Friday, November 30, 2012

The Shins "Wonderful Christmastime"

Despite all the turmoil of this week, the parade marches on, figuratively and literally.

I can spend all night returning emails and strategize-ing and working on Saving mvyradio, but they ain't post-poning Christmas just for me.

So this weekend, I'll put the Campaign on hold (in my mind) and do some Christmas shopping, co-host the Falmouth Christmas Parade with Barbara Dacey and listen to some Christmas music.

While there is a lot of marginal Christmas music out there, every year there's usually at least one record that's worthy of attention.

I think "Holidays Rule" is particularly good.  Lots of good interpretations by lots of good artists.  You can listen through the sampler below, or skip down to The Shins doing an admirable job of lifting one of my least favorite Christmas songs, to pretty decent levels.

Hear The Shins on Youtube.

Hear .fun on Youtube.

Hear Rufus Wainwright and Sharon Van Etten on Youtube.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bruce Springsteen "Death To My Hometown"

A few notes from the front lines . . .

So Tuesday we announced that mvyradio had 60 days to raise $600,000.  The 92.7 signal would be sold, but we could continue on, online.

Sometime not long after the campaign began, my friend Scott texted me to say "So much subtext in the songs you've been playing lately."  It wasn't intentional.  We (for the most part) weren't picking songs that illustrated our plight.

But how quickly do songs that you've heard a thousand times, take on a new meaning when you hear them in a new context.  "It's The End Of The World As We Know It," "Sitting In Limbo" and "One Breath At A Time" suddenly all seem to refer to our situation.

Every day in the 2pm hour, I've been playing a deeper track off one of the Top 25 of 2012 contending albums.  Yesterday, I played "Death To My Hometown" by Bruce Springsteen.  I had a reporter ask me about the track.  I think he was wondering if I'd played it for a reason . . .

As I mentioned on Monday, it's pretty weird to be an interviewee.  But that's what the situation calls for, so I've been talking to reporters from the MV Times, The MV Gazette, The Cape Cod Times and other publications.  I realized that even more awkward than answering questions about "How do you feel?"  (answer:  It's complicated), is having your picture taken.

What is the right pose to reflect the mood?  You don't want to smile, because if it's next to the headline "WMVY Goes Off Air" and you're smiling, you look like a tool.

But you don't want to look overly-serious, because it can come off like "ALL IS LOST."

And if someone, with a lens pointed in your direction says, "Act Natural!" then there is suddenly a zero-percent chance that anything you will do for the next five minutes will mimic how real humans move.

Awkward photo shoots aside, I have to say some nice things about local media.

Traditionally, radio and newspapers in places around the country have all competed with each other, often in a less than friendly way.  (There is an old story about a radio station getting a delivery of free donuts---two hours later, pictures of those donuts, being worn earlier that day by otherwise naked male members of a competing station, were delivered.  It was enough to make me consider not going into broadcasting)

But I have to give credit to the local media, for being extremely kind and respectful to each other, and each others' audience.

WBUR was kind enough to do a news story about mvyradio's Pledge campaign, so that Boston folks could hear about what's going on.  And WCAI (who is in direct competition with WBUR) had Nelson Siegelman of the MV Times on their morning news broadcast.  He did a really great job of reflecting the feelings of mvy listeners who are upset with this news, and went further, to extend sympathies to the folks who work at mvy who could potentially lose their jobs.

It speaks very well of this community that the default position, even in a competitive marketplace, is kindness and compassion.

Finally, just because a couple folks asked, yes, when I wrote last week's post about my last day on the air at WABN, I did already know what was going on behind the scenes at mvyradio.  And I knew I might be reliving that "last day" kind of scenario.

After writing it, I wondered how on-the-nose my bitterness about the loss of that station was, in connection to mvyradio.  I got an email from my old roommate, who was part of the WABN family, who said reading the mvyradio site gave him "the chills" with its decidedly familiar feeling.

Let's hope another community doesn't have to go through what Abingdon, Virginia did . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Huey Lewis & The News "If This Is It"

So basically, we just said, “I love you.” 

And it’s just kinda hanging there.

Have you ever been the first one to say “I love you” in a serious relationship?

Sure, we’ve had a great time together.  It’s romantic and sweet and we enjoy each other’s company and you’d even say that you’re committed.

But are we going to the next level?

Are we really going to throw our chips into the pile and make a go of it together?

So I said, “I love you.”

And there is a pause.  Maybe I’m just imagining the pause, but it feels like “I love you” hangs in the air for hours, days.

Your wheels are turning, I can see.

You care about me.  In theory, you think you’ll miss me if I’m gone.

You’d even say you are committed.

But now I’m not just asking you to be committed.  I’m asking you to be committed.

To put your money where your mouth is.

To decide that you don’t just care about me in an abstract way.

To forego passivity and plunge forward with the idea that the future is something you must actively participate in.

“I love you.”

Do you love me back?

That’s the question mvyradio effectively asked yesterday:

Do you love us?  Do you care about us?  Do you want the station to be a part of your future, or is here where we part ways?

You have until the end of January to make up your mind.

If you want us to be together, you’re going to have to say “I love you” back.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bruce Springsteen "Radio Nowhere"

Well, if you haven't heard the news about mvyradio, you should probably read this.

The question now becomes, is Bruce's vision of a dead dial and music spit out by satellite drones, going to be further true?  Or can people who care about music, help Save mvyradio?

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Kinks "Picture Book"

I knew the look on his face.  That weird, uncomfortable, “the tables have been turned!” feeling.

Jess has been telling me for ages that I should meet her friends Ben and Erica.  That we had a lot in common and would enjoy each other.  They had an interest in art and music and culture.  Erica did design, and Ben loved photography, both of which are passions of my wife.

We were in a burrito place in Falmouth, and I noticed a “Benshotme” display.

Periodically, Ben will publish a collection of his photographs, and make them available at stores around the Cape.  This particular issue had a load of pictures featuring Ryan Montbleau and his band.

My wife and I were thumbing through the pages, when the weirdest thing happened.

The guy in one of the pictures walked into the burrito place.

I looked at the collection.  I looked at the guy.

“Excuse me, are you Ben?”

He made the kind of face that I’m sure celebrities make when someone approaches them, and there is that split second when they are not sure if they are supposed to know the approacher, or if it is a fan.

I also know what it’s like to be on the other side of the equation.  As a guy who has interviewed hundreds of people over the course of my career, I do get a bit awkward on those rare occasions when I am the interviewee.

