manifest destiny’s child, aka westward hos

Clear cold water crashes against the craggy coast and sprays barking seals lazing on white beaches. Dramatic cliffs drop to sea level, giving way to farmland filled with avocados, strawberries and artichokes. Mystical fog rolls in, and when it rolls back out everything twinkles. Echoes of Beats and Deadheads ring through a city that is literary and illiterate, confident and self-conscious, satisfied and starving. Giant and ancient redwoods reach for the sun and create a quiet twilight below. Patchwork vineyards unfurl over gentle hills that rise and fall like breathing.

We dream of the California coast.

And we’re going to California again, only this time it’s different. This time we’re taking the dogs, our cars and our whittled down belongings with us.

Perhaps it’s the middle-age crazies, or maybe it’s the freedom cry of two people unencumbered by a mortgage or children. Whatever it is, we’re moving to Monterey. Home of the Jazz Festival, California’s first theatre, public library and newspaper, monarch butterflies, migrating whales and blue water as far as the eye can see. It’s a small town a couple hours south of San Francisco and a quick, scenic trip up the Pacific Coast Highway from Big Sur.

It was inevitable, really.

We leave in March.

out with the old, in with the canoe

A few of my hopes for 2013:

visiting magical places, writing by hand and blending in with nature
visiting magical places, writing by hand and blending in with nature
having fun with this guy
having fun with this guy
cooking with abandon (and sometimes fire)
cooking with abandon (and sometimes fire)
enjoying where I am, chronologically
enjoying where I am, chronologically
trying new things
trying new things, even when it’s obviously a bad idea
remembering
remembering
walking new paths
walking new paths
laughing (and causing a bit of a ruckus) with the family
laughing (and causing a bit of a ruckus) with the family
taking the scenic route
taking the scenic route
watching for signs
watching for signs
keeping things in perspective
keeping things in perspective
taking comfort in the fact that pigs occasionally do, in fact, fly
finding comfort in the thought that pigs occasionally do, in fact, fly

dream breaking

I was very sad to recently learn of the passing of my friend Stephen Adams. He was the leader (in multiple ways) of the Dreambreakers, one of my all-time favorite musical collectives. The Dreambreakers – and Adams in particular – had love for, commitment to and belief in the music they played–British Invasion, psychedelia and protest rock as well as new songs that seemed plucked straight out of 1968.

Stephen Adams didn’t create the Dreambreakers to regurgitate familiar musical pabulum for drunk audiences that didn’t want to have to think too much. He had both feet firmly planted in the idealism and artistry of a bygone era and wanted to share his passion with as many people as possible. His running commentary during each show gave the songs context and deepened their meaning for an audience that was often younger than the songs were. Adams’ insistence on playing each song right (which is different than playing each song correctly) made listening a pure joy for those of us who knew the songs by heart.

Adams had a stroke six years ago that rendered him unable to continue to play. He was moved to another state where he had a relative, and updates since his departure have been uncommon and mostly uninformative. The last time I saw him was in the hospital in Houston, and he was still talking about taking the band on a European tour once he got better. I hope he was able to hold on to that positive outlook over the past few years. His name has come up often, and I’ve continued to lament the palpable absence of his band in my aural life. I’m sorry that there will never be a reunion performance.

For you, Stephen Adams. You know why.