I Imagine it That Way Now

Owing to freak circumstances involving the passing of sustenance between canoe and kayak in the midst of Lake Willoughby, Penny’s camera (ensconced in a custom woodchuck hide and felted wool case she made from a hide the boys tanned) found its way to a watery grave. A sad, sad day, indeed. So. No pictures for a while. Or maybe just old ones.

Just a couple of things I wanted to share. The first is a passage of particularly excellent writing, from the ending of an article on Trump and his followers in the most recent New Yorker by George Saunders. I love everything about these paragraphs, both regarding the sheer mastery of the craft, and the sentiments expressed. I figured some of you might like them, too.

From the beginning, America has been of two minds about the Other. One mind says, Be suspicious of it, dominate it, deport it, exploit it, enslave it, kill it as needed. The other mind denies that there can be any such thing as the Other, in the face of the claim that all are created equal. 

The first mind has always held violence nearby, to use as needed, and that violence has infused everything we do – our entertainments, our sex, our schools, our ads, our jokes, our view of the earth, and somehow even our food. It sends our young people abroad in heavy armor, fills public spaces with gunshots, drives people quietly insane in their homes. 

And here it comes again, that brittle frontier spirit, that lone lean guy in our heads, with a gun and a fear of encroachment. But he’s picked up a few tricks along the way, has learned to come at us in a form we know and have forgotten to be suspicious of, from TV: famous, likably cranky, a fan of winning by any means necessary, exploiting our recent dullness and our aversion to calling stupidity stupidity, lest we seem too precious. 


Although, to me, Trump seems the very opposite of a guardian angel, I thank him for this: I’ve never before imagined America as fragile, as an experiment that could, within my very lifetime, fail. 

But I imagine it that way now. 

Secondly, I received this comment recently:

How much for me to subscribe to a monthly service where you inform my inbox about incredible music about which I’m ignorant? Seriously, I love your writing and insights into the ordinary… but your random mentions of great (unknown to me) musicians ensure I’ll never leave. 🙂

Music plays a central role in our lives, and I love nothing more than stumbling across a great songwriter or band. In this spirit, I’m offering a brief list of the music that’s captivated us over the past year or so. Please feel free to add your suggestions in the comment section.

Davy Knowles. I love, love, love this guy. Amazing blues guitar player and song writer, and absolutely kills it live. For those of you in New England, he’s coming to the Iron Horse in Northampton, MA on August 3, Higher Ground in Burlington, VT on August 19, and the Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry, NH on August 20. If you see me at one (or more) of these shows shaking my skinny ass, say hi. Try this, this, and this.

Blackberry Smoke. Straight up fantastic southern-tinged rock n’ roll. But way more than that, too. Saw them about 18 months ago at Higher Ground and again in NH last summer; hoping they make it this far north again soon. Here, here, and here.

Whiskey Myers. Perfectly uncomplicated southern rock. I especially like this one and this one. Oh, and this one.

Jason Isbell. I don’t even know what to say. In my mind, the preeminent living American songwriter. How about this, this, and this. Screw it: Just listen to this entire show. We got lucky enough catch him a couple years ago before he went at got all famous and started commanding $50/ticket.

James McMurty. Such an amazing story teller. I really like Lights of Cheyenne, Copper Canteen, and No More Buffalo. Oh, and Carlisle’s Haul. But as with all these recommendations, it’s hard to go wrong. We’ve seen James twice in the past year… he’s honestly not the most exciting performer, but that’s ok: His music sort of speaks for itself.

Kelly Ravin. Our favorite local guy. An excellent and prolific songwriter, and just a great guy all around. Here, here, and here. Kelly plays all over the region, usually for nothing more than tips. Check him out and be generous!

Wrinkle Neck Mules. If I didn’t love ’em for their music, the name would be more than enough. Sadly, they don’t seem to tour a whole lot. I’m fond of Liza, Bottomland, and Why You Been Gone So Long? 

Ok. There’s more, but I’m out of time for now.





14 thoughts on “I Imagine it That Way Now”

  1. Ben and penny-I have a camera-I’ve been wondering what to do with it. Let me know what to do for it to reach your family. It’s a badass camera.

    1. Ditto if you want a choice. I have a Canon S100, little but very versatile and can be used in “green” mode, i.e. no brainer, if need be. Also can supply an extra waterproof bag but, otherwise, am fresh out of common sense.

  2. Yes on the sudden realization of how fragile Democracy is.

    Good tunes to distract the wandering mind on such topics.

    I’ll throw out Della Mae (originally met up in Boston), great song writing. I’m partial to their last album but their most recent has some good stuff too. Besides, the lead singer has some Vermont roots…can’t be too bad 🙂 Girl bands aren’t all bad!

  3. I’m sure if you had not “timed” out you would have included Guy Clark. There’s also another Vermont band I’m fond of “The Devil Makes Three”

  4. That sucks, I really like the pictures. What kind of sick, evil god would do such a thing? I hate Hillary and Trump equally. I bet neither of them listen to any good music. They don’t even listen to music. That’s one way you can tell if someone is evil.

    1. I never even thought of that. What kind of music would they listen to? Now I wanna know. I think a candidate should reveal what music they listen to. Speaks volumes dontcha think? I heard that Michelle likes Stevie Wonder.

  5. Ben, it really warms my heart, your generosity of sharing both your writing and bits and pieces of great music, interviews, and just other good stuff. Thank you for that.

    I do have an extra camera some place also, although in a warehouse half a world away, I will get to it in about a month if you still need it. I would say, don’t shun modern cell phone technology either, as these little evil machines can take decent photos, videos and even come waterproof. 😉

  6. Marco Benevento Trio. Trippy, keyboard-driven rock. You’ll probably hate it, but then it takes all kinds, eh?

  7. Let’s just say this dude right here is happy to have an expanded list of bands to check out. Thanks Ben. Keep on rockin’.

  8. ‘Sorry to hear about Penny’s camera.

    I have a spare, haven’t used it in years, Cannon EOS Rebel camera outfit that I would be happy to send to Penny. I am not a photographer and my Wife is a Nikon person.

    I learned from sad experience that anything in a canoe that isn’t tied to the boat and/or in a waterproof container is likely to get lost or wet. When I was 13, I managed to drop a split-bamboo Orvis fly rod outfit from a canoe and into the Rapid River, at a place called “Smooth Ledge”, between Lower Richardson and Umbagog Lakes, near Errol, NH. Sadly, it had sentimental value to me, having belonged to my Grandfather.

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