Wednesday, 17 June 2015

I Shall Go To St Louis!

Quotation of the day: Me (paraphrasing Dwight D. Eisenhower) ~ I shall go to St Louis

It should come as a surprise to no one that i have been planning a trip to St Louis, Missouri, for close to two years now. Without making too many sacrifices, i now have managed to save enough for the trip -- the air & train fare and five or six nights in a not-too-shabby hotel not too far away from downtown. I still have other expenses to look after: a new passport, new glasses (so that i can see what i'm looking at) and Cate will have to be boarded for a week -- oh, and i'll need to eat and drink and play tourist whilst i'm there! Things are progressing slowly but steadily and the trip is now, tentatively, planned for the third week in September. (The Cardinals play at home all that week.)

The "sacrifices" weren't all that rigorous, either. Instead of going out to lunch once a week, i've been going out once a month. Savings: $90 a month. (I'm quite happy to pay $30 for lunch, i believe that the three hour lunch is wonderful invention.) And instead of going out for a couple of beers after work 4 / 5 times a week, i've been limiting myself to thrice. Savings: $18 - $36 a week (i drink a premium ale, for my sins). It's extraordinary how quickly it adds up!

And so, on Saturday, i was at Kelsey's, having a couple of beers after work (my 3rd and final visit of last week), when my phone went (imitates ringtone) VOOM VOOM VOO VOO VOOM. (My ringtone is Tom Robinson's "2-4-6-8 Motorway", if anyone was wondering what the hell i was trying to do just there.) It was a message from my friend Chuck, in Belleville, Illinois, just across the river from St Louis. He was wondering if i'd settled on the date(s) for my visit? I replied, no, but it'll be sometime in September. He messaged back, do you have accommodation settled, to which i replied, no. Dave (a mutual friend) had offered me a place to crash in St Clair, Missouri, but there's no way to get from St Clair to St Louis unless you have a car (and i don't even drive) so that wasn't really a viable option. So i told him about the research i'd done into hotels and he wrote: save your money. I have a spare bedroom. It's sorted! Bless you, Chuck!

Belleville -- which looks like a very pretty town -- (oh, look, here's a pic!)

 is considered a part of St Louis Metro East and is served by MetroLink (the public transit system there) so getting back and forth will be no problem at all. I have so much to do, but the process is well underway!

And here's a (very short, since my last post was yesterday) playlist:

Richard Thompson -- Daring Adventures
Steve Rothery -- The Ghosts Of Pripyat
Peter Hammill -- And Close As This

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Ink, Part 2

Quotation of the day: Jon Anderson ~ Tattoo. What a loaded word it is, rife with associations to goons, goofs, bikers, tribal warriors, carnival artists, drunken sailors and floozies.

As i haven't had my ink for very long, i've been thinking quite a bit about the whole idea recently. Why do people get tattoos?

Here's what Wikipedia has to say on the subject (so it has to be taken with a grain of salt): "Many tattoos serve as rites of passage, marks of status and rank, symbols of religious and spiritual devotion, decorations for bravery, sexual lures and marks of fertility, pledges of love, punishment, amulets and talismans, protection, and as the marks of outcasts, slaves and convicts. The symbolism and impact of tattoos varies in different places and cultures. Tattoos may show how a person feels about a relative (commonly mother/father or daughter/son) or about an unrelated person.Today, people choose to be tattooed for artistic, cosmetic, sentimental/memorial, religious, and magical reasons, and to symbolize their belonging to or identification with particular groups, including criminal gangs or a particular ethnic group or law-abiding subculture."

I also heard someone say that they are a way to connect with one's tribal roots, but i don't go for that: tribalism is and always has been the cause of all war. I may be many things, but tribal? No.

So why did i get one? Partly for the experience, of course, but mostly (as it's a treble clef) to symbolize the importance of music to me. I'd been thinking about it for quite a long time, but it wasn't until four or five years ago, when i saw a photograph of Wendy Boomer with a treble clef on her arm and knew what i wanted on my arm.

I got it solely for myself, too: it's 'way up at the top of my arm, where it will be mostly invisible. I have very few (if any) shirts with sleeves so short that it will be revealed. And i'll probably never get another: after all, you wouldn't put a load of bumper stickers on a Ferrari....

It's quite a different world to that which i am used to, too -- the world of tattooing. The shop i went to is owned by a couple of guys who met when they were learning their craft in the penitentiary. The artist who did me -- an extremely pleasant guy named Jay -- he's a widower, his wife was a crack addict who died of an overdose, and his 15-year old daughter had just run off with a 17-year old dude.... He, as was his partner, was covered with ink. So different to the world of books, music and art that i inhabit.

I am very glad i did it!

Here, have a playlist:

Peter Hammill -- Skin
Steeleye Span -- Storm Force Ten
Jethro Tull -- Thick As A Brick
Ian Anderson -- Thick As A Brick 2
Rush -- Exit ... Stage Left
Sandy Denny -- Rendezvous
Stephane Grappelli -- In Tokyo
Joni Mitchell -- Don Juan's Reckless Daughter
Tim Hart & Maddy Prior -- Folksongs Of Old England, Vol. 2
Fairport Convention -- Unhalfbricking
Steeleye Span -- Tempted And Tried
Fairport Convention -- Before The Moon
Fairport Convention -- XXXV
Sandy Denny -- Sandy
Steve Rothery -- The Ghosts Of Pripyat
Chris Leslie -- Dancing Days
Jethro Tull -- The Minstrel In The Gallery
The John Kirkpatrick Band -- Welcome To Hell
Steve Earle -- El Corazon
Sandy Denny -- A Boxful Of Treasures
Mark Knopfler -- Tracker
Joni Mitchell -- Dog Eat Dog