So too, for Ben, I’m sure it’s awkward to be on the other end of the lens.  He loves to take pictures, but I bet it’s weird for him to be recognized for being in a picture.

Or maybe he thought he owed me money.

Photography is not Ben’s first job; he has a job that pays the bills.  A great way to support his work, and to allow this artist to continue to capture the world we live in, is buy something from the BenShotMe site.  Get something for yourself.  Or give a photo as a gift.  The part I love the best?  Ben doesn't actually list prices for anything.  He simply says to tell him what you're interested in, and he'll "work with you."

Before you do any Christmas shopping online with big companies, consider supporting individual artists and small entrepreneurs.  Amazon isn’t going to miss your 50 bucks, but a purchase from an artisan will help them enormously. I’m posting links to a few of my talented friends and family.

Take a look at the other posts on my page this week, and please "Share" the links with you think might be interested in these artists.  Thanks!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

John Fogerty "Working On A Building"

So I've been banging away with posts about artist friends that are worthy of your support for the last couple of weeks, and I thought I should get around to Mike Palmer.

Those of you who live on the Cape and Islands know that, among the hardest hit during this recession, are the people who build things for a living.  10 years ago, there was plenty of work to go around.  These days, every job counts.

For Christmas, my folks, and my wife's mom, and my wife's dad, have all offered to give us a little money to devote to various around-the-house projects.  The slider to the deck is broken.  The tiles around the tub have cracked.

Maybe you're getting this kind of gift too.

We'll call our friend Mike Palmer, who did a hellava job on The Art Shed.

Mike has built homes from the ground up.  But in the winter, its the little jobs that get you through.

Check out his work on his MLP Carpentry site.

Before you do any Christmas shopping online with big companies, consider supporting individual artists and small entrepreneurs.  Amazon isn’t going to miss your 50 bucks, but a purchase from an artisan will help them enormously. I’m posting links to a few of my talented friends and family.

Take a look at the other posts on my page this week, and please "Share" the links with you think might be interested in these artists.  Thanks!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Beatles "Roll Over Beethoven"

Let me take a break from promoting my friends' art and business, and say Happy Birthday to my Dad.

The Finns are widely known to be perhaps the least funky family on the planet.  We do not have the moves on the dance floor.

But I have great memories of being a little kid, watching my Dad bang out the rhythm to his favorite Beatles song (yeah, he knows, its a Chuck Berry tune, but it's still his favorite), his wedding ring popping against the steering wheel of our Dodge Dart as we cruised down the highway

Happy Birthday, Duke!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Robin Sparkles "Let Go To The Mall"

It being Black Friday, I thought I should write about a shopping memory . . . 

When we were kids, we had an extended-family tradition.

My cousins and I would meet at the Burlington Mall and do Christmas shopping together.

Now, I don’t know if this was a big deal for my many cousins who lived in Burlington.  I’d wager that they spent a fair amount of time at the Mall, as a rule.

But living out in the sticks (as it felt like we did, in Newburyport), going to the Mall was an event.

We were young teens, and we got to go shopping, without our parents.

I must say, we felt pretty damn cool.  And I’m sure we were.

Yes, in fact I’m certain that going to the Mall without your parents, in 1985, was as cool as cool can be.

As cool as Robin Sparkles makes it out to be . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Ray Davies "Thanksgiving Day"

Earlier this week I was loading up the mvyradio Holiday Music Channel, and piling on song after song, by artist after artist, of Christmas tunes.

Then I went to find a song for Thanksgiving.

For a day about filling your table with plenty, the song-cupboard is pretty bare.

There’s the Adam Sandler tune.  “Over The River And Through The Woods To Grandmother’s House We Go” was originally a Thanksgiving song.  Of course, there’s “Alice’s Restaurant.”

But compared to the number of Christmas songs out there?  Pretty meager.

Which is strange, considering the lyrical possibilities.  I mean, it’s a little hard to write a song about, say, the Lenten season.

But Thanksgiving has some pretty clear metaphors, emotional touchstones and simple accessible imagery.

How is it that something like Ray Davies’ “Thanksgiving Day” is so rare?

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Smashing Pumpkins "Disarm" (part 2)

(This is Part 2.  You can read Part 1, here)

WABN was going off the air.  It was our last day.  Goodbye.  Gone.  Kaput.

I'd been on the air for 6 years, from 1994 to 2000.  Sometimes for 10 hours a day.  I worked and lived with a close knit group of friends who'd become family.  We'd fought for the station.  But the fight was over and it was time to say goodbye.

I helped orchestrate the final run-up, giving every DJ and friend of the station one last chance to step up to the mic, say something that mattered, and play one last song.

I rehearsed, in my head, what I wanted to say, and how I wanted to leave the airwaves.

Six years earlier, I'd quit my job in television in a power struggle with the boss.  He demanded that I leave my part-time job at WABN.  I told him he couldn't tell me how to conduct my private life.  My check-mate move, was to quit.

"Bold move," said Rita later that afternoon.  "Now what?"

Rita and her husband Craig owned WABN, an AM/FM combo in Abingdon, Virginia.  They literally did everything related to the station---sales, billing, maintenance, Craig went on-air, called local sports games.  This was true DIY independent radio.

Part of the reason they were so fiercely independent, had to do with the mess they'd just come out of.

They had purchased the station several years prior, with a partner (a relative).  After only a few years in, the partner tried to sell the station without their input or consultation.  He had controlling interest.  He fired Craig and Rita, and expected them to quietly hand over their stock.  Craig and Rita were doing no such thing.  What's more, the partner incorrectly thought he could sell the station without their consent.  He was wrong.

A protracted legal battle began, for control of the station.  Craig and Rita were barred from even entering the building.  Two years passed.  The station suffered from inattention, the partner tired of the fight, and finally, he turned control of the station over to Craig and Rita.

And that's when their troubles really began.

The damage had been done to the station's billing.  They were deep in the red.  The creditors were lining up.

When Rita said to me, "Bold move," she knew what might be on the horizon.

Shortly after I went to work full time at WABN, the station filed for bankruptcy.

Let me tell you this---I learned more than I ever care to know about bankruptcy court in the years that followed.

Craig and Rita scraped and fought to bring in enough billing to keep the station alive, while working tirelessly to come up with a plan they could present to the bankruptcy court for a way to emerge and go forward.

The partner, meanwhile, because he was a creditor, re-entered the picture to resume his efforts to sell the station to another party.

