Perspective and the Camerman

So you know, people have to process the pandemic and the ups and downs of life in their own way and I realize sometimes it’s good to vent for the sake of it, as well. But for me, it helps to have perspective.

I’m reading this new Buster Keaton biography “Camera Man” by Dana Stevens right now. It’s a great book (see below) I’ve always loved Buster, but she also does a good job of putting his life in historical context. Some of the following bullets come from her book, but some are mine. 100 years ago life was like this:

—Alcohol had just been made illegal and as a result, organized crime boon
—We just came out of a pandemic (Spanish Flu, worst in history – 50 million dead)
—On the heels of World War I (arguably the worst re; warfare – 20 million dead)
—Life expectancy was about 55 years (men and women)
—Average education was only 8 years of school!
—Harding was president and there was the Teapot Scandal (accepting bribes from oil industry)
—Professional baseball and most of American life was completely segregated (It would take another list to unpack all the examples of injustice re; African Americans, immigrants, Native Americans, in this period tho, this is of course, ongoing)
—There were no environmental laws – in fact, in a key case of 1920, the US Supreme court allowed New Jersey to dump sewage into NY Harbor.
—The five day work week was only just beginning to be phased in
—The National Park Service had only been created, meaning most public lands were either inaccessible or vulnerable to corporate exploitation
—There was no rock and roll! Hell, there was barely jazz!

I could go on and also make a list of all the good things happening then (like Buster’s films!) and now, as well. But – the overarching point is that while we might be in a rough patch right now, it’s always a process, or as MLK said, “the arc of moral justice is long, but it bends toward justice.” The best time to live is right now, because we have made progress for one – and because we have no other choice. We are here now. We are in this thing together and as Patti Smith said – “people have the power.” So, all we can do is enjoy the good things we have, take care of each other and press on to right the wrongs, as we can. Thank you for this bloggy public service announcement inspired by a Buster Keaton bio. Doug

Best Of Top 10 Holiday Cheer

Hoekstra Holiday Award Winning December News

Happy Holidays!   As the year comes to a close, we are seeing some nice best of action on this year’s Doug Hoekstra CD  The Day Deserved and this year’s Doug Hoekstra book   Ten Seconds In-Between .    Some blurbs follow and of course, you know a) they make a lovely gift set and b) we are not experiencing supply chain issues!

First up, we are chuffed to see Ten Seconds In-Between garner a 2021 Royal Dragonfly Book Award as the Best Short Story Collection of 2021.  First place in that category, you can find the rest of the honorable mentions right here.    Many thanks to the fine folks at Royal Monsters for the award and of course, Better than Starbucks press for putting the book out.   You can pick up a copy right here

Also thankful in a Frank Capra way for the following year-end best of blurb on The Day Deserved at the latest  Baby Sue,

“Doug Hoekstra released an album earlier this year entitled The Day Deserved, which is easily one of the best releases of 2021. He also authored a book entitled Ten Seconds In-Between, which is a cool collection of short stories. Hoekstra is a man with focus and creativity galore. I would recommend anything that springs forth from this brilliant man’s mind.”  

It’s true, over the years, we’ve been fortunate enough to make Best of Lists and win/place some groovy awards (Nashville Music Award, Independent Music Award, Independent Publisher Awards) for the music and the words, and it’s always a kick.  It’s gratifying, because the competition or sheer volume of really fine artistic “product” being released is extensive. In this context, having folks recognize one’s work is much appreciated.

“Always an interesting cat, Hoekstra’s magic has always sprung from sounding so underground yet being visible enough to nail real awards…his first record in a decade is cause for celebration” (Midwest Record)

In other updates, there is a nice long, full length interview in the latest Aldora Britain Records Issue #60 (U.K.), commenting on “The Day Deserved,” as “an extraordinary array of influences from Americana, to folk to alt country and even a subtle reggae tinge and the stories told within are heart-warming and heart-breaking in equal measure.”

Throughout the interview Hoekstra waxes poetic on the record, the creative process, influences, film, you name it. Check the link below, pages 34-40 is the article, but lots of other good stuff on other fine artists, as well, throughout. Thanks to Tom Hilton and AB!.

Hoekstra has a way of examining life that few can put down on a page. You can read the book in a hour…and you will, several times, drawing something new each time.” (The Big Takeover on Ten Seconds In-Between, December 2021) 

Speaking of writing, there is a new Hoekstra poem, “Jazz” published in a recent edition of Feminine Collective (link) and bits and bobs of short essay pieces are still going live on the website all the time:    

Finally, The Day Deserved is picking up new airplay in spots, as well, most recently on Michael Terry’s Riding Point, 92.2 FM UK and Standing the Shadows of LEV, ALL FM 96.9 UK.   The following folks have also taken to the airwaves on The Day Deserved and many thanks to them all:  Americana Radio Netherlands (Paul Van Gelder), Austin Music TV, Blueprint 1020 (Netherlands) Blues and Roots Radio (UK), Ditty TV (“Gandy Dancer,” “Wintertime”), 40UP Radio (Jan Donkers/Netherlands), Groove Station,  Radio Bremen (Germany), Radio Guitar One, Radio Summerhall (UK), ), Taste of Blues (De Boeck Vincent Belgium), and closer to home –  WFHB (Bloomington), WMOT (Ana Lee/Murfreesboro),  WOTT (We Own This Town) WXNA (All About Nashville, Nashville Express). Back in May, Roots Music Report had the album charting at number 25 “with a slingshot” (our aside) and“Seaside Town,” the first single, also charted in their report.

