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Archive for June, 2008

He speeds down Broadway in a borrowed beat up Chevy, listening to the radio. Loud. A song called “If Ya Want My Luv” pumps out from one of those renegade rock and roll stations that breaks all the rules. The song aches, pounds in his head: “If you’re spending time with me, better keep it hassle free.” The pavement glows with a dull sheen, polished by the street lights that line the road. He makes a left turn on Iowa Avenue, pulls over and parks. He walks around the corner and goes into a club called Herman’s Hideaway.

Inside he sees shadows and sweat, the blur of smoke and alcohol, a hard pumping band on a tiny stage. The place is small, packed tight with people. Pairs of dancers litter the dance floor in front of the stage. He buys a beer at the bar and disappears, barely noticed, into the crowd. And watches. The guitar player strangles fast and hard–Hendrix style. A bit of a show-off but it doesn’t really matter. It’s loud enough, tough enough.

From nowhere a woman appears: black hair, black leather, wispy features, slender, rather small. She says, “Wanna dance?” and before he can answer she takes hold of one hand and leads him through the sweat and smoke to the dance floor. He puts his beer down on someone’s table and dances with this woman, lost somewhere amid the clutter. The band is playing Hendrix’s “You Got Me Floatin'” twisted and hard. He yells, “What’s your name?” into her ear. “It’s not important. Just dance,” she shouts back. So he dances.

And watches her dance. Watches her closely. She is wearing a studded leather jacket over layers of lace, sort of a maze of mystery. He looks at her face–so smooth and light in contrast to her dark hair and clothes. She smiles at him coyly. And he smiles back. Tomcat and tomboy on the dance floor, he thinks to himself. And he doesn’t even know her name….

Later, mysteries lingering, he leaves the club and drives home fast–a black streak on the boulevard. The renegade radio station is still playing the right noise: “I’m a little mixed up, but I’ll be all right if I can hear a loud guitar all night.” The city lights blur into iridescence and merge with the woman’s image in his mind. Studs and lace. Coy smiles and pangs of lust. A maze of mystery. He turns the radio up and floats, just floats home.

by Joe Beine, copyright 1987
originally published in The Blind Armadillo #7 (Summer 1987)

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Dime Box Five and Dime Waltz CDLong ago in Texas, a small town didn’t have a post office. So the people left a dime in a box to get a letter delivered. And the town became known as Dime Box. Just a little while ago in California, a group of musical women got together on the singer’s back porch and made some sounds that echoed small town Texas life. So they called themselves Dime Box.

You don’t need electricity to make the sounds Dime Box makes. You just need some strings for the mandolin, the fiddle and the guitars, and maybe some brushes for the drummer. And a fine country voice like Dolly or Patsy. Dime Box singer Kristi Callan has one of those voices. You know, the kind that floats effortlessly over the lyrics. The kind that yearns and reminds you of some faraway place where you always wanted to go. And the songs… Well, they’ve got ten heartfelt originals and a Dolly cover here.

“Bone to Pick” is an old fashioned country toe-tapper with tangy barbeque sauce poured all over it and great biting lyrics: “I want you up and gone by the end of this song.” During “High Road” the bass and brushed drums chase each other in a galloping rhythm. “Mama” is surrounded by smooth harmonies and plaintive violin figures that echo the song’s theme of regret.

Some of the songs are about women escaping and coping. Take the kids post-divorce and start over. The title song is about living a life somewhere between homelessness and normal society. Collecting scraps and leftovers and making them work. But the song makes it more bearable by comparing it to a dance: “doing the five and dime waltz.”

The wistful “Up to Here” is another post-divorce escape, but this time it’s balanced by remembering the joys of being naive.

My favorite song is “Betsy,” which longs for the return of a much missed old friend. It has just the right touch of pensive mandolin playing and wondering lyrics.

The best way to hear the music of Dime Box is to sit out on your back porch around dusk and listen. Or pick up this CD. Just be sure to leave a dime in the box for the postman.

You can order the Dime Box CD from Amazon or CD Baby

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Aspen trees on Squaw Pass Road near Idaho Springs, Colorado

I took this in mid February on Squaw Pass Road near Idaho Springs, Colorado.

 

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San Francisco, 1987

Torn jeans. Worn denim jacket covered with patches like tattoos. Seventeen, maybe eighteen, but Keisha looked older, acted older anyway, or at least tried to. She was dragging a skateboard and carrying a “don’t mess with me” attitude. Her shoulder length black hair tumbled in disarray around her firm, slightly girlish features that softened that attitude, much to her displeasure. Her skateboard scraped against the floor as she walked past racks full of record albums while New Order’s “Temptation” bounded through the record store.

