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January 25, 2021

New Eras, New Errors


Turning point. You graduate from high school and then what? You move to a new town, a new job, a new lover ... some people still make resolutions at the beginning of every new year. You might succeed, probably not. But you never know the future. This new year began on January 20, 2021. The resolutions make themselves.

I called 2020, back in innocent 2019, "The Year Everything Changes." I'm too psychic for my own good. Wow, what a year full of death and stress and privation and fear! In Sicily, we're still in lockdown after 11 months. Yet, now we have Uncle Joe* and Kamala who will set some things right, already getting it done. I imagine they're swamped with advice from 330 million people all at once. Mine: be sure to get military firearms out of civilian hands and please change the national anthem to 'America the Beautiful'. Okay, I'll settle for one of the above. And climate action.

I've nicknamed 2021, "The Year I Change," and I don't know what that means so I'm going to explore and discover. For one thing I can stop following American politics obsessively. We signed up for the Resistance, mostly online and made of truth, and now we've won. White supremacy is not defeated but we can ignore it again (let the authorities deal with it), and together rebuild our multicultural world. Yes! Everyone holding hands and singing Kum Ba Yah! Yes! So I plan to be a much less regular presence on social media for starters. Then what, what to do with a couple hours a day liberated, maybe read books again? Play my old gourd banjo? Enjoy exercise?

This past year of quarantine, my relationships were all tossed up in the air like when, you know, a tornado rips through your house. I've neglected just about everyone: out of sight, out of mind. I don't know what or why, but it seemed like I was a turtle drawing into my shell to avoid all dangers, real and imaginary. Self-preservation for me, oddly, meant extra isolation. It's easy to phone, but I don't. Talk? No thanks. I want a Nordic winter. My exasperated neurosis.

Soon as we're immune, it's time to shake off my self-preservation instinct and rejoin the human race. To interact, touch and be touched. Then some summer I can safely return to the mountains of the Pacific Northwest alone and unafraid. But first, vaccinations. I try not to fixate on the old normalcy, going backward, because I know that from now on we must go forward solving new problems, slaying dragons. The damage to Mother Earth that we've done and are doing is not going to fix itself. Even in our weakness, we better be strong and ready for the next virus and the next rise of fascism and whatever else we get slapped with.

This year has been the hardest ever. Most days I feel like I can get my daily business done and then I break down like an old car. If that's the new way, so be it. At least, we beat the Nazis again.

Anyone want to make 2021 a year of personal growth along with me? No? Whatever.

Stay safe and warm,


* my president

January 5, 2021

Music in Memoriam: 2020

2020: The Year of Death. We must mourn. We must always remember all the musicians, writers and others who died, along with so many others. Before my personal list of those who meant a lot to me, let me mention that in the US between 2900-3000 health care workers died of COVID-19 and in Italy about 350. It is hard to comprehend, but we must in order to move on and to honor those that we lost to this terrible pandemic.

