Saturday, November 26, 2016

Begin the Beguine

The night before Thanksgiving a channel on my dish setup was playing "swing classics," and I clicked it up since there was nothing at all I wanted to watch. This was one of the first plays--I ended up listening for several hours while I read things on the computer and Libby worked on the Thanksgiving dinner we were going to transport over to the old vet's the following day. I've found over many years of experience that it's probably wise to stay out of the kitchen when Libby's at work, unless she particularly wants me for some specific task. Otherwise, I just manage to scatter her momentum and something gets left out of the sauce, or added twice, since my default mode is to blurt out whatever pops into my mind as though that's how one conducts conversation. In the middle of a cooking process, however, it is simply not helpful for me to ask, "Hey, have you seen my black winter hooded coat lately?"

So here's what I heard instead:

This wasn't precisely what I heard, because the recording brought out the magnificent drum work better than this video, probably because live recording of drums in an open room is nearly impossible. Whatever. What a gorgeous arrangement! Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

November 22 Rolls Around Again

If you live in a distant backwater, as I do, the "big events" happen, but it's easy to remain fairly sanguine. Nothing much has happened out here. Now that my job has ended, the only Latino person I encounter is a very nice man who is among the staff caring for my father-in-law, who I call the old vet herein. He's in his 20s, and spent some time in France before returning to his home town--here. When I see him in the evenings I sometimes wave and say "Bon soir" with a smile. He smiles back. Last night I didn't go see the old vet but watched Monday night football. The Raiders and the Houston Texans were playing in an historic stadium in Mexico City, the place where Carlos and Smith held up black gloved fists in '68; the place where many famous soccer matches have been played. It seemed that the fans last night favored the Raiders. One of them even had a small laser spot and shown it into the eyes of the Houston players now and again. The Raiders eventually won. Twenty-one million people live in Mexico City.

It's hard to come to some realistic appraisal of what has happened. Partly this is because relatively speaking, nothing has happened, not yet. What we have at the moment is a very weird fact. A person who cannot fly the airplane has taken the controls and is locked into the cockpit. We're still at a comfortable 35 thousand feet. The attendants still have their snack trays, and our neighbors are having extra peanuts and a slosh of bourbon with ice. We listen intently for some change in the sound of the engines, or check to see if the ground remains a comfortable distance below, or if the plane is remaining in a level position. Soon it will be night, removing some of those comforting visual cues.

On the TV everything is reassurance. There is very little to suggest that we have actually given control of our lives to a person who very clearly and obviously told us he could not fly the plane. I wondered this morning if it's just been far too many entertainments over the years, too many romantically attractive Godfathers and Tony Sopranos. The very entertaining movie by Tony Scott, True Romance, came to mind unbidden. There's nothing much funnier, on the funny scale, than the scene with Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken. Oh yes, it's gallows humor to be sure, and a lot of other things swirling around us now, like the fall leaves. Tony Scott said he could never figure out how to end his movies, except with a big shootout. He thought that was a directorial weakness, but it might have been a logical feature of his plots. Something Peckinpah came up against back in '68, same year as Carlos and Smith. Before the shooting started Peckinpah liked to have a scene where the Bunch tossed around a bottle of whiskey, shared it to the end, and laughed. We have a city named Phoenix. That's a curiosity, isn't it.

I read a blog now and again which is comprised of high level legal people, some of them Constitutional lawyers, talking seriously about the meaning of things. I ran into this today:

Professor Levinson is seriously arguing that the last safety net between us and that locked cockpit door is a coalition of Electors taking it upon themselves to refuse to vote for Trump. That's a hell of a note. Here's a bit of Levinson, but you should read it all.

