The Alligator Picture

I’ve said before that once a person gets a camera in their hands, they will do some crazy things to “get the shot” that they would never do if the camera was not there.

I am no exception to that rule.

Clyde Butcher is a photographer who is mostly known for his nature photography of the Sunshine State. He’s a nice guy and a Florida treasure. Back in the innocent days of 2010, I took a trip to go camping in the Everglades. On my way down I stopped at Clyde’s Big Cypress Gallery.

As I pulled into the parking area I saw a gator sunning himself by the entrance, just chilling out, so of course I walked over there with my camera. He wasn’t a big guy. I’d guess between six and eight feet in length.

Gator story, pt 1

Gators are common in Florida. We joke (with some basis in reality) that any pool of water large enough to contain an alligator will, at some point, contain an alligator. Usually what we see is just the nose and eyes sticking up out of the water. To see a gator sunning himself (herself?) is not strange, but it’s not quite as common if you live in a suburban area like I do.

So I was moving around the gator and trying to get a better angle for a picture. He saw me, and he wasn’t showing any signs of aggression such as opening his mouth or hissing. I moved in front of the alligator.

Gator story, pt 2

Don’t try this at home. From this point on I will freely admit that I was being an idiot. As awkward as gators look on land, they are fast. As kids in school they teach you to zig-zag away from gators because they can outrun you in a straight line but they don’t corner very well. Chill as this guy looks, I was now taking a risk. Most people reading this will think that I’m crazy or that I have a deathwish.

And yet, I know that some photographer out there is thinking “c’mon, you can do better than that!” Hell, it’s what I was thinking, so I wanted to find a better angle. Like I said, without the camera I would never have been in that position, six feet in front of an alligator’s toothy grin.

I wanted to get lower, but there was an obstacle in my way. In the first picture you can see a guardrail reflected in the water. That guardrail is on the side of US-41, a.k.a. Tamiami Trail. The second picture was taken while holding the camera on top of the guardrail. The only way I could get a lower angle and stay out of arm’s reach was to shoot UNDER the guardrail. After a few attempts at putting the camera on the ground, it was apparent that the only way I could properly frame the picture was to get down there with the camera. This shows you where I was, on the small piece of dry land between the parking area and the water.

I waited for a break in the traffic, took a step out onto the highway, and I got down on my stomach to get a quick picture. I was trying to look left and right down the highway to make sure I didn’t get flattened by a truck, all while keeping an eye on the gator to make sure he stayed put, and trying to frame a picture and operate the camera at the same time.

I was probably on the ground for less than 20 seconds. During that time, no traffic snuck up on me and the gator stayed put. I checked the camera, decided I’d had enough adventure for the time being and went to tour the gallery.

On my way into the gallery, a lady got out of her car with her young daughter and I told her there was a gator over by the entrance sign if she was interested. We were probably a hundred feet from it at this point, and the lady rushed her daughter inside the gallery and away from the gator before I could draw my next breath, as if the gator would rocket across the parking lot.

Ten years ago when I bought my camera, camera displays weren’t as bright as they are now. When I checked the picture I could see that it was crooked but the gator was in the frame, and I didn’t bother to go peeking at individual pixels.

Maybe I should have. I didn’t really see the picture until I got home a few days later. I don’t think I’ve ever posted this before, but here is the shot where I risked getting pancaked by a truck and/or eaten by an alligator so that I could get a picture that is focused on some nice grass that is next to an out-of-focus alligator.

Gator story, pt 3

Sometimes you just don’t get the shot. I occasionally wonder, if I’d known at the time that the picture was out-of-focus, if I’d have gotten down on my stomach and tried again.

We’ll never know.

Posted in Florida Life, outdoors, photography, Uncategorized
Random Thoughts from France

I finally finished processing the pictures from France. Already it seems like it was so long ago. Here are some random thoughts from the trip.

