Sunday, October 26, 2008

Around the Town: Northampton Sunday, October 26th, 2008

The view of Northampton from the hill near the entrance to Smith College on Elm Street, Rt. 9 reminds me that we're in a valley. It was an incredibly beautiful day.
"Motown Man" is the guy who wears the sparkly cape, beats on a wholesale size pickle bucket, and belts out the Motown catalog on the streets of Northampton and Amherst. The town of Amherst asked him to stop being Motown Man claiming he was not a legitimate busker because his bucket was not an actual musical instrument. "Your honor, I call John Cage to the witness stand for the defense." Northampton has so far exhibited pickle bucket percussion tolerance. A week or so ago, with Halloween in the offing, I heard him attempting Bobby "Boris" Pickett's "Monster Mash." Not technically Motown but hey, if a pickle bucket's a drum, we can stretch some genre boundaries too. He was butchering the lyrics. Barry Hansen, aka Dr. Demento is an old friend who I worked in radio with in Los Angeles. The Monster Mash is a sacred song on the Dr. Demento show (along with Bennie Bell's "Shaving Cream" and plenty of other "novelty" classics.) Out of respect for the song and its creator, I printed out the lyrics to Monster Mash and gave them to Motown Man. He was chatting with the man I know only as the son of Mentos who plays the kettle drum, bringing a little Jamaica to Northampton from time to time. Motown Man thanked me and I was on my way. I think he would have preferred money. The lyrics in hand (above), I approach Motown Man and his posse and (below) Motown Man with the lyrics. So if you hear a lyrically accurate Monster Mash, give him a buck and tell him you're impressed at his lyrical knowledge.
Maybe if we all pitch in we can get Motown Man the real thing. Or maybe I'm missing the point. Do you think maybe he's not saving up for better drums with the donations on the street? It's a possibility I've considered.
I took our new IHEG intern Carolyn Coyne to the Iron Horse this afternoon to show her the ropes with posters and artist photo displays etc. and there was Jonatha Brooke, waiting for soundcheck, happily knitting away. She was working on a pair or arm warmers or something to give to a friend who will be at tonight's show so she was on deadline. This didn't stop her and Carolyn from getting deep into knitting philosophy while I stood there feeling vestigial. I asked Carolyn to take a picture. One of my favorite albums is Jonatha's "10 cent Wings" which she says is now out of print. If you see one used, snag it! I bought a copy of her new CD "The Works" from her. Talk about eliminating the middleman! It's a great idea for an album. Words of Woody Guthrie. Music of Jonatha Brooke. The album also includes Joe Sample, Steve Gadd, and Christian McBride and special guests Keb Mo, Derek Trucks, Glen Phillips (of Toad the Wet Sprocket who plays the Horse on Halloween), and Eric Bazillian. Produced by Bob Clearmountain.

That's Carolyn Coyne below, rookie IHEG intern. She's a UMass student; an art history major, and instead of studying her painting flash cards for a crucial exam tomorrow she was putting up posters at the Iron Horse with me.
Jonatha Brooke fans gather outside the Iron Horse. I'm heading over as soon as this post is done. Jonatha owes me five bucks change for the CD!

Here are some shots of tonight's show at the Iron Horse. The show was just great. Jonatha is just a happy, funny, smart, talented person (Amherst College alum!) and it's infectious. If she were not married I would email her a proposal, back it up with a text, and close the deal with an IM. Remember in the old days when you had to fax women? And before that call them? And before that knock on their door? And before that launch a thousand ships?

Northampton aka The People's Republic of Pedestria, used to have big ALL CARS MUST STOP FOR PEDS XING signs at the crosswalks and I think they should bring them back. Out of towners routinely blaze right through and often pull the very dangerous maneuver of pulling around to pass a car that has stopped for pedestrians , generally catching everyone off guard. Last year my sister Sarah was hit and thrown 20 feet by a woman that came up Old South Street full tilt, on a cell phone, in an SUV. The perfect storm of idiocy and auto-narcissism.
Name your theory. The woman wearing these shoes was....plucked away by aliens, returned to the past very quickly, spontaneously combusted, telescoped down like Alice and is inside the left shoe now peeping for help.
Hannah and her duck, not goose, named Tomoose. Why Tomoose? She knew a dog in Alaska named Tomoose. She liked the name. I wonder if the two Tomoose's would get along? Maybe with a moose or two to mediate.
I created and distributed a new Drive By Poem today. It's by Denise Fontaine-Pincince who submitted the poem to me at You can submit a poem of your own if you want. You can read the poem and plenty more here at the Drive-By Poets site. This clearly magical little girl's name is Jayla Reilly. She was sitting on the mailbox where I'd hung the poem a little earlier. Her dad Jerry let me shoot this picture. She lives in Boston and just happened to be passing through Northampton trying out the mailboxes.
This was the last day of the 2008 Northampton Independent Film Festival aka NIFF, which I thought was some variation on MILF when I first saw it. Nanny I Find Fetching? These bagpipers were piping outside of the Academy of Music, which was the festival's home base. There is some video of the pipers at the bottom of this post.
This is David Osepowicz (pronounced Ossa Perwitz) who was peddling around on the Smith Campus when I ran into him. David is a huge music fan and thinks nothing of going to see every Neil Young or Springsteen show within 100 miles or so when possible. When I worked at Main Street Records, he was a regulat. He helps IHEG out a lot with flyering and he and I answer questions about some of the older artists when John and Brendan and Hannah in the club's music office are too young to know the story. We have the "old guy" music smarts for better or worse. You know... "Hey David, remember that awesome Blodwyn's Pig album?" That kind of thing.
David works at Smith in the Afro-American Studies department and keeps the Smithies in the know about IHEG shows with his efforts, as exemplified below in the entrance to Seelye Hall. IHEG = Iron Horse Entertainment Group for outsiders who don't know the local acronym parlance.
The gang at Northampton Cycles on Pleasant Street down near Hugo's did a great job on my Columbia 3-speed. I just got it back today. I'd been riding around with literally no brakes; precarious yet thrilling , but it was time to act. Sometimes I laugh at myself for not spending money on things that I know would solve problems and make my life easier. Duh! I don't have to ride around without brakes. I can get them fixed! I don't have to mix and match threadbare socks. I can buy new ones! I don't have to open a soup can with 100 little triangular can opener cuts. I can buy one of those winding can openers! The estimate was $30 and it ended up at $38 all in. All I'd asked them to do was fix the back brakes. Anyway, they put on new front brakes too, greased the chain, lubed the gears, inflated the tires, checked the cell structure, and wizened the windaloos. It was amazing. Next, a rack or saddle baskets for the back so I can go grocery shopping without depending on Katie to drive me. I should have thought of this in May, not October. There she is below. My bike. Not Katie. Yes I know it's a girl's bike. I like girls. I like their bikes.