Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Revenge of the Nerds

It's another beautiful day at the art factory. I'm currently writing playbill bios for dead playwrights. Did you know that as a young man, Miguel Cervantes was kidnapped by pirates and spent five years in captivity in Algiers? After four unsuccessful escape attempts he was finally ransomed by a family friend. I love that kind of stuff, which officially identifies me as a hopeless theatre geek. It's the only category I've every "run" on Jeopardy (well, that and 19th Century Authors, but that's another obsession.)

I've been thinking about geeks this week as I watch the convention. One of the raps against Obama is that he's too wonky, too geeky, too reserved. He doesn't come off as a Joe Six Pack. Since when has geniality become a requisite for leadership? Here's a ferociously intelligent man, thoughtful, nuanced, complex, and people won't vote for him because he doesn't watch NASCAR? What the hell is the matter with this country?

It's all just code for race isn't it? When the right wing conveys the message that Obama is exotic, unusual, not like us, their talking covertly about race. When they refer to his supposed elitism, it's code for "uppity negro." They don't want to vote for a black man, but they can't admit it, even to themselves.

I am so looking forward to voting for a fellow geek. I've been waiting my whole life to vote for someone who doesn't dumb everything down to the lowest common denominator. Those jocks who kicked our asses in high school? They voted for George W. Bush. It's our turn now.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hamfist City Hall Recordings

New recording of the Ham and Squash 08 tour available at:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hell Outs

James Dean has some friends in a band called The Hell Outs. They roam the streets in a pack, pile into a bar unannounced and play loud, obnoxious music until the owners scream at them to "get the hell out!" Hamfist was channeling the Hell Outs last night. We were supposed to play the pre-show for the OSF Aids benefit on the courtyard stage from 6:00 to 7:00, but at about 5:00 it started pouring rain and we were cancelled. As we sat in a bar nursing our wounded pride, Jon Bates said, "You know, no-one's in the Bowmer" (OSF's older indoor theatre.) Jon tracked down OSF's production manager who gave his blessing, Jesse turned up the lights, I made some signs, Ellen acted as house manager and within 15 minutes we were onstage in the Angus Bowmer Theatre. It was very Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland; "hey, my uncle has a $20 million theatre; let's put on a show."

To paraphrase Arlo Guthrie, we ain't proud...or tired. If someone is dumb enough to say we can play then, goddammit, we're gonna play . We ain't in this for the money. Anyway we already had our band outfits on, and it's a shame to waste couture...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

God Bless Hank Williams

Why, you may ask, am I posting a photo of Hank Williams? No particular reason, other than he's freaking AWESOME.

Ah, the many hours I spent in the front seat of Smitty's Chevy Caprice, his Pall Mall smoldering the ashtray, Hank Williams wailing on the radio. I used to turn up my nose at my dad's favorite musicians, people like Hank, Buck Owens, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, etc, etc. Ironic, no?

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Flies

When the flies arrive in the Colestin, campers, we know that cattle have been grazing along the creek. It’s August, the creek is low, the grass is dead, the cows are ranging far in search of forage and Musca domestica season is upon us. Jean-Paul Sartre reimagined Aeschylus’s Furies as flies pursuing Orestes across the universe for his primal crime. Our flies certainly feel like punishment for something, but I don’t ascribe cosmic significance to them. It’s just another season on Cottonwood Creek and, as that great Zen master the author of Ecclesiastes said so beautifully, “to everything there is a season.”

(btw, if you ever have a hankering to re-examine the Bible as literature instead of the received word of God, I highly recommend starting with Ecclesiastes. Its Hebrew patriarchy crossed with Buddhist detachment is remarkably enlightened. All is vanity, indeed.)

We had our season of heaven, that brief period between Mud and Dust when the mock orange is in bloom and our world is green and fragrant. It’s now the season of the flies, when the flowers wither, the grass dies and the topsoil blows away. We’re left with smoke, stickers, snakes and bugs in abundance, but they all have their purpose. Soon it will be "fly season" of another kind, when the helicopters begin their harrying. The only purpose they have is sinister. Give me the Muscas any day.

Sequoia and I drove home from Ashland late on Saturday night. As we crested the Siskiyou Summit, we could see a patch of wildfire glowing on a ridgetop to the southwest. No telling how far away, but too close for comfort; put the fear of god into us, that's for sure. This is what late summer is like in west, my friends. Meandering green threads mark the dwindling watercourses. Everything else is dead, and much of it is on fire. We live in a desert, we just refuse to acknowledge it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

We had a great time at the camp out this year.Thanks to everyone who worked hard & played hard...the pizza was wonderful... special thanks to Lowell. I really enjoyed the music.So many good players & singers.Ham Fist is a dam good band...I would love to be a "special guest" at one of your shows some time

We had an uneventful journey home to AZ.Lots of smoke from the fires in No Cal though.Now we are back to work & getting Micah prepared to go away to college & Sierra is getting ready for junior year.

See everyone next year.Some of you we will see sooner then that

Monday, August 4, 2008

Why are my feet so dirty?

Did someone say camping?

But wait, there's more

more photos

More camping

Greetings Campers!
Well, I’m back at the old Art Farm with camping on my mind. When I opened my photos, I realized that I forgot to acknowledge the Pappy & Carol Bonney! AND Mark Teschner! What the hell is the matter with me?