Brother Thelonious Belgian style abbey ale

Deliciously strong, at 12.9%!

This one put me at 733. Not too far from being Dean of the Brewniversity.


Musical legends who shuffled off this mortal coil in 2011


Gerry Rafferty

"Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right, here I am. Stuck in the Middle with You" Who doesn't love that song. While "Reservoir Dogs" is one of my personal faves. This song is forever linked to Vic Vega "Mr. Blonde" performing the ear-ectomy on Officer Nash

The summer of '78 will always the summer of "Baker Street". That saxophone riff screaming from every car radio as we sat in traffic on 17, on our way to Santa Cruz for some fun in the sun. "Baker Street" provided a welcome respite from the non-stop grooves of "Saturday Night Fever" and the Chipmunks Bee Gees.

Gerry was 63.

Don Kirshner

Kirshner came up in the business as a publisher, working with the Brill Building songwriting stars Carole King, Neil Diamond and Neil Sedaka. He became the president of three record labels, bringing us among many others, The Archies, Kansas and The Monkees.

Don Kirshner's "Rock Concert" was the real deal. Live, late night, rock and roll music in long form. I remember seeing The Stones, AWB, Bad Company, Golden Earring, Rory Gallagher, Bowie, ELO, T. Rex, Wishbone Ash and many many more. The music came from all spheres which made RC a great discovery place.

Kirshner was dead pan. While he may have been a great publisher and producer he lacked the stage presence of a presenter. You may remember Paul Shaffer doing a pretty good impersonation of Kirshner on SNL as he introduced America to The Blues Brothers.

Don was 73

Gladys Horton

Gladys is on the left

At 15 years old she became the lead singer of the Motown girl group The Marvelettes. Gladys was a reluctant star and too young to be in the clubs.

The Marvelettes brought us "Please Mr. Postman", Beechwood 4-5789" and "Too Many Fish In The Sea"

Gladys was 65

Gary Moore

A blues guitarist from Belfast, Moore played with Skid Row, Thin Lizzy, B.B. King, Albert King, George Harrison and Greg Lake from ELP.

He has been cited as influential to the careers and playing styles of Slash, Joe Bonamassa, Zakk Wylde, Randy Rhoads and Kirk Hammet.

Moore himself was heavily influenced by his friend and mentor Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac. Moore played Green's gold Les Paul for years in tribute to his hero.

Gary was 58

George Shearing

Sir George Shearing was born blind. He grew up in Battersea, London playing accordion and piano in the pubs around town. He moved to America in the late '40s and began collaborating with a wide variety of jazz musicians, eventually forming the George Shearing Quintet.

He became known for a piano technique referred to as "Shearing's voicing", a type of double melody block chord, with an additional fifth part that doubles the melody an octave lower.

Late in life he split his time between the U.S. and the U.K., touring with Mel Torme and the BBC orchestra.

Shearing is best known for his original compositions "September in the Rain" and "Lullaby of Birdland"

George was 91

Joe Morello

Joe Morello was a jazz drummer best known for his 12½-year stint with Dave Brubeck. He was noted for playing in the unusual time signatures in such pieces such  as "Take Five" and "Blue Rondo a la Turk". Brubeck’s group reached new heights with Morello on drums.

Morello played violin in his early years. At the age of 15 Morello met the violinist Jascha Heifitz and decided that he would never be able to equal Heifetz's "sound", so switched to drumming.

Morello appeared on over 120 albums, 60 of which were with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. He authored several drum books, including Master Studies, and also made instructional videos. Morello was the recipient of many awards, including Playboy magazine's best drummer award for seven years in a row, and Down Beat magazine's best drummer award five years in a row. He was elected to the Modern Drummer magazine Hall of Fame in 1988.

Joe was 82

Owsley "Bear" Stanley

Owsley Stanley a.k.a. Bear was linked with the Grateful Dead and was a personality in the development of the San Francisco Bay counter-culture. He hung with Kesey's Merry Pranksters and was pivotal to the explosion of 1960's psychedelic culture.

He became best known under the name of 'Owsley'- the LSD "cook". Under the professional name of Bear he is recognized as an iconic producer, engineer & artist.

Bear rose to prominence initially as an early road manager for The Grateful Dead, a band he met when Kesey had them come to an Owsley acid test party. Bear's technical expertise played into the band's developing interest in electronic, acoustic and mystical properties of sound. By 1972 the band enjoyed a reputation as a touring audiophile experience.

