I am going to help Eric Clapton, extra-very-famous guitarist, come to an epiphany, right here, right now.

From Rolling Stone, June 11, 2009:

RS: You're in an interesting phase in your career. What's driving all these recent collaborations (note: BB King, JJ Cale, Jeff Beck, Steve Winwood, Cream)?

EC: Believe it or not, at the age of 64, I still haven't made what I consider to be my best album or found the best live repertoire. I'm still scraping away to find the deep inner me, and it still seems like I'm a long way off.

RS: Do any of the young blues-rock bands -- the White Stripes, the Black Keys -- resonate with you at all?

EC: I think it's OK, but you could probably know what I like by what I've got on my iPod, and that stuff isn't there. I've seen 'em, I respect it, and I have no objection, but it doesn't move me. I'm not motivated by looking for new things in the younger generation -- that's never been my MO. I've always looked for the older guys. That's where I think the value is.

OK, Eric.

You are still trying to do your best work. That is very admirable. It also must be really frustrating, because I swear you have not changed your style nor learned a new lick in 40 years. If all you want to do is keep mining the past, and it isn't really making you feel creatively fulfilled after this long, how about SOMETHING A MITE FRESHER? What if the "deep inner" you is actually found in the present, or future? HMM? To dismiss music past those cats of your generation and even older is incredibly limited and limits you as a musician.

The best and most interesting musicians I can think of are those who love and appreciate and incorporate the best music from all times and styles. It might take some real effort to open your mind and musical heart further, but the payoff could be exactly what you have been looking for all this time.

Do I really think this will happen? Of course not. But wouldn't it be cool if it did?

And how about rocking out the clothes a bit while you are at it? You look like an accountant. A successful accountant, but still. Kiss kiss.


Enough of you.

You spent most of your life profiting from the creative ventures of your children. Your brand of verbal and physical "discipline" seems to have put every single one of them somewhere on the scale from odd/unhappy to completely insane.

Three days after your son Michael died, you show up to the BET awards, and tell a CNN reporter that you are doing "great!" There is not a single shred of grief or sadness to you. You have a publicist read a statement for you instead of making an attempt to talk like a human being, and then haul out your lawyer for some more huff and puff. Yes, folks in mourning often attend award ceremonies with a publicist and lawyer.

Second autopsy? Hey, if it turns out there is someone to sue for Michael Jackson's death, you'll be on it, old man, won't ya?

And then -- THEN -- Joe says he has something really important to say! HE PROMOTES HIS NEW RECORD COMPANY! This would be like Jacqueline Kennedy selling her own line of pillbox hats at the entrance to Arlington Cemetery at JFK's interment.

Oh. OH. So it's your wife, Katherine Jackson, who applied to the court to take temporary control of Michael's estate and his children, huh? Not a joint effort, huh? Worried that might be A PROBLEM? Those three kids would be infinitely better off just by picking a new family from the telephone directory, I swear it. Not with you. Never with you.

There is no excuse for you, you narcissistic evil creep. I hope a judge has the balls to say enough of you, Joe Jackson, time's up, no more. For that matter, screw your wife too because she allowed all of your behavior as well. You think you did your children such a great favor, making them superstars? LOOK AROUND YOU. A dirt-poor family in sucky Gary, Indiana who could actually provide their children with real love and compassion is better off. But you'll never understand that.






My grandpa’s big in-ground pool was busy that summer day in 1965, filled with quite a good selection of his grandchildren. I was three years old and desperately wanted to hang out with my older cousins who were playing games in the pool, but I was too small and couldn’t swim at all. So I sat and pouted at the pool’s edge in my aqua-blue ruffled swimsuit, dangling my legs in the water, wishing I were older and taller and stronger, like I felt I was inside. My mother offered me a float ring shaped like a duck, and I turned her down, offended. I don’t want that. It’s uncool. No one else is using one. Still trying to attempt to cheer me, my mom then offered to get in the pool with me and hold me. I looked at her with the most withering look a three-year-old can manage. Only babies get held in the pool. She sighed, and looked sad and a little peeved. I was sensitive.

And manipulative! When I surmised that my mom was trying to please me, I thought, hmmmm. I knew that around the inside perimeter of the deep end, there was a small ledge that was just big enough for me to walk on with my head above the water, if I held onto the outside concrete lip of the pool. My mom had let me do it many times, with her behind me in the water. While my cousins continued to play Marco Polo and swim race and jump off the diving board, I asked my mom as sweetly as I could, may I please please please walk around the deep-end edge by myself? She frowned, and I went into high-convince mode, that I would be so so careful and hold on and such. She frowned again.

“Pleeeeeease?” I smiled the prettiest gosh-mom-I-love-you-so-much smile I had, the one that seemed to bring a later bedtime, ice cream, and an extra half-hour of TV. Her frown relaxed a bit.

“OK, but you must hold tightly onto the edge the whole time, do you understand?”

Oh, of course, yes yes yes! I shot up and ran over to the deep-end, and slowly turned and lowered myself into the pool until my little toes just felt the smooth ledge below. Ah. I smiled again to myself in triumph. Hey Everyone, I thought to myself, look at me in the DEEP END! HA! So I made my way, very very carefully from the right side of the pool to the far end with the diving board where I would have to go under and duck my head to the left side of the pool, then reverse and do it all again. My mother stood at the side and watched me for awhile, then went and sat down about 20 feet away in a lounge chair, chatting with her sister and drinking a bottle of Coca-Cola. My cousins kept on with their games, not paying any attention to my momentous pool trek.

But after a few more slow journeys around the half-rectangle, I got bored. I turned my head to watch my cousins play, clinging to the concrete, still frustrated. I could do what they were doing, I bet. It doesn’t look that hard. My eyes just hovering over the edge of the pool, I glanced over to my mom. She wasn’t even looking at me, just yabbering away with my aunt.

I bet I could let go and balance. I bet I could. I’m no baby.

I let go. I felt the waves in the water push on my legs and I quickly grabbed back onto the lip. But I smiled an evil grin. HA. I let go again, longer this time, balancing. I did it again and again, still stealing glances up at my mom. She wasn’t looking. HA. I could LET GO, and I was FINE, SEE? This was fun!

I let go again, but this time my feet started to fall off the ledge. I tried to place them back on but it was too slippery. I went down, and my head went under the water. I remember looking up through the water, kicking and desperately trying to grab back onto the concrete, flailing, grasping on the gritty edge. But it was wet and I could not get hold of it, my fingertips just missing by surely what was less than an inch. I went down further, my arms still reaching up, now under the water as well. I held my breath, but my lungs were aching already.

I had three thoughts then: the water looks so pretty, like wavy glass; my mom doesn’t see me, and; I am going to die. I felt terrified and sad at the same time. I couldn’t keep holding it, so I let out my air and watched the bubbles float to the top, and I sunk to the bottom of the deep end of the pool.

Just as I felt my bottom hit the bottom, a pair of long arms scooped me up and with what seemed to be like the power of a missile fired from the depths of the ocean into the sky, brought me to the surface. It was my cousin Mark, and he was very angry with me. I coughed out the water and breathed the air again, amazed and grateful that someone saved me, because in that pool full of people and all the people around me, no one had seen it happen and I knew it.

Mark started yelling at me, everyone rushed over, and I started crying. My mother wrapped me in a big towel, and did not yell at me. She just looked pale and sick. My grandpa yelled at everyone, told them all to leave the pool for awhile, and we re-grouped in his house. All the kids sat there on the floor of his living room, with wet hair and huddling in bright beach towels, watching cartoons and sucking on cherry-red popsicles. After a couple of Bugs Bunny showdowns Mark came over and said he was sorry for yelling at me. I smiled, a much smaller and more genuine smile than I had used previously in the day, and I thanked him for helping me.

He rolled his eyes and said, “Stay out of the deep end. You can’t swim, you know.”


Um. Uh. Um. Uh.

Again. The '60s. Apparently even WACKIER in OTHER LANDS.

Thanks, Dena, for the vid find! Whoa!


Ah, what a lovely day. Another afternoon of delicious sun and Underground Garage and cool bottled water , relaxing outside and reading the latest issue of InStyle magazine. I like InStyle, because they don’t make me feel crappy for not being a ubercoolsuperwoman – they just show me lots of cool clothes and beauty consumables on shiny slick paper. As Andrew Loog Oldham in Colombia via satellite radio reads me excerpts from a book about Allen Ginsburg in India over surf instrumental music, I read about wedge heels and mineral makeup and how to get beachy tousled hair. On page 163, in a section entitled “Life, etc.” I come across the famous supermodel Iman. I looked at her there on the page for a moment, lovely as always, reclining in a black leather chair in a slinky black evening gown and I read the quote from her above it: “Every afternoon I stop to eat some chocolate candy. I need my daily Twix! Or something else with caramel that is way too sweet.”

