Sunday, January 29, 2012

Beat on the Brat with a Banjo

My friend David sent me a message about the Carolina Chocolate Drops show at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton last night.  "We really loved both bands -- your prompt to get there in time for Joy Kills Sorrow was good advice. I've still got banjos twangin' around in my head. Need an afternoon of the Ramones or something to put a stop to it."  I told him that if he was pressed for time, and as short as Ramones songs are, there are equivalencies to take advantage of. For mental banjo cleansing, one serving of Motorhead's "Ace of Spades" packs the pluck purging power of the Ramones' "Beat on the Brat" and  "I Wanna Be Sedated" combined. Neither of us have anything against banjos for the record. Why do I tell you this? Because after the exchange, I was walking through town and one of the street musicians was banging out "Beat on the Brat" ON A BANJO. Can I get a witness? Did anyone else see this guy outside of Faces? True story.
This obviously isn't the same guy I saw on the streets of Northampton playing The Ramones song "Beat on the Brat" on the banjo but it clearly captures the essence of the moment and Johnny Ramone's signature assault stance.
The original.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Strolling. Pointing. Shooting.

Miracle at The Haymarket
Get The Led Out: The American Led Zeppelin plays the Calvin Theatre tonight (Saturday 1/21). Soundcheck was pretty great I have to say. I saw them do "Battle of Evermore" and the woman doing Sandy Denny's part was nailing it.
Yappy Road
Raven Books Rogue's Gallery

A primitive poet's perch. Sticks and Bricks store window on Market Street. Just up the street at The Roost, dozens loom over their laptops. Were the cafes of the past filled with people on their portable typewriters? Why not? 
Still Life with Infinite Candle and Arabian Slippers at Zephyr Rugs on Main Street
Is this thing on?
Gordon Thorne painting at A.P.E.

R. Michelson Gallery

Haymarket downstairs

Haymarket upstairs

Market Street

Artist: Chris Gentes

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Still Life With Left Ventricle

The Antique Center of Northampton located at 9 1/2 Market Street is not one store but several dozen rented booths on two floors; the main floor and a basement. The more high-brow Stuart F. Solomon Antiques on the 2nd Floor is a separate business and seems to be open on a whim or by appointment. The Antique Center, on the other hand, is everything a fun vintage stuff store should be. The prices tend to be reasonable and the variety of vendors makes for some entertaining browsing even if you aren't in the market for ceramic penguins or outsider art nativity scenes.

A vintage iPhone. One app.
Decaying rubber Disney figurines. Donald seems to be faring the best. But what of Walt?  In the decades since Walt Disney's death, the claim that he arranged for his body to be frozen has become ubiquitous. Nearly everyone has heard the story that Disney's corpse is stored in a deep-freeze chamber   somewhere -- directly under Disneyland's "Pirates of the Caribbean" attraction is the most frequently mentioned site -- awaiting the day when science can repair the damage to his body and bring 'Uncle Walt' back to life.

No antique store worth its dust should ever be without at least one clown painting. The expert on clown paintings is Diane Keaton who also dabbles in acting. She curated a book on the subject in 2002.

Sometimes, overwhelmed by a shelf-load of "pieces" (in dealer parlance), I find myself in a timeless, frictionless plain, unsure where to focus and what to feel. Every piece has an aura that exudes its history and the energies of the people who came in contact with it. From conception to creation to market to possession to dispensation and back to market. Did someone keep it until death or was it yard saled out of their lives?
All these pieces, if one believes in destiny, ended up together here for a reason, each with a storied trail of adventure. Like the little wooden canoe toy in the children's book "Paddle to the Sea," each was an inanimate witness to a specific history.
History would be rather different written by a stumpy Easter Island-esque wooden figurine, wouldn't it? Oh the lies our teachers told us and the truths that these pieces could tell were they to talk. They all saw people, frequently tacky hoarders, with their guards down completely.

These novelty drink stirrers harken back to a time when racism and sexism were still fun.

A very early DVD and a yoga baby.

Ah, the plot thickens.

Fever dream

Still Life With Left Ventricle
Calendar nude with PMS? (see note)

Mishap at the doll factory or sadistic head-swapping brother?
Ancient instruments of culinary torture.

I offer no explanation, though I fear there may be one.

Who is the lucky heir to the duck string holder fortune?

These people are weighing a baby.
After the wise men departed, leaving their frankincense and myrrh, the big man finally showed up with the Wii. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Nohodome Is Back for 2012

Eighty percent of success is showing up. This oft cited Woody Allen quote applies to blogging as much as anything. I hope to show up here at the Nohodome at least a few times a week henceforth. Welcome or welcome back. 2012 is a new garden to plant, a freshly erased chalk board, a new vacuum cleaner, a new pair of socks, an alphabetized bookshelf.
I got out of the Pioneer Valley only a few times in 2011, to Boston, Brattleboro, and Georgia, so my first hand exposure to reality has been somewhat finite geographically. Traveling brings experience into sharper focus and adds depth perception. Viewing the world solely from the vantage point of Northampton is like having one eye closed.

My theme for 2011, "first world problems,"  emerged after seeing a Louis CK bit on Conan. Not to dismiss the validity of any struggles that you or others may be dealing with, especially if you're unemployed, ill, or somehow not where you think you want to or ought to be. But especially in Northampton, life for most of us, while not luxurious, ain't so bad compared to many other places. The region is a veritable Shangri-La.

Green River Festival, July 2011
The trails behind Smith College make for a beautiful walk. 
Naturalization ceremony for new immigrants to the U.S. on the Northampton courthouse lawn on July 4th, 2011.

Al Houghton changing the Calvin marquee. IHEG (where I work) presents over 600 live concerts a year at the Calvin Theatre, Pearl Street, The Iron Horse Music Hall, and the Basement in downtown Northampton and 10+ outdoor concerts at Mountain Park in Holyoke.
The Peace Pagoda in Leverett
The Greenhouses at Smith College
A new Tumblr site is dedicated to this notion. First World Problems.  Example: “I can't get comfortable in bed even with 1000 thread-count sheets because one pillow positions my head too low and two pillows is too high."

Here is the clip from the now defunct Conan O'Brien show of Louis CK's "Everything's amazing and nobody's happy":

With the passing of George Carlin, I think Louis CK is the most visionary comedian out there. His TV series "Louie" is pushing the boundaries far beyond anyone else out there. Here's a (graphic and confrontational) clip about the origins of the word "fag." Louis always diffuses the tension and the shock with silliness and humor, but the lessons make it through.