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Friday Morning Rock n Roll Idols: Poi Dog Pondering (video link repaired)

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Poi Dog Pondering–I can’t think of a better band to throw out here as we enjoy the first truly warm days of spring.

One of the most enjoyable shows I ever saw was in the old Graffiti Lounge in michelle_shocked_cd_cover_high_2500Pittsburgh, late Spring 1990, for a triple bill featuring John Wesley Harding, Poi Dog Pondering, and the mercurial Michele Shocked.  The show started off on a great note–I’d picked up two comp tickets from the now-legendary progressive rock radio station WXXP.  You can’t beat a free show.

I remember nothing about Harding, and Shocked provided a solid if unspectacular show–though I liked her at the time, the album she was touring to promote, 1989’s “Captain Swing” wasn’t a favorite.

The real highlight of the evening turned out to be the quirky Texas-Hawaiian Folk-Pop-Rock-Hippie fusion collective Poi Dog Pondering, who had launched out of Austin Texas on the strength of a fun little song called “Living With The Dreaming Body” and landed in Pittsburgh with, it seemed, about two dozen members–including a flutist, a mandolin player, a fiddler, and a bunch of hippie-looking folks  banging on drums and looking like they’d been picked up at the youth hostel and added to band the night before.  Whatever was going on, Poi Dog brought the goods, and I was hooked.  Hard to believe it was 24 years ago.

Bonus: my favorite PDP song, recorded with Abra Moore in a motel bathroom (read the description on the youtube page)

 

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Totally Digging Figure Skating–Well, I’ll Be Damned

Some things–like the bus that runs you down–you never see coming.  When I was a kid, my mom used to torture me by taking me to the Ice Capades every year, year after year–until I was, I think, 13 and convinced her to let me bring my friend Kazoo.  Instead of me sitting there sulky and miserable, I had a co-conspirator to cackle and sneer and chortle and guffaw.  I remember they had some guy in a bumblebee outfit–a former Japanese Olympian, if memory serves–doing a routine, probably just to humiliate him, as if Nagasaki wasn’t enough.

We howled, “bzzz, bzzz, bzzz!” and garnered endless angry stares and silent rebukes from The Greatest Generation, all gathered so sternly about us.  So ended an era, she must have thought. For me, it was like Moses parted the Red Sea.  I was free.

baiul93I can’t say I’ve been indifferent to the sport ever since.  The infamous Tanya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan thing couldn’t be ignored, especially when my job at the time allowed me to briefly (like, 90 seconds) meet Kerrigan, who was actually really nice, and Oksana Baiul, who was not nice, drank like a sailor on leave, and chain-smoked Marlboro Lights–in fairness all qualities I happened to admire, at the time; she seemed to weigh about 73 pounds, tops, though, but had a really cool white fur coat.  White fox?  Ermine?  As usual, I digress.

Sochi Olympics Figure SkatingI ate a bowl of spaghetti in front of the TV last night, since the kids were out and my wife was 10 pages from the end of a book, and got hooked on the free skate portion of the couples figure skating, and I’m man enough to admit it.  Specifically, a pair of Russians called Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov blazed through a perfect routine–or what looked like a perfect routine to this old redneck–and just totally, completely, indubitably rocked it. When they finished, 2014-02-12T183332Z_520057297_LR2EA2C1FJLA8_RTRMADP_3_OLYMPICS-FIGURESKATINGgrim determination melted into exuberance, and the absolute cutest fist pump I’ve seen in ages.  Yep, I was hooked.  The unbridled enthusiasm charmed me utterly, especially in a sport in which the competitors are often firmly taciturn.  A few minutes of 934-1q5utA.AuSt.55.jpegcommercials later, another Russian pair–favorites Maxim Trankov and Tatiana Volosozhar–hit the ice.  I’d seen them tearing things up in the shorter routine (oh, the horror–what have I become?) the night before, and expected them to have that same sort of grim professionalism, but this time–with the pride of their nation seemingly in the balance–they couldn’t keep their emotion and energy contained.

They didn’t look as technically, icily perfect as the night before.  Indeed, Maxim Trankovthey seemed possessed by some otherworldly force. I was certain that there was no way they could fall, nor stumble, nor fail.  It had been ordained by a great power (God?  Putin?).  These folks owned the ice–or at least leased it, long-term, from Mad Vlad, and would not be denied.  I must admit I was a bit jealous that I wasn’t Russian–if that makes sense at all.  It would really have been something to cheer for these four athletes with the passion and conviction of nation with me.