Bear frequently recorded live tapes behind his mixing board, and was pivotal in "The Dead" becoming the first performers since Les Paul to custom-develop high-fidelity components and sound-systems for performance needs. Soon "Dead tours" had evolved around gigantic "Wall of Sound" stacks of equipment. His innovations made it possible for Dead fans to enjoy the full sonic range of the concert beyond the confines of commercial venues.

Stanley was the first private individual to manufacture mass quantities of LSD. Between 1965 and 1967, Stanley produced more than 1.25 million doses of LSD. The "Owsley" trademark became associated with inexpensive, generously-portioned LSD of reliable professional quality- and thus for "good trips".

Bear was 76
"Pinetop" Perkins

"Pinetop" Perkins was a boogie-woogie piano player who worked in Muddy Water's great band and was among the last surviving members of the first generation of Delta bluesmen.

Perkins’s accomplishments were numerous. His longevity as a performer was remarkable — all the more so considering his fondness for cigarettes and booze; by his own account he began smoking at age 9 and didn’t quit drinking until he was 82. Few people working in any popular art form have been as prolific in the ninth and tenth decades of their lives.

Perkins didn't release an album under his own name until his 75th year. From then until his death he made more than a dozen records on which he was the leader. His last album, released in 2010, was “Joined at the Hip”, a collaboration with the harmonica player Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, which won a Grammy this year as best traditional blues album.

Originally a guitarist, Perkins concentrated exclusively on the piano after an incident, in 1943, in which a dancer at a juke joint attacked him with a knife, severing the tendons in his left arm. The injury left him unable to hold a guitar or manage its fretboard.

In 2000 he received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts. He was given a Grammy for lifetime achievement in 2005. "Born in Honey", a documentary about Mr. Perkins’s life, was released in 2007.

Pinetop was 97

Poly Styrene

Poly Strene was the stage name of Marianne Joan Elliot-Said, a musician, songwriter and singer, with the pioneering punk band X-Ray Spex. After seeing the Sex Pistols perform on her birthday in 1975, she was inspired to form X-Ray Spex.

Poly was 53

Phoebe Snow

She was described by The New York Times as a "contralto grounded in a bluesy growl and capable of sweeping over four octaves."

Best known for her song "Poetry Man", her stage name is a fictional advertising character created in the early 1900s for the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad: Phoebe Snow was a young woman who appeared dressed all in white. Also, a DL&W passenger train called the Phoebe Snow ran from Hoboken to Buffalo between 1949-1960.

Snow was briefly married to Phil Kearns, and in December 1975 she gave birth to a severely mentally impaired daughter, Valerie Rose. Snow resolved not to institutionalize Valerie, and cared for her at home until Valerie died on March 18, 2007 at the age of 31. Snow's efforts to care for Valerie nearly ended her career.

Phoebe was 60

Clarence Clemons

"The Big Man", Clarence Anicholas Clemons was a prominent member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, playing the tenor sax. He released several solo albums and in 1985, had a hit single with "You're a Friend of Mine", a duet with Jackson Browne. As a guest musician he also featured on Aretha Franklin's classic "Freeway of Love" and on Twisted Sister's "Be Chrool to Your Scuel" as well as performing in concert with The Grateful Dead and Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band.

As an actor Clemons featured in several films, including New York, New York and Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. He also made cameo appearances in several TV series, including Diff'rent Strokes, Nash Bridges, The Simpsons and The Wire.

Together with his television writer friend Don Reo he published his semi-fictional autobiography told in third person, Big Man: Real Life & Tall Tales, in 2009.

Bruce Springsteen said of Clarence Clemons: "Clarence lived a wonderful life. He carried within him a love of people that made them love him. He created a wondrous and extended family. He loved the saxophone, loved our fans and gave everything he had every night he stepped on stage. His loss is immeasurable and we are honored and thankful to have known him and had the opportunity to stand beside him for nearly forty years. He was my great friend, my partner, and with Clarence at my side, my band and I were able to tell a story far deeper than those simply contained in our music. His life, his memory, and his love will live on in that story and in our band."

Clarence was 69

Amy Winehouse

Amy Jade Winehouse was a singer-songwriter known for her powerful deep vocals and her eclectic mix of musical genres.

