The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Harvest Festival

The farm folk come to town.



Today was the last weekend for Amherst's Farmer's Market, so the town decided to use the occasion to hold a full-blown Harvest Festival beneath dozens of tents on the town common. It was a great mixture of fresh produce and crafts, with something for everyone. For example, who could resist a jug of native maple syrup made from the trees of nearby Worthington? Not me.



Fresh produce of every kind from nearly all the local farms was on bountiful display. Notice that these non-orange carrots are called "purple haze."



Besides carrots and the title of a famous Jimi Hendrix song, Purple Haze was the name of a tablet form of LSD. Representing our psychedelic heritage at the festival was a tent called Wild Child.



Inside you could buy trippy clothes, some of them made in child size for the discerning acidhead parent.



Actually that style has become so mainstreamed it hardly has any drug connotations anymore. But once upon a time it would never have been associated with babies, since government propaganda, later proven false, once linked the use of LSD with birth defects. Grace Slick, when she bore her child by Paul Kantner after a pregnancy during which she freely admitted taking LSD, put a naked picture of the kid on the cover of her next album to prove that it was born healthy.



Of course that's not to suggest you should take LSD, or any recreational drug during pregnancy. It's simply to show how the government lies to you, but you didn't need Grace Slick to tell you that, did you?

Speaking of nudity, these Amherst High School students came to the festival naked but for these signs in order to collect money for their soccer team.



Lots of kids had their faces painted.



There were also farm animals for the kids to pet.



Here's a video I made of some drummers that were performing at the festival.



Finally, here is a poster for a sure to be controversial lecture to be given at UMass this Wednesday. The general public is invited.



Here's what happened last year when Professor Mike Adams, a feminist critic, appeared at UMass.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Around Campus



The presidential campaign was represented on campus at UMass today by this table set up to recruit volunteers for Democrat candidate Barack Obama.



Also participating in political activity was the marijuana club, which is collecting signatures to put the legalization of marijuana on the ballot in Massachusetts in 2008.



Be sure to sign their petition and then let's all go to the polls and pass it by a large margin!

Campus feminists had a rape awareness display up today consisting of t-shirts with anti-rape messages.



Nearby some Christian proselytizers were recruiting with this somewhat cryptic poster.



What are they trying to say, that without God you would automatically lie, steal and commit adultery?



One of the many great things about the internet is how you can wonder aloud about things and someone will just pop up with the answer to what you were wondering about. Last month I expressed curiosity about the landscaping work that was going on around the famous Minuteman statue at UMass.

To my surprise and delight one of the architects behind the work, John Sendelbach, contacted me with some information about what the project is all about. He included this Hampshire Gazette article that had this to say about the project on July 11th:

The 9-foot-tall Minuteman statue that gazes across the lawn at Campus Pond at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst will soon be surrounded by a stone plaza, thanks to the Class of 1956 and two local landscape architects.... Local landscape architects John F. Sendelbach and Chris R. Baxter have been commissioned by the class to bring the plaza concept to life. "It's basically the biggest project of both of our careers," Sendelbach said, from his home and studio off Sunderland Road. "For us to land the job is incredible." The two men have been friends for years and completed the master's in landscape architecture program at UMass together.... The plaza will be made out of Goshen stone, a dense, hard stone that breaks into flat pieces. The statue will sit in the middle of a circular terrace with steps leading up to it. There will also be a spiral stone pathway leading to the terrace, reminiscent of Sendelbach's first public sculpture. "Crossroads Salamander," located at Cushman Common in town. The plaza will be handicapped accessible and be a welcoming place for people to come and sit and enjoy the campus atmosphere, the two men said. "I think this is a great gift," Baxter said. "It will be here forever. This type of work lasts hundreds of years.... It's really a very central focal spot where people walk," Donald said. "It's also close to the old campus, which the Class of 1956 remembers. They remember the Old Chapel, South College, Campus Pond and Memorial Hall.

It also turns out that Mr. Sendelbach is a Deadhead. Here is a picture and drawing he sent showing the project from above.



The project is nearing completion, and you can be sure I will post a photo essay about it when it's done.