And, if you’re looking for something to do while you’re in a tedious zoom meeting, you can always revisit the SIX videos put together for the Day Deserved, either at thewebsite or on You Tube.  In the latter event, sign up and follow, because we hope to drop one more before the year’s end, fingers crossed. 

Sharp Angles

DH / Frank Sinatra House

Recently I got boosted and feeling bionic, I decided to capitalize on my window of opportunity and take a trip to hike Joshua Tree, though I stayed in Yucca Valley and passed through Palm Springs. In the latter town, I stopped in to check out some of the mid-century architecture, drop in on Frank and Ava, say hello to the Holdens, teleport to the House of Tomorrow,  capture the Kaufman House, and otherwise make my rounds (solo and with the Palm Springs Mod Squad tour). Clean lines, bright sun, sharp angles. Though I came for the architecture, it was cool to stumble across the former digs of two of my all time faves, Harold Lloyd and Cary Grant (across the street from each other) and imagine some of those halcyon days.

Janet Leigh/Tony Curtis House

On Veteran’s Day, ironically, I also paid my respects to the Chairman, Sonny Bono, and William Powell (the Thin Man), and others interred at Desert Memorial Park. While reading my celebrity grave map, I ran into a fellow from my hometown of Chicago, who was there with his family, looking in vain for Jimmy Van Heusen and Busby Berkeley. By happenstance, I ran across Betty Hutton, though the print was nearly unreadable, a long way from the Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, which of course, puts everything in perspective.

…and the beat goes on

Mother of Muses

Awhile back, November 7 to be exact, I decided to take a drive up to Bloomington, Indiana, for a shot of Bob Dylan live, sorely needed. I’m a megafan, but I can’t think of many artists, who have kept at it for 60 years with such a consistently strong body of work, always taking risks, always moving forward. Last night, he did seven songs from the new album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, still reinventing himself at 80, crafting new material that matches and exceeds his catalogue, changing while remaining completely himself. The gold standard.

In a side note, I was pleased to find tributes to the great songwriter (and Hoosier) Hoagy Carmichael in the lobby of my hotel, and murals from the great Thomas Hart Benton adorning the Indiana University Auditorium (including over the merch table), framing the experience and reminding me that like Bob, they represent the best of what America has to offer, an affirmation. Anyways, it was a great night, with Bob’s persistence, professionalism and obvious love for the song always great to behold.    I don’t think it’s difficult to get a read on where Bob is coming from,  he’s always about the song and has successfully worked in folk, rock, blues, gospel, and often, his own hybrid of these forms, laced with a good measure of beat generation poetry.

For you Dylan heads, for me, the highlights of Bloomington were “Mother of Muses,” “False Prophet” and “Every Grain of Sand.”  And the revved up “Gotta Serve Somebody.” Roll on, Bob, roll on.

The Weedon Tortoise

Recently I went down to St. Petersburg Florida to visit my son at college, which was great.  We hung out a bit, but he also had school stuff to do, so I one day I rambled around on my own.  It reminded me of my road days. Meaning, I’d often have blocks of time to kill after arriving at a place, before sound check, and I’d generally wind up somewhere I wouldn’t typically go, because I prefer to be doing something, even when I’m doing nothing.

Anyways, down in St. Pete, I set out for Weedon Island Preserve, which looked like an interesting place to take a swampy boardwalk hike.  Back in the day, Jude and I visited the Glades and took a guided walk through Big Cypress, walking sticks in hand, slogging through the muck –but it was actually a lot more beautiful than you might think, because there’s a lot to see when you learn to look.   So, this was the case, as I walked through Weedon, under the mangroves.   But, also, along the way I learned that…

Native Americans lived there 7000 years ago, and indeed, this past decade, archeologists discovered a 1000 year old forty foot canoe (pictured here), which was amazing to see, the way it was built and how intact it remained.  Then I also learned that much later in the 1930s, a developer wanted to turn it into a residential community or Florida Riveria.  Speakeasies were built.  Then came the Grand Central Airport, of which very little remains (also pictured here).  Still struggling to commodify  what was perfect in its origin, the next set of plans involved a movie studio.    Anyone ever see “Playthings of Desire” from 1933?  Yep, that was filmed there. Eventually, these pursuits failed and in 1972, Weedon was put on the National Register of Historic Places; and it was finally opened to the public in 1980.   

Through it all this little gopher tortoise keeps on trucking, slow rolling through the grass, reminding us that things are far more ephemeral than we think and humans only occupy this land for a short time.