Friday, August 26, 2011

Me and Mr. Poe

And so, in the darkest of dark nights, I stood at the precipice, leaning over the abyss, like Sisyphus at the base of his hill, mightily inverted, knowing this expanse must be mastered, but to what purpose? Another expanse arises. Always arises. And yet, in the dim twilight of my discontented musings, I knew that onward was the only way. Onward, on the way to the next onward, and the next. And, as she fluttered her ebony wings of misfortune, the bride of the darkest ruminate clouds, overshadowing my soul, she called out to me in silent prayers, like angels of anguish over the battlefield vanquished. She called to prayers the lonely moments of my wandering heart, and I heard in those dulcet tones the expanse, calling me again. Onward. Only onward.


Honestly, I’m sorry, sort of, a little, but I’ve been reading a bit of Poe, you see, and it just erupted onto the page. I’ve got this large, two volume set with everything he wrote, and I dip into it on occasion. And this is one of those occasions.

Have you ever read any Poe? Have you seen the Roger Corman “Poe” movies that have almost nothing to do with the writings they are based on? Some of the movies are pretty good. But Poe they aint.

Poe, by the way, was not just a writer of little horror pieces. He wrote a lot of things: fantasy, romance, myth and humor. He liked writing suspense and mystery too. He was a fairly well respected critic and editor, though he had a hard time putting food on the table with his writing.

So did van Gogh. And Mozart. And Schubert.

Oh, what Bedlam is art?

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Progeny 2

 Went out on the town with progeny number 2. My middle daughter has always been an interesting kid. She has a strong personality and a huge heart. It was her turn, so we spent the day together, just me and her.

I try to plan something I think each kid will like when we do these daddy/daughter outings. And for her, the Detroit Science Center seemed like the right thing to do. So that’s where we went. And we had a great time too. Not that they made it easy. They wouldn’t accept my discounts, which I spent some significant time finding, for no good reason. The more you want to do, the less they’re willing to work with you on the discounts. Which is as stupid as you can get. And they have what could best be described as a lack-luster general presentation of things. Employees who reek of an “I don’t really want to be here” aura. So on and so forth.

But in the end, none of that mattered. We were there to have a good time and we did. When you’re with someone you love, that’s how it works sometimes. It’s amazing how you can be in some pretty nutty situations, but if you’re there with people you love, it just doesn’t matter as much.

So we looked at the dinosaurs and the exhibits and we watched an IMAX movie and we made these pop bottle rockets shoot up to the ceiling. It was great.

It was great because she is great.

And on the way home we ate at Applebee’s Restaurant. It’s not the greatest, but I like it. They have a tendency to way over season their food. Very salty. And if you start sending it back you’ll be there all day. But it’s better than a lot of other joints around here. And you can kind of tailor what you order a bit. They’re good about substitutions.

The Beauty had chicken strips and fries. And an ice cream with a brownie.

Then we picked up her sisters from grandma’s house and went to see a dollar show together. Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Which was okay. Not the greatest.

But who cares.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Crwth

I can’t remember if I mentioned this before, and I’m too lazy to check. But I was doing some research into my last name and I found out that my last name means something close to “the player of the Crwth.” The Crwth? Never heard of it. It sounds like something made up by Lovecraft, but it’s a real thing. Turns out a Crwth is a musical instrument. It kind of looks like a lute, or a guitar, depending on how you want to stretch it. It looks like this:

According to some of the things I've read, it’s a Welsh instrument, popularly used in music for about a thousand years. It was played with a bow, like a violin, but it had a flat bridge, so you couldn't play it one note at a time like a violin. That means it was probably used primarily to accompany a singer or another instrument. It’s probably the violin that killed off the Crwth because you could play melodic lines, so it was a more versatile instrument.

I thought I’d buy a Crwth and learn to play it. Makes sense, right? But the cheapest one I could find is a box Crwth for about $500 dollars. A real Crwth, carved out of a large piece of wood, can run you about $3000, and usually has to be ordered from England.


