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Archive for December, 2010

What are you reading?

I’m in the middle of Iain Banks’ Surface Detail, a new Culture novel.  Complex, engrossing, at once leisurely paced and a page-turner (if you’ve read Banks you know exactly what I’m talking about).  Also a couple of software development process books, bouncing off of my recent Scrum Master certification:  Agile Retrospectives and Agile Estimation and Planning.  Good, inspiring stuff.  And just sucked down Sarrantino’s fine anthology from some years back, 999, onto my Kindle as well as Robert Stone’s new short story collection, Fun With Problems, and poking at them both a bit. 

What are you reading?

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Via Mike, one of the guys I mentioned in the last post (and still my pal).

http://garylucas.com/www/capt/

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Remembering Beefheart

I was shocked and saddened to learn today  in Verlyn Klinkenborg’s fine NY Times editorial that Don van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart,  passed away recently at the age of 69.  It was especially odd and unexpected seeing it in the Times, like ordering a dish of foie gras at Chez Panisse and being served up a giant steaming plate of ribs, cornbread, and rivets.

When I was a young man, my pals Mike and Robbie loved Beefheart.  It was more than love — his music spun up resonant harmomics in some deep, internal, and very personal phychic structures in both of them. They would often play me tracks from various albums, especially Trout Mask Replica.  I thought the stuff was … pretty cool.  Interesting.  Funny.  I liked “The Dust Blows Forward And The Dust Blows Back.”  And who could possibly not like “Fast and Bulbous?”  (Not sure if that’s the name of the track, but you know:  the squid, the dough, the polyethylene bag).  I liked his first album, Safe As Milk, a great deal. Probably because it was, well, you know, kinda  eponymous.  And I really dug Clear Spot.  But I never had Mike and Robbie’s intense passion for his work.  I couldn’t really hum stuff from TMR while driving, for example.  But they could. And probably did.

I took the opportunity today, after learning of Beefheart’s death, to listen to Moonlight on Vermont from TMR.  It was a time machine.  On one end of a long tunnel, half a lifetime, me at 56, hearing finally what Mike and Robbie heard when we were 20.  Thanks, guys.  And thanks, Captain Beefheart.   Sometimes it’s really true that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.

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