Some people asked a sensible question after I featured the video of Jay Brannan talking about his first music video being shown on national TV. They wondered why I didn't include the music video itself! Sorry, I can be pretty dense sometimes.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mo' Bo

Fo' Sho'

Massachusetts comedy sensation Bo Burnham has a new video:




There's an art display in the Student Union Gallery at UMass that's supposed to also be a murder mystery. Personally I couldn't figure out how it works. The exhibit is called "A Travesty of Termination in a Mangled Mannor." The art is by grad student Geoffrey Miller with help from some of his friends. The pictures of the murder suspects are drawn on the wall.



A table is set up rather formally for a main course that apparently requires a full bottle of ketchup per diner. Heinz ketchup. During the 2004 presidential campaign I gave up Heinz so as not to give any money to John Kerry's wife. Once Kerry went down to defeat I resumed buying Heinz. Hey, what can I say? It really is the best ketchup even if it does put coin in the pocket of a leftist shrew.



I had a boyfriend once who thought he was a gourmet. One time during a fight I told him that to enjoy his meals I needed to close my eyes, put a clothes pin on my nose and use a full bottle of ketchup. We broke up soon afterwards, which was too bad. Although his food was lousy, he had other things I liked to put in my mouth.

There is a mirror on the wall that greatly distorts the room.



The exhibit is running until the 28th, so there's still a little time left to check it out. Maybe you can make more sense of it than I did.

Murder is always a mistake. One should never do anything that one cannot talk about after dinner.

-Oscar Wilde


In Amherst they drive funny cars, such as this zebramobile I came across the other night downtown.



The King of Frogs paid a visit to my neighbor's front porch recently. He didn't say much, but his psychedelic costume was fabulous.



Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Rave Review

Plus a few pics and videos.

Someone alerted me to this student report on a lecture I gave to a freshman English class at UMass.


Devine’s Visit


Tommy Devine came to my English class on Wednesday. He wanted to teach us a couple of things about blogging. We found out he was a student at Umass in the 1970’s, an English major. He seems nice, and I got to learn a lot.

So, lets talk about blogging. We’ll start with the fact that it’s a form of advertisement that is free and can reach anyone in the world. It’s the most powerful media because it includes not only text, but you can hear it and see videos, etc. People will always need news and blogs can provide it.

“MAKE MONEY”, that is what Devine asked of us. He said if we have talent, we should get paid for it. That in the media, people are learning new ways to make money. The advertisement in blogs is very convenient, since it only goes to those that are interested. Tommy believes that soon everything will be online.

We all have something to offer. He told us that we could write about what we do on a normal basis, what turns us on, what band we are interested in, etc. But, to keep it mainstream. Take pictures and post them. He told us to “BE INDEPENDENT of any group or media”.


So how would I grade that review of my lecture? Well, it's not very long, but it covers all my major points, so I would give that report a B.

It's starting to look like Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democrat Party nominee for president, but in the UMass Campus Center today there were some activists still trying to draft former Vice-President Al Gore into the race by putting his name on the Massachusetts primary ballot.



Although I have no intention of voting for Al Gore, I signed their petition to get him in the primary simply on the principle that I believe that everyone should have the chance to be on the ballot.

At the UMass Crafts Center, the immortal James Dean greets the arriving artists.



I chuckled when I saw this sign on the basketball court fence at the UMass Southwest residential area.



Southwest has been called many things, but a beach? That's a new one.

There was a reggae festival on the Amherst town common this weekend. I wandered by just as it was ending and managed to film this snippet:



The Amherst avant-garde rock n' roll combo ZEBU! gave a free concert at Northampton's Pulaski Park the other day. Here's a sampling:



A young boy asks his Dad,
"What is the difference between confident and confidential?"
Dad says:
"You are my son. I'm confident about that.
Your friend over there is also my son. That's confidential!".

Monday, September 24, 2007

On Barlow

Plus Ann Coulter - Deadhead.



In reprinting John Perry Barlow's Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace recently, I received several emails from people wanting to know what the old Grateful Dead songsmith is doing now. The short answer is partying. I mean really partying. Here is an invitation to a little get together Barlow had in San Francisco on Saturday that I got by way of Valleywag. No I did not attend. Thank God I did not attend.

Even I have my limits.

