A Blog, more or less

Everybody seems to feel it necessary to "Blog" so I guess I should Blog along with the crowd. 

As of now (Dec 2109), there's not much here, but I plan to work on it this winter.

For now, enjoy a few of my favorite clips and stories.

-Tom, BlogMaster

The LA Speed Story

I've always loved planes, which was convenient, because I grew up pretty close to an Air Force base. The most amazing plane ever built was the SR-71

I never got to see one fly, but about 25 years ago, I got to see an SR-71 up close, at March Field in California.

This clip is hilarious, I've enjoyed it many times. Pass it along!

Urban Skier makes the bus

Please devote a few minutes of your life and check out this incredible video of the late, and great, skier, JP Auclair, who skied his last run in 2014.

There are a couple of urban ski videos out there, but this is my favorite.


Is it just an Ordinary Day?

Last winter, I was at the beach in Oaxaca, Mexico. I like to stream WBEZ out of Chicago for news, so I was aware of the time, and tuned in right at the top of the news hour.

I was pretty devastated to hear of the death of the incredibly talented Irish singer, Dolores O'Riordan, of the Cranberries.

Some artists paint the background of your life, at important turning points, and such things. The 1990's in Skagway were like that, and the Cranberries were in the background. 

Rest in Peace, beautiful girl from Limerick.  <3

For fans of Railroads and REM

I'm a big music fan. Like all of us, certain songs ring a bell in my collective life experience. This is one of my favorites, from when I first decided that Alaska was my home. I'm a Driver, I am Driver 8

Love the video, and Skagway is a big place for railroad enthusiasts, to say the least. 

BASE jumping---Holy Crap!

I love books and videos about mountain climbing, surfing, BASE jumping, parkour, extreme skiing, and that sort of stuff. I've done some fun things, very fun things, but not like THIS

Check out this one:

FLY ME TO THE MOON --Frank Sinatra 1965

My parents were Depression kids, and they had happy childhoods, with loving families, farm food, and great music.

Money does not equal happiness. 

This was the music heard in my house, in the Spokane Valley, when Apollo missions were on all three channels, and Walter Cronkite tole us:

"And that's the way it is, July 20th, 1969

I remember, very well, even as a little kid

Waking up somewhere new

There's nothing more amazing than that moment when you wake up, and realize you're in a place you've never been before, like this:

“I woke up from a deep sleep to find everybody sleeping like lambs and the car parked God knows where, because I couldn't see out the steamy windows. I got out of the car. We were in the mountains: there was a heaven of sunrise, cool purple airs, red mountainsides, emerald pastures in valleys, dew, and transmuting clouds of gold; on the ground gopher holes, cactus, mesquite. It was time for me to drive on.”
Jack Kerouac, On the Road

The Alaska Highway & This American Life

As of 2018, I have driven the Alaska Highway between Skagway and the Lower 48, or vice-versa, a total of 52 times.

My first trip was in 1987, and I did at least two trips a year for more than twenty years. 

I relied heavily on books on tape, cassettes in the early days, then IPods, and eventually I discovered, and focused on a radio series called This American Life. If you know TAL, then you already know, but it's really quite amazing. 

It's just stories, presented by Ira Glass, the host, and a large group of incredibly creative people, like Sarah Vowell, David Sedaris, the late David Rakoff, and Scott Carrier, among many others.

TAL has been the background of some absolutely EPIC Alaska highway journeys. After my divorce, the trips were solo, so if I had the legs, sometimes I drove deep, deep into the night. With full moons, super moons, meteor showers, the aurora borealis, and the amazing, crazy moonscape-stunted-tree, jagged mountains glimpsed in the distance, I listened to TAL stories, fully immersed in both the story, my aloneness, and the lands passing in the long Northern nights.

One of my favorite episodes of TAL is called "I know what you did this summer"

Episode 191

The first part is by Scott Carrier, where he takes a completely impromptu 3000 mile road trip during the hottest summer in his memory.

I love the part where he blurs out from the heat, listening to AM radio in Kentucky, and the music is "Fade Into You", by Mazzy Star. 

