I guess this had to happen... The National Security Agency reported a sharp increase in long distance telephone usage yesterday, also known as "MOTHERS DAY" in the United States. The overload caused high-ranking intelligence officers in the Bush administration to fear that al-Qaeda might be planning a terror plot using moms.
I saw the best music concert I have ever seen last Friday night. I have seen about every kind of show there is to see. I have toured the biggest and best arenas in the country, and I've played some spectacular theaters all around the world, and while there I've watched and listened to and worked with some great musicians. I have seen Elton John; I opened for the Four Tops; I worked on stage with the Homecoming Artists and Bill Gaither; I opened for James Brown and The Beach Boys and Trisha Yearwood and too many more to mention. So when I say I saw the best concert I've ever seen, take it for granted that it had to be something special.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates announced a new cross-platform gaming service called "Live Anywhere" that integrates games played on cell phones, Xbox 360 consoles and the upcoming Windows Vista operating system. Wow. Video games you can play on cell phones, Xboxes and computers. Call them "GRAND THEFT FREE TIME."
The band is called THE SKAUTOPSIES. They are not traditional by any stretch of the word. They featured an acoustic bass player who dressed as if he stepped out of a Stray Cats video; a horn section made up of two saxophones, a trumpet and a trombone; a drummer who literally would not stop until the band took his drumsticks and threw them into the crowd to close the show... oh, and this crazy guitarist who re-invented every chuck berry-duane eddy-dick dale lick ever known. I am still hearing the music.
A tail section from a U.S. Navy fighter jet that crashed 3 1/2 years ago off Key West, Florida, showed up 4,900 miles away on a beach in Ireland. The Irish government is planning to attach the tail to a flock of trained ducks so it can finally have its own Air Force.
The 'Topsies were playing a ROCK FOR RELIEF concert at our church, closing a bill that featured three or four bands and a female acoustic guitarist-singer. She was very good, and very different from the other three rock bands that played before and after her set. The bands were loud, and the musicians played fast. Speed metal. Thrash metal. Death metal. Punk. Acid Rock. Playing bars up and down the fretboard. The operative color: black. The eye make-up: black. The outlook for the evening: black. By the way? If you ever wondered if there could be such a thing as a Christian Death-Metal-Punk-Anarchist-Hard-Rock band, I guess it is not only possible, but it exists. Whatever that means...
After extensive tests, the Food and Drug Administration confirms there is no credible scientific evidence that drinking green tea reduces the risk of heart disease. However, there is overwhelmingly strong evidence that drinking green tea gives you that ugly face your mother said you would freeze in forever if you didn't stop making it. It was a busy week at the FDA, apparently. The agency also approved an anti-smoking pill developed by Pfizer. It is a novel approach to quitting that just might take hold. Take one pill before bed and it makes you dream you're getting kissed by a camel.
This concert was held in a church, but was by no means a "Christians-only" event. The crowd paid $5 to see the show, and the audience was 75% teen-ager, as was the average age of each band member. Before you roll your eyes, let me explain a couple of things: First, the music was well-rehearsed and the each set was carefully planned. The groups have tour schedules and websites and CDs and MP3s and so on. In the age of information, where music has reached the point where it "runs like water" (I am quoting David Bowie), these players have the same credibility as bands with "deals" and "labels" and the like. The tunes and the styles may not be to my liking (is every band today trying to look like The Cure?), but that is what music is: a personal taste. Second, we live in an age where parents have not allowed children to get on their bikes in the morning and ride off to a friends house or the park, to only come home for lunch and dinner. These are the children of frightened parents, who filled the days and evenings for their kids with piano lessons and tennis coaches and theater classes and so on. They can play. They're really, really good.
As usual, the tireless staff at Taylor Mason Headquarters has unearthed the latest on Britney Spears and her pregnancy. Today Kevin Fedderline told her that if she pays as much attention to the second baby as she does to the first, he will turn HIMSELF in to Child Protective Services. Where he would no doubt join David Blaine, the magician who immersed himself in a bubble of water for a week... and somehow lived! HOW DID HE DO IT!? I was amazed by the trial this man put himself through... how did he go to the bathroom? Why didn't the water cloud up all around him after a few days of... whatever... the point is, Blaine finally has admitted that he did the entire stunt as a pitiful cry for attention and love. "I WANT TO BE NOTICED!" he wrote on his application to the Child Protective Services Office - the same one where Fedderline was accepted. Blaine says the best part of living in the bubble? He missed Mission Impossible: III.
The Skautopsies headlined - they closed the show - which was appropriate. They were nothing like the groups that performed before them. They would have been impossible to follow. I would imagine that they are not like any band they ever work with, or you anyone you have ever seen. It is true that their genre is "ska," but to call it that is dangerous. You cannot put them in a box. The horns play simple lines and counterpoint, followed by solos and improvisations that are jazz. The bass player and drummer supply a rythm section that rocks. The guitarist riffs in thumping reggae, rasta, and pure heat-seeking rock'n'roll. Their vocals are raw, scratchy and powerful. They are as much a showband as they are good musicians, imploring the crowd and each other, dancing all over the stage, playing off each other and the audience and the moment. If we are all witnesses to history, then I have seen the future of music, and its name is THE SKAUTOPSIES.