SAN FRANCISCO BARLOWFRENZY TONIGHT (SATURDAY, SEPT. 22) FOR SEX! & CULTURE!

Okay.

For some of you, there has been such a prolonged silence from this little outpost on the electronic frontier that you might have thought I'd died, or taken vows, or taken it on the lam, or gone completely over to the hard stuff.

Moreover, there are likely some of you who had no idea until just now that you'd been placed on some guy's spam list and are wondering where the hell you might have met the below-signed. (Hint: Drugs, on your part, could have been involved; possibly you were on the Island of Manhattan; most likely, the sun wasn't shining. Or something. Maybe I just liked your smile. I'm pretty arbitrary.)

Or! Possibly! You are more closely engaged with me and my general condition and know that somewhere between Jerusalem and Burning Man, the spondylolisthesis that long has threatened to unmoor my spine from its appointed seat atop my sacrum finally broke the last little vertebral latches and slid forward enough to make it so that I can only walk as though I were drunk even when I'm sober.

I can, and probably will tell you many more dire tales around such matters but screw that. And I do mean literally.


BECAUSE! TONIGHT! SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, ON THE OCCASION OF THE VERNAL EQUINOX AND BECAUSE I BLOODY WELL FEEL LIKE IT, ESPECIALLY NOW THAT I TEMPORARILY CAN'T DANCE:

I will throw a BENEFIT in San Francisco on behalf of

THE CENTER FOR SEX AND CULTURE

What better time to encourage a free-ranging carnal nature in all my fellow incarnate beings that at a moment when my own potential ability in this regard seems slightly up for grabs? I mean, seriously folks...

I've always been pro-choice in practically every single extent (with, of course, due consideration for the Buddha/Christ/Vishnu/Prophet/Zoroaster/Etc. regard for compassion to all sentient beings, etc.), but scarcely has wild option meant so much to me as it does just now when I might find myself in somewhat sketchier communication than usual with zones south of my heart.

NEVERTHELESS!!

TONIGHT

I Present You An Opportunity

To Throw It Down For

THE CENTER FOR SEX AND CULTURE

So That Even If The Worse Should Happen

Following Two Impending Spinal Fusions

AND

OLD BARLOW NEVER GETS ANY AGAIN,

*YOU* STILL WILL!!!

AND

IN ANY WAY YOU LIKE IT!!!

So:

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22

AT TOAD HALL

210 CLAYTON STREET (TOWARD FELL FROM HAYES, JUST NORTH OF THE PANHANDLE)

FROM 8:00 UNTIL THE COPS COME AND STAY

I WILL SPONSOR A BARLOWFRENZY THAT WILL FEATURE:


*LAP DANCES WITH DOCTORAL CANDIDATES

*LAP DANCES WITH BEAMING ILLITERATES

*NUBILE OPERA

*STRIP POLKA

*TOURETTE'S KARIOKE

*SPIKE-HEEL SPRINTS WITH PARIMUTUEL BETTING

*MYSTERY BOX AUCTIONS

*BLINDFOLD ADVENTURE TOURS

*FAMOUS PORN STARS

*INFAMOUS PORN STARS

*MISCELLANEOUS SLUTS

*RACIST/ANTI-FEMINIST/CLASS-IST/AGE-IST/ABLE-IST/UNGIFTED-IST JOKES

*UNSPEAKABLE PRACTICES

*UNMENTIONABLE ACTS

*LARGE SEQUESTERED SPACES, INDOORS AND OUT

*MANY HAPPY AND SURPRISING OPPORTUNITIES TO BE GLADLY RELIEVED OF YOUR CASH


ALL FOR GOOD FUN AND A WORTHY CAUSE!


(MOREOVER, no animals will be harmed without their explicit consent.)

In case you think this is all just fun and games, we are deadly earnest as befits us here in the Bayarean Smugbelt. The Center for Sex & Culture is no fucking joke.

It is, in fact, the winner of two Best of the Bay awards. They know how to throw a sex party (not that claim this will be one), teach how to have multiple orgasm in one easy lesson, broker peace and freedom between dykes, leather daddies, pie-fighting ballerinas, and cultists of whatever hue.

If you're in favor of sex or in favor of culture, or better, both, as I am, then I hope you'll favor the Center with a donation whether the door or tucked into the lingerie of one of our winsome cultural attach├ęs.

