Sunday, December 27, 2009

Union Street House Fire Photos

I took a short walk over to the house on Union Street where my friend Glenn lives and talked to him and his son standing outside their heavily damaged house. His son Henry woke up at 2AM for some reason and heard glass break downstairs. He woke his dad up, saving both their lives says Glenn, and ran downstairs to find the back of the house in flames. The fire started on the porch out back and Henry said he wonders if the glass he heard was breaking due to heat or if some sort of molotov cocktail had been thrown through the porch window. Glenn said he thinks his record collection survived and was already talking about pulling some music for his show on WMUA this Friday.

Poetry amidst the ashes.
Local photographer Paul Shoul and a city worker survey the damage.
A helicopter circled the neighborhood for over an hour, seen here over Glenn's home.
Below, a city police officer posts an arson alert sign.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Singing Leonard Cohen songs at Joe's Pizza

You'd get your ass kicked in West Virginia for this kind of thing. I was eating alone at Joe's, reading the profound new issue of Adbusters and sipping a Stella. Local artist/teacher Rick Gifford, his wife and friends sat across from me and somehow Leonard Cohen came up in their conversation. Rick started singing "Everybody Knows" and, at a loss for all the lyrics, someone pulled out their li'l blackberry-ipod-phone-a-majig and located the lyrics. He handed it to Rick and we all started into singing the whole song. We talked about Cohen and how many people have covered him, including Rufus Wainwright, one of the many who've taken on the song Hallelujah.

Rufus is on Sundance Monday night: "Aiming to be a documentary about a pop star (Rufus Wainwright) who composes and stages a classical opera, "Prima Donna," which airs Monday night on the Sundance Channel, instead winds up being a heartfelt 90-minute guide to the care and feeding of a young genius." Wainwright appears at Northampton's Calvin Theatre on Valentine's Day Weekend.

Rick said U2 covers Cohen's "Tower Of Song" and we all set into that one next, with an assist from the great lyric cloud in the digital sky.

"Tower of Song" by Leonard Cohen

Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey
I ache in the places where I used to play
And I'm crazy for love but I'm not coming on
I'm just paying my rent every day
Oh in the Tower of Song
I said to Hank Williams: how lonely does it get?
Hank Williams hasn't answered yet
But I hear him coughing all night long
A hundred floors above me
In the Tower of Song

I was born like this, I had no choice
I was born with the gift of a golden voice
And twenty-seven angels from the Great Beyond
They tied me to this table right here
In the Tower of Song

So you can stick your little pins in that voodoo doll
I'm very sorry, baby, doesn't look like me at all
I'm standing by the window where the light is strong
Ah they don't let a woman kill you
Not in the Tower of Song

Now you can say that I've grown bitter but of this you may be sure
The rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor
And there's a mighty judgement coming, but I may be wrong
You see, you hear these funny voices
In the Tower of Song

I see you standing on the other side
I don't know how the river got so wide
I loved you baby, way back when
And all the bridges are burning that we might have crossed
But I feel so close to everything that we lost
We'll never have to lose it again

Now I bid you farewell, I don't know when I'll be back
There moving us tomorrow to that tower down the track
But you'll be hearing from me baby, long after I'm gone
I'll be speaking to you sweetly
From a window in the Tower of Song

Yeah my friends are gone and my hair is grey
I ache in the places where I used to play
And I'm crazy for love but I'm not coming on
I'm just paying my rent every day

"Everybody Knows"
by Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows
Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died

Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long stem rose
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that you love me baby
Everybody knows that you really do
Everybody knows that you've been faithful
Ah give or take a night or two
Everybody knows you've been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet
Without your clothes
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

And everybody knows that it's now or never
Everybody knows that it's me or you
And everybody knows that you live forever
Ah when you've done a line or two
Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old Black Joe's still pickin' cotton
For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows

And everybody knows that the Plague is coming
Everybody knows that it's moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Are just a shining artifact of the past
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows

And everybody knows that you're in trouble
Everybody knows what you've been through
From the bloody cross on top of Calvary
To the beach of Malibu
Everybody knows it's coming apart
Take one last look at this Sacred Heart
Before it blows
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

Oh everybody knows, everybody knows
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Saturday Morning

"Gonna buy me a case."

Josh at Turn It Up! said that Ian's goal is to find a picture of the artist for every divider card.

Artistic activity in the alley by Northampton Wools.

Even the porta-potty people understand something about symmetry.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Annual Hot Chocolate Run to Benefit Safe Passage

What's a hot chocolate run without mashmallows?

DJ Bex Zumbruski and WHMP's Bill Dwight. Bex hosts a monthly dance party at The Rendezvous and you can sometimes catch her on the airwaves bringing the jazz on 88.5 WFCR.

