Another Year in My Life - 2019.

First the fun stuff: 

My Favorite Concert:

Youn Sun Nah at the Icehouse

Like my favorite singers, Tabatha and Erin, Youn Sun Nah has taken extensive classical voice training. She's also added loops and reverbs to her repertoire. So imagine wandering through an all-night bazaar in some
post-modern city. You have no idea where you're headed. A back alley, gritty with the  blues; opens to endless skies in operatic trills. Then you hear squeaks and squawks that she's picked up at a punk rock boutique and suddenly guitarist Tomek Miernowski  throws in a flamenco riff while Tony Scherr on bass keeps it steady - but flexible. That night at the Icehouse Youn Sun Nah took us on a trip to a dazzling new country in our dreams.

I've long admired her but she's only performed in Europe and I figured I'd never catch her here in flyover country. What a delight then, to learn she was performing at the Icehouse in Minneapolis. She was a bit nervous before the show. She'd told me she'd never played in the Midwest before and it was a small venue and a small crowd - under 50. I told her I had been a fan for years and she gave me a big hug. Now I can never wash my face again.

Honorable Mention:

Guitar Wolf (video with Chris at 2:35) at Memory Lanes Block Party

My Favorite Play

Action Will Be Taken at Bryant Lake Bowl

The first show I ever saw by Larry Ripp was a dramatization of short stories by New Yorker ironist Donald Barthelme performed at a vintner's in Stillwater, MN. More recently at Fringe Festivals he's staged two episodes  from Alfred Hitchcock Presents complete with commercials.  At Bryant Lake Bowl this year Larry surpassed himself by transforming a very short, story by Heinrich Boll (…/action-wil…/) into an hour-long play fleshed out with music and choreography and a couple extra characters.

From the moment the actors wiggle and strut their way on stage in an all-ages chorus line, you break into a fixed grin that doesn't leave your face until the final bow. Director Larry Ripp himself dons an orange wig in the role of The Boss. The attractive couple above perform an erotic pas de deux punctuated by motivational slogans: "Action!" They are Rob Ward who doubles as the choreographer and Mickaylee Shaughnessy looking very hot in horn rim glasses. I enjoyed it so much I came back the following weekend with my friend Ed.

Very Honorable Mention:

 Hamilton (video) at CIBC Theatre, Chicago 2 1/2 hours of non-stop energy.

My Favorite Art Show

Chauvet Cave at Vallon-Pont-d'Arc, France

I missed the gallery opening here; that happened in 2015. OK, that was when they opened this full-sized 3D replica of a cave discovered in 1994. The originals paintings were from 32,000 years ago, BP. and only scientists are allowed in there now.

The oldest human artifact I've ever seen is Stonehenge, which is about 5,000 years old. The cave paintings in Chauvet. are six times older than that. They are three times older than Göbekli Tepe, the most ancient city known. They are almost twice as old as the paintings discovered in Altamira or Lascaux. In fact they were created by hunter-gatherers living a subsistence existence. That means, as my guide pointed out, there were human beings 32,000 years ago who did not hunt or gather but were sustained by their community in order to observe animals at rest and in motion, to experiment with colors and markers and to perfect their art.

My Favorite Party

  ART POP! Block Party by the Elliot Part Arts Quarter (video)

I volunteered at this event taking place right outside my back door.
Brad from the Band Box with his bird whistle from Mary
Jane Mansfield's Transparent Spirit Elevation Chamber.
With Berni Sarazine. the Trailer Park Queen



My Favorite Moment in Sports:

Megan Rapinoe winning the FIFA Women's World Cup 

Even greater than her winning goal, was the speech she made at City Hall, which deserves to be printed in full.
This is my charge to everyone. We have to be better. We have to love more, hate less. We got to listen more, and talk less. We got to know this is everybody’s responsibility, every single person here. Every single person who is not here. Every single person who doesn’t want to be here. Every single person who agrees and doesn’t agree. It is our responsibility to make this world a better place. I think this team does an incredible job of taking that on our shoulders and understanding the position that we 
have and the platform we have within this world.

Yes we play sports. Yes we play soccer. Yes we’re female athletes but we’re so much more than that. You’re so much more than that. You’re more than a fan. You’re more than someone who just supports sport. You’re more than someone who tunes in every four years. You’re someone who walks these streets every single day. You interact with your community every single day. How do you make your community better? How do you make the people around you better? Your family? Your closest friends? The 10 closest people to you? The 20 closest people to you? The most 100 closest people to you? It’s every single person’s responsibility.