I joined my two University of Texas colleagues Jeff Tulis and Jeremy Suri in writing an op-ed, published in today's New York Daily News. As you can see (if you open it), it calls for a coalition of Democratic and at least 37 Republican electors to ally to vote for a Republican other than Donald Trump and thus throw the election into the House, which would presumably elect the alternative Republican and save us from the Trumpian menace, the character of which seems clearer day by day. Even though he cannot be assigned direct responsibility, I note the following postcard that I received today at my Harvard Law School office, mailed, it seems, from the UK. It reads, in toto: "Hey Sandy You just got your kike ass kicked. fuck you kykie. We're gonna Drain the Swamp at Harvard Law. Juden Raus!" There can be no doubt that Trump and Bannon have liberated the worst instincts of a lot of truly deplorable people. The most unequivocally happy supporter of the new Trump regime is David Duke, which makes a lot of sense. This is precisely why it is important for conservatives of good will to come together, at long last, for a true "never Trump" movement that would act completely constitutionally by imploring electors to accept the responsibilities actually envisioned for them by the Philadelphia Framers...

The arguments, which never go away, about racial identity, are like the formulae for the atomic bomb. Last night during halftime I watched a bit of coverage concerning the alt.right convention just past in DC. It ended with Seig Heil salutes, and an oily tongued guy named Spencer talking about "them and us, your race and mine." I ran into people running that line back at UNC, in '63. They never go away, the words just change with the times. Sometimes the moves are slick. George Herbert Walker Bush, who mostly seems like a distant liberal President from some other Century (well, yes, the 20th) from the perspective of this post-election sleep-walk, gave us Clarence Thomas. "You say you want a black justice? Try this one." Things have changed. All the apologists keep saying is, "Oh, it's really not that bad." What's the point in having a riot at 35 thousand feet?

There aren't many options. "Let's roll" doesn't really get you very far. It's another Peckinpah ending. And it's like the fact that Americans who desperately need Social Security and Medicaid and Medicare have actually voted to take all that away. It's no wonder Dan Rather had decided to spend his golden years interviewing country singing divas and aging rock stars. He tried to warn us about George W. Bush.

Here's another paragraph from Levinson:

How, if [Trump] becomes president, might the civil war begin, since there will certainly be no Fort Sumter to signal the beginning, and the California vote for secession apparently won't take place until 2019. I think the most likely beginning would be reminiscent of the violence in the streets of Boston over the rendition of fugitive slaves like Anthony Burns. [It should be clear, incidentally, that Burns violated the law by fleeing his confinement as a slave, and the august Supreme Court, in the worst single decision in our history, worse even than Dred Scott, upheld the Fugitive Slave Law of 1893 in Prigg v. Pennsylvania, and Abraham Lincoln himself, the Great Emancipator, declared that Republicans had a duty to support the Fugitive Slave Law as part of the deal that had been made with the slaveowners in order to get the Constitution in the first place.] That is, if peaceful families of undocumented aliens start being rounded up and sent to concentration camps prior to their deportation, it becomes the duty of all of us to stand in solidarity with them and prevent the legal authorities from being able to carry out their "duties" without becoming aware of the absolute contempt in which they are held. (Obviously, there will also be many people cheering them on.)

This is what Churchill meant by the gathering storm. He could see disaster coming. Sometimes the worst disasters are those which are driven by compelling moral arguments. You simply cannot sit back and watch the lines march into the ovens.

Some years after filming that remarkable scene exactly as written by Quintin Tarantino, in True Romance, Tony Scott jumped off a bridge in Los Angeles. Perhaps he had looked into the abyss. We are standing at the abyss right now.

Friday, November 18, 2016

But I'm A-gonna Be A Diamond Some Day

[Crazy Horse Monument, South Dakota]

So I went down to the recycle center this morning with a bucket of plastic containers, a bucket of steel cans, and some trash. Getting ready for the weekend, and it's nice to start with an empty kitchen garbage can. A neighbor was there. He loves to talk, so we talked for a good while. On the back windshield of his truck was a "Never Hillary" sticker, and he also had a bumper sticker supporting our Republican Lieutenant Governor. He wasn't talking about the election and I didn't bring it up. What's the point. He's been a very nice neighbor and I always enjoy running into him in places like the recycle center. We're probably about the same age, and he pulled out his wallet at one point and showed me his permanent National Parks pass, which he told me he'd bought at Carlesbad Caverns, NM, some years ago. He recommended I get me one, which I certainly will if we can ever find a long term cat sitter. Mokey, the gray one, gets very depressed when we're gone for more than ten hours, and stops eating. Last time that happened we'd gone to play a gig in Wilmington and were planning to spend the night, but then changed our minds and drove back. Didn't matter. A week later Mokey was at the vets getting shots and stuff to jump start the little guy. It was close to as expensive as the tree guy who came and rescued Wuzzy out of a tall tree. Wuzzy's still never quite gotten over that.

