April 30, 2010

DC to Memphis Road Trip: Day 5, Getting behind Satan

Today's objectives were to get to Nashville for a stop at Third Man Records and then to get as close to the border of Virginia as possible.  Driving was hard, considering I was doing it on about three hours of sleep.  Spent much of the day feeling that I'd been rode hard and put up wet, yet still in good spirits.

I saw more cops in three hours on the stretch of I-40 between Memphis and Nashville than I've seen on the roads of Maryland over the last year.  Fortunately, the speed limit is 70mph, so I was only barely illegal.  Not so lucky were the dozens of bugs now smeared across my windshield.  Insects and the fuzz, that's how I'll always remember I-40...

Third Man is Jack White's little house of music.  For those not in the know, he does pretty much everything there that's involved in making records except actually press vinyl, but there just happens to be a place down the street that can handle that for him.  There's even a tiny little storefront to showcase and sell his wares, and that was my destination.

The couple of staff members who assisted me in the shop were so very friendly and helpful, Jack should be proud of 'em.  Though that seems to just be the way people are in Tennessee, which could be part of the reason he chose to re-locate here.  Pretty much everyone I've dealt with in this state has been pleasant and polite and conversational.  The folks at Arnold's Country Kitchen, just round the block from TMR, practically pulled up a chair at the table for me.  I'd read about Arnold's at roadfood.com and the high ratings at that review are no lie.  The food was so good it'd make you want to smack your mama for making you think she could cook.  Thank whatever's above that my appetite returned as of this morning.  It would have been a sad thing to not be able to finish the mouth-watering roast beef with au jus, greens, mac'n'cheese, and two kinds of corn bread that they served up to me.  Instead, I was so happy I could have hugged the chef.

And that was pretty much my visit to Nashville in a nutshell.  Though leave it to me to find the historic city cemetery en route to Third Man...

Part of the reason I was so tired today was that I played fan-girl after last night's concert and hung around for a while with my show buddies at the tour buses, waiting for The Dead Weather to come out and sign autographs.  I had mixed feelings about doing this.  I've done it before, eons ago, and found that getting a signature and babbling something that my idol has heard thousands of times already really wasn't that meaningful to me.  But I was caught up in the moment and tagged along.  By the time an hour had gone by, though, I came to my senses and headed off.  What was the point?  Perhaps I'm cynical, but I don't see how any connection can be made in those brief, chaotic moments with dozens of other people all vying for a piece of the musician in question.  And I'm of the mind that connections are important.  I'd rather have nothing but the experience of the music than to have some rushed, illegible scribble on a piece of paper that means little more than that I stood in front of a distracted rock star for 5 seconds. 

And what can it mean for them?  I'm sure that the adoration is gratifying, but there have got to be times when it becomes too much.  Remembering last night during this morning's drive, it was pretty much impossible not to think of Take, Take, Take, from the White Stripes' album, Get Behind Me Satan.  Another example of Jack's skill at story-telling, it's a tune that also delivers a gentle yet firm message to his fans.  It's very obvious that he understands what it's like to be a fan, yet also just as clear that he expects his own admirers to behave better than that.

I was sitting there in a comfortable chair
And that was all that I needed
Then my friend offered me a drink for us to share
And that was all that I needed
Well, then I felt at ease
But then I'm not too hard to please
I guess you couldn't call me greedy
Then I was shocked to look up
And see Rita Hayworth there in a place so seedy
She walked into the bar with her long, red, curly hair
And that was all that I needed
And I said to my friend, "Good God, we're lucky men just to even see her"
Take, take, take
Take, take, take
Take, take, take
And I could not resist, I just had to get close to her
And that was all that I needed
I walked and loomed around her table for a while
And that was all that I needed
Then I said, "I hate to bug you, ma'am, but can I have your autograph?"
And that was all that I needed
She pressed her lips against a white piece of paper
And that was all that I needed
Then I saw what she wrote, my heart is in my mouth
And that was all that I needed
Then she handed it to me, and I think that she could see
That that was all that I needed
I started to walk away but then I remembered 'Hey, I forgot to get a picture'
So I asked her one more time, "Could I have another favor?"
That was all that I needed
She was kind and posed with me
Then I knew my friends would see my celebrity meeting
Take, take, take
Take, take, take
Take, take, take
She turned and said to me, "I need to go to sleep,"
And it seemed so mean
It was almost as if she could not appreciate how cool I was being
She said, "Good night" and walked away
And I didn't know what to say
I just couldn't believe it
Well, it's just not fair
I wanted to get a piece of hair
That was all that I needed
Or maybe a kiss on the cheek
I wouldn't wash it for a week
That would be all that I needed
But she didn't even care
That I was even there
What a horrible feeling

