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Monday Morning Playback: A rabbi, ‘Fight Night’ and the RNC gig docket

Rabbi Irwin Kula with Linda Loewenthal, “Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life” (Hyperion).


A few of my favorite things from the week that was:

Rabbi Irwin Kula with Linda Loewenthal, “Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life” (Hyperion). For anyone who was taken in by “The Secret” (The secret is: Seek and ye shall find money and materialism), this is a great summer-long contemplation. It starts with this Rabbi Bunim of P’shiskha quote, and only gets richer: “Keep two pieces of paper in your pocket at all times. One that says ‘I am a speck of dust.’ And the other, ‘The world was created for me.’ ”

The Who, “Baba O’Reilly” (Aug. 9, UFC 87 “Fight Night,” Target Center). Oy vey. A night out of watching young men beat the living snot out of each other in front of 14,000 rubber-neckers, irony-seekers, and, perhaps, a few low-info voters. When this Who classic came up over the p.a. (“we’re all wasted!”), one guy was dragging another guy’s face on the canvas like so much fertilizer spread as the sons of Bud Light, videogames, and stripper culture roared their finally uncorked if not sated bloodlust. A few minutes later, I watched two guys kill each other, listened to more cheers and wrote in my notebook: “I hope they both die. I hope the place blows up. I hope ‘Beyond the Glory: Joe Frazier’ is on when I get home.”

Steve Earle, “The Revolution Starts Here.” Hmm. Making plans for the first week in September. Let’s check the gig docket and see what’s going on. Why, over at O’Gara’s on Aug. 31, it’s an all-day and -night peace concert (“Provention”) with the New Standards, the Honeydogs, Martin Devaney, the Wilson brothers, and more; on Labor Day on the Capitol steps it’s Spearhead (of  “Yell Fire!” fame); at the Target Center on Sept. 2 it’s Rage Against the Machine (“F*** you, I won’t do what you tell me” ); Sept. 2 it’s Ike Reilly (“who says you can’t take a shot at a president?”) and Billy Bragg (“Help Save The Youth Of America,” “The Price Of Oil” ) at the Parkway Theater; and — what’s this? — Earle, Bragg, Mos Def, Atmosphere and more at Harriet Island on Labor Day. Huh. Must be some sort of music festival or convention or something coming to town.

Or nothing. At the moment, free-thinkers everywhere are ending conversations with, “Are you going to Minneapolis/St. Paul?” or “See ya in St. Paul/Minneapolis.” Many folks around these parts are ignoring the whole thing until it goes away, throwing parties, or taking the Minnesota Nice route and tolerating the boorish dinner guests and talking about them when they leave. And while the GOP may be coming into something of a hornet’s nest, the truth is that the revolution *will* be televised: thousands of digital eyes capturing all sorts of lit-up convention-goers (see: fathers of sons of Bud Light, videogames, and stripper culture above), not to mention some of the most memorable music going on anywhere on the planet. (Listen here, here, and below.)

Debbie Gibson, “You Light Up My Life.” Dear Mayor Rybak: I’ll let it go after this, but will you pretty please plug your electric car into the big neon beacon for all river city citizens and visiting conventioneers to see? I hear they like bright lights and beer. Oh, and while we’re crossing the Hennepin Avenue Bridge, let’s take a moment to warn visitors and the citizenry alike that the worst speed trap in Minneapolis is the block just past the bridge and in front of Nye’s Polonaise Room, where Minneapolis’ finest collar all sorts of criminal types, and quaffers sitting on the Nye’s sidewalk patio watch and count the quotas.

Simone Perrin, “As Time Goes By.”
(Aug. 9, Kevin Kling’s “Come and Get It.”) Kling’s oral memoir is a dark trip that left me wondering what, if anything I’d learned — from it and my own life. Perrin’s version of this standard, as well as most everything she sang that night, made me wonder what I always wonder when I hear actors sing: Do they mean it, or is it part of the play? In this case, it felt real and romantic and like she’d lived it and she played the accordion like she was making love to it, which is always a good thing. 

Flogging Molly (Aug. 8, Harriet Island). As most of the world watched 2,800 Chinese drummers in Beijing, a bunch of white people in St. Paul were making like the Rothsbury festival and invoking their Irish drinking roots. The nationalism of the whole thing creeped me out a bit, but the good news is that it appears that the full-on Mohawk is back,  displacing the unfortunate faux hawk of the last couple years. 

Lolly Obeda, “The Sugar Shack” (3-6, KFAI-FM). Everyone in town thinks Lolly and I are living out some version of “Let’s Get It On,” but I swear it’s purely “Let’s Give ‘Em Something to Talk About.” Her show is always a shot in the arm, but in the summer it really sizzles. This afternoon, the girl was bawdy and even a little shy about it, playing songs about found love and lost love and drinking and churching and cheating and everything in between, and everything that makes life rewarding/confusing. But unlike listening to such soul-chaos alone, she provides counsel along the way. Like Mary Lucia, she comes out of a rip-your-heart-out song and her soothing voice and a sigh or giggle or some other bit of aural wisdom makes it all better.