Adam Schlesinger*
Al Kasha (songwriter)
Alan Merrill*
Alfred "Uganda" Roberts
Alto Reed
Armando Manzanero
Barbara Martin (Supremes)
Betty Wright
Bill Pursell (songwriter)*
Bill Smith (Dave Brubeck)
Bill Withers
Billy Joe Shaver
Bob Shane (Kingston Trio)
Bonnie Pointer
Bruce Williamson (Temptations)
Bucky Baxter
Bucky Pizzarelli*
Buddy Cage (New Riders of the Purple Sage)
Buzzy Linhart
Chad Stuart (Chad & Jeremy)
Charley Pride*
Chris Darrow (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band)
Clyde Davenport
Cosmas Magaya (mbira player)*
Dame Vera Lynn
David Olney
David Roback (Mazzy Star)
Eddie Cooley (songwriter)
Eddie Van Halen
Eddy Davis*
Ellis Marsalis Jr.*
Ennio Morricone
Eric Taylor
Eric Weissberg
Ezio Bosso
Gaynel Hodge (songwriter)
Gordon Haskell
Helen Reddy
Henry Gray
Henry Grimes*
Ian Whitcomb
Ivry Gitlis
Jack Sherman (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
Jerry Jeff Walker
Jim Owen
Jim Radford*
Jimmy Cobb (Miles Davis)
Joe Pennington (Hank Williams)
John McKenzie
John Prine*
Johnny Mandel (songwriter)
Johnny Nash
Jorge Santana
Joseph Shabalala
Julian Bream
Justin Townes Earle
Kenny Young (songwriter)
Lee Konitz*
Little Richard
Lynn Evans Mand
Mac Davis
Marcello Abbado
Mark Barkan (songwriter)
Max Crook (songwriter)
Maynard Solomon
McCoy Tyner
Michael Peter Smith (songwriter)
Mike Lilly
Millie Small
Moon Martin (songwriter)
Neil Peart (Rush)
Pete Carr
Peter Green
Phyllis McGuire (McGuire Sisters)
Ray Pennington (songwriter)
Rocco Prestia (Tower of Power)
Rod Bernard
Ron Thompson (John Lee Hooker)
Ronald Bell (Kool & the Gang)
Salome Bey
Spencer Davis
Stan Kesler (songwriter)
Stanley Cowell
Steve Weber
Tommy DeVito (Four Seasons)*
Tony Rice
Toots Hibbert
Trini Lopez*
Walter Lure (Heartbreakers)
Willie K
A.E. Hotchner
Adam David Miller
Alison Lurie
Anne Stevenson
Arrigo Levi
Barbara Neely
Barry Lopez
Bruce Dawe
Bruce Jay Friedman
Bruno Nettl
Charles Portis
Charles Webb
Cheryl Wall
David Clewell
David Scott Milton
Derek Mahon
Diane di Prima
Eaven Boland
Florence Howe
Gail Sheehy
Jan Morris
John le Carre’
Keiko Ito
Larry Kramer
Lewis Warsh
Lisel Mueller
Louis MacAdams
Luis Sepulveda*
Maj Sjowall
Marvin Bell
Max Evans
Michael McClure
Murray Schisgal
Naomi Long Madgett
Natan Zach
Per Olov Enquist
Pete Hamill
Peter Abbs
Ralph Angel
Robert Mezey
Roger Kahn
Rubem Fonseca
Rudolfo Anaya
Ruth Weiss
Shere Hite
Sir Ken Robinson
Stanley Crouch
Terrence McNally*
William Kittredge
Winston Groom
Yuko Kagiwada
Brian Dennehy
Bruce Boynton
Buck Henry
C. T. Vivian
Carl Reiner
Chadwick Boseman
Charles Evers
Chuck Yeager
Curly Neal
Dawn Wells*
Franca Valeri
Fred Willard
Grant Imahara
Harry Britt
Hugh Downs
Jim Lehrer
John Lewis
John Peter Sloan
Joseph Lowery
Ken Osmond (Eddie Haskell)
Max von Sydow
Michael Lonsdale
Nick Cordero*
Orson Bean
Peter Beard
Philippe Daverio
Ralph Barbieri
Robert Bechtle
Robert Braetz
Robert Conrad
Rosalind P. Walter (Rosie the Riveter)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Sir Alan Parker
Sir Ian Holm
Sir Sean Connery
Terry Jones
Tom Blackwell*
Wes Wilson
Wilford Brimley
William E. Harbour
Al Kaline
Bob Gibson
Dick Allen
Don Larsen
Glenn Beckert
Joe Morgan
Johnny Antonelli
Lou Brock
Mike McCormick
Phil Niekro
Ron Perranoski
Steve Dalkowski*
Tom Seaver*
Whitey Ford
and in a League of Their Own:
Barbara Thompson
Dorothy Christ
Dorothy Kovalchick
Lois Foster
Magdalen Redman
Margaret Jurgensmeier
Marilyn Jenkins
Mary Pratt
Pauline Pirok
Sallye Carberry
Victims of police violence:
Ahmaud Arbery
Breonna Taylor
David McAtee
George Floyd
James Scurlock
Mannie Ellis
Michael Ramos
Rayshard Brookes
Sean Monterrosa
Sean Reed
Walter Wallace Jr.
and others
And not on my list,  but maybe on yours:
Alex Trebek
Allen Garfield*
Ann Reinking
Ben Cross
Bob Kulick
Charlie Daniels
Dame Barbara Windsor
Dame Diana Rigg
Dame Olivia de Haviland
Diego Maradona
Don Shula
Gigi Proietti
Hal Ketchum
Herman Cain*
Hosni Mubarak
James Lipton
Jerry Stiller
Joel Schumacher
K.T. Oslin
Kelly Preston
Kenny Rogers
Kirk Douglas
Kobe Bryant
Mary Higgins Clark
Paolo Rossi
Pat Patterson
Paul Hornung
Pierre Cardin
Rafer Johnson
Regis Philbin
Rhonda Fleming
Robert Trump
Warren Berlinger
*COVID-19, though others are COVID-related