 . . . Let me stop right here and say that the story of the 6 years of bankruptcy court is a long and complicated journey, that I hope Craig and Rita publish some day.  Suffice it to say, that despite community support, a fight at the FCC level, arguments before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and a truckload of craft, smarts and passion, we lost this fight.  The station, which had been an award winning community radio outpost, would land in the hands of a large radio group who would use the FM signal to rebroadcast their syndicated Talk Radio station.  They would simply turn the AM off.

I could have walked out the door of WABN the day Craig and Rita told me they were filing for bankruptcy.  But I didn't.

I believed in them, and I believed in their mission.  I believed in a radio station that let teenagers call in and have their voice heard.  I believed in a station that let the DJs pick the music.  I believed in a station that talked to you, not at you.  And I believed in Craig and Rita themselves---that their fight was right and that it was worth fighting.

We were winding through the final day at WABN.  Friends of the station had a chance to pop on air and pick a last song.  The part-timers were on now, with their last words.  Craig and Rita's adult children (who made up the rest of the full time staff) would have their say, followed by Craig and Rita themselves.  Then the transmitter would be shut off.  Right before the family spoke, I would have my turn.

I had written out my speech.  I wanted it to be good.  I didn't want to cry.

I talked about how I had come to be at WABN.  About what I had learned by living in the presence of people with dedication, passion and conviction.

I said that I learned the importance of fighting for something you believe it.  The point is not to ask whether you can win, it's to stick with it if you are right.

And I ended my 6 years of independent radio the way it started.  I played "Disarm."

That was 12 years ago, and it's still painful to write about.  In fact, when I started this blog I knew that the "Disarm" stories were on the top of the list of posts I needed to write.  I've been putting them off for 3 years.

Twelve years later, WABN FM still rebroadcasts Talk Radio.  WABN AM is still silent.  And the building where Craig and Rita and their kids and I worked for all those years, remains empty and unused, the fields around the brick building are overgrown, the whole thing abandoned.

Nothing has come to Abingdon to replace WABN  (the Talk Radio station is located 20 miles away).  No station does high school sports.  No station has a request radio program.  No station shows up at the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life or any of the other dozens of charitable events that WABN supported.

I don't live in Abingdon anymore, but I am certain that the community is less, for not having WABN.

But because of it, because of them, I am much more.  And I am thankful for that . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lake Street Dive "Faith"

Friends have been telling me about Lake Street Dive for a while now.

Ross has mentioned them.

Laurel raved about them.

And Garrison Keillor had nice things to say about them.  (Okay, GK is not actually my friend, but it feels like it)

So when I got their "Fun Machine" EP (which came out in the Spring but was just reserviced to the station), I got excited.

Then I looked at the track list, and I got bummed.

Ugh.  A covers EP?  Kind of a waste of my time, right?  Who needs another dang covers album?



This is awesome, just plain awesome.


The album version:
Faith by Lake Street Dive on Grooveshark

A live version:

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ozzy Osborne "Crazy Train"

Billy can play the intro to "Crazy Train."

How do I know?

Because I heard him do it.  A million times.  For hours on end.  Over and over.

One of the things I do not miss about college, or being young, or having roommates, is the proximity to other people's noises.

And when you lived next door to a musician, you lived next door to whatever they were learning.

Billy was learning the incredible, indelible opening riff to "Crazy Train."  And like any aspiring guitarist, he wanted to get it down, know it cold.  So he just kept playing it.

The riff that starts at :23 and goes to :36 (on the Youtube video below), is only a dozen or so seconds long.

But if you really want your fingers to learn how to fly through it, so it becomes muscle memory, then you just have to play it over and over and over.  A 12 second riff that lasts for an hour.

This process is maddening if you happen to live next door.

At first, it's really cool to hear the song being worked out.  But after a bit, it becomes annoying.  Then distracting.  Then infuriating.  Then it completely takes over your life to the point where you can't concentrate enough to read the side of a cereal box and even if you put a stack of pillows over your head you can faintly hear its muffled line and the notes poke your brain like tiny daggers launched from a pea shooter.


But not for the artist.

The process is necessary for the artist.

The devotion to practice and the discipline to commit to getting it right override all other sensibilities.

The amazing thing about Billy is that he could apply this mindset to everything he wished to do.

He's recorded an album, playing all the instruments.

He oversees the layout and design of a whole family of magazines.

He paints.

He sculpts.

He makes mosaics.

He silk screens.

He makes ceramics.

And he does it with a single-mindedness that makes his prolific nature seem effortless.

I used to want to write.  Write stories.  Maybe a novel.  Whatever.

But I could never muster the discipline that Billy had.

I admired it.  I envied it.  But I was never able to replicate it.

For years, I held onto the excuse that my creative powers were being fully directed toward my job at mvyradio, leaving little time or energy to be creative elsewhere.

I started this blog.  And I thought of Billy.

I began to write several days a week.  Then 5 days a week.  Then 7.  I went a whole year without missing a day.  And these days, I actually find it easier to write a post every day, than I did a few years ago, to write a post a couple of times a week.  Working with a single-mindedness has made being prolific feel effortless.

I thank Billy, in part, for helping me get here.  Even if I had to come via his Crazy Train.

See a fraction of what Billy can do, at his Big Dead Gerbil website.  I have a Big Dead Gerbil ceramic as a pencil holder on my desk.  You can also find some pretty amazing silk screen prints and hilarious t-shirts.

Before you do any Christmas shopping online with big companies, consider supporting individual artists and small entrepreneurs.  Amazon isn’t going to miss your 50 bucks, but a purchase from an artisan will help them enormously.  This week I’ll be posting links to a few of my talented friends and family.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Aerosmith "Walking The Dog"

One of my wife’s oldest friends made a bold decision one day, to drop a career that was not making her happy, and become a full time dog walker.

So yes, whenever she comes through our door, it is to the tune of Aerosmith’s “Walking The Dog” (in my mind, not in real life).

If you know a dog or cat owner on the South Shore, who needs a pet walker or a pet sitter, check out Tails On Trails.  Click through for her contact info, and read her story.

Before you do any Christmas shopping online with big companies, consider supporting individual artists and small entrepreneurs.  Amazon isn’t going to miss your 50 bucks, but a purchase from an artisan will help them enormously.  This week I’ll be posting links to a few of my talented friends and family.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Beatles "Paperback Writer"

If you are connected to The Vineyard or know someone who is, why not pick up a copy of “Au Naturel, A Summer On Martha’s Vineyard.”  It was written by James Sanford, who spent a season living and working on the Island and wrote a book about his experiences, including doing some volunteer work for mvyradio.

