Due to the kind ticket-snaring-swiftness and generosity of my friends Deb and Wilton, my family and I got to do something really unique and nifty last night: we got to board Washington State's official ship, the Lady Washington, for a 2-hour cruise around Lake Washington! It was truly perfect weather -- sunny, with the sun checking out slowly to reveal a huge almost-blue-moon, and we were further assisted by a fine sail-filling breeze. Highlights of the trip were the ship's dog, Mr14 wrangling some rope, a hot-bod paddleboarder whose super-human skills brought him out all the way by us, the thoroughly nice crew, and the wonderful relaxing qualities of being on a boat whose only sound came from the shouts of the crew and the flapping of the sails.

Please to enjoy some pretty iPhone photos and a little video! The song is "Captain of Your Ship," by Reparta and the Delrons. Find out more about the Lady Washington at The Historical Seaport, which absolutely hands-down beats The Hysterical Seaport. (Click to enlarge photos!)


It's just one of those days when I feel like some balance is needed. Since I've already brought you the thoughtful, intellectual content you've come to expect here at Popthomology -- DOGS SCARED BY FARTS -- I figured we needed to see the other side of the genre. Please to enjoy these CATS SCARED BY FARTS videos!

Farts Scare Cat

Kitten Scared By Fart

Cat's Reaction To Fart

Big Fart Scares Two Cats

Dog Fart Scares Cat

Kitty Scared By Anal Thunderclap


Oh, the random pieces of paper I find from MissNine as I clean up the house...

QT Commercial 1960s


Driving into the late afternoon sun, behind a young woman in a battered red sedan, we wait at a red light. She takes a drag from her cigarette, and when she exhales, evenly and slowly, the white-blue smoke bends at her windshield, spreading to the right and left, top and bottom. The brightness and angle of the sun show the swirls, floating, surrounding her, very beautiful in a ghostly, elegant, horrible way. It takes my breath away, figuratively; hers, eventually.


My smartphone has a sound generator app, the kind that is used to mask unpleasant noise and help people get to sleep. I cannot decide if it is the sweetest or the saddest thing that the only one that comforts me into rest, as the phone glows brightly against my white pillowcase, is the digitized sound of a cat purring.


"Buf! Buf...buf!"

My dog makes this sound if she senses any raccoons are lurking around our property, sort of a warning chatter that puffs out her cheeks; not quite bark-worthy, as she is by nature a very quiet and calm creature, but getting close to sounding a full alarm to her human family. It's funny and I smile at her bravado and seriousness of purpose. But surely in the six months that she survived on her own in a campsite before she came into a rescue program and to us, something had happened to make her so vigilant about protecting us from raccoons. I wish we could've found her sooner, I think, then I pet her head and tell her she is a good dog.


As a someone who could be described as "mid-20th-Century-modern," I have a whole lot of sonic goodies in my mental jukebox. It's great to be able to call upon all my favorite music from the last half-century as I like; that said, I find that there's nothing like the satisfying rush of finding and listening to great new music. I don't believe in coddling the past too too much, whether in practice or the abstract. What is being made now of rock n' roll is interesting to me on all kinds of levels. It can never die, it's said.

But sometimes when I am digging my new fave bands -- which are to a great degree in the "garage rock" catch-all genre -- I can't help but be poked in the synapses by my old faves. More than just finding a few commonalities, obvious influences, or outright swipes (stealing stuff is a universal rock n' roll tradition), I listen for something a little deeper, a less-expected connection between old and new, some link that is on the surface is kind of weird (or really weird) but actually would SOUND GREAT all mashed up. So today I bring you my weird wishlist of classic LPs that I would LOVE to hear redone by some of the coolest cats and kitties of 2012 -- and some of my photographs, too. Let's go!


What does a young, hyper-prolific (and hyper in general) California musician have to do with laid-back blues-guitar mega-hero Eric Clapton? Not much, if you're looking at "Wonderful Tonight" or "Lay Down Sally." But if we time-trip back to late 1967, we find Clapton in a place where he was challenged to play within songs, rather than copy/recycle/snore through bland blues cliches or AOR muck. "Disraeli Gears" is a heavy record, but not so heavy that it doesn't feature tons of good pop songs that deserve a freshening. Ty Segall's the right man for the job, for his 2012 releases of "Slaughterhouse" and "Hair" (with White Fence) are heavy, all right, bringing the guitar solo back with a vengeance, surrounded by mad thrashy psych guitars and slice-through harmonies. It would WORK.

