So here we are at the end of the year. If you have made it this far, congratulations! You survived the year unlike Muhammad Ali, David Bowie, Debby Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, Prince, Merle Haggard and on and on. This year we lost Billy Pinney and his dad James, Billy suffered a heart attack, James died from smoking too much. Basically I haven't seen neither since the turn of the century and those relatives I don't have much to do with. I simply lost track of Billy. But losing Bruce Stanley in late August would set the tone for a somber rest of the year. And William Christopher was the last person to get on the 2016 death train. Father McCauley from MASH.
The year started off on the wrong foot right off the bat when Iowa got blown to bits by Stanford in The Rose Bowl, once again proving to the ESPN and the Colin Cowpisses of the world that Iowa didn't belong and when the football season came around it was looking that Iowa might not finish above 500, losing to North Dakota State and crappy Northwestern and getting blown to bits by Penn State before doing the unthinkable and upsetting mighty Michigan 14-13 and then shutting out Illinois and blowing out Nebraska to finish 8-4 and get a trip to Florida to play Florida in the Outback Bowl. Arizona State on the other hand sucked and after starting out 5-1 would lose the rest of the games and for their effort had the all time worst defense in the NCAAs. Key injuries didn't help on the offense but the defense was a fucking mess all season. While Iowa got better during the season ASU got worse and worse.
The beginning of the year I predicted something special would happen and it did...in the form of the Chicago Cubs winning their first World Series since 1908, coming back down 3 games to 1 to win the 7th game in amazing style over the Cleveland Indians in perhaps the best all time World Series ever. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo had banner years, Dexter Fowler took a pay cut after the deal with Baltimore went sour and was part of the reason why the Cubs won it all. Dan Ross, retired after the season and with Rizzo and Dexter appeared in Saturday Night Live. Fowler would later sign with the St Louis Cardinals for next season and Adonis Chapman returned back to the Yankees with a big pay contract and proceeded to bitch about Joe Madden overused him in the world series. He did have a point since he had nothing to show in the final two games but his 2 and 2/3 inning shutout in game five was his best pitching performance of the season. Even though the price of borrowing Chapman trading an of a up and coming short stop, you cannot take away the title CHICAGO CUBS 2016 WORLD SERIES AND BASEBALL CHAMPIONS. It's in the history books and I'm glad I got to see and hear it.
So the hope is that the Cubs can continue to return back to the world series and since the loss of Chapman and Fowler, Wade Davis and John Jay have taken their place. We'll see where 2017 will go. On paper it still looks good.
Another surprise of the year was taking part in the World Naked Bike Ride day in Madison in June. One of the most daring and off the wall thing that I have ever done, it was interesting of the fact of joining 150 other bike riders taking everything off and go riding around downtown Madison in the early morning, peddling for about 7 miles and trying to shake off leg cramps towards the end. But to my surprise I finished the bike race and after that, retreating back to the motel to rest for a couple hours and then do the bargain hunts around the usual thrift stores in Mad City. But if you look up WNBR Madison 2016, you might see the full birthday suit of myself for further proof. In Record World it's NSFW and a no no to post.
(Acousta Kitties in action)
Surprise number 2 was playing guitar and singing songs in front of a crowd for the first time in over a year and I'm amazed how everybody enjoyed the songs. But at Checkers Tavern, the Acousta Kitties have been hosting the Acoustic Jam for over a year and they continue to draw a great support of regulars, to which I might be a part of if I didn't have a job. Playing acoustic jams don't pay but when you get the crowd to sing along to Games People Play and Dead Flowers, it's priceless. I hope to do more jams in 2017, weather and health permitting. I also took part in many Popcorn Jams on Sundays and a few Parlor City Blues Jams on Tuesday and managed to play alongside some of the best talent in town. We lost a couple jammers, Tim Duffy moved to Georgia but in return Jason Christensen and Karl Hudson returned, Jason from Memphis and Karl from Florida. Karl has continued to keep busy with jam sessions and playing in The Buzz and solo projects around the area.
