Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Soda versus pop... don't forget Coke

Forget the shocking cold in the winter or the sticky humidity in the summer.
The biggest culture shock when I came to college in IOWA all those years ago was that when people wanted a Pepsi or Coke, they asked for a POP.
Pop? What do you mean? Do you want a SODA?
Thanks to a map produced by the Department of Cartography and Geography at EAST CENTRAL UNIVERSITY (OKLAHOMA), I now understand the basic scenario leading to my initial confusion.
I came from CALIFORNIA, where the word "soda" almost universally means the sweet, carbonated beverage that people in Iowa mostly call "pop."
I have lived in Iowa 15 years and I still call it "soda," but my daughters (confusingly) call it "pop."
Intriguingly, the soda versus pop question becomes moot when you travel south.
Last December, I visited ATLANTA, where the Southerners all call it "COKE."

Monday, January 30, 2012

There's real warmth in these songs

I know I shouldn't think about SPRING yet, but our high temperatures should reach the 40s all week and CRICKET returns to the radio by week's end.
I cannot help but think about spring.
That's why I selected an album I've always associated with warm weather to accompany my driving today.
"THE KINKS ARE THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY" is rife with warm-weather imagery, from small parks in summertime to the aforementioned cricket.
Songs such as "Big Sky" and "Sitting by the Riverside" only really sound right on days when the only ice sits in a glass of drinks, not on the sidewalk.
As WINTER has proven through earlier actions, the seasonable c-c-c-cold will surely return. Until then, I will indulge in some warmer pleasures, like this album by THE KINKS.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Enjoying Drake's first flowering

It's a quiet SUNDAY morning, with coffee to sip and NICK DRAKE music to enjoy.
I'm listening to "FIVE LEAVES LEFT," the 1969 debut described by writer R.J. Smith in a 2001 Los Angeles Magazine article as an album "full of vivid, precise string arrangements and mixed feelings."
Drake's music can haunt unlike any other I have heard. It could be the whispering vocals married to the grave lyrics, or it could be what we have all learned about Drake -- a career of inexplicably missed commercial success abruptly cut short by a fatal overdose of antidepressants.
Smith writes:
"He seemed to just appear one day, with a fully bloomed guitar style and voice that sounded like something off the moors. Then, almost as quickly, he stopped coming by."
"BRYTER LAYTER" and the stark "PINK MOON" are Drake's other towering classics, and I love hearing them, too.
However, this morning just seems more suited to Drake's first flowering.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The "All-India" Tour of 1911

I'm listening to PAKISTAN playing ENGLAND on the radio online while reading a fascinating story from the annals of cricket.
Dr. Prashant Kidambi, an historian with the UNIVERSITY OF LEICESTER, penned an essay in the 2011 WISDEN about the landmark "ALL-INDIA" TOUR OF ENGLAND of 1911.
The tour was the first by a truly combined team of Indians -- Parsis, Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims all took part.
Kidambi writes:
"The tour had indeed shown that Indians of different communities could play alongside each other, and thereby inaugurated a new idea of India on the sporting field."
The captain was a prince, Bhupinder Singh, the Maharaja of Patiala, and the best player was the star bowler, an "untouchable," Palwankar Baloo.
The team initially struggled in England, and rumors told of sectarian divisions among the players of such varied backgrounds.
The team improved toward the tour's end, however, and returned having learned much about the type of sporting excursions undertaken early in the 20th century, traveling by boat and train, and encountering alien cultures along the way.