OK? All ist klar? Of course it is. Just as Nursie likes it.

The usual BarlowFrenzy principles apply -- BYO everything. Consume it all or take what's left with you lest my surrogate parents spend blank days wandering among your ruins. Leave no trace and take no memories.

If you're not in San Francisco, which you probably aren't, and you know someone here that you think I'll like and won't be too freaked out by the possibility of Tourette's Karioke, pass this on to them. I do ask for two somewhat embarrassing exceptions to this principle:

First, please be merciful about inflicting truly excruciating pervs on us just to test our limits -- I know, I see the paradox -- but some shit just ain't right, if you know what I mean...

Second, try to limit the number of odd-smelling persons about my own age who really must tell me about that cool time they were backstage with Jerry. The aromatic combination of unself-aware conservatism, over-delayed dentistry, cheap weed - and hell, how can I say this? - changing schedules for one's own diapers that were as slack as they'd been for the kids back in in the commune.... Well, it kinda made me wonder the other night in Mill Valley if closing the Sweetwater Saloon wasn't ok after all. Please don't send us too many of these. I'll be grateful when they are.

Other useless advice: Carpoodle. Parking will be as it often is in San Francisco. Nevertheless, I have magical parking karma that I can brag about it without screwing it up. I really do. Some of it might rub off on you. Try your luck along the Panhandle. Tell the Parking God that Barlow sent ya.

Or you could just take a bus, Gus. The 21 Hayes , 33 Stanyan, 43 Masonic, and 71 Haight buses will get you close. You could be one of The People for a change.

I know. I know. Sounds like a heap of trouble. But just remember that for a modest donation to the Center for Sex and Culture, you could find yourself later tonight murmuring such words as these:

"I am blind, I am deaf, I am crippled, I have no sense of smell nor taste. All I have left to me is touch, and, BABY, I LIKE THE WAY THIS FEELS!!!

Whatever. I think it's probably worth going out of your way to attend. But that's me. Come. Bring lots of unmarked bills, carry no ID, wear dark clothing, and be prepared to be gone for at least three days. Trust me on this one. You will be glad you did. Come.


While we're on the subject of Grateful Dead people, did you know that right-wing goddess Ann Coulter is a deadhead. I'm not surprised, the Dead were always flagwavers and much more in tune with individualism than the collectivism of the Left. As Ann points out in this interview, the political right is filled with Deadheads, or to quote her directly, "Deadheads Are What Liberals Claim to Be But Aren't."



What exactly do you love about the Grateful Dead?

AC: The tie-dye of course. Truth be told I hated tie-dye, though I finally broke down and would wear tie-dyed Dead shirts to concerts solely as a tribute to my fellow Deadheads.

Oddly enough, I like the music. No one believes that I never took drugs at Dead shows (except for the massive clouds of passive marijuana smoke) but I went because I really liked the music. There are various groups I get enthusiastic about for awhile, but of all the music I've listened to over the years, the Grateful Dead is the one band I never grow tired of.

Moreover, I really like Deadheads and the whole Dead concert scene: the tailgating, the tie-dye uniforms, the camaraderie – it was like NASCAR for potheads. You always felt like you were with family at a Dead show – a rather odd, psychedelic family that sometimes lived in a VW bus and sold frightening looking “veggie burritos.” But whatever their myriad interests, clothing choices, and interest in illicit drugs, true Deadheads are what liberals claim to be but aren't: unique, free-thinking, open, kind, and interested in different ideas. Also, excellent dancers! Watching a Deadhead dance is truly something to behold.

Somewhat contrary to the image of Deadheads as hippies, the Dead were huge in my hometown of New Canaan, CT, which is a pretty preppie town. We toyed with the idea of making "Truckin'" our prom song with a "Long Strange Trip" theme, but we ended up with some dorky rainbow theme instead. I tend to associate the Dead with lacrosse players and my favorite fraternities, Fiji and Theta Delt.

