Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from December, 2014

OUR FIRST FRENCH CHRISTMAS DINNER PARTY

We've been resident in France for about eight months now and I think that our French neighbors are finally convinced that we're here to stay. They're happy that a property that had been vacant for many years is now permanently occupied. And I feel as though we've been accepted into our cloistered little neighborhood that's situated between the church and the town hall on a narrow, cobbled pedestrian walkway smack dab in the middle of Quarante. Here's why. The other day as I was walking down our little alley, one of our neighbors wished me 'Bonjour' as our neighbors always do when we pass. Then, noticing the envelop that I was carrying, she asked if I was going to the post office. I was. Would I mail a letter for her, stamped and ready to go? Of course I would. Very neighborly. And not something that you would ask of a passing stranger. I was honored.

If I had been one of the many Brits in the village, I would have been honoured.

I should be studying th…

COPS OR DEMONSTRATORS - GUNS OR BUTTER: FALSE DICHOTOMIES

We have become tribal and, in the process, become binary. Ones or Zeros. Yes or No. Pro or Con. We define each other through simple answers to complex questions. Such thinking, dividing ourselves in this way, is not in our own best interests.

That's not to say that there are no absolutes. I am not one of those who believes that being human means to think in shades of gray, that everything is relative, that there is no right or wrong, no good and no evil. I have my red lines. Red lines are healthy. They require us to think critically and make rational, informed judgements. But today I'm talking about the false dichotomies, questions that look as though they can be answered simply but that are in truth designed to force us to abandon critical thinking in favor of tribal fervor.

GUNS OR BUTTER

The Vietnam War shaped much of my geopolitical thinking. It seemed to me that it was foolhardy to think that, as the new kids on the block, Americans could do better in southeast Asia than …

JOE COCKER - A MEMORABLE NIGHT

In May of 1969, I went to the Filmore East to see Jeff Beck.

NRBQ opened the show. I was never much of a fan but, live and in color, they put us in the mood.

Then The Grease Band played their first couple of numbers. These guys were more like it, playing a version of blues-tinged rock and roll that I could really get into. And as you know, the guys went on to pretty fair careers after The Grease Band folded. You could look it up. After a couple of instrumentals, they brought out their lead singer. First night of his first American tour. Joe Cocker.

We had never seen anything like it. We had never heard anything like it. Initially, both the spastic-seeming gyrations and the sheer force of that wailing voice coming from that slender body behind a thatch of wild scalp and facial hair took the focus away from the music. But not for long. You couldn't ignore Joe's music for long.

I can't say that I remember the set list. I remember Delta Lady and Dear Landlord and She Came In …

LA MAL COIFFEE - A REVIEW

As I've discussed previously, C.A.P. 34 (Artists Collective of Capestang) presents concerts in the public spaces of Capestang, often with aperos (light, homemade munchies and local wine) available at a reasonable price. The first of the winter season featured La Mal Coiffee (Bad Hair), a group of five ladies singing acapella with simple percussion instruments.

The evening began as these evenings all seem to do, with aperos and local performers - a young female singer playing accordion; a female trio with guitar, clarinet, and washtub bass; and a female singer/guitarist. Good amateur fun. The aperos began with a plate of tasty bits - a wedge of quiche, a slice of cheese, a smear of humus on a thin slice of bread, and such - followed by a bowl of soup and/or dessert including a fine cheese cake with a raspberry puree.

La Mal Coiffee were a joy. These five ladies obviously enjoy singing and enjoy singing with each other. They took turns announcing the numbers - that were in Occitan…

LAS SIMPLES COSAS - LA RETIRADA & L'EXIL - A REVIEW

Cathey and I have been impressed with the quality of musical programming that comes to our region in the south of France. I'm not talking about the cities of Beziers, Narbonne, Carcassonne, and Montpellier, from 15 minutes to an hour away and drawing some of the world's best acts in jazz, blues, ethnic, and world music. I'm talking about our little town of Quarante and the small villages within a radius of a handful of kilometers proximate to our portion of the Canal du Midi that have populations of under 5,000 souls. In some cases, concerts are presented by a cultural consortium sponsored jointly by the villages. One independent presenter is a group called C.A.C 34 (Artists Collective of Capestang). We've been to two of their shows and been blown away. The first featured La Mal Coiffée, a dynamite group of ladies who sang up a storm. For some reason, I missed reviewing that show. Next post.

Last night, we were privileged to witness a special, multimedia performance b…