Friday, January 27, 2012

All creatures great and small and so, so funny

Here at ROUTE 1 H.Q., our crack team of Whatever-It-Is-We-Do-Heres includes two CATS and a DOG. These three provide hours of enjoyment, apart from the times they beg for pizza scraps or bits of tuna sandwiches.
We wondered about the joyful antics of the pets of our readers, which prompted this week's FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What's the funniest thing you've seen a pet do?"
INGER H. -- I think Rudy took the cake when we were playing on the bed, and something I did startled him so much that he flew backwards as if being shot from a cannon and ended up falling on the floor. I cried I laughed so hard.
LAURA C. -- Niko has, on more than one occasion, peed on his own face. He doesn't lift his leg to pee, so at times, when he really, really has to go, the stream is strong enough that it hits the backs of his front legs...which startles him, so he looks down to see what's going on...and...POW!
KERI M. -- My pet dives into the snow and comes out and looks at us like he is waiting for us to judge his dive.
BEKAH P. -- This is funny/sad. I had a blind dog. An adorable dog, but a very, very blind dog. So, when I would drive up the driveway, this blind dog and the three other dogs would coming running out, barking. But this poor puppy was always running/facing/barking in the wrong direction.
ROSEANNE H. -- Our poodle, Flanigan licks his lips when asked if he is hungry.
KERSTIN H. -- This weekend we got a bag of pipe cleaners for Lorelei to play with and we put them on a stool. She pulled all of them off 1 by 1 and then meowed for us to put them back on it so she could do it all again.
JIM S. -- Our old cat Tabby, who was de-clawed in the front because we had two young kids (and lots of furniture!), would chase squirrels about 15 feet up a walnut tree, then suddenly realize his only grip was his hind feet. He'd then turn around, give in to gravity and scamper down. Also, legend has it that when I was about 4, my dad and his buddies once let our little dog Joe drink some leftover Hamm's beer. He lost his balance and tipped over off our short front porch. (No injuries and just slightly tipsy.)
SANDYE V. -- My tuxedo cat, Cupid, plays a game with us. We hide Baby, his little stuffed cat, and (only when we are out of the house) he finds it and leaves it by the door. Occasionally we've caught him retrieving it. He makes weird noises and attacks it with his hind legs --- until he sees us watching. Then he drops it like a hot potato and walks away.
ANNIKA H. -- Open the door with a bra . . . Lorelei.
STACEY B. -- Bear (a large dog) treats a ZhuZhu Pet as his baby. For three weeks now, Bear has carried the toy in his mouth, licked the toy clean and slept near the toy. He freaks out if the toy goes missing.
BOB H. -- When I take Flanigan shopping and he gets bored, he takes his leash in his mouth and tries to lead ME out of the store.
MARY N.-P. -- OMG don't get me started - we have the funniest pets ever, mostly our cats, and they have us chuckling daily. If I have to pick a couple of best: 1 - Rolly, who stands on his hind legs to paw on glass doors or windows whenever another cat is outside. He'll do it for 5-10 minutes at a time. Don't know if he is trying to get through the glass or trying to attract their attention or what. 2 - Gracie, who "fetches" balls and toy mousies that we bounce down the stairs. She trots back up with them in her mouth, like a retriever, and drops them on the floor (not near you of course).
ERIK H. -- Our "dog" (if it seems like I use the term loosely, you'll soon find out why) has lived with our two cats a little too long, we think. Along with begging for tuna, perching on the top of the couch, sprawling in a rectangle of sun on the floor and eating Meow Mix, Rory the wannabe cat is fixated upon a squeaky mouse toy. Actually, fixated is not a strong enough description for the single-minded, if not manic, obsession that grips Rory when she hears the squeak (pictured). Once she has the toy mouse on the floor, Rory attempts to kick it with all four paws at once before unleashing a slobbering attack by mouth.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Happy Australia Day!

Happy AUSTRALIA DAY everybody!
I plan on listening to Aussie band HUNTERS & COLLECTORS and reading about CRICKET to celebrate.
Actually, that's how I spent NOT AUSTRALIA DAY as well...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Trash Can Sinatras, the coast and Third Lanark (R.I.P.)

