Sunday, January 31, 2010

Wizard of Young

The Wizard of Young
Last week on the Last Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, Coco's final musical guest was the legendary Neil Young. Neil sang one of my favorite post-CSNY songs called Long May You Run. But, more about the music later.

I was thinking that time had not been too good to poor old Neil. He was looking a little past his prime, and the performance was not his personal best. He is "getting up there" after all. Neil turned 64 last November and has led a bit of a "hard life." I'll leave it at that.

But as I watched the performance on Conan that night, Neil - in his current form - had begun to look like some other well known person. I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Then this morning, there was a piece in the local paper about Neil Young being honored at a pre-Grammy affair last night "for his decades of philanthropic service," according to the news release.

There it hit the photo accompanying the article, Neil was looking almost exactly like ... The Wizard of Oz. I mean, THE Wizard of Oz. The 1939-Judy-Garland-as-Dorothy-and-Toto-her-little-dog Wizard of Oz.

The actor Frank Morgan, who played the part of the Wizard and several other characters in the film you will remember, had those robust pink cheeks and the thinning hair combed straight back. Check out the photo and tell me Morgan and Young are not related.

Getting back to the music, the song Long May You Run was released on an album of the same name in 1976. A final collaboration with former bandmate, Stephen Stills, this was one of the best cuts on the album.

In the summer of 1982, I was driving back east on a cross-country jaunt and decided to head up into Canada for the last leg of our journey back to New Hampshire. Leaving Ashland, WI in the morning, we passed through Sault Ste. Marie around dusk and turned onto the TransCanada. It was well after dark when we passed through Blind River, Ontario and Long May You Run began to resonate in my head. Good memories still to come.

To Conan and Neil: long may you both run.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Christmas has gone back to Banada

"Christmas has gone back to Banada" at my house.

This was an expression used in our family when I was a child. The reference relates to the day when the Christmas tree, and associated Christmas decoration are taken down indicating the official end of the Christmas season. As you can imagine, this was not a happy experience for me as a young child who, like all kids, wanted to have Christmas last all year long. Fortunately, in my family, we were usually often late in this tradition. We would always delay this date until after "Little Christmas" - January 6th - the Feast of the Epiphany, the day Christmas is celebrated in the Greek Orthodox Church. Depending on the timing, this meant that the tree may stay up until 12-13th of January. This year, the trip to Banada was January 10th.

The best I can tell from a Google search, Banada refers to the ruins of an ancient abbey dating back to the 15th Century located in County Sligo, Ireland. This figures since my maternal grandparents were all born in Sligo. But other than that, I am not sure of the true meaning of this expression.

But, unlike the days of my youth, I don't take all of the Christmas decorations down at the same time. In fact, I usually leave the window decorations and the ones on the porch up until....Lent? Easter? In any case, it will be months.

I guess I've never really grown up...

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Herbie has to go

I followed this story last summer, and I may have even blogged about it, but the death and removal of a 230-year-old tree makes me sad.

The story of Herbie the 230-year-old elm tree in Yarmouth, Maine is better told by the folks at the Portland Press Herald who have been following and reporting on the story of Herbie's demise. It seems the date of the final day has been announced, January 18, 2010 and there is an expectation that a crowd will be there to watch and record the event.

I'm not exactly a "tree hugger," but I admit that I like trees, and elm trees in particular. I remember the good old days when lofty American Elms graced many streets and roadways in America. I particularly loved the stretch of US 1 in Thomaston, Maine where these great giants created an incredible canopy over the road enjoyed by many tourists each year. It was so sad to see them slowly disappear.

So, here's to Herbie and thank you for your good life. Unlike humans, your physical remains will continue to be enjoyed for many years to come. And we're lucky for that.

Friday, January 01, 2010