Invasion Of The Geriatric Rockers

We’re on the cusp of the summer big-name rock concert season.  Hey, who’s out on tour this year?

rod-stewartDon’t look now, but it’s a lot of the same acts that were touring 40 years ago, soon to come to a sports stadium or outdoor amphitheater near you.  The list of tours this year includes Queen, Foreigner, Boston, Aerosmith, Kiss, Alice Cooper, Billy Joel and Rod Stewart.  Rod Stewart, in case you’re wondering, is 72 years old, and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith is 69.  And as for Queen, their iconic lead singer, Freddie Mercury, died more than 25 years ago.  But neither advanced age, nor the death of original band members, nor concerns about wrinkles, hair loss, gum disease, adult diapers or iron-poor tired blood can keep these dedicated rockers from their appointed tours.  Just don’t be surprised if their contracts requires that the dressing room be equipped with Geritol rather than bottles of Jack Daniel’s.

The promoters call these “nostalgia acts” — which doesn’t exactly seem consistent with the whole notion that rock ‘n roll has a youthful, cutting edge, rebellious element to it.  When you’re a “nostalgia act,” around 70 and still playing songs that you first released when disco was king, you can’t fairly lay claim to the “rebellious” label any more. But there’s a strong market for concerts by these geriatric rockers because their music still gets played on “classic rock” radio stations, and the people who first heard their songs when they were in high school are still out there, willing to spring for tickets to hear “Cold As Ice” performed live one more time.  If you’re a performer, why not cash in, make some money, and give your fans what they want?

I’m torn about this, because I think it’s weird to see 70-year-olds strutting and rocking out on stage, and I wonder if these codger acts don’t crowd out younger musicians who’d like to get some stage time and radio play.  At the same time, in the past few years I’ve been to concerts to see two long-time performers — Stevie Wonder and Bob Seger — and they both put on really good shows.  So I’m taking a live and let live attitude, and figuring that if Rod Stewart wants to sing “Hot Legs” again, and his fans want to hear it, why not let them?  But I think I’ll pass.

Corn Kernel Console

Cousin Jeff like to keep the wild creatures in his neighborhood happy.  He’s got a hummingbird feeder, multiple birdseed dispensers, a suet cage — and this marble-topped table strewn with kernels of hard yellow corn.  It’s irresistible to squirrels chipmunks and large birds like crows.

It also makes the early morning hours a fun exercise.  When I sat outside yesterday morning, reading, every few minutes I would hear the drumbeat of tiny paws rushing along the deck, skittering up the table leg, and munching briskly at the corn.  It made the natural surroundings seem a little bit closer, and more real.

Protesting With Their Feet

Yesterday Vice President Mike Pence gave the commencement address at the Notre Dame  University graduation ceremony in South Bend, Indiana.  As Pence began speaking, dozens of graduating students walked out.

22746804-mmmainThe theme of the Vice President’s address was the importance of freedom of speech and tolerance for different points of view, on college campuses and elsewhere.  Many conservative commentators made fun of the students who walked out on Pence’s speech, deriding them as delicate “snowflakes” who simply couldn’t bear to hear opposing views and finding it paradoxical that the students would walk out on a speech that urged them to listen to other, opposing perspectives.

I’ve had a lot of problems with the trampling of free speech rights on college campuses these days, but in this instance I think the critics are wrong.  The Vice President was exercising his free speech rights by giving an address with the content of his choice, and the students were exercising their free speech rights by walking out on the speech as a protest of Trump Administration policies.  The students exited stage left not because they are “snowflakes” who felt they simply couldn’t withstand Pence’s commencement address — a sentiment, incidentally, that many people who have attended overlong, droning college commencement speeches would secretly share — but because walking out was a visible sign of profound disagreement with the views of the speaker.  It’s a form of the kind of silent protest that we’ve seen many times in American history.

In fact, I commend the Notre Dame protesters, because their protest was non-violent and respectful of Pence’s free speech rights.  They didn’t try to shut him up, in contrast to other recent incidents on campus in which agitators have used violence to prevent some people from speaking — such as the mob that shamefully disrupted a lecture by scholars with different viewpoints at Middlebury College and, in the process, gave a Middlebury professor whiplash and a concussion.  The Notre Dame students had every right to “vote with their feet” and send Pence a message that they disagree with what the Trump Administration is doing, and they found an appropriate way to send that message.

I wish more people would listen to opposing viewpoints and try to understand them, but I’m more concerned about people who think that just because they disagree with someone that person shouldn’t be permitted to speak at all — something that is antithetical to one of the most important rights guaranteed to all Americans.  Based on the protest yesterday, I’d say that a Notre Dame education has given those graduates a pretty good understanding of how the Bill of Rights is supposed to work.

Easy Bein’ Green

You can argue about the season in which rural Ohio is at its best.  Throw out winter — of course! — and you could argue endlessly about the lush springs, the blue sky summer days, and the colors and tastes of autumn.

Spring, of course, has its own colors — they’re just more subtle.  Standing on Cousin Jeff’s elevated deck, looking out at the trees and plants and fallen pine needles and grass, you see just about every shade of green you can imagine.  Couple it with cool air that smells of growing plants and bright songs from a number of different birds, and you’ve got a feast for the senses.

Kermit the Frog would fit right in.

Fishing With Dad

Cousin Jeff lives on Lake Mohawk, near Malvern, Ohio.  Lake Mohawk is one of many man-made lakes in Ohio — I think the only natural lake in the Buckeye State is Lake Erie — and was made from an old quarry and some fresh springs and streams.  It’s been around for years and has reached a mature state, with lots of fish to be found.

This little boy and his Dad were enjoying a warm late Saturday afternoon, fishing from one of the docks in the lake.  Dad was putting bait on a hook and giving some instruction, Son was trying his luck, and they both were having a grand time.

Into The Heartland

Yesterday Kish and I drove east and north on a weekend trip.  Our destination was Carroll County, to pay a visit to Cousin Jeff.

Carroll County is one of the least populous– and therefore one of the most bucolic — counties in Ohio.  It’s primarily farming territory, with some Amish communities mixed in and the occasional fracking platform tucked behind a screen of trees.  It’s a wonderful place to go if you like rolling countryside, the sound of birdsong, and winding roads that seem to never really go anywhere except past pretty Midwestern scenery, with horses and cows, silos and hay bales, and farmhouses and barns.

During our visit we stopped at the lovely Twigg Winery, where I had a glass of tasty Ohio red and we took in the captivating vista inadequately pictured above.  There we bought several cartons of strawberries that were hand-picked yesterday morning.  Forget the fist-sized, fibrous monstrosities you get at your neighborhood mega-grocery store — these sweet, tart beauties were bursting with flavor and freshness and made you remember what strawberries are supposed to taste like.

Carroll County is a good place to visit if you want to get off the beaten path and kick back into our rural heritage.

Narcissus’ Bathroom

The Courthouse Inn restaurant in Lisbon, Ohio has a pretty unusual men’s room.  Every square inch, from toilet to lid to walls, is covered in some brightly polished reflective material.

If you want to see yourself from every angle, this is the bathroom for you.  If you’d rather not, you’ll just need to count the seconds until you get the hell out of there.

It may or may not be coincidence, but I should note that the restaurant serves an exclusively vegetarian menu.