For bargain hunts, I didn't venture outside of the comfort zone. It was usually Davenport one week, Dubuque the next and it varied, I did go up to Madison twice this year, the WNBR weekend and then back there again in October. I didn't go overboard on buying vinyl but I did find The Golliwogs Pre Creedence on LP and that record may have been the highlight of the year. Runner up: Bobby Bare 500 Miles Away From Home, that record was part of my growing up years and my dad still has that record, in very scratched up condition. Surprisingly, I did managed to find about 100 new 45s from various eras, mostly the pop or middle of the road including a bunch of oddball stuff at the Waterloo Stuff Etc stores, and Cliff Steward Coral stuff at the St Vincent De Paul in Waterloo, a very hit and miss store but sometimes I can score with some good finds if I knew when to go up there. Even the Dubuque Goodwill had some choice 45s of the year. No shortage of pawnshop cheap cds too. I just bought 8 of them for 1.88 apiece in town (Echoes-The Best Of Pink Floyd, Best of Kristy McColl, T.Rex, White Zombie and...ahem....Bob Dylan's Christmas In The Air to scare off anybody who comes calling around here.
The big news was the loss of Hastings Entertainment Stores when they got bought out by liquidators and they ended up closing all of the stores. By November 1st, Hastings was history. It was a shame, Hastings was the last great entertainment store that you can find cheap CDs and DVDs under a dollar and was a great place to hang around with the locals when I was in Kingman or Lake Havasu City or Bullhead City. Say what you want about them, they did serve a purpose and now there's a great big void now that they're are gone. The internet is fine but we all need to go somewhere on a Saturday Night. And you can't beat a Hastings despite what people say about them.
In late September the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids reached the second highest crest ever, even more so than the 1993 flood but people kicked in efforts to save the town and sandbagged and picked up and packed up everything in the flood prone areas. Not everybody stayed dry. While New Bo was fairly dry, the folks at Tornado's Pub had to sand bag themselves from a 5 foot flood river since the makeshift flood wall was built in front of their building and places like The Kickstand and the Mad Modern Art place had to endure flooding in their building. However, once the flood crested, Tornados was open a week later and The Kickstand two weeks later. And Parlor City was hosting jams three weeks later. Unlike 2008 Cedar Rapids rebounded but the big difference was that the river runoff came all the upstream and we didn't have the flooding 10 inch rainfalls of 2008. Plus it happened in the fall when we didn't have much rain to contend with. We got lucky but we all came together to support one another. And watched as Ron Corbett took credit for that as he considers running for Governor in a couple years. It never ends. But we also got our first record store in town too, Analog Vault opened up in New Bo in October and seems to be doing well.
In October I finally kicked the cable TV and have not watched much TV in the past three months. I had to go Wrigleyville Bar in Marion to watch the Cubs win the Series or listen to them on the radio as well as the Hawks but I have to find that I can live without the crap reality shows or for that matter those annoying Big Pharma Drug commercials and the damned E.D. crap that is now part of sports. Four hour erection ain't going help me anyway. I get by watching DVDs of quality shows I grew up watching and will be content that way.
This month saw the biggest reader viewership this year with me going over 12,000 views. I'm guessing mostly phantom readership although Blogger spam is 99.9 percent of comments. And none that add to any of the blogs that the spammer blogger has posted to. Which is why I have things awaiting approval. But those who continue to read, I thank you for your patronage. And while 2017 will continue on with the usual rant and ravings and music news and views and, there's no getting around that, deaths. Cause people will die and we'll continue to lose people of all statue. But what awaits us all is the forthcoming year of President Failed Reality Star and, worse, the GOP controlled everything, which is slated to set this country back 60 years ago. Seeing Obama leave after 8 years, I honestly say I hate to see him go, despite a do nothing and obstructing congress, he did managed to do a few good things. Like stopping the Dakota Pipe Line to which the Indian Nation stood up for clean water and not another leaking pipeline. We cannot afford to see our water supply poisoned by oil, which has happened time and time again. The question remains is the President Failed Reality Star who continues to use Twitter for his saber rattling and continue to bitch about Saturday Night Live making fun of him. Despite not having the popular vote, the Electoral voted him in regardless. Hillary may have run the popular vote, President FRS won in the states with the most electoral votes. I'm not certain what the GOP will have in store rather than their being bought out by the lobbyists and Big Oil and Big Pharma, but if this is the beginning of the end times, we can hope that Jesus will come and save this world from further destruction. Or perhaps have a meteor score a direct hit on the planet and have everything start all over again. The election this year was a farce from the word go and if The Democrats slit their own throat by sabotaging Bernie Sanders and keeping Debbie Wasserman Schutz through the whole ordeal then that's the reason why they lost. But then again it's hard to tell the real news from the fake, certainly the major networks didn't provide much relief in between their fucking drug commercials and Hilary's emails. In the end it didn't matter anyway, the bad guys all won, from Ron (Snake in the grass) Johnson to Congressman for life Chuck Grassley and joker Steve King. Oh I voted, but the wrong fucks won anyway. It is what it is. And not worth bitching about anyway.