I can never hear THE TRASH CAN SINATRAS without thinking of drives along the curving highway along the wind-swept coast of SONOMA COUNTY, CALIF.
No matter that FRANK READER and the rest of the band hailed from far-off IRVINE, SCOTLAND. I'll always associate the band and its brilliant debut album, "CAKE," with the coastal route because I listened to them constantly during summers off from college, driving along those roads to the beach.
I listened to the album, including the hits "Obscurity Knocks," "Only Tongue Can Tell" and "Circling the Circumference," while reading about British football in the 1950s tonight.
In particular, I was reading about Scottish football clubs, such as the late, great THIRD LANARK. Between 1872 and 1967, the "Thirds" were the GLASGOW club for supporters who wanted to enjoy football without the sectarian connotations of city giants RANGERS and CELTIC.
The Trash Can Sinatras' timeless, jangly sound is a great accompaniment to reading about defunct Scottish football clubs, too.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The little Scottish map that taught so much

I listened to "THIS IS THE STORY," the debut album by THE PROCLAIMERS today, and couldn't help but think about a weathered, rather tattered, map book that's among my prized possessions.
"THE BARTHOLOMEW SCOTTISH FOOTBALL MAP" (circa 1978) seemed like a communication from some alien world to a 12-year-old boy growing up a soccer fanatic in suburban CALIFORNIA.
The map constantly taught me.
It told of teams with interesting names like "Queen of the South," "Partick Thistle" and "Alloa Athletic" and it featured such exotic locales as Brechin, Stranraer and Methil.
I learnt about the exploits of managers like Jock Stein and Willie Waddell, and of star players such as Asa Hartford, Danny McGrain and Alan Rough.
I learnt that Raith Rovers weren't from a place called "Raith," but are actually based in a place called Kirkcaldy, that chandeliers hung from the ceiling of Ibrox and that Berwick Rangers were the strangest anomaly of all -- an ENGLISH team playing in the Scottish league.
Today was a grey day, the Proclaimers were stridently singing, and I remembered the little illustrations of the shirts of Scotland. It was fine memory.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Stung by Niners' loss, Kelly reports

I feel stung twice tonight.
Shortly before the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS lost, 20-17, in overtime to the NEW YORK GIANTS in the NFC Championship game, multiple reports began emerging that CHIP KELLY, football coach of MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS, was close to finalizing a deal to become the next coach of the NFL's TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS.
Say it ain't so -- squared.
The Niners' defense played well, but the offense did not -- barring a few big plays. Punt returner Kyle Williams also contributed to San Francisco's downfall, muffing one return and fumbling another to set up two crucial New York scores -- including the game-winning field goal by Lawrence Tynes.
Soccer and cricket will consume my sporting attention now, until rugby league and baseball return in a couple of months.
Yeah... I still might have to cue up one of those SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS WORLD SERIES DVDs to ease my troubled mind.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The wonders of Wisden

Each morning this week I woke up early to listen to online commentary of the ENGLAND v. PAKISTAN cricket Test being played in neutral DUBAI.
Pakistan (338 & 15-0) defeated England (192 & 160) by 10 wickets to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. Spinner Saeed Ajmal took 10 wickets in the match for Pakistan.
Each lunchtime this week, I buried my nose into one of my CHRISTMAS gifts.
The WISDEN CRICKETERS' ALMANACK is the 149-year-old, annual Bible of the sport, a yearbook, record book and rule book all wrapped in one hefty package.
I've always wanted one, so I was delighted when I received the 2011 edition at Yuletide.
Open the book to any of the 1,648 pages, and you can find nuggets about the sport and its personalities.
For example:
* Page 199, where the obituary for Gerald Percival Plumbly notes that the former president of the Stoics Cricket Club "was a Marylebone vet who treated an astonishing variety of animals in Central London, ranging from the Queen's horses to circus animals, and once had to rescue a Soho stripper who has being strangled by a boa constrictor."
* Page 703, where we're told the Birmingham & District League is the oldest such cricket league in the world, and that Shrewsbury won the 2010 title -- its first -- after bowler Elliot Green took nine wickets for only 77 runs scored against.
* Page 1,187, where we learn cricket is being revived in the Solomon Islands, where it had previously thrived during British colonial rule. Games are played every Sunday on a concrete wicket covered by a grass-colored mat.
I don't I will ever read every single page of my Wisden -- there are simply so many -- but I love being able to thumb through it, collecting bits of cricket knowledge and adding them to my ever increasing pile, like a religious zealot compiling shells and other trinkets while constructing a grotto.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Good eatin' the Friday Question way