And I’m not recommending this work just because I am described in it as having a “witty way with words, (and) a disarming smile.”  (But I wouldn’t blame you for skipping ahead to page where he talks about coming to mvy and meeting me)

You can buy this book for only $2.99 on your Kindle or iPad!  C'mon, 3 bucks?  Make a writer's day!  Buy this book for yourself AND your Vineyard loving friends.

Before you do any Christmas shopping online with big companies, consider supporting individual artists and small entrepreneurs.  Amazon isn’t going to miss your 50 (or in this case THREE) bucks, but a purchase from an artisan will help them enormously.  This week I’ll be posting links to a few of my talented friends and family.

Hear the song on Youtube

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ben Folds Five "Cigarette"

The lyrics to this song are (semi-)famously lifted from an amazing run-on sentence that Ben Folds had read in the newspaper, about a man and his mentally ill wife.

There’s poetry in every day life that we don’t always see or hear or turn into song.

“Cigarette” is also famous for retroactively being known as “Fred Jones Pt. 1.”  Years after “Cigarette” came out, Ben Folds wrote a song called “Fred Jones Pt. 2” which features the same character found in Pt. 1.  In Pt 2, Fred Jones loses his job as a newspaper man.  The world has passed him by.

This week I thought I’d write about some of the artisans in my life, and promote the good work that they do.

I have to admit that even I was quick to make a list that involved graphic design, stone carving and other handmade crafts, but not something kind of obvious (for a guy who blogs every day).

Writing was not a type of “art” that instantly came to top of mind.

Why don’t we appreciate writing the way we used to?

As Ben Folds makes clear, there is poetry, there is value, in the every day written word.

Scott Lajoie knows this for sure.

Scott is the editor of Cape Cod Magazine.  He finds the poetry and beauty of every day life here on Cape Cod, and encapsulates it between the covers of his publication.  There is artistry in what he does, in what the magazine is, even if you don’t recognize it.

Yes, Scott’s art is more likely to be strewn on your bathroom floor, than displayed on your wall.

The written word is taken for granted.  But let me be not the first person to forewarn you---print publications become rarer by the day.  And if you value newspapers and magazines and such, they demand your support.

My motivation to write these pieces on artist friends was sparked by Scott’s dedication to promoting Cape Cod and the people who make it beautiful.  Cape Cod Magazine has written pieces on Meadow Dibble, Tim Dibble, Erica Szuplat and mvyradio, to name just a few.  The promotion has meant sales and attention for each.  That kind of support is what can keep an artist alive and thriving.

If Scott and his magazine are not there for us, who will be?  And if we are not there for Scott, how can he be there for us?

So as you are thinking about small businesses you can support this holiday season, consider giving someone (or yourself) a subscription to Cape Cod Magazine.  You can get a year's subscription for only 15 bucks!

Because we don’t want to hear Ben Folds sing, “And I’m sorry, Mr. Lajoie, it’s time . . .”

Hear "Cigarette" on Youtube.

Hear "Fred Jones Pt. 2" on Youtube.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Prince & Sheena Easton "The Arms Of Orion"

There are lots of songs about girls.  So when I happen to look at a girl, no one song comes to mind.

There are lots of songs about cars.  So when I happen to look at a car, no one song comes to mind.

But at night in the fall, I look up in the sky, and one stupid song comes to mind.

Because I only know one song about Orion.

In 1989 I was still a major fan of Prince.  And also a big fan of Batman.  And of Tim Burton.

Along comes news that Tim Burton will direct a new Batman movie.  And the soundtrack will be by Prince?


So I went out and bought the new Prince soundtrack.

And this was the moment I realized that Prince may not have his hand fully on the quality control lever.  While there are some good songs on the record (I actually like the much reviled "Batdance"), there is also some pretty sub-par Prince material on there too.

But being a super-fan, I did listen over and over again that summer, and the songs on the "Batman" soundtrack did become lodged in my head, including the sappy Sheena Easton duet "Arms Of Orion."  It's such a middling tune, but the hook of the chorus is just catchy enough that I find myself singing it.

In the fall, the constellation Orion The Hunter becomes visible in the night sky.  It's one of the few constellations that I can identify quickly.

Unfortunately, with an uncommon name like Orion, even now when I spy the formation of stars and just think "Orion," this stupid song pops in my head. 

Finally giving "Orion" a more positive connotation is Meadow Dibble's "Orion's Belt Buckle." She makes one-of-a-kind pieces of wearable art, incorporating hand-sculpted polymer clay, found images, designer and recycled paper, beads, shells and other objects.  She's extremely talented, like her dad!

Before you do any Christmas shopping online with big companies, consider supporting individual artists and small entrepreneurs.  Amazon isn’t going to miss your 50 bucks, but a purchase from an artisan will help them enormously.  This week and next, I’ll be posting links to a few of my talented friends and family.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Allman Brothers Band "In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed"

I always think of Grampa Tim when I hear this song.

Famously, Dickie Betts of the Allman Brothers wrote this instrumental in a Macon, Georgia graveyard that he liked to hang out in.

The fact that the songs is an instrumental leaves Elizabeth Reed's story untold, and lets us wonder.

Grampa Tim has spent many an hour, I'm sure, pondering such unknowable questions.

On top of being a carpenter, shop keeper, bartender, reluctant soldier, sketcher, clam digger, bird house builder, art installer, roofer, and handyman, he is also a stone carver.

He's been hired to carve massive sinks and fireplaces for luxury homes.

And he'll do simple marker carving, like the slate-address-marker we have at our front door.

A few years ago, he was hired by the Brewster Cemetery Association to fix and restore over 300 gravestones in town.  (Read about it in a Cape Codder article)

That job lasted ages, and gave Tim a lot of time to ponder just who those people were, what their life might have been like, and what their story had been.

But, despite his many talents, I don't think he wrote a song about it.

Throughout the holiday season, I'm writing stories about some of the family and friends who are making and selling art and such.  When you think about dropping $50 at Amazon or Walmart, consider how much farther that money will go, how much better for the broader economy it would be, if you spent your cash with a small business owner.

While I don't know that your Mom would appreciate a Gravestone as a Christmas present, and you may not be interested in a massive, marble carved fireplace, take a look a Tim's site.  There may be some more modest carving or stone bench or piece of rustic furniture or abstract art that would appeal to you.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Def Leppard "Rock Of Ages"

This is less of a story, and more of a sketch, but it makes me laugh.

I was driving on the Cape, near Popponesset the other day, marveling at how tony it has become since we vacationed there in the early 80s.

Not that it was slummy.  But now the houses are so much bigger and the paint is so much whiter and the landscaping is so much primmer and the cars in the driveways are so much more fancy than I ever remember.