The neighbor talked about many of his trips, including one out to South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore and the in-progress Crazy Horse Monument. He's got a travel trailer. He also told me about something more recent, where his wife had driven off in the truck with her purse on the tool box, and came back to realize it had flown off somewhere, who knows. They were in the process of cancelling cards, stopping checks, etc., when a guy drove up to his house with the purse in his hands. He'd found it on the road, run over. It was messed up, but everything was there mostly, and the guy led my neighbor back to where he'd found the purse, and they walked up and down the road and found every last thing. That was a very good story.

When you get to that part of a conversation at the recycle center, you can offer a like story of your own if you have one. I told him about the house that got blown to smithereens down on Ocracoke. This was about 15 years ago. A water spout had come across a little point and just blown up this old house that was the most exposed to the fetch. Next day I drove by there as it was the talk of the island. There was nothing at all left on the lot but the block foundation, and in the middle of that, a toaster. That was it. I wish I had a picture to show you. Not a scrap of wood, nary a shingle. About a week later the house started washing up on the beach, which is around the south inlet and some miles from the lot, bit by bit by bit. The owners had even posted a notice about the whole deal at the island grocery store. They got some photographs back too, a little soggy but basically ok.

I'd been standing there holding this tub of plastic containers during the whole conversation, and I said I had to go, and walked the containers up to the appropriate dumpster. Walking back to my truck the neighbor asked me, "did you hear about the road blocks they've had to set up, all the way up to South Dakota?" I didn't hear about any of that. "Yeah," he said, "they're hauling a big lump of coal up there to Rushmore. Obama's statue."

The neighbor thought that was pretty slick and laughed a good bit. When I got back home I found the following link up on the Internet Tubes.

I'd been hoping all morning that rumors about Sessions were just that. Apparently not. A guy at the Post Office shook his head when I asked him what he thought about the election. "My kids are upset," he said. "I tell them, it's up to you now, you are the future. I thought we'd do better here in NC. The black people need to come out stronger." He and his wife were back from a three-week stay in Paris. He showed me some smart phone movies of a street band working just outside their Paris digs. John Henry he was a steel drivin' man. But that reminds me of another lyric. "Ask her for water, she give me gasoline."

[Kirby and Mokey in a sunbeam, yesterday. Kirby's the one who got lost for a week in the woods earlier this year.]

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Tony Vaccaro, Realist

The old vet is 93, and he struggles with his memory. Last night on HBO they ran a documentary on another 93-year-old veteran of World War II, European Theatre. He's in better health, and actually revisits many of the battlefield moments that he photographed in 1944-45 as he made his way across France, Belgium, and Germany with the 83rd Thunderbolt Division.

His path was much the same as the old vet's, who was in the 35th. The old vet missed the Hurtgen Forest butchery. The 83rd didn't. There was butchery aplenty to go around. Both divisions liberated German death camps. Mr. Vaccaro was an "amateur" war photographer. He had volunteered to be a professional war photographer, and showed his high school work to the people who were staffing those positions. They said his work was great, but that he was "too young." An odd rejection. He was, as he told them, not too young to pull a trigger. Vaccaro was also determined. He carried a 35 millimeter camera with him for the entire time he was in Europe, and took hundreds of battlefield photos. At the end of the war he was so sickened by what he had seen that he gave the photos, mostly negatives, to his sister to keep, and went on to become a professional photographer in the world of fashion, never to personally visit war again. But he has in his heart a steely ability to keep seeing a-right, just as he had in those distant days. And he sees, too, how deeply war corrodes the soul. As he says at one point, "I had become a killer. I lost my innocence."