A 300-pound black bear that had been wandering arou nd Newark, New Jersey, for two days was shot and killed by police after it reared up on his hind legs and appeared ready to charge. Newark residents were pretty upset about the death of the bear because it was the city's first tourist in years.
A little test, just to see if you are up on current affairs:
The producers of "The Da Vinci Code" are getting ready for protests at the premiere of the movie this week. They expect most of the protestors to be: a) Catholics mad about the story b) lovers of the book mad about the changes c) fans of Tom Hanks mad about his hair
Whoopi Goldberg is getting her own morning radio show called "Wake Up With Whoopi." Her contract states that: a) everyone must call her Miss Goldberg b) all callers must be liberals c) the seven-second delay should not be referred to as the "Whoopi cushion"
President Bush is denying reports the NSA is monitoring millions of domestic phone calls. He says all of those agents holding telephones are actually: a) monitoring calls to al Qaida b) tapping phones in Iraq c) calling in his votes on "American Idol"
The band raced through a 50-minute set in 35 minutes, and flush from the excitement and the thrill of the night, they fell out into the hall to meet and greet friends and fans and family. I talked with a few of the people in attendance, mostly friends from the neighborhood and the church, who stopped by to keep tabs on their teen-agers, or who just wanted to see what was going on. People were laughing and shaking their heads. "What a show!" "What a night!" "WOW!" The guitarist came over to me. "What did you think?" he asked. "I thought you were amazing," I told him. "That was the best show I've ever seen. Ever." He gave me a smile, and started packing his Telecaster. Thinline. Oak body. Gorgeous. He had an old beat-up MusicMan amp, that looked like it had gone through the bar wars of the 1970s with every long-haired beer-drinking roadie/van driving/guitar god that ever played a I-IV-V riff for money. "Need a hand?" I asked, honored to be in the presence of someone with real talent. "Yeah, sure..." he was distracted. I took it for granted he would be going to to party with the band, it was only 11:00pm, but he said he was going home. A good friend of mine, someone who has been around professional musicians and the like all her life, told me that was not surprising. "Focused artists don't party after every gig," she told me. "I know someone else like that..."
This just in: Don't bet on gas prices going down soon. Gas station owners are starting to feel the pain of the cost of driving to and from work. It's gotten so bad, that they are raising gas prices to make more money so th at they can afford to go to work.
The guy needed a ride home, so we headed out to the parking lot and loaded the gear into my van. Someone came by and laughed at me. "You're a roadie now?" they asked. I nodded. The guitar player got in the passenger seat and we drove together, talking about the show and the band and the music for a few minutes. Not long. I live about 2 minutes from the church. And the guitar player is my oldest son.
American sprinter Justin Gatlin is now the world's fastest man after breaking the record by a hundredth of a second at a meet in Qatar on the Persian Gulf. If the gas crisis doesn't end soon, he's been offered extremely lucrative jobs back home delivering packages for UPS and FedEx.
I sound like a stereotypical proud father. I can't take any credit. He is his own person. He has his own life and I'm pleased that I can be a part of it. Appropriately it is Mother's Day night as I am writing this, and his mother has made it possible for him to have opportunities and chances and guidance. He might end up being a professional musician. He might not. I really don't care. There were moments that made this concert the best for me: my wife and I stood off to the side of the hall as they played, marveling at these children who have created something clever and unique and very entertaining. We laughed a lot and smiled at each other and talked about how good the horns and the guitar and the bass sounded; my youngest son stood opposite from us, talking with friends and laughing and having fun; there came a point in one song where the lead singers, my guitarist son and one of the sax players, sing a joke. At the punchline he looked at me, to see if I was in on it. I laughed. He gave me a quick look and went back to playing - didn't notice me again until the evening was over. And I had one of those quick flashes every parent has. I went out-of-body and floated up to the ceiling and I took in the whole night. A couple of hours on a May Friday that have already disappeared into the shadow of a memory that I'll lose touch with more and more as the days and weeks and months pass. I saw my kids and my wife and myself, our friends and our lives as we know them today, and for one brief glimpse I saw what I live for and try to represent. Maybe this is something spiritual. Maybe this is the power of music. Maybe this is what a family is. Whatever. It moved me enough to try and share it with you.
Senator John McCain gave the commencement address at Reverend Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in an attempt to get religious conservatives on his side for a possible presidential campaign. Falwell then made McCain an honorary Doctor of Letters, which in this case were the letters I, O and U.
Thank you for reading. Thank you, Marsia. Happy Mother's Day! Thank you Paul, Sheri, Bill Mihalic and Bill Wright (two weeks in a row).
Dear Taylor: As you know, the final episode of "The West Wing" aired this past Sunday. I had to TiVo it, because it comes on after my bedtime, but I want you to know that I will call Martin Sheen soon and demand a concession speech! Tuning into "Boondocks," President George W. Bush
Dear Taylor: So? They voted me off "American Idol." I don't care! I have been offered a job as the lead singer with the band Fuel! And guess what? We are all going to travel to gigs in a van using ethanol. So that makes us ALTERNATIVE FUEL! Get it ? Knowing I shoulda won, Chris Daughtry
Dear Taylor: As you no doubt are aware, Hillary Clinton is probably running for President in 2008. I am going to throw my hat into the ring as well, as an alternative to Mrs. C. At the same time, my campaign will be funded by Lunesta, so I will be also be promoting my campaign as a sleep aid. Hey! Wake up! I'm not done! Oh, fine... Al Gore