Friday, September 30, 2005
(The green and tan Suburban is just a coincidence. Or is it a sign?)
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Where: Stroud's in Cool Springs, 1010 Fulton Greer Rd., on the banks of the Harpeth River.
Agenda: 70-degrees, BBQ, and first look at potential canoe trailers.
Directions: I-65 south to Cool Springs Blvd., Right on Mack Hatcher, Right on Hillsboro Rd., then just past the Mapco.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Cussing Canoeist Wins Free Speech Challenge
DETROIT, - A Michigan court on Monday overturned the conviction of a man dubbed the "cussing canoeist," ruling an obscure 105-year-old state law barring swearing in front of women and children unconstitutional. The case involved Timothy Boomer, a Detroit-area computer programmer who was charged with the crime while on a canoeing trip in Arenac County,about 125 miles (190 km) north of Detroit. Prosecutors said Boomer yelled the "f-word" as many as 75 times after he fell out of his canoe on the remote Rifle River. 40 yards behind Mr. Boomer and his party of five canoes was a family — father, mother, two very small children. The mother testified that she had to cover the ears of her 2-year-old.
Shortly after Boomer's outburst, he and his friends rounded a bend and noticed three sheriff's deputies on the river bank staring at them with binoculars. As Boomer's friends sat in their boats, one of the deputies handed him a misdemeanor citation. The charge: violation of Michigan Statute Section 337 which reads "Indecent, etc., language in presence of women or children -- Any person who shall use any indecent, immoral, obscene, vulgar or insulting language in the presence or hearing of any woman or child shall be guilty of a misdemeanor." The crime carries a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and a $100 fine.
The case attracted national attention, pitting free speech advocates against supporters of stronger curbs on offensive language. "(Author Charles) Dickens said 'the law is an ass,' and in this case the law is asinine in attempting to criminally prosecute a man who wanted to apologize for uttering some cuss words after falling in a river," says Larry Dubin, a professor at the University of Detroit-Mercy Law School. But Assistant Prosecutor Richard Vollbach said that his office had no choice but to take the case to court. "Mr. Boomer wasn't expressing any thoughts or ideas at the time. Certainly this couldn't be considered artistic, so I don't think there was First Amendment coverage for what he did that day," Vollbach says. Boomer was found guilty after a district court judge refused to dismiss the case, arguing there was a compelling community interest in "protecting the morality of our children." But the Michigan Court of Appeals on Monday said the law was too vague. "Allowing a prosecution where one utters 'insulting' language could possibly subject a vast percentage of the populace to a misdemeanor conviction," the three judges wrote in their unanimous opinion.
In recent weeks, as the lawyers have haggled over the First Amendment, Boomer has been alarmed to discover his name invoked as an example of the linguistic excesses of an entire generation. In Arizona, Boomer's uncle attended a church sermon and the pastor mentioned Boomer's case as an example of how vulgar today's youth had become. Instead of cursing, the pastor intoned, young people should learn to say "Amen." Several weeks ago, a news crew from CBS flew to Michigan to talk to Boomer for a story on the proliferation of foul language in America. The piece is tentatively scheduled to air in February. Boomer's parents are somewhat baffled by the whole controversy. Timothy Boomer Sr., who runs a house-cleaning business in West Bloomfield Township, said his son is a decent, hard-working kid who had never been in trouble in his life. Besides, even if his son did curse in public, is it really such a crime? "When I was younger," the father said, "I was a little crazy too."
RRCC members use protected speech
after a capsize on the Duck River.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
October is the good month, in a normal year at least. But normality in Southwestern weather is at best a stacking together of extremes, and that was the year the drought broke that had been the norm for seven burning years - from the tree rings, they said, the worst since early Spanish times. Oil money from the cities, looking for a place to invest itself, had kept land from selling quite so cheaply as fat Jack Falstaff's stinking mackerel, but otherwise it would have. No one was certain that the region was not about to become another Middle East, its tenuous fertility transmuted by misuse into desert. Some fundamentalist ministers expressed gratification and said sin had brought it on, and maybe that was so, if in another sense than theirs. . . . But in the spring it broke with tropical flooding rains, and summer was lush with weeds and flowers, and even scrub stocker steers brought show-cattle prices on the hoof, and in October there was rain again, all month long.
With luck, though, November can be all right. . . .
This means the Halloween costume party on the river will have to be cancelled, of course. But the good news is it will be replaced with a riverside Thanksgiving feast. Jim, can we talk you into cooking your famous Trash Can Turkey? And if so, can we use the can for our double bass when you're done?