“War makes you a beast, I became a killer, that’s a terrible thing for a human being to have on his shoulders” he says movingly of his combat time. “The faces of people you killed, the friends who died, they don’t leave you alone. It took me years to overcome that. “It was necessary for me to be evil for 272 days, but not forever.” [Wiki entry on Vaccaro]

I hope you can see this film. Mr. Vaccaro has some things to tell you that you need to know, perhaps now more than ever. One of the early scenes in the film involves a photographer in our endless Afganistan War. He tells the camera about happening upon a moment of death amongst our soldiers, attempting to photograph it, and being beaten up and driven away by those same soldiers. Similar things are related by other war photographers about other wars. "You have to be in the parade to take photos," someone tells such a photographer. Vaccaro was in the parade from the get-go. He carried the M1 Garrand, and used it.

We've elected another guy who talks big and has never seen war. He'll be good with sending more kids over to fight, somewhere or other, where ever the perimeters happen to be. There was a terrific book by Harry Brown written about the Italian campaign called "A Walk in the Sun." In it a soldier talks about where he'll be fighting in 1958. He predicts somewhere like Afganistan. Soldiering can create an obliterating perspective. There is always, to a professional soldier, a perimeter to maintain. This is perhaps one of the many reasons that, since the end of Vietnam, there has mostly been a series of perimeters. And of course as the Germans understood, when you assert a perimeter, you assert solidarity on the inside of it. We must all fight together. Build the wall higher.

The worst thing a soldier can have is his more or less god-given empathy. In the film it is related that in World War II over 50% of soldiers never fired their weapons. They didn't want to kill people. This problem has been addressed. These days, the percentage is nearly 100%, in the direction of death. Professional killers come with the relentless territory, on all sides.

Vaccaro manages to realize this. He maintains his humanity. When I finished watching Under Fire I flipped over to the Giants/Bengals game. Monday night football, woohoo. After a little while I just turned the thing off, fed the cats, and went to bed early.

Just sayin'.

[Top photo Tony Vaccaro, bottom photo from coverage of a Trump rally this fall, photographer unknown]

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

November 9th

From NPR this morning:

As of 11:45 a.m. ET, Clinton had amassed 59,429,038 votes nationally, to Trump's 59,240,076 — a margin of 188,962 that puts Clinton on track to become the fifth U.S. presidential candidate to win the popular vote but lose the election.

This fact suggests that while Clinton wasn't a great candidate, she was at least pretty good. What she didn't have was a real platform. She had a detailed website which she cited frequently. But she seems to have lost the part of the electorate that would be disinclined to go to any website for such information. People are already arguing that this result is a case against the relic of the Electoral College. Why should a state like California have its votes diluted to such an extent? When the country was designed states were viewed as States. The Civil War changed a lot of that, but perhaps not as much as we think.

Both political parties failed in this election. The Republican Party lost control of its primary process. No one as incompetent as Trump should be found on a general ballot for President. This is Kibbee in "Dark Horse," but less charming. But the Democratic Party also failed. The Clinton strategy of always finding the compromise, and of making insider deals where ever possible ignored the hopes and idealism of many of the Sanders supporters. Many of them went to Trump. Many of them didn't vote, and didn't understand that not voting was a vote for Trump.

The mainstream press failed. Chris Matthews, at 1 AM, asserted that race had no role in the election. No one mentioned the purge of progressive pundits from MSNBC in the months prior to Clinton's nomination. Voices were silenced, particularly Ed Schultz, Melissa Harris-Perry, and Chrystal Ball, who disappeared immediately after asserting on air that Clinton was a weak candidate. Even last night Matthews was sneering at the idea that Sanders might have won against Trump. In general, the elite media and the elite governing class did and do view ordinary voters with disdain. While Clinton was right in her "deplorables" comment: there is without doubt a deep vein of racism in the Republican base, the comment also exemplifies her elitism.

If this election is really the end of the Clintons as a political force in this country, there is some good in it. If I were them I'd pack as much of my loot as I could carry and move to somewhere pleasant, perhaps Lisbon, Portugal, there to enjoy retirement and their old age. Perhaps the Obamas could drop by for a visit from time to time. Since Trump cannot fulfill his extravagant promises, the Clintons are easy targets which in their pillorying will distract the base for some time. Get the hell out of Dodge during the lame duck period. It worked for Bin Laden's relatives.