Winehouse's 2003 debut album, Frank, was critically successful in the UK and was nominated for the Mercury Prize. Her 2006 follow-up album, Back to Black, led to six Grammy Award nominations and five wins, tying the then record for the most wins by a female artist in a single night, and made Winehouse the first British female to win five Grammys, including three of the "Big Four": Best New Artist, Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

She released just two albums, but those two record are filled to the brim with soul and sex and swing. It's difficult to see such a talent get lost in drugs, booze and mental illness.

Ronnie Spector—who, it could be argued, all but invented Winehouse's style in the first place when she took the stage at the Brooklyn Fox Theater with her fellow Ronettes more than 40 years ago—was so taken aback at a picture of Winehouse in the New York Post that she exclaimed, "I don't know her, I never met her, and when I saw that pic, I thought, 'That's me!'

Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning on 23 July 2011. Her album Back to Black subsequently became the UK's best selling album so far in the 21st century.

Amy was 27

Marshall Grant

Marshall Grant was the bassist in Johnny Cash's original backing duo, the Tennessee Two, in which Grant and electric guitarist Luther Perkins played. The group became known as The Tennessee Three in 1960, with the addition of drummer W. S. Holland. Grant also served as road manager for Cash and his touring show company.

Cash's recurring drug problems eventually led to issues that resulted in Grant being fired by Cash. It was at this time that Grant discovered that Cash had embezzled retirement funds set aside for Grant and the late Luther Perkins.

In 1980, Grant filed suit against Cash for wrongful dismissal and for embezzlement of retirement funds. A lawsuit against Cash for slander was also considered. In coincidental action, Luther Perkins' daughters from his first marriage filed suit against Cash for embezzlement of retirement funds. Both lawsuits were eventually settled out-of-court.

Despite the bitter legal battles, the two men later reconciled. Grant contends that he was probably Cash's closest and most trusted friend; indeed, he played a critical role in helping Cash along when Cash's drug problems threatened his career and his life. Grant made a final appearance onstage with Cash in 1999 as an original member of The Tennessee Two.

Marshall was 83

Heavy D

Dwight Arrington Myers, better known as Heavy D, was a Jamaican-born American rapper, record producer, singer, actor, and former leader of Heavy D & the Boyz,. The group maintained a sizable audience in the U.S. through most of the 1990s.

Heavy D & the Boyz were the first group signed to Uptown Records, with Heavy D as the frontman and only rapper, and the other three members were dancers. Their debut, Living Large, was released in 1987. The album was a commercial success; Big Tyme was a breakthrough that included four hits.

Heavy D gained even more fame by singing the theme song for the television program In Living Color and also MADtv. Heavy D performed the rap on Michael Jackson's hit single "Jam" as well as sister Janet Jackson's hit single "Alright".

In 1997, Heavy D collaborated with B.B. King on his duets album Deuces Wild rapping in the song "Keep It Coming." Heavy D was referred to in the song "Juicy" by the Notorious B.I.G., and appeared in his music video for "One More Chance".

In the mid-1990s, Heavy D became the first rapper to head a major music label, when he became the president of Uptown Records. Myers helped to develop Mary J. Blige's career and hired Sean “Diddy” Combs as an intern. During this time, Myers also developed the R&B boy band Soul for Real, and was the executive producer and principal writer of several songs on the group's breakout album, 'Candy Rain'. He later became the senior vice president at Universal Music.

D was 44



A funny thing happened on the way to my daughter's apartment

The Christmas countdown clock is ticking, loud and oppressively in my earholes. Buy some shit! Hurry! Just a few more shopping days until the frantic unwrapping, converting the beautifully wrapped gift offerings of friends and family into hefty bags full of paper, ribbons, bows, nut shells and tangerine peelings.

My shopping is done for now. No trips to mall this year.

Last night I left work at 4:45 to stop by to visit with my daughters and son-in-law, drink a glass of wine and pick up the Little Green Machine to suck the dog piss out of my dining room carpet (another story). In retrospect my timing could not have been worse. I arrived at the intersection of West Paces Ferry and Peachtree Street at about 5:15. An hour and half later I arrived at what I thought was my daughter's doorstep.

The extended time in the worst of driving conditions, not really driving at all, just sitting in an idling car, addled my brain. 1.6 mph. is walking speed! I was at the intersection of the perfect storm of traffic gridlock from Christmas mall shoppers, evening commuters and an interstate closure due to accidents.

