Dixie Peach: June 2009

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Shuffle - Already Said My Goodbyes Edition

Like many of you I've been watching a lot of coverage of the death of Michael Jackson. I was shocked but not particularly surprised. Actually it would have been surprising for Michael Jackson to not die before becoming an old man. I don't think many could really feature a seventy-five year-old Michael Jackson.

I loved the Jackson 5 starting back when I was just a little kid. I loved Michael when he released Off the Wall and I thought Thriller was brilliant. And it's at that point where I stop. To me his subsequent music didn't have the same quality. Every song seemed to be filled with that hiccupy phrasing he used and all those annoying "Heehee!"s he'd throw in. Each album would be just a pale copy of the last pale copy. After Thriller I never spent another penny on his music except to replace in CD or MP3 what I'd lost in vinyl. Michael Jackson stopped being relevant to me sometime in 1984.

So when I heard that Michael Jackson had passed I didn't have the reaction that I'd miss him or his music. I have his music - the music he made that mattered to me. And the Michael Jackson I grew up with and loved faded from view about twenty-five years ago. I'd already lost an icon of my youth back in my youth.

I'm not sure what to think of the post-Thriller Michael. The duality of his personality is hard for me to understand. He seems to have been used by his family and yet remained close to them. He talked about how he didn't have a normal childhood but didn't seem to be letting his own children have a normal one either. He was known for being a kindhearted man who was compassionate and caring and yet he was accused of doing heinous things to young kids. If what he was accused of doing is true then it's repugnant and yet he truly didn't seem to get that anything he did was wrong. I don't mean that he was deep-down evil or he didn't care about consequences. I mean he just didn't get it. He just didn't seem to get what the real world was like. I have pity for the man while at the same time I have irritation at him.

I'm sorry for those fans of Michael Jackson who are mourning now. I'm sorry for his family and I'm sorry for his friends who will miss him. I wish I could feel sadder about this but I don't. I suppose it's because I did my mourning decades ago and the Michael Jackson who passed yesterday was a stranger to me.

Let's shuffle.
  1. Heavy Cross - Gossip
  2. Guitar Town - Steve Earle
  3. You Never Know - Wilco
  4. Her Diamonds - Rob Thomas
  5. Sundown - Gordon Lightfoot
  6. Constructive Summer - The Hold Steady
  7. Golden Skans - Klaxons
  8. This Ole House - Bette Midler
  9. Leaving On A Jet Plane - Peter, Paul & Mary
  10. Somebody To Love - Queen


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Buyer's Remorse

I've been wearing glasses since I was ten years old. There was a good twenty-five years where I wore contact lenses almost exclusively but since age caught up with me and I had to switch to bifocals I stopped wearing them except in a few instance when I didn't want to wear glasses and I knew I wouldn't have to read anything. Therefore it goes without saying that in the past thirty-seven years I've purchased my fair share of eyeglasses. And every single time it's a nightmare that leaves me feeling slightly sick afterwards.

My current pair of glasses is a pair that I don't like. I've never been very crazy about how they feel on me and so I don't wear them often. I have a cheap pair of glasses that are more comfortable but I don't see particularly well with them. It was time for me to get a new pair so off I went to the optician.

I tend to buy glasses that run to the conservative side of style. Classic, as the optician likes to call it. Now that I've resigned myself to wearing glasses full time I decided that I would break out a bit and get a pair that would be a little more stylish. More chic. More trendy. Less old lady. I go to the same optician and the same guy helps me each time. I told him that I was looking to get glasses that would be a bit different than my current pair and yet not make me look like an idiot. Heavy plastic frames, intense colors and off-beat shapes are great for some but I am not that some. Regardless of the years I've spent wearing glasses, I don't like them. I have never really felt comfortable in them and I don't think I'm really suited to wearing glasses. I don't have a glasses face. And I can count on one hand how many pair I've had that I have really liked. Actually I can count them on one finger.

I tried on at least a dozen pair of glasses. Some were on the flashy side and I immediately rejected them. Some were of the style I already have and while I was tempted to wimp out and get them I really wanted to get a more updated look. There was a pair that I'd tried on about four or five pair into the process that were good. I kept looking but I returned to them again and again, trying them on over and over to make sure that I could live with them. The legs are plastic and a bit wider than I've ever worn. And they're black. Not super black. Light black, if such a thing exists. The lenses are rectangular but not severely so and the frame around the lenses (they're rimless on the bottom) is a nice blue-gray. They're cute. They add some color and interest to my face. I think.

So I bought them. And while the frames were on sale (I got a third off) the lenses certainly weren't. Know what's the worst part about having to go to bifocal lenses? It's not the fact that it means you're getting older. It's the fact that bifocal lenses cost a king's ransom. I don't like to buy cheap lenses (the ones in my cheap spare pair are crap lenses and it definitely makes a difference in how well I see) but when all the elements get added up I still go into a state of shock. Buying a car doesn't send me into a fit like getting the total cost on a pair of bifocal glasses. The last time I went into such a state of shock was when I bought a four bedroom house.