Ty Segall, "I Bought My Eyes" (2012)

Cream, "Blue Condition" (1967)


OK, this one is just a no-brainer for me. Common to both the Intelligence and the Cars is this tight-to-uptight mechanical feel of their song structures: the latter band kept tightening the screws to further a clean, aloof, chrome-shiny perfection; the former, more self-conscious of the orderliness, make endearing attempts to both embrace and destruct it. It would take like two minutes for Lars Finberg to reconfigure the Cars' "Since I Held You" to perfectly fit the Intelligence's quirkier style. Whaddya say, man?

The Intelligence, (They Found Me In The Back Of) The Galaxy" (2012)

The Cars, "Since I Held You" (1979)


I can tell you from repeat personal experience that Miami's Jacuzzi Boys have put on some pretty apeshit performances, or rather, their fans have gone apeshit, which makes for a lot of fun and a lot of beer flying in the air. So why on earth would I pick a cartoon band for them to cover? Ah, that's easy. Within the punky loud madness, there's also a nifty core of bubblegum Sugar Pops sweetness, heard most in vocalist Gabriel Arcala's puppy-whine voice. It's a great combination. Sending the JBs to take on the pure kiddie pop of the late-60s would be genius: they'd strip away the years, rough it up, yet keep the humor and lightness as well.

Jacuzzi Boys, "Crush" (2011)

The Archies, "La Dee Doo Down Down" (1968)

Running out of time for today...I'll be back with some more another time!


I am very pleased today to deliver to my daughter one of the two presents she asked me to get her for her upcoming 10th birthday next month: plane tickets to Florida (I'll work on that, dearie), and for me to set up a new photoblog for her to showcase her nature photographs. She often sets out on her own with my iPhone or one of the many point-and-shoot cameras we have around here to find interesting things to snap, and she really gravitates towards the outdoors. She often finds details and perspectives that are, I think, unique and cool, and I am proud of her good work.

So, Happy Birthday Early, my girl, and here is "All Flowers Have A Story!"

You may click HERE to peruse the site for yourself if you like, and there are buttons to click to follow by RSS or email, or share the site or individual photos on Twitter, Facebook, or other places on the interhappenings. She loves comments and photo tips, so please feel free to give them there! (Mama moderates all of those, by the way, ya, you betcha.)

I'm looking forward to more of her photos 'cause, hey, I'm a fan.


I made a brief visit to Guitar Center today. I didn't find what I needed there, but I was very amused to see...

...the records on both demo DJ turntables were by Barry Manilow...

...and very, VERY amused to hear...


I do what I can to be a good public citizen, I really do. I like to think that I am pretty patient, am respectful of others, and try to assist with the purposeful, smooth, and non-confrontational flow of daily life.

But today, TODAY... everything just kind of got to me. Let me give you the scenario.

After starting my afternoon by being both offended and annoyed that MissNine wet the ends of her hair in the sink and then lied to me that she took a shower, I got in my car for a little recreational shopping and the weekly grocery haul. It was a perfectly lovely sunny summer day here, and the pretty blue skies and sweet breeze while I drove was pleasant. I arrived at the discount department store in a decent mood.

My shopping there, usually also pleasant for me, started to go south almost immediately, starting with the canned music. Today, it was ALL horrible horrible horrible autotuned pop after another after another, not a one indistinguishable from the next. My head started to ache and I started to wish I had brought earbuds, earplugs, or a sledgehammer to smash the evil format musicbot back into the cruel hell from whence it arose.

Then more bad stuff happened.

I picked up a bar of soap to gently sniff it to see if I liked it, and it was so overwhelmingly scented with  lavender and vanilla that it not only upset my stomach on the spot, but accelerated the Baby Headache into Full Adulthood.

I picked up a bottle of Philosophy body lotion and it was cracked on one side and leaked this kind of watery creepy mess all over my hand.

There was a very loud crying toddler.

