Currently digging

Okay, it’s grab-bag day.

Have you found FB to be a cluttered mess? Me too! There is a browser extension you can download and install quickly and easily that will de-clutter it for you. Seriously, it took me about 30 seconds, and now I have no ads on the right-hand side of the page and a few other nifty things. I know that this is sort of a lame thing to be digging, but I consider it a quality-of-life improvement and thought you might, too.

Here’s a homespun cold remedy that I have found helpful in the last week: broth (chicken or vegetable will do), raw onions, garlic, and cayenne. Heat up the broth and drop the rest in after a little bit. Once the onions are just barely cooked, take it off the heat and eat it up. Onions and garlic are good for the immune system, and the cayenne will get your sinuses cleared out. Best to take it as soon as you feel any sort of symptoms coming on, like that teensy tickle in your throat that sometimes you try to ignore because you tell yourself, “I’m not getting sick! I’m not I’m not!” The rawer the onions are, the better they are for this purpose. Other than incredibly bad breath, an unfortunate possible side effect is slight indigestion and/or queasiness. It’s totally worth it, though. Also, keep having the broth until the cold is well gone. I stopped after 3 nights and I felt recovered, but then relapsed for a day. Maybe I should just have this every day, sick or no. Well, maybe not.

Sandy Bull was an amazing composer and multi-instrumentalist (guitar, banjo, oud, etc.). At 21 he released his first record on Vanguard in 1962. He played any and all styles, including classical, Indian raga, Middle Eastern, blues, jazz, bluegrass, improvised, and on and on. On a recent dollar-bin foray, I found (again) a copy of his debut record, my first copy of which I had stupidly let go in a post-college move. On it, he duets for 20 minutes with Billy Higgins, Ornette Coleman’s drummer. Below are the first 10 or so minutes of it. He also does a solo version of Carmina Burana on the banjo that you have to hear.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3HuHV00DMI[/youtube]

The story about the 18 high-school girls in Le Roy, NY who all got Tourette’s-like tics around the same time is fascinating. Many experts think it’s an outbreak of mass psychogenic conversion disorder (commonly known as mass hysteria), in which stress from emotional trauma is converted into uncontrollable bodily responses, but many of the townspeople think it’s poisoning from some kind of industrial waste in the groundwater. (The town is the former home of the main Jell-O factory and other manufacturing industries.)

The great unexamined here for me, however, is race. Nobody that I have seen mentions that all the girls are white and the town is 96% white (thanks, Wikipedia). The NYT delves a bit into economics (surprise! the economy is bad there) and family background (most of the girls come from broken families and some have been physically abused). However, if this happened in a town where 96% of the people were of some other race/ethnicity, you can bet your breakfast that everyone would be exploring that angle. Not that I know what an ethnic-studies-influenced reading of the story would look like, but . . .

Perhaps I just got this notion from the photo on the cover of the NYT magazine of two of the girls in one’s bedroom. There’s an “I Black People” sticker on the wall. Not that that’s a negative sentiment or anything, but I’m not too sure that African-Americans think so fondly about being right up there on white people’s walls and cars alongside “I My English Setter” stickers, if you catch my drift. I’m sure she’s a well-meaning sweet kid, and she’s also got a framed Obama poster in her bedroom, but all the same that’s weird, right? Maybe race has no bearing on these events at all. Maybe “white” is the neutral ethnicity here in America, and so mentioning it is beside the point. Maybe I just wanted to point out how weird it is that there are “I Black People” stickers in the world.

Aaaanyway, J-Man wants to get into the “Currently Digging” action, too, so I’ll hand it over to her here.

Currently digging – or more accurately, just dug – Merle Haggard’s autobiography from 1981, Sing Me Back Home. I happened upon it at the Amoeba records annual sidewalk sale, a sad, moldy hardback that looked like it had been used to prop up a joist in the basement, and I had to have it.

Photo stolen from Amazon, of course, but the condition is surprisingly similar to the one I found.

Merle was a true bad boy, much badder than Johnny Cash or any of those other outlaw country dudes. He grew up poor in dusty central California and proceeded to steal, drink, drug, and generally fuck-up his way to San Quentin prison. He was an inmate there when Johnny Cash came and played his famous concert, and when he got out he managed to go straight and become one of the most well-known country singer/songwriters of the 20th century. Merle makes no attempt to hide the fact that he’s a redneck, and some of his rants about the Grand Ole Opry, women, and prison are priceless. The book was ghost written, but it reads as though it was transcribed directly from the interviews.

His own descriptions of his mad crush on Dolly Parton and of his other failed relationships are impressively honest, despite his admittedly disrespectful treatment of the women in his life. Listening to his songs, one could never accuse him of making up the subject matter – it all comes straight from his life. As a bonus, the center of the book has photos as well as quotes from friends and family members that look like they, too, were printed verbatim from interviews, and the editor made no attempt to pretty them up for general consumption, so you get to see how people really felt about some of Merle’s behavior. If you’re a fan of sad songs, country music, or just colorful characters, I recommend it.

Plus, I’ve been making an awesome kale salad of late. Didn’t somebody else mention a kale salad here in the last couple months? Here it is: chopped dinosaur kale, shredded cabbage, grated carrots, toasted slivered almonds, dried cranberries, crumbled feta, chopped scallions, and a regular old garlic vinaigrette dressing. So good and so good for you!

4 responses to “Currently digging”

  1. swells says:

    Oh, man, that “I Heart Black People” sticker has been making me drive nuts since Sunday morning. It goes WAY beyond weird.

  2. LP says:

    I found that “I Heart Black People” sticker strange too, though I just assumed it was either (a) some throwback reference to this scene in Jerry Maguire*, or (b) something the youngsters were doing/saying these days, relating to some song or another that I don’t know.

    A little digging around on the Interwebs reveals that there are plenty of sites where one might purchase all manner of “I heart Black People” items. This site seems to do a brisk business (apparently selling mostly to black people).

    *Cuba Gooding Jr., you may recall, won an Oscar for this role, beating out William H. Macy, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Edward Norton and James Woods. This is widely considered a travesty. I, however, thought he did quite a good job in the movie and am generally glad to see Oscars awarded for semi-comic roles.

  3. Dave says:

    I love Sandy Bull.

    Having a framed Obama poster does not make you a good person.

  4. Tim says:

    In my Internet search for that bumper sticker image, I came across the same sites you did, LP, including the one selling “I Heart Black People” t-shirts as modeled by actual black people. It strikes me a bit differently seeing an African-American wearing that shirt versus a white teenager with the sticker on her wall, especially one who lives in a town that is almost completely white. The first seems a proclamation of self-pride, though still a little strangely and broadly phrased; the second can easily be taken as patronizing. “Black people are one of my hobbies,” or “You know, black people often get the short end of things, and they really need my support, so I’m going to spend a couple bucks on a sticker to make them feel better.” A donation to the United Negro College Fund or the NAACP might be money better spent in the cause. (I mentioned the Obama poster, Dave, because it can be interpreted, though not necessarily, as another form of support for African-Americans, which would be consistent with the sticker.)

    What, nobody downloaded the browser extension? Or has another cold remedy, maybe?