And that’s fitting.  It’s a bunch of semi-related short stories all told by the same narrator (known only as “Fuckhead”) and all of the stories involve drugs in one way or another from what I can tell.  It’s a quick read and a fun one. Plays with your head a little.  I can see why people were raving about the guy in the days following his death.  Wish I’d discovered him before he passed away.
  4. Bought a couple cool Summer hats at Levine Hats in downtown St. Louis.  They’re both of the straw variety and kind of trilby-shaped.  Although one’s a lot closer to a traditional fedora shape.  Most people don’t know the difference…as a quick primer, what Indiana Jones wears is a fedora.  What you THINK is a fedora is a trilby.  I like both of the hats.  They’re nice ones and they’re doing a great job keeping the sun out of my eyes.  🙂
  5. The new record is going okay.  I’ve sort of started on vocals in that I did a few takes and didn’t like them.  I’m a little too loose in my presentation.  I want to get a little stronger and tighter in my approach and present something I’m really happy with.  The vocal track is a large part of why I’m taking almost a full year on this one.  I want this record to be my best vocal performance to date.  And I think the songs are strong enough to make that a real possibility…  But the first takes aren’t there yet.  🙂
  6. I’ve got a gig coming up with the Feldman Group at the end of the month (the 29th, I believe).  It’s at a little bar that Mike plays a lot because they’re pretty loyal to him.  It’s not the kind of place I’d normally hang out, but they treat Mike and his band well.  And a gig’s a gig.  It’ll be fun.
  7. Doctor Who was REALLY FUCKING GREAT this season.  Sad Peter Capaldi’s leaving just so they can get all the fan-girls back with a younger, prettier guy again.  Or there are rumors that they might case a woman as the Doctor this time, too.  Which I feel would be a mistake.  Not because I won’t keep watching…but because I think MOST people won’t keep watching (see the Ghostbusters reboot).  There’s a formula to that show…you just can’t stray too far away from it and keep the fanbase.  Casting a woman would be a transparent publicity stunt to show everybody how PC they are that would end up tanking the ratings after a couple of weeks.  The legacy of the show and likely the actress they’d shoehorn into the role would both deserve better.  But of course, everything’s pure speculation at this point.  Personally, I’d love to see them offer the role to Simon Pegg.  Or failing that to an actor EVEN OLDER than Capaldi.  Like if Max Von Sydow isn’t doing anything…
  8. I’m up late because I forgot that I needed to do laundry.  Seems to happen to me a lot. Should really just set a day and stick to it.
  9. It was announced earlier in the week that Nick Lowe will be coming to town in October with Los Straightjackets along with him.  Tickets go on sale tomorrow.  So…in other news…tomorrow I’m going to be buying tickets to see Nick Lowe with Los Straightjackets.  How could I possibly pass up seeing one of my favorite pop singers with one of my favorite Mexican Luchador surf bands?

And that’s where I’m going to stop, because I’m tired.  I’ll try to post again soon.  I think I’ve got a thing or two coming up that merit posts of their own, anyway!

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Current Listening:

  • Still Maiden. Mostly the stuff they didn’t play at the show.  🙂

“What is it with cherubs? I mean, are they barfing or something?” – Millhouse Van Houten

As long time readers of the blog (if any) know, the Simpson’s quote in the title means this is a random post.  However, I’ve been told there are some folks passing around my blog address to members of the McGuire Family so they can read the post I wrote about Momma McGuire.  I’m touched by that.  In case you’re one of those folks and you only got the general blog address, the direct link is here: https://derekbrink.wordpress.com/2017/06/12/rest-in-peace-momma-mcguire/. Thanks for stopping by!

