Gang of Four – Paradise Rock Club, 2/7/2011

February 8, 2011

Last night, Ruth and I, along with our friend Terry, went to see the Gang of Four at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston.  It’s been a little more than 29 years since the first time I saw the band, when they played the Bradford Ballroom back in 1982.  That first show was probably the best concert I’ve ever been to.  I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen them since then.

Ruth and I get there in time for the opening act and we staked out a great spot, up against the barrier in front of the left side of the stage.  Good thing we had the barrier to lean on, as I don’t think my back could take standing up for three hours any more.

The opening act was a band from Montreal called Hollerado.  I enjoyed their set, enough to look  into getting their album after the show.  Then, after a 45 minute break, the Gang of Four took the stage.  For this tour, Jon King and Andy Gill are joined by Thomas McNeice on bass and Mark Heaney on drums.  They were two of the younger people in the club.

The set list mixed a number of songs from the new album in with some of the more jagged old favorites.  For example, they did “Anthrax”, but not “I Love a Man In Uniform”.  Like every Gang of Four show, the music was loud with moments of piercing feedback.  My ears are still ringing today.  I’ve got a nice set of earplugs I bought especially for shows like this.  Someday, I’m going to have to start remembering to bring them to the concert.

Like most shows I go to these days, the crowd skewed toward an older generation, which is strange because I haven’t aged a bit.  A mix of old and not-so-old fans moshed mildly in the middle of the crowd.  The energy in the pit picked up during “To Hell with Poverty” and in a blast from the past we were treated to the bouncers tossing a man out after an altercation.  He was yelling “He hit me first!” as the bouncers dragged him past us.  Odd how the bouncers never get the right guy.

One big change from the ’80s were the number of people recording the show with their phones.  I took some pictures with my iPhone.  It doesn’t do especially well in low-light conditions.  You miss some details, like the safety glass spraying the bouncer when King smashed the pizza oven during “He’d Send in the Army”.

Click to see the photo album
Gang of Four – Paradise 2/7/2011

The phone does a much better job with videos.  Here’s “Not Great Men”:

and “We Live As We Dream, Alone”:

The band’s original drummer, Hugo Burnham, doesn’t tour with the band any more, but since he lives in nearby Gloucester he dropped by to sit in on “Natural’s Not In It”:

and “Damaged Goods”.  At the end of “Damaged Goods”, King brought both drummers out on stage to the cheers of the audience:

They always play “Damaged Goods”, but they don’t bring the same frentic energy to the song as they used to. The last few times I’ve been to shows, the song has seemed half a beat slow.

I suspect they’re just tired of it after 30 years.

Even after all the time that’s passed, and with many fewer chemicals coursing through my brain, Gang of Four shows are at least 85% of what they were at their peak.  The sound isn’t as fresh and exciting anymore.  They’ve been playing for a long time, and I’ve been listening just as long, both to them and to all the other bands that took their cues from “Entertainment!”. But the echoes are still strong.  The Gang of Four are just as jagged and edgy as ever, but in a strange way, they’ve become comforting too.

Enough, already!

February 2, 2011

Can I use my Charlie Card?

December 5, 2010

At the Alewife T station the other day, I  noticed that the MBTA has found another way to market us to our corporate masters.  They’ve allowed Best Buy to add a Best Buy Express kiosk at the station (there’s also one at Forest Hills).

That means that if you’re riding public transit around the city and you need an iPod or a video camera RIGHT NOW!, you can get one.  Of course, it’s useless until you charge it so instant access isn’t terribly useful, but whatever.

The sad thing is that Best Buy isn’t paying for the privilege.  Instead, the MBTA gets 7% of the gross profits, if any.  C’mon, guys.  If you’re going to sell off our public spaces, you should at least make sure we get something for it.

…and not a second more!

December 4, 2010

This may be the world’s most over-specific expiration date:

MAR2611 11:52:42pm

Especially if the crackers we bought in 2010 don’t expire until 2611.

