June 17, 2011

The card I make for Father's Day this year will be the last one. Dad passed away Saturday at home surrounded by his family. He finally gave up his exhausting and painful battle to stay alive, a battle he bravely waged with every ounce of strength he could muster from his emaciated body, with every rattling breath he could inhale into his water-filled lungs, all without complaint, not because he wanted to cling to life but because he knew his family did not want him to leave. In his death, as in his life, unselfishness was his defining trait. He worked hard all his life, sometimes holding down 3 jobs with the singular purpose of providing the best life possible for his family. His contribution to the community included years of loyal service to The Council for Retarded Citizens. He grew up during The Depression where frugality and self-denial forged his character. Dad was not the type to indulge himself with anything beyond a little bowling and a cigarette, both pleasures having been left behind many years ago. In retirement, he followed my Mom to the casinos for a little fun at the slots. But as I listened to the family stories weaved between the sobbing, the common theme was all that he done for us.The memory I hold closest to my heart about Dad is the way he chauffeured my teenage rock band around to our gigs and was there with us as we unloaded the equipment at two in the morning. That was an incredibly supportive sacrifice by a father back in the sixties especially when his son sported a shaggy head of hair that he detested. As I examine the person that I became, I like to think I see my father’s influence in the pleasure I get from volunteering and doing pro bono legal work. It satisfies the part of my soul that I inherited from my Dad. An important aspect of my art has always been the act of giving it away and not expecting anything in return. So, this Father's Day I will make a card for Dad and though I will not see the gentle smile on his face that thanks me for it, I will offer it in a one-way tribute to the man who gave me so much.

You will always be my father
I will always be your son
You will live inside my heart
Until my days are done

I learned from you that giving
Returns its own reward
And the price of showing kindness
Is one I always can afford

I look to you to guide me
With the wisdom you bequest
Your work I will continue
As you finally take your rest

October 7, 2010

Epilogue for "What's Up This Weekend?"

I’ve decided to put a frame around the picture of “What’s Up This Weekend?” I’m proud of the fact that I met the challenge every Thursday afternoon for almost five years. The most recent 94 editions are archived at http://therockandrolllawyer.blogspot.com/.

The phrase, “What’s Up This Weekend?” was a metaphor for searching to enjoy life to the fullest. Live music has always been a big part of that for me and I have been blessed to live in a town with a great local music scene. As my little email evolved, it became more of an outlet for my creative writing where I tried to give you something entertaining that was quick and easy to read. I got a lot of pleasure out of being able to share that with all of you and I really enjoyed it when you would write me back and let me know how it affected you. However, all good things must come to an end. Thanks for reading and thanks for writing. Have a great weekend and I hope to see you out and about. mark

P,S. If you need advice on what music to see, get on Joel Treadway’s email at cringe.com.

September 30, 2010

What's Up This Weekend?

I didn’t think twice about driving up to Marblehead on Lake Erie for my friends’ wedding. Just use Mapquest, right? I was locked into the directions on the printout like a smart bomb until I saw the little orange and black “DETOUR” sign that led down what looked like the rural equivalent of a back alley. In the seconds I had to consider just simply following directions, I imagined myself getting lost and losing precious minutes I didn’t have to waste if I wanted to get to the church on time. It must have been my own latent Tea Party tendency to distrust Big Government that led me to make the decision to just keep following the Mapquest mantra, figuring if I was wrong, I could always just turn around. Silly rabbit. Lo and behold, after navigating through residential Bucyrus, I discovered that the main drag completely disappeared behind construction barriers where just beyond it appeared the entire downtown was experiencing an extreme makeover. No problem, just turn around. Uh huh. The straight corridor I had followed into town with tunnel vision, when taken in reverse, transformed into a carnival funhouse maze of turns and angled intersections. Finding myself in a quiet neighborhood, far from any main artery, I rolled down the window and asked some guy on his porch how to get back to the detour. “Turn right at the light, then another right at the Krogers then a left then another left....” I wanted to ask him where those lefts might actually occur but I was afraid my brain wouldn’t be able to hold that much information anyway so I just took off and hoped I’d get lucky. I actually made it to the first left and began following a detour but not one that identified the road being detoured. All hope of making it to the ceremony vanished as I found myself driving through parts of Ohio that I was never meant to experience. I passed solid blocks of pale corn stalks textured as though they had been created by Van Gogh’s palette knife; roadside cemeteries filled with the graves of farmers who had always been anchored to the land, blanketing grassy hills that rose to the blue sky dappled with clouds; and every mile or so, a home, a modest human shelter, which seemed to me to be the real beauty of the Ohio countryside. Then it occurred to me that marriage is a shelter. It requires a real effort to build one that will last but once you have it, it is a place you can come into out of the cold and rain, a place to escape the madness of the world, a place to be comfortable, to be yourself, a place you can always come home to. Brian and Janelle, may you give each other shelter.