There’s been so much contention in these last years. I’ve been a victim of that. I’ve been a perpetrator of that.

With the fight with the federation, (I’m) sorry for some of the things I said, not all of the things.

But it’s time to come together. This conversation is at the next step. We have to collaborate. It’s takes everybody. This is my charge to everybody, ‘Do what you can. Do what you have to do. Step outside of yourself. Be more. Be better. Be bigger than you’ve ever been before. If this team is any representation of what you can be, when you do that please take this as an example. This group is incredible. We took so much on our shoulders to be here today, to celebrate with you today. And we did it with a smile. So do the same for us. Please, I ask you.
New York City, you’re the mother fucking b-e-e-e-e-est! 

My Favorite Home Entertainment

 On Amazon or Amazon Prime. In 2019 I particularly enjoyed:
Luther. (video) Usually I don't like shows about rogue cops with anger issues but Idris Elba dominates a screen with all the authority of Napoleon marching across Europe. Recommended by Ian Shillock.
Peaky Blinders. (video) Aside from the racing-pulse dramatics, honestly I'd watch it just for the atmosphere and the accents. Thanks to Lynette Reini-Grandell.
Detectorists. (video) The kind of whimsy only the Brits can pull off. Thank you, Stephanie Mitchell.

The Best Book I Read in 2019

Selected Poems of Ezra Pound

Ancient Music

Winter is icummen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm.
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Sing: Goddamm.

Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham.
Freezeth river, turneth liver,
Damn you, sing: Goddamm.

Goddamm, Goddamm, 'tis why I am, Goddamm,
So 'gainst the winter's balm.

Sing goddamm, damm, sing Goddamm.
Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.

This book can send you down more rabbit holes than Wkipedia: Chinese ideograms, Walter Pater, epic Latin poetry, Renaissance princes,  and this timely parody of the Medieval rondelay,  Sumer is icumen in.(video)

then the serious stuff- 

I love the University of Minnesota Hospitals. It's a wonderful place to be sick. Doctors come here from all over the world. Imagine having an entire factory with personnel and machinery dedicated to keeping you alive and well. If there's a problem that your specialist isn't up on, she'll send you upstairs or down the hall to get patched up in a by someone who knows what they're doing. 
This year they discovered a new cancer nodule in my right lung. They treated it with a Stereotactic Radiation Therapy machine pictured above. 
I had 3 sessions of 20 minutes each. I would lie down on the table at the lower right which rolled onto the circle at my feet. There they encased me in a tight box which kept my chest absolutely immobilized. The machine behind me is the size of a truck and the whole front slides out and rotates. The arms unfold and point beams at the little dot in the middle of my chest. Then the circle on the floor rotates! It was like being held in the embrace of a dancing elephant. I've been tested twice since my therapy and each time the nodule had shrunk.


Not much, really. Trump is an ugly monster, but I knew that already.

Democrats in Congress keep harping on his depravities, but by now they're no surprise and they only seem to endear him to his base. That's why I can't get enthusiastic about the impeachment. Trump loves it when he's creating chaos all around him. And as long as Trump controls that narrative, he wins.

I would rather see his opponents concentrate on convincing voters that, not only can they deliver the programs they promise but that these programs are a benefit to Americans. Obamacare ended up a Byzantine hybrid which lays some very distasteful tasks upon U.S citizens. The first is to shop for medical services - who wants to have to pick a bargain basement MD? And if you don't buy in to a medical plan, they force you to pay a fine at tax time.

There are two presidential candidates I could support in good conscience, Sanders and Warren. Centrists say we can't risk alienating voters by nominating anyone too radical. They forget that Trump actually lost the popular vote in the US; also that polls show a majority of Americans in favor of policies advocated by Sanders. I may end up voting for a capitalist-tool warmonger - I did in 2016 after all - but I'm certainly not going to make it easy for them to get nominated.

There is another candidate who rocks.  She hangs  out with the band in the back of the van singing this John Lennon tribute  "Imagine," she sings."Imagine no possessions." Imagine if all the Beatles fans voted for her. It's a definite walk back from 1980 when John Lennon was murdered and Reagan was made President.