Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Mountain Goats Ace of Cups

I’m gonna make it through this year
If it kills me
                ---     “This Year”
                        The Mountain Goats

Tomorrow night The Mountain Goats 'We Who Walk Behind The Rows' tour hits Ace of Cups. Their last Columbus appearance ranks as one of the best shows I have seen in my 38 years of concert attendance.  Held in the Black Box venue at Mershon, the band was top form. It was also the first show I have seen in which the crowd was absolutely quiet during the songs prompting bassist Peter Hughes to ask, “Are you guts still there?”

Tomorrow night’s sold out show at AoC features the band stripped down to a duo. Read John's tour post for more info. 

Full review will be posted Monday.  Check out my tMG Playlist.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Horns of the Day

Youradventure for today:
Whatdo you do between the horns of  day?                                      

I Believe --R.E.M.

       Call me Ishmael.  I've never read Moby Dick or even seen themovie, both classics.  As a formergirlfriend said once, "I'm not much of a reader."  The name stuck after an email joke.  Email and this cafe on Kungsgatan are mylinks  to the world these days.  I made it my hang out after a blind dateabout six months ago.  A woman from acharity organisation here in Sweden-one of the many charity organizationscalled asking for donations.  I  can never say no to these people.  I once subscribed to some magazines for fiveyears because the saleswoman dated a coworker. Three months after the magazines started, I came to Stockholm. My girlfriend got the magazines when we split up.  They cost 500 bucks.  I wonder if she still gets them.  Anyway I agree to give 150 crowns in exchangefor some postcards.
"Thisisn't Tomas. You are American, right?"
       After explaining how I got to Sweden, I saidI'd like to stay but have to find a job or a woman to marry me to get a workpermit.  It was the standard joke duringmy first two years here while studying. She told me she'd like to live in America and maybe we should getmarried.  Great, I thought, a Swede witha sense of humour.  Then she asked whatshe would get if we married, citizenship? Work permit? I assured her that shewould get the same deal as I would get here. She said she'd think about it and call me back.  Yeah right, I thought.
"You'vegot the number," I said. 
       Nothing happened until six weekslater.  She called on a Saturdayafternoon while I was watching the Blues and Blackhawks on Channel 5.  The phone rang and my wife to be announcedherself, in English, in my ear.  Wetalked through the second period and agreed to meet the following weekend.  I watched the rest of the hockey game. TheBlues won.
       The following morning the phone rangagain. Ulla, my beloved's name, said she was free after her class and did Iwant to meet her tonight?  Sure, Isaid.  We agreed to meet in front of thePressbyrån at Central Station at 7 pm.  Ihung up the phone at continued my vigilant search for a decent Sunday TVprogram.  Apparently, unsuccessful, Ifell asleep.  The bang of my mail slotwoke me and jumpstarted my heart.  Theclock said 6.15.  I hurriedly showeredand dressed and walked to the train.  Thetrain sped towards Stockholm.With each stop, the nervous knot in my stomach grew and the sweat on myforehead renewed itself quicker after each wipe from the back of my hand.  I looked like Brad Davis in Midnight Express just before he walks out tothe plane, or for my older readers, Nixon during the Kennedy Debate.
       The train stopped and I wiped my foreheadfor the last time.  Walking from theplatform into the station, I tried to picture this woman.  I pushed open the automatic doors to thelower hall of the station.  Three womenstood in front of the newsstand.  Iwalked past them and bought some gum. Opening the package outside the shop, I waited for one of the three candidatesto approach me.  Two minutes passed.  I decided to make this easy for thiswoman.  I walked back into the newsstand,bought a USA Today and sat on the bench in front of the shop.  I opened the paper so that the USA Today logofaced the women.  I heard someoneapproaching and looked over the top of the paper.  A homeless man thrust a packet of meatpatties towards me.