Now…here’s the usual format…

  1. I’ve learned that St. Louis staple bar/restaurant Cicero’s is closing.  That’s sad to learn.  Been around since before I was born.  They say that they have “determined it no longer makes sense to continue.” Which doesn’t really answer any questions.  To most people in town the news comes as a shock and the announcement ITSELF doesn’t make sense…but I guess they probably have their reasons, some of them probably stemming from the original owner’s death last year.  (But I read the release and it’s a bitter mess with no real information in it.  We’ll never know what really went wrong, I’d imagine.)  I’ll miss Cicero’s.  I kinda fell in love with somebody there, once.  But she determined that it didn’t make sense to continue, too…so there you go.
  2. I’ve been sick today.  I blame Burger King.  I haven’t gone to Burger King in probably close to a decade for lunch/dinner (I’ve had a couple breakfasts), so I guess my resistance was low.  Or the sauce they gave me for my nuggets was bad.  It’s kind of defeating to have food poisoning.  Eating’s the one thing I do really well and I even managed to fuck that up.  Stayed home today.  Think I slept for about 6 hours of what would’ve been my 8 hour work day.  And now I’m writing this, which is the first thing I’ve done that you could call “productive” all day.
  3. I think I mentioned some time ago that I’d started reading Paul Auster’s novel “4321.”  Well, I’m within the last quarter of the book.  I put it down for a while and took longer than I meant to in order to get back to it.  It’s a great book, but it’s a difficult read.  (As an example, the sentences are very long, complex sentences that seem like run-ons, but are grammatically correct.  I counted one particularly long one and on a page with 38 lines on it, 21 were one SENTANCE.  Not paragraph. Sentence.  And there’s 866 pages of that.  It’s a tough read, even though it’s great.  It’s like scaling Everest, if you really like climbing mountains.  After this, I’m going to read some short stories by Denis Johnson, with whom I was unfamiliar prior to his death, but who came highly recommended by those mourning him.  Even if they’re hard short stories, at least they’ll be SHORT!  🙂
  4. I’ve picked up a TON of new music in the last couple weeks.  Just among the new releases, I’ve picked up stuff by Jason Isbell, Jade Jackson, Cheap Trick, Flogging Molly, Roger Waters, Glen Campbell, and Los Straightjackets.  And it feels like I’m missing one or two…  So far no stinkers…  But I also don’t have a frontrunner for my favorite album of the year yet.  There’s plenty in the running, though.
  5. Had a bit of a power outage on Saturday night into Sunday.  I was without power for 9 hours.  Some others in town hit at least 24.  Because every storm in Florissant is absolutely the first one we’ve ever experienced.  In fairness, it was a pretty aggressive one.  Knocked down some branches at the house, too.  Although I was up for it, and it didn’t seem that bad.  Over in about 30 seconds.  But I guess that’s enough.
  6. Don’t have anything to update on the progress of my next record (“It Could Be Worse.”)  I need to do vocal takes, but keep putting it off.  Which may be a good thing, actually, as the song “No One Leaves St. Louis” needs a small re-write because it mentioned goddamn Cicero’s in a way that implies it’s open…  So for once my laziness is a blessing in disguise.  It’s going to be a good record though, and I’m excited about it.  I have set up the microphones in a somewhat experimental way for the vocal takes–I want to use the room to create a natural reverb and I think I’ve got a decent approach…just need to actually TRY it now.
  7. I paused between entries 6 and 7 to deal with my stomach issues again.  I have no idea what I was originally going to write here.  I’m just hoping to make it to work tomorrow at this point.  Don’t worry…I’m staying hydrated.
  8. I think I noted previously that Dave and I have tickets to see the Descendents play in St. Louis in October.  Last week it was announced that The Get Up Kids will be opening.  I LOVE The Get Up Kids!  in the early 2000s, they were regularly in my player right next to the Descendents.  I associate those two bands with one another, and I’ve never seen the Get Ups, either!  So the show became a two-fer for me!
  9. There’s a cool guitar pedal board thing I really want to buy.  But it’s a little bit expensive and I’m not in a regularly playing band right now, so I’m having trouble justifying it.  If I were at least playing at a church every week, I could maybe talk myself into it, but we’re not there yet.
  10. I’ve been lazy about getting plugged in to a church.  Got used to sleeping in on Sundays, mostly.  Plus, there keep being other factors keeping me away.  Like a Memorial Day picnic, or the person I know at the church is going to be out of town and I don’t want to sit alone, or there’s a storm that knocks out my power overnight, or I’ll look at the clock and realize it’s 4am and I’m still up so there’s no way in hell I’m waking up in time, and stuff like that.  God probably understands that, huh?

Well…this is a bad post and I’m exhausted from being sick.  So I’m going to stop.  I’ll try to be interesting again soon.

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Current Listening:

  • Jade Jackson – Gilded — Heard a lot of this record milling about in Barnes & Noble while my brother shopped for a Father’s Day gift for our Dad.  Liked it a lot, asked who it was, and bought it.  It was produced by a member of Social Distortion (although it’s NOTHING like them), which might have something to do with why I liked it.  Good folky rock.
  • Jason Isbell – The Nashville Sound — Pretty good.  Not his best album (that’d still be “Southeastern”) but it’s got some deep hooks and I like it a lot.  For the first time in a while, the rock songs are stronger than the ballads.  So that’s pretty cool.