Iman eats regular supermarket candy bars?? Iman, glamorous jet-setter, married to the possibly even-more-glamorous David Bowie, eats TWIX? Well, how about that. I certainly would have thought that she would only eat little handmade truffles from some decadent chocolatier in New York or London with hazlenuts, peonies, and platinum dust or something like that. Look at me, all wronging. I got to thinking, hey, Iman is probably somewhere around my age and I like chocolate and David Bowie…maybe she and I have more things in common! So using the InStyle article and Wikipedia, I decided to do a little comparison:

Iman is seven years older than I am, and 4 1/2” taller. We both wear a Size 8 shoe. She wears a size smaller dress and I have bigger mams. She was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, and I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – Mogadishu and Milwaukee both start with the letter “M” and have 9 letters. She has three children (one a step) and I have three children (all personally delivered by me). She has an 8-year-old daughter who likes to draw flowers, and I have a 6-year-old daughter who likes to draw flowers. She is professionally mononymous, and so am I, sort of, if I were professional. She is Muslim and I am atheist. Iman speaks five languages fluently (Arabic, English, French, Italian, and Somali) and I speak English and toddler-level Spanish.

Hmm. Hmmmmmmm. I think I will now look at some of the InStyle questions, and see how she and I match up there:

You always travel a lot and you take…

Iman: Flip-flops…Brooks Brothers men’s PJ’s…and I love caftans…

Marianne: Flip-flops hurt my toes, and I drown in men’s PJ’s and caftans. I pack five thousand pairs of similar-looking jeans, a hoodie, and an extra suitcase in case I want to buy more jeans.

But normally…

Iman: Everything is tailored within an inch of its life! I never want to look like one of the boys, so my clothes are always form-fitting. My husband likes it too.

Marianne: I never wear anything tailored, and do not even know a tailor. My clothes are “form-fitting” because they are usually just tight, and maybe sometimes look like a disturbingly-curvy boy. I don’t know if David Bowie likes that.

What are you proudest of?

Iman: Besides my family, my Global Chic line for the Home Shopping Network.

Marianne: Besides my family, my Diarrhea Island line for Carnival Cruise Lines.

What’s surprising about you?

Iman: I’m a very good homemaker.

Marianne: I’m a very terrible homemaker.

What music is on at home?

Iman: We enjoy Arcade Fire, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone – and Rufus Wainwright is just delicious.

Marianne: Garage rock from mid-‘60s Thailand, White Denim, Wilco, Dinosaur Jr., Tiny Masters Of Today, and if Iman is really supercool I could sell her my Rufus concert tickets for November.

If you could be in any movie, what would it be?

Iman: George Cukor’s The Women. Those girls were marvelous. Or How To Marry A Millionaire, just to have the clothes.

Marianne: The Red Balloon, so I could save the balloon and kick the asses of all those French bullies.

So what did I learn here? Well, I did reconfirm that I am not a beautiful model with a rock star husband, that I am a crappy hausfrau and linguistically-bereft, and that I am short, lacking in femininity, and no entrepreneur. But hey – Iman and I still both like chocolate and David Bowie AND we could share shoes! I think that is a really good start to a nice friendship.

Coffee, Iman? I’ll score you a Twix bar too, and won’t ever bring up “The Laughing Gnome.”


Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you 30-year Media Ho veteran, Johnny Rotten. He's richer and famous, but not younger nor prettier than you.


Sometimes is it just this simple.


If you have landed here because you are suffering from diarrhea, first let me say that I am truly sorry for the painful watery clenching and spewing contractions of your bowels and anus. I also would like to commend you for being able to leave your commode for a moment to search internet blogs in hope of finding some relief to your embarrassing malady. The Internet knows everything; you know it and I know it and you know it and I know it. And, if in the course of researching your cure you must run back to your toilet, you don't even have to excuse yourself. The Internet is also forgiving and will wait patiently for your return. Isn't it the best?

But, really, I am being thoughtless. Here you are, in a dire circumstance, and you need help quickly. After all, you clicked on this site -- formerly called "Diarrhea Island" -- and you have every right to think that this should be the place from whence all diarrhea knowledge comes. Now, I am but a smug and opinionated writer and not a gastroenterologist or even a chiropractor, and I don't play one on TV or The Internet. But I have had plenty of diarrhea in my lifetime, so I am going to give you my best advice about what to do with your loose crap, as long as you are here anyway. There are two things to consider: 1. Where To Put It All And How, and; 2. How To Stop This Smelly Rancid Horror From Leaking Out Your Butt Already.

Let's say you had some warning that you were imminently going to have some intestinal distress -- that burbling in the gut, perhaps nausea, some sharp or aching pain. My first recommendation is GO TO THE BATHROOM. Don't wait until you have to run, unless you want to treat your co-workers to this very amusing sight. If you wait too long, you run the risk of crapping your pants which again is incredibly funny for others, but very very messy and distressing for you. I guess you have to weigh in your desire for comedic charity vs. dignity when making this decision. And if you are at home, running to the bathroom but failing to get there in time, do NOT count on the dog to clean it up. I know dogs often like to eat poop, but they enjoy their own, not yours. Don't even call him over. Sicko.

So, when you get to the bathroom the next most important thing to do is to locate several rolls of toilet paper. Don't think what's left on the roller thing is going to do it. You could be there for hours, or days, because like snot with a cold, this stuff sometimes seems to have no end and can keep coming and coming and coming. Be courteous and make sure you have plenty of paper so you don't have to whine for someone else to bring you more. Do consider training your dog to bring it, though. He actually likes the smell, too. There are probably Diarrhea Service Dogs somewhere, with little backpacks they wear that hold toilet paper and a plunger and Purell hand wash, and air freshener.

To hell with drought restrictions and a worldwide fresh water crisis -- KEEP COURTESY FLUSHING THE TOILET. This foul liquid steaming its way through your system is so olfactorily offensive that it can even upset you, and it came from you. Think of what it does to others. Plus, flushing reduces the chances that you will get the incredibly-disgusting Diarrhea Backsplash all over your butt. Remember to not force the toilet handle down. If you break the flushing mechanism, you are shit out of luck, pal.

Alright, already, I can hear you say with some urgency -- HOW CAN I GET THIS TO STOP?? HELP MEEEEEEEEEE!! You aren't going to like what I have to say. No, not at all.

You really should not stop it. Your body is telling you in a rather clear and forceful way that it has BAD JUNK in it which needs to GET OUT NOW. You can of course slow it or stop it for awhile with Immodium or Kaopectate or a wine bottle cork, but as long as the BAD is IN, it will be compelled to come back and GET OUT. I am sorry. You can possibly shorten your crapisode by following the BRAT diet (bananas, plain rice, applesauce, or dry toast, NOT bratwurst, silly) and drinking lots of clear fluids (water, Gatorade, NOT vodka). You will probably be awl betta in 1 to 3 days no matter what you do or don't do. If you are an incredibly-bright infant or very crusty elder reading this, go to your pediatrician/gerontologist instead of reading blogs. If you have a high fever, poop that looks like a Texas black oil well gusher, severe lasting pain, or the thrill of concurrent vomiting lasting more than half a day, get your infant or elder to take you along to the doctor.

My last piece of advice is that if you have found yourself here looking for diarrhea-themed pornography, you should either move to Germany or get into long-term analysis.

ANALysis. Heh.

Good luck with your fluid feces, weirdos.


Michael Jackson is dead.

The nice thing I can think of to say about him is that as a child performer in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, he was a truly gifted singer and dancer, and had a natural charisma and showmanship that were remarkable. You can’t intimidate or beat that into someone, despite his father’s best and repeated efforts. No, he was a very talented little dude, who was used by everyone in his life, protected by no one, with no one ever addressing the very serious physical and mental issues that came because of it. Not ever. Not when there still might be a chance to get money out of him.

Past that, there are many many people who suffer as children in life who don’t grow up and pass that misery along to other children. Who don’t destroy their bodies. Who don’t systematically deconstruct their own faces. Who don’t buy children just to raise them with their faces under scarves or bags when they go in public. My sympathy for him as a victim ends quite abruptly here.

