Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sweet Home, Chicago

Last year I missed the big family Thanksgiving in Phoenix for the first time in about twenty years.

This year the family moved the celebrating from the chill of Arizona to the temperate climes of the greater Chicagoland area to be with my Aunt Pat, because she hasn't been up to much traveling of late. Pat is the last sister of my grandmother's generation. There were originally five sisters and one brother and they had seventeen children amongst them and then that generation gave birth to my generation.

As anyone who has been reading this blog for a couple of years will know, we're a close family and our Thanksgiving dinners usually have tables set for between fifty and seventy five folks. We're lucky enough to all enjoy each other's company; seems it never matters who you find yourself standing next to, you're just happy they're there.

So, anyway. Chicago.

This is where we're from, the Mervis clan, but it's been a very long time since we celebrated here, so I've been looking forward to the trip for some time.

When I was a kid, we celebrated holidays, birthdays, weddings and pretty much every weekend together on the banks of Honey Lake in Barrington on what was left of my great grandfather's farm. We ate together, swam together, laughed together and all the rest of it. We were well fed and there were always candy bars and soda pop and caviar and little clab craws and if it seems like a dream, it probably was. But memory makes everything better than it was, even the bad stuff, and our collective memory wears the nicest pair of rose colored glasses you're likely to find. The farm's long gone and we've spread out across the country, but we like any excuse to get together and make new memories.

So, this year in Chicago.

Then, a few weeks shy of the holiday, Pat passed away, leaving us without a member of her generation for the first time in our lifetimes. And that puts an air of sadness over everything. But this group, tends to find joy in sadness and I guess the lives of those that have passed are all the more reason to cling together and keep on churning out the good times.

So this Thanksgiving is for Pat. And Joy and Pook and Jack and Merv and Tweet and Babe. And Carolyn and Peter. And Nana and Grandpa. And Carl and Norm and Buddy and Milt and the Judge.

And for all the younger folks and new members of the clan that didn't get to meet everybody, go make enough new good times for the future generations to talk about.

It's Thanksgiving and we have so much to be thankful for . . .

Thursday, November 19, 2009


The Medicare and Social Security Office, 26 Federal Plaza, Manhattan, 31st floor, Room 120, Wednesday around noon.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Face Dances

Friday, November 13, 2009

Stay With Me

Ian McLagan at Joe's Pub last night.

It was one of those nights.

I'd been looking forward to this show for a while. I'm a big fan of McLagan's and I admire him. He's played on some monstrous tracks in some tremendous bands with some hugely talented people and seems to have gone through his life living it precisely the way he has wanted to, with abandon and a healthy recklessness that you can practically hear when he plays and sings. He was in the Small Faces and then The Faces, he's played with the Stones and the Who and Dylan and continues to tour frequently with Billy Bragg and with his own Bump Band. And every week he plays a free show in Austin for tips and has a grand time doing it.

As I took my place in the back and the lights went down, I began to smile with expectation. Soon after the show started, Elvis Costello snuck in and took a seat in the booth next to mine. "I didn't tell him you were coming," said a friend of McLagan's to Costello and Costello just smiled and watched from the dark this unassuming legend of the keyboard, continuing to do things his way.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Man Who

Fran Healey, singer and principal songwriter for Travis, last night at Joe's Pub.

Healey and his bandmate, Andy Dunlap, have been in residence at the Pub for the last few days, playing songs, telling stories and showing slides of their adventures along the way. It's a little bit of Brit-pop nostalgia and I'm not quite sure how I feel about that, but Healey's a gifted story-teller and the show is generous and good-spirited. There's another show tonight and then they finish up their run tomorrow.

Thursday, November 05, 2009


Janeane Garofalo performing as part of the Kevin Allison's RISK! podcast series at Joe's Pub last night. Full episodes can be downloaded at ITunes or through the RISK! website here.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Running Up That Hill

John Forte with special guest Carly Simon and band at Joe's Pub last night.