The one time I missed not being able to go to Dead shows more than any other since Jerry died was during the Clinton impeachment. There was so much viciousness - killed cats, punctured tires, threats, investigations and slander against those of us favoring impeachment. (Anthony Pellicano, you'll recall – the Hollywood private investigator now accused of criminal conspiracy, attempted murder, and making criminal threats – was working for the Clintons during the Monica Lewinsky investigation.) I don't really care what people say about me – I'm a Christian so there's nothing anyone can ever do to me – but I kept thinking: “Boy, would I like to go to a Dead show and dance with happy, friendly deadheads for just one night!”

Did the Grateful Dead give you and Al Franken something to talk about
during your debates?

AC: Apart from Al Gore, Al Franken is the most un-Deadhead like person I know of who purports to be a Deadhead.

It's time to name names. Who are the other Deadheads who have infiltrated the conservative movement?

AC: As a Deadhead and a freedom-lover, I am wounded to the bone that you think the two do not naturally go hand in hand. The Deadheads I just met casually and not through conservative politics were almost always right-thinking, whatever they called themselves. Deadheads believe in freedom – not a government telling people how much water they can have in their toilets or where they can smoke or whether they should be allowed to own a gun. (Remember the photos of Jerry testifying before some Congressional committee while chain smoking? Yeah, he'd really bond with Henry Waxman.)

One of my Dead friends I met at Vail made candles for Grateful Dead merchandizing. His daily routine consisted of waking up, smoking a bowl, and turning on the Rush Limbaugh radio show while he made his candles. (It's true. He's so far out there he practices this weird, freaky ritual known as “commerce.” Don't try telling me pot is harmless!)

Also there was a big Deadhead Christian group that handed out terrific pamphlets at Dead shows. Admittedly, many of them found God staring into a puddle while high on LSD, but whatever the path, they were very serious Christians – they made Jerry Falwell sound like a secularist.

Either Bobby (Weir) or Jerry (Garcia) was asked by a Rolling Stone interviewer to denounce all the Young Reaganites attending their concerts in the 80's, and whichever one it was not only refused to attack the young Republicans, but said he liked some of those “rightist” ideas. Consider that when the Dead decided to do something to save the Rain Forest, they didn't harangue poverty-stricken Third Worlders to give up washing machines and electricity. They did it the free market way: buying up parts of the Rain Forest, parcel by parcel.

And they provided the Lithuanian basketball team – recently liberated from the Soviet yoke – with totally cool uniforms so they could play in the 1992 Olympics.

After Jerry died, U.S. Senator Spencer Abraham (R-MI) gave an incredibly touching tribute to Jerry Garcia and the good work the Dead's Rex Foundation had done promoting the arts privately – in contradistinction to millionaire actresses standing up in $50,000 gowns at the Oscars and demanding that hardworking waitresses and truck drivers be forced to support the arts through government taxation. You can look it up in the Congressional Record.

But to answer your question, I personally have loads and loads of friends who are right-wingers and Deadheads. I couldn't possibly name them all. For starters, obviously, there's Angela Lansbury. She gave me my first psychedelic tie-dyed tube top at a Dead show just outside Tucson. Just kidding. There are: Peter Flaherty, President, National Legal And Policy Center; John Harrison, top official in the Justice Department under Reagan and Bush and now a law professor at UVA; Jim Moody, MIT grad and libertarian attorney (and Linda Tripp's lawyer); Gary Lawson, former Scalia clerk and currently a law professor at Boston University Law School; Andrew McBride, partner at a DC law firm; DeRoy Murdoch, conservative columnist; Ben Hart, right-wing author of “Poisoned Ivy” out of Dartmouth. Oh, and the conservative talk radio host Gary Stone in Palm Springs is a Deadhead and kindly plays the Dead as my intro music. When I worked at the Justice Department during law school, I'd be leaving with a whole slew of Reagan or Bush political appointees to see the Dead at RFK. Finally, I believe the great New York subway vigilante Bernie Goetz was a Deadhead.


To read the whole interview, click here:

Saturday, September 22, 2007

One Web Day

How the web is reflecting and changing our Valley and our world.



Today I'm all about video, which is only right because today is One Web Day, the international informal holiday when we are all invited to pause and reflect on the most important technological development in human history - the Internet. We are all living through an era of mind-blowing changes and the Internet is at the heart of all of it. Here is a video to familiarize yourself with the concepts behind One Web Day.