If you don’t know me personally, it is fitting that my name is about a person who plays a musical instrument. I have been involved with music almost my entire life. And it’s a big part of my heritage. My grandfather was a string player. He played violin, or “fiddle” as he would have called it, as well as guitar and banjo. The story goes, in the family, that he tried out for the Grand Ole Opry in Tennessee, but the pay wasn’t enough so he refused and took a job at the factories in Detroit instead. It’s stunningly frustrating to think about. I can totally relate to his situation. Music don’t much pay de bills.

So I’m thinking about taking my name back to the original. It would be something like “McCrwther.” I love that. But I wouldn’t really change my name. Another way of pronouncing it is the last name “Crowder,” which is from the same root, so David Crowder and myself might be related. Ya know. Talent running in the family and all. Heh heh. Maybe I can use that as a cheap excuse to get him to record one of my songs.

I’m reminded at this point of sir Michael Jackson, who said, and I quote: “You keep dreamin’”

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How To Avoid Exploding

Suddenly I’m feeling creative. Not that I have time for it. The reality is that you make time, or your head might explode.

I’ve been writing some new songs, and I’ve got some story ideas. I’ve had an idea for a screenplay for quite a while that I’ll probably never get done. Who knows. I have a friend who has written a screenplay. I told him about the idea and he seems to think it’s a good one.

There is this weird energy that I feel when I’ve got the creative going on. My head buzzes with thoughts which it always does, but instead of having it all bottled up inside, causing distress, it’s like someone turns on the faucet, and you get to fill those glasses with nice, cool, clean water.

I realize that when I start to use these similies and metaphors, it can make some people scratch their heads in wonder. One time I was at a pastors meeting and I was trying to describe the process of getting ideas down on paper and I remember describing it as being like “bees buzzing around your head, and you’re trying to grab one.” That, to me, is actually a perfect image, but they just stared at me like I was crazy, and I get that. If I wasn’t me, I’d think I was a little nuts.

But what is creativity if it isn’t going a little nuts?

I’m a firm believer that everyone is creative. Some people have had it beaten down so they suppress it. Some people decided that someone else was better at something they liked to do, so they gave up on it. You see that a lot. Some kid decides that they like to draw. They draw everything in sight. Their parents and family notice and tell them how good they can draw. But then they get to school and some kid in their class can draw “better,” so they give up the idea of drawing because someone else is “better.” Which is extremely sad in every way.

There is competition in life, but life is not a competition.

Most people who say they “can’t” draw or paint or sing or write, simply won’t. It's not that they "can't." They spend too much time judging themselves, condemning their own efforts. Somewhere along the line someone made fun of them or they realized they weren’t the “best” singer in the room and they gave up on it altogether. Some people sing out of key, so they don't sing. Not even in the car by themselves. And that’s just sad. I’m not saying you should do it professionally, whatever it is, singing, dancing, drawing, basket weaving. Whatever. But why abandon it completely? Why not just enjoy your own experience. Stop worrying about how “good” it is and just enjoy the experience of doing that thing.

If you don’t your head might explode. And you’ll never catch one of those bees.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

So Tired

I’m so tired right now. It’s crazy. I couldn’t fall asleep last night. When I finally did, in the wee hours, I didn’t sleep well at all. I feel like I’ve been up all night. And I’ve got a lot to do today and tomorrow. And the next day.

I feel really drained. “Running on empty,” as Jackson Browne said. I think I might have to lay down for an hour or so and see if I can get back a little gusto. I’d probably save time in the end because when I get this tired I have a hard time thinking clearly.

There’s a Beatles song called “I’m So Tired.” I always thought it was kind of dumb. But on days like today, I get it. Sometimes you just can’t sleep, or you can’t sleep right and you stumble around half awake.

I find sleep to be a very weird thing to begin with. Why in the world do we have to go under like that? Do you realize how much time is wasted sleeping? And it’s kind of creepy being unconscious when you stop and think about it. You just lay there, unaware, doing nothing. Maybe you roll over a few times and dream things you can’t usually remember when you wake up. A Charles Manson wannabe could have been standing over you for an hour, holding a knife, grinning maniacally, considering his options with the light of the moon gleaming in his eye, and you’d never know it.

