Monday, November 24, 2008

Back From Australia

Just got back from Australia, a short and sweet tour. For a lot of the trip I wore the Obama shirt my brother Matt gave me, a limited edition gift he made for friends and family a few weeks before the election. The shirt shows a victorious Muhammad Ali exulting over his defeated foe (Joe Frazier?) at the end of a boxing match, with the simple title "Obama" over the image. Matt said he saw this photo in the background of a picture of Barack Obama's office in Chicago. To me it's the expression of not only victory but of the toughness and single-mindedness that it took for Obama to win the election.

While I was in Australia, many people asked me about the shirt, both on the street and at the shows. It gave me a chance to talk with Aussies about our election, which I was hoping it would. Even so, I was pretty blown away by how emotional they were about it. During my shows I mentioned Obama's election and how relieved and happy I was about it, and how even some of my Republican-voting friends are kinda excited about it. I also told the people there that I was aware that our country has lately been like a dark cloud on their northeastern horizon, but that the weather hopefully is changing. People cheered wildly.

After my shows, the Aussie fans really wanted to talk more about this, and many of them got tears in their eyes while trying to express to me how much this change meant to them.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


On the flight home from Sydney, I had the leftmost seat in a four-seat row with an irritable Aussie Mom and her two boys aged 11 and 7. They were all blond with very short haircuts. The older one sat down next to me looking pale and peaked and made gagging noises. He turned to me and said in a very cute Australian accent, "I got a piece of lolly THIS BIG stuck in my throat and I'm choking on it." I told him I hoped it came out. He then gagged until he threw up on his brother and his blanket. His mother yelled at him in a harsh Australian accent.

The 11-year-old told me that they were all going to fly to America where they would see their Dad. "My Dad is going to take us to the place where he makes special dune buggies with a Jamaican dude!" he said. "I bet you wish you could have done something that cool when you were my age! Do you ever wish you could turn back time and live your childhood again?"

"Not really," I said. "Only a few small things I'd do over."

"When you were naughty," he said, nodding in agreement.

A little while later, after I had told the 11-year-old to stop violently elbowing me during the process of deeply scratching his ass within his pants, he went circling in his seat with his blanket wrapped around him to find a comfortable position to roll up and rest. Literally going in circles like a puppy on a big floor pillow. The vomit spot on the blanket passed me several times, rubbing against our shared armrest each time.

I fell asleep to the sound of the tykes listening to "The Dark Knight" on their in-flight headphones at earsplitting volumes, the two soundtracks slightly offset in time.

A sensation of cool wetness along my right leg woke me up.

"What are you pouring on me?!?" I loudly asked them. Luckily it was a large glass of water which the older boy had spilled, and not orange juice or Sprite. The mom asked the older boy (who somehow was now two seats from me) if he had lost the use of his mind. She then flung her airline blanket across the older one onto the soaked lap of the younger boy, who began wiping off his share of the water. None of them spoke to me as I stood up to find paper towels to somewhat dry my pants.

I fell asleep to the disconcerting flurry of the two boys surreptitiously provoking each other.

I woke up in a drowse to find that my carry-on bag had migrated to a position directly under my feet. I hooked my foot under the bag to shove it back into its place deep beneath the seat in front of me. But it was stuck and didn't move. So I gave it a second, stronger heave, and it gave me a defensive slap. My eyes opened to reveal that my foot was grappling not my bag but the older boy, who had taken up a supine position to sleep under the seats. His little brother's bare feet were resting on his chest, footrest style. I guess that's where my large shod feet had been in relation to his head before I woke up.

The next time I opened my eyes it was to discover the older boy next to me making a tower of drink cups with his full and opened can of lemonade at the top.

"I don't want that lemonade on my pants," I said, "So please stop playing with it."

"I'm not playing with it," he objected.

"It looks like you're playing with it. Put it on your tray right now."

"Sorry." (Cute Aussie accent.)

I could go on. The breakfast meal came and both boys ate their scrambled eggs and mashed potatoes with their hands. The excess was wiped on the blankets, but only when their hands were excessively covered with wet food. Their mother said, "I suppose you're going to eat with your hands in the restaurants in America!" They said no, they wouldn't.

Twelve hours into the flight the older boy said, "We've been flying for so long, I feel like I'm in a dream of being on an airplane."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

"Free Life" and Alaska

Click here to see the National Wildlife Federation clip

The National Wildlife Federation has created a short film about Alaska set to the song "Free Life" which I found to be simple, beautiful, thought-provoking. I was proud that they thought my music could help them get people involved in protecting our environment from harm. I'm not prepared to have a debate with the "climate change debunkers" out there; all I know is that I hope a lot of talented and energetic people will be drawn into the environmentalist movement in the coming years. Look at the pictures in the clip and ask yourself, do I want these beautiful animals and settings to exist only in video clips for future generations to look at? They will be so mad at us if we let that happen!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Every New Beginning

Comes from some other beginning's end. I joked at the Provention concert that "Closing Time" could easily be about the end of a presidential administration, with the old regime being bounced at the end of the night. Well, I was kinda serious, of course, and now we get to test out my and a lot of people's idea for how to do it.

I am glad to be able to breathe again now that the election is over, and I confess to feelings of optimism and hope for a fresh start. Fixing what needs to be fixed in our country is not a one-party job, and I do hope