And here's the memory that made me laugh.

I must've been in 8th or 9th grade.  Mom and Dad and my sisters and I were sharing a rental with my Uncle and Aunt and 2 cousins.  Christine and I are the same age---actually, she's two months older---and I always looked to her for what was cool, and what was not.

I can't remember exactly where in Popponessett we were, but we were wandering aimlessly down a sidewalk-less street.

A pick-up truck whizzed by, BLASTING some new Def Leppard.

Christine, who was in mid-sentence about something else, heard the truck's tune and shouted:


And I remember thinking to myself, "Okay, yelling at trucks blasting cool rock music. That's a thing people can do."

Throughout the holiday season, I'm going to write some stories about some of the family and friends who are making and selling art and such.  When you think about dropping $50 at Amazon or Walmart, consider how much farther that money will go, how much better for the broader economy it would be, if you spent your cash with a small business owner.

Cousin Christine is SariBlue.  She makes earthy, bohemian, wear-it-everyday jewelry centered on the power & theory of The Evil Eye.  Visit her site and buy yourself (or someone you love) something nice.  Perhaps she'll put that money right back into the economy by buying a new Def Leppard "Greatest Hits" album . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Monday, November 12, 2012

John Mayer "Something Like Olivia"

There have been plenty of good and not so good reasons to be on the fence about liking a song for mvyradio.

It's too poppy

It's too esoteric.

It's too repetitive.

But this is a first.

I didn't want to add this one because I don't want to think about John Mayer dating my daughter.

When I saw this song on the "Born And Raised" track list, I smiled at the title "Something Like Olivia," because that's my daughter's name.

But when I actually heard the track, it made me feel queasy.

Now, it's not at all unusual to hear John Mayer sing about girls.  It's not too unusual to hear John Mayer sing (overconfidently) about his own sexuality.  It's not unusual to hear John Mayer put the women in his songs in a space where they seem a little like props to be moved around within in a Mayer-sexual diorama.

But what IS unusual, is to imagine your own daughter, in that role.

When John Mayer keeps singing her name, it's hard not to.  And it's hard not to become enraged.

Hey, I know it is totally cliche for a parent of a young child (Olivia is 5) to obsess about what might happen during the teenage years when your kid discovers his/her sexuality.  But every time one of my friends who had kids a decade earlier than I tells me a story about some misadventure their teen was involved in, cliche or not, it feels real.

And certainly, having once been young, I have first-person knowledge that the world does have more than its fair share of lecherous, John Mayer-like lady-killers.

So, back to the song. 

Are my misplaced hang-ups a good reason to not play a particular tune on mvyradio?  Am I perhaps unfairly projecting parental anxiety onto Mr. Mayer?

No.  And Yes.

So we'll play this song on the station. 

And when you hear it, you can imagine me sitting in the mvy studio, queasy with misplaced paternal agita.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Eels "Novocaine For The Soul"

Here's another Weekend Post:

One of the things that I loved about the 90s was the quirky, even bizarre music was embraced by the mainstream.  And what would be a cult band in another era, was an MTV/mainstream hit band.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Weekend posts are a chance to revisit songs that have happy memories, not of anything in particular, other than just hearing the tunes.

Many of these songs were tracks that I played during my 90s stint as an Alternative/Modern Rock radio show.  They're tunes that I hardly hear these days, but are wonderful to revisit.

Click on the "Weekend Posts" label below, to see other posts like this.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Presidents Of The United States Of America "Kitty"

I was thinking about this song (particularly the refrain) on election day, when my cat was driving me nuts.

But now that it's in my head, I've got other kittys to think about.

My daughter turns 5 today!

We asked her on several occasions what she might like to have as a party theme.  And for my wife, no party theme is too weird, no party theme is undo-able.

Two years ago, when her two favorite things were "Dinosaur Train" and her dance class, my daughter suggested we have a dinosaur ballerina party.  So we did.  My wife actually found a great book called "Brontorina," about a dinosaur who wants to dance ballet.  And we did some decorating.  (Note the dinosaur's outfits)

This year, we ask our daughter what she thought a good theme might be.

"Cats and Warthogs."


"You know, the girls can dress up as cats.  And the boys can come as warthogs."

Uhh . . .

Well, maybe there is a theme that's too weird.

So we backed it up to just a cat theme.  House cats, jungle cats.  A lion cake and a tiger bouncy house.

I feel a little bad that we couldn't quite fulfill her vision.

(But I am still happy that my girl thinks boys are analogous to warthogs)

The lyrics of this song are NSFW!!!

Hear the song on Youtube.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Trey Anastasio "Pigtail"

Continuing down a tributary of yesterday's post . . .

I wasn't crazy about the first single "Let Me Lie" off Trey Anastasio's new album "Traveler."  Lyrically, it was pretty weak, and musically it just wasn't a cut above the rest of the songs in the "Going For Adds" pile.

But Trey is one of those artists that I feel like we should be playing if he's got a new album out.  That the audience expects us to play if he's got a new album out.

So Barbara suggested I look to another song, something she had played during her new music show "Uncharted Waters."

Right away "Pigtail" grabbed me with a good, enjoyable hook.  It immediately felt like something that mvy could play.

I was grooving to the song as it seemed to be circling to its conclusion.  But it kept going.  And going.  Repeating the refrain "Your pigtail has been dipped in ink/Your pigtail has been dipped in ink/Your pigtail has been dipped in ink/Your pigtail has been dipped in ink."  And repeating.  A full minute passed from when I thought the song was about to end, until the song actually did end.

Ugh.  Like a friend who doesn't know how to end a conversation, no matter how interesting they are, you start to dread talking to them knowing you're going to be stuck in an overlong uncomfortable fade out.

So I put Trey on the back burner.

Seems like radio, in general, felt as lukewarm as I did about the first single "Let Me Lie," because Trey's label moved pretty quickly to single number two.  And wouldn't you know, it was "Pigtail."

I knew Barbara had listened to the song, but I thought we could listen together and discuss.

Sometimes, when a label sends a single, they'll include a "radio edit" which might shorten the track to make it more "single-y."  Unfortunately, they didn't do this for "Pigtail."  I assumed that was going to be a dealbreaker for me. 

About halfway through the tune she ask me what I thought.

"Well, up to this point, I think it's great.  But then it goes on and on."

So we listened.  And listened.  And listened.

I talked about how there really needed to be an editor on this song, to have cut it short.  Barbara pointed out that sometimes there is a vision on the part of the artist and there is a reason a song may include a certain part.

