reflections from the southeast PA rural underground

Monday, September 24, 2012

The 19th Century

It's harvest time. Or so they say. Depending on what vegetables you grow and attempt to sell, harvest time could have been a month ago--tomatoes. Or back in Spring--greens. Or maybe just beginning, it's true, if you're cash crop is apples in this here Northeast where we live. The Autumn days are here to be sure. Crystal clear days, plenty of sun still fairly high in the sky, good cool nights for sound sleep, and all the Pumpkin Ales you can cram in your tummy until they take 'em away for another year. And to top it all off here I sit without hunger, without cold, not wanting and indeed, steadily enjoying a Long Trail Harvest Ale shipped down from the good folks of the Green Mountain state. As the song goes, "Good times are comin', comin', hmm. Good times are comin', comin' hmm." It all seems so idyllic. If I could pen as well as any of the greats, well, it'd just about be down right sublime, romantic to be sure, and even dare I say, beatific? Again, if I had the talent and couldwould stretch it Just. . .That. . .Far. And on and on with the wonderful descriptions of the first world amenities and social networking and laptops and everything so damn connected. But alas, to be a vegetable grower (nay, not really a true farmer, any more than the rest of the fakers and throwers around of labels from times gone by) means to be undeniably bowed and bound to the ground. The last three days have been especially taxing. Weekend? What is that to a vegetable grower. There are only seasons. And they are long. The rest of society may clock in and clock out but the rain will fall when it pleases and the wind will howl and blow your plants dry and your covers off and take branches down. You are not protected from the elements. You are in and one of them. Having to sell the wares so dutifully and timely (as fast as you can man) means hours of driving. Deliveries. Market days. Ask the farmer if his/her sciatica is acting up. Then there is the daily field work and its oh so romantic, bucolic, and what was the last one. . .oh yes beatific charm. Is it charming to be alone for hours on end to the point where you begin mumbling to yourself about any manner of topics including politics and film? This is bending over most of the time so that your lower back, arms and neck are stretched in ways that most indoor workers of the world could only wonder about. This is not like the gym after work. A seasoned field hand will economize their movements without thinking about it so that more and more efficient motion can be attained. This is not Zen. This is economy. Surviving the day's movement. After all it is organic farming. Isn't that just, like, gardening? Wow. That must be so peaceful. So meditative. So. After the driving and the bending comes the pounding. I recently purchased a greenhouse and now have the joy of putting 6 1/2 foot by 2in. wide metal stakes into the soil roughly 30 inches deep. This involves standing/balancing on a plastic 5 gal. bucket with a 25lb metal 'pole setter' and driving the stake (or hoping to do so!) through the ROCKland Township ground as far as it will go. It will inevitably be short of the 30 required inches by 6-8 inches. Then its time to finish the job with the sledge hammer. The sound of metal setter against metal pipe is louder than most gun shots and much higher pitched. Yes, it hurts your ears. By the 10th stake or so (out of 50) my left shoulder had begun to ache enough that I wished for a 20 year old to finish the job and wondered cynically if I had it in me to do it all myself. Then there is the crouching down to the damp, cold soil at 7 am (where's the morning commute and coffee?)and reaching over a bed of wet greens to hobble along, cutting the tender salad for an hour an 1/2. This will remind you that yes, you've done this so many times before that you know you will do it again this time (asking yourself if its that Protestant work ethic, or just stupidity, or lack of professional ambition, or just "being used to it by now" that carries you through) because of course, you damn well can. And you will. You think of the Mennonites you know. Some of them almost twice your age. They wouldn't flinch at this work. Hell no! Move your ass college boy. So what if your friends are actually living this century's lifestyle and making the kind of money only a college degree in the first world can provide. So what! Teachers with pensions and every governmental benefit known to man. Nurses. Graphic designers. Whatever. But hey, you're outside and don't have to put up with the hierarchy and the corporate bull. Hm. For $30-50,000 more a year. . . . So you resign yourself to knowing that know one else knows what it's like to be a grower, or a farmer, or a vegetable producer, or a market gardener, or a plain old worker. And that's just fine. Because somehow it just fits you. And the few others who attempt to grow food AND sell it for a living. *When did food become the lowest of the low commodity items on the list of household priorities? Making it the last thing anyone would want to pay a fair price for.* How could they? They think it's like any other business only better! Oh the romance and the beauty. And the pounding. And the back aching. And the hustle. And the wondering if you can sell it all or any of it. How could anyone who's never lived in the 19th century during their waking hours know what its like?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fast lines for crazy times

Nothing says Holy War like big fat judo-to-fakie airs in an 11 ft. deep pool by 38 yr. old (yes, 38!) bowl riding veteran, Omar Hassan. Happy Birthday to SoCal and America at large. Never let em' tell you to stop!

(the end of the vid is sick and fast)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Oh Where, Oh Where Can Jah Love Be Found?

My dear, it's here in the Underground.

Inside the hearts of your own children.”

--from the song, House of Suffering

--Paul D. Hudson aka. H.R. (Human Rights), Bad Brains

Punk has taken many forms over the years. Starting mostly in England as out-and-out physical and mental rebellion against all forms of the status quo cultural norms, authority figures and economic inequality. A muscular, often filthy, angry, F!@# YOU! kind of punk with roots in the working class struggles as much as angsty teen boredom with all manner of mainstreamness. Read: WHITE RIOT.

Like any movement though, meanings and attitudes change. Punk has been no different. Having taken on religious themes during the late 1980's and transformed into very sellable 'pop punk' in the 90s (some would say punk had died a commercial death) the evolution over those first 25 years was just as varied as any other art form. Always and forever at the heart of America's punk rock scene or more specifically, the American born version known as hardcore punk, were the Bad Brains. A truly original blend of reggae and blistering, 10-times-faster-than-anything-else punk music. Add to that a big old helping of professionally trained jazz fusion musicianship and you get the idea.

From 1977 till now and beyond to whatever future they create, almost no band compares in scope, authenticity, and sheer powerful energy that encapsulates all that punk ever was and will be. With themes of charity, DIY, Rasta, and the ideal of a hardcore/punk community thriving against the heavy weight of an always profiteering mainstream art and music world, the Brains have kept on their rocky-at-times pilgrimage to Jah's Mt. Zion. Long live hardcore. Long live the youth nation.

Monday, March 12, 2012

That Good Ole Space Twang

Evan Dando sat by himself across the stage from me smoking cigarettes and clearly enjoying that he and his band had stumbled upon some fine country music happening at John and Peter's in New Hope, PA. I never saw the Lemonheads in person so I wouldn't have known it was him except that the lead singer of the Wallace Bros., who were by this time well into their 2 1/2 hr. set, exclaimed to me, his wild eyes popping with joy, "Holy shit! The Lemonheads are here!" Huh. I could see that early 90's grunge look was still with their (heads) singer along with the stringy blonde hair. That much I could tell hadn't changed a bit. It was a truly great evening of music at John and Peter's and the slow ballad by Dando just put the icing on the cake. I kept thinking to myself, there just can't be many real live music venues like this one left in Southeast PA. Let alone the whole country. Cheers to you New Hope, PA. Thanks for all the great music over the years. After all, it's not just the home of Dean and Gene.