So basically for a wrap up, there's not much to be said or done. I'm completed 15 years of blogging things from music to sports to rant and ravings and once in a while I strike a chord with forgotten bands or a tribute to friend taken from this world. It's a hit and miss and I can see why people give up, half of my readings are now from folks who moved on back to real life. The Best of 2016, it's nice to give credit to bands that wouldn't be known at SPIN or Rolling Stone, it's hard to keep up with the Best lists out there, I just choose the ones that make the most sense. Pitchfork will have theirs Robin Hilton of NPR has hers and neither has any of my favorites. I think I'm more inclined to play Mike Eldred Trio's Baptist Town more than Metallica's latest, which got good reviews but I've outgrown them. Or in Hilton's case I'll stick with Wooden Nickel Lottery or Tommy Bruner than Beyonce or Kanye Autotuned Chipmunk West or what's on KISS country. The hope is that Bro Country is on the way out and the women continue to kick the guys' ass in terms of memorable country music but I wasn't a fan of Miranda Lambert's effort. Perhaps Cam's time is gone too, her latest album, has three used copies at half price books. Likewise Steven Tyler's failed country attempt or Aaron Lewis for that matter, although Lewis has his heart in the right place but I think his daughter might have a better go at it since she was involved on the best song on Aaron's album.
While I insist that next year I won't partake in any more new albums, the logic is that I'll will find something to listen to. There will be bargain hunts in the future, more 45s to come across, more jams to play at and life will go on, unless it's our time to leave this world. Which I don't see happening anytime soon, remember the more you bitch, the longer God lets you live so I'm here for another 517 years. Certainly more trips to Davenport, Dubuque, Waterloo, places I'm comfortable of going. And of course Madison although returning to do WNBR Madison in 2017 is probably out of the question. But I did find my Tazmainan Devil Silk Boxes and just cover up. Biking naked is one thing I can cross off my bucket (fuck it) list.
But I have grown tired of the usual blogging of the week in review and most of the time, I'm using the backspace key more than any others and good thing the spellchecker comes up. With 12,000 views this month, I'm encouraged to consider keeping this going. But I am slowing down as you can tell, I've only done 89 blogs this year, I've been posting things under The Townedgers blog which might explain the reason for the decline but I'm more interested of doing a diary of the jams and recording projects since they are dear to my heart. But I fight the keyboard to get my thoughts down pat even for Record Review. For something that doesn't pay at all, I tend to waste more time doing this, but it's nice to look at the archives and remember the time and places that I was at or what was happening. Too bad that Groove Sandwich or Trucker Kitty didn't keep theirs up, they really had some cool stories to go with, but I can also why they pulled the plug. When it's time consuming and the returns aren't there, it's best to say you did your best and move on. But in the end, I did end up with over 12,500 views. Historic in views but doubt if we'll have that many in the incoming months.
And life will go on. If things interest me enough, there'll be something documented, or if I unearth a cool collection of 45s, Singles Going Steady will return. Forgotten bands? Sure why not? ICON? Everybody likes to read them. Bargain hunts? For my own amusement I guess. And for you dear reader who read this far, thanks for your support. I've come a long way from The Yardbird's Roost on About.com to the fucked up My Space years (Both MSN and My Space deleted a lot of classic blogs from 2002 to 2008 although I did save a bunch for the 2009 year....in term of theory I should have gone with Blogspot sooner 2006) and Multiply (which lost key blogs including the Neil Young ICON Blog). Could have gone with Wordpress but Blogger/Blogspot has been very good to me, despite the spam comments. However, I do hope 2017 is a much better year, while it was great to see the Chicago Cubs win it all, losing Hastings and many good friends and musicians turned this year into a bittersweet sort of thing.
And I wish everybody a blessed 2017. Keep rocking.