Here at ROUTE 1, we don't get out much. In fact, our attempt at "nightlife" often descends to the level of corndogs and "Rushmore" on DVD (but enough about what we did last night).
That's why we're keenly anticipating the answers to this week's FRIDAY QUESTION (because we can *dream,* can't we):
"What restaurants near you would you recommend to visitors, and why?"
STEVE M. -- If someone came to DC they should check out the Old Ebbit Grill on 15th St. Straight across the street from the Treasury Building, and only a couple of blocks from the While House. It has a cigar bar /oyster bar vibe at the bar, and good-sized sit down restaurant for meals. Huge 19th-century-looking mural on the wall, and an extra bar and seating in the back for a quieter experience. You feel like a senator or two should be in the place at all times. What's good? The breakfasts are good, and the bacon blue cheese burgers, among other things.
RICK T. -- Coastal Restaurant on US 98 in Panacea, Florida. Best grilled grouper you ever ate.
BRIAN M. -- In Grants Pass, Oregon, I would recommend several places. If you're looking for an informal lunch place, I'd try the Laughing Clam on G Street. There's no TV, so you won't see sports there. Good fish'n'chips, jambalaya. A great microbrew (and pizza) is Wild River Brewing Co., either the restaurant or the smaller "pub," both on F Street. A gem during the summer is Summer Jo's, on a farm a couple miles west of town. Interesting, organic dishes, good local wine, comfortable outdoor seating and usually live music.
LAURA C. -- L'ardoise for cozy ambiance and yummy French bistro fare...and if you're lucky enough to get a reservation, Frances. Their summer corn soup is the single best thing I have ever eaten.
SANDYE V. -- I would have to say, turn around and go back to Platteville, Galena or Dubuque, because there are no restaurants in my adopted hometown, Benton. They could get a good pizza or burger at the Wigwam Bar in Hazel Green, 7 miles away, but the ambiance is .... lacking...
MARY N.-P. -- We always tell folks in Bellevue to try out the Happy Bean, sometimes called Water Street Market, for its nearly always fabulous gourmet dishes and desserts. With a change of chefs, I personally don't know how things are going there now, so I will hold off until I know for sure they are continuing the wonderful tradition they are/were famous for...
ERIK H. -- Here in Dubuque, some of the best places to eat are either off the beaten path or disguised as simple, neighborhood taverns. The Bier Stube, a tavern a couple of blocks from my house, serves up delicious, home-cooked German food, complete with big slices of buttered rye bread. Does it taste good washed down with a German beer from the tap? Does it ever!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Johnny Otis, R.I.P.

The pioneering R&B performer, VALLEJO, CALIF.-born JOHNNY OTIS, has died age 90.
He was the man who launched the HAND JIVE craze.
JILL I saw him perform once at his small night club in SEBASTOPOL, CALIF.
The son of Greek immigrants, Otis chose to live among the black community, which I believe helped remove some of the race barriers in music at the time.
I've got a pair of Otis albums -- one from the 1940s ("BE BOP BABY BLUES") and one from the 1990s ("SPIRIT OF THE BLACK TERRITORY BANDS"). I'll listen to them today in tribute.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The songs of Wes Anderson

I tinkered with my iPod last night, creating a playlist of some of the most memorable songs from the first three films of WES ANDERSON.
"2000 Man" by The Rolling Stones is there -- it plays during the climax of "BOTTLE ROCKET."
"Judy is a Punk" by the Ramones is on there -- the insanely catchy song punctuates "THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS."
"RUSHMORE" is the best-represented film in my playlist of songs, for good reason. I think it's Anderson's greatest mix of music and movie.
"Making Time" by The Creation, "Concrete and Clay" by Unit 4+2 and "Ooh La La" by the Faces are all included.
I just don't the exact order! That's why I plan on watching "Rushmore" on DVD tonight. Does Cat Stevens' "Here Comes My Baby" appear before or after The Rolling Stones' "I am Waiting?" I'll find out tonight.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Farewell to my Golden Gate brick