See what I mean? I’m drifting here.

Wannabes or no wannabes. I really need some sleep.

Not that I’ll get it.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Whitney & Such

I was at a wedding reception this past weekend at the Whitney in Detroit, on Woodward Avenue. It’s an old mansion turned restaurant that was originally built in the late 1800's. They say that Thomas Edison may have personally installed the electrical on the house. So there ya go.

We asked our waiter if we could look around and he gave us permission. They let us look in the different rooms at all the art and wall hangings and wood carvings and fireplaces. It’s a beautiful place, and it was a reminder of how much change has come into the world.

I checked into eating dinner at the Whitney and it’s not for the faint of heart. A couple could easily spent $100 to $150 to eat there. It’s supposed to be great food, but it better be for that kind of money. I could eat at a Chef Ramsay restaurant in New York for that kind of money.

They have a picture tour on their website, which you can see here if you’re interested:

The Whitney

Detroit has a lot of interesting places that are kind of incongruous. There’s this building a little west of Woodward that looks like a castle, with stone walls and turrets. It was apparently a war memorial built in the late 1800's or early 1900's for Civil War vets to spend time together and remember their losses. They’d hang out at the castle and play cards and checkers and spit their chew into spittoons. So on and so forth. No one is doing anything with it right now. There’s no parking and it’s all boarded up. It’s a shame, but finding people to invest is hard to do right now. It’s apparently not an easy thing to do. I took this picture of the castle on one of my photo jaunts downtown a few years ago:

When you walk through the Downtown Detroit area, you see lots of theaters and restaurants and office buildings, some of them towering into the sky. But here and there you also find small little surprises, like Harmonie Park, where there is a fountain and memorials in the pavement in honor of African American heroes. A little while back a friend and I were in that spot when we saw them filming for the TV show Detroit 1-8-7. Never saw the show, but it was cool seeing the set up and all that. Here’s a pic I took of Harmonie Park:

Detroit has some cool spots that you might not know about. It’s worth exploring on a summer day to see what you can find. There’s a lot more there than you might imagine.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


One of my kids, last Christmas, received a kit for learning how to juggle. It has a book and different items for juggling. Scarfs, small cloth balls, that kind of thing. I started reading the book and trying to show the kids how to juggle. And here’s what we’ve learned so far:

Juggling is hard.

Juggling is a set of learned motions that have to be repeated over and over again. It’s the routine that makes it work. The routine of the motions and the routine of the things you’re trying to juggle with. You get used to that thing, the shape, the feel, which is what makes it work. This is why it’s so amazing to see someone juggling different items with different shapes and weights. Sometimes you see a pro juggler juggling a bowling pin with a cup and some other odd weight thing, and it’s pretty impressive because we all seem to know that the imbalance is what makes it tough.

I’ve found that I’m not very good at juggling. I work hard at it, but it doesn't come naturally to me. Which is no surprise. I’m simply not good at it. Literally and figuratively. At least, not with the amount of things I’m constantly trying to juggle. Too many things, too many shapes, too many weights. People toss things up in the air with the full expectation that I will somehow just take it into my loop. And when I start dropping things I can feel pretty guilty. It’s difficult to juggle all of the things life throws at us. But juggling is necessary if we're going to live life.

When I see people who are good at juggling, it’s often true that they’re good at it because they juggle the right things. They’re selective. Balanced. They know the feel of what they’re keeping up in the air. They have the motions down pat. And it impresses me. But I can’t seem to narrow things down like that. It’s a weakness. There’s so much that needs to be done and it’s hard to be at peace when things are incomplete.

Sometimes you’ll see two people juggling together. It’s really amazing. One time I saw three or four jugglers all together. They can keep so much up in the air. It’s such a clear image of teamwork. There’s so much skill in passing things off from one person to another. But most people never think of stepping in like that. They look at you, juggling your heart out, with an empty expression and basically say, “Sorry. I don’t juggle. I just don’t. But I like watching you do it!”

