Light as a feather
riding the thermal currents
’til the heavens melt
Light as a feather
riding the thermal currents
’til the heavens melt
Riding a feather
in the wind beyond nature’s
gentle hand, I play.
When our day is done,
and sun surrenders to night,
the colors take flight.
At Boulders Beach, on False Bay along the Cape Peninsula of South Africa, within Table Mountain National Park…
stands a boardwalk that showcases a free-roaming colony of African penguins.
When they are not busy nesting,
or caring for their hatchlings…
they are preening,
and standing watch…
over the rookery.
Some African penguins may gather in small groups before setting off to hunt for fish,
while others are content to surf the shoreline,
always wary of hungry seals…
who would easily prey on unsuspecting penguins, ready to rip open their bellies for the fish they have recently swallowed.
Ahh, the abbreviated life of an African penguin…
that being here…
or being there…
is neither here
should I care
if I never dare
To be clear–
that far or near,
I may be unaware
if I only stare
I took a stroll
and spied a tool
that looked real cool–
where taffy pulled
around a spool.
I pulled a stool
to watch this jewel.
And like a fool
my spittle drolled.
But there’s a rule
recalled from school:
That life is full
of soles with holes
whose souls are whole.
So ’round it folds
a to and fro,
the taffy flows
to fuel a flue
and form a glue.
A stroll along the pier
with seagulls, oh so near,
that roost before they scare–
then quick they take to air,
for what it is they fear
shall always disappear,
because there’s nothing there,
yet soon the boards are bare.
From too much rain to bother honoring the dead.
I don’t give a shit.
Those…NATO allies that I dread–
keep me bawlin’…
So I just did me some talking to my sons.
And I said, “I didn’t like the way Dems got things done–
Winning at the polls.
Those…losses are falling on my head,
they keep fallin’…”
But there’s one thing…I know.
The Blues they sent to beat me
Just defeat me.
It won’t be long,
Subpoenas now step up to greet me.
Democrats keep falling on my head.
But that doesn’t mean the House will soon be turning Red.
Winning’s not for me,
‘Cause, I’m never gonna stop the wave with complaining.
I’ll cop a plea.
It terrifies me.
It won’t be long ’till prison opens up to greet me.
Bad vibes keep falling on my head.
But that’s just karma coming ‘round on me, I dread…
Mueller’s got the key.
‘Cause, I’m never gonna stop the probe by complaining.
I’ll drop a tweet,
’cause I’m President Cheat!
Thanks to Original Songwriters: Burt Bacharach / Hal David
While enjoying my morning breakfast, and catching up on some classic poetry, I decided on a mash-up, which seemed entirely appropriate at the moment.
What appears to be a giant reptile hovering high above my yard,
casting a scary shadow across my sun-drenched grass…
is no more than a harmless lizard and an optical canard,
revealed by pulling focus on the screen beyond my window glass.
The tree frogs are out in full force at nightfall.
A cacophonous chorus of tens of thousands of croaking creatures bask in the sticky humidity after a brief, familiar rainfall.
They sing a familiar refrain a capella with a delicate vibrato…
To celebrate the moon’s debut over a thick glade of pines, live oaks, and palmetto.
“Let’s get this shuttle moving!” shouts a middle-aged surfer dude in an orange muscle shirt at the volunteer driver of the tram parked curbside at the farthest reaches of Anastasia State Park’s parking lot by the beach.
“First of all, I’ve got plenty of empty seats to fill, with plenty of people still on their way. And secondly, you should have thought about getting here earlier pal, ’cause I been here since 5:30 transporting people to the concert. So stop complaining that I’m the one who’s making you late!” the driver retorts.
“Well asshole, I have no intention of missing the opening number because of you,” he bellows.
“You’re welcome to get off my ride anytime and call an Uber if you want, but otherwise, I suggest you shut the fuck up, and sit the fuck down, and wait patiently like the rest of these folks,” the driver threatens.