  • Several Paris Metro stations are artistically themed. Arts et Métiers is done in a Jules Verne theme that makes it look like a steampunk station. Louvre-Rivoli has copies of some of the statues in the Louvre.
  • When pulling into a Metro station, the recorded voice will announce the station name twice. The inflection on the first one makes it sound like a question, while the second one is a statement. Tuileries? Tuileries.
  • Sue’s French was good enough that some people didn’t seem to know we were American until I opened my mouth.
  • As Hurricane Irma was approaching Florida, when people asked where we were from, and we said Florida, their faces would light up, they would smile, and then they would immediately drop the smile as they made the connection to the news about the storm and asked us how we were doing.
  • Some of the French food we got was fantastic. Most of it wasn’t very good.
  • Almost all of the other ethnic food we got was excellent. While in Paris we were able to find Senegalese and Tibetan restaurants.
  • Most ethnic food was simple to order since the name was simply a different transliteration than English, but the pronounciation was essentially the same.
        Pho = Pho
        Hummus = Hoummus
        Tagine = Tajine
  • Drivers in Paris will cram as many cars into an intersection as the laws of physics will allow, regardless of lanes or directions, on the assumption that they will figure it all out by the time they exit the intersection. They generally do.
  • Highway entrance ramps actually have signs for no left turn (if entering the highway) or no right turn (if already on the highway) to discourage people from going the wrong way. It seems a bit extreme, but then see the previous point about drivers putting a car any darn place they can.
  • In the older part of Tours, roads were so narrow that I’m surprised we didn’t damage the door making some turns.
  • After driving the narrow streets in Tours, we then noticed that almost every single car had damage to it’s side from not making a corner properly.
  • Sitting at a street-side cafe in Tours, corners were so tight that the guy at the table next to us had to pull his foot in when a car came around the corner.
  • There is almost no concept of take-out coffee.
  • We never saw a single speed trap, other than automated ones that are clearly marked ahead of time. They essentially had signs a few hundred meters before them warning you not to speed past the camera.
  • France has an odd (to me) “Priority to the Right” rule which means cars come barreling into the road from side streets without really looking and it’s your responsibility to make way for them.
  • Once again, roundabouts are fantastic!
  • Proper signalling in a roundabout is incredibly helpful.
  • Drivers will typically use their left turn signal when they pull left to pass someone, but they will leave the signal on while passing.
  • White shirts with blue horizontal stripes really are the national outfit.
  • Dogs and cats are everywhere, as though it’s just accepted that pets are part of peoples lives and will be in public places.
  • Dinner hours are limited. Many restaurants are only open from 7-10. If you miss out on their hours, good luck finding food.
  • Not only are the hours limited, but expect dinner to take at least 2-3 hours. They do not rely on turning tables like American restaurants so they are not quick about it, and if you get a table, it’s probably yours for the night.
  • It seems like absolutely everyone gets bread every day. We watched steady streams of people leaving bakeries with a fresh baguette on their way home.
  • Within a week we were both getting social media ads in French.
  • Two and a half hours is not enough time to clear customs and make a connecting flight in Atlanta.
Posted in travel
Blade Runner 2049

We went to see the new Blade Runner sequel over the weekend. After giving this some thought, I think I like many of the individual bits more than I liked the movie as a whole.

The setting and the music are top-notch. The photography is very good. While most of the characters are pretty good, one or two are fairly pointless. There are a lot of memorable parts to it. There is the seed of a compelling story in there, but it’s never given a chance to take root. Without giving spoilers, it just seems that there was so much of an emphasis on getting Harrison Ford into the movie that they didn’t really know what to do with him. Once he shows up, all of the plot points that seemed interesting get set aside (for future sequels?) in order to focus on him. That portion of the film seems haphazard and rushed, as if this was the 17th attempt at writing something terrific, some parts has already been filmed, and they just had to go with what they had at that point.

There’s a lot to like in it. I just don’t think it fits together as well as it could have.

Posted in movies, Uncategorized
The 2017 Eclipse

2017 Eclipse

Sue and I took a quick trip up to Tennessee in hopes of seeing the eclipse. The trip consisted of two full days of driving in order to spend two days there, but even if the eclipse fell through at least we would have the chance to visit with friends in Atlanta and Tennessee.

It turned out that we couldn’t have asked for a better day. We went to a Tennessee State Park on a reservoir, so we spent the day surrounded by trees, hills, and water. Not a cloud in the sky for most of the day. Some clouds picked up as the eclipse was building, but they disappeared about 20 minutes before totality.

I have been lucky to see many amazing and interesting things in my life. That said, the total eclipse is without a doubt the coolest thing I have ever seen. I’ve seen partial eclipses before, and while they are interesting there is just no comparison to looking up and seeing a ring of fire.

I want to write down some things I noticed before I forget them. We got the opportunity to look through a couple of good telescopes at the sun, and could see sunspots. It took about an hour and a half from the start of the eclipse until the totality. Up until about 15-20 minutes before totality we couldn’t really notice any change. Even with the sun about 80% covered it was a bright sunny day.