This was one completely miserable man, was so for decades, and he was never going to get better. I sincerely wish his three children the best of luck in whatever place they land now.


I felt somehow sorry for your dollar-store flip-flops because their cheap foam was nearly smashed paper-thin by your waddling bulk, Mr. Massive Sweaty Young Dude In Swim Trunks That Were Near-Eaten By Both Your Spilling Gut And Consumptive Ass Crack.


Oh, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, just taking off to Argentina for five days without telling anyone is a bit...eccentric:

Perhaps a change of career is in order, like flight attendant or hobo or International Tango Competition Dancer. I think the political one is probably a lil' rocky. Wife sounds pissed too. Major piece of jewelry buy time, call the lawyer first.

I think Jennifer Wilbanks is still single. You two could make a great couple, because you'd both understand each other and that need to just BUST OUT THE FREEDOM!

Like this wasn't going to be about A WOMAN. Ole!

You nut. C'mere. Noogie time.

Ray Davies -- "Lonesome Train (The Getaway)


HA HA! Triumph The Insult Comic Dog at the recent Bonnaroo Festival, with another reminder of why I should continue to be wary of festivals.

Courtesy Conan & EEEEHHNNNbeecee:


So, what is going to happen in Iran? Will the sham election stand? Will world pressure and the inflamed youth population bulk force a new and closely-monitored re-vote?


Excuse me.


History and 200,000 Revolutionary Guards tell me, NAH. There is NO WAY Ahmadinejad is going to allow that. And we (we being America, not me and the dog or anything) aren’t going to intervene either, and should not. The last thing we need is to meddle in another country that we don’t understand and perhaps cannot understand, and where the slogan “Death To America!” is probably used to sell orange juice on state-run TV. Should President Obama speak out? Of course he should, and has. But he could pound his fist on his podium and throw his shoe and rip his shirt open with fury, and it wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference.

Something Western journalists are not really bringing up with much emphasis is that Ahmadinejad’s political rival, Mir Hossein Moussavi, is not Ghandi or Churchill or even Marion Berry. He’s not Mr. Western Democracy by any means. He’s a “Death To Israel” kind of guy, agrees with Ahmadinejad that the Holocaust never happened, thought Iran’s 1979 taking of American hostages was justified, is pro-Iran-nukes, and was part of a government that thought a good way to handle protestors was to murder them.


So why did, apparently, so many Iranians vote for him and are so passionate about what has happened? Well, probably because unemployment is sitting around 30% in Iran and all these young people cannot find work and are suffering. In other words, they voted for The Other Guy, probably looking for someone, anyone, to make things better for their daily lives, as most voters act around the world. Western Democracy cannot exist and is not wanted by Iran when the vast majority are still in favor of retaining the Islamic religious rule, headed by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the hep cats that make up the Guardian Council. There will be no reforms under their watch. Period.

So pardon me if I think this is just the boiling over of general youthful frustration and hopelessness, and a clumsy vote rig brought it to the street. It would just be “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” in the end.

Basij ya later.


Again, we can see another example of why I am a lunatic.

Batman. Plus Paul Revere and the Raiders. Plus a belly dancer. Plus three tippling old ladies. Plus three go-go dancers. Plus The Penguin running for political office.



In the Summer of ’69 (HA HA! Now you are thinking of that Bryan Adams song, nyah nyah) I was 7 years old, and we were invited to spend a week up at the lake house of a business friend of my dad’s in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Green Bay was “Up North” to us Southcentral Wisconsinites and was invariably referred to as such, unless you had a really strong accent in which case it was “Aaahp Nort.” Up North was where one would go deeeeer huntin’ an’ iiiiiice fishin’ and maybe even hang out in quaint Doooooooor County in the summer. So this little trip was a big deal to me, because as I have mentioned, we essentially never went anywhere on vacation. My general summer destination was my backyard sandbox, hopefully unsullied by cat turds for the season.

It was a long drive to Up North, I guess probably four hours or so, and of course it seemed like it took forever. There were no in-car movies or Nintendos or iPods to pass the time for kids then. You could read a book, color in a coloring book, eat the snacks Mom packed, play games like I Spy or the always-thrilling OMG Look An Out-Of-State License Plate competition, or Yes, I Can Spell This You Betcha or See How Many Lines You Can Count On The Road Until You Get Bored. When that would end, within the first 30 minutes, then it was time for Are We There Yet and Well, How Much Longer Then? After a few rounds of that, then it would degrade to HEY! My Brother Is TOO FAR Over on MY SIDE and POKE! POKE! POKE! and Stinkeye/Stare Wars. As a last resort, there was I HAVE TO PEE RIGHT NOW. Hopefully, Dad would pull over at somewhere with a bathroom where you could also score some candy.

You knew you were getting closer to your destination when the landscape changed to the dark tall spiky pine trees in the sandy red soil and the air smelled like Lake Michigan, which was a combination of fish and wet weeds and metal. Ooh, dat’s a big lake dere. You could just keep staring out at it and not see the far edge, like I imagined how the ocean was, this endless blue view. The lake house was nice and roomy, not grand but grand to me. It took about 2 seconds after greeting our hosts for me to start rifling through a suitcase for my swimsuit.

The week was spent playing on the beach, begging for speedboat rides, eating burgers and brats and sweet corn on the grill, and driving to various touristy spots around Green Bay. I only have two very distinct memories left of the trip past this. The first was that I was determined that I was going to learn how to surf. I did not tell anyone about my plan; I was going to secretly practice and surprise everyone with my new skill. Surfing was awesome, and I was going to be just like Gidget or Jesus or Jesus Gidget and ride the waves. Having no clue at all about basic physics, I could not look at the modest lake waves and know that surfing was impossible. But I grabbed a float board thinking “this will do,” and snuck away from the group to give it my first go.

Well. This was not the simple get-out-in-the-water-and-just-stand-on-the-board thing I thought it would be. I tried and tried to get on the board and it kept popping out from under me. The board would fly into the sky and I would get a nose full of water. But I really thought I could do it if I were just persistent enough. There were some odd large things floating in the water as well, but in my quest for my own perfect wave, I was ignoring them. Finally, I dragged the board over to where the speedboat was docked, and somehow while holding onto the boat managed to stand on the board. As I very delicately balanced, I looked behind me ready to let go when a wave would come. I felt something cross my feet, and turned my head back to see what it was.


That’s what was floating in the lake!! A bunch of giant dead fish!!!! AAAAAHHH! Thoroughly freaked out, I left the board to float away in the water and hightailed it back to the house, my surfing career in Lake Michigan cruelly ended by some pollution-induced fish kill. It was now Lake EWWWW to me.

The other thing I remember was that the hosts' teen girl had a great selection of 45s. She was very nice to me, and allowed me to hang out and look at her records and play them on her portable record player. This was so wonderful. I would get her case of 45s and spread them all out on the light blue rug of their rec room, staring at them all lovesick. I was so excited to hear some of the ones I knew from the radio but didn’t own, and I played them over and over.

At the end of the week, I was sad to leave. We packed up the car, waved goodbye, and started backing out from their gravel driveway. At the last minute, the girl ran out from the house with the two 45s I had played the most, “Let Me” by Paul Revere and the Raiders and “White Room” by Cream. She handed them to me with a smile and told me I could keep them. I was just thrilled, and thanked her, all stunned. Wow!

Another needed lesson in physics or at least thermodynamics occurred, however, during the ride home: Never place vinyl records on the blazing hot backseat shelf of a car for four hours. I fell asleep during the ride home, and when I awoke, “Let Me” had waves melted into it that would have done the North Shore of Oahu proud. In horror, I asked my mom if she could iron it flat again. She just shook her head kind of sadly at me.

So now in the Summer of ’09, that is still what Green Bay is to me: not the Packers, but scary floating dead fish, warped 45s, the sun and the water, and the unexpected kindness of a fellow music lover.


It’s Father’s Day. I had 30 Father’s Days with my dad, and have had 16 without him. It is still an adjustment, somewhat, to go into the Hallmark store and not buy him a card, not think about what to get him. It is just an odd thing to have a parent, and then not have one. I guess you don’t stop having a dad; he is just no longer around. I don’t say that with a feeling of deep sorrow – it’s been 16 years after all – but still, death is the ultimate in finality, huh? He sure has missed a lot since he died, including two of his three grandchildren.

