July 24, 2008

Hangin' in Seattle

First cousins - they are all 6 weeks apart in age.

A short entry from the hinterlands.....

I am currently ensconced at my mother’s house in Seattle, enjoying some down time, and spending a lot of time with family. (I have 7 brothers and sisters.) The boy is thrilled to be here, as he has a mess of cousins about his own age, so any activities he wants to do need to involve them. It is fine, but we have not been able enjoy some of the finer things that Seattle has to offer. We have however visited the Experience Music Project, the Science Fiction Museum, and the Space Needle, among others.

A view of downtown Seattle from the Space Needle.

The nuts that hold the Space Needle in place.

We are able to visit one of my favorite eateries, Ivar’s Salmon House, which specializes in what else but salmon. They use nothing but the finest, freshest wild caught salmon from the northwest. Everything is cooked over alder wood fires, as was the Northwest Native tradition. Needless to say, the food was excellent. The boy loves salmon, and has since his early childhood, normally when we go to a restaurant; he orders a grilled cheese sandwich. No so this time, instead he ordered the salmon ‘sampler’ with pieces of King, Coho and Chinook salmon on a bed of greens with local produce on the side. When ask by the waiter how he liked it, his reply was “If there is a heaven, I think that I have found it.”

I managed to arrange a together last night with a handful of old high school friends for a drink and a knosh at a local restaurant. A couple of them I had not seen in perhaps 30 years. Thanks to classmates.com a number of them have come out of the wood work lately, and I able to arrange a little gathering for a handful. The fun part was that a couple of them never really know each other in high school, it was a huge school with over 600 in the graduating class, but everyone had enough friends in common that no one was left out and we all had a great time. In fact we closed down the bar we were in and the conversations continued in the parking lot for some time afterwards. We vowed to do this again next year when I am in town, and also try to shake a few more people out of the woodwork. It will be my 40th reunion next year, so it may be easier to shake them out.

A few old friends mugging for the camera.

As I write this, I am about to head off to the grocery store to shop for the big camping trip. We head up north tomorrow to an area near Concrete, Washington. I’ll give you one guess how the town got its’ name. It is situated in the foot hills of the Cascade Mountains, in the shadow of Mount Baker, surely god’s country when it comes to beauty and ruggedness. But first before we drive up there I have to pick up Mrs. at the airport at 11am. She is flying in from Boston on a 6am flight, having returned today from several days in Washington DC at a training session. The poor woman is going to be in total exhaustion and culture shock.

Ok, it is off to the grocery for me …

July 19, 2008


Ocean sunset, summer 2007

A short entry here. I think .. You never know, once I get going it can get out of hand.

It has been a hot and humid week in Boston, as summer day should be. Life has been pretty quiet for the most part, it has been too hot to move very quickly. The boy has settled into his summer day camp, and the routine suits us all.

Mrs. has been reasonably busy with her new job, and is fitting right in. The organization is going thru some painful times as they are doing some internal reorganizing and feelings are being hurt as some employees are getting passed over for advancement, others are dissatisfied with the direction that the changes are taking, and a few are jumping ship. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and Mrs. being new and not been on board long enough to know all the past politics, all she can really do is wait and see. She did get a new supervisor who she says is young enough to be her daughter. I asked Mrs. what this individual did to get such a position at such a young age, and her response was, ‘That is what a lot of people are asking.’ We shall see.

We are getting ready to go on our annual trip out west to visit my family in Seattle. My mother and 6 of my siblings still live in the general area, and one sister lives in San Francisco. We all get together about this time every year, and the big event is a huge camping trip. Last year we went to the ocean and I believe we had 7 campsites, 31 people and 5 dogs. I am not sure we will exceed that this year as one of the 31 was a Japanese exchange student that was living with one of my brother’s families. I am sure she had some stories to tell when she got home. This year we are going to the mountains north of Seattle in the general vicinity of Mt Baker, near the busting metropolis of Concrete. It is beautiful country, and it is places like that I miss by not living in the Northwest. New England has some very beautiful places that I very much enjoy, but even after all these years, the Northwest still is ‘home’.

(Poking at the fire last year.)

So, as I sit here, we are packed and ready to go. The boy is bathed and in bed, and I am just chillin’. That is if you can ‘chill’ while you are sweating profusely. The flight is at 9am, and we live close to the airport so we don’t have to get up at the crack o’ dawn. We will probably get up about 5:30 or 6, shower, grab a quick bite and to be to the airport about 7:30. This year, the boy and I are heading out first and Mrs., will follow in a few days. It turns out that she has to attend a conference in Washington DC Monday thru Thursday, so she is flying out next Friday early and we are dragging her to the campground directly from the airport. Talk about culture shock.