Friends, when I've needed  an injection of happiness, and hope, i listen to this story, called Just Three Thousand More Miles To The Beach

I must have listened to it a couple dozen times, so far.


Hope Sandoval-the voice of Mazzy Star

A tattoo love song

Mark Knopfler is one of my favorite musicians. His technique is incredible, and he tells stories with his songs. 

I have some tattoo stories as well.

San Andreas Fault--Natalie Merchant

Lots of memories swirling around in this song. Natalie Merchant, the voice of the band, 10,000 Maniacs, is one of my absolute favorites.

Go west
paradise is there
you'll have all that you can eat
of milk and honey over there

Zoot Suit, white jacket with side vents 5" long

Before The Who became The Who, they were known as The High Numbers.

Check out this early version of "Zoot Suit", which, much later, appeared on the classic Quadrophenia album.

The Levi Stubb's Tears story

I had just arrived in Sydney, from Auckland, it was January, 1987, and I was not happy. I had made great friends in New Zealand, and wasn't sure I wanted to be in Sydney, and I had a hangover.

I was watching something like Australian MTV in my room, and I stumbled on a great song, really great, it made an impression on me, but I didn't catch the name, or the artist.

I spent the next two months going into music stores, and trying to sing the two lines of the lyrics that I could remember. Nobody knew, which seemed odd, because this was an Australian singer, I was sure.

Months later, I figured it out. I was living in a cabin in the woods, no electricity. I had a battery powered radio, and our one single radio station used to go off-air at midnight. It was 10 minutes to midnight, and THEY PLAYED THAT SONG!  And, the dj said the same and artist, but it was dark,  I had to write it down, my flashlight was dead, and I literally had two matches in the box. Of course, the first match was a fizzle, but the second one worked, and with a pencil stub, by the flickering light, I wrote:

Levi Stubbs Tears/ Billy Bragg

No digital music back then, I had to order the CASSETTE, and wait for it to arrive. Then I found out all the other great music Billy has given us.

And that's the story of Levi Stubb's Tears. 

(for Deanna Woolston)

You may ask your guide: "How smart are those crows and ravens, Really?"

And he will say, check out the video on my blog page!

Really, really, very, extremely smart.

Best Guitar Solo EVER! Clapton & Knopfler Tokyo 1988

this is one of my all time favorite music videos. 

Clapton, known as Slow Hand, rarely shows his ability to totally shred a Fender Stratocaster like he does, on this special night in Tokyo. Mark Knopfler, of Dire Straits fame, another serious contender for all time Guitar God, accompanies Eric, in this amazing version of Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff", which is largely responsible for Marley's success in the USA. 

I've seen Clapton several time, but the best was in August 1977, in Spokane. Santana opened for Clapton, and they both jammed for Clapton's encore, for about an hour. Ticket price was $6.50. I couldn't get anybody to go with me, so I just went.

Kind of like TRAVEL 

Sometimes, OFTEN, you just have to GO.

New York City Stories

Holden Caulfiend, the protagonist in JD Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, had some adventures in New York City, my favorite big city in the USA. I've had some adventures there, too. 

Holden liked the Museum of Natural History, on the Upper West Side. I do too.

''Sometimes we looked at the animals and sometimes we looked at the stuff the Indians had made in ancient times,'' he recalls. ''It always smelled like it was raining outside, even if it wasn't, and you were in the only nice, dry, cosy place in the world. I loved that damn museum.''

The Dakota

Just down from the Museum of Natural History, at Central Park West and 72nd Street, sits the iconic Dakota.

The building has a long history, and it's pretty unique in it's appearance, to say the least. It's where Rosemary's Baby was filmed, and, on December 8th, 1980, it's where John Lennon breathed his last breath of life.

I've spent quite a bit of time on that corner, at various times of the day, and it's a very moving place. 

Here's a great song about that night.

Bill Murray on 5th Avenue during Hurricane Gloria

True story! 

My first visit to NYC, en route to Europe in 1985. 

Check out the link, there's an entire site of Bill Murray stories. Some are probably fiction, but my story really happened.