"Canyou open this for me?"  I took thepacket, greasy from God knows what, and my keys from my pocket.  The smell of the meat, if there is meat inthose things, shot into my nose.  Ihanded the packet back to the old man, expecting an invitation to joinhim.  He didn't ask.  He just sat back down on the next bench andmade his sandwich quietly. 
       One of the women walked towards the automaticdoors.  I tried to imagine her idea of anAmerican.  Apparently, I was not it.  Fifteen minutes had now passed and I wasenjoying this little game.  The Americanspy waiting to contact his source carrying the information that could threatenworld peace.  She walked back to her spotin front of Pressbyrån.  For the sake ofworld peace, I stood up and walked over to her.
"Areyou Ulla?" It was a rhetorical question.
"Iam Ishmael." Actually I said my real name but since all names have beenchanged to protect both the guilty and the innocent, I have inserted my nom dejour.  What did she look like youask?  Exactly as I expected is myanswer.  Ulla was medium height, morethan slightly overweight.  She carried alarge black purse thing and a pink gym bag in which she kept her schoolstuff.  She was not attractive, facially,but not ugly. 
       I suggested we take the tube to Östermalmand get a coffee.  We walked to theplatform.  I remembered her mentioningthat she studied philosophy.  At thattime, I was making another of many attempts to read Nietzsche's Thus SpokeZarathustra.  I've never gotten past PartOne.  It seemed an easy, though bizarre,conversation starter. She recognised the name Nietzsche but knew nothing abouthis work.  I wondered what philosophy shestudied.  I tried to explain the storyand Nietzsche's overman. 
"Areyou an artist?"
"No.  I listen to music and watch films and writesometimes."
"Ithought so.  You paint pictures with yourwords."
       I took it as a compliment.  I'd love to see the painting of Nietzsche Ihad just finished. We walked up Kungsgatan. I picked the first open cafe.  Weeach ordered a coffee and sat down.  Ullaexplained that she studied practical philosophy and her life story. Her Danishfather left when she was one year old and worked as a sailor all over theworld, ending up in Japanas a Buddhist.  Her mother was intomeditation.  Ulla herself sought themeaning of life in her practical philosophy. In her 35+ years she had not yet found it.  The topic of marriage came up but I deftlydeflected to some banal topic which I cannot recall.  The cafe closed.  It was a little after 9 pm.  What the hell am I going to do now?, Ithought.  We walked aimlessly upKungsgatan.  A red neon sign caught meeye.
Iblinked. ROYAL.
"Howabout a movie?" 
       The only film left to see was TheShawshank Redemption.  We bought ticketsand sat in the dark.  I hoped she didn'thear my sigh of relief.  The film itselfwas brilliant. More importantly, it was two and a half hours long.  I would have just enough time afterwards tocatch the last train home.  We parted atthe  subway train, promising to meet again.  It never happened.  I would have done anything to stay in Sweden.  Desperate enough to work in a restaurant, butnot desperate enough to marry Ulla.
       I've been sitting at this table by thewindow ever since drinking coffee and writing down the crazy shit that happensto me in Stockholm.   The owners don't mind too much.  I eat lunch when it gets busy to keep my tableand tip well enough to keep the wait staff from complaining.  At night I cook in one of the tourist traprestaurants in town.  This job was anecessary solution to my residence problem. Now it's the perfect job.  Itallows me to sit here during the day and scribble in my notebook.  


