Category Archives: Media

war paint

War Paint, Redux

Once in a post I likened the darkened bars on the gill plates of a smallmouth bass to war paint.

War Paint

In the last issue of The Drake, I wrote an essay about smallmouth bass where I described the “dark bands on the gill plates popping like war paint.”

Many times when you write for print it’s as if you send it out via pneumatic mail tube, never to be heard from again.  So it was gratifying to get a package in the mail from an angler  from Michigan named Jon Lee.

“That stuck with me,” he wrote of the line. “I paint fish and couldn’t get it out of my head so I painted it.”

Thanks Jon Lee, to me that’s about as cool as it gets.

war paint

 

Flattery

“Everyone is influenced by everybody but you bring it down home the way you feel it.” –Thelonious Monk

These kids played on Letterman and I liked the song so I listened to it again.

The baseline reminded me of this song from the Raconteurs:

Jack White supposedly gets pissed about this sort of thing (witness his feud with the Black Keys), which is funny because he basically states in the documentary It Might Get Loud that his idea for the guitar-drums ensemble came from watching the Flat Duo Jets, before they added a bass player. (He also raves about them in Two Headed Cow):

OK then.

White also once said he didn’t trust anyone who didn’t like Led Zeppelin, who might be the biggest musical plagiarists of all time.

But, hey, it’s ok to be influenced by someone else. Witness these J Roddy Walston and the Business fellows… 

..who have a Kings of Leon vibe…

But then to me they all sound a bit like Uncle Tupelo covering the Stooges:

And Uncle Tupelo is among the best of my generation and they are both heavily influenced and original all at once, which is the best kind of thing…

So bring it down home kids, there’s always room for more.

TOPFLOOD

BOOK REVIEW: Top of the Flood

There’s a certain mindset I’ve come to expect from Texans based upon those I’ve run across. If I had to explain it, it’s something along the lines of,  “We need to disassemble this 10 ton truck and walk it piece by piece across the length of the panhandle? Let’s get started.”

Tosh Brown has that in him, as evidenced in his revelation that he left behind his University of Texas business degree and a job in commercial real estate to shoot pictures. “Ditch the tie, get a camera and go on to be one of the most acclaimed fly fishing photographers of the past two decades? Let’s get started.”

He was certainly that way when he teamed up with me to publish our photo-essay book [shameless-self promotion alert: The Blitz: Fly Fishing The Atlantic Migration]. On our trips together, I learned a few other things about Tosh. First and foremost, he is a family man, proving that you can reconcile creative pursuits with raising kids in a functional manner.  Second, he loves good jokes and great stories.

When I read through Tosh’s new book, Top of the Flood: Halfway Through a Fly-fishing Life, I think back to those slogs through New England on the ferry, eating food warmed under a rotisserie heat lamp, listening to Tosh and waiting for the payoff.

TPF-Dropjacket1

Tosh’s recollections come across on the page as they would in person, well-told and with comic sensibility. In his essay called “A Matter of Record,” he recounts his nonchalance about applying for potential IGFA records for flounder and red snapper. He says of the latter, “If my memory serves, we ate that one grilled with new potatoes and a fabulous Veracruz sauce.”

There are great one liners like that in every chapter. (In his essay, “Extremes,” he aptly notes that “…snook are fastidious little pricks, even in Texas.”)

For more, read “The Bass Phase” in this month’s issue of The Drake, check out this excerpt on the Departure Publishing site, and buy a signed copy for $24.95

The Top Two Songs Involving Corduroy Fabric

Yesterday I spent a lot of time listening to the Pogues, which is something to do on St. Patrick’s Day among other days. The song “Poor Paddy¹” came on.

In the song, Shane MacGowan references corduroy britches  nine times. It struck me as an intriguing cultural reference in that the only other song I can think of that mentions the fabric is NWA’s “Dope Man.”

In “Dope Man” Eazy-E mentions them only once. At the song’s four minute mark he says, “I’m the dope man yeah boy wear corduroy, money up to here but unemployed.”