How's this for a rude awakening?
I woke up today, checked email, and read a startling newspaper article my sister INGER forwarded to me.
About 7,500 commemorative bricks purchased as part of the 50th anniversary of the GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE will be demolished this week, part of an effort to make the pathway near the bridge compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
That means the ERIK HOGSTROM BRICK will be no more, and I never had an opportunity to show it to my daughters, KERSTIN and ANNIKA.
"ERIK HOGSTROM COLLEGE GRAD 88" is the brick's inscription.
I have long viewed it as a symbol: It's the part of me that remains at a place I love, even though I am thousands of miles away.
We tried in vain to find the brick during a family vacation to my hometown SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA.
Determined to finally locate the brick, my detective work eventually paid off. I felt unmatched euphoria when I finally found it.
I have visited my brick twice since, even introducing it to my wife JILL and Inger (feet pictured).
I never got to show the girls, though. That's why today's article was such a rude awakening.
Good bye brick. Now, I'll have to rely on my memories of home, instead of a symbolic "anchor."

Monday, January 16, 2012

Niners' success is like turning back the clock

The SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS' success in the postseason feels like a clock has been turned back a couple decades for me.
I have closely followed the 49ers since childhood, so I experienced all five SUPER BOWL victories from the team's glory years.
I admit, I was surprised the NEW YORK GIANTS defeated the GREEN BAY PACKERS so relatively easily last night.
Now, the Giants must travel to San Francisco, where the Niners are 18-4 in home playoff games since 1980.
San Francisco beat New York earlier this season at CANDLESTICK PARK, 27-20.
I'm not sure how about the outcome of this coming Sunday's game, but I am sure seeing the Niners one win away from the Super Bowl will turn back the clock once more.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Jumping around the house, whooping like a banshee

The casual observer might have looked at the conclusion of SAN FRANCISCO'S 36-32 NFL PLAYOFF triumph over NEW ORLEANS with mild to moderate interest at the spectacle.
Me, I jumped around the house and whooped like a banshee.
Much-maligned quarterback ALEX SMITH set a roller coaster into motion when he raced down the sidelines for a 28-yard touchdown run with 2:11 remaining.
Drew Brees of the Saints was never going to go quietly, although his 66-yard scoring pass to Jimmy Graham with 1:37 left quieted both the CANDLESTICK PARK crowd and my house.
I adore the 49ers -- they and the SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS are the two teams I grew up cheering, through thick (five Super Bowl titles) and thin (recent drab, losing seasons).
When the 49ers returned to the field, I sat quietly watching, hoping Smith could at least engineer a drive to get the team into field goal range.
Smith did more than that. Finally seeming to come into his own as an NFL player, he passed to tight end VERNON DAVIS for a 47-yard gain, then two plays later found Davis at the goal line for a 14-yard scoring strike with 9 seconds left.
I erupted like a microcosm of the pandemonium sweeping through the stadium.
The buzz lingered for hours.
Sports can do that sort of thing to a person. I think that's why we need sports.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Led Zep Week: Bootlegs are bad, yes? Well...

You can't celebrate *LED ZEP WEEK* without a mention of the thriving BOOTLEG scene, eh?
I am listening to "FOR BADGEHOLDERS ONLY" this morning before I head to work.
"Welcome to three hours of lunacy," ROBERT PAGE tells the LOS ANGELES FORUM crowd on June 23, 1977 before the band launches into a brief snippet of "THE ROVER" that segues into "SICK AGAIN."
It's a magical LED ZEPPELIN moment that wouldn't be possible without the illicit taping of the concert.
Led Zeppelin manager PETER GRANT would famously storm into record shops and smash bootlegs of the band, and he instructed security staff to toss out concert audience members suspected of having outlawed recording equipment.
Still, the bootlegging continued, offering an alternative document of the biggest band on the planet at the time.
Sure, the sound quality isn't always the best. The bootlegs do give a sense of the experience.
In the case of "For Badgeholders Only," the bootleg provides a parting impression of Led Zeppelin: The band never toured America again after that 1977 cross-country jaunt.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Led Zep Week: All of our favorites