Here in North Carolina we seem to have rid ourselves of Governor McCrory. Another sliver of silver.

Trump is indeed the dog that caught the car. But he will likely transform the United States in terrible ways before he runs out of honeymoon. I grieve for the millions of good people who will be exposed to the hate and in many cases violence his rhetoric now exposes them. The government Trump will create is incredible in its likely shape. There will be huge policy implications. The great issues, such as global climate change, are set back to a point of no return--at which point another dog has caught another car. The fantasies and denials eventually are undone by realities. The price is paid in pain and anguish.

A twenty-something girl at a Trump victory rally last night said, "He will bring back integrity." This is yet another indicator of the abject failure of the media to deliver truth to all of us. I hope and pray that the country has enough structural strength to muddle through this terrible coming time.

There's a lot to read. Here's a good starter:

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Finland Station

This has a tinge of memoir, but mostly it's history.

Long ago in the band I used to be in, when I was just younger than my daughter is now, we went up to Connecticut to make an LP record backing up the folksinger Debby McClatchy, at the home and recording studio of the lady who ran Green Linnet records and her recording engineer hubby. This was in 1976 to be precise. We did the work, and had a good time. There was an important rule of the house, laid down by the engineer: don't flush the toilet while we're recording, it causes a power drop and that slows down the recording machine.

I talked a good deal to the engineer during down time. He told me he was a Libertarian. That could have been a small letter L. He was not much like the Libertarians of today, people who think Gary Johnson might be a suitable President. (Even Johnson's running mate, Weld, has come out supporting Clinton.) But he believed that if the Libertarians just kept toiling, over the long haul there would someday be a new political party in the US, the Libertarian Party, which would offer succor to the very many smart but in some ways economically conservative people that were at present stuck with what we have, a two party system of Democrats and Republicans. To achieve that long goal, he asserted, one must vote Libertarian in elections, and get Libertarian candidates on the ballots, state and national. And indeed, I think in pretty short order there was a Libertarian candidate, perhaps as early as 1980. (You can look the date up on Google if you like, it is not particularly relevant to this conversation.)

Time passed. I noticed that even here in NC there were Libertarians, on ballot and off. We endured the very dark era of Ronald Reagan, and his cheery successor, former CIA head George H. W. Bush. In 1992 Bill Clinton defeated a real Democrat, Senator Tom Harkin, in the primaries, and then won the Presidency with the aid of a crank, Ross Perot. Bill Clinton was in all but name a Rockefeller Republican. He thus exasperated the Republicans no end, and helped build the mighty tower of success that is Rush Limbaugh, who was given material and plenty for daily rants to fill an entire 8 years of Presidency. Clinton kept agreeing with the Republicans to find common ground. That pissed them off to such an extent that they Impeached him. He then helped Democrats win the last mid-term of his tenure, and set his fine Vice-President off to succeed him.

Mr. Gore was for all intents and purposes the most significant Green Party Candidate we have ever seen. He made the error of washing his hands of Clintonian politics (which is to say, politics). The mainstream press thought he was silly and made fun of him, which of course diminished him relative to the fake good ole boy GWB he was running against. Then when Florida was close (GWB's brother being the governor there), a legitimate recount was stopped by a fake mob and the Supreme Court stepped in to hold a vote which they asserted, much like the Red Queen, had no precedent-making effects, and Mr. Gore, the first Green candidate, was defeated. The Greens had gone for Nader, by the way, resolutely playing the long game. Moreover, at that historical juncture the issue of global climate change was transformed into a matter of debate and conjecture and swept from the political landscape in the United States. While Mr. Obama achieved the Paris Accord, conversation about global climate made no appearance at all in the so-called debates, possibly by common agreement. This was also accepted by the mainstream press pretty much. There are few newspaper readers in Tarawa, or in Innuit villages. In the latter case, they're switching to gasoline anyway, and the huskies are going the way of the sailing ships, as Ms Kolbert recounts in her recent report.

