Alan to Kevin, 9/16/97

From: Alan
To: Kevin
Date: 9/16/97
Subject: RE: News Shmooz
Note: Kevin's previous message's text in italics.
Alan's responses follow in normal type.

Hafa Adai!

Reminds me of Groucho's : "You can leave now. Why don't you take a taxi? If you don't wanna leave in a taxi, you can leave in a huff. If a huff is too soon, you can leave in a minute and a huff."

I enjoyed the instructions on how to write a Blues. I have been working on a 12 bar about going down to Yap to buy me some betelnut, but the typhoon washed all the pods away. Lord have Mercy!

If you squeeze a betelnut, do you get Betelgeuse? Asking that musical astronomical question is the Saipan Blues Man in a little ditty, popular from Orion to Jupiter, that he likes to call the "Giant Red Spot Blues." It's one of your favorites; we hope he likes it as much as you do.

I may be the only steel guitar player on Saipan. I went to the local music store and asked if they knew of anyone playing steel, and the clerk did not know of anyone. He said there are a lot of slack key guitarists, but we have not gotten out to hear any yet.

If all the key guitarists are slack about it, I don't really think it's worth your while to go hear them. But that's just one man's opinion. By the way (and seriously here folks), what exactly is a slack key guitar? I know the sound but what's the instrument actually like?

We listen to KCMI "Coconut Country", which plays a lot of the better country, not schlock Nashville sound stuff.

Coconut Country. Betelnut Blues. Just what is going on here? Anyway? Sounds like a conspiracy of musical alliteration to me. (See the author's unpublished work "From Consonance to Assonance (... and back again), or 'Tritone, You'll Like It'", 1998)

But at least there is decent radio, and Violet loves to listen to Country Music Television, which we get on cable.

So, you've started Violet early on the road to ruin. Speaking of ruin ...

Supertyphoon Winnie was an adventure - the houses are not water tight and they leak around the walls and floors. They shut off the electricity in case a powerline blows down, and for some inexplicable reason shut off the water, too. We made do with fuel oil lamps and a small propane stove, and weren't too uncomfortable, in retrospect. The worst part of it was that I was in the middle of jury selection on a serious assault case, and had a huge appeals project due in the Supreme Court that same week - a do or die assignment. Everything worked out in the end, but I was a pretty preoccupied fellow when the storm was blowing 70 mph outside, and there was no electricity to run the computer. Luckily, my trusty Chevrolet made it through the puddles and had enough traction to climb these slick roads during the height of it. Afterward, the whole island was like an enormous vegetable stew.

At least there was something to eat.

The winds and rain knocked the leaves off everything, and rubbed branches against each other until the bark was gone. All our beautiful tropical flowers were gone, and some of the flowering bushes were uprooted and blown across the yard. I went out the next Saturday and gave each plant about a gallon of Miracle Grow. That did the trick, like botanical defribulation. Now, a month later, the flora is totally confused. Having lost all their leaves, the bushes and trees thing it is Spring again, and have started blossoming as they did four months ago. Even the Flame Trees, whose fire-colored blossoms were waning in late July, have rekindeled.

Actually, the whole thing sounds rather nerve-racking. How is the family taking the whole adventure? Are the girls glad they are there? Is Margaret? For that matter, are you? Sounds wild, but certainly the complete and utter newness of the experience will certainly be worth it for the girls. I am a firm believer in exposing kids to different cultures and so on early.

Sounds like you are on track to getting a Friday afternoon gig going again! What fun!!! I will be very interested to know how it goes. By the way, how were all the gigs this summer? I read on your web page that you did 3 shows. How was the reception? Do you think Ann Arbor is ready for a new tradition? The music is probably the thing I miss most about being out here, so disconnected from even the possibility of any serious playing now that I actually have some time to do it. So I'll have to enjoy it vicariously through your reports.

Yes, I am sending e-mail today to follow up on the talks I had earlier with the Arbor Brewing Company folk. I think a once a month thing would be fun, and not so time-consuming that we could indeed all handle it. It will require learning a few more songs, and that in turn may require .... dare I say it ... some practices?????

Write back soon and let me know how things are going, especially with the new musical ventures. Give our love to Liene and Alex. Best always,
Kevin et al.

Likewise to the gang there. Will keep you informed on the Ann Arbor experience.

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