A guy next to me looking at men's t-shirts put his whole arm over the rack while he looked, which prevented me from looking. He also smelled like onion sweat.

People left shoes on the floor in the shoe aisles so I couldn't push my cart through.

I took a dress off the rack to look at it more carefully, and a woman rushed up to me and said, "Oh, I wanted that! I'm sorry, do you mind?" I pursed my lips ever-so-slightly and handed it to her.

None of this would be enough for me to engage in public anger.

This is what did.

I had wanted to go through a particular rack of women's shirts, yet a very large woman in a bulgy, too-small romper that pulled her enormous flounder breasts down to her navel had set her cart sideways in the aisle while having a phone conversation. Her discourse was embarrassingly loud and filled with the worst expletives you could think of: lots of the regular stuff, adding in the "c" word and the "m-f" word liberally, never mind the old ladies and the little kids nearby. I kept circling back to see if she had moved on, but she never did. I had gone through the entire store, which must've taken at least 40 minutes, and she was still there, complaining heartily about bitches and assholes and assholes and bitches.

My head was pounding, my stomach was curdling, and my patience was nearly used up. I WANTED TO SEE THOSE SHIRTS, NOW. ENOUGH OF THIS.

I wheeled my cart directly up to her and stood and stared at her until she finally looked up at me.


Flounderina paused her phone conversation to growl back at me, "It's a free country, lady." And she continued right on with her phone rants and DID NOT MOVE.

"CAN YOU MOVE THEN???" I said, with more than a little frustration in my tightened throat.

She turned away from me and KEPT TALKING.

OK. Concealed carry laws, don't burn me, bro. I walked around and walked right up to her bloated blubby face.

Very, very quietly, but with what I think must've been a keenly demented look in my eyes, I said this:

"Get out of this aisle with your nasty mouth before I vomit my lunch down your back."

No one expects the red-headed Soccer Mom.

She hung up her phone, left her cart there, walked out of the store, and drove off. She did not return.

I looked at the shirts and found one I really liked.


I am SO SO SO SO SO excited to bring you this SUPER FAB guest post from fellow photographer/writer Suzi Pratt and musician (The Intelligence, Coconut Coolouts, Lambourginiz, Dancer And Prancer, and possibly 1-50 more bands) Pete "Wheels" Capponi. Pete has collaborated with other fine Seattle music folks in the last few years to bring us the awesomeness that is PIZZAFEST: a mini-festival held at the legendary and raucous (and soon-to-be-no-more, at least at its current location) Funhouse each summer. PIZZAFEST has a simple premise: for patrons of the arts to ingest as much loud garage punk music, beer, and pizza as is humanly possible, with a pizza-eating contest that is known for its...lack of delicate table manners, shall we say. I don't know what more you could ask for in life, really.

I was all set to attend my first PIZZAFEST, but then my summer travel plans changed and I ended up 2000 miles away from the Funhouse in early August. Suzi once again offered to step in and up and through for me, because not only is she a nice and very talented person, she shares my enthusiasm for diving into craziness and coming out soaked in Pabst and tomato sauce for the chance to get INCREDIBLE photographs, and she sure did! Here's Suzi's write-up of her experience!
Pizza Fest might seem like it belongs in a prolific pizza-city such as Chicago or New York, but it turns out Seattle is more than an appropriate locale for such a celebration. The Emerald City is home to a plethora of local pizza joints (Big Marios, Pagliacci, Via Tribunali, etc), and lots of pizza-eating fans who also love their punk rock. Thus, it makes total sense that Seattle's Pizza Fest equates to three full days of pizza-pie lovin' AND a showcase of punk and garage rock music. This year was the third incarnation of Pizza Fest, and it spanned from August 2-4 at the Funhouse.  The musical lineup included Sonny and the Sunsets, Personal and the Pizzas, and Grave Babies, to name a few. Each act took place in the Funhouse's indoor stage, lending itself to the hot sweaty mashup of fans grooving to the beats while trying to pretend it wasn't hotter inside than out (which it was!).  Meanwhile, the Funhouse's outdoor yard might have been cooler due to the chill night air, but it wasn't any less crowded, especially when Pizza Fest's token pizza eating contest took off.  Food consumption contests are never a pretty sight, and this one was no exception, especially since it took place close to midnight on a Saturday in the heat of summer.  About half a dozen contestants gathered around a picnic table, digging into a box of pizza while surrounded by raucous spectators cheering them on and occasionally emptying pints of booze over the crowd. This year's winner turned out to be both female and British -- can't say anyone saw that coming!

