Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

Flashback 1969: At the Playground with Joe and His Grease Band

Joe Cocker. Unknown to many before this appearance at Woodstock.

May 1969. With a friend I enter the Kinetic Playground in Chicago where we are to see the Who in concert. The opening act is a group called Joe Cocker and the Grease Band. I had never heard of them. We take our seats, which are actually not seats because everyone sits on the floor. So, Joe and the Grease Band come out and start to play and . . . Whoa. They knocked everybody out. These guys, Englishmen, were quite good, especially Joe, with his spastic moves and guttural bellowing of songs. That band left a lasting impression on me.

Fast forward to a few months later, August 1969. I'm looking over the front page of the New York Times at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. I'm in the second week of basic training in the Army. The photo in the paper shows the masses at the music festival at Woodstock. I didn't know it then but Joe Cocker and the Grease Band had played at Woodstock and had made an indelible mark in rock music history.

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of Woodstock this weekend, I will watch my DVD of the Woodstock movie and once again be mesmerized by Joe and the Grease Band's version of the Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends." Watch it above. Starts slowly, then roars. Knocks me out.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Like a Stake in the Heart"

Gang member at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota.

Samuel, an adopted youth at the Pine Ridge Reservation, was a 14-year-old ninth grader when this photo was taken earlier this year. Samuel was adopted by a Pine Ridge family who has many other adopted children from dysfunctional families on the reservation. Through the Dakota Youth Project, a sponsor from Germany is sending monthly support for Samuel. The Pine Ridge school dropout rate is reported to be 70% or more. I wonder how Samuel is doing.

THIS article is a sad commentary on gang problems on American Indian reservations, while THIS article is specifically about the Pine Ridge reservation.

Vic Glover, a Vietnam vet (combat medic), journalist, and Pine Ridge resident, has written a series of short essays on life on the reservation entitled "Keeping Heart on Pine Ridge." From his book:

"People out there in the American world don't know how pitiful America's First Citizens really are....They don't know that 67 percent of the population here lives in third-world poverty, and half the people over forty-five suffer from diabetes. People don't seem to know or care that there is more than 85 percent unemployment and an incredible rate of alcoholism and dysfunction, infant mortality, and teenage suicide. The enormity of the problems are as staggering as America's neglect. Like a stake in the heart....When America is having a hard time, life then becomes especially difficult for many of her native people....We rely on each other, get by and keep the fire lit."

And THIS site details the story of troubled Pine Ridge youth. No wonder there is so much despair.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Coexisting: Madeline Rose and Ali Baba

This is my cat, Maddie. She's 13 and has been queen of my house for many years. One of her favorite perches is here on the dining room table next to the buffalo statue centerpiece. She spends a lot more time there now to avoid this intruder into her life . . .
. . . Ali Baba, whom I acquired recently from my son Tim. Ali is a strange critter: he eats from his bowl only when I am preparing my own meals, and he curls into a ball just a couple of feet below me on the floor when it's time for my reading in bed, and, as far as I know, he doesn't move from that spot all night. When I pick up his leash, he knows that means "Outside!" and prances and kicks like a bucking bronco until I get him out the door. Hilarious. Maddie doesn't think too much of him, though: much hissing and arching of her back when he's near. A sure sign that she wants him to know it's her domain: this morning Maddie spots Ali coming down the hall toward the kitchen; she quietly steps in front of him, blocking the entire kitchen doorway. No hissing or arched back, just a rigid barrier presented to the perplexed Ali, who looks up at me with a "What do I do?" look. We'll see how this relationship develops.