Thursday, tonight, Michelle Lewis, Angela Perley and Miss Molly do the happy hour at Shrunken Head, Dan Dougan's Listening Hour at Gateway features Whoa Nellie and Mark Sims, Jesse Henry & the Royal Tycoons do the happy hour at Rumba, Willie's son, Lukas Nelson is at Woodlands and Carabar has The Enfield Trio.

Friday, Jimmy Castoe is at Dick's and Super Desserts descend into the darkness of The Basement with Wye Oak.

Saturday, the Ninth Annual Summit on Walhalla Street Party kicks off with food at 6 PM then at 8 PM we continue our tradition of presenting the finest in local music with No. 1 Cat featuring the lovely and talented Nikki Wonder. The Alive's Rocktoberfest begins at 3 PM featuring the likes of Way Yes, Joey Hebdo, Super Desserts, Phantods and The Floorwalkers at the Gateway. Arson Wells is at Dick's, The Shunken Head has the Phillip Fox Band, Matt Monta & the Hot Coal Band and Angela Perley. Lollipop Factory returns with a show at Kobo.

Drive By Truckers appear at Outland on Liberty Tuesday and at The Newport Wednesday.

Gimme shelter. mark

September 23, 2010

What's Up This Weekend?

For a long time I had a favorite saying, one that I often pulled out to sound irreverent and iconoclastic while at the same time posturing in the guise of the wisdom that might come from decades of practicing domestic relations law. “I have two pieces of advice for people: Don’t get married and don’t have children.” As I delivered this pithy aphorism, I would always add dramatic visual emphasis by counting it out with one finger and then a second. It always made people smile because they knew that while it made sense as a strategy for avoiding all sorts of complications, heartache and financial distress, it was the kind of advice that no one takes seriously. Nevertheless, I delivered this cold calculation for achieving and maintaining happiness with the solemn conviction of a redeemed sinner who was born again after having married and had a child in my wayward youth. While there is an obvious irony in advice that would render you unable to give it if your mother took it, there is something to be said for the selfish simplicity of being able to focus all your resources on yourself and the mate of your choosing. I still believe that if you want someone to be your mate, live with them and stay with them. You don’t need a legal contract to sanctify your love. Marriage is proof of commitment only in a world that does not permit divorce. Commitment can only be measured a day at a time. But now I have two close girl friends getting married soon (not to each other), I just helped bring a baby into the world and my signature slogan is ringing pretty hollow. I’m happy for my friends and I’m happy for me. I may need to change my stock maxim to “Find one or more to love and make a family of.” On second thought, maybe I should just keep that catchy little banality to myself.

Thursday, tonight, Dan Dougan's Listening Hour at Gateway hosts the pre-reunion of Hank McCoy & the Dead Ringers, Woodlands Tavern has a Grateful Dead Tribute with 10 bands including the Salty Caramels who I saw at a house party this week and was impressed by their superfine, supergroup line-up of Bree Frick, Angela Pearly and Molly Winters. The show starts at 6 PM and the girls go on around 9 PM. Lohio and The Alwood Sisters are at Rumba and Descendre is at Dick's.

Friday, the actual reunion show for Hank McCoy & the Dead Ringers is at Ravari with The Mooncussers. Rumba features the fabulous Justin Townes Earl with Jessica Lee Mayfield. El Jesus de Magico is at Carabar and there is an Andy Davis Memorial Fund Benefit at Circus with, among others, The Wet Darlings. Jim Maneri claims that Brave Combo will be at Oktoberfest Friday and Saturday night. Not a better polka band in the world for my money! Van Dyke Parks performs at The Wexner with Clare and the Reasons.