According to Joe and Jenny, who had come from Gainesville in celebration of their 10th wedding anniversary, the passengers on the tram were stunned into silence after this fiery exchange. The moment Leah and I took our seats on the tram, the mood seemed unusually somber for a group of mostly baby boomers who were on their way to attend a sold-out performance of Steve Miller Band with Peter Frampton at St. Augustine Amphitheater.
This was to be our maiden concert at the amphitheater–having purchased tickets over three months ago–knowing that we were taking a chance with the rainy summer weather, but choosing to risk it all for just a few hours of iconic rock and roll nostalgia.
At last the day had come, and despite the iffy forecast through late afternoon, the overcast sky had held firm, and it wasn’t long before we were on our way, barreling along the service roads…
to the back door entrance of the amphitheater.
It was 7:05pm and the opening power chords of Something’s Happening were already resonating through the thick air. We bypassed the crowded concessions…
and settled into our seats…
under the big top…
to lose ourselves in Frampton’s guitar licks.
From the start of the evening, Frampton established a smooth repartee with his exuberant audience–thankful for the fans who’ve stuck with him through thick and thin.
At 72, Frampton has seen his share of sunsets in your eyes and lines on [his] face, affably referencing his musical longevity during the interludes between songs, and reflecting on the passage of time through his career–from his chart dominance to his subsequent free fall to his eventual resurrection.
The devotees in attendance who may have missed the ’70s, seized this downtime as the perfect opportunity for a bathroom break, but not without escaping playful ridicule from Peter..
“I wish I could pee. I really do,” quipped Frampton. Now I can only pee on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday… with the help of Flomax.
He’s willingly traded his teen-idol, cascading hair locks and bare-chested pop star status for a musician’s bald/bold appreciation of his instrument, and aptly demonstrated his guitar prowess throughout his set list:
But the literal centerpiece was Black Hole Sun–“the best song [he’s] never written”–performed as an instrumental from the 2007 release of his Fingerprints album that garnered Grammy acclaim.
As if channeling Chris Cornell on the anniversary of his birth, July 20,
Frampton commanded the stage with a mindful intent of demonstrating his guitar virtuosity,
and he deftly acquitted himself in the eyes and ears of his audience.
And when the last shred had been wrung from his beloved Gibson, the crowd let him know how much they were with him and how much they cared.
After a half-hour intermission to reset the stage, the evening continued with Steve Miller and his band.
With a few exceptions, Steve Miller’s set list mimicked his multi-platinum Greatest Hits album, spanning the mid to late 70’s, and nobody in the crowd was disappointed, because they had come to sing along and Dance, Dance, Dance.
From his early overture into blues-infused rock, to experiments in psychedelia, to a catchy collection of counter-culture anthems with mainstream melodies, Miller captured the songbook for a new generation of America in flux.
Midway through his set, Miller evoked a memory from 1965 that took him from San Francisco to New York for a performance of The Mother Song on NBC’s Hullabaloo with The Four Tops and The Supremes.
As Miller recounts, the $250 he earned from the gig gave him the confidence to shop for a new guitar at Manny’s Music, a cherished, legendary music instrument store located in mid-town Manhattan. Unfortunately, he discovered there was nothing he could afford. Rejected and dejected, he headed for the door, whereupon he discovered a cluttered barrel of buried guitars standing neck up with a posted sign: “Your Pick–$125.”
One guitar called to him–a 19-string sitar-guitar that he had to have. Along the way, Miller explained some of its unusual features: spool-like knobs, 3 pick-ups, and a mirror on the backside.
Of course, after 53 years it’s still in his possession, despite an offer of $125,000 from a bigwig music producer. This tale has been repeated at similar events for years and years–with fluctuating asking prices–but the audience was hooked on every word and ate it up.
“Whadaya think? Should I consider selling it?” he petitioned the crowd.
Naturally, the crowd answered back with a resounding, “HELL NO!”