We hope you have enjoyed *LED ZEP WEEK* as much as we have.
The success of a single-themed week of posts at ROUTE 1 prompted officials to consider future series. Tentative plans call for weeks devoted to KARLHEINZ STOCKHAUSEN, GRANDPA JONES and KIDZ BOP.
For now, let us celebrate the legacy of LED ZEPPELIN by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"What is your favorite Led Zeppelin song?"
KERI M. -- "D'yer Maker."
MARY N.-P. -- Oh God this is embarrassing, but it's actually the much-maligned and parodied "Stairway to Heaven."
JIM S. -- As usual with music questions, it's too tough for me to pick just one. "Trampled Underfoot," "Rock and Roll" and "Over the Hills and Far Away" stand out, but I also can't leave out "D'yer Maker," "Whole Lotta Love" and "Fool in the Rain." My favorite album is "Houses of the Holy," and the most overplayed (and perhaps over-rated) is "Stairway to Heaven."
BRIAN M. -- It's so hard to pick a Led Zeppelin song just because it had so many phases to its career and had so many aspects to its music. But for right now, I'll go with "Since I've Been Loving You."
ANNIKA H. -- Who's Led Zeppelin? JUST KIDDING I don't know what my favorite is.
BRIAN C. -- "Living Loving Maid," especially right after "Heartbreaker."
SASKIA M. -- "Kashmir!!!!!!!!" (but I admit: I'm a sucker for "Stairway to Heaven" as well).
ERIK H. -- My favorite Led Zeppelin song changes every day. Some days, it's "The Rover," with its guitar-effects swagger, some days it's "Black Dog," with its incredibly complicated, endlessly looping riff and other days it's the beautiful, country tinged "Tangerine."
Today, my favorite is actually a trio of songs -- the three-song introduction to Side 2 (dating myself) of "Led Zeppelin II."
"Heartbreaker" features an indelible, crushing riff and Jimmy Page's non sequitur guitar solo; "Living, Loving Maid" sounds to me like an amped-up version of a bouncy, 1950s rock-n-roll jukebox classic; and "Ramble On" impresses with its wild, soft-to-loud dynamics and exquisite acoustic guitar playing. All three demonstrate not just the boundless talent of Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham, but the breadth of styles employed by the band.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Led Zep Week: You can't forget the Danelectro

I have few complaints about NIGEL WILLIAMSON'S "THE ROUGH GUIDE TO LED ZEPPELIN," the comprehensive biography/discography of the band I have been reading during *LED ZEP WEEK.*
I do have at least one minor quibble.
The Page 79 feature on the guitars of JIMMY PAGE refers to Gibsons, Fenders, 12-strings, double-necks and acoustic guitars -- but makes no mention of the most surprising axe in the guitarist's arsenal.
Associated with the SEARS, ROEBUCK catalog, the DANELECTRO was considered the "beginner guitar of the post-war Baby Boom generation," according to "TOTALLY GUITAR: THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE" by Tony Bacon and Dave Hunter.
Page used the humble Danelectro for a specific and important role in LED ZEPPELIN -- it was the guitar of choise for slide playing.
He first used the guitar in the YARDBIRDS, tuning it in a modal fashion.
By the time Led Zep took flight, Page used the Danelectro for the "WHITE SUMMER/BLACK MOUNTAIN SIDE" medley on tours.
He also used it for such live favorites as "When the Levee Breaks," "Kashmir" and "In My Time of Dying."
Page thought enough about the Danelectro to use it during the band's 1988 reunion at the Atlantic Records' 40th Anniversary concert.
For a guitar of "low birth," Page's Danelectro gained a high profile.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Led Zep Week: Scenes from Danmarks Radio Broadcast, 17 March 1969

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Led Zep Week: Unknowns discover something special