The alternate date will be November 12, but only if Vanderbilt loses to Richmond and MTSU between now and then. We just couldn’t bring ourselves to schedule this trip on the weekend that the Commodores may clinch their first winning football season in a quarter of a century. The trip is now the same day (November 19) as the Vanderbilt - Tennessee game, which is best experienced on the radio anyway. Or anything else with an on-off button. UT fans on the trip are welcome to listen if they think they can still get reception from their nice wet spot in the Bell Witch Cave. Hey, Roy. Does that yellow Steamboat hat come in orange?
Here at the RRCC Sports Desk, we think the Sunday paper had one of the best football photos we've ever seen. This is what a mechanical engineer looks like when he's scoring three touchdowns:
By the way, "alternate date" does not mean "rain date". When the levee breaks, we just head to the Superdome:
Friday, September 16, 2005
There is a happy solution in the meantime, though. If Kirly's garage can temporarily halt pre-production of the '06 Derby car, there's no reason a good Washtub bass can't be built before the fall float trip. We're not giving up on the full metal jacket upright, but a Washtub bass has its own appealing features. For example:
- It can be disassembled and packed into a canoe
- It can be used to ice beer
- We can make as many as we want...
- Riparian landowners in rural Tennessee will be more friendly towards us...
But it was the following testimonial that really sold us: "To be sure, the over-tones are not as rich, but in general it is a good-sounding and quite interesting instrument, and when compared to a friend's full size conventional string bass, the wash tub special is decidedly louder" (emphasis added).
Building a wash tub bass does not look that hard. All things are revealed on the internet (thank you, Al Gore) so we have our choice of DIY plans available to us for a good tub bass, or even a good nuclear warhead (Warning: RRCC members who click on this link may lose civil liberties under the Patriot Act).
(Notice that cheap import tubs are not allowed)
And while a nuclear bomb requires things like highly enriched plutonium, a Washtub bass only requires: a washtub, string, four cable clamps, a soup can lid, hose clamps, and a stick ("a 1 1/4 inch diameter dead aspen stick from the forest", according to the directions).
Next up: How to build a $20 Hurdy Gurdy just like Sting's.
Here is audio of a Hurdy Gurdy playing "En Roullant Ma Boulle" - a very old French-Canadian Voyageur's paddling song. Because this is a canoeing web site!
Friday, September 09, 2005
Taking a large, delicate wooden instrument to a remote, wet gravel bar might seem impractical now, but it doesn't with enough burgundy. Someone suggested, and may even have seen, a double bass made out of metal. Everyone agreed that if we could find a metal one our problems would be solved, because the RRCC can handle large, just not delicate.
Following up, it seems there is a small (really small) niche for old aluminum basses. First, here is a little history of the "aluminum bass violin". In addition to having a "tonal quality and responsiveness that is as fine as the basses made by the old masters", which we don't really need, the article points out that "The aluminum bass has many advantages over the wood bass, in that it cannot crack, split or warp, and is made to last forever." The article also might have mentioned that an aluminum bass can be paddled, portaged, carried on the roof of a car, and is completely recyclable.
Here's an example of what we're looking for, found at FetishGuitars.com
"...A very rare and very cool late 1930s upright bass made out of aluminum. 3/4 size- 42"scale length. This instrument was made by the Buffalo Aluminum Company in Buffalo NY in the late 1930s. (After WWII, these folks eventually became Grumman and focused on the airplane and boat business.). It has an original "faux" woodgrain painted surface on it. The top has a simulated cremona spruce effect and the back even has a vintage figured maple like pattern. The entire body, neck, and scroll are a fine example of very good metalwork and craftmanship- much better than I ever anticipated. It has an ebony fingerboard, tailpiece and endpin. There is a maple bridge and a wooden soundpost installed. There is also a welded aluminum bass bar on the inside. This instrument will be featured in a couple of vintage instrument magazines in the late spring / early summer..."
The fact that this bass was a predecessor to the Grumman canoe is just too poetic to ignore. The RRCC happens to own one of the very first aluminum canoes ever made by Grumman after WWII, a seventeen-foot 1948 model with wooden floorboards and a sailing rig. Here's a photo of it new almost 60 years ago.