Satan was the second Stripes cd that I bought and probably had much to do with why it took me so long to connect with this band.  The songs are piano-heavy and lyrically dense.  Even Jack apparently didn't realize how little guitar was on the album until he was mixing it.  And he dives deeper into metaphor in this collection of songs than on other Stripes records.  But as obscure as parts of it are, it's also a plaintive album.  Written as Jack was coming to grips with the fame resulting from Elephant, it reflects a search for truths both personal and general.  He's talked about how he doesn't like to write about his own issues, that other people's problems are more interesting than his own, but the consistency of the theme throughout Satan makes it hard to believe that these lyrics aren't authentically heartfelt.  It seemed appropriate since I'd been thinking of Take..., so the cd played repeatedly over the miles as I drove between Nashville and Knoxville and my mind was somehow able to sink in to it and finally get something from these songs.

Like Elephant, GBMS begins with a song that pairs frustration with an infectious musical hook--

You need to do something
To keep the truth from showing up...

Truth and trust, loss and loneliness, come up in every song on this album.  From the regretful plea of Forever For Her (Is Over For Me), to pining for a love that doesn't exist in Little Ghost, to the wistfulness of I'm Lonely (But I Ain't That Lonely Yet), this makes for some melancholy listening.  And the one full-on blues number, Instinct Blues, with its nervous string-picking and the complaint of "...why don't you?" just adds tension to an already pensive situation. 

The idea of "verbal dexterity" in Jack's lyrics came up after I posted Carolina Drama on Day 3 of this trip. Denial Twist is one of the lightest moments on this album, though it's still about issues of trust.  But the metaphors are witty and the imagery adroit, and together serve to make this tune a lot of fun--  

One of the most metaphorically inscrutable songs that Jack's ever written is the moody White Moon. Having no clue to any of the meanings in this bizarre assortment of imagery, I pretty much ignored this tune until it was featured in the recent Stripes documentary, Under Great White Northern Lights. The inclusion of this performance in the film explains nothing about the lyrics, but there's no denying that it makes an enigmatic song doubly intriguing--

So while White Moon remains a mystery, the rest of this album has finally made an impression on me and I'm glad for that.  Nothing like hours on the road to help one achieve a long overdue breakthrough.

April 29, 2010

DC to Memphis Road Trip: Day 4, The reason for it all

I'm not sure how to describe this day so please excuse me if I babble.  The original plan had been to get to Minglewood Hall around noon to get into whatever line existed in order to ensure a spot right at the front.  For some reason, though, I kept putting off getting ready, instead spending time writing the blog post for Day 3 and surfing teh 'nets.  What held me back?  I'd been so excited leading up to this show that my stomach had been in knots and I'd barely eaten for days (aside from last night's bbq, which was required).  And, again, I ate nothing today.  Anyone who knows me knows that that's a highly unusual state.  I just couldn't bring myself to get it together to leave the hotel for either food or the show.  Was I afraid of my own anticipation, preferring to hide in my peaceful hotel room rather than face the turmoil of my own excitement?  Or was it a way to prolong the situation, knowing that getting ready and going would set the process in motion and there'd be no way I could keep it from being over in a handful of hours?

I finally forced myself out the door in time to be at the venue by four.  There were three groups there already, about a dozen folks altogether, some of whom had driven distances similar to mine and others who'd been there since 8:30 in the morning.  Having them to hang out and talk with helped keep me from climbing the walls while we waited to get in to the venue.