I'm reading "THE ROUGH GUIDE TO LED ZEPPELIN" during *LED ZEP WEEK* and after reading about the band members' backgrounds, I have reached the fledgling early days.
Although they eventually rose to ROCK GOD status, the band originally set forth as a rather risky proposition -- a pair of session musicians combined with a pair of unknowns.
Even the earliest rehearsals convinced one of the unknowns -- vocalist ROBERT PLANT -- that the quartet were onto something special.
Plant explained:
"Although we were all steeped in blues and R&B , we found in that first hour-and-a-half that we had out that we had our own identity. I could feel that something was happening within myself and to everyone else in the room. It felt like we'd found something that we had to really be careful of because we might lose it. The power of it was remarkable."
They found something remarkable and enduring, as well all subsequently learned.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Led Zep Week: Is "Beck's Bolero" the first Led Zep tune?

We open *LED ZEP WEEK* here at ROUTE 1 by posing a question:
Is "BECK'S BOLERO" the first LED ZEPPELIN song?
The instrumental recorded in May 1966 (a very, *very* good month of that year) combined the talents of guitarists JEFF BECK and JIMMY PAGE and employed a Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame-quality rhythm section, with JOHN PAUL JONES on bass, NICKY HOPKINS on piano and the MUPPET SHOW'S ANIMAL -- no, sorry -- KEITH MOON (honest mistake) on drums.
Page wrote the song and modeled it on MAURICE RAVEL'S "BOLERO."
The dynamics of the song and the treated guitar parts certainly suggest the seeds of what would become the Led Zep sound -- no doubt also influenced by the presence of two Led Zep members on the track in Page and Jones.
Andrew James Kellett, writing in "FATHERS AND SONS: AMERICAN BLUES AND BRITISH ROCK MUSIC, 1960-1970," describes "Beck's Bolero" as a piece in which the musicians "did not merely copy the symphonic form, but welded to it the musical lessons they had already learned."
This combining of styles surely dictated Led Zeppelin's approach to blues and folk music forms throughout the band's career. In this regard, I think we can consider "Beck's Bolero" a proto-Zep tune.
I ultimately think the only true Led Zeppelin music were the tunes created by the original four members. "Beck's Bolero" certainly points the way forward -- the Led Zeppelin way forward.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Red Solo Cup get out of my head!

BRAD WARREN, BRETT WARREN, BRETT BEAVERS and JIM BEAVERS have so, so much to answer for.
Here's why:
Our youngest daughter ANNIKA turns 13 today, and among her plans for the day is an almost continuous playing of the TOBY KEITH hit single, "RED SOLO CUP."
The rather simple (and Keith admits, rather stupid) song celebrates the red, plastic cups that appear as ubiquitous accessories at parties at which keg beer is prominently dispensed.
The song is infuriatingly catchy -- it will worm its way into your head and won't be dislodged unless you listen to something equally, memorably catchy (I find LED ZEPPELIN'S "IMMIGRANT SONG" does the trick for me).
Blame the two Warren brothers and the two Beavers brothers. Country musicians and songwriters (DIERKS BENTLEY has performed many of their songs), these four men penned "Red Solo Cup," creating a monster(ous hit) in the process.
At our house, we treat a BIRTHDAY as a personal holiday, a day with multiple little celebrations.
One of Annika's celebrations will be the playing of "Red Solo Cup."
My fear is that "HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU" isn't going to have what it takes to knock out this heavyweight champion EARWORM.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Route 1 resolutions

It's a NEW YEAR and that means it's time for resolutions.
This week, ROUTE 1 readers announce their intentions by answering the following FRIDAY QUESTION:
"Any New Year's resolutions"
KERI M. -- Not to lose my mind while planning my wedding.
ANNIKA H. -- Don't die!
JOHN S. -- I am going to compete in a HALF Ironman: 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run. Just to prove I am only HALF crazy.
KERSTIN H. -- I don't believe in New Year's resolutions. I believe every day is a day to set a new goal for yourself.
BRIAN M. -- 1. See more baseball this year (which might be difficult since I'll have less time this baseball season than last, and I again have tickets to an MLS team).
2. Run a (10-mile) Pear Blossom Run in closer to 90 minutes than 2 hours. (This year's will be my sixth.)
3. Get a different job.
ERIK H. -- I want to do a better job of "practicing what I preach," or living the healthier lifestyle I write about for the newspaper. One step in that direction: We ate a big salad with chicken last night, rather than something more processed and with more sodium.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Rock debauchery on display