Father’s Day reminds me of that, and what he was to me, and what he was not. I think it is fair to say that my dad probably would have been just as happy not being a parent, or happier, really. It’s not a cut; it just really wasn’t his thing but back then it is just what everyone did. He and I had an awful lot in common, good and bad, but I frustrated him in his role as a father, probably just for that reason. The things you see in your children that remind you of yourself can be the most heartwarming, or the most devastating. So in the end it was tough for me as well – we could get along like pals, chatting about music or cars or Monty Python, or bitterly fight. The inconsistency of the relationship was too much for me to deal with, and it was a healthier thing for me to get some distance from him as a young adult.

It was easier for me to spew out what I hated about him than to tell him what I loved about him. Maybe I thought he wouldn’t hear me, wouldn’t care, or I just didn’t know how to say it, other than try to get him things that would really please him on Father’s Day and Christmas and his birthday. I don’t know that I ever really got to properly thank him for a few things, things that may have seemed simple or unmemorable to him, but made a huge difference to me. So, better completely and utterly late than never:

-- Thank you for recognizing and supporting my love of music from very early on. You were the one who bought me my first AM transistor radio, my Close-N-Play, my Sears Silvertone portable stereo, the Penney’s AM/FM transistor radio, the reel-to-reel tape recorder, the portable cassette recorder, the Realistic stereo with separate speakers, the any-stereo-components-of-my choice when I graduated high school, the 4-track TASCAM cassette recorder. You bought me the kiddie drumset for Christmas when I was 7, the Premier drum set when I was 13, the Yamaha acoustic guitar when I was 14, the Gibson Les Paul Custom when I was 16, and the Ovation deep-bowl acoustic/electric for my 18th birthday. You brought home pop records from your trips to England, old 45s left by cadets at the military school you worked at, went to the hip record store at age 50 and said, “Give me whatever is hot right now on the charts for my 7-year-old daughter,” and came back with "Through The Past, Darkly" by the Rolling Stones and "Near The Beginning" by Vanilla Fudge. You gave me a polka LP and said, “Drum along to this and you will learn how to keep solid time,” and you were right. If I wanted to play you a song I was excited about, even though it wasn’t your thing, you always came down to listen. You came to every one of my choir and band concerts. You never told me to turn it down. Well, OK, maybe a couple of times, but that's about it.

-- Thank you for introducing me to all kinds of strange and wonderful foods. You would bring home wild stuff from Europe: British curry horseradish sauce or lavender chocolate from Belgium or chorizo from a Mexican grocery you decided to stop at in Milwaukee. Pickled carrots, cannibal sandwiches, beer with lemonade, Stilton cheese…anything and everything was worth a shot. My palate now enjoys so many more kinds of food because of your adventurous lead.

-- Thank you for your bizarre sense of humor. Dry, sarcastic, but sometimes absurd and slapstick, comedy was gold in our house. If you got Dad to laugh, there was nothing better than that. Because of his time spent in the UK, he would have us watch Python and Are Your Being Served and Benny Hill and Fawlty Towers, and we would all roar with laughter in the living room. How could I forget the time you went grocery shopping with me and mom and she and I went down another aisle and returned to find you pushing the cart, on your knees, and going DURRR BLRGG DEHHH? HAHA!

-- Thank you for understanding my need to go and do and see, to leave Wisconsin and figure out things for myself. You trusted me that I wasn’t going to screw up in any terrible way, even at 18 years old, and I was so amazed by that. I think I lived up to that, anyway. You loved to travel, as do I, and that remains one of the most enjoyable things for me. GO and DO and SEE.

If you have a dad around, maybe tell him a few things he did that mattered for you. I am sure he would like to know it. Maybe he was a screw-up, but if he did something right, anything, be generous enough to say it. It is a gift far past any card or tie or golf club that you could buy.


Another Optional Beauty Maintenance Saturday. I guess it is all optional, huh? Maybe I should just go all-natural and start wearing hemp shoes and stop using deodorant and go all Euro with the armpits.


First stop was to see Sarah at the waxin’ shop. I like Sarah, because she is very nice and we yabber almost the entire time about our mutual love of music. I went OMGOMGOMGdidyouknowtheflamingLIPSarecomingtoMARYMOOR? and she went OMGOMGOMGOMGreally? and I went YAticketswentonsaletoday! We also discovered we will both be attending the same Death Cab For Cutie show there, and agreed that the addition of The New Pornographers to the bill was nothing but good. And before you know it I am done and I wave goodbye. See you, Sarah!

Lunch was at a small burger place close to the marina where the girl sitting in front of me had Even More Optional Beauty Procedures: an orange spray tan and poof lips. She also had some Chinese characters tattooed on her butt crack that I was in line to view. This is what I want to know: does she want me to ask “Hey, Slug Pout, what do those letters mean coming out from your butt? Do they have anything to do with butts or poop or anything like that, or does it say ‘insert spray tan nozzle here’ or something? Do you only want Chinese people or Chinese-language-schooled people to understand what your crack message is all about?” I didn’t do that though. I think about doing things, but then I don’t, and this saves me from jail and stuff.

After that I decided to pop into the nail salon for the maniped combo deal. I pick out my color, a hot hot pink with OPALESCENT SHIMMER, and look at the name on the bottom of the bottle: “Strawberry Fields.” Heh. As usual there, I am quiet and just listen to everyone else talk while they are getting their cuticles shoved down or their foot mange sloughed off. Someone wants to go out to dinner with Aunt Mary in Mill Creek and a 30 minute text storm ensues, with a play-by-play account of the action. Aunt Mary wants to go to PF Chang’s…no, too expensive…is the Maltby Café open for dinner?…no one knows…Aunt Mary needs a ride…Genevieve’s car is at the tire shop…why is it at the tire shop?…she’s getting an oil change…oh…and she can’t get it back now because they’ve closed up for the day…oh…well how about the Trellis restaurant in the hotel?…yes, they have a salad that is only two hours picked out of the ground!…hahahah this tickles my feet hahahah!…OK, see you soon. For all that I hope Aunt Mary enjoys her fancy newborn salad.

Waxed and nailed, it’s off to the OOGCP for a quick latte then back to the house again. $100 spent, and hair grows and nail polish chips after a week and sometimes it all seems silly. But I get home and MissSix gives me a hug and says, “Ooh! You smell so good!” and spends a few minutes admiring the incredible pinkness of my nails and then we watch those kid rock YouTube videos together, and she goes off to play piano. Her own nail polish on her teeny little nails is almost completely gone, save for a little flash of blue-green that catches the light from the window as she plays and I wonder what kind of Beauty Maintenance girl she will be someday. I am hoping the Chinese Ass Valley Tattoo is not on her menu. At least make it in English so I can read it, honey.


As rock n’ roll ages, it expands. It has so many genres and subgenres– I believe there are perhaps 8 MILLION different kinds of metal classifications – that “rock” seems now to be anything that doesn’t sound absolutely like what came before it. If you are NOT strict jazz, folk, Big Band, Swing, folk, classical, blues, gospel, country, pop (what on earth would you call “How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?”) then you are probably Rock. The inclusion categories increase, and so do the kinds of people making rock n’ roll. At its inception, rock n’ roll and its direct and closest pal R&B were made by relatively nutty guys in their 20s, with a few equally-crazy women like Wanda Jackson thrown in, squarely aimed at the teen audience. Thought of as a harmless fad or threatening moral menace depending on who you asked, rock n’ roll was never expected to survive more that a year or two. Well. HA HA!

The original girls and guys? Some of them, of course, dropped out of rock and got REAL JOBS and some of them like poor Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly had most unfortunate transportation issues. But…the remarkable thing was the some of them stayed. They didn’t stop playing rock n’ roll when they hit 30, then 35, then 40 and beyond. My god, Chuck Berry is close to 250 years old! Hey, it’s possible – he’s one crusty dude. He may just refuse to die.

This was unthinkable! How can old people make teenage music? New young fans and rockers kept coming in, but for the most part all the original fans also stayed, aging right along with the musicians from their youth. The music became not just simple songs for pining pimply teenagers thinking about Donna or Susie or that one that got offed by the train in that one song, but a voice for everyone, about every possible subject you could think of. Most rock songs remain solidly in the romance department, however, because young and old can always relate to that and it is the most salient to celebrate or complain about.

There is a bit of a micro-mini-trend going on in rock for the last few years – the child rock band. Of course, teenagers have always played rock n’ roll – think of the sheer awesomeness of Dave Davies’ guitar solo on “You Really Got Me,” recorded when he was just 17 years old. But as there are enough generations now to be able to say, yeah Grandpa played in (Toledo’s Very Own) Beetalz and Mom played in Die Already Dad, kids are forming bands and recording rock music younger and younger. I think this is a great thing, with only one eyebrow raising concern: is it the kids’ thing or the parents’ thing? There is nothing great at all about hipster parents pushing their kids into music so that their own coolness factor can grow exponentially. It doesn’t respect the kids, in the end.