The first change I noticed was that the summer sun was no longer baking my skin. It was still a bright sunny day, but I didn’t feel like I was standing in an oven. Then the light got a bit weird. Almost like late afternoon, with the light just a bit less intense, but without the nice orange glow or the nice contrasting shadows you get when the sun isn’t directly overhead.

With about 5 minutes to go things started really picking up. The cicadas started singing. People were getting excited. Even at one minute to go it seemed no dimmer than a cloudy day. I looked through my peril-sensitive sunglasses and watched the last of the sun disappear, and then I saw nothing. It never occurred to me that I’d need to remove the glasses once the totality began.

I pulled the glasses off, looked up, and was just stunned. Seriously, I failed to adjust the camera and just stood there in awe of what I was seeing for about two and a half minutes until the sun came back out from behind the moon. The picture up above doesn’t even come close to describing the beauty of it.

Imagine about 20-30 minutes after sunset, when the sky is a deep cobalt blue just before turning black, and the horizon just has a bit of orange and pink left in it. Now imagine the horizon looks like that in every direction. Up in that blue-black sky is a disk of the deepest black you will ever see in our life, blacker even than having your eyes closed. It is surrounded by the fiery brushstrokes of the suns’ corona. It was fantastic.

All too soon, it was gone. Quickly the light came back, and all that was left was a sense of amazement and a desire to see it again.

Posted in Uncategorized
Ten of the albums that most influenced a teenaged me

This one has been going around Facebook a bit. I like to give more detail, so it’s more of a blog post for me, as well as an opportunity to make more than one post a year. It’s also an illustration of how far behind me those teenage years are.

A while back I made my ideal setlist which is a mashup of metal, blues, and electronic music. When I started to think about what really impacted me as a teenager, I can see where that all started. I like to think my musical tastes are pretty eclectic. That wasn’t necessarily the case in my teens. This is a metal-heavy list, but it’s where my head was at that time. I tried to stick to video from the era when possible. These are my Bloody Roots.

Foreigner: 4

The first album (cassette really) that I bought for myself was Foreigner 4. I’d spent a summer with family in Wisconsin and played Jukebox Hero to death on the jukebox (how appropriate) in my family’s tavern. That wasn’t enough. I had to have it for myself. It’s built around bass, guitar, and a heavy beat, so I’m pretty sure this set the stage for the metal to come.

Black Sabbath: Paranoid

I honestly don’t remember what my second album was, but the third one was Black Sabbath’s Paranoid. As I tend to say, it was all downhill from there. This is the album that made me into a metalhead. This one obviously pre-dates my teenage years, but it was as a teen that I discovered it. I had to crack this cassette open and splice the tape together at one point, putting the tape back in backwards so sides one and two were reversed, but I still have this cassette.

Iron Maiden: The Number of The Beast

The next big album to grab my attention was Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast. This began a lifelong love of Iron Maiden and introduced me to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and bands like Motörhead and Judas Priest. Iron Maiden was my first CD (Powerslave) and my first concert. The concert was so incredible they re-created it 30 years later, and I can absolutely see why having that as my first show would start a passion for live music that lasts to this day.

Pat Benatar: Crimes of Passion

The aggressive rhythms of metal are part of my soul, but life wasn’t all metal. Not many metal songs had lyrics that really made an impact on me. I’ll admit that my love for metal is sometimes in spite of the lyrics. Pat Benatar’s Crimes of Passion was the first time I really remember getting into the lyrics of a song. “Love and pain become one and the same in the eyes of a wounded child” and “Knock me down, it’s all in vain, I get right back on my feet again” were, and still are, deeply relevant lyrics to me. She was also the first woman I was aware of that had a complete “do not fuck with me” attitude. It was influential, and all in a good way.

Stevie Ray Vaughan: Live Alive

Following metal music led to a love of guitars, and Stevie Ray Vaughn could tear it up with the best of them. In the end he may have been a bad influence for me. I could cover songs on guitar to the point where they were at least recognizable, but Stevie could get more out of one note than I could with an entire fretboard. I got frustrated with the guitar and haven’t seriously picked it up since. Perhaps I hold myself to some ridiculous standards? I was lucky enough to see him twice before he died.

Sex Pistols: Never Mind The Bollocks

With heavy metal as my core, I have a love for most things that are loud and aggressive. It’s hard to be more aggressive than punk, and somewhere in the 80’s I discovered the Sex Pistols. Odd that they caught on with me before The Ramones did, but it opened up a window into another genre that I never got tired of.