So let me wrap this up. I am not sure if I will be able to blog from the trip, but I’ll see what I can do last time we visited my mothers computer was in demand by lots of people including her. She is not your typical 80 year-old; she knows how to use the thing like a weapon.

I’ll come back with plenty of bad photos to share I am sure.

July 18, 2008

Music Adventures with Alejandro Escovedo

This was my last 360 post. I am posting it here as much as anything as an experiment. It is typical of my rambling posts, grammer be dammed...

I managed to survive the past weekend, and the birthday. Did I mention that last Friday was my birthday? I have reached a point where I kind of like to have them just slip by, so we didn’t make a big deal out of it. This year the celebration amounted to a card from the boy, two from Mrs. along with a book.

The real birthday celebration really took place Thursday night when we went to the Paradise rock club to see Alejandro Escovedo. It was the first time in a long time that I had been to a small rock club and saw a show literally from the edge of the stage. The show great, the musicianship top notch and it was loud enough that my ears were still ringing the next day. We have seen Alejandro and his band a few times in the past, but this was the first time we have seen and heard them in full electric rock and roll form. We last saw them in November of 2006, when he was touring with most of the same musician, but in an acoustic format, two guitars, violin and two cellos. In spite of the acoustic setting, they still rocked, and at one point one of the cellist bow disintegrated he was playing so hard. This time it was all electric; 2 guitars, base, drums, cello and violin. Do not let get the idea that string in a rock band somehow make for soft music. Not the case at all. The strings are as important members of the band as any other instrument, and besides. When was the last time you saw a cello plugged into a Marshall amp? In many ways it is Alejandro’s use of strings that give his music it own special sound and identity.

Anyone who know me and has talked about music with me should know that he is about my favorite musician in the whole universe. When I tell people that the response is often ‘Who?’ So if you will bear with me, I am going to proselytize, or at least evangelize a bit about him.

I first noticed him in the early 90’s when his first solo CD came out. I don’t recall how I found him, but I took an immediate liking to his music. It spoke to me both musically and emotionally. Since that fateful day I have been trying to turn as many people on to him as possible.
A tiny bit of biographical info, as his name suggests he is of Mexican American ancestry, one of a dozen or so kids of Mexican immigrants, his family is very musical, with brothers Pete and Coke Escovedo making names for themselves in the Latin jazz world. Pete’s daughter Shelia is the Shelia E of Prince fame. Alejandro chose a different path, punk music, and spent the later part of the 70’s in band called the Nuns; their claim to fame was opening for the Sex Pistols last performance in 1978. He spent some time in NY in the early 80’s playing punk and then moved to Austin Texas and was a member of the semi popular cow-punk band Rank and File. Moving on from that he formed a band called the true believers with his brother Javier, that band collapsed in the late 80’s after a record deal got cancelled in a company merger. Which lead him to go solo in the early 90’s, and has been making some of the most interesting and intriguing rock and roll ever since, in my humble opinion.

Musically, he has drawn from all those influences, and crated a sound that while can be called rock, transcends the more mundane definition of the term. He has become a bit of a cult favorite, but now maybe on the verge of a gaining greater notice, he is now has the same manager as Bruce Springsteen, and maybe on the verge a more wide nation attention, particularly now with the release of his new CD called ‘Real Animal’, a record that pays homage to some of his early musical heroes and partners. Not bad for a guy of 57.

Anyhow, I think I am blathering on and hardly making sense. So let me post a few examples of his performances for your viewing pleasure.

This is one of his more relaxed pieces, this is ‘Rosalie’ done in an acoustic format with guitarist David Pulkingham. The song calls to his Mexican roots and is about his father’s romance with his mother over the distance of time and space while they were immigrating to the US.

For something a little more up beat, here is a performance of ‘Always a Friend’ from his new CD performed with the Boss. Pretty good company to have.

And if that isn’t enough, here is him and his band in a live performance of Castanets. Now don’t tell me that cello and violins don’t rock.

Had enough?

Here is one more link. If you want to hear the show that we attended it can be found here.


This is a great site, you can listen on line or down load songs or entire concerts, and it is all-legal. The artists have allowed their concerts to be taped and posted, the quality varies wildly, but there are some great performances archived here.

I am sure you have had enough…

Greetings and Salutations

Having been a yahoo 360 blogger for a couple years, I have gotten frustrated with the limitations and the recent bugs in that platform. A friend suggested that that I move to here where the platform is a little more flexible and less buggy. I look forward to a long and fruitful relationship here ..