I mean, I play my kids the music I like because I LIKE IT and I want to listen to it, not some hideous Radio Disney swill. If they like it too that’s nice, but I never expect it. If I am going through the radio channels and one of them says, “Stop! Leave that one on! I like it!” I always do, no matter what it is or how much I have to grit my teeth. I am interested in what they find interesting. You can buy kid-sized Ramones shirts now, but I’d rather they ask for it themselves, or whatever else they want to show off in 100% cotton. It's a line to walk as a parent, another one.

It should always be about what the kid is, what it unique to them, what they are thinking and feeling and wanting to play, as best as they are able. In the late 80s, I bought an LP by the band Old Skull, from Madison, Wisconsin. Old Skull was a punk band featuring brothers J.P. and Jamie Toulon, 10- and 9-years-old, respectively. Their father, Vern, was deep into the punk scene, and some wondered how much of Old Skull was Vern’s ideas filtered through his sons. I am not sure -- most elementary school kids don’t have the pointed political views that Old Skull featured, but I am open to thinking that they did indeed write their own music, as claimed:

The kids are grown now, and Vern died at age 46, reportedly homeless.

So, fast-forward 20 years from Old Skull. Here are Care Bears On Fire, all 13-year-old girls. They formed four years ago!:

Smoosh is our local famous youngster group, consisting of some very talented sisters that Couch Teen claims to be acquainted with:

I heard Tiny Masters Of Today on the radio a few times, liked them, and had no idea that they were kids. Ada (13) and Ivan (15) are a brother and sister who have received quite a lot of attention and praise and even musical collaboration from folks like David Bowie, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, drummer Russell Simins, Gibby from the Butthole Surfers, Fred Schneider of the B-52s, and Moldy Peaches’ Kimya Dawson. They have a new album out now:

The parameters and players continue to increase in rock n’ roll, and I expect someday I will hear a collaborative effort from Great-Grandma on dentures, Grandpa on knock-off Hofner bass, Mom on shred guitar, Kid on I-Wanna-Cookie-NOW whine vocals, and Fetus, on heartbeat.

The Collins Kids -- "High School Confidential"


I enjoyed this opinion from my 82-year-old mother today. I might add that she does not own a computer:

"Do you understand this Twitter phenomenon?? I sure don't! People writing their every thought every second in 14 words or something? WHO CARES?? WHO CARES!!!"

I love my mom.


I know the unpredictability of life has its downsides -- a van plowing into your car as you are taking your child to class, an icy windstorm that almost cancels Christmas, the OOGCP being out of Hairbender coffee beans -- but still, that very unpredictability is really what keeps me going. I just am so thrilled with the idea that I DON'T KNOW what is coming my way on any given day. Today was one of those days where there were many things that surprised me, and every one of them in a good way:

-- a nice journalist from a major women's magazine contacted me and asked if I might be interested in talking with her;

-- I rode in a beautiful fast speedboat on Lake Washington, and spent the day at a gorgeous home enjoying the company of new friends, talking about cars and music and kids and lakes and things;

-- I roasted a weenie over a fire pit;

-- I pet a sweet Rhodesian Ridgeback and he gently licked my hand twice in greeting;

-- I drank a really really good apricot ale;

-- I got some ice cream with MissSix, walked over to the beach with her and sat down on a bench and looked at her beautiful face, and she didn't make a mess with her cone at all;

-- fired up the computer when I got home, opened the email to find a presale code to get tickets to see The Flaming Lips here in Seattle-ish, after I was so disappointed to miss them by one day in Chicago because of travel plans.


So, talking with journalist tomorrow, kids are fast asleep, Flaming Lips tickets purchased, and I have a slight windburn on my face from the speedboat ride. Extra good day.

The Kinks -- "Good Day"


I am a traitor. I am, and I will tell you why, even though it pains me. Women in rock n’ roll have, for the most part, disappointed me. Why is it so hard for women to produce great, classic, substantive, and OOMPHY rock music without the support of male players or producers/handlers? I do not want to think that women are unable simply because of their double X deal. But it is rather rare, is it not? Why?

Let me clarify here: I am not thinking about solo artists or supporting/collaborative players like Bjork or Tina Weymouth or Dusty Springfield or Norah Jones or Regina Spektor or Fiona Apple or Liz Phair or well, we could go on and on. There are many, many very talented women musicians, but I am not often seeing them ROCK without some dude around. I am not thinking of the early-to-mid-‘60s “girl groups” like The Crystals or The Shirelles or The Supremes or The Marvelettes – these were essentially just chick singers grouped in threes or fours and they certainly never created their own songs nor played on them. Jeez, guys even told them what to wear. I am not talking AT ALL about the more-modern-day girl group updates like the Spice Girls or the Pussycat Dolls or Bananarama or TLC or whatever teen girl group barf Disney is currently serving up. No no no. I am not talking about Meg White, the luckiest drummer in the known world. She does indeed rock, but it was Jack White who supplied her with the ammo.

What I will look at are a few of the all-girl groups of rock. I am old enough to remember Goldie and The Gingerbreads and the embarrassingly-named Fanny. Why don’t you know about them? Because they were still viewed as novelty acts. Fanny actually was in the ballpark of that late-60s Cream/Deep Purple/Traffic/Blind Faith jam vein and I like their attitudes. Maybe they could have developed a respected career in a different era, but I gotta say Goldie and pals are just as weak as Sunday sing in the Episcopal Church:

Then of course we have pedophile dream band, The Runaways. How this band irritated me at the time! Give me a break. “Hello Daddy, Hello Mom, I’m a ch-ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb!” moaned the blonde feathered-hair singer Cherie Curry, all of maybe 15 or 16. Now I see the high camp behind producer Kim Fowley’s vision with the band (Kim is a man, btw, if you didn’t know), but then I was just horrified. Thanks, teen rock sluts, for making it harder to be taken seriously as a female musician! Oh, and they also included a lumpy teenaged Joan Jett with her low-slung guitar looking sheepish, and brash Lita Ford kind of pulling off some basic guitar leads. Again, it was novel and almost-rock, but they were just kids and not very good musicians. Miss Curry bailed fairly soon and was replaced by a look-alike blonde singer whose name I cannot recall. In the end, I would say although she is not my musical nor sexual-orientation thing, Joan Jett did end up rocking, although again with men backing her up.

Oh, the high hopes I had for both the Go-Gos and The Bangles! I was in on both of these bands early because of my L.A. musician pal Todd, who kindly dubbed me a few cassette tapes of them and sent it to me in my rural cultural abyss. Wow, I thought, this is good news! These girls were all around my age, and I really wanted to see them hit the ball out of the PARK, show everyone what the girls can do! Both bands achieved quite a lot of commercial success, wrote some good songs, but. Sigh. Once again, the musicianship wasn’t quite quite there. The drums weren’t hit hard enough, the guitar leads were very very very basic, and you could just hear the hesitancy and lightness throughout, almost like they themselves didn’t believe they were as good as the guys either. Belinda Carlisle often struggled to stay on key, and the Go-Gos seemed to show a whole lot more, um let’s say, rock behavior offstage than on.

The Bangles were overall a better band, and they had a star in pretty Susannah Hoffs, who could play, who could sing, who did have attitude (although she way way overdid it with the big coy eyes thing), and could write good songs. This caused bitchiness within the band. Ladies, ladies, ladies. Tsk. “Hero Takes A Fall” is a pop gem that showed a real knack for song construction, but here on the studio version we hear some seriously off-key backing vocals and a mistake on guitar that never should have made it to the final take.

The Bangles ended up relying on other songwriters – Prince, Kimberley Rew, Liam Sternberg, Simon & Garfunkle, Billy Steinberg, all guys – to provide them with their biggest hits.

I guess the most rock of the girl bands have all been in the punk or alt/indie genres: L7, The Slits, Sleater-Kinney, The Vivian Girls, The Cocktail Slippers, Those Dancing Days, and The Pandoras. Hole, The Breeders, Elastica, and Bikini Kill all had at least one guy in the band, so nyah nyah nyah.

And all the boys in the band
know how to get down
fill our Christmas socks
with whiskey drinks
and chocolate bars
and when the evening ends we won't
be thinking of you then
Although the best man
won't hang out with the girl band!