Mr. Bush Junior started two wars of choice in short order, and set us on the Orwellian path of eternal war. We remain embroiled in both of them today, sixteen years later. In other news, our congress of elected representatives was incapable of reacting legislatively to the slaughter of over twenty first grade school children not to mention the daily slaughter of American citizens by the proliferated arsenal of fire arms now turned into a veritable venerated icon by much of our population, including our politicians. The Bush administration also crashed the economy at the end of his second term, and after eight years of slowly climbing back out of that crater, the current presidential candidate of the right claims the Obama years were some sort of economic disaster. And we find ourselves, in this election, with yet another Clinton as our Democratic standard bearer.

It's no wonder, if by that you mean “I simply can't remember what I had for lunch today,” as the old vet tells me on each visit, that many folks are this year voting Green. The standard bearer is a nice doctor lady named Jill Stein. She says there's not a dimes worth of difference between Democrat and Republican, and that green issues such as climate change and how we raise our chickens ought to be priorities, which is of course true as hell. Meanwhile, the mainstream press has realized that the spectacle of the Presidential Race we actually have is fantastic business, the ratings are up, and it is even possible this week to watch a Trump rally via Talking Points Memo dot com.

So some folks of good heart in so-called safe states like California are voting green. Not that Stein will win there. Clinton will win there, and by big margins. It is a safe state. The Green Party folks are, like the Libertarian sound engineer of yore, playing the long game. They dream of the day when there will be a third party, which will draw to its bosom the good hearted, sensible people who see clearly that there is a coming climate disaster, an enormous tragedy which will cause extinctions and could drive our seemingly invincible civilization to utter ruin. What is this meager election in climatic terms? Clinton will win and then be impeached. Trump will win and perhaps be impeached. The American military will remain professional, though perhaps expand. Coal will be extracted, as will natural gas and of course oil. Solar panels will be built too. The Green Party already had their best candidate, and he lost, fair and square or maybe not. We will not see his like again I don't think.

I'd recommend reading Elizabeth Kolbert's piece in last month's New Yorker. She travels to Greenland. There she observed the rivers running under the glaciers. She tells us that the loss of ice from Greenland and Antarctica presents a simple cubic calculation—as simple as the green house formulas developed in the 1850s. It comes out to about 11 feet sea level rise. Here in NC our legislature issued an edict—we are not allowed to do the math if we are living on public monies. There should be some latin phrase at this point. You can google that.

I got into an argument one time with some guy who thought he'd figured out a decisive refutation of the green house warming problem. He didn't see, I don't think, that our current climate, so friendly to agriculture and without which we would be, by necessity, small nomadic bands of hardy hunters telling each other stories about a lost civilization where it was possible to go places without walking, where you could buy food and other necessities, was dependent on the green house effect. Instead, this guy argued that the green house effect only worked close to the earth, not in the upper reaches of the atmosphere, and that that fact was somehow a proof that there was in fact no green house effect at all.

We should have been standing under the shadow of Everest. He could have pointed dramatically at the snow plume blowing off the summit. He was indeed correct. The greenhouse effect did not reach up there. He had discovered an elegant variant of Zeno's Paradox. Zeno should have been, for maximum literary effect, executed by archers.

Mrs. Clinton is a ghastly candidate, but she and her husband are spectacularly accomplished politicians. They worked the levers to achieve a Democratic nomination. They ignored all the ragged history they drag around behind them, all the ghosts of Christmases past. They were uninterested in the fact that the other party had embraced all the utter know-nothingness which rises in the country like the tides, year by year, as the other party plays a different long game aimed at destroying the government to prove it cannot work. Perhaps Maureen Dowd can write a great play about all of it, smiling her wry and coy smile as she chats with Charlie Rose. Perhaps the great play could even be in the form of a dialog between the two of them, played of course by two of our great actors, sort of a new My Dinner with Andre, or His Girl Friday. If it's not true or if it is, the playwrite should add the part about the Clintons encouraging the utter scoundrel Trump to run, thus clearing the field. The Greens will go to that movie, and appreciate it, and talk about it amongst themselves for days afterwards, over coffee and cognac, whilst the lights flicker when the toilets are flushed. It's a clear champion of the Sundance already.