Keisha was a mash of ethnicities: strong African, tough Mexican, a touch of quiet Asian. She was certain she had no Anglo or Celtic blood, but a friend once told her, “You must be Irish. You have an Irish disposition, quick tempered and brooding. And always yapping.” Dark freckles were scattered across Keisha’s face. But her gazelle eyes were darker than anything else about her.

She stopped walking in front of a rack stuffed full of records, and said, “Cool, they got the new Metallica.”

A friend of hers, obviously ready to leave the store, yelled something at her from the front door. Keisha yelled back loudly and in a very slow cadence, “My name is not ‘yo with the skateboard.'”

Then she noticed a girl browsing through the rack next to her. The girl had dark clothes, dark hair, a worn leather jacket. She looked a bit older and all at once sweet and tough. They smiled at each other.

To the girl Keisha said, “It seems there’s only two things in this life–” She pointed to herself. “–that work right. This board–” She pointed to her skateboard. “–and this music.” She pointed to the Metallica album. “My boyfriend–” She motioned to the guy by the door. “–mostly does not work right.”

The girl next to her said, “Boys can sure have a lot of stupid shit mashed into their brains.”

“Oh shit yeah,” Keisha said. “So what’s your name?”

“Autumn.”

“Hi, I’m Keisha.” She held out her hand and they shook. “Hippie parents too, huh?”

“Yeah. Keisha’s a real nice name though. At least they didn’t call you Sunshine or Moonshadow.”

“You’re right. There’s lots of poor souls in this city with summer of love names like that.”

“I was born in the summer of love,” Autumn said with a touch of disgust.

“So how come your name isn’t Summer?”

“My mom has this little story about how I was born in the autumn of her life.”

“Oh yeah?” Keisha said. “I used to think I was named after a drug–some obscure form of hashish only my parents knew about or something.” She dropped her voice into a low growl: “Hey kid, wanna smoke some Keisha?”

They shared a laugh.

“You know what gets me?” Autumn said. “These kids my age who follow the Grateful Dead.”

“Sprog Dead Heads. It’s pathetic.”

“I mean shit, I can’t stand my parents’ music. I need music that reflects my world, not something that happened twenty years ago.”

“I know what you mean,” Keisha said. “But when I think about those kids, it’s like–it’s their way of relating. They go to the shows and they hang out with all these other people who are doing the same thing. It makes them feel like they belong. Everyone wants to fit in. Me, I don’t wanna belong to anyone else’s club. I just wanna survive. I don’t wanna get high and escape. I wanna feel it, live it.”

“There’s so much to experience,” Autumn said.

“And so much variety,” Keisha added. “I feel just as at home with Beethoven as I do with Guns n’ Roses. That guy was into some crushing dynamics.”

“Loud and soft,” Autumn said. “Just like my world.”

“My world too.”

They paused and looked at each other with a reciprocal glimmer of curiosity in their gazes.

Autumn said, “Mostly loud.”

Keisha smiled. “Hey, I’m saving this spot–” She pointed to an empty section on her jacket. “–for a Beethoven patch.”

They were interrupted when Keisha’s boyfriend appeared from behind her. “C’mon Keish, let’s go,” he said.

She looked at Autumn. “This time he calls me ‘Keish.’ Isn’t that quaint?” To her boyfriend she said, “I wanna get the new Metallica.”

“Let me tape it?”

“Maybe.” She turned back to Autumn. “Where do you hang out?”

“I go to the Hideout a lot. And my boyfriend drags me to lots of metal shows.”

“Yeah? I go to the Hideout sometimes too. See you around, Summer of Love.”

Autumn smiled. “Yeah, see ya.”

Keisha started towards the counter, her skateboard in one hand, the Metallica album in the other, then she hesitated, turned back to Autumn and said, “Gonna go home and crank the Dead–relive my birth trauma.” She paused. “On second thought–gonna crank James and Lars. And get crushed.”


© 1988 Joe Beine

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Wheat Blue

Wheat against the blue of the sky by Joe Beine

This was taken in mid-January in my neighborhood.

For another view see: Wheat Blue by Joe Beine on Flickr

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Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara

Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara, Boulder Theater, November 3, 2007
Boulder, Colorado

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