Pretty. Ugly. Deadly. (Saturday morning frost, or the new Oasis album.)
"No Idle Threat," Corvallis, OR (Jan. 2021)
CADGED FROM THE INTERNET
"No Idle Saxophones," Oxfordshire, UK (Feb. 1978)
Sorry, I would have written/published this yesterday, but winter threw a tantrum and snuffed my power. I woke up Saturday to an already dying phone (the dangerous neglect of 82%) and a fridge packed with fresh rotting groceries.
After showering in darkness, I ventured outside to survey the aftermath of Friday’s hissy: fallen trees wracked with frost, plants entombed in ice. I spotted Democrat-Herald photographer Mark Ylen documenting the morning-after damnation on downtown Albany’s Ninth Avenue. He didn’t see me, though. Too "busy," I guess, "working." Day off, supposedly, yet any good journalist feels them coverage pangs, driven outdoors to Be There Now by some infernal need. Me, I’m just a gawker with a phone and time to kill.
You may have noticed coverage-wise that I’ve skipped a few weeks. That’s due in part to my general laziness and the overabundance of jack-squat happening, but also because Jennifer Moody’s Kay Roth feature was worth it as both tribute to our friend Kay (we all knew her; it's stiill strange to speak of her retrospectively), who deserved the extended focus, and to Jennifer’s heartfelt prose. Better’n mine, for sure.
We followed with a large piece/interview on The People vs. Agent Orange, which I kept in the lead position a week or two past its Darkside engagement. The documentary, set to air this summer on PBS, is worth your time as scrutiny of sadly forgotten Oregon traumas.
It’s a story worth telling, and I wish it generated more readership interest than stray Facebook comments on the Vietnam War, which is a very critical if ultimately small part of the historic horrors that went down less than 40 miles from here. That should scare the shit out of you. But, hey, maybe I failed.
On to this week. Props to Oregon State University’s Erin Sneller for scoring me a sit-down with Alligator Records’ Shemekia Copeland, a phenomenally soulful belter o’ blues whose running commentary digs past the genre’s usual topical range (broken hearts, murderous revenge for broken hearts, emotional malaise) to make statements on modern plagues. Her 2020 album, Uncivil War, is a triumphantly searing condemnation of now. Thanks, Erin, for helping Mid Valley Noise land prominent, national-stage voices. (The Issue 2 Sarah Jarosz connection was her doing as well.) I hope to continue this trend whenever possible. And we will. Sooner than you think. Even I know a few tricks.
CORREX DEPT.: Totes biffage on the Majestic Theatre’s Sherlock Holmes, misidentifying the detective’s address in a subhead as Downing Street, where the U.K. prime minister lurks. Holmes, of course, has forever lived on Baker Street. I blame both age and a pop-effluvia'd cranium: To my generation, “Baker Street” is a Gerry Rafferty single with a particularly juicy Raphael Ravenscroft sax riff (CLICK THIS LINK IMMEDIATELY YOU'RE WELCOME) — not exactly Holmesian, unless he dug Hawaiian shirts and Riunite on ice. My apologies to the cast for the spirit of 1978 overshadowing Victorian-era literature.
P.S.: My interview with Martha Benson took place at 10:15 p.m. Thursday. I could barely keep my eyes open, my half-questions a slurry of malformed pseudo-thought. (Us old dudes with Gerry Rafferty on the brain have early bedtimes.) But she was a sport, thank God, weathering my calisthenics with aplomb. What I endure for my audience of seven.
Anyway, as we say in the inexplicable-essay-conclusion biz: Toodles. Keep the cards and letters coming. And if you can’t summon the verbiage for either, just say, “Hi.” Send me your sax solos. Test me on streets to keep me honest.