Juggling really is hard. And it can be a lonely business.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Thursday, August 4, 2011

On the Town

I had a “date night” with my youngest daughter last night. I’m trying to do at least one night out with each of them, exclusively, over the summer. Only problem is that money is so tight it’s hard to do much. I’d like to have done something a little more elaborate, but we’re saving for our vacation, so there ya go.

We went to the dollar show.

The good thing about my youngest is that she doesn’t care about any of that. She just likes hanging out with dad. We watched Kung Fu Panda 2 with her cuddled up on my arm. What could be better than that, right? I got her a popcorn and pop and we had a good time.

We talked about stuff on the way there and the way home. She’s a pretty good conversationalist. She doesn’t just ask a lot of questions, like a lot of kids do. She has ideas and things she likes to talk about. Things she likes. Things she’s done or wants to do.

She thinks she might like to be a singer some day.

In case you don’t know, I have three daughters and no sons. Which is an interesting place to find yourself in life. It is very challenging sometimes. But there is this He Man thing some guys attach to having sons, which I find to be stupid. And not just because I don’t have sons. I’ve always felt that much of what passes for “masculine” in our culture is pretty stupid. What if the truth is that a “real” man knows how to raise daughters? What if the truth is that a “real” man knows how to humble himself and serve? I have daughters and I LOVE having daughters. If I had boys I’d love that too. But, as it stands, I wouldn’t change anything. My daughters are great.

My youngest is one of the most kind, fun loving, enjoyable people you could ever meet. She is a very straightforward person. She makes me proud. Like all my kids do. And if you want to know what kind of humor she has, just look at the picture on the top of the Blog. That’s her.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Motown Museum

So, as I was saying a while back, the Motown Museum leaves a lot to be desired. And it’s a downright dirty shame. It’s still a fun place to check out simply because of the history. If you admire the different artists, the history and the Funk Brothers, like I do, then going there is a very humbling experience. But the reality is that the place is deplorably lacking in funds. There is no energy or seriousness about it as an experience.

It’s inexcusable when you consider the people and the money that passed through the place. You could hand pick several individual Motown artists of the past or present who could single handedly amp up the place to something much more presentable. Not to mention the Gordy family. What about the Jacksons? Stevie Wonder? The list is huge.

The Motown museum should be a MAJOR attraction in the city of Detroit. It should have been for years. If it had been done right, and marketed right, the Baby Boomers would have flocked to it, bringing their kids. It could have been bringing massive amounts of income to the city, if handled right.

The biggest problem with the city of Detroit is not what has been done, it’s what hasn’t been done. The same is true in a lot of businesses and churches. It’s the missed opportunities. And Detroit has missed a lot with their failure to attract businesses and entertainment.

Mike Ilitch is the obvious exception to all of this. I know people have different opinions about him. I don’t know anything about him personally. But he and his wife have certainly invested heavily in the city of Detroit. They’re from the Detroit area and obviously have a personal passion for making the city shine while pursuing their business interests. It’s a great thing.

But where are the others? Are people being chased off by the city government? All of those Motown artists, producers and executives who moved west when Motown did and never looked back? I know that a lot of the artists were shafted by the payment system. Royalties were rare. But others have made massive incomes. And with a well planned effort, I think they could make even more with a carefully put together and promoted Motown.

And say none of that works out?

How about this? Find a way, whatever it takes, to move the Motown Museum, piece by piece if necessary, and set it up at the Henry Ford Museum complex. It could be a whole new section, with the history of Detroit tied into it. 12th street, with the positives of the clubs and other record companies, as well as the reality of the riots and their connection to it. Old Tiger Stadium. Sports in Detroit. Classic Jazz clubs. The theaters and Woodward Avenue. The possibilities are endless. It would draw the Baby Boomers. It would add huge value to the Henry Ford experience. And it might just help draw some people from Detroit to the Henry Ford.

What it comes down to is Motown deserves better. The historical impact of Motown records is both musical and cultural and political. It is massive and it needs to be promoted and respected.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011