My friend, Nancy, sent me this. I love the blues and was playing some on my guitar just last night. It's funny because I was listening to Larry Monroe's Blue Monday last night, during his Hound Dog Taylor set and thinking similar thoughts. And for all you people who don't live in Austin, you can listen to KUT online. We've got some fabulous music shows! They've even got an iPhone app.
HOW TO SING THE BLUES: A PRIMER
--submitted by Charles Johnston
1. Most Blues begin with: "Woke up this morning...."
2. "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the Blues, unless you stick something nasty in the next line like, "I got a good woman, with the meanest face in town."
3. The Blues is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes... sort of: "Got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Yes, I got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher, and she weigh 500 pound."
4. The Blues is not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch--ain't no way out.
5. Blues cars: Chevys, Fords, Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Blues don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or Sport Utility Vehicles. Most Blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft and state-sponsored motor pools ain't even in the running. Walkin' plays a major part in the blues lifestyle. So does "fixin' to die."
6. Teenagers can't sing the Blues. They ain't fixin' to die yet. Adults sing the Blues. In Blues, "adulthood" means being old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.
7. Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or any place in Canada. Hard times in Minneapolis or Seattle is probably just clinical depression. Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City are still the best places to have the Blues. You cannot have the blues in any place that don't get rain.
8. A man with male pattern baldness ain't the blues. A woman with male pattern baldness is. Breaking your leg 'cause you were skiing is not the blues. Breaking your leg 'cause a alligator be chomping on it is.
9. You can't have no Blues in a office or a shopping mall. The lighting is wrong. Go outside to the parking lot or sit by the dumpster.
10. Good places for the Blues:
c. empty bed
d. bottom of a whiskey glass
Bad places for the Blues:
b. gallery openings
c. Ivy League institutions
d. golf courses
11. No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, 'less you happen to be a old ethnic person, and you slept in it.
12. Do you have the right to sing the Blues? Yes, if:
a. you older than dirt
b. you blind
c. you shot a man in Memphis
d. you can't be satisfied
a. you have all your teeth
b. you were once blind but now can see
c. the man in Memphis lived
d. you have a 401K or trust fund
13. Blues is not a matter of color. It's a matter of bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the blues. Sonny Liston could. Ugly white people also got a leg up on the blues.
14. If you ask for water and your darlin' give you gasoline, it's the Blues. Other acceptable Blues beverages are:
a. cheap wine
b. whiskey or bourbon
c. muddy water
d. nasty black coffee
The following are NOT Blues beverages:
d. Slim Fast
15. If death occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's a Blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another Blues way to die. So are the electric chair, substance abuse and dying lonely on a broken-down cot. You can't have a Blues death if you die during a tennis match or while getting liposuction.
16. Some Blues names for women:
b. Big Mama
d. Fat River Dumpling
17. Some Blues names for men:
c. Little Willie
d. Big Willie
18. Persons with names like Michelle, Amber, Jennifer, Debbie, and Heather can't sing the Blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.
19. Make your own Blues name Starter Kit:
a. name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.)
b. first name (see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, etc.)
c. last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.)
For example: Blind Lime Jefferson, Jakeleg Lemon Johnson or Cripple Kiwi Fillmore, etc. (Well, maybe not "Kiwi.")
20. I don't care how tragic your life: if you own a computer, you cannot sing the blues.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Sunday, April 25, 2010
That's me! Taken by Ricë!
Another FABulous day here in Austin. My friends Ricë and Earl came to town today and we walked down to the Art Festival on Cesar Chavez. It was a sunny warm day, but with enough of a breeze that it wasn't overwhelming. We ate Amy's ice cream and wandered around and looked at everything, but, then probably most of you know that since Ricë tweeted about every two minutes. Lots of people stopped to talk to Ricë because she's so, ummm, unusual and colorful looking. Earl was pretty colorful, too. Me? Drab!