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lost a Friend

As I grabbed the string to pull the light switch, the tears welled in my eyes. A simple task reminding me that Dakota would not need the light on in her room. The room needs to be cleaned. In the weeks of her life, she was peeing in the room. I would disinfect it every week and thought I needed to be better about walking her. She was an intelligent dog and would express her anger with my by peeing on the floor. When she was really mad, she would look me in the eye and pee on the floor. I hated cleaning up after her, but admired her attitude. She was the quintessential alpha bitch.

We adopted her on Mother's Day 2003 from Dumb Friends in Denver. Her name at the shelter was Perky. It was not an appropriate name. She was a Border Collie mix but very laid back. We had to hide her the first week at home because dogs were not allowed in the apartment complex. The next Friday we would close on our house but couldn't wait to adopt her. She was playful, as expected, but also very sweet and cuddly.
Jordan was 6 at the time. She named Dakota on the drive home from the shelter. They would become very close very quickly.

 Jordan used to walk Dakota around the house on the leash. She and Dakota would search the house for whatever Jordan was looking for at that time. Much to Dakota's chagrin, Jordan did not have anything in particular in mind.

A month after we moved into the house, we saw Izabel on the Dumb Friends website and fell immediately in love with her. She was a month younger than Dakota and a black Lab. Dakota and Izabel hit it off immediately. They complemented each other perfectly. Izabel was the perfect foil for Dakota's Border Collie personality. Jordan loved those dogs unconditionally and the feeling was reciprocated.


We moved to St. Louis in 2004. Jordan was heartbroken leaving Denver. Izabel and Dakota helped Jordan through the tough times adjusting to a new life. We rented a house with a huge yard. Jordan would play soccer with Dakota in the yard and taunt them from on top of the trampoline which they were initially afraid of.

 Jordan still played her dog detective game in the house. If she were sick or just sad, Dakota would be by her side to comfort her. We left Jordan home by herself for the first time a week before the end of 6th grade. Tonia and I worked in the same office about 30 minutes from home. Suddenly, Tonia was at my desk to tell me Dakota bit Jordan. Jordan said her lip was hanging off. Jordan called a neighbor to meet Tonia at the emergency room. I was not far behind. Apparently, Jordan hugged Dakota while they were on the stairs and Dakota slipped, In a panic, Dakota lashed out and caught Jordan on the lip. Eighty stitches later, we left the emergency room.

Per hospital regulations, they were required to notify the county about the dog bite. Animal control came to the house to inspect Dakota and inform us she had to be quarantined for 10 days. She had to be kept in her crate and could only be out on a leash to be fed and walked. It was a tough 10 days. During the quarantine, we had to decide if we would keep Dakota or euthanize her. Tonia and I let Jordan decide. Many people thought we should have put her down at the time. We felt Jordan needed to make the decision because Dakota was her dog. If she felt safe around the dog, then it would be fine. We notified the county that Dakota would not be euthanized.
Following that incident, Dakota became very mellow and protective of Jordan. When we found out we were pregnant with twins, we decided it would be best to keep the twins away from Dakota until they got older. We set up gates in the house to give the dogs their space away from the kids.

In 2010, we moved to Columbus to a small house without a fenced backyard. Dakota spent the last 2 years in rooms in the basement. She had plenty of room but was isolated from the rest of the family. We tried to find a new home for her. It was not a good life for a Border Collie used to free access to open space. It broke my heart to see her in that room. The silver lining in this situation was that I would walk Dakota and Izabel at night in the neighborhood. These walks varied from around the block to 2 miles. All three of us got a needed workout and Dakota got some relief from being in the basement.

Dakota was healthy despite the living conditions and she spent a lot of time tied up out back when the weather was nice. Ian and Zoe never really interacted with her but would see her from the other side of the gate and watch her when she was in the backyard.

On Thursday, I found Dakota hiding in shelves in a corner of her room. She was in obvious pain and very slow to move. I had walked her with no problem the night before but she could barely move on Thursday.
On Friday, she was also hiding in the corner and very reluctant to go outside. I made an appointment at the vet. The vet tech examined her and found blood on her hind furs and anus. The vet examined her and felt a large mass in her abdomen. After discussing the treatment options and the likely outcomes, I decided to put her our of her pain. She was not going to get better. Surgery would only have prolonged the suffering. My dad drove Jordan to the vet to say goodbye. We sat with Dakota for a while hugging her, comforting her, and crying. Dakota actually looked peaceful when we left her with the tech.

Jordan and I cried walking to the car and driving home. Dakota was no longer suffering. We left the vet with her leash and collar and nine years of great memories. I hope Dakota can forgive me for the last two years of her life. I am glad she suffered for only a short time.


I turned off the light in her room. It sits at the back of the laundry room. Her food and water bowls are still full. The room needs to be cleaned. I don't yet have the strength to remove the last bit of Dakota from the house. Someday soon I will take care of it and smile and the thought of her.

On Saturday, Tonia changed her Facebook profile picture to Dakota. Ian saw the picture and said, "Dakota sad. Belly hurt. Dakota happy now."

We finally found a new home for Dakota. Ian assured us she is happy there.