The opening act, The Ettes, included an incredibly powerful woman on drums but was otherwise forgettable.  After their fourth song I'd had enough and began wishing that each successive tune was their last. 

When The Dead Weather came on, I did a serious disservice to Alison, Dean, and LJ.  I have to admit to barely acknowledging their presences on the stage.  I'd ended up with exactly the spot I was hoping for, on the rail right in front of LJ with an unobstructed view of Jack's drum kit.  From the moment I caught sight of his tall form strolling out from the dark at the back of the stage, my eyes were immediately drawn and remained on him throughout the band's set.  I remember a few glances at LJ when he momentarily stepped into my line of sight, and a few seconds of locking eyes with Alison in a staring contest as she leaned out from the stage in my direction (she looked away first, turning and stalking back to the other side of the monitors).

I could go on at length about the facial tics I noticed, the tricks with the drumsticks, what it was like watching Jack's fingers on the fretboard of his guitar, but I'm honestly not sure how much of this experience I really want to describe.  There are times when sharing something can make it more special.  But there are other times when a moment is so meaningful that it needs to be held inside where it's safe from being trivialized.  Jack himself has commented on a similar feeling--  At a promo event for It Might Get Loud, he was asked about the conversations between himself, Jimmy Page, and The Edge that didn't make it into the film.  He allowed that there had been quite a bit of unused footage of the three of them together.  Asked to elaborate on those bits, and whether he'd learned anything from his co-stars, he demurred and said that those moments were special and he was keeping them for himself.  That's exactly how I feel about this show.  Just as Jack was totally wrapped up in his music on that stage tonight, I was totally wrapped up in experiencing both the music and his presence.  I know what I felt in the moment and I know what it meant to me.  And that's enough.

The one thing I will say, though, is that after so many days of anticipation, it was over way too quickly.

Setlist for my own memory and anyone who's interested (not necessarily in correct order):

60 Feet Tall
Hang You From the Heavens
You Just Can't Win
No Horse
Blue Blood Blues
Hustle & Cuss
So Far From Your Weapon
Die By the Drop
Child of a Few Hours
Will There Be Enough Water?

I Can't Hear You
I Cut Like a Buffalo
Treat Me Like Your Mother

April 28, 2010

DC to Memphis Road Trip: Day 3, Stories in Tennessee

As is so often the case, my cyclothymic nature is in sync with the weather.  After some heavy rain throughout the night, the sun is breaking through the clouds this morning just like the opening credits of The Simpsons and today feels so much better than yesterday.

I ended up yesterday heading south as far as Chattanooga.  A look at the map showed that it would still be easy to dog-leg west if Birmingham didn't work out, so I figured what the hell.  Maybe I'd get lucky.  One last e-mail before bedtime about one last craiglist listing turned up as a dead-end, though, so this morning I turned my back on B'ham and re-set my sights on the original rendezvous in Memphis. 

As Route 24 outside of Chattanooga followed the curves of the Tennessee River before heading up and over the last of the Appalachians, I popped The Raconteurs into the cd player.  Jack White has mentioned that one of the main things he's gotten out of the Racs is the opportunity to work on his song-writing with a craftsman like Brendan Benson.  Personally, I think he's selling himself short, as is the rest of the world.  I don't play any instruments so I can't speak to the music, but words are my thing and I will say that Jack's incredibly overlooked as a lyricist.  In It Might Get Loud, he talks about wondering whether he could become a member of the story-telling family of the great bluesmen.  If he hasn't proved to himself by now that he's done so, then I'd love to be the one to assure him he has.

Story-telling is the raison d'etre of The Raconteurs.  If you've never looked up the meaning of the word raconteur, it's defined as "a person skilled in telling anecdotes".  The first album, Broken Boy Soldiers, seems like a warm-up for the band in this respect, as it's not until Consolers of the Lonely that both Brendan and Jack break out some serious tales--  Brendan's "The Switch and the Spur" and Jack's "Carolina Drama".  Of the two tunes, "Carolina..." is by far the standout, full of dramatic intensity and a cleverness that's typical of Jack.  Between the fantastic imagery and the question of what the hell the milkman has to do with it all, it's an engrossing song.