Yes, I know, I know I have forgotten some women and dismissed others, and I know that it really doesn’t matter what gender anyone is as long as they can RRRAAWWWK. But dammit, one day, ONE DAY, I would like to hear a bunch of women just tear it up and make me not even think, hey, they are pretty good for girls. I hate thinking that and probably more than a little because I criticize my own playing in the same way. Stupid traitor to myself. But I think things will even out, I do. I really do.

I am going to leave the last song to The Shaggs, the Universe’s Greatest Girl Band Of All Time. Rock on, Foot Foot.


It never ends, does it? The young complain about the old, the old complain about the young. The Circle of Liiiiiiiiiiiife assures this pattern shall never end, as new asses are born everyday, ready to kick the old asses in their flattened saggy buttocks. It doesn’t mean the new asses are superior; they just are full of, well, their own assdom. I would like to take this opportunity to step into an argument, one of the classics: How Old People Can’t Appreciate New Music and How Young People Make Only Crap.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in this corner we have James Greene, Jr., Age 30, writing for the legendary Crawdaddy!:

Aaaaand in this corner we have Little Steven Van Zandt, Age 58, famous musician, recording artist, label owner, and progenitor of radio’s Underground Garage:

Do read both articles, but a summary:

Greene: Van Zandt, you are an old, rich, one-trick-pony who is out of touch. How dare you dismiss what you can’t appreciate in modern music. Dig your own grave now, Grandpa, you don’t know what you are talking about.

Van Zandt: Today’s popular music sucks because it is made by robots and poor musicians with little understanding of musical history and people who never paid their dues playing in filthy sweaty clubs. This is all probably the fault of MTV.

Oh, yes, I am going to step in here because I have no problem fondly knocking both their skulls together to say, “BOYS! BOYS! BOYS! YOU ARE BOTH WRONG!” And, “YOU ARE BOTH RIGHT!”

How do I know this? Because I am, more or less, in the temporal middle of these cats at Age 47. I have had the experience that Little Steven speaks of, living through most of rock music’s rich history and deeply delving further back into its blues, country, gospel, folk, and jazz roots. I have also experienced Greene’s frustration at the crusty whininess of the “Music Was Only Good When I Was A Kid, Man” people. I have always made major efforts to find, listen to, and love new music, and not just music that sounds like what I already know. I want to be surprised, I want to hear something clever and fresh, and I never fail even in the worst musical eras to find a bounty of talent. But most people, even by the time they are Greene’s age, have already given up on that. I know plenty of early-30s folks who already are pining for the good old music heydey of The Mars Volta and Soundgarden and good god, Slayer. This just seems to happen – people generally rhapsodize about and stick with the music from their youth. Glory Daaaaaays.

Both of these guys, I think, are misunderstanding some basic things. As I have often stated here on the ol’ DI, I am a huge fan of Van Zandt’s Underground Garage radio channel on SIRIUS XM. It is a total blast for me to have all that great old and new garage/punk/Brit Invasion/power pop music on call, because these are my most-favorite genres in rock. However, I probably split my time evenly between that station and SIRIUS XMU, which plays all recent indie releases. I will pop over to Alt Nation, Lithium, the 60s channel, 1st Wave, with occasional forays into hip-hop or old jazz or old country. No one thing is “it.” Van Zandt is just flat-out wrong when he states that there really is only one way to make “real” rock n’ roll: by studying others’ music, playing others’ music, working with others every step of the way, with industry “pros” who already know what is “good.”

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. And NO. It simply is not true. But of course he comes from this journeyman's perspective. He has spent most of his lifetime playing in Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street band; he is very well-known, but not the star. Bruce and the E-Street Band are known for putting on dynamic and lengthy live shows, very much designed to build and entertain an audience in a traditional way. Springsteen’s songwriting, taking the storyteller/working- class-woes paths of Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, modernized and expanded those ideas by adding a saxophone and lyrics about cars and girls and New Jersey, and it worked. Recognizable and beloved, for sure, but innovative? No.

Van Zandt: “When it started, Rock and Roll was dance music. One day we stopped dancing to it and started listening to it and it's been downhill ever since.”

Now, I like to dance as much or probably much much more that the general public, but come on now. If you take this statement on its face, then “Tomorrow Never Knows” by the Beatles and "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" by Death Cab For Cutie and "Sugar Mountain" by Neil Young and "Leaving California" by PJ Harvey & John Parish and “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin and “Karma Police” by Radiohead and “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver and “Fault Line” by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the friggin’ “Star Spangled Banner” by JIMI HENDRIX are all “downhill” because they are not dance songs, they are listening songs. Rock n’ roll, yes, REAL rock n’ roll, is all of these things, and we are luckier for the full expression from these talented artists, some of whom didn’t play in bar bands and didn’t have slick producers to tell them if they were good or not.

Van Zandt bemoans the DIY nature of the changing music business. Well, this is the BEST thing that has happened in the business since Dave Davies slashed up his amp speakers or Phil Spector finally got locked up. How how how how can Van Zandt FORGET that DIY is the HALLMARK of rock??? The punk ethos??? It is no less legit for some musician to come up with a great song, alone, on a computer, than for a band to slog it out for payment in beer at crap clubs. Is everyone now who has access to a drum machine and the internet a great songwriter or star? Of course not. But I LOVE that they are DOING IT. Isn’t that the point??? To have FUN and PLAY and CREATE? If someone else likes it, great, and if they don’t, so what? Come on man! How could you want to deny anyone that? Unless all this flood of people now able to make and share their music cuts into your piece of the pie. Hmm.

Where Greene makes his misunderstanding is where Van Zandt was not really articulating his point fully. I am sure both men are in full agreement that what is truly loathsome is the vocoder-laden indistinguishable Disney-pap that has been littering the Top 20 for quite some time, made by non-musicians and their money-driven producers and some computer loops. It sounds soulless and bland because it is, but hey, people REALLY LIKE IT. Greene is correct in saying there has always been garbage rock n’ roll. There have been more creative and less-creative eras, but garbage is a constant. Yet my garbage is someone else’s fond musical memory in 20 years: “OMG Madison, remember when we got so drunk that one time and danced to Lady Gaga and you puked all over my car? That was so great! Music is shit now!” But Greene must also be wary of participating in the Too-Cool Pissing Contest for too long, because he will end up having to listen to a mélange of reverb-laden synth loops, car crash samples, and hiccups in 5/4 time as it is “innovative.” Like, "I'm so unbelievably musically forward that I only want to listen to bands that aren't formed yet." I think I saw that on a t-shirt.

Greene is failing to hear Van Zandt’s basic message, which is that he feels the beating grand heart has gone out of music to a large degree and has been replaced by nerds and charlatans with Garage Band. Van Zandt is failing to admit that rock n’ roll, yes, REAL rock n’ roll was always made up of many, many things, a mutt music. It was never just dance music for working-class kids. It has survived in popularity so long because it is music to dance to and listen to and to rejoice or cry to, to strum a wicked air guitar to, or to take you out of your comfort zone. It is music for everyone, even middle-aged women who have been knocked stone-cold OUT while “All Day and All Of The Night” was being performed, and who also have Garage Band and use it. Heh.

Greene should know that there is a limitless wealth of fantastic music for him to discover from history, and that cool is timeless. Van Zandt should keep his rock n’ roll heart, but allow that others love rock just as much, but in different ways and in different styles.

You silly asses, you. Let's dance.


With all the big nasty issues going on in the world, headlines screaming about nuclear tests and rioting in Iran and an unstoppable flu pandemic and such, one forgets about the average, everyday, petty criminal. Not me, though. I love ‘em, just as long as they don’t bother me. There is nothing I enjoy more than picking up a small-town newspaper and reading the weekly Police Blotter. It gives you a feel for some of the work that police departments have to deal with out there in the hinterlands. So today, I bring you a hand-picked sampling of some of the recent delightful public police reports from around where I grew up in rural Wisconsin, courtesy the local newsgroup represented at Italics and bold for added for emphasis. Enjoy!


Disorderly conduct
– A 16-year-old Pewaukee boy and a 16-year-old Delafield boy were both cited for disorderly conduct May 21 after they threw tennis balls at a teacher at North Shore Middle School while wearing Scream and stormtrooper masks.

