I'm just going to try to get some stuff down. The times are still interesting and the days are still in the Heavy Weird stage with no end in sight.
Anyhow, it's an incredibly nice day today. The skies are clear and the weather is very pleasant. It's not too warm nor is it too cool. The day started out extremely foggy and stayed so until about 9 a.m. or so. Otherwise, a slow day and I have tried like hell to ignore the rest of the world off this hill.
I re-downloaded Yakuza 0, a game I got via Humble Bundle, to give it another shot. I like what little I played back when I first got it, but GTA-style open world games either grab my attention immediately or they percolate under. I've managed to score a lot of those games despite not being particularly in to them. I mean, I love the Saints Row series and I have enjoyed the Grand Theft Auto games I've played. On top of that, I've had fun with Sleeping Dogs and L.A. Noire, games that have played a bit with the formula.
While at the gym today, I finally broke into the James Cotton album Live & On The Move. I am particularly fond of harmonica blues but I never have been that in love with Cotton. He is a monster musician, naturally, and his stuff with Muddy Waters is always great. His vocals are a little weathered, though, same thing with Little Walter. Me, I prefer Junior Wells and Rice "Sonny Boy Williamson II" Miller. The latter is the best harpist that ever blew a cool tune, I'd say, but Wells is one of if not the pure best male blues vocalist.
I really can't get into Paul Butterfield or Charlie Musslewhite. Both are killer blowers but, to be honest, they sound like white dudes when they sing and I no longer have much patience for white blues singers. Frankly, I don't know of any white blues musician who doesn't sound too pale, Stevie Ray or Johnny Winter included. Maybe Elvin Bishop, and he just sounds like the country boy he is. Work with what you got, I say. Tinsley Ellis once told me a white guy playing the blues is always going to be blues rock, no matter how high he stacks his pompadour. Being a better than average picker himself, I'm willing to agree with him.
In any event, Live & On The Move is a smoking little album. Cotton's got a fierce, muscular band
and, as always, his harp game is 100% on point. I'd drifted away from harp blues for years, but here recently it's grabbed me again. Part of it was a trip I recently took to Memphis to revisit the town of my boyhood dreams and spend some time with my cousin and her family.
One day, she and I and her middle child walked up and down Beale Street. We went into some former grocery store turned into tchotchke supply store for tourists. Along with the t-shirts and bumper stickers and root doctor supplies and books about Memphis, they had a very nice selection of (mostly) Hohner harmonicas.
When I lived in Gainesville, I play harp and learned as much as I could, much from my friend Rob Peck (hope you're well wherever you are, pardner) and played around in a couple bands. I actually got better than average. The harmonica is a perfect example of the "easy to learn, hard to master" mentality. Though limited - most harps are only in one key, thus forcing one to carry around more than a couple - you can do some neat stuff with a harmonica with the right backing. It's obviously a lead instrument, but if you know your stuff, you can do some nifty rhythmic licks, as well.
I had a passel of harps of all keys. Unfortunately, by the time I left for Athens, most were blown completely out. You can look it up if you want, but playing blues requires "bending notes" and that bends the reeds in the harp itself. Plus, there's just natural wear and tear going on. Problem is, a good harp - even 20 years ago - would cost 20-30 bucks. Now it's more like 30-40 just for regular Marine Band or Special 20 (that's the two most popular styles Hohner makes). It's worth the money, though. Right now I have a Bluesband with plastic reeds, and you can tell the difference when there's metal reeds.
The one I have is in C, but it's fun to kick around with. I doubt I'll ever even want to play music with someone else, so it's just fun to mess around with myself. It is, of course, the standard 10-hole diatonic harp, one key only. There's other kinds - chromatic (with the button), tremolo, octave, etc. - but I've never really fooled much with them. I'd love to get me a chromatic harp and apparently octave harps are used a lot in Cajun music, so that's interesting. But for now, a cheap kickaround with plastic reeds is good enough. Maybe if I ever get some money coming in, but there's a good bit I'd like to spend money on.
Damn. I'm about out of Mendocino. Sort of amazing all that I bought on the Trip is gone already, but I guess it has been five months. I think grinding it up made it go faster. I don't know what I'm going to do. Sure as hell ain't calling the "Tater Man" and I really, really don't feel up to doing more traveling any time soon. I could have some sent through the mail to me but that always gives me the willies. Guess I'll have to adjust and the next time it comes up it'll be much more fun.
In any event, let's go enjoy it while it lasts. I'll go ahead and post this, but there will be changes. Caveat emptor.
Well, all right. Do I even want to get into the News? Regarding the whole Kurdish affair that has stirred up so much deserved indignation, the President of the United States of America said something incredibly stupid. I mean, stupid for him. Let it be known if I haven't said it before, but I've always considered Trump neither a slick conman nor a cackling ghoul. He's a rich moron who till now has been insulated from much actual work, much less criticism, because of inherited wealth and position which still keeps him a rich moron despite being complete shit but act like a rich moron.
He never wanted to actually be president. He wanted to build up enough honky butthurt with mean Ol' Lady Clinton "unfairly", as all real Americans know, in the White House to start him a news network that'd make OANN, much less FOX look like Village Voice TV. He's in over his head but too thick to recognize it, especially when Life has always told him he was Right because of his daddy's money, so the least bit of criticism or pushback sends him into a frothing, chair-gnawing fury.
It'd almost be funny if wasn't actually happening. Nevertheless, getting shirty because the Kurds didn't "help us" during World War 2 is just goddamn goofy even for that dumbass sonofabitch. We've done the Kurds dirty so many times, particularly in the last decade or so, it'd be embarrassing if that wasn't what the American Government does. Why anyone trusts us is beyond me, and that's before we let a damnfool faux game show host run the joint.
People really think this cheap bastard will make any sort of dent in the abject horror and outright evil that is America's Foreign Policy. To extrapolate on something the Good Doctor said, we're a nation of fat and stupid life insurance salesmen with crooked grins and faithless hearts, and we will cut your goddamn head off if you dare suggest we be any different or that we don't deserve this luxury we wallow in like pre-scrappled hogs.
But we make our beds and pretend we're the Good Guys while we send more kids to die and kill because there are still some people within the U.S. government sensitive about the heartiness of their yield. And then, in a few years, we'll be a gay icon who felt the need to shame folks for questioning why she'd be friends with a guy who campaigned on making her marriage not just illegal, but unconstitutional, among many other things. But I said all I'm going to say about that yesterday. Hopefully.
There's plenty more, but I'm tired. The bubbling madness in Hong Kong has spilled over to the West in perhaps some of the most unusual ways. But it was inevitable. We really don't recognize the razor's edge the U.S. government and multi-national corporations walk with China, and China does not give a fuck. China's got a billion more of their own folks to stomp flat before they get to you, you do not want them to turn their attention away.
That's the world we've made, friends and neighbors, that's the reality we've found ourselves. The question is do we want to keep it that way? Can we even change it? Or is it all just a ride and we need to get a bigger helmet.