I finally pulled into the multi-story parking deck and spiralled up the ramps to my destination, parked, grabbed the brown bag containing the bottle of Spanish red and made my way to the front door of the apartment with a full bladder and a powerful thirst.

Oh look at the cute wreath decorated with Georgia bulldogs! No surprise at this front door.

<knock knock>

"What do you want?" says the voice from behind the door.
"Very funny!" says me
"Go away!" and then the sound of the lock turning.
I reach for the handle thinking the door's just been unlocked. No it's just been dead-bolted. I turn the handle and shake it.
"OK I'm going to pee on your door!" says me
<louder knock>
"Go away. We don't know you! We've called the police and they're on their way." says the voice behind the door
"OK whatever, just let me in!

Just then it occurs to me that maybe, just maybe I was standing in front of the wrong door. I walked over to the parking deck. "Oh shit!". I'm on the wrong level.

I hastily return to my car and speed up one level in three consecutive left turns, park and cross the breezeway, arriving at the correct front door. After rushing in and peeing I tell the story and everyone laughs until they pee. Everyone except for the voices behind the door. They were truly scared.

The police arrived shortly after I left. My daughter was walking her dog, saw the blue lights and walked by as the voice from behind the door was describing a guy in a leather jacket, holding a bag, banging on the door and saying that he was going to pee on the door if they didn't open up. She was going to walk on but decided to ease their anxiety and let them know."That was my dad."


Fall 2011 TV rundown

"Modern Family" deserved the recent Emmy recognition. The first few episodes of this season have been great, with excellent writing and character realization. I like that they don't rely on an audience or laugh tracks. I think I laugh more at this show than any episode of "Friends" or even "Seinfeld".

"Parenthood" looks at the modern family in a deeper more poignant way. Relationships and people are flawed and therefore require patching and attention like an old house. I hope they don't try to get too dramatic. The teasers for the rest of the season imply that that big, bad shit is gonna go down.

The premiere of "Up All Night" and "New Girl" were both compelling enough for me to set the DVR for a series recording. Episode 2 for both shows was a let down. I have not deleted the series recording ...yet. I'm not sure Zoe can carry "New Girl". The ensemble cast will need to pick it up for this show to work. Maya Rudolph and is great on "Up All Night". I like that Christina Applegate and Will Arnett were repeatedly bleeped in the first episode. Real people swear.

"Survivor" needs to ditch the Redemption Island bullshit and come up with a new way of revealing hidden immunity idols. Go Ozzie!

"Prime Suspect" looks like a winner. I'm actually looking forward to episode 2 after a really gripping premiere last week.

After listening to the Slate Culture Fest discussion on the shortcomings of "Pan Am" and "The Playboy Club", I think I'll skip both and go back to catch up with the entire catalog of "Mad Men" on Netflix.


Women's World Cup Final

After dominating for most of the match, it was an unfortunate outcome for the US team, losing to Japan on PK's. The loss of Cheney at the half, while apparently a blow, was more than made up for by the addition of Morgan. Her speed and determination was evident within the first several minutes as the US team had chance after chance, managing to hit every part of the goal except the inside netting.

Hat's off to Japan for scoring twice on only 3 or 4 real chances and making it count from the spot in the PK shootout.

The level of play in the women's game, on the world stage, improves every year. The speed and strength of France, Sweden and Brasil were impressive. I'll be looking forward to the next tournament.


May 21, 2011

I did not wake up dead this morning. No earthquakes, no plagues and none of my neighbors ascending into the heavens. I guess I'll mow the lawn.


Happy Valentine's Day - an important anniversary

Four years ago today I had my right hip surgically replaced. Having the surgery fall on Valentine's Day was not my idea. It came down to fitting into my doctor's schedule.

I've always felt that this day is a manufactured "Hallmark Holiday". I prefer to express my love and devotion on a daily basis and find it a bit weird to have a day dedicated to the acknowledgement of love and affection.

My Valentine spent this day in 2007 anxiously waiting for me to be wheeled into a hospital room. She cared for me through my recovery and continues to protect me from myself and my tendency to overdo it from time to time.

Happy Valentine's Day to my lovely wife and Happy Anniversary to my prosthetic hip. May you both be with me... always.