According to the police report, the teacher was leaving North Shore Middle School, 800 E. North Shore Drive, at about 4:17 p.m. May 21. When she got to her vehicle, she was hit in the side of the face by a tennis ball, and when she turned to look, she was hit in the buttocks area by two juveniles wearing masks, the report stated. While an officer and Waukesha County Sheriff's Department deputy were checking the surrounding area, they were given the name of an individual thought to be associated with the incident. Officers responded to the boy's home and the found both teens, who admitted to throwing the tennis balls.

BurglarySomeone slashed tires on a truck parked outside 746 Normandy Circle and stole a pillow from the residence early May 8.

According to the report, Shane Devalk was sleeping in the basement of the residence and at about 2 a.m. someone opened a basement window and removed a pillow which was being used as a window shade. Devalk did not see anyone but did hear a vehicle leave the area as it accelerated at a high speed. In the morning, the vandalism to the tires was discovered.

– Police are investigating a rash of incidents in which windows have been damaged by marbles.

According to the reports:

Maggie Tweet of 1148 Mary Hill Circle reported April 2 that a garage window was damaged and a marble was found nearby. Damage was estimated at $200.

A marble was found near the Gary Gurrath residence, where a front window was reported damaged April 1. Damage was estimated at $200.

Claudia Millot of 511 E.. Capitol Drive, reported April 1 that a front window at her residence was damaged. A marble was also found near that residence. Damage was estimated at $100.

BatteryA 16-year-old boy told Waukesha County Sheriff's deputies he called around 3:15 a.m. May 12 that he had just been punched in the face by a man lurking near his house on White Pine Drive.

He told police he was sitting on his patio smoking a cigarette when he saw someone standing around the nearby tree line, the deputies' report said. He said he walked toward the man and asked him, "Can I help you?" When the man didn't respond the teenager asked the man to leave. That was when the man punched him in the face, then fled down Woodland Oaks Drive.

The boy did not need medical attention, the police report said. The Sheriff's Department is still investigating the incident.

Break-inSomeone broke into a barn at N68 W25424 Silver Spring Road on June 1, but didn't take anything, according to the owner, Mahal Rankin, 78, though she did find three vinyl LP records (in their sleeves) strewn on the ground at about 8 that evening, which alerted her to the break-in.

TheftSomeone stole two packs of cigarettes from an unlocked truck at the Timothy Wein residence, N50 W35283 Wisconsin Ave., sometime late April 21 or early April 22.


Theft – Aaron Wigman, 27, reported the theft of his $400 X-box 300 on May 23, the morning after he and his girlfriend invited three people they had just met at the Tailgaters tavern over to his apartment at N62 W23400 Silver Spring Road.

Wigman told Waukesha County Sheriff's deputies that the couple had invited the three over after the bar closed at about 2:30 that morning, according to the deputies' report. Wigman said he didn't know their names.

Criminal trespass
– A couple reported two odd incidents involving their vehicle that took place between April 28 and May 19.

According to the police report, on April 28, Miny Wu, 702 Browning Circle, was attempting to leave his home, but his vehicle would not start. In checking, he found the anti-theft protections had been activated and under the hood found the positive battery post connection bracket had been bent. He was able to reset the code and start the vehicle with no problem.

On May 18, as he was cleaning and vacuuming his vehicle, he found a brass money clip that held a Wisconsin Drivers License, a debit card, and Blockbuster card all in the name of a Mark B. Collins. The homeowner said he does not know anyone by that name.

– A City of Pewaukee man was charged March 30 with fourth-offense drunken driving after an officer stopped him for squealing the tires on his vehicle in a bar parking lot March 28.

Nigel German, 43, of N50 W27752 Courtland Circle, appeared in Waukesha County Circuit Court on March 30 and cash bond was set at $2,000. German was also cited by police for disorderly conduct as his car was also fishtailing in the parking lot of the bar on Wisconsin Avenue in Okauchee. German is scheduled to appear in court April 24 for a hearing.

Theft – Police cited Justin Burns, 18, of 309 Morris St., for theft for stealing money from a man who was allegedly going to buy marijuana from Burns.

According to the report, another tenant in the apartment building said he met with Burns in the underground parking area of the apartment building May 16 and during the course of the transaction, Burns allegedly grabbed $45 from the man and ran off. The man then contacted police.

On May 19 an officer saw Burns and subsequently cited him for theft.


– A police officer who stopped to assist a motorist in a disabled vehicle March 9 ended up citing the driver, Justin Schween, 18, of Mukwonago, for possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

According to the report, the officer stopped at Poplar Path and Genesee Street at about 1 p.m. for a disabled vehicle. As the officer talked with Schween, the officer noticed the faint odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. The officer found various paraphernalia in the car as well as 2.1 grams of marijuana.

– Police cited a 17-year-old Town of Delafield boy for attempting to steal a tin of tobacco from Sentry, 3255 Golf Road, on March 10. Police were called to the store at about 4:30 p.m. for a shoplifter and found that the boy had hidden the tin in the crouch of his pants. The boy was cited for retail theft.

– Police cited Lateasa L. Farmer, 28, of Chicago, Ill., for retail theft after she attempted to steal merchandise from Kohl's, 3105 Golf Road, March 13. What type of items or a value amount was not available. (Hey, if she married Justin from Mukwonago, she'd be Lateasa L. Schween! BAHAHA!)

And finally, my favorite:

Disorderly – Police cited two teens for disorderly conduct for urinating in public April 20. According to the police report, Alex Jans, 18, of the City of Oconomowoc, and a 17-year-old City of Oconomowoc boy were caught urinating near Aquatic World, W359 N8790 Highway P, at about 4:20 p.m. The teens were also cited for trespassing.

Shouldn’t that be trespissing? HAHAHAHAHAH!


The only homes I visited with gates when I was a kid were farms with those big wooden split rail ones that you would have to stop the car to push open, drive through, then stop again and pull and latch it shut, lest some errant cow or goat escape. Nobody else had a gate, unless it was a cute little decorative picket-fence thing. Nobody even had a fenced yard.

But today we went to the home of a school friend of MissSix’s, and quite a home it was, and it did have a gate that was not a farm gate. To give you an idea of the scope of this property, it had two entrances, located in two different zip codes. The owners of the estate -- for that is what it was, an estate -- graciously invited all the 1st grade class, their parents and siblings, and the teacher and her husband for a end-of-the-year pool party. This is something I would never do because: 1. I have no pool; 2. I have no estate; 3. I have no patience, and 4. I would have nightmares of the Tommy Lee Incredibly-Unfortunate Children’s Pool Party. Oh, and 5. The dog is still shedding huge clumps of black fur and all the children would be covered in ice cream and dog fur and slugs from the backyard and someone would break a toilet and rivers of sludge would come flowing out from the upstairs bathroom and then the sprinkler system outside would go off and everyone would cry. I make a better guest than host, believe it.

Ah, man. What a place, what a place. It looked like a beautiful resort, with lots of wood and glass and natural stone, expansive but not cavernous, tasteful but not uptight at all. Huge tall trees and gardens and pathways are far as you could see. Now, I know that it does not take a place such as this to provide children with a wonderful place to grow up, but surely this is a kid paradise: a long zip line that runs between two big trees, a large wooden playset with swings and slides, enough lawn to host several soccer, football, or baseball games, a hot tub, a curvy pool with a slide, a three-story high observation tower, and so many places to run and play and hide and think and wonder, everything so beautiful and well-cared-for.

To the 1st grade’s credit, there were no skirmishes, mutinies, fights, injuries, pool noodle disputes, or bathroom accidents. Maybe it was the calm and peaceful atmosphere, the cloudy cool temps, or the blissed-out grown-ups also enjoying the day, chatting and eating burgers from the grill and fruit and chips and baked beans and cupcakes and brownies and beer. You can’t help but think, wow, what must that be like, to have a place like this. Good going, Hosts, good going.

Mr11 was beside himself, and ran up and hugged me. “Mom, can I just stay here a few days? This is so great!” I didn’t tell him I’d stay a few myself. He then mentioned that I should go downstairs and see “some Beatles stuff you’d like.” Well, don’t have to ask me twice. I made my way down past two crafting tables as big as ping-pong tables and there on the wall we have these LP covers, framed: Face To Face by the Kinks, Their Satanic Majesties Request by the Rolling Stones, The Who Sell Out, by the Who, a big Yellow Submarine wall hanging, and a framed Flaming Lips concert poster + ticket. Yes, I smiled.

