Friday, September 30, 2005

Keep it local

When I want a quick, healthy meal with minimal prep or fuss, I'm not out of luck. More and more I venture across the street to the Willy Street Co-op, the natural-foods emporium whose deli counter has hot dishes every night. These are generally tasty, and always wholesome. Last night I had tuna casserole and a squash gratin, and I bellied up to the salad bar. Delicious! The process feels a little like the cafeteria back in college, but more vegan.

I can't sing the praises of the Co-op enough, especially in light of a recent thread on Isthmus' Daily Page Forum. Someone wrote to complain of rudeness from a clerk, and others piled on. Now c'mon: I've certainly had a run-in or two there, but I chalked them up to the eccentric charm of the place and learned which lines to avoid. Dissing the Co-op seems unproductive. In the words of Sinead O'Connor: Fight the real enemy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Good word

Correction Appended

"Bad manners and bad breath will get you nowhere."

--Elvis Costello

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Seasons change, feelings change

The New York Times
began charging for access to some of its content, including the opinion columnists. This comes as a bit of a surprise after a long interval of free Times articles -- I believe I first registered with the Times online nearly ten years ago. But oh well.

I probably will bite the bullet and cough up the fifty bucks per annum. But I haven't decided yet. The day they started charging I signed up for the free two-week trial, which ends Monday. So I have till Monday.

But I'll probably pay.
The big city

Saw Jerry Seinfeld at Overture Center on Friday. Funny. I vow to avoid sitting in that top balcony again, though. I haven't had vertigo like that since the last White Sox home game I went to.

Across the street from Overture, the Icelandic rockers Sigur Ros was playing at the Orpheum, and the difference between the two crowds could not have been more amusing. The typical Sigur Ros fan had blue hair and sat on the sidewalk smoking a clove. The typical Seinfeld fan wore khakis.

Monday, September 26, 2005


So I'm in. I just bought, on eBay, a single ticket to the long-sold-out Paul McCartney show in Milwaukee Oct. 23. The seat seems reasonably good and the price not terribly extravagant, all things considered. But I have now spent the most I've ever spent on a concert ticket.

I've had Sir Paul on the brain lately, because his new CD, Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, is getting the best critical notices for a McCartney release since at least 1982's Tug of War -- which was a favorite of mine in fifth grade. I still haven't heard the new one, though there's plenty of time. But thanks to the public library I have been delving deep into the McCartney catalog, and I'm surprised how much I've enjoyed tracks on records like 1979's Back to the Egg and 1978's London Town. And it has even been nice to revisit albums I already am familiar with, from cassette tapes bought long ago, and lost or destroyed long ago: albums like Tug of War and its 1983 follow-up Pipes of Peace (yes, Charles, I like that record, especially the title song).

But let's face it, Paul McCartney didn't become a forever kind of international pop icon on the strength of his solo career. Which brings up a conversation I had recently with Adam Davis, Madison pedal-steel player extraordinaire and, like me, a member of the honkytonk band the World's Greatest Lovers. On the drive back from a gig in Lake Mills, I asked him what album he had listened to the most times. His response: Miles Davis' Kind of Blue, as unassailable a response to that question as I can imagine. He then posed the question to me, and I didn't even have to think before I replied: the Beatles' Abbey Road, to these ears a perfect record.

Yes, I am a Beatles freak of long standing, though I did most of my Beatle listening in high school, when my father gave me a pearl of great price: a box set of all the Fab Four's British releases, on vinyl -- this a couple of years before they came out on CD. I was hooked, and I've been hooked ever since. And although like any disaffected teenager, I identified strongly with John Lennon, I loved McCartney's songs, too, and his singing -- especially on sweetly melodic tunes like "Michelle," "Here, There and Everywhere," "Eleanor Rigby," "She's Leaving Home," "Yesterday," "Blackbird," "Mother Nature's Son," "Fool on the Hill" and so forth.

I once vowed to see musical legends when I get the chance, and I'm so grateful to have experienced performances by the likes of Bill Monroe, Johnny Cash, Hank Snow and Waylon Jennings. I thought about that vow when I learned the Rolling Stones are mounting yet another tour, but can I tell you a secret? Although I like their music, they always left me a little cold. And so I think I will skip the Stones once again.

McCartney, on the other hand -- McCartney!

And so next month I will journey alone to the Brewtown to see the Cute Beatle and, in all likelihood, cry when he sings "Yesterday," just as I cried two years ago when I finally got to hear George Jones sing "She Thinks I Still Care," at the Wisconsin Valley Fair in Wausau.

I plan to scream a lot, too.