28 December 2012

The Gun

I read the Second Amendment tonite. There's been a lot of talk lately about what it means. Both the extreme right and left seem to know exactly what it says, but it always just confuses me. I can always read it two ways.

I'm not much of a hunter. If my math is right I go about once every 20 years. But I've always been around guns a fair amount. In college my room mate and I used to go shooting quite a bit and I always enjoyed killing a few cans or putting holes in the side of a rusty old junker. Most of my friends and relatives own guns. Back when JCPenney sold guns, and I was a young management trainee, I even sold a few and for a while could talk gun pretty good.

I don't care about the politics of it, but I think every one of my gun owning friends should continue to own guns. But anyone who is tempted to buy their first gun this month due to some new found fear of the government, probably shouldn't. They're too easily riled up, too easily tricked. They'll puff out their chests and brag for a day or two about taking a stand for their second amendment rights, and then put the gun away where it will gather dust for a decade or so. It will never be used for hunting, or self defense, or target practice. 

Power preys on fear.  Fear of guns from the left, fear of not having them on the right. 

Ice Time

Last weekend, just before Christmas, I spotted the first ice house of the season, on the lake behind our house. For some reason it seemed a bit early but when I realized how much of the past weeks had been spent below freezing, it didnt seem so out of place.

Also that day i saw the first ice skaters out. Five or six kids off in the distance, like a Christmas scene from Currier and Ives.

Now, a week later, the ice houses are everywhere. Little villages that pop up during the day. You can't tell by looking whether they are occupied, but I always imagine that they are. That inside each of them is a couple of guys, dropping lines in ice, sharing a drink, telling lies, getting a long-awaited break from the world.

13 December 2012

Aunts and Uncles

A few weeks ago I was asked to share a memory of my Aunt Joyce for her birthday. Below is what I wrote....

The best thing about aunts and uncles is they usually treat you like a grownup long before your parents do. They blaze the trail and send signals to the rest of the family that the kid is growing up.

In 1976 or so, when i was 19, i spent a few days with my Aunt Joyce and her family. She took me to an Amway event and other cool things, showing me a little about what her grownup life was like. I got so caught up in the excitement that i whipped out my pack of salems and had coffee and cigarettes with the Amway folk, just like i was a big kid.

Later that night she and i stayed up til around 1, talking Amway and politics and family history and college adventures, and all sorts of other things. AND! We smokedcigarettes together!!! "your mom would kill me if she knew i was letting you smoke in my house", she said. And so for a few hours it was just me and my aunt, drinkin coffee, smokin, talkin, laughin.

Whenever i think of that day it makes me want to take up cigarettes again. But obviously it is my aunt that i miss, not the habit.

Over the years i have had many wonderful times with my Aunt Joyce, but none so great as the day she walked me down the road to perdition with a cup of coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

05 December 2012

The man who made me love jazz

Dave Brubeck died today. One thousand years from now, when the last memory of 21st century silliness, like global warming, lady gaga, the tea party, and monster beverages has faded from human consciousness, there will still be a place for "Take Five". Perhaps it will be the tune of the national anthem of whatever country Minnesota is then part of.

How many times have I fallen to sleep listening to it? Dozens I'm sure. Mebbe a hundred.

I came late to jazz, real late, in my forties. In my youth I associated jazz with Dixieland, Louis Armstrong, Al Hirt. Sweaty fat people with trumpets blaring on Bourbon Street. Funny music, party music, not serious, not thoughtful, not warm. It didn't take.

Dave did not turn me on to jazz. Jane Monheit was the one who first piqued my interest about ten years ago, at a club in Minneapolis. But Brubeck put it inside me. That cool soft sound that seem so natural, like something we were all born to love.

There was a movie once, or a TV show, that played Take Five in the opening scene. The tune was soon all in my head and had to go to a store and thumb through all the CDs until I could see a copy of The Essential Dave Brubeck in my hands.

I don't write about jazz, don't know how, and never felt the need. Today I do. Thank you Dave.