Lest we forget…

When does patriotism become merely another version of fandom?  Do we diminish the value of service by branding it with empty nationalism?

Today is Memorial Day in the United States.  We have set this day aside to remember and pay tribute to our war dead.  Many also memorialize family and friends who have passed.

As I’m wont to do, I begin to ponder things on days like this.

I feel a sense of solemnity on Memorial Day.  Sure, it’s the start of Summer and a nice three day weekend that lends itself to the beach, pool and cook outs, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with those things.

Somewhere in the number of 1.3 million American troops have died in war during our country’s history.  That’s a pretty staggering number.  That’s a lot of graves, not all of which are on U.S. soil.

Not really sure I have much of a point beyond that number.  1.3 million.  How many more before we’re done?

Shot, stabbed, decapitated, disemboweled, burned alive, drowned – all the the horrible ways you can die…

We wrap it up in ceremony and parades.  Do we do this to salve our consciences?  Wouldn’t no more war be a better memorial?

Start Again

I ran a half marathon this Sunday past.  It was my third.  I recorded a PR.  That’s Personal Record for you civilians.  The course was hillier than I anticipated, but I was largely undaunted.  I struggled a bit with the final two miles, which included the dreaded “Hospital Hill”.

I haven’t run at all this week.  In part to rest and in part out of fear that I can’t run anymore.  Strange.

This morning, a day off work, I feel good – legs feel rested and recovered.  And yet, I kind of dread lacing up and heading out for a run.

Why?  I have no idea.

It’s going to be a beautiful day for a run…


How We Remember


In anticipation of Memorial Day

Originally posted on on the mark side:

This weekend in the USA we celebrate Memorial Day, a day for remembering our war dead.  It has become the de facto beginning of Summer, yet we still take time to stop and remember and say a prayer of thanks for those who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice for our county.  Remembrance and honor.

It’s gotten me to thinking about the nature of memory and it’s step-child, nostalgia.

Memory is a funny thing.  Two people can have such different recollections of the same events.  I’ve always wondered about that, how it could be.  It seems that our memories are subject to the many things that shape our perspectives, our perceptions, our reality.

Events that are crystal clear in our minds today may fade and become fuzzy over time, the rough edges of memory smoothed and rounded like pebbles in a stream.  Is it a self defense mechanism or more like a…

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Summertime Blues…


Upon the advent of another Summer…

Originally posted on on the mark side:

I have a certain melancholy about Summer as an adult. Just as a Friday brings awareness of the next Monday, the start of Summer leads down the path to Autumn. Death, decay and darkness.

I’m quite the buzz-kill, I know. I can’t help myself.

Maybe I romanticize Summer too much.

Growing up in an age of childhood freedom, inspired by the books of Mark Twain, I see summer in the hazy gauze of my memories. Oh how I miss those carefree adventures. Riding, running, swimming, playing ball, tag and cowboys and Indians. Cruising the roadsides and ditches for glass bottles to turn in at the local gas station for the nickel deposit to fund our snack habits. Riding to the pool and spending all day taking advantage of the summer pass that Dad bought. Building forts in the carcasses of trees knocked down by the latest storm. Building bike ramps…

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It’s dark and cold

I’m surrounded by mewling and yipping beasts

some even dare the pretense of a roar

the herd lurches on

an undead thing soon to rise

From the FB Archives…

Someone asked me tonight, “what is best in life?”. I’ll forgive that they called me Mr. Young – even FB knows thats my Dad. But it got me a-thinkin’. I know, I know, nothing good can come of that. So, I says to myself, what is “best in life?” This is what I think today is best in life. Uncertainty, foolishness, fearlessness and passion. Life is uncertain – embrace it, ride it like a wave. Be a fool. Be a fool for something, someone – be unselfconscious in all you do. Be as silly, whimsical and happy as you can manage. Laugh, smile and make others laugh. That is a true gift, making others laugh. Don’t be afraid – fear feeds on itself and will suck the strength out of you. Fear and its partner worry will tie you down. F’em! Charge ahead, damn the torpedoes! You know what you love – do it. There is no substitute. It doesn’t have to be a great grand endeavor. Just give yourself to it. And then, from my personal perspective, there are some things that I consider best in life – a nice whiskey, a crushing riff, a long slow kiss, the laugh of a child, the warmth of the sun, reverb, a properly cooked steak, the love of friends and family, the awesomeness of the universe, the sound of coyotes on a cold autumn night, sharing a bottle of wine, cooking for others, the wind in my hair, a long run, having my hand held, a warm breath on my neck, a finely crafted beer, a candle lit dinner, a slow dance and bacon. So, for what it’s worth, that’s my answer today. Ask me tomorrow, and I may very well give a different answer. Cheers, peace and love

It’s been a long time…

Thirty three years ago next week I saw Led Zeppelin’s third to last performance with the original four members in Mannhiem, Germany.

Last night I saw the next best thing to seeing the band that reformed for the fabled O2 concert in 2007.

We went to the local concert shed to see Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience open up for Heart.  Believe it or not, I had never seen the Wilson sisters perform.

It was a typical hot and humid June night and thankfully we had seats inside the pavilion.  The setting sun was still very intense from our seats in the 300 section, near the back of the building.  We had our shades on for the first half of Bonham’s band’s set.

Eventually the sun dropped below the tree line and we could begin to see the images on the large video screens on either side of the stage.

The Led Zep Experience ran through a quick set of Zeppelin standards, with Jason occasionally addressing the crowd from behind his kit.  The passing and subsequent absence of his Dad, though 33 past, is obviously still an emotional subject.

The band consisted of a trio of hired guns on vocals, guitar and bass.  They did a solid, if unremarkable, job with the material.  It’s clear that Jason is the star here.  Vocalist James Dylan is from the Northern Virginia area, so he had quite a few local supporters.  He’s a Plant sound-a-like, even if he is a Daughtry look-a-like.

The band was rounded out by Tony Catania on guitar, and Michael Devin on bass.

Jason, I think Bonzo would be proud.

After a brief intermission, the Anne and Nancy and crew took the stage to the power chords of their signature rocker, “Barracuda”.

Heart ran through set heavy on the hits, with couple of pleasant surprises.  Nancy did a solo acoustic cover of Elton John’s “I Need You to Turn to” that was really beautiful.  “She’s really underrated as a performer”, I shared with my date, “but she’s in the Hall of Fame”.

Other than the train wreck, “Dear Old America”, it was a solid set with some heavy riffs and the sister’s legendary vocals.  No “Dog and Butterfly”, but they did play “Mistral Wind”.

As the final notes of “Crazy On You” rang in the night and faded, the lights dimmed and Jason Bonham’s drum riser was rolled back out on stage for the “encore”.

Anne and Nancy appeared center stage.  Anne on acoustic guitar, Nancy on mandolin and they proceeded to play the “Battle of Evermore”, a Zeppelin tune they’ve been covering for probably 30 years or so.  It was, if the word can be used on a Led Zeppelin song, sublime.

That was followed by some of my favorite Zep tunes, “The Song Remains the Same”, “The Rain Song”, “The Ocean”, “Kashmir” and “Stairway to Heaven”.

“Stairway” was the closer and they included the choir, albiet a smaller version, that appeared with them on the Kennedy Center Honors awards show honoring Led Zeppelin among others.

Short of seeing Jimmy, Robert and JPJ together on stage again, this is probably as close as a Led Zeppelin fan will get to seeing the band live at this point.  Anne Wilson is undisputedly the finest interpreter of Plant’s Led Zeppelin vocals. Finest.  Ever. Period.

It’s a show well worth your time.


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