These are the top two songs to my knowledge that involve corduroy². Both songs have the same hardness to them, of the working man trying to get by in less than ideal labor conditions. So what does corduroy have to do with that?

Luckily, Google provides ready answers for surface grazers, expedited by the magic of autofill.

No less an apparel authority than  Brooks Brothers³ calls corduroy the “cloth of the king,” before noting that during the Industrial Revolution, it became the go-to fabric of the working class, or as BB tells it, “poor man’s velvet.”

A more in depth history of corduroy can be found at V is for Vintage

This accounting describes it as having a “velvety feel making it durable yet soft to touch.” It also makes reference of using corduroy to sew “trousers” for soldiers, mountaineers and factory workers and those in “ink-based trades.”

So corduroy rightly has context within the two songs, and its strength as a material has afforded it venue in other pop culture mediums(4).

In any event, I own one pair of corduroy pants but several works of the Pogues and NWA and Eazy-E, so I’ll keep attuned to any other possible commonalities.

And, in case you were wondering about the justification for this, there is corduroy in fly fishing.

1. (It’s a traditional song, “Poor Paddy Work on the Railway,” documented by Carl Sandburg in American Songbag.)

2.(The Pearl Jam song  titled “Corduroy”  never actually mentions corduroy and, vocally, Eddie Vedder sounds like he may or may not be taking a dump. Who can say?)

3. (Brooks Brothers titles its clothing advice page, “Of Rogues and Gentlemen.” I can imagine the scrubbed salesman at the retail shop trying to play up the rogue angle to some accounting consultant from Deloitte. And, in hearing this, the consultant daydreams of the gang at the 19th hole saying, “He’s such a rogue, he played the entire round from the gold tees.”)

4. (Corduroy gets more play on Seinfeld in the form of swooshing pants. So do velvet, Gore Tex and cotton. Side note, the Yankee’s cotton uniforms episode has one of my favorite random Seinfeld bits, where George reads aloud, “Wade Boggs says, ‘What a fabric!'”)

Home: Cheyenne River

HOME: CHEYENNE RIVER

This is a post about the Kickstarter Campaign of my friends Richard and Heather Steinberger. Heather’s a talented writer and Richard is a talented photographer and they happen to be married; they take their daughter in tow and cut wide swaths around the globe chasing their interests. And they always seem to come back with compelling words and pictures.

For the past eight years they have been heavily involved in the  Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, particularly the Cheyenne River Youth Project. They both became closely attached to many people in the Lakota Nation and inspired by the jaw-dropping beauty of the land.

Two years ago they decided to collaborate on a photo-essay book project that will celebrate Cheyenne River. They are looking to publish it themselves, raising the money to print and distribute it via Kickstarter.

I’m posting about it because I have no doubt it will be a work of art and a worthy book and therefore worth the investment.

HERE IS THE LINK TO THEIR KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN

Two Hours Vaulting: Monty-Python and the absurdist sketch based in historical fact

“We’ll have two hours digging, two hours vaulting, and two hours sleeping, ok?” This is one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite Monty Python Sketches: The Society For Putting Things On Top of Other Things. I first watched it at my friend Roland’s house when we were 14 and we’d break out that line, among others, at random as it has had applications during almost any absurd situation from high school well into adulthood.

But what I didn’t know as a 14 year old was that the bit had historical context from actual events in World War II. That realization of context made an already funny sketch even more so.

I was reminded of this after stumbling across an obituary of a former RAF bomber pilot who served time in the Stalag Luft III prison camp, the site of  allied POW escape attempts made famous in the movies The Great Escape and The Wooden HorseThe latter is the story of the vaulting.

Apparently the POWs at Stalag Luft III were a sporting set, as this article from Sports Illustrated details. Between soccer, rugby and golf, the addition of a gymnastic vaulting horse might not have seemed so far fetched. Still the idea of using vaulting as a cover for digging escape tunnels from a Nazi POW camp with spoons while under the watch of Luftwaffe guards is, on the face of it, insane. And ingenious and maybe the most ballsy thing I’ve ever heard of involving sport (where failure is the threat of execution).

Here’s a youtube link to the sketch if you’re so inclined.