I'm not sure if there's a point to this story
But I'm going to tell it again
And like just about every other tale
Someone's gonna die in the end

It was a junk-house in South Carolina
Held a boy the age of ten
Along with his older brother Billy
And their mother and her boyfriend
Who was a triple loser with some blue tattoos
That were given to him when he was young
And a drunk temper that was easy to lose
But thank god he didn't own a gun

Well, Billy woke up in the back of his truck
Took a minute to open his eyes
He took a peek into the back of the house
And found himself a big surprise
He didn't see his brother but there was his mother
With her red-headed head in her hands
While the boyfriend had his gloves wrapped around an old priest
Trying to choke the man

Billy looked up from the window to the truck
Threw up, and had to struggle to stand
He saw that red-necked bastard with a hammer
Turn the priest into a shell of a man
The priest was putting up the fight of his life
But he was old and he was bound to lose
The boyfriend hit as hard as he could
And knocked the priest right down to his shoes

Now Billy knew but never actually met
The preacher lying there in the room
He heard himself say, "That must be my daddy"
Then he knew what he was gonna do
Billy got up enough courage to get up
And grab the first blunt thing he could find
It was a cold glass bottle of milk
That got delivered every morning at nine

Billy broke in and saw the blood on the floor, and
He turned around and put the lock on the door
He looked dead into the boyfriend's eye
His mother was a ghost, too upset to cry, then
He took a step toward the man on the ground
From his mouth trickled out a little audible sound
He heard the boyfriend shout, "Get out!"
But Billy said, "Not till I know what this is all about"
"This preacher here was attacking your mama"
But Billy knew that she was caught in the drama
So Billy took dead aim at his face
And smashed the bottle on the man who left his dad in disgrace
The white milk dripped down with the blood
And the boyfriend fell down dead for good
Right next to the preacher who was gasping for air
And Billy shouted, "Daddy, why'd you have to come back here?"
His mama reached behind the sugar and honey, and
Pulled out an envelope filled with money
"Your daddy gave us this," she collapsed in tears
"He's been paying all the bills for years"
"Mama, let's put this body underneath the trees
and put Daddy in the truck and head to Tennessee"
Just then, his little brother came in
Holding the milkman's hat and a bottle of gin singing,

La la la la, la la la la, yeah

Well now you heard another side to the story
But you wanna know how it ends...
If you must know the truth about the tale
Go and ask the milkman

Back to the road...  I-64 runs east-west through southern Tennessee and is apparently  in the process of being converted from a two-lane blue highway into a four-lane thru-way.  I'm glad I had the chance to drive it before the work was completed--  While the newer sections were wide and smooth and perfect for picking up some speed while still retaining a rural feel, they definitely didn't have the same intimacy of the narrower, older portions.  The road squeezes down into 2-lanes as it rolls through each small town it hits.  Two common elements I've noticed throughout these towns are giant crosses on the water towers and gun permit classes at the local civic centers.  One of the largest is Lawrenceburg, home to both Davy Crockett and actor/senator (same thing, really) Fred Thompson, where I stopped for a quick lunch and realized that I'd crossed into the next time zone. 

But even that extra hour didn't leave enough time for a thorough tour of Shiloh battlefield.  I've mentioned before that I'm a U.S. Civil War buff, and Shiloh was my goal for today before the Birmingham idea got stuck in my head.  As much as anything else, these preserved battlefields appeal to me for their beautiful landscapes and the monuments erected to honor the men who fought and died on the land. 

As I walked through the national military cemetery and the older graveyard at Shiloh church, another Jack White connection came to mind.  Back in 2003, Jack had a tiny bit part in the film Cold Mountain (good flick, but be sure to read the novel).  He was also tapped for the soundtrack, for which he performed four traditional songs and wrote one original.  The tune he wrote, "Never Far Away", is another example of his lyrical abilities, as it's a synopsis of the movie in a handful of beautiful verses.  It's not used in the film and apparently barely made it onto the soundtrack album (according to Jack, it was added as "favor" to him), which is a shame.  Thinking about the people who lived and died around the time of the battle of Shiloh, both this song and the old folk tune "Great High Mountain" played through my head, fitting accompaniments to the scene.