Take a peek at some of the madness in the photos below and get a glimpse of what you missed if you weren't there to witness it yourself! (Click to enlarge photos!)


Hey, hey! It's Back To School time for most of the country, with millions of cute little fresh-faced kids being mercilessly shoved onto chaotic yellow buses all over America as their parents sadly wave goodbye and then run down to Shady's Dew Drop Inn for a quick nip before work. When I was at a local Goodwill store the other day photographing an ess-ton of vintage Christian Evangelist LPs, I also found these old school instructional records for teachers. (You can tell they came from the same guy's collection from the white tape on the spine...dude was really into AUTHORITARIAN LIFE, that's for sure.) I thought I might let you know what was probably on them, and then what was REALLY going to be learned. Please to enjoy!

WHAT KINDERGARTENERS WERE SUPPOSED TO BE LEARNING: Basic shapes, colors, left vs. right, taking turns, numbers 1-10, the alphabet, cut with scissors along a line, writing first name.

THE ONLY THING THEY REMEMBERED: Don't pick your boogers or Mrs. Dammbacher will shame you by putting your sorry little ass in the corner.



I've had a small but worthy epiphany.

It began as I had discussions with two different friends a couple of days ago about the far-reaching benefits of travel. I love to travel; if I could, I would be going everywhere all time, seeing friends, discovering new places, trying new things. Travel brings an expansiveness, a more mindful way of seeing the world. It refreshes and energizes and challenges; it can take us out of our comfort zone and teach us things we could learn no other way. I can't really think of many better activities to take on in life than to see as much of the world as you can.

My conversations with my friends both morphed into the difficulties inherent in traveling. The process of getting where you want to go is often prohibitively expensive, both time- and money-wise. And when isn't it a huge drag to get anywhere, what with lugging luggage, long security lines, crying babies, flight delays, air turbulence that spills your coffee all over your lap and rattles your psyche, with the general cattle-corral aspect of the whole experience. And if you already have issues -- you are afraid to fly, afraid to travel alone, or your back hurts or your feet swell or you cannot deal with some snotty brat kicking your seat from Newark to Naples -- sometimes it's just easier to switch on the Travel Channel and dream.

When I was younger I can remember being so irritated by everything involved in travel that seemed to grossly underline all the flaws of the human race that you could not escape, sitting in a flying tin ship for hours. But, I am older, and have developed a bit more Chill Out. The crying babies? I pretend they are exotic squawking tropical birds. Lugging luggage? Wheels, baby, wheels, and curbside check-in. Flight delays? More the chance that I might get a free ticket in the end. Turbulence and coffee failure? WHATever.

And here is where my little realization stepped in, for one of the things that used to bug me the most about traveling was OLD PEOPLE. My GOD, they were so OLD and SLOW! There they would be, hobbling along, oblivious to anyone else around them trying to move in a more timely fashion, taking FOREVER to get on and off the plane, struggling to put shopping bags full of discount clothes and oranges in the overhead bins, snoring in their seats and/or getting up to use the plane toilet all the time while grabbing everyone else's seat to steady themselves, and riding through the airport in those damn courtesy carts beeping and shoving me to the side, while I HAD TO WALK. PFFT. GOD, you OLD people, give up already, I would exclaim in my mind in frustration, if you can't deal, then STAY HOME and leave the fun to us!

And, now...well, now. Now I see my mother's face in all of those old folks'. Now I know that all of them, just to be able to keep seeing and doing and experiencing the world outside of their own towns have to try so much harder than I ever could have understood in my less-compassionate days. Their aging bodies ache; old bones and muscles complaining loudly with too much movement, or too little. It's hard to get comfortable, hard to walk, hard to lift anything, hard to hear, hard to see, hard to keep track of the pills you have to take every few hours, hard to eat the diet your doctor says you must, hard to accept that traveling isn't carefree and easy, and will take a great deal of physical and mental effort and some risk.