The museum quality instrument described above is probably out of our price range, unless it can double as a canoe trailer. Will anyone volunteer to head up a search committee to find one from some jug band in Kentucky or something? Here is one lead, although it may not be for sale yet:
Hi, I recently purchased an old aluminum bass. Since I'm not a musician, I bought it planning to use it as a sculpture. It sounds like there may be players looking to pick one up, so I'll probably list it on Ebay before too long. It has a wood neck, so maybe it is one of the Fords that I've read about. It's missing the finger board, and would need a new gear on one of the tuners. The front is bright aluminum, and the sides / back retain partial woodgrain finish. It is marked "NW3" with paint, making me think that it was used at a university. Shows it's age with dings & repairs, but still looks cool. See link to Double Bass Forum
Two more compelling reasons why we need a double bass:
(1) When we ride it down the river, "bass boat" is a great heteronym. Get it? Bass boat…bass boat…?
(2) Sometimes Rob would appreciate only having to play four strings.
"I started out on Burgundy, but soon hit the harder stuff..."
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Proposed Destination: The Red River, near Adams, Tennessee, home of the Bell Witch, on Halloween weekend. Even if it didn't have a witch, the Red would be our obvious next river since we have done the Piney, the Buffalo, the Stones and the Duck. The Red is beautiful in the fall with the dark-fired tobacco hanging in all the barns and the Bell Witch Cave can be seen right from the river.
Although this is Halloween weekend, we are always home by early afternoon on Sunday (except for Friday Guys who hit the bars on Sunday night). And unless Metro makes an official change, Trick-or-Treating should be on Monday, the 31st anyway. If that's too complicated, the weekend prior is a possibility also.
The only draw back to the Red in October is it can get shallow for loaded canoes. Especially canoes loaded with cast iron and Yazoo Party Pigs. If it gets close and we are in a drought, we can consider resurrecting the original Spring '05 plans and head for the downstream island on the Duck River. That's right smack in the middle of the Yanahli Wildlife Management Area and, as I recall, Rob and Kirly expressed an interest in harvesting our supper if we went during archery season.
Either way, as soon as we have a date certain I say we immediately set the rain contingency plan in motion (i.e. reserve The Pavilion).
Use "Comments" to discuss.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
R.L Burnside died Thursday. Burnside was the unofficial artist in residence for the Rebel Rivers Canoe Club. Below are excerpts of an interview with the RRCC just before his death.
Transcript of an interview with RL Burnside on May 14, 2005 at "The Pavilion"
RRCC: Tell me a little bit of what it was like growing up in Mississippi in the '30's and '40's?
RL: Well, it was rough. I grew up in the rough times, ya know. I grew up on a plantation (doing) sharecropping. It was a lot of hard work but it was good times then.
RRCC: When did you start playing guitar?
RL: When I was 16 when I started trying to play, ya know, but I was 21 before I started getting out in the public playing.
RRCC: During the '70's and '80's, you did some touring in Europe. What was that like?
RL: My first tour was in '69 to Montreal, Canada. That was the first time I saw Lightning Hopkins and John Lee Hooker. When I get to the festival they started yelling "RL Burnside from Coldwater, Mississippi." So I go on and do the show, ya know. But I'm playing some stuff from Hooker like, "Boogie Chillin" and "When my First Wife Left Me" and some stuff fromLightning too. But when I first started off, I was nervous, ya know, cause I was drinking. After I played about half way to the song people got to patting and hollering. Man, I went to feeling good then. I rocked the joint. After I came off the stage, I went over there and talked to Robert and his wife. "Yeah RL Burnside, you sure sound good. But I tell you what. You got an ass-whuppin'." I said, "What you mean?" He said, "Lightning Hopkins and John Lee there in the dressing room."
RRCC: So the crowds in Europe gave a good reaction, even though they didn't speak English?
RL: Oh yeah. The first time I was over there with my sons we did the Blues Festival in London, England. Done the Red Car Blues Festival and come back through Frankfurt, Germany and the guy was carrying us around, ya know translating for us, I said, "How them fellas like the music? They hollering and carrying on and 99% of 'em can't speak English. He said. "Oh they just like the rhythm." I got them ol' words that I use, "Well, well, well" and after then and up to now when I go over there anywhere, when they holler "RL Burnside from Holly Springs, Mississippi. Well, well, well......"
RRCC: I gotta ask you about A Ass Pocket of Whiskey. The record you did with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. That was big for you wasn't it?
RL: Yeah, it was a good one. It started more young people to coming to the shows. That was the first thing I ever did anything like that out in the public, ya know. I'd always be telling them old stories but I'd be sitting back in the dressing room. 'Cause we went out three time opening for the Blues Explosion. They asked me, cause we'd be sitting up talking, "RL we need to make this." And I said "no, I can't do nothing like that out on stage." And they begged me to do it. So I went home and been there about four or five days and the phone rang. I was sitting there in the backyard with some of my friends drinking some beer. "Daddy telephone." I said who is it? "Some John." I said Jon Spencer? "Yeah" I said bring it here. So they brought the phone out there and he said, "Hey, RL. You ready to do that album?" I said hell yeah, come on down, we'll do it. If it don't hurt me none. Two days he was down there and he rented one of them big hunting clubs ten miles from my house. He rented that and we did the album in 4 hours.