Arrived in Memphis early in the evening and achieved four objectives in short order: Locate my hotel, scope out Minglewood Hall (venue for tomorrow night's show), find the old cemetery behind the Piggly-Wiggly up the street from Minglewood, then eat some amazing bbq ribs at Cozy Corner. I don't know if it was the spicy sauce on the ribs or just mounting excitement at what's ahead tomorrow, but it was well after 1:00am when I finally turned out the lights and tried to calm down to sleep.

The full collection of photos for this trip is here

April 26, 2010

DC to Memphis Road Trip: Day 2, Getting the blues

Began the day under the kind of low, dark, billowy clouds that you just want to grab and pull up over your shoulders as you roll over in bed and bury your face in the pillow.  Hit the road after breakfast and let the car eat up the rest of the miles between Virginia and Tennessee, while I put The White Stripes' Icky Thump into the cd player and sang along in an attempt to keep the weather from drowning the previous day's joyousness.

The possibility of adding a second Dead Weather show to this trip has been hovering in my mind much like today's dark clouds.  The band is in Birmingham, AL, the night before Memphis.  That show is sold out, but a compatriot from the Third Man Records chat room and I have been hunting craiglist and eBay for tickets.  On the one hand, this idea is excitingly spontaneous.  How could I miss two shows in a row and the chance to meet a fellow fan?  Not to mention that this is an opportunity to see Jack in one of the cities he sings about in the American-ised version of Van Morrison's "You Just Can't Win". Considering how much I'm looking forward to that song to begin with, that would be quite a thrill.  

On the other hand, this situation has added an element of uncertainty and complication to what was going to be a simple, free-wheeling trip. I'm a hundred miles from Knoxville, TN, and I don't yet know which direction to head when I get there-- west to Memphis or south to Birmingham?  The whole purpose of a road-trip is to be on the move, yet I'm trying to wait for answers and go forward at the same time.  It's making me a touch fretful, and the rain that's now pouring down onto the road is only stirring up that tension, rather than soothing it.

I'm bringing back ghosts
That are no longer there
I'm gettin' hard on myself
Sittin' in my easy chair
Well, there's three people in the mirror
And I'm wonderin' which one of them I should choose
Well, I can't keep from laughin'
Spittin' out these 300 mile per hour outpour blues

I'm breakin' my teeth off
Tryin' to bite my lip
There's all kinds of red-headed women
That I ain't supposed to kiss
And it's that color that never fails
To turn me blue
So I just swallow it and hold on to it
And use it to scare the hell out of you

I have a woman
Says come and watch me bleed
And I'm wonderin' just how I can do that
And still give her everything that she needs
Well, there's three people in my head that have the answer
And one of them's got to be you
But you're holding tight to it -- the answer
Singin' these 300 mile per hour outpour blues

Put on gloves, a tight scarf and wrap up warm
On this winter night
Every time you get defensive
You're just looking for a fight
It's safe to say somebody out there's got a problem
With almost anything you'll do
Well, next time they stab you don't fight back just play the victim
Instead of playin' the fool

And the roads are covered with a million
Little molecules
Of cigarette ashes and the school floors are covered
With pieces of pencil eraser too
Well sooner or later the ground's gonna be holdin' all
Of my ashes too
But I can't help but wonder if after I'm gone
will I still have these 300 mph
finger breakin', no answers, broken back, dirty cancer, bee stung and busted up, empty cup, torrential outpour blues

One thing's for sure, in that graveyard
I'm gonna have the shiniest pair of shoes

DC to Memphis Road Trip: Day 1, Getting schooled

It's been almost exactly five years since my last road-trip and that's way too long a time.  The last one was 12 days across the U.S. along semi-rural Route 50 in a rented Mustang, something I'd imagined doing since I was a kid.  This one is the fulfillment of a more immediate compulsion, the object of which is a 2 1/2 month old infatuation with Jack White.