So why do they do it? Why bother? Because the old lady who kept going to the bathroom will do anything she has to do to travel the 2500 miles to see her new grandbaby. Because the old man who coughed the whole way wants to see his Army pals in his old hometown one more time before it's too late. Because the couple that somehow managed to stay together for 50 years saved enough money to finally be able to tour the great castles and churches of Europe. Because those two chatty elderly sisters travel together every year to Scottsdale to soak up the sun and make quiet randy comments to each other about the cute lifeguards.

Because they have to try harder than anyone else and because it would be so much easier for them to never try at all, the old folks, to me, are heroes. To do, to see, to experience, to share in all of the world, and to do so until the very last, is beautiful.

And it only took me 50 years to figure that out.


OH BOY, FOLKS! PAY DIRT today!! Looks like a hardcore evangelical Christian preacher, teacher, or just a BIG BIG FAN of the genre probably passed on to the Big Dirt Nap In The Dirt and his (or her, but probably not her) personal effects got dumped at one of my local Goodwill stores. Maybe the deceased's relatives thought it said "Godwell," who knows. Anyway, I found a slew of these sweet and wholly-weird vintage '60s religious record covers, so I am bringing them to you on a SUNDAY, THAT'S RIGHT, A SUNDAY. SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY!!!

Mr. F. Carlton Booth, he of the vampire teeth and glowing eyes, is unashamed to admit he is a salesman. Read the blurb in the pink box: "...Once you get a convert, keep him! Don't lose the fish after he is hooked!" WOW.


For the last few years, every so often on a Saturday MissNine will walk up to me and announce that she is taking Art Requests, generously open to anyone I know on the interhaps. Today she did just that, excited by her new multi-colored pencils purchased last night from that haven of fine-art, Target. I made the announcement for her on my Facebook, the requests came in, and she made the drawings. This is how it went.

Request #1 --  Charly (Argentina):
"Oh requests! I love requests. Draw me an animal! Hippopotamus! No wait, I couldn't draw that myself.. "

M9: "Blue Hippo in France!"

Request #2 -- Jo Anne (Iowa): 
"The. Beatles?"

M9: "It's like Meet The Beatles with colors!"

Request #3 -- Stacy (Florida): 
" I would like her interpretation of a day at my house AND a map of all the places she will take me when I get there" 

M9: "I'm not expert at geography. But this is how I feel after a day at Stacy's house!"

Request #4 -- Jill (Seattle)
"Draw me a scooter!"

M9: "Here you go!"

Me: "Honey, that says "scotter," not "scooter!" And I think Jill meant a motorscooter!"

M9: "Oh! Hee hee hee! OK!"

Request #5 -- Jo Anne (Iowa)
"Draw me a guiness."

M9: "I made it more fancy."

Request #6 -- Jeanne (Texas)
"Draw a girl on a scooter drinking a guiness wearing a Beatles shirt taking STacy B around to all the Seattle hot spots...Oh & a horse."

M9: "I don't know about that!"

Me: "Just do the horse then."

M9: OK!

Request #6 -- Jon (Seattle)

" I would like a picture of her favorite band"

M9: "Mom, I need some red and black right away!"

Me: "OK!"

M9: "Mom, tell everyone we have to shut it down now. I'm hungry."

Me: "OK, will do. Thanks, sweetie, these are cool!"

Request #7 -- Dena (Illinois)

I was going to ask for a goat wearing a lei, but it looks like she's all booked up."

M9: "Tell Dena I love her, but we are closed!! Even for goats!"



I've got nuthin' to cry about today here today in Seattle-ish, where I'm diggin' the bluest skies and the sunniest sun, the coldest beer, and pancakes for dinner. Well, OK, if I really wanted to be a pouty baby I could spill a few tears about the patch of sunburn I got on my leg or that my second go-round this year of The Cough That Never Ends seems to be enjoying an extended stay, but I'm NOT GONNA DO IT! But you...dammit, I feel for you. You might be having a bad day where you are, with a Sig Oth that's being an ass AGAIN, a co-worker who farts and doesn't even KNOW it, or the realization that your neighbor, Rusty The Felon With The Dubious Van, is never, EVER going to stop his jam out to "Welcome To The Jungle."