But for all it's transformative power, the Internet has in some ways failed to reach its full potential, largely due to large gaps in who has access to this powerful technology. For example, the largest voting group in the country is those over 55. However, that is also the group least likely to be online. So I can write all I want about sleazy local hacks like Mo Jones, but on election day thousands of old ladies who never used a computer in their lives, let alone read anything I or anyone else wrote online, are going to the polls to put people like Mo Jones in office. But that is changing, too slowly perhaps, but it is.

The Internet can also give us insight into aspects of society we wouldn't see otherwise. For example look at the gun waving kids in this video straight outta Springfield.



A reoccurring problem in Springfield is the frequent refusal of witnesses to co-operate with the police in solving crimes. The Internet gives some sobering insight into that mindset from this video made by the same Springfield videographers. This message is being fed into the mind of every kid in Springfield with a computer.



But for every bad influence the Internet has, there are many more good ones. When I first began helping to promote the career of Jay Brannan by putting his songs on this website, he was a suicidal alcoholic. Although greatly talented, the music industry rejected him because he wrote and sang about homosexual relationships. Supposedly there is no market for that, because straight people supposedly go "Yuck" when a love song is not about heterosexual romance. So a bunch of us all across cyberspace tried to bypass the music industry by using the Internet to promote Jay's music directly, website to website. He's just now starting to get a little success, and I couldn't be happier for him. As this moving video shows, this is what the Internet is really all about, changing lives for the better.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Variety Pack

Odds and Ends

Hi gang, all I've got today is a few things about this and that. For example, earlier this evening I stopped by the birthday party of Mary Carey of Hampshire Gazette/Amherst Bulletin fame. Here's the birthday girl with her daughter Ana, who is visiting from the left coast.



There was a nice spread of food and drink and everything, with a lot of cool guests.



How old is Mary? Well, I'm from the old school that says it's impolite to reveal a woman's age without her consent, but you can figure it out yourself if you click here.

When I was at the Robert Frost Library yesterday at Amherst College I took a few pictures of the large mural they have hanging there by former Amherst College student Graydon Parrish, Class of 1999. Called "Remorse, Despondence, and the Acceptance of an Early Death" the work was painted while Parrish was an Amherst College student.



According to the website AskArt:

At Amherst, Parrish inspired a remarkable move on the part of the college's trustees. On behalf of the institution, a group of trustees purchased the painting 'Remorse, Despondence, and the Acceptance of an Early Death', which Parrish (class of '99) prepared as an independent study project his last two years at the college. The oil painting--10 feet long and four feet high--earned Parrish summa honors and is to be displayed on campus.

An allegory about the AIDS epidemic, Parrish's painting depicts the corpse of a small child, robed in white, being borne down a river on a funerary barge. Three figures join the child on the barge; each is a personification of a stage of the grieving process. Another figure pulls the barge, which is embellished with dead doves, flowers and a red ribbon.

The painting is striking both in its realism and its use of symbolism. The five characters in the painting are modeled on real people--most of them from the Amherst community--and every element of the painting has a symbolic function. The flowers--white roses and anemone--have a religious connotation of death and resurrection; the doves, while signs of peace, are also signs of disease and plague....

The inspiration for the painting was both intensely personal and firmly grounded in art history. Parrish began work on the painting early in 1997. "I'd had an AIDS test, as a lot of young people are counseled to do these days," he explains. "And the two-week wait [for the results of the test] was a sort of pilgrimage, as I imagined my life going in two very different directions." While dealing with a contemporary subject, Parrish was committed to creating a work that drew on the classical tradition. "I wanted the painting to have a relationship with art history, to demonstrate how plagues have been represented in art in the past. The work incorporates many traditional images of plagues and disease, as well as the river of life."

Parrish says that preparing the painting as an independent study project allowed him great freedom to experiment with both subject and style. "I have done something sad, but also something that I hope people will find beautiful," he says. "It's a work that's both celebratory and austere."


Despite the somber theme of the painting, I can't help but feel that the Amherst models he used were, ahem, really hot!



If you'd like a closer look at the painting, here's a video of it I made last winter.



The apples from my neighbor's tree are littering his driveway.



There are so many apple trees in this area that most of them go unharvested.