Miller put the instrument to good use in a soulful rendition of Wild Mountain Honey.
Thereafter, with each new tune, the audience responded with greater enthusiasm and a deeper appreciation of his classic hits.
The band returned with a raucous 4-song encore (if you consider Threshold to be a song rather than an intro)…
And in an instant, the show was over. We were transported back to the here and now–no longer celebrating the soundtrack of our salad days from high school or college, but always reminded that “time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future.”
Ironically, I spotted the belligerent surfer dude from before, who had embarrassed himself aboard our tram. Folks were filing past him to the exits, yet he seemed frozen in place–as if locked in a trance–holding onto a past that he was so impatient to embrace.
What’s to see when in Seattle?
There’s no need to wheedle,
When tourists flock to the very top
of the steeple called Space Needle.
But in the shadows down below,
there stands a garden made of glass–
where colors reign and forms arrange
to entertain en masse.
Sophisticated patterns blown
from molten globs of flexible fire
Illuminating worlds unknown
to ponder and admire.
Details reveal a melting pot,
a tints and hues collision
explodes to form a twisted star,
and match Chihuly’s vision.
I’ve been getting lots of political email lately. In large part, it’s been requests for donations coming from Trump’s 2020 Campaign for President, with rally words added to hype an emotional response, and misinformation intended to misguide the nation. It amuses me and terrorizes me at the same time.
It all started when my curiosity compelled me to participate in a Republican National Committee (RNC) survey at Donald Trump’s email behest:
Humpty Trumpty wanted a wall
And Mexican pesos to pay for it all
But all the Trump bankers
And all the deplorables
Couldn’t find ways to make it affordable.
Imagine! The President of the United States, a self-professed billionaire–whose estimated wealth is dubious because of withheld tax returns–now counting on me…for a single dollar contribution to his campaign, and pressing me with a renewal deadline!
What a dilemma! Of course, I still wanted to track the Trump Big Top. But what if I didn’t come up with the money in time? Would I no longer be welcome inside the circus tent? I decided to wait.
The next day Eric came calling under the guise of FAKE NEWS:
Eric makes quite an argument for my dollar–defending Daddy from a CRUSH of criticism, and a chance to be on the right side of America. This was good stuff.
And then this arrived the day before the FEC deadline:
…with another declaration of war against the media.
No doubt, being President of the United States is a demanding job that requires intense concentration and extensive hours studying the problems of the country and the world, followed by intense debate and policy development to secure America’s safety and enable continuing prosperity.
Yet, as of April 28, Trump has managed to spend 111 days of his presidency (or 22% of his time in office) at one of his organization’s golf resorts swinging a club, and costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in the process. In fact, there’s a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/trumpgolfcount) that’s devoted to Trump’s rising count. And this coming from a man who chided Obama, who spent a “tiny, tiny little fraction” of his time on the links compared to Trump.
We’ve also learned–from Trump’s own admission–that Trump’s day officially begins at 11am, after Executive Time, which essentially translates to TV and Twitter time.
So given Trump’s extreme schedule, I couldn’t help but wonder, “How on earth did Trump have the time to notice that “[my] name is no longer on [his] list of official Sustaining members?”
I passed on paying the dollar, rationalizing that there was no reason to contribute to Donald’s green fees.
March passed into April, and with a new month, it was time again to feed the political war chest, this time in the interest of national security–by parlaying an immigration crisis into a $25B resolution: building THE WALL.
Considering I had raised my objection to building THE WALL the month before, receiving my financial support was unlikely. In fact, I returned the survey with a comment, petitioning the president to consider an idea more fiscally responsible and in keeping with his laissez-faire principles: privatization. I proposed that he reach out to the Walton family, a fine upstanding bastion of Republican sensibility, and convince them to build THE WAL-MART, a very long and skinny store along our southern border. By day, the Mexicans could buy American, and by night our border would be protected by Wal-Mart security teams. Imagine the savings!