Ramones: Rocket to Russia

Punk Rock with the added benefit of being just the local bar band. I got to see them play live and Joey Ramone seemed to go to most of the shows that I did so I was always bumping into him at concerts. I got to learn that rock stars were just regular people like the rest of us. There’s something about the New York sound in metal, punk, and hardcore that always reminds me of home. Plus, The Ramones are just silly. I can’t listen to them without smiling.

Slayer: Reign in Blood

The aggression of punk was incorporated into heavy metal as thrash, and nobody did it better than Slayer. I have owned more copies of this album than any other album I’ve ever bought. That’s a tough feat considering the cassette was short enough that the entire thing fit on one side, so they simply put the the entire album on each side. This is still one of the best live shows there is.

The Cars: Heartbeat City

As much as I love screaming guitars, I also harbor a love for fat synthesizer sounds. While it wasn’t the focus of my teenage years I always paid some attention to new wave (loved Blondie in my pre-teen years) and this was one of my favorite albums from that time. This is one band that I never did get to see.

Missing Persons: Spring Session M

This band had a surprising amount of musical chops for a synthpop band. Metalhead or not this album always had me hooked. Beware: This is the most 80’s video you are likely to see this year.

Special mention

Just a song, not an album, and it came out before my teen years, but since I’m on the topic of music that influenced me in my younger years, I have to give a special mention to Surrender by Cheap Trick. When I was a kid, my parents didn’t listen to rock music and rock was still young enough that you just knew most “old” people didn’t like it. In my young brain I thought that meant that people would come to hate rock music as they grew older. I loved this song so much as a kid that I remember thinking “I hope I’m still cool enough to like this when I’m old.” I’m too old to have any idea what the kids consider “cool” nowadays, but I still love this song. Mission accomplished!

Posted in music, Uncategorized
2016: The year that everyone loves to hate

What with all that’s gone on this year, most people seem pretty eager to put 2016 into the rear-view mirror. As I get older I am more reluctant to let the years slip by, but as always the end of the year is a good time to reflect on what has passed.

This was a year of small pleasures. No big trips for us this year but we took a few small ones and kept ourselves pretty busy.

First up was New Orleans. Sue had never been there, and I hadn’t been in many years. We had a blast, and just thinking about it makes me hungry again.

New Orleans Trolley

St. Louis Cathedral

For springtime events we had the St Pete Grand Prix and the Gasparilla Music Fest. Unfortunately, both happen on the same weekend, so we didn’t get to see all of the Grand Prix.

Once again the Lightning made the playoffs and we got to see them eliminate Detroit and the Islanders. We had a ton of fun at those games.

Summertime got us to Tennessee for a friend’s wedding. Sue actually got to see Nashville this time instead of just driving by. We also made it to the Jack Daniels Distillery, which I had never been to even though I’ve been to Tennessee over a dozen times.

October was crazy with concerts. Near as I can tell, I saw 12 different bands in October, including the Prophets of Rage, Slayer, and Trivium. It was a bit insane really. I may be getting too old to go to so many shows. Other great bands that I got to see during the year were Gogol Bordello, Frank Turner, Epica, and Nightwish.

Prophets of Rage

For many years Sue and I talked about going to the Kennedy Space Center. We finally got around to it this year. We were there from opening until closing, and we even got to tour the Launch Control Center, which I’d never gotten to see before.


Launch Control

Bigger Than I Thought

To round out our trips, we spent the weekend after Thanksgiving in St. Augustine. That was the first trip that Sue and I had taken together, and it was nice to get back there and check out some things we’d missed the first time.

Castillo de san Marcos

I Can See My Future

I’m not a New Year’s Resolution kind of guy, but I do have one that I hope I can stick to:
Take more pictures!

Posted in Uncategorized
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

As the year draws to its close, I like to reflect on all that has happened. This last year was a tough one in some ways. Both Sue and I lost our closest remaining family members. Neither one was expected, and it will still take a while to absorb that loss.

This was also a year of amazing highlights. We got to see Neil Gaiman (again) and Amanda Palmer, Gogol Bordello, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Eddie Izzard, Chvrches, Jake Shimabukuro, Selwyn Birchwood, and many other great shows. We went to many Lightning playoff games and watched them eliminate both Detroit and Montreal from the playoffs. We watched the US Womens’ Soccer Team beat Brazil. We got to see Arsenal beat Stoke City at Emirates Stadium in London.
Arsenal vs Stoke City

Of course the highlight of the year was our trip to the UK. About a week each in Scotland and London. I have been fortunate to go on some great vacations, but this one was the best by far.