If they get this project on the tracks maybe Dowd could play herself. Otherwise I'd pick Jennifer Lawrence. Perhaps the Charlie Rose part could be filled by Alex Baldwin.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

What He Said

There are a lot of ways to make this point. Juan Cole does a good job:

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Big Weekend

The band which we call the Law Firm set out from various points on Friday last to meet in Johnson City, TN and play a little show at a place that we helped open back in '76, the Down Home. It's a great acoustic music venue, a beer bar with decent food of a kind of mountain/Mexican variety. They've tuned their sound system over the decades to a place of near perfection--every instrument and voice is there, perfectly in the mix, on stage and off. We did a little sound check about 5:30, consumed our comped meal (enchiladas with beans and rice por moi), put on our stage shirts, cranked 'er up about 8:15 pm. It turned out that there were too many other things going on in Johnson City that night, and our audience was sparse, although a collection of genuine fans of the band assembled from far and wide, who deserved by their dedication the very tasty extended set private concert they received. It was a pleasure to play, and I got back to the Red Roof Inn in time to see the last inning of the Series Game of the day and savor a nice shot of Dewar's neat. We had an early start to look forward to, a great Shoney's breakfast buffet to get the day started, and a second show Saturday up near Galax, VA, at a beautiful music stage literally on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

That's me at the Down Home back in the summer, when we played their 40th anniversary show, sporting my new Kyle Busch Martinsville Sweep tee-shirt. He won both races back in April. Tom Watts has posted a bunch of neat photos of the Friday night gig over at Facebook:

Up there on the Parkway the draw was much healthier, nearly a full auditorium. The sound was again terrific, a room engineered for acoustic properties, a built-in sound board, a good engineer, good mics. I could go on. The Down Home show was a perfect rehearsal. This is how you get better "on the road." So we played again, and set out for home about 8 pm, the last weekend of Daylight Savings, I met Libby in Graham, NC for the last little bit to our house in the woods, and I got to bed by midnight. Because we were to be up and on the road again for Martinsville, for Sunday's NASCAR race. Libby stayed up some later and finished up a birthday cake for our pals the Overholts. She'd already got together a cooler of waters and sodas and sandwiches, and we indeed made it up the road to the little Virginia mill town with the big time little track in time for the race.

This is our view. That's Danica in #10 passing in front of us. We sit in the first turn. At Martinsville, everything is pretty close and sometimes bits of grit blow off the track and into your eyes. The winner was Jimmie Johnson, who is Libby's favorite driver (and a good pick he is). By winning Sunday he has made it into the championship finals at Homestead, Florida, one of four drivers who will move into that final bracket by their finishes in the upcoming races. It's actually all pretty complicated, this championship "chase." You can look it up. It was a beautiful day in the autumn sun, nearly 80 degrees, and at times it's been more like 40 up there. We got back on the road in time to get back once again to our house and our cats and the woods, none the worse for wear, but pretty tuckered. The cats were glad to see us.

That's it for our adventures this year, unless something comes up. Libby and I had set up two contra dances to play this fall. The first was cancelled by Hurricane Matthew, which flooded the town where the dance was to be held. Then we booked another dance down on the coast, but the promoters decided there were too many conflicts that weekend to get a draw. Sometimes things do come up. I'll let you know.

In a week we'll find out who the new President will be. Susan Sarandon has announced she'll be voting for Stein. She can afford to pay the full ticket for any health care she needs, and can drive a car that runs on used french fry oil if she wants to bother. Her hands are clean and well manicured no doubt. For the rest of us, it seems to be a choice between a ruthless authoritarian with fascistic tendencies and a racist streak a mile wide, or a corrupt vulgarian couple one of whom has already been impeached, who assure us that she really loves children and always has. As I opined in last week's missive, I'm of the opinion that Mrs. Clinton needs as strong a popular victory as she can get in order to at least make the new impeachment rabble think a little while before they start wasting our tax monies on investigating the Clinton Foundation and how deals are really made in the big time. There will be an absolute din of howls for so-called bipartisanship, which will mean a further abdication of any efforts by a Clinton administration towards a greener and more just world. If Mrs. Clinton can halt efforts to destroy Social Security and Medicare, she will be a success even if she's ultimately impeached.

What sparking prospects await us in the new year. It must be gold, it's so shiny.