Trump never responded to my idea. Instead I got this:
…an appeal to subscribe to Real News Updates, a weekly webcast hosted by Donald’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, wife of Eric Trump. Interestingly, no one was asking for money, just a commitment of my time to shower me with the real truth on Trump TV. However, after watching ten minutes of noise disguised as news, I found I didn’t have a nose for nonsense, as it reeked of propaganda.
Shortly after, I received another exchange from Donald recruiting me for another purpose: defeating LIBERAL OBSTRUCTION…
Here was Trump blaming the Democrats for his inability to get America’s work done. By the numbers, there are 1,212 presidential appointments requiring U.S. Senate confirmation, and 353 presidential appointments which do not require confirmation. As of April 27, 2018, 315 of Trump’s nominees have been confirmed for 640 key positions, and 129 are awaiting confirmation.
On what he called Trump’s “glacial pace in selecting nominees,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer posited, “If the President is looking for someone to blame on the slow pace of confirmations, he needs only to look in the mirror,” and suggests that the President should “roll up his sleeves and get to work rather than pointing false fingers of blame.”
Equally as astounding, was Trump’s White House personnel turmoil as diagrammed by The New York Times:
Even today, in the wake of Trump’s impending historic summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, there is no nominee in place to head the South Korean embassy, and that’s on Trump.
After a week’s time, I received multiple invitations to renew my 2018 Sustaining Membership and I ignored them all, but then an email arrived from Mike Pence that was impossible to overlook. He was offering me a chance to win dinner and a picture with him in North Carolina.
I checked my calendar to make sure I was available. I dreamed of the possibility of gnawing on BBQ ribs with Mike while listening to his sanctimonious defense of zygote life, his hypocritical defense of Trump as an adulterer, and his evangelical discourse of hysterical homophobia, as if he had been touched by St. Paul. I entered the contest…without a contribution…by discovering extremely fine print on the submission page that hyperlinked me to a free entry form, thereby sidestepping the requisite donation.
While I applauded my cleverness, no one called to tell me I’d won. I think I had Chinese take-out that Friday evening, and watched Real Time with Bill Maher instead.
A couple of days later, Donald reminded me that Melania’s birthday was approaching:
I have to admit, I was taken by surprise that Donald would turn up the spotlight on Melania when the world was wondering out loud about his sordid affairs with porn star Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels), and Karen McDougal, Playboy’s 1998 Playmate of the Year, only months after the birth of Melania’s son Barron.
It’s now undeniable that Michael Cohen, Trump’s consigliere paid $130,000 in hush money to Stormy Daniels twelve days before the presidential election. Campaign election law violation? We’ll see.
I was happy to sign Melania’s card, hoping that it might represent even the smallest distraction from her otherwise burdensome existence, and perhaps put a smile on her forlorn-locked face.
Oh, how she shrinks from Donald’s touch as he ceremoniously attempts to lock hands during so many pomp and circumstance moments when cameras are rolling, and oh, how she spurns his pussy-grabbing fingers, sending a silent #MeToo message to her coterie:
And then instantly, the news cycle abruptly turned to former FBI giraffe, James Comey’s imminent release of A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership. Naturally, Trump launched a preemptive strike that landed in my inbox :
…even going so far as to transmit a less than scientific survey to his ardent supporters one day later:
Comey made the rounds of many a talk show, eager to tell his story, clear his name, restore honor to his bleeding Bureau, and peddle some books. But unlike Trump’s failed attempt to blunt free speech by trying to prevent publication of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, all he could muster this time around was a weak attempt to disparage, discredit and dismiss Comey as a liar and a leak.
Yet, for Trump to accuse James Comey as lying is no different from a cesspool telling a septic tank that it’s full of shit!
With Trump’s ascension to the White House,
perhaps, the President’s residence should temporarily be renamed, Home of the Whopper.