Saturday, Carabar has Shin Tower Music, Two Cow Garage has a CD release at Rumba with Scotland Yard Gospel Choir and Ghost Shirt. The Lost Revival, Monolithic Cloud Parade and The George Elliot Underground are at Skully's.

Sunday, The Strange Boys show at The Summit sounds interesting.

There was a boy

A very strange enchanted boy

They say he wandered very far, very far

Over land and sea

A little shy

And sad of eye

But very wise

Was he

And then one day

A magic day he passed my way

And while we spoke of many things, fools and kings

This he said to me

"The greatest thing

You'll ever learn

Is just to love

And be loved

In return"

“Nature Boy” Music and lyrics by eden ahbez


September 16, 2010

What's Up This Weekend?

An interesting aspect of Facebook is learning that some of your Fb friends have opinions that clash with your own. A hostile attitude about the Buckeye Fever that grips this town was expressed on my wall by an old friend and talented artist. I responded to his derision of my beloved Bucks with a short and snarky response, pointing out that while he was mired in feelings of hatred about this inescapable local phenomena, I preferred enjoying it. Beyond the arguments for and against college sports, I think some people claustrophobically reject anything embraced by the masses. I subscribe to that autoimmune response when it comes to wearing blue jeans, but my rebellious, independent instincts fade away when it comes to OSU football and basketball. The Buckeye Nation is a community and a family. I know it includes a lot of conservative yahoos and I enjoy being one of the members who adds some long-haired liberal diversity to the group, like the crazy uncle at the dinner table. Regardless of our differences, we all like to get together, party with food and drink and express our excitement and appreciation for the young people entertaining us. Whether the entertainers are musicians or student-athletes, opportunities for the community to come together, celebrate and give thanks satisfies a basic human urge. For an atheist like me, Comfest and the Buckeyes are my humanist religions. I love walking through the campus on my way to the game and sensing how our town comes alive with partiers covering the sidewalks, streets and yards like a teeming red ant hill. I sympathize with those who find living among the followers of this omnipresent sports cult to be oppressive and disgusting and I wouldn’t want to deprive them the satisfaction of their righteous indignation, however, I’ll reserve my religious intolerance for Christian and Muslim extremists.

Thursday, tonight, Dan Dougan's Listening Hours at the Gateway Film Center features Anna & the Consequences, Bernadette Frye and Illicit Kitty. Jim Maneri jazzes up Dick's, The Ooh La Las sex up the Circus with The Slang and the busy Illicit Kitty, Talisha Holmes performs with The Liquid Crystal Project at Vonn Jazz. I'm wondering if the Pavement show is still sold out now that it has apparently moved from the unlikely confines of Outland to the roomier LC. In any case, I hope Ben Hamilton cleans up.

Friday, there is a benefit for Matt Wang at Carabar featuring The Lindsay, Washington Beach Bums and the Guinea Worms. The Spikedrivers will create a crowded sauna at Dick's, the Treehouse has Fort Shame, Beatdowns and Whoa Nellie and there is a birthday bash for Willie D. at Ruby's with Wonder Power Twins, Jimmy & the Screed and Charlie Hussle. Mary Adam 12 does the happy hour at Rumba followed by The Salty Caramels and Playhouse.

Saturday, is Independents Day downtown on Gay St. and there is a band every hour beginning at noon with Karate Coyote, Miss Molly, Wet Darlings, Alwood Sisters, Derek DiCenzo, Town Monster, Way Yes, Ghost Shirt, Compressions and Kopaz. Later, Wonder Power Twins are at The Shrunken Head with Jovial Flow and Nesta.

Our honor defend, we will fight to the end for Ohio.


September 9, 2010

What's Up This Weekend?