Rob & Sue in Glencoe

Dinner at the Shard

And so it goes. Fantastic memories made, and some great personal losses. 2015 will be memorable for both the good and the bad. We will miss the ones that we lost, but I am reminded every day of how lucky I am to still be here.

Here’s to hoping that you all have a great 2016.

Posted in Uncategorized
Random Thoughts from the UK

Back in September we got back from our trip to the UK about 12 hours before we needed to be back at work. I’ve still not finished going through the 700+ pictures, but here are some observations from the trip.


  1. I saw more sheep in my first two hours in Scotland than I had in my entire life up to that point.
  2. The history is amazing. The first day in Scotland we went inside a building that was 200 years old when Columbus sailed to America. We got to see iron-age ruins and more castles than we could count.
  3. Diesel was $6.76 a gallon. Renting a car for four days cost us £63 (about $95) in fuel.
  4. They do not require that you pay before pumping fuel.
  5. Driving on the left was not as bad as I’d feared. I did have to think about intersections and roundabouts before I got to them, but after the first few minutes I was cool with it.
  6. Staying to the left was easy, but it did take some time to get used to sitting on the right side of the car while driving. I kept wanting to put my (right) side of the car on the left side of the lane, sticking Sue out in the weeds.
  7. Roads are for the most part incredibly narrow. Once off of the main highways there are a lot of single-track roads. We had a few adventures backing down cliff-side roads or slamming on the brakes around a corner to let oncoming traffic past.
  8. I am a huge fan of roundabouts. I wish we could install them all over the place here, but if we did I would stay indoors for three months until natural selection had some time to work on people who cannot drive.
  9. Eddie Izzard was right. There are castles everywhere.
  10. The Isle of Skye was never on my radar before I met Sue. I wish I could go spend a few months there. It is magical.
  11. I saw more beautiful sights in a week than I could ever hope to photograph.
  12. Haggis is actually really good.
  13. We would usually get a couple of complimentary glasses of whisky when checking into a hotel.
  14. Scottish accents outside of Glasgow are music to my ears. They are more of a challenge in Glasgow, but I got better at understanding Glaswegians after a few days.
  15. Glasgow has the simplest underground map in the universe.
  16. Cabs in Glasgow and Edinburgh are magical. We once had to wait about five minutes for a cab when we were well outside of the Edinburgh city center, but other than that one time I don’t think it ever took more than a minute or two. Most of the time we would ask for someone to call us a cab and the cab would be pulling up to the curb as we were walking out the door.
  17. Pub culture, at least where we went, was much more enjoyable than our sports-bar dudebro culture. Almost all of the pubs we visited (we tried for a large sample size) were really chilled out places.
  18. Seeing the scenery all around Britain made me truly understand the settings for almost every fantasy novel I’d ever read. Except for Michael Moorcock. That stuff is just weird.
  19. Returning our rental car, the guy at the rental place asked where we were off to next. I said London. He told me that I would wish I was back in Scotland. He was right.
  20. If you like ciders, there are many more cider options available in Britain. They are not super-sweet like most US ciders.


  1. Do not attempt to drive in London. If you think you might need to drive in London for some reason, you are wrong.
  2. I love cities, and if you love cities at all you NEED to see London. It is one of the greatest cities ever. We had a week there and just barely scratched the surface.
  3. If you like history at all, go to Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, and the British Museum. Now.
  4. The London underground is amazing. I don’t think it ever took more than about 20-30 minutes to get where we needed to go, and we didn’t need to use cabs.
  5. There are lots of phone apps you can use that let you plan out a route on the underground. We pretty much always knew where we were.
  6. If you visit London, get an Oyster card ahead of time. Arriving in town with pre-paid transit cards in our pockets made everything super-easy.
  7. Pubs in London seemed a bit more generic than the ones in Scotland. There were some really good ones, but they all seem to be owned by a few big chains and they have deals with different breweries. Ex: If you are tired of Greene King beers, you are out of luck if you visit a pub that only serves Greene King products.
  8. A surprising amount of people in both Scotland and London would just drink Budweiser and eat McDonalds.
  9. Scaffolding was the theme of the trip. Glasgow University’s tower was shrouded in scaffolding. Same with Westminster Abbey and many other locations. When Google maps said we’d arrived at a pub we were looking for, but we didn’t see it, I said “look behind that scaffolding over there.” Sure enough, there was the pub.
  10. Dinner in the Shard, the tallest building in London, was a memory to last a lifetime. The entire wall is glass, and we sat next to it looking down on the Thames and the Tower Bridge while the sun set. You will need to make reservations months in advance. If you ever go, make sure to visit the restroom.
  11. For a good trip off of the beaten path, check out the Saturday morning market on Brick Lane. There is a lot of incredible street art in that neighborhood as well.
  12. The train to Gatwick airport took much longer than expected. Glad we left early. I thought it would take about two hours but it ended up taking around four.
  13. Calling Gatwick a London airport is a lie. It is halfway to the southern coast from London.
  14. British Airways rocks. That was the best flight ever. For some odd reason though, the GPS map on the video screen in front of me gave the locations of nearby shipwrecks. At least they weren’t airplane crashes.