The ubiquitous Monte from WRSI 93.9 The River.

"Safe Passage provides non-judgmental support, shelter, counseling, and an abundance of resources to women, children, and families affected by domestic violence. Join Safe Passage in working to create a community where violence is not the answer."

Sunday, November 29, 2009

C3 Public Art in Northampton

On my way to Northampton Coffee today I saw what I thought was snow on the lawn of the Chamber of Commerce. It was 50 degrees so obviously this was not the case. As I got closer I realized it was plastic cups. Matt Winum was in the process of doing an installation, funded by the Chamber of Commerce (B.I.D.?) and conceived by Commonwealth Center for Change (C3) for the Winter Windows Project. The cups will be illuminated at night. Matt also did the 2x4s and sleds installation in front of Urban Outfitters.
This shot is from Matt's Valley Artshare page.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Chill Pill

Claustrophobia Dream

This morning I awoke in a panic. I'd had a claustrophobia dream. In the dream I am climbing the stairs to an attic room where my childhood friend Stuart Malone lives. Stuart died of a heroin overdose when he was 26. At the top there's some sort of wall abutment or architectural oddity protruding into the narrow stairwell. It requires bending and twisting into an unnatural and tight position to maneuver the final stairs and emerge into the attic room. I never make it into the room. There's a tense moment where I'm positioned almost upside down such that my arm is wedged and moving it will cause it to break when my full body weight lets go. My panic makes me want to jerk it quickly and escape, and it's from this bone-threatening position that I awoke this morning gasping for breath, freeing myself from the blankets and jumping out of bed waving my arms in the air to verify that I was not trapped. I was shaking and filled with a sense of deja vu and dread. I remembered this stairway squeeze vividly. Was it an actual memory or a memory of a dream? It had to be from a dream because the existence of such a thing makes no sense. Claustrophobia is not one of my big phobias. I had an MRI once and didn't panic. It was equipped with mirrors which gave the illusion that you were in the room and not in the tube. But all day today I've been feeling panic when I remember the dream. And here's the weirdest thing. An hour after I awoke I read this story in the Gazette over a bagel.

"John Jones, 26, of Stansbury Park, died nearly 28 hours after he became stuck upside-down in Nutty Putty Cave, a popular spelunking site about 80 miles south of Salt Lake City. John Jones was part of a group of 11 people exploring the cave passages. The 6-foot-tall, 190-pound spelunker got stuck with his head at an angle below his feet about 9 p.m. MST Tuesday. At times more than 50 rescuers were involved in trying to free him." The whole story is here. (The photo is not from this specific incident.)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday in the Sixties

It was a warm November Sunday in Northampton with temps reaching well into the sixties. I was a wanderin' fool with my camera and the idiot glee that comes from an unexpectedly gorgeous day. Below, left to right, a local musical icon convergence in front of the Woodstar Cafe on Masonic Street with Michael Gregory, Roger Salloom's 93 year old mother, Roger Salloom.

Looking for deals in the discount CD rack at Turn It Up! (umm....pull 'em up).

I often see some unfamiliar street musicians on Saturdays and Sundays; weekend warriors compared to the 9 to 5 guys who are out there every day.

Here's Adam (and friend) with his guitar on the front porch of the notorious "house with the red door" on King Street. Adam is also a virtuoso of the saw. Only the red door's hinged edge is visible.

A colorful bunch about to become pedestrians.

And they're off!

If you want this worm, it's going to cost you.

This is local boxing coach Djata Bumpus of Pioneer Valley Boxing School who's been a fixture in town for years. But he's much more than just a boxer as you'll see on his blog Djatajabs. The purpose of his blog is "for people to be able to recognize and understand cultural and social developments in the United States, based upon the lifelong journey of an African American activist, educator, artist, and retired pro boxer."

Who's zoomin' who?

Local girls agree to be immortalized on the Nohodome.

Sweet job for someone.

Hmmm. Is the B.I.D. behind this? They painted all the lamp posts black but you'd think maybe there would be an attempt to match the color of cement when patching the sidewalk. This looks terrible, and right in front of the Hotel Northampton too.

There's a planet on the roof of the hotel...
...and on the front stairs.

Trying on jackets at Roz' Place on Bridge Street. Note the amazing vintage radio collection. Bakelite!

Not sure I can rock the Ramones look anymore despite my admittedly bad ass rock and roll lifestyle that has me up as late as 9PM most nights.

A delivery truck hit the marquee right after the other side was repaired for the same reason. Grrrrr! Knocked the lights out too so it just glows VIN.

A zen moment with Ani DiFranco who plays the Calvin tonight. My friend Katie is taking me and insisting I will enjoy myself.