I am here to help! Here's five of the most kickass rockin' songs I know with "Cry" (or "Crying" or "Cryin'") in the title, so you can weep and dance like a crazy person at the same time and achieve some healthy catharsis. It might even freak out Rusty enough for him to keep his distance! Please to enjoy!

The Gentlemen, "It's A Cryin' Shame" (1966)

Without question, one of the most DEVASTATINGLY AWESOME garage rock songs of the EVER! Oh man, this is brutal!! The coolest riff, the filthy fuzz, the relentless belt-whip beat, the cool cat harmonies, the searing vocals -- it's got IT ALL. I once tried to cover this in the '80s but I kept messing up the riff and said, oh eff it.

The Animals, "I'm Crying" (live, 1965)

The Animals were a big fave of mine back inna day; what power these guys had, and what tremendous songs! Eric Burdon was one of the few Brits that could truly stand with any of his blues idols. "I'm Crying" is a great stomper that encourages yelling and headbanging and hair-flying goodness. Check the wicked cymbal work on this live version and the magical unmoving-ness of Burdon's bangs.

The High Numbers, "Gotta Dance To Keep From Cryin'" (live, 1964)

What I love most about this is that you can tell that drummer guy really just wants to CUT LOOSE. Like, ALL THE TIME. I miss you, Keith.

Reigning Sound, "I'll Cry" (2005)

Southern cats Reigning Sound are still on my SERIOUS bucket list of Bands I Am Desperate To See, and I feel totally shamed that I've missed them. I could cry about that, but instead, LET'S ROCK! This is the alternate 7" version on Slovenly Records that was released the year after "I'll Cry" appeared on the MANDATORY BUY album, Too Much Guitar (In the Red Records).

Q 65, "Cry In The Night" (1966)

Ah, this Dutch band came up with a total go-go mover, with a purple-heart stutter fuzz guitar that just makes you want to jerk like a electrocution victim. In a GOOD way.

Ty Segall & White Fence, "Crybaby" (2012)

We will end up our Cry Fest with two of my current tops of the pops, the ultra-prolific and ultra-keen Ty Segall and Tim Presley and their fun pals. Keeping the garage alive, one tear at a time!


You don't have to prod me much to do fun stuff like play guitar and such, but when my dear old friend Jim called me up and exhorted that I was NO KINKS FAN AT ALL if I didn't record a cover version for Talenthouse's "Interpret A Kinks Song" contest, I told him I couldn't do it. For one, I was at my mom's house and the only instrument she had there was some wooden horn from New Guinea. Secondly, I couldn't sing -- I've had full to lingering laryngitis for weeks. Jim recorded his own song for the contest, "Motorway," and ended up shaming me into doing this with 14 hours left before the thing closes.

I picked "Sleepwalker," one of my favorite Kinks tracks from 1977. It roaringly announced that the band was back and ready to climb the charts again, and that is just what they did. I used my dad's 1920s toy piano, a '65 Fender Electric XII (the same model that was used on many Kinks recordings), and you can definitely hear some squeaky weirdness in my voice! I hope it makes you smile, because I did have a lot of fun doing it.

You can vote for me to win the damn contest if you want to, but I do think there are others that are far better, or you can grab a download from Soundcloud. The point was in the doing, and I'm glad I done did. Thanks!


My friends are to thank for these goatcentric items of recent note which I now dutifully send your way, plus some EPIC GOAT VS. OTHER ANIMALS battles!

I formally decree that "THE GOAT IS IN OUR CUSTODY" is the catchphrase of 2012!

Goat Vs. Camel

Dog Vs. Goat

Monkey Vs. Goat

Goat Vs. Horse


(Open Salon Folks may see the video on Popthomology, and can also access cool links and free kittens!  Maybe.)


I am back home today in Seattle-ish after a very nice three-week vacation in my home state of Wisconsin. We had lots of fun adventures, of course, with plenty of relax time and frozen custard. But one small moment has stuck with me, and not in a good way. I had to make a quick choice, and it left me with more than a little cognitive dissonance. That, in the end, is not really a bad thing; events that prod one to think deeply about actions, beliefs, and values offer opportunities to solidify your thinking and check that your brain and heart are working in tandem.