This trip is as much about discovery as it is a pilgrimage to see the man himself with his most recent band, The Dead Weather.  The soundtrack as I drive encompasses not only the catalog of Jack's three most well-known bands, but also a taste of his roots-  in this case, Robert Johnson and Blind Willie McTell (Those of you in the know about Jack might ask, why no Son House?  I wasn't kidding when I referred to House in a previous post as "the most awesome bluesman you've never heard of".  The record store I went to hadn't had any of his music in stock since 2004.  But I'll hunt some down, don't you worry about that.)  Much of the music I was exposed to growing up-- The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin-- was also heavily influenced by the blues scene that Johnson and McTell were a part of.  But that was my parents' music.  Instead of paying attention and learning from those bands, I turned away and followed a path through punk and new wave, into heavy metal and grunge, and then, finally, back around to the blues-inspired garage rock of The White Stripes.  It took Jack to open the door to the blues for me, and these hours on the road are a perfect opportunity to take my first few steps through it.

The collections that I chose for Johnson and McTell each include at least one tune covered by The White Stripes:  McTell's "Your Southern Can Is Mine" and "Lord Send Me an Angel", and Johnson's "Stop Breaking Down".  The Stripes' versions of the first two are nicely faithful to the originals, with simple vocals and instrumentation.  The latter was a surprise to me-- The WS version is so distinctive that I had no idea it was a cover. Flying down Route 81, I broke into a huge grin when I heard Johnson crooning the chorus and recognized what it was. I had to pop the cd out and put in the Stripes' eponymous debut album, then queue up their version and grin again as Meg's thumping beat and Jack's punky voice filled the car. In McTell's music, I hear Jack being schooled in the blues.  In Johnson's, I hear him taking what he learned and running with it.

As for the trip itself, it's off to a damned good start. When I got in the car this afternoon to leave, the Stripes' second album, De Stijl, was in the cd player.  The song that came up when I turned the ignition was "I'm Bound to Pack It Up", followed by "Death Letter" (their famous Son House cover), both of which have to do with hitting the road.  Neither of them are terribly fortuitous travelling songs (one is about running away from a relationship, the other about returning home to the death of a sweetheart), but I got a kick out of the coincidence nonetheless.

Despite a forecast calling for rain, the day has been gorgeous-- bright sunshine peeking between marshmallow clouds and casting a luminous light through  new leaves on the trees lining the road.  

After a few hours of such bucolic country scenery, I suddenly passed through a storm outside of Roanoke, Va, that included hailstones pinging off the windshield and skittering across the highway.  (No photos of the hail. I may be reckless, but I ain't that stupid.)

Coming out the other side of that, I drove along with the setting sun on one side of the road and a soon-to-be-full moon rising on the other.  

A few times today, I've had to remind myself what day of the week it is.  To my mind, that's a wonderful way to begin a trip of this sort, so unaware of time that you're surprised to remember it's Sunday, to be in the moment to an almost disorienting degree.  It leaves you open to anything and even the mundane can become pleasurable.  Though who knows what surprises may be in store?

April 23, 2010

SEC staffers watched porn as economy crashed!

This news should probably piss me off, but my first response to that CNN headline was guffaws of laughter. Ain't America grand?

As the country was sinking into its worst financial crisis in more than 70 years, Security and Exchange Commission employees and contractors cruised porn sites and viewed sexually explicit pictures using government computers, according to an agency report obtained by CNN.

"During the past five years, the SEC OIG (Office of Inspector General) substantiated that 33 SEC employees and or contractors violated Commission rules and policies, as well as the government-wide Standards of Ethical Conduct, by viewing pornographic, sexually explicit or sexually suggestive images using government computer resources and official time," said a summary of the investigation by the inspector general's office.

More than half of the workers made between $99,000 and $223,000. All the cases took place over the past five years.

The inspector general's report includes specific examples of misuse by employees.

A regional office staff accountant tried to access pornographic Web sites nearly 1,800 times, using her SEC laptop during a two-week period. She also had about 600 pornographic images saved on the hard drive of her laptop.

Separately, a senior attorney at SEC headquarters admitted to downloading pornography up to eight hours a day, according to the investigation.