2010 SRR Halloween Party

October 28, 2010

My favorite part?  The barfly shaking his head in dismay as we headed out of Casey’s for the run.

Click on the photo to see the album:

2010 SRR Halloween Party


October 25, 2010

The Minuteman Bike Trail has a large gap where it runs through the center of Arlington, and many riders travel on the sidewalks while they traverse the gap.   There have been complaints, and the city has posted signs in a new effort to get bikes off the sidewalks.

Arlington has also been installing new sidewalk bike racks around town.  The result is situations like this, in front of the library:

Just passing through…

October 20, 2010

The books come in…

…and the books go out…

…(Felix helps).

Order your copy of “Chasing the Runner’s High” online today!


August 22, 2010

I’ve been using a Logitech Comfort keyboard and mouse with my main computer for awhile.  Over the past year or so, I’ve been doing more typing (and playing a lot of Spider Solitare) and that’s caused some carpal-tunnel-ish problems with my right wrist.  In particular, using the mouse was getting uncomfortable.  So I decided to try some new equipment to see if it would help.

First, I tried the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Desktop 7000.   The mouse was an improvement, and the keyboard was fine, except that the spacebar wouldn’t register reliably.  That was a big problem, and seemed to be inherent in the design, so I returned it.

Now I’m trying out a Evoluent wireless VerticalMouse 3

and a Goldtouch Adjustable keyboard

that I ordered from Amazon.

I love the mouse. It’s comfortable to grip, even better than Microsoft’s, and the buttons and scroll wheel are responsive – not too firm and not too sloppy.   The keyboard is taking a little longer to get used to, but I think it’ll work out.  It’s very flexible, so I’ve spent a little time trying different configurations.  Once I quit messing around, I expect that soon enough I’ll be back to my usual (poor) level of typing accuracy.  Time will tell whether it helps with the wrist problems.

Bookmark Y42K: Ergonomics


August 15, 2010

For our vacation, Ruth and I spent two weeks at my family’s camp on Lake Champlain in Alburgh, VT.  Alburgh is right on the Canadian border and just a short drive across a bridge from New York State.  We ran and biked and kayaked, and we also spent plenty of time lounging around, watching the sky and the lake.

We took a few pictures while we were there.  Click on each of the pictures below to see the album that goes with it.

The first day we were at the lake, a gentleman walking along the shore asked us if we’d crew for him on his sailboat the next day.  His family was coming to visit later in the week, but for now he was alone and he needed a hand if he was going to go out.  We said, “Sure, why not?”.  He was Roger Rosenberg, a neurologist from Texas.  We had a great time and we learned something about sailing while helping Roger with his boat.

We really like watching the weather over the lake.   Ruth and I took lots of pictures, trying to capture it all.   Many were sunsets, of course.

But any time of day, there was grandeur.  Or nearby, mailboxes.

I stitched a few pictures together to try and give a better perspective of how much sky there really is.

From time to time, we left camp to go out and do something.  Thursday, we met our friends Mark and Karen for the weekly free concert at the Snow Farm Vineyard in South Hero.

Friday, we went to Burlington for day one of the Festival of Fools.

On Sunday, our niece Katie married Dwayne Ballard at Katie’s grandfather’s farm in Grand Isle.

The day before we left, we went to day one of the Lake Champlain Bluegrass Festival.  Eight hours of music on a beautiful summer day, roast pig, and some maple-bacon ice cream too.

Summer in Vermont – it’s great.  Almost great enough to make you forget the winters.  Almost :-)

Bookmark Y42K?: Vacation!

Doing the Lord’s Work – Free Estimates!

August 15, 2010

We saw this posted in the laundromat in Alburgh, VT:

Psalm 24:1 (New International version) says “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”

And for a small fee, they will move as much of the Lord’s earth as necessary to get the job done.

Bookmark Y42K?: Doing the Lord's Work - Free Estimates!


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