Sunday, almost exactly 35 years after my son Ruyd was born, my son Raad was born. I don’t remember much about Ruyd’s birth or taking care of him as a baby. I was 23. Who knows where my head was at? This time it will be different. I won’t have that much time to forget but also this time the memories are going to be indelibly etched into my mind. I’ll remember the brown, yellow and green colors of the countryside under a sunny morning blue sky dotted with clouds, driving down Route 33 to the hospital in Athens, bobbing my head to the Happy Chichester CD while she moaned occasionally in the backseat. I’ll remember standing in front of her while she sat on the bed with her head on my shoulder, watching the monitor, learning to spot when the next contraction would occur, and when they came, leaning into her, pressing my hands on her shoulders, feeling her grab and pull down on the sides of the open front of my warm-up jacket so she could control the pain and not make a sound. That type of teamwork only succeeded for an hour or so. If you want an idea of what most of it was like, just imagine watching a nine-hour version of “The Exorcist”. They explained the complication as “His head is tilted up as if he’s looking at the stars.” A poetically hopeful image that caused her many hours of constant excruciating back pain. I’ll remember seeing him emerge, a bloody, wavy-haired conehead with perfectly formed miniature hands, fingers flexing in slow motion, taking his first breaths and his large, dark eyes searching in wonderment. I’ll remember comfortably reclining in the vintage olive green leather Lazy-Boy holding my boy swaddled in a blanket tight as a burrito, warming my body and my soul, sharing a small private room with her and her friend, recounting the experience and feeling like I had all the time in the world to just be happy and content. The beginning of the journey was memorable. Now, will I be sailing away on a new ship or is there just a new sailor on board?

Thursday, tonight, Joey Hebdo and Rent Party do Dougan's Listening Hour in the Purple Box at Gateway. There is a Nile Carpenter Benefit at Kobo with Phantods, Kuan and Steamboat. Dick's has Brett Burleson, Ruby's has Miss Molly, Kyra Show and The Funky Roots and Rumba has The Wet Darlings and The Andy Shaw Band. Wooden Ships and Times New Viking will be at Columbus Discount Records headquarters at Oak Street and Parsons.

Friday, the Hot Times Festival at Parsons and Main begins featuring Megan Palmer at 7:15 and The Mendelsonics at 8:15 and ending with the Willie Pooch memorial show with Dave Workman. It is also Comfest Volunteer Appreciation Night so wear your 2010 Comfest Volunteer Shirt and get lots of free good stuff. Wonder Twin Powers and Chickenhawk are at Ravari and Skully's has Love Culture and The Receiver. The Lost Weekend Records Summer Spectacular at Ruby's features Daycreeper, Eye, Puh-leeze, Total Foxx and Lo-Pan.

Saturday, Hot Times continues and I recommend checking out No. 1 Cat at 1 PM. They will be doing my street party in about a month. Los Straightjackets and Vegas 66 are at Rumba. New City Gypsy has a CD release at Skully's with Phantods and Shin Tower Music.The Lost Weekend show at Ruby's continues with Righteous Buck & the Skull Scorchers, a Media Whores reunion and The Skilletlickers.

Sunday, Hot Times finishes up with CJ Chenier at 6:45.

Monday, Jesse Henry and Happy Chichester join Jason Quicksall in the Cowtown Round at Rumba.

Sail on sail on sailor


September 2, 2010

What's Up This Weekend?

Some people enjoy getting their thrills riding roller coasters. I'm planning on driving a woman in child-birth labor from Columbus to the hospital in Athens. Even scarier is the possibility that the call might come during the football game I'm going to tonight. There's already been a bit of seismic activity. Now, I've asked the little guy to hold on but you know how kids are. There are a couple of coincidences that worry me. My first son was born almost exactly 35 years ago during the Penn State-Ohio State game but I was able to listen to that one on the radio while I watched his little chest heaving up and down in the premie incubator. A little closer in time is the interesting fact that this boy's name-to-be, when googled, comes up as the Persian word for the God of Thunder and Ohio State happens to be playing the Marshall Thundering Herd tonight. It's going to be an exciting Labor Day weekend, that's for sure.

Thursday, tonight, Six Gallery is at The Basement and Suckers, Maza Baska and The Phantods are at Circus.

Friday, Hopa! Its Greek Festival time. Love the food. Kobo has Burlesque-a-Billy festuring the Sex Kittens, Apple Bottom Gang and Slick City Ramblers. Righteous Buck & the Skull Scorchers and The Resisters are at Ravari, Woodland's has Bucktown Kickback and The Floorwalkers are at Ruby's.

Saturday, Dick's has Fox 'n' Hounds, Rumba has Vug Arakas & the Stallions and Treehouse has Alert New London.

Monday, The Cowtown Round at Rumba features Joey Hebdo and Stephanie Nilles along with host, Jason Quicksall.

It's like thunder and lightning,
the way you love me is frightening.
You better knock, knock on wood, baby.

Lyrics by Eddie Floyd