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Dark Stars, Basketballs, and Sweet Tomatoes

June 1, 2009

As the school year starts to draw to a close, I’m hoping to have the time to make the daily upkeep of my blog a key part of the summer.  As for now, I still have the beard I started just over a month ago to mark this busy part of the year, going from Karav to the publication of Troubadour to the final meeting of Theatrix, while managing to read 1124 pages of essays from my seniors about their personal philosophies, and download / buy cd’s of far too many Grateful Dead shows than I can count.  On that last count I’ve become an afficionado of performances of “Dark Star,” and am currently listening to a great show from 1969.  I think I’m finally understanding why I can confidently list Grateful Dead up there with Sonic Youth and John Coltrane and my ultimate top three favorite bands / performers – its something about the blending of genres and the willingness to explore uncharted territory in songs.  I can listen to  ten performances of Coltrane playing “My Favorite Things,” and hear no repeats but the head.  The same goes for seeing Sonic Youth – totally different every time.  God bless ’em for still touring – I’ll be seeing them three times this summer.  And as for the Dead, I’m just starting to understand the differences between shows in 1969 and 1971 and 1973 and 1977.  Personally my taste keeps me in those years, but I did listen to a 1989 show today that was just wonderful.  Even now, as I’m 15+ minutes into this version of Dark Star, on a night the Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna also played, it’s the sweet guitar of Stephen Stills chiming in to the mix.  Grateful Dead shows always have some surprise and some moment of transcendence – nothing is better than finding those at a concert…

Or when reading.  My senior’s essays were truly wonderful to read – personal explorations of faith and free will and materialism and the sources of their morality, all peppered with personal stories and revealing commentary.  This makes me think of the (ENS) Karav weekend my youth group has every year – everyone is so excited to get into the big / deep conversation and talk about “stuff that matters.”  It makes me think of students who ask if its ok to connect things they are reading in my classroom to their thoughts and situations outside of school.  My answer is always that I would hope for nothing less.  Maybe I err on the reader-response criticism side of things (you must read Louise Rosenblatt or Stanley Fish on this) but it’s hard to imagine teaching high school English otherwise.  More on that later…

But the best moment of transcendence of the weekend, one spent largely ill in bed, has to be watching Asher ride his new big bike and pushing Gideon on the swing in the backyard.  Asher also loves and is getting better at dribbling his basketball, and Gideon (almost 4) is comfortable grabbing my ipod touch and surfing to the games he likes.  And just tonight while dining at Sweet Tomatoes, Asher walked Gideon to the sundae bar to help him.  They were fighting moments later in the parking lot and on the way home, but when those moments happen, the strings of the world vibrate with the most beautiful melody…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. mom permalink
    June 2, 2009 8:37 pm

    I think I shall REALLY REALLY emjoy your blog – to think it all started years ago with a poem I updated yearly – I thought that was innovative!
    Excited to hear about you, the boys et al – keep it up – it will be #1 on my summer reading list!!!!!

  2. Larry Bach permalink
    June 28, 2009 5:13 pm

    funny, I’m kicking around facebook and the web on a lazy Sunday, and found my way to this post…and to a Dark Star played on the very day of my birth (and a sweet one at that!):

    happy listening, reading, and writing…


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