Funny thing happened.  On this listen I focused less on the repeating "Your pigtail has been dipped in ink" refrain, and heard what was going on underneath it.  The various, slightly altered reading of the lines, the horn solo, the background singers rising and falling.

What felt like simple repetition, was actually a clear journey.  The song needed time for the horns to wind around, for the background singers to come and go, for the song to fully circle in for a landing.

I liked the song much more, on this listen.

So I guess the question is if we start playing it, which song will listeners hear?  The one that has a subtle but pleasing logic to its last quarter of running time?  Or an irritating acquaintance they try to avoid contact with for fear of being stuck in a refrain that won't quite end?

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Neil Young "The Loner"

Especially if you are not familiar with it but even if you are, it would be good to listen to this song before reading the post about it.

Hear the song on Youtube.

I've heard this song for years on mvyradio.  Played it as a DJ, heard it when I was just listening.

I don't think I really knew it, before coming to work at mvyradio.  The song came out when I was still in diapers.  But I always like the simple crunchiness of a good Neil Young tune.  But didn't have any particular feeling beyond that.

Last week a I walked into the studio at 1pm, as I do every day.  Barbara Dacey was finishing up her shift and clearing out to turn things over to me.  She had "The Loner" cranked on the studio speakers, and was really into it.

She started talking about what it felt like to her, when the song came out.  That she remembers it so clearly.  That it seemed a step beyond anything that had come before it.

She marveled at the amazing diversity within the songs structure.  The acoustic guitar that starts the track that sounds like a typical acoustic tune, followed immediately by the clear-but-fuzzy lead guitar riff.  At :40 seconds strings suddenly appear, and come and go throughout the song.  At :55 seconds everything stops as Neil sings "The Loner . . ." and everything halts for a moment, followed by a short bridge, then back into the main riff.  At 1:50 it goes into a piece of music entirely different from the rest of the song, before the lead coaxes the tune back.  The long outro is a dance between the delicate acoustic and strings, coupled with the pointed, noisy-but-direct electric guitar.

Barbara talked at length about the complexity of the tune, of how it was such a composition on a level about what the others in Neil Young's cohort group were doing a the time.

I have to admit, I had never heard the tune like that before.

While I am familiar enough with the song that I guess I could have identified the various parts, if you had just asked me about the tune without me hearing it, I probably would have only heard the crunchy riff in my head, not recognizing the complexity.

The other thing that is evident about Barbara's reaction versus mine, is context.

At the time this song came out, Barbara was already an avid music listener and consumer.  She was also a musician.  She heard the song in the context of the time it came out, and could compare it to other things she'd been listening to.  And compared to other songs out at the time, Barbara felt it was a big innovation, and her reaction to the song, even today, is colored by that excitement.

At the time this song came out, I was working on chewing solid foods.  So I never heard the song in the context of its day.

For me, this song is neither before nor after "Times They Are A' Changing" or "London Calling" or "Born To Run" or "Let It Be."  They ALL fall under the category of "before I started listening to music."  So the song could never really hit me in the same way as it hits Barbara.

You listen to the radio day after day, and it's simply not possible to dive into every single song and react to every single song and pick apart every single song.

But it really lifts the listening experience when you can grab ahold of just one tune, and shake it for all it's worth.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bob Marley "Ambush In The Night"

Here are some things that happened while I tried to "get out the vote" and "get of of my house," yesterday morning . . .

My wife had to leave the house super-early, because she remembered last-minute that she had an early meeting.  This meant I was completely in charge of getting the kids ready to leave the house for the day.

My 2 year old loves peanut butter.  So I asked him if he wanted peanut butter on a bagel for breakfast.  He said yes, so I put peanut butter on a bagel.  He protested.  "Not peanut butter on top!"  It took me a few tries, but I figured out what he wanted.  He wanted an sandwich.  He didn't want the peanut butter on top, he wanted it in the middle.  Being the practical sort, I just took the two halves, squished them together and made a sandwich.  Unfortunately, he had seen that the peanut butter was actually on top, and could not unsee this horror.  He sobbed for 10 minutes, saying "Not peanut butter on top!"  I was unable to convince him that the peanut butter was now in the middle.  In his mind, it was forever on top, and he could never eat such an abomination.

Not only did my wife have to work early, she was going to have to work late.  So late, that she was not going to be able to pick up our almost-5 year old at her pre-school at pick-up time.  The solution was that I would take my daughter to work Tuesday.  The night before, Mom and daughter had gone shopping, and had spied a heavily discounted Halloween costume.  For 5 bucks, why not?  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  But on Tuesday morning, my daughter insisted that only suitable outfit for "Going To Work With Daddy" Day, was a cupcake costume complete with a cherry-on-top hat.  Did I really want to get in a yelling/crying standoff with a giant rainbow sprinkle covered cupcake?  "Choose your battles," the saying goes.

Amid these two mini-dramas, the friggin' cat was driving me crazy.  She's 18 years old (though she doesn't look it), and I was wondering if she was having senior moment.  Inside.  Outside.  Inside.  Outside.  She kept coming in and out of the kitchen slider, each time letting stiff morning chill shoot through the room.  And she kept meowing, Meowing, MEOWING!  "What is your beef, kitty!?"  I kept asking her.  On the shopping trip that yielding the cupcake costume, my wife had also bought some fancy-shmancy catfood---the kind that comes in gravy that actually looks kinda good---and I figured kitty was agitating for another bowl after she'd inhaled the first.  Hey, at least someone ate breakfast, right?  But what's with all the meowing and discontent?

So as I'm running out of time to get out the door, get the boy to daycare and get to work, plus squeeze in voting before the drop offs, the full on chaos begins as my daughter has decided to fulfill my request to "bring a toy you'd like to play with" by picking out, I dunno, an anvil or something insanely heavy and my son is furious because he sees his sister packing a backpack and realizes HE'S not packing a backpack and hell if I know where his Elmo backpack is and as I'm stomping through the house looking for it I'm muttering "why is it my responsibility to know where you throw your shit?" . . . I step in shit.  Or vomit.  I'm not sure.

Yeah, I misread the cat's issue.  Not a senior moment.  Diarrhea.  She was meowing because she was in gastro-intestinal distress.  And I stepped in it barefoot.

So yeah, I lost my cool and it took another 10 minutes to clean up, marshal all the kids' shit (not the literal kind of shit, just the kind of shit you put in a backpack) and hope that I could get in and out of the polling place so I was not late for everything else that I had to do that day.

Monday evening (the night before) . . .