"In fact, this attorney downloaded so much pornography to his government computer that he exhausted the available space on the computer hard drive and downloaded pornography to CDs or DVDs that he accumulated in boxes in his office," the inspector general's report said.

"It is nothing short of disturbing that high-ranking officials within the SEC were spending more time looking at pornography than taking action to help stave off the events that brought our nation's economy to the brink of collapse," said Rep. Darrell Issa. The Republican is a ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

You can go here for the full article, if you feel the need for more entertainment.

April 10, 2010


Through all the years that I've been getting out in the woods to hike and explore (couple of decades now), I've wanted to find a relatively intact animal skull.  When the mood strikes, I get off the established trail that everyone else follows and bushwhack just for the sake of exploration.  Over the course of all this wandering, I've collected things such as vertebrae, half of a lower jawbone, the bleached shell of a turtle, and my favorite-- a single three-point antler apparently shed by a very young buck.  I'd actually gotten to the point that I stopped bringing home bones because, well, people think my home is weird enough already.  And I've come to like the idea of leaving them for someone else to find, imagining that person inspecting them the same way I do, wondering about the animal and how it met its end, perhaps pocketing it to take home to their own collection.  For some reason, though, it's very rare to find a carcass with a skull anywhere nearby.  My assumption has been that some scavenger always drags the head off somewhere to get at the delicacies inside.  Whatever the case, today was the day I've been waiting for.

It was achingly lovely today, perfect for a bike ride, with a glorious blue sky and a soft breeze, sticky young leaves on the trees and colorful wildflowers scattered throughout the grass beneath them.  I spent much of the ride cursing the fact that I'd left my camera at home, and perhaps if I'd had it with me I might've snapped a few shots of my prize and left it where I found it.  Or perhaps not.

At one point, I stopped at one of the old aqueducts along the C & O to take in the view of a creek meandering towards the river.  At the end of the aqueduct, a narrow footpath crossed the dry canal bed and headed off into the woods.  In the spirit of wanderlust, I tipped the front of my bike down the bank and followed it.  As I pedaled between the trees, a flash of white passed through my peripheral vision and made me wonder "Could that have been...?"  I stopped and dropped my bike in the trail, walked back a few feet, and sure enough it was.  All by its lonesome, with no other bones in sight.

I actually giggled once as I headed on down the path, when I glanced down and saw my shadow with the silhouette of the antlers sticking out of my backpack behind me. As I said this morning, sometimes it's the little things that make a day worthwhile.

I love all the little things

Have I mentioned before my love of simple little connections?  No?  Well, it gets a little silly sometimes, but what can ya do...  The other week or so, I stumbled across (tumbl'd across?) a photo that's apparently Jack White with a bicycle.  Hard to tell since you can't see much of his face, but the fact that this photo graced the cover of The White Stripes' 2005 UK cd single for Denial Twist seems to imply that it is indeed Jack.  (There's another version that does show his face, but I couldn't find a larger image.)

The clipless shoe/pedal combination indicates that he is (was?) a more or less "serious" cyclist, too. Yet the skater-style helmet and black'n'white shorts over cycling tights are touches that would seem to be distinctly Jack.  Not to mention the red pedals on that sleek black bike. 

Does it make me silly to get a kick out of knowing that Jack White's possibly also into bikes?  If it does, so what.  Sometimes it's the little things that get us through the day.

You might think that I'd link this up to Denial Twist, but you'd be wrong...

I'm slowly turning into you
but you don't know this
to be true
You say I'm lying and I never really
tell you the truth
But your face is getting older
So put your head on my shoulder
Yeah, put your head on my shoulder

Yesterday it hit me that I do
all the little things
that you do
Except those same little things
that you do
are annoying
They're annoying as hell in fact
It kind of struck a little bell in fact
I like to keep my little shell intact

And I'm slowly turning into you

Then something else came to mind
and that was the mirror
It made everything clearer
That you are more beautiful,
compelling and stronger
It didn't take much longer
just for me to realize
I love all the little things
and the beauty that they're gonna bring

I dig your little laugh
and I'm loving your quick wit
I even love it when you're faking it!
And it might sound a little strange
for me to say to you
but I'm proud to be you

And I'm slowly turning into you