Outside the Student Union today at UMass was this racing car on display that runs on ethanol, a fuel that's made from vegetables like corn.




Such corncars could silence the most common criticism leveled at NASCAR, that it's a sport that wastes a ton of fuel. Of course the real breakthrough will not have occurred until regular vehicles are powered by alternative fuels. Then we can tell the damn Middle East to go to hell.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Afternoon Tea

At the Frost Library.



Lately I've been getting away from UMass and spending a little time at the Robert Frost Library (above) at Amherst College. It's an extremely cool place, with a certain coziness that contrasts considerably with the massive skyscraper that is the UMass library.

The library opened in 1965, but the groundbreaking was in 1963 and attended by President John F. Kennedy. Here is a picture that I swiped from the library website of President Kennedy on that historic day.



Here is a picture of the presidential motorcade passing through the streets of Amherst.



Here is a picture of the citizens of Amherst surrounding the President as he wades into the crowd, an act of informality no modern President would be allowed to do.



Kennedy's visit to Amherst was especially historic because it was one of the last speeches he would ever give, as it was one of his final public appearances before his assassination.

"When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. It is hardly an accident that Robert Frost coupled poetry and power, for he saw poetry as the means of saving power from itself. When power leads man towards his arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence."

President Kennedy speaking at the 1963 Amherst College Convocation and Ground Breaking for the Robert Frost Library.


Late this afternoon I walked into the Frost Library and found there was a public tea going on for the library patrons.



A number of people recognized me from this website and I had my picture taken by the bust of Robert Frost.



On the library wall is this framed poem by Amherst's other great poet, Emily Dickinson. It's not one of her more cheerful ones.



The heart asks pleasure first
And then, excuse from pain-
And then, those little anodynes
That deaden suffering;

And then, to go to sleep;
And then, if it should be
The will of its Inquisitor,
The privilege to die.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

FAT Comes Back

The legendary band returns to Springfield.



As part of the weekly concert series in Springfield's Stern Square, the longtime Pioneer Valley rock band FAT performed last week. At one time their first album (from which the photo above is taken) was a part of nearly everyone in the Valley's record collection, but hard luck and the stubborn stupidity of RCA records conspired to prevent them from ever achieving the success they deserved. Here is the cover of that debut album.



Amazon.com has this to say about that album and the band's history:

Extremely accomplished debut by Western Massachusetts band, originally released in the US on RCA (LSP4368). Following the eponymous album's success, the band toured extensively as the opening act for the Allman Brothers. Fat's mix of east coast blues and west coast psychedelia, strongly influenced by Quicksilver Messenger Service et al, could have propelled the band into the big time, but an unfortunate drug bust led RCA to cancel a planned follow-up album, and try as they might, the group were unable to secure another recording contract, although two further albums were released in the late '70s, both of which were produced by ex-Mountain man, Felix Papallardi. Over the years Fat toured with a host of rock luminaries, sharing the stage with, amongst others, Grand Funk Railroad, Little Richard, Bonnie And Delaney, Johnny Winter and Robin Trower, but unfortunately their success as a live band didn't translate into commercial success.

Through most of the 70's they seemed to play all over the Valley. I remember seeing them at the old Paramount (now Hippodrome) and at a Springfield Technical Community College Spring Fling. The late Marc Walker (below) of Pine Point's infamous Walker brothers was a friend of the band.



Despite the failure of FAT, lead singer Peter Newland went on to have a successful career as a producer and songwriter in Nashville. Guitarist Jim Kaminsky stayed around the Valley and had a string of popular local bands. From time to time most of the members reunite for the occasional hometown gig, and such was the case this past week in Stern Square.

Accomplished lensman Jeff Ziff was there, and files this photographic report.

As always, the bikers were in town for the show in full force.



Here Peter Newland, gone notably hairless since his rock days, greets the faithful before the show.



The other band members have also aged a wee bit.





Fortunately musically the band has lost nothing!

In case you've forgotten, today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. The Ben and Jerry's in downtown Amherst had this special offer. (click to enlarge)



Arrgggh! I was too busy today to come into town and take advantage of it.

Finally, with all the stoner stuff I put on this blog, I must thank Bo Burnham for reminding me of my social responsibilities.