As I've mentioned in previous posts, mvyradio has a trade with Adam Cab, for various reason, you might find a staffer catching a ride in one of their vans.  As I have also mentioned, a number of their drivers are Jamaicans.

So I was riding with one of the Jamaican drivers on Monday evening, and he was talking about how this was his last week---it's that time of year on the Vineyard, when our foreign workers are coming to the end of their visas.  They'll depart over the course of the next month, ready to return in April or May for another season.

I asked him what he'd be doing in Jamaica for the winter, and he said, "nut-ting to speak uf."  I asked if he'd come back for another season on the Island and he said, "I 'ope so.  We see what 'appens tomorrow."  He expressed concern that if Romney were elected, he might place tighter restrictions on Visas to protect American jobs.

As we drove through the darkened, quiet daylight-savings-is-over and the-season-is-over empty streets, he marveled, "The streets are quiet tonight, sir.  The night before an election?  Is not like this at home . . ."

I asked him what it is like.

"Tense.  Vera tense."  He went on, "People with guns go into neighborhoods of the opposition.  Try to intimidate 'em.  Lotta lives lost."

He paused, and then he said it again to make sure I heard it, "Lotta lives lost . . ."

Back to Tuesday morning . . .

I had slept soundly the night before.  There were no hazards to navigate, inside or outside the polling place.  I chose candidates that I have confidence in.  I left and went about my day.

Daycare schedule changes, peanut butter sandwiches, missing backpacks, sartorial dessert-orial decisions and cat diarrhea---these were first world problems, not anything to get hung up about.

I voted Tuesday.  And I felt lucky.

Here's a lesser know Bob Marley song, in which he address being shot in 1976, possibly for political reasons.  Go to the Youtube page to see the lyrics.

Hear the song and read the lyrics on Youtube.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Smart Songs "Voting Rap"

Thought I should post something for Election Day . . . 

I won't say these guys are the dopest rhymers.  But give them credit, they actually make a decent, informative song about the ins and outs of the American voting system.

Hope you vote today!

Hear the song on Youtube.

And for more of their clever songs about other aspects of our government, check out their Youtube page.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Suicide Machines "No Face"

Ballot Question #2 in Massachusetts is a version of what some States have tackled as "assisted suicide."  The proposed bill in Massachusetts is not an "assisted" bill, per se.  It would allow a "physician licensed in Massachusetts to prescribe medication, at the request of a terminally-ill patient meeting certain conditions, to end that person’s life."

Heavy stuff.

It's pretty amazing that this Question has arrived on the ballot rather quietly.  Given the strong feelings the subject matter provokes, you'd think that there would be a lot more talk about it.  But its under the radar enough that I know some of my friends weren't aware that this was something they were going to have to consider in (or before) the voting booth.  Or maybe they are aware of it, but they just don't want to talk about such a dark, loaded, emotionally charged subject.

My awareness of people's sensitive, passionate and emotional responses to the topic comes, in part, from a t-shirt.

There was a mini Ska-music revival in the mid-90s, and I became hooked on this band, The Suicide Machines.  From Detroit, I assume they took their name due to fellow Michiganite, Jack Kevorkian.

How psyched was I, that the record label person in appreciation of my radio support of the band, sent me a band t-shirt?

A simple navy tee, it had the band's name and logo on the front, and the album name, "Destruction By Definition" on the back.

Amazingly, I still have this t-shirt and it's still in pretty good shape even though it is well over 15 years old.

Why is it in good shape?  Because I only wear it occasionally.

I felt like, geez, you just never know when you're going to be somewhere where the words "Suicide Machines" emblazoned across your chest is inappropriate.

As far as fashion and clothing goes, I've always subscribed to something I read about Jackie Kennedy.  Her theory on clothing was that after you left a party, you wanted people to say you looked great, without them exactly remembering what you were wearing.

Now I'm no Jackie O and I've never worn a Chanel suit or a pill box hat.  But I do tend to wear things that are nice but plain, that effect a persona, but are not the focal point of that persona.

I'm definitely not the type of guy who wears a shirt that says, in effect, "Hey look at me.  I'm confrontational!"

So mostly, I've used my Suicide Machines tee as an undershirt, where a collared shirt can hide the logo.

But every time I put on this shirt, or listen to the band, I think of this one time . . .

It was when I was living in Virginia.  There was certainly a large population of social conservatives there, who would frown upon a shirt like the one I had.  Literally.  Some people were not shy about staring at you disapprovingly for something as simple as a t-shirt.

I was out with my friends at an arts and crafts and music festival in town.  The early part of the day had been cool, but the sun had come out, so I decided to take off my sweatshirt.

I had completely forgotten that I had the Suicide Machines tee on.  And as I was walking with my friends, trying to decide if I should but the sweatshirt back on, I could see this elderly woman staring at my chest.

She started toward me.

I suppose I could have thrown the sweatshirt back on, but I was kind of frozen in place, wondering how I was going to counter whatever argument she was about to throw on me.

She stepped right up to me, squinting at my chest to make sure she was reading correctly, right up until she was upon me.

She grabbed my arm and looked me in the eye.

"I love your shirt," she smiled.

And she gave me a thumbs up.

Then she walked off.

I suppose she'd be voting Yes, on Question #2.

For details on Ballot Question #2, and the Massachusetts Ballot in general, the State has a really great website.

Hear the song on Youtube.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

John Prine "Automobile"

Following my post on Thursday (when I wrote some personal thoughts on Ballot Question #3 in Massachusetts), my friend Scott jokingly asked if I was going to write blog posts about the other two Ballot Questions. 

Actually, I was planning on writing about Question #2 on Monday, believe it or not.  Though more in a peripheral way.

But I might as well do a post about Ballot Question #1.

It's called the "Right To Repair" law, and if passed it would mean that auto makers and dealers would have to share diagnostic and repair information with independent auto repair shops.  Currently, they can keep that information to themselves, preventing independent shops from doing certain repairs.

Honestly, I don't know the issue so well.  I'm all for the sharing---which is consumer-friendly and should make auto repair more competitive.  But I'm also leery of government forcing inventors/creators, to share proprietary intellectual property.

Too much thinking for a Sunday.

Instead, let's just listen to John Prine sing about a broken down car.

(But if you want some good information, with balanced pros and cons, visit the state's site for a sample ballot and further information about this specific question.)

Hear the song on Youtube.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Ben Sollee "A Few Honest Words"

Sadly, I'm not sure there is a single candidate, in any race, that fits the simple criteria that Ben Sollee sings about here . . .

