Thanksgiving on the way home from ROCKPILE 2009

Dear David (Madgalene),

“Grand Island is the fourth largest city in Nebraska, with an estimated population of 44,000.”

Thanksgiving in Grand Island, Nebraska was unfortunate. We were already thinking it would be weird to be “unaffiliated” hunting down turkey in the boonies at 8pm on Thanksgiving Day when everyone with a life would be home with their families eating string beans and sliced almonds and watching THE GAME.

We found a diner that had a T-day special but when we sat down to order we found out they were out of turkey so they were substituting ham, out of mashed potatoes substituting fries, out of cranberry sauce with no substitution, though there was still some dressing. Uninspired, I ordered fried porkchops, mushy dressing and some seriously warmed over sweet potatoes. The biscuits were chewy but the honey helped. I ate about half of everything and called it quits. Terri had a combination fried cheese stick and fried mushroom appetizer. A mistake. She fished the mushrooms out of the inch thick batter and gave up. “I don’t know why I ordered this,” she said. We split a piece of “homemade” chocolate peanut butter pie which wasn’t bad then went back to our Holiday Inn fortress and caught up on blog work, downloading and uploading files from Toronto and Buffalo.

New York City blog entries and video got lost in the “shuffle off to Buffalo”, Rochester and Toronto , so we are way behind on videos from that performance, and same with notes from Chicago and St. Louis. So our routine now is to drive 6 hours, book a room by cell phone, check in, then find food that won’t hurt us, After dinner we work on the back log. Try not to watch bad TV.

We’re in Laramie, WY now, it’s morning, Terri is down at the exercise room, and I am lying in bed with laptop dreaming of a solid cup of Cuban coffee, and looking forward to seeing you and Jim and Ziggy and Chiqui and Mi Casita for a burrito fix. Snow all around the motel. We have been incredibly lucky with the weather on this trip. Winter just behind us all the way here. Laramie, kind of desolate and pretty. Hope to be home the day after tomorrow.

Love, Michael

ps. An estimated 500,000 Sandhill Cranes pass thru the Nebraska Platte River valley heading northward every year during the Annual Spring and Fall Sandhill Crane Migrations. They migrate through an 80 mile wide “Flyway” stretch along the Platt River from near Grand Island to west of Kearney, NE. It is estimated that about 80% of the world’s population of Sandhill Cranes do an annual migration layover in this area of the Platte River. The Platte Valley area has great habitat for many types of birds – even bald eagles.

pss. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Judy!

One single comment

  1. Ellen Geist says:

    I don’t know how/why I have so much trouble figuring out the blog. I am syncopatedly great or terrible at new or old technology feaures–For instance I was invited to and know how to use Google Wave–do you??? Not to be a total tease because I will invite you if you are interested. Google launches these alpha tests by invitation only until the guest list gets so large it’s moot–that’s what happened with gmail and then Google docs. Some things you can just try like Calendar, Scholar, and Books, and no, I am not getting paid for this plug….

    Meanwhile, just under the wire of being unacceptably late, which I find, remarkably, in comparison to corporate deadlines, is quite flexible and seems to hover somewhere close to the year after the ceremony marker alloted for wedding gifts. So by that reckoning I am very much under the wire….

    Anyway, I just wanted to report on the New York City performance of Rockpile on the Road at the Gershwin Theatre, which of course couldn’t have a better name as a venue for the gig and a nice location besides. As pre-advocated by Michael Rothenberg, whom I do mostly trust but who is it one can really trust completely on reviews of their own work but I figured, what could it hurt to promote the evening performance as something different than attendees will have ever seen before. Inviting my friends included (on my part, not Michael’s, I unashamedly acknowledge) describing that the performance would NOT be your typical mostly percussion-oriented instruments being haphazardly cued to your basic stream of consciousness ramblings that could or might not contain any interesting insights unless you find keen observations on a topic that no one up til now has found remotely interesting and the most that it has to recommend it is that it provides a good backdrop for work on one’s own that could benefit from musing, mulling over, and ruminating in new directions or an entirely divergent focus of quiet consideration of tax forms, late bills, purchases that could be included in last year’s deductions given that it was conceived of and executed if not completely finished and renumerated by December 31, 2009.

    Luckily, for my reputation, this turned out to be true. With one exception, this is the ONLY combination of music and the spoken word that I have ever enjoyed. I am sure Rockpile was great everywhere, but in NYC it was FANTASTIC. I wish I knew what to call the genre, but it just WORKS. The music was incredible on its own terms and the improv professional musicians seemed as if they had worked together for years instead of just practicing together–a few times? once? Especially moving was the combination of David Meltzer reading his work and poet Bill Zavatsky who is a really fine jazz pianist though not a professional and gave the poetry a poignant quality that was different than hearing only the words. Especially entertaining, I thought, was the back-and-forth dialogue between Terri and Michael R.

    I hope they come back soon. I wasn’t feeling great and handed out a few flyers before the gig but would have liked to do more. We need to figure out how to do broader publicity–people would enjoy this–and become aware there is a poetry/jazz scene that they can relate to. Frankly, poets going to hear each other is a little like the Shakers. It’s going to be a shrinking group until POOF no more. Rockpile on the Road has wide audience potential. Might be fun to figure out an audience participation aspect that is not too hokey for next time around.

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