Author Sean Egan remarks that when THE ROLLING STONES embarked upon their 1972 American tour:
"They cut a swathe of decadence through the country, partaking of drugs, groupies, hotel-trashing and Hugh Hefner's Playboy mansion along the way."
ROBERT FRANK'S unreleased documentary of the tour, "C*CKSUCKER BLUES," provides an unblinking and unflinching look at the Stones in full swathe-cutting mode. Watch "C*cksucker Blues" today, as I have been on YOUTUBE, and it appears as a darker version of "THIS IS SPINAL TAP."
Look no farther than author TERRY SOUTHERN'S onscreen declaration that "Cocaine is so expensive that I don't think it's possible to develop a habit."
The Stones have famously prohibited the film's general release -- perhaps they want to shield their fans from such sights as Keith nodding off on a groupie's lap.
We see this film today knowing full well that sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll swirled around the Stones during the swaggering Seventies.
"C*cksucker Blues" captures this hazy period in appropriately grainy images of debauchery that probably would have shocked 1972 audiences, but seems rather tame today.
Famously, a court order restricts "C*cksucker Blues" to being shown no more than five times per year and only in Frank's presence.
I don't know how it ended up on YouTube, but I have enjoyed seeing it as a period piece from a time when rock -- and the Stones -- seemed most dangerous.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Crazy night -- for all the wrong reasons

It was a crazy IOWA CAUCUS night, for reasons you might not expect.
My wife JILL is in PHOENIX, ARIZ., for a corporate sales meeting and I was covering a caucus site at the DUBUQUE COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS.
Our oldest daughter KERSTIN was driving our youngest daughter ANNIKA to dance class when a tire blew on the Grand Am.
Kerstin called 911, I instructed Annika to call Jill's dad.
The car was towed to our mechanic and my father-in-law drove the shaken girls home.
I tried hard to concentrate on my task at hand -- tweeting, shooting video and interviewing participants.
I finally relaxed when I arrived home.
It was a crazy night for all the wrong reasons.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Stones' peak performance

I am working a night shift (IOWA CAUCUS edition) so I had time this morning to clean the kitchen.
I listened to "EXILE ON MAIN ST.," the 1972 ROLLING STONES album that is either a lazy, aimless effort or the band's finest work, depending on the listener.
I am in the latter category: I think "Exile" is astounding.
Perhaps the album does sound like an unnecessarily murky mishmash upon first hearing.
I have listened to it many times -- I had it on cassette tape back in the day -- and can name at least nine classic songs from the album, including "Tumbling Dice," "Shine a Light" and "Torn and Frayed."
I am drawn to the album in part because of the presence of my favorite Stone, guitarist MICK TAYLOR.
KEITH RICHARDS has said he doesn't believe Taylor's virtuosic playing fit with the Stones' music. I think "Exile" helps prove the contrary.
On "Rocks Off" and "Stop Breaking Down," in particular, Taylor's guitar playing shines a light into the murky depths of the songs.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Ducks finally win the Rose Bowl

WISCONSIN quarterback Russell Wilson spiked the ball after time had already expired, and I could finally exhale.
After a wild, high-scoring game filled with a succession of pivotal moments, MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS had finally won the ROSE BOWL in my lifetime, 45-38.
We watched the game on TV, eating nachos and alternately cheering and groaning (only occasionally cursing) as the play dictated.
Darron Thomas tossed three scoring passes, Lavasier Tuinei caught two touchdown passes and De'Anthony Thomas scored on runs of 91 and 64 yards to fuel the Oregon offense.
It wouldn't have mattered without Oregon's defensive effort, led by linebacker Kiko Alonso. Alonso's interception of a Wilson pass thwarted a Badger drive and seemed to turn the tide -- finally -- toward a Duck victory.
A victory, I might add, I have waited my whole life to witness.