But during this ugly, mean, wall-to-wall negative political ad season, his call to action---to vote thoughtfully---is perhaps the most powerful, moving "ad" I've seen.

Ben Sollee - "A Few Honest Words" at the Lincoln Memorial from Mason Jar Music on Vimeo.

See the video on Youtube.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Mountain Goats "Cry For Judas"

My friend Ross turned me on to this band---how had I never listened to Mountain Goats?  He/They have been making records since the mid-90s and somehow I’ve never crossed paths with them.

Now that November has arrived, this is the time of year that I love discovering records.  New releases grind to a halt, and so it’s an opportunity to either a) go back and relisten to records from earlier in the year that we might have missed or b) go out on a limb and play an artist that might stretch the boundaries of the mvyradio “sound.”

The danger, as a programmer, with taking a header, is that you tend to lean on your personal tastes.  Which, when I’m being objective, is something I try to avoid.

That’s a good time to turn outward and ask for advice.

I love this song.  But does it sound like an mvy song to you?

One of the things I love about this track, is that despite a series of memorable and provocative lyrics (“Mistreat your altar boys long enough, and this is what you get”) I have no idea what the track is about.  The even more provocative video doesn’t clarify anything, just adds to the mystery . . .

Hear the song on Youtube.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dave Matthews Band "Tripping Billies"

“You know, the cops are never going to buy this.  Smoking dope outside a Dave Matthews Band concert.  They’re going to look us and say ‘Yeah, right.’”

We DID seem like a cliché.  Two young folks, with sloppy looking clothes and slopey looking knit caps, red-eyed and smiling, sitting in a parked car outside a concert arena in Providence following a Dave Matthews show, smelling---reeking, really---of pot.

If a police officer tapped on our windows, he’d have a hard time telling the difference between the thousands of other stoners outside the show, and us.

“I’ll just show them my scar,” she said.

Amy had cancer.  Brain tumors.  She’d been through radiation.  And now she was going through months and months of chemotherapy.

There’s not much you can do that makes you feel valuable, when a family member has to walk down that hard road of heavy duty drugs, exhausting tests, extreme weight-loss and the crushing bouts of depression that come with cancer taking over their life and their focus.

The best you can do as a brother, is try to bring some lightness, some mental relief and a distraction.

It was good news that on the night of the show, Amy was feeling well enough to go see her favorite band.  When I’d given her the tickets as a present, we were both nervous that she wouldn't have the energy and ability to last through a whole night out.

Amy was hard to read, so I’m not 100% sure she enjoyed the show.  I mean, she smiled and said she liked it.  But it wasn’t like Amy to be jumping up and down, screaming at a concert, whether she had cancer or not.

When we got back to the car after the show, she pulled a sub sandwich out of her backpack.  We’d bought in on the ride down to Providence, but she wasn’t feeling well enough to eat it before the show.

“Do you mind?” she asked, with a raised eyebrow.  I knew exactly what she meant.

I was not a pot smoker.  I mean, I had tried it.  I DID inhale.  But I never enjoyed the sensation of being high.  Where it relaxes some, and increases pleasure for others, pot just made me itchy in my own skin.  So somewhere not too long after college, I just stopped pretending it was fun to try.

But I knew plenty of people who smoked for the enjoyment of it, and I didn’t really have any ethical problem with that.  I wasn’t crazy about friends smoking dope in my car---because I would be on the hook if we got pulled over by the police---but for Amy, I could make an exception.

Besides, she knew how to win over any police officer.

“I’ll just show them my scar,” she said.

Amy had several brain tumors, the largest of which they were able to remove, surgically.  So on top of being mostly bald due to the radiation, she had a 10+ inch L-shaped scar on the left side of her skull.  And though she mostly kept it under a wool cap, she wasn’t afraid to show it if nececessary.

Now, to be clear, Amy liked smoking pot long before she got cancer.

But there is also no doubt, that smoking pot during her treatments aided her immeasurably.

In the space of a year and a half, Amy had gone from just over 140 pounds to just barely above 100 pounds.  And a large part of the problem was the difficulty she had, eating.

The chemicals coursing through her body made radical changes to the way food tasted.  And, more often, it sapped her of her appetite.  At a certain point the only thing that gave her an appetite, was a quick toke before a meal.

My Mother was an operating room nurse.  To this day, I have never been on a motorcycle, because of the innumerable times Mom came home from work to tell us about the guy they had tried (and occasionally, failed) to put back together after he crashed his bike.

As teens we were give very direct, honest and real information about sex---the biology, and the potential consequences.  For this reason (coupled with my own ineptitude), I remained a virgin longer than any of my friends.

And we were given frank talks about drugs.  Strangely, of all three, this one included not only that straight information about the potential negative impacts of illegal drugs . . . more than the others, drug use also seemed to equal some kind of moral failure to Mom.

Which was why I was shocked during one of the holidays when the entire extended family was at our house, that Mom pulled me aside and said, "I need you to take your sister for a ride."

While she couldn't bring herself to be around someone smoking pot, she wanted Amy to be able to eat and enjoy her meals---especially on a holiday.  So I drove around Newburyport for 15 minutes while Amy got high in the passenger seat.  Then we ate ham and lasanga.

Somewhere, Mom had come around to marijuana for its practical, medicinal value.

With all of the noise here in Massachusetts surrounding the Presidential race and the Brown/Warren Senate race, you may or may not be aware that there is a Ballot Question that would end the criminalization of marijuana for medical use.

To be clear, this does not make marijuana legal for general use.  It does not mean you can walk around smoking pot even if you are sick.  It does not legally require your doctor to prescribe medical marijuana.

It seems to be a detailed bill, with a number of caveats to make it clear that it is authorizing the legal use of marijuana in a fairly narrow set of circumstances.

I'm going to guess that a lot of you who are my peers who read this blog, are perfectly comfortable with the idea of medicinal marijuana.  So I'm not trying to convert you.  But what about your Mom?  Is she like my Mom?  Does she feel like drug use is a moral failing and so she's thinking about voting against Ballot Question 3?  Maybe you should talk to her a bit before Tuesday.

People who advocate for the decriminalization of pot have a lot of salient arguments are to why it should be legal for general use.  You can find their points online.  I'm not here to sell you on that.

I AM here to suggest that a cancer patient who doesn't have the umphh necessary to eat a tuna sub without the aid of marijuana, shouldn't also have to worry that a police officer may arrest her.  Even if it is outside a Dave Matthews Band concert.

Read the full ballot question, plus For and Against viewpoints.

Hear the song on Youtube.