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Chicago dispatch: Rebellion by reading; more Midwest dates this week!

img_2297Night off last night. Drove from Cedar Falls IA to Van and Karin’s yesterday; got in about 5:30. This place: always such a refuge. Had incredible Japanese food around the corner for dinner; the music didn’t do much for me, though: I seldom want my dining music to include sounds that resemble a digestive system in crisis. Some cool beats underneath, at least. I stayed up on the laptop til 1 am. But did sleep better, finally. And hope for same tonight. Alcohol: one beer. Hooray! Better for sleep, and sense. And I’ll take as much of those two things as I can get.

The day Boo and I voted early at a neighborhood library, I checked out a copy of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s masterpiece, “100 Years of Solitude”. I find it hard to believe that I’ve never read it, though I have studied the opening paragraph many times. About as good, IMHO, as the opening of Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying”. In the wake of the chaos I feel we are all about to be plunged into (if this offends your political sensibilities or blind optimism, I’m sorry: I don’t care anymore), I’m going to rebel against that by: reading. Ferociously. Smart books. “Hard” books. I hereby refuse to be stupidized (yeah, I know that’s not a word, but it says exactly what I mean) by what seems a really weird, dark, and not so smart new “normal” in this country. And I urge you to join me. Let’s get back down to it, you know? Return to the idea: That beauty is important, is crucial, and is something you can hold in your hands, in your mind, no matter who you are or where you find yourself on this increasingly bewildering journey. Books are the quietest yet strongest fire in the mind I know. It’s usually (thankfully) a solitary activity. I would suggest that that is also a good thing, for every one of us. Of course reading aloud to your kids, others, or even yourself, is also wonderful—the sound of words floating in the air, for the ear, and the mind to take in; the experience of spoken language lifting that text right off of the page. An added bonus–this is dangerous stuff:  It can change your life.

So, though I’ve got quite the untamed bedhead going, while sitting here in the kitchen in an old t-shirt and sweatpants, working on my first hot cup, for some reason I’m feeling ambitious about this. Let’s read, people. Mary Oliver poems or Bob Dylan song lyrics (evil grin); Basho, Lewis Hyde, Gwendolyn Brooks, Natasha Trethewey. There’s plenty to go around, it seems. Read. Like maniacs. Turn off the TV. And talk to each other. Share a long-held secret with a trusted friend; get it out, get closer. Listen to music you wouldn’t normally listen to. Learn from the good, and the not-so-much, even. From the familiar, and the new. Go somewhere you’ve never been. Dance even if you don’t think you can. (All the women in south Louisiana and Texas would likely agree that for me, lessons are definitely in order.) I could go on and on, but I think you feel me: let’s stay smart, get smarter, live, create, and love like the bomb’s about to drop; keep it weird, or at least . . . really interesting.

(Deep breath. Steps off virtual soapbox now . . .)

The midwest tour continues, starting up again tonight at the fabulous venue SPACE, in Evanston, IL. The wonderful Bonnie Whitmore opens—and is not to be missed. She opens for us every show this week: in Minneapolis tomorrow night at The Warming House, Thursday in St. Louis at The Stage at KDHX; Friday at Kiki’s House of Righteous Music in Madison, and Saturday at Anodyne Coffee in Milwaukee. If you’re in the neighborhood, come on down! Or if you just feel like driving for a few hours to catch a good show, you’d be just as welcome, I assure you. As always, check the tour page or bandsintown listings for show times and other details.

Wild card: I confess that I’m having momentary anxiety attacks when thinking about my tour/travel schedule over the next month. Though I deliberately made the west coast tour a solitary endeavor, if for some reason you are able and you might want to join me and help drive out, or back, let me know. I may choose to stick with the plan and see what talking to myself for four weeks in a van does for me, ha ha—but if you’re intrigued by this idea, email me:

Gonna fetch cup #2. And a book. Then a shower. Load-in’s at 4. Doors at 6:30. Have a great week! Hope to see your beautiful selves somewhere out on the road.

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