RRCC: 4 hours? You guys did that album in 4 hours?
RL: Yeah. Then we went out on another tour after the CD and t-shirts came out. And we was over in France, London, England, Germany, Holland and Switzerland, ya know. Every night Jon would say, "RL, lets do "Ass Pocket of Whiskey." And I'd say no, man. I can't do that out in the public. And we done did three shows and sold 1 CD and 2 t-shirts. We got to Amsterdam and he said, "RL. let's do that "Ass Pocket of Whiskey tonight." I said, "I don't give a goddamn." I'd done got about high, ya know. Got up there and did it and man, we sold out of CD's and t-shirts, everything. We had to send back to get some more.
RRCC: Then the crowd reaction was great then?
RL: Oh, yeah. They loved that. About 2 weeks ago, we was down in Australia and they said "RL, we need to do the "Ass Pocket of Whiskey." And I said, "Man, you know we can't do that at no festival. A bunch of young kids and things out there. He said "hell yeah, that's what they want, man. I'll show ya. I'll ask 'em." So Jon got on the mic and said, "Ya'll heard tell of RL Burnside and the "Ass Pocket of Whiskey?" Ya'll don't care about him talking about fucking and that kinda stuff do ya? Pussy and yer dick?" I went out there man and people got to jumping and hollering and jumping all up on the stage. Jon was up on a speaker jumping all over the place. He jumped down and cut a flip and the people stood a-hollering, "More, more, Ass Pocket..."
(Interrupted by one of the employees bringing RL a bottle of Old Grandad Whiskey.)
RL: Well, well, well. (Laughter)
RRCC: Back to Jon Spencer for a second. How did your music differ before Ass Pocket?
RL: He just asked the record company if we could open for him, ya know. And we just went out and opened for him two or three times before we did the album. But we'd be sitting back in the dressing room drinking and talking and I'd be telling them ol' dirty stories. And that's when he said, "RL, we need to make an album outta that, man." And I said, "Oh man, ain't nobody gonna buy that." And he said "yeah they will. That's what the people wanna hear." But I hadn't ever did nothing like that out in the public, ya know. And didn't think it was gonna work but it went over really good.
RRCC: Did ya'll have a good time making that record? Did you drink any of that whiskey?
RL: What? A bunch of whiskey.
RRCC: Did you turn Jon on to any of that local "home brew" down in Mississippi?
RL: Oh man, he drank home brew, corn whiskey and everything. He got so drunk one night he passed out in the yard asleep. I said, "where is Jon?" Had my son and my daughter out there looking for him. Couldn't nobody find him. He come back in and they said he was out there curled up under a tree asleep. I said, Goddamn!
(Interrupted by the same employee passing through.)
RL: You ain't got no tomato juice do ya? I like to make me a Bloody Motherfucker, ya know. A lot of people like to drink a Bloody Mary. When I go to a bar they say, "don't you mean a Bloody Mary?" And I say, "no I'd rather have a Bloody Motherfucker!" Tomato juice and Old Grandad. Cookin' with gas now.
RRCC: My favorite song off that is "Alice Mae." You gonna do that tonight?
RL: I might get around to it. I have to talk about Mama every once and a while, ya know.
RRCC: "Georgia Women" is good too.
RL: Yeah. I don't know, but I been told. They tell me they got a sweet jelly-roll.
RRCC: Did you play with Muddy then?
RL: Yeah. Be up there playing with Muddy and on that stuff and he couldn't even pay for a damn room. Sleeping in his damn car. Until they took his car. Then he didn't have nowhere to sleep.
RRCC: Do you have any rock influences? Or any rock bands you'd like to play with?
RRCC: Where are the blues heading as we go into the next century?
RL: They're heading right now.
RRCC: With you steering the ship?
RL: I'm steering it. And I'm gonna steer it right on down.
RRCC: What you gonna open with tonight?
RL: Well, I reckon "Poor Black Mattie." She ain't got a change of clothes. Girl got drunk and throwed her clothes outdoors. That was cold, wasn't it?
RRCC: One last question. Can I buy you a drink?
RL: OK... I'll take a Bloody Motherfucker.