I was planning to work on my new journal today, but I didn't get much done on that. After we walked around every booth at the Art thing, we went over to Congress and had flights of wine and cheese at Cork & Co. It was quite delicious, but triply so because of the company. Ricë had a flight called "It's complicated," and I had one of all Cabs, and Earl had some that were fairly sweet, but all nicely balanced with the cheeses. Fortunately we walked back up SoCo to get home. A guy offered to sell us some vagina necklaces. We weren't really sure where on your vagina you'd put a necklace, and didn't really want to ask, so we just said "No, thank you!" We did have to stop and get a cupcake at Hey Cupcake on the way home...
Ricë and Earl photographing me photographing them on Congress...
Next were the trips to Whole Foods and Central Market so Ricë could get genmaicha tea and vegetables and cheeses and stuff. They were playing a cool mix of sixties stuff - Beatles and MoTown - that had me dancing the mango mambo in the aisles. Ricë was dancing, too. As we were checking out the security guy, a DPS agent asked Earl if he had it (us) under control. "Got any handcuffs?" Earl asked.
"Oh, a DATE," the guy said.
So maybe tomorrow I'll finish the journal.
Friday, April 23, 2010
I show Ben Franklin my journal.
He shows me the Declaration of Independence.
Fair trade, I think.
I am in Austin again after being wined and dined and made much of. I went to Franklin College, in Franklin, IN, my grandfather, Elmer Davis's alma mater, for an awards ceremony. This is the 100th anniversary of his graduation from Franklin and they occasionally give an award to an alum who has distinguished himself in the field of Journalism. Joe McConnell was the honoree. It's not an annual thing, by any means, but every now and then the college chooses to honor someone, and, since this year was the centenary of Elmer's graduation, Franklin invited me and my step-mom to come and be honored, too.
It all had a rather ridiculous aspect to it. No one knows who my grandfather is/was anymore. No one. If you're over eighty and can remember anything, you might think his name was familiar, but how many people is that? And among young people? My generation? No one. I have met only two people my age who knew who knew who my grandfather was in my whole life: both were in radio.
So to go somewhere, and have people pick you up in a limo, to have college students tell you they are honored to shake your hand, to have a whole fraternity of young men wear caps with your grandfather's name emblazoned on them and give you an award just for being the progeny of a now-unknown man, well, you begin to think you're stuck in some kind of movie, like The Truman Show, or you have slipped into some alternate reality.
Admittedly, Franklin College, with 1000 students, is a small alternate reality. It's a truly beautiful, tiny liberal arts college in a lovely tiny town in the middle of Indiana. It could be used as a movie set for a turn of the century movie... The last century, of course. There were dogwoods, redbuds, lilacs, violets all still abloom, making the campus even more beautiful.
For all its tinyness, it has a journalism school, not a school of communications, like the august university in my home town, with its emphasis on broadcast media. No, this is a real 'J' school, with the emphasis on writing and the critical thought it brings with it. Yes, Franklin has a broadcast studio, and a radio station, and video and audio editing capabilities, all up to date with the latest equipment. And they have a public relations department, because, I found out, that is what a lot of J majors go into. But it all begins with writing. (The college president, Jay Moseley, and I had a chat about the importance, not only of 'writing,' but of handwriting during the honors dinner.)
The college is named for Ben Franklin and there are statues of him all over. One statue gets repainted frequently by students.
Here Ben is, painted pink, with a silver metallic bra,
for breast cancer awareness.
Ginger and I stayed at the lovely Alumni house, and ate lunch at the student union, which had a wonderful peanut butter and jelly sandwich station: six kinds of bread, bagels, butter, cream cheese, peanut butter and two kinds of jelly! They had regular food too, including a great salad bar.
Seniors Whitney and Isaac with Prof. Ray Begovich
on the porch of the Alumni House.
I find it very hard to return to reality. No limos, no one knowing who my grandfather is or why he was important, and, sadly, no pb&j bar.