Now I'm back home and now is when the doubt begins. Are those glasses really that cute? Maybe I was just settling. Maybe I think they're cute but others will see it and think I've lost my mind. And did I make the right decision on the lenses? Maybe I would see just as well if I'd gotten the middle grade lenses and would have saved a hundred bucks. And did I do the vision test right? All that "Is this better? This? Number one or number two?". All that pressure to pick! Did I involuntarily squint while reading the bottom line and didn't realize it? I've just bought a pair of glasses that cost me more than a month's rent and my monthly utilities combined. Have I done the right thing?

Tell you what. The glasses will be ready in about 2 1/2 weeks. If when I get them I feel brave enough to take a picture of myself so you can see them and you think they're terrible, do me a favor. Lie. Or at least break it to me gently because I'm going to be stuck with them for a few years.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Shuffle - Music from Unexpected Sources Edition

I'd planned on letting y'all in on what I've been doing for the past three weeks but since it's Friday let's just stick to a musical theme. I'll bear my soul next week.

I live smack in the middle of the city and my flat is very close to the university. It's the tradition here that when someone earns their doctorate degree that the person being honored rides on a barrel being pulled on a wagon while someone beats a drum and the honoree's friends parade along behind. We hear the drum beating fairly often and when we do either I or B will comment to the other, "There's a new doctor in town!".

When I heard the drum beats today I noticed that they were just a bit too rhythmic to be a regular new doctor's parade and there were some definite sounds of brass instruments being played so I tugged on some shoes, grabbed my camera and went outside to investigate and found this:


It was a jazz band from the Sax'n Anhalt music school (the state I live in is Sachsen-Anhalt so you can appreciate the play on the spelling) out across the street from my flat. They were out in front of a cabaret - I don't know if they were hired by the cabaret or it was just providence that brought them there but they were excellent. I sat there on a bench across the street from them as they played to the gathered crowd. They'd walk around the people as they played and get down on the level with the little kids and everyone loved them. I sat with my downstairs neighbor and her two little girls and watched the kids dance. Know what's so great about living in the middle of the city? A mini jazz concert can break out at any time.

My other tale of music today took me back in time about thirty-five years. A few years ago I wrote about elementary school and the fantastic music teacher we had who taught a bunch of kids to sing everything from Peter, Paul and Mary to the Cowsills to Manfred Mann to the music of Jesus Christ Superstar and Fiddler on the Roof. A few of us who went to school together have found one another again on Facebook and joined a group for those who attended our elementary school. Naturally a big part of the conversation within that group has centered on our beloved music teacher and she found us again as well and joined us. Those of us she taught were anxious to friend her and on her Facebook wall are lots of messages from folks who remember her fondly. Virtually every one of them thanks her for making music into something that has stayed an important part of their lives. Mrs. A is 70 years old now, lives in New England and still plays piano in a hotel lounge on weekends. She reports that many of those songs she taught us are part of her play list and the patrons often tell her they have their own fond memories of those tunes.

Our elemenary school choruses made a couple albums and I remember we were so proud of them. I'd lost mine years ago - in fact the hundreds of vinyl albums I had are gone forever...don't ask - but my old friend, Elaine, wrote to me and said she still had hers and she'd put the parts our class' chorus sang on CD for me. It arrived today and I played it immediately. Some of the songs I ddin't remember especially well but some are so burned into my brain that I could sing along with them without missing a word even though I haven't heard those songs in thirty years. The performances didn't sound perfect - the record was recored in the school's cafeteria so you can imagine what the acoustics were like - and there were all sorts of notes we didn't quite reach. I laughed at how crummy we sounded sometimes but we really weren't all that bad. And for what we may have lacked in pitch sometimes we made up for in enthusiasm. I remember that making these records was one of the highlights of our elementary school years and rehearing them now brings back memories I forgot I had.

Time to shuffle.
  1. Clerkenwell Polka - Madness
  2. Over It - Dinosaur Jr.
  3. Relax - Frankie Goes to Hollywood
  4. Rock Lobster - The B-52's
  5. Heavy Cross - Gossip
  6. For Emma - Bon Iver
  7. Tiger Mountain Peasant Song - Fleet Foxes
  8. One Day Like This - Elbow
  9. Summertime Blues - Alan Jackson
  10. Loreley - Blackmore's Night


Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I considered seeing if I could go three weeks without a blog entry but decided against it.

I'm fine here. Better than I've been in a while actually. I'll give you more details later - probably Friday - but for now I'll tell you that I've been spending the past few weeks trying to break a lot of old habits that have been holding me back. I've spend too much time doing what wasn't working for me and now I'm trying to refocus on what will work. And trying to use as many pretentious words like "refocus" as I can.

Now I must go eat a kiwi.