Jimmy Kimmel put it best in his classic “mockumentary”, Trump’s 2,000 Lies:
Finally, Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and TrumPuppet released a final partisan report that the President had been expecting, and considered long overdue:
Of course, Donald had a shiny new object to distract his core, but the real crime was the damage done to a one-time prestigious watchdog panel once charged with rooting out intel abuses, but now acting as the President’s personal pit bull. By shutting down the investigation and claiming no evidence of collusion by refusing to interview anybody who might have had evidence of collusion was like pulling the ripcord while still inside the plane.
Over the past two months, I’ve received dozens of email communications from Trump and team–all designed to collect a dollar and a steal a soul–while observing a Republican Congress willing to embrace Trump at any cost. And although I was never interested in contributing a dollar, I was more than willing to offer my two cents.
That’s when I received this email:
I clicked on CONTRIBUTE OTHER AMOUNT, and was whisked to the secure Authorized Website of Trump Headquarters:
By selecting Other, my blinking cursor filled the empty box in anticipation of a big round number. I entered $0.02 and pressed CONTINUE.
Rejected! The campaign wouldn’t accept anything less than two bits. So here it is, Mr. President…two bits of advice: Stop lying to the American people, and resign before the real truth comes out!
Dear Weird Al,
Last night, I took Leah to see your show at the Apollo Theater for her birthday, and she loved all of it.*
We highly approved of Emo Phillips as your opening act, and appreciated him opening up to us about his personal life. I never knew he was married and divorced. He mentioned that her name will forever remain nameless, but only if he can manage to be unseen at her gravestone with a sandblaster. Also, I didn’t know of his interest in playing chess with old men in the park, and how difficult it is finding 32 of them at once.
And then you took Apollo’s iconic stage…
with your long-time back-up band, and you guys were as tight as a vise grip. Whether it was your impressions of Bob Dylan in Bob, James Taylor in Even Worse, the Police in Velvet Elvis, or Gordon Lightfoot in The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota, and many more…
the crowd was enthusiastic, and all the applause was well-deserved.
Your stripped-down version of you, known as The Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour, neglected the familiar fat suit from Eat It, and you never donned a Reynolds Wrap hat from Foil, or a Jedi robe from The Saga Begins. Instead, you featured composed musicians seated on stools,
playing original music from your library of clever parodies that we fondly remember from the 80’s and 90’s, and we loved all 100 minutes of it… although, we would have benefitted from cue cards on your rendition of Bob, for no other reason than to appreciate your insanity just a bit more:
Your twisted vision is a true testament to a society gone crazy on Crazy Glue, and koo-koo for Coco Puffs.
Your self-mocking and lampooning lyrics are delicately designed around intricate word puzzles that tell stories of ridiculous proportions, but still manage to make us smirk at ourselves with unwitting social commentaries about pop culture, religion and other uncharacteristic conventions of modern living.
Your wink-and-nod parodies–the product of a love affair mashup of music genres and sub-cultures–are at their best when you rip off the bandaid of political correctness and hypocrisy, and generously sing about the neurosis of our society.
With all sincerity, Weird Al, you are the court jester of a generation, and for that, I thank you.
P.S. I have dedicated a parody of my own to you–an homage of sorts, as a tribute to your talent and imagination that is rooted in a James Bond classic, The Spy Who Loved Me:
Nobody does it better
Makes me feel sad for the rest
Nobody does it half as good as you
Weird Al, you’re the best.
[It’s more fun if you play the audio and sing along]
Baby, it’s a breast.
Whenever we’re beaching,
And nobody doesn’t like boobies,
Whenever you’re nursing,
Nobody doesn’t like butter
Baby it’s the breasts
Uh, uh, uh,
*Special thanks to my son, Noah who arranged the “extra” of our extra special evening.
June 15, 2018 UPDATE
“Weird Al” just completed his 77th and last date of his Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour, and has released a compendium of snippets from all the cover songs his band performed as the encore of each concert.
Oh, the power of their versatility!