First thing I ate when we got back to the US: A Publix Sub.

Posted in travel
Ticket to Ride

I will often plan trips around an event. I have traveled to many places around the country where I’ve had tickets to concerts or sporting events. One funny side effect of this is that I get emails every week from places I’ve been to, advertising new events.

I don’t have immediate plans to get back to any of those places but I haven’t yet brought myself to unsubscribe from the emails. I get a smile on my face when I think about the places I’ve been to and the events I’ve seen. I get an email from a place in Denver and I remember going to see B.B. King at Red Rocks after hiking in the mountains. I get an email from Soldier Field and I remember seeing the New Zealand All Blacks and visiting my friends Alex and Rachel in Chicago.

It’s almost as if this email spam is a form of postcard sent to myself to remind me about the places I’ve been, and how fortunate I have been. I think I’ll stay on the mailing lists for now.

Posted in travel
King of the Blues

B.B. King passed away last night. As I’ve mentioned before, I have seen literally hundreds of concerts. B.B. King was one of the ones I got to see a couple of times, and I have never seen a more gracious performer.

He was already about 80 years old when I first saw him. Definitely not a young guy anymore, but he still played over 200 shows a year. When I saw him, the band would start playing and after a few minutes he would ride a Jazzy to the edge of the stage, then slowly walk out and sit down before letting his guitar Lucille join in with the band. At the first opportunity, he would apologize for sitting during the show, since diabetes made it difficult for him to stand for very long. The shows were short, and it seemed that half of the show was B.B. telling stories in between the songs.

Had almost anyone else done a show that way, I’d feel ripped off. Not so with B.B. King. His stories were as captivating as his music, and I felt as though I were listening to a Grandfather I never had. Each time I saw him I knew that I was looking at a living legend, but it always seemed like HE was the most grateful person in the room just because people came to see him. When he walked off of the stage he seemed to have been energized by the experience. It’s hard to imagine anyone doing the same job for 66 years and still being so deeply in love with it.

The last time I saw B.B. was in 2007. A friend had toured Red Rocks in Colorado and taken some pictures there. I got it into my head that I wanted to see a show there so I kept my eye on the concert schedule. When I saw a show on Labor Day weekend with B.B. King, Etta James, and Al Green, I snapped up tickets right away.

Now all I had to do was figure out how to get to Colorado.

If you ever get a chance to go to Red Rocks, do it. It’s still the best concert venue I’ve ever been to. Al Green rocked the place. Etta James is a legend in her own right, and someone I’ve been fortunate to see a couple of times. Then came B.B.

Understand, 2007 was not a very happy time in the USA. There was a lot of negativity and cynicism. We were stuck in a war in Iraq that seemed to be getting worse, the economy was going downhill, and every piece of news seemed worse than the last. At least we had a clear, cool September night watching B.B. King on the most beautiful stage I’ve ever seen. At some point during the show, he started to tell a story.

He talked about being a little kid in Mississippi in the 1930’s. He talked about segregation, and how the black and white people of the town never really mixed. The one place where they would gather together was at the town park on Sunday’s after church. He told us about the time that he snuck a drink from the water fountain that was for white people, and then he knew the secret that the white people were being conned, because he knew that their water wasn’t any better than his.

B.B. Paused. He looked out over the crowd, and he finally said: “Thank you all for making this a better place.”

It was a dose of perspective. As bad as things seemed at the time, this man had seen worse, and was grateful to have witnessed the change. As stupid and as petty as we can be, we can still move forward, even if it doesn’t always seem that way.

I suppose that’s the heart of the Blues. Young, old, rich, or poor, we all have to pay our dues at some point. That doesn’t mean we can’t keep moving forward.

I’ll miss you B.B. I wish you could know how much this song helped me out when I was paying my own dues.

Posted in music, thoughts