The small town where my mom lives in Wisconsin is like so many there now: a once-thriving agricultural town now utterly gutted by the recession and the presence of the small-business killer Wal-Mart. I can remember walking downtown there as a child with my mom and grandma, stopping often on the sidewalk to say hello to people my grandma knew, chatting with the shop owners, the feeling of Mayberry-like vibrancy and warmth. Now, there are almost no pedestrians, and there is a chill to the gazes from the few remaining shop owners, no cheery greetings offered. The only signs of life are at a few sketchy bars and outside a garish tattoo parlor. Semi-truck traffic barrels through the town, rumbling and idling at the single 4-point stop light. It is depressing.

On a cloudy and warm afternoon a few days ago, my 85-yr.-old mom, my 9-yr.-old daughter, and I decided to visit a couple of thrift/antique shops in the downtown, something we all enjoy and a good chance to put a few dollars into the local businesses trying to make a go of it. On the way to one of the shops, I glanced up from the sidewalk to look up to a storefront window at a hot pink sign that caught my attention. I was both surprised and very pleased to read on it "I Stand With Planned Parenthood," and realized that this town was fortunate enough to have a small clinic there, open two days a week. Planned Parenthood, for thousands of low-income women, is the only affordable source of any kind of medical care they can access, from cancer screenings to reproductive services to general health care.

The second after I read the sign, I read another, propped on the sidewalk next to the entrance: "Say hello to your baby!" it said, with the inevitable in-utero fetus photograph. Sitting next to the sign were three elderly people sitting in chairs. Oh, great, I thought, even this little place has self-righteous clinic protestors. And right there was where I had to instantly figure out how I wanted to react to this, for in my value system there is no room for bullies, and that's really what those old folks are.

My instinct was to stop cold, enter the clinic, and ask if I could make a donation and buy the entire staff lunch and flowers, and I nearly did it. My other instinct was to suggest to the chair-sitters that their time could be far better and less-hypocritically spent by volunteering to spend time attending to the needs of the millions of already-born children and women who are in desperate need of compassion and care. But I acted on neither urge, and felt very unsettled and unhappy for it. I knew that I would have upset my mother, who is sympathetic to the "pro-life" cause, less for the political ideals than what she would see as a lack of public good manners. I knew that while I wanted to set an example of action to my daughter, I did not want her to be in any way made uncomfortable seeing her grandma uncomfortable with me. So in those few seconds, I had to choose, and I chose to "suck it up" and walk past the clinic and the protesters, ignoring it all.

So that day I chose to keep family harmony intact by not calling out a trio of white-haired rocking chair bullies, but today I chose to make a donation to Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. My cognitive dissonance isn't completely resolved, but I feel good about helping out an organization I believe in, in a state that has suffered particularly via the targeted efforts of Gov. Scott Walker and the far-right's agenda to restrict the rights of women. Please join me in donating if you can.

Statement from Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, 2012


This is my last post from Wisconsin this summer; an airplane back to Seattle awaits us this evening. Today I'd like to share with you these photos collected in a small ziplock bag wedged underneath a pile of dusty old cameras and expired rolls of film, which I purchased for four dollars at a huge rural antiques mall a few days ago. They all appear to be from the same local family, taken in the 1940s and earlier. I sort of feel like I rescued them, in a very modest way, and I like that they get one more chance to be seen, by someone or anyone. Please to enjoy.

People take pictures of the summerJust in case someone thought they had missed itAnd to prove that it really existed
Fathers take pictures of the mothersAnd the sisters take pictures of brothersJust to show that they love one another
You can't picture love that you took from meWhen we were young and the world was freePictures of things as they used to beDon't show me no more, please
People take pictures of each otherJust to prove that they really existedJust to prove that they really existed
People take pictures of each otherAnd the moment to last them foreverOf the time when they mattered to someone
People take pictures of the summerJust in case someone thought they had missed itJust to prove that it really existed
People take pictures of each otherAnd the moment to last them foreverOf the time when they mattered to someone
Picture of me when I was just threeSucking my thumb by the old oak treeOh, how I love things as they used to beDon't show me no more please
The Kinks, "People Take Pictures Of Each Other"