I went back outside, walking alone across the back patio, listening to the yells and voices of the kids in the pool and the chatter of the adults, and poured myself a glass of San Pellegrino and plopped a lemon slice in it. As I made my way down the gravel path to the pool, a breeze wafted the delicious scent of honeysuckle over me, and this song came over the outdoor speakers:

After a bit, it was time to head out. MissSix insisted on doing a few more pool jumps before changing back into her clothes, then pilfered the rest of the brownies. Mr11 grabbed a cookie and just kept smiling. We thanked our gracious hosts, loaded up the car with wet towels and leftover beans, and drove back through the gate, winding down through the neighborhood, into the big green valley by the winery, and back towards Seattle-ish, where the laundry still needs to be put away.


Guest Blogger: Brad

In first grade there was a kid named Robby.
Robby was gray, straight up gray. His skin was gray.
So I called him Grayboy.

On his birthday Grayboy's mom brought cupcakes for the class.
Grayboy's mom was a white lady and disturbingly ugly.
She was dirty and her hair was mussed.

Now I really liked cupcakes, but imagining her dirt and nicotine stained fingers touching that cupcake batter and frosting made me shudder, and I refused her tiny cakes.

--Brad, 1986


I sang all today
So again, you get nothing
But odd video.


As a long-time professional parent, something you must learn to deal with is ART. Children, in their preschool and elementary years, bring home copious loads of ART to share with you, Their Art Appreciator. We are talking anything from some tornado-looking crayon scribbles on a scrap of construction paper (maybe even with a teacher-transcribed title like, “Fighter Rats Eating Super Guys”) to wobbly unidentifiable ceramic items to pasted pastel ponies with long black girly eyelashes. The art keeps coming and coming and coming and coming, until you have a dilemma. There is no room left on the fridge or walls of the playroom, and you have already sent off a bunch to Grandma too, but you still have ART, more than you can find places for.With my first child, I treated every single creation he brought home like a museum treasure. I even ordered a special kids’ art storage thing, but that got filled up fast.

The day came. I had to throw away some of my kid’s art. I confess it.

Oh, it was painful. I was the sole curator to this family museum and the decisions were agonizing. I spread my son’s artistic efforts all around me on the playroom floor, knowing that some of them had to go. They had to. My own paper problems were enough to cause my husband to refer to the kitchen table as “the flat file.” So, OK. I guess the generic art goes first – the projects that all the kids did pretty much the exact same way, like green and red paper Christmas wreathes with gold spray-painted macaroni embellishments. I opened the trash bag, looked around guiltily to make sure my son was not around to see my shame, and 1994’s Wreath was history. Oh, man. Just writing that still makes me feel bad now.

But my heart had to art-harden, with the output from three children. It became easier to toss things, still out of sight of the artist that was getting the boot, of course. I would keep some pieces for awhile, admire them, then usually during the Desperate House Clean-Up Before The Real Cleaner Comes I would stuff them in a wastebasket and think of efficiency. I save enough to keep some nice memories for the kids if they ever wanted to look back on their youth. It is probably just going to be sentimental me though, 90 years old in some barred-window apartment, smiling away at a 55-year-old drawing of a dancing cow standing on the roof of a red barn.

My middle child, Mr11, brought home very little art compared to Couch Teen and the manically-art-prolific MissSix. Drawing was uncomfortable for him, and after a wild run of drawing these little cars when he was two, he pretty much refused to do any art for a very long time. He seemed sad and self-conscious about his efforts. Handwriting was very difficult for him as well, which of course impacted how he felt about being in school in general. Trying to give him a fun and safe way back into art and hoping to also strengthen his hand, I enrolled him in a local Monart course, which is a very directed method of drawing that gets quick and impressive results for kids and adults. Some would say it teaches people to produce only one style of art, and someone else’s vision. But the value was beautifully evident to me when after that first day of class little MrNoDraw came out, beaming a great big smile and waving the loveliest drawing of a penguin I ever saw. That class helped him to realize that he could do art and do it well, and much more importantly, that he could enjoy it.

Fast forward many years to today, nearing the end of the school year. I see Mr11 carrying a brightly-painted box that he made in art class:

Don’t tell Couch Teen or MissSix, but this one is never getting thrown out, ever. As a matter of fact, I here decree that I would like my eventual ashes to remain for all time in this container.

Best thing ever, from the least-likely artist.


Trent Reznor says he isn’t going to be on Twitter or any of the other internet social networking sites now. He’s had enough:,731489

Trent is the well-regarded musician behind Nine Inch Nails, best-known for 1994’s big-seller The Downward Spiral. He constructed an innovative sound that blended industrial, metal, and punk genres with enough of an accessible pop sensibility to get the band noticed. He is unafraid to try novel approaches to creating and distributing his music, which I applaud wholeheartedly. I’m a fan. But this needs saying.

My Open Letter To Trent Reznor:

Dear Trent,

Hello. WELCOME TO THE GODDAMN INTERNET, DUDE! Where the hell have you been? Did you imagine you’d find lots of cool laid-back awesome people to chat with on Twitter? DUDE! DUDE! DUDE! I shake my head. You should KNOW what’s out there, especially being in rock ‘n roll for so long. DUDE! How can you bitch like this??:
The problem with really getting engaged in a community is getting through the clutter and noise. In a closed environment like a lot of this can be moderated away, or code can be implemented to make it more difficult for troublemakers to persist. It's tedious and feels like wasted energy doing that shit, but some people exist to ruin it for others - and they are the ones who have nothing better to do with their time. Example: on, there's 3-4 different people that each send me between 50 - 100 message per day of delusional, often threatening nonsense. We can delete them, but they just sign back up and start again…Back to Twitter. I approached that as a place to be less formal and more off-the-cuff, honest and "human". I was not expecting to broadcast details of my love life there, but it happened because I'm in love and it's all I think about and that's that. If this has bummed you out or destroyed what you've projected on me, fair enough - it's probably time for you to leave.

Well, no, people aren’t going to leave and they aren’t going to change. The internet provides the perfect outlet for trolls to live out their dreams by being able to say WHATEVER THEY LIKE to ANYONE, including the extra-awesome thrill of being able to crap on a celebrity and have it seen by EVERYONE. You feed them extra-helpings of crunchy delicious fantasy POWER, Trent, by getting all pissy and whiny and butthurt over their words on a screen. How can you still be so raw?? Also, periods go inside quotes, by the way.

I bet people have been leaving crappy comments about your fiancé, your music, your…well your anything whatsoever, and it doesn’t feel great to read, especially in REAL TIME like Twitter where you have no control over content. However, may I remind you that you are no stranger to making rude public comments about others. Let’s revisit a few recent ones:

Looks like the Metal Sludge contingency has discover Twitter! Finally! For those of you that don't know what this is, please let me explain. Metal Sludge is the home of the absolutely worst people I've ever come across. It's populated mainly by unattractive plump females who publicly fantasize about having sex with guys in bands.

You know that feeling you get when somebody embarrasses themselves so badly YOU feel uncomfortable? Heard Chris Cornell’s record? Jesus.

(Marilyn Manson) is a malicious guy and will step on anybody’s face to succeed and cross any line of decency. Seeing him now, drugs and alcohol now rule his life and he’s become a dopey clown.

I’m not Prince or Rivers Cuomo, who brags about having hundreds of great songs. And to that I would say, ‘Prince, if you have a hundred great songs or a thousand, how about picking a few and putting them on your record that you’ve put out, because your last several have sucked.’ Same for you, Rivers. I say that constructively, you know.

Fair is fair, man. You want to speak plainly, good for you. I am all for it. But you aren’t the only one allowed to speak, no matter how right you think you are or may in fact be. You fling shit, others are going to fling it back. You set yourself up. You have the rare luxury of having a voice that gets attention: you say something and someone will report to the world whatever it is you wish to communicate, whether that’s about a new musical project, your frustrations with the rotted music industry, how much you love your girl, or that you think a former friend is now a massive tool. Why waste your bandwidth on bitching about other people, then further waste it by bitching at their bitching about you? Unless you just want the press, regardless.

Trent. You are just three years younger than me. Not too much should surprise you at this point in your life, and you have seen a whole universe of ugliness and waste and perversion and sadness already. You want things to move forward, then you have to be the one to step up and be the person to not WHINE LIKE A BABY, but do something positive about it. You let the trolls drive you off rather than take it for what it’s worth, which is zero point zero. But if you can’t handle it, then running away is the right thing to do. I’m not saying you have to subject yourself to a daily shitstorm; I am saying you gotta think where it is coming from and why, and just do your thing.

Love, Marianne

PS. Your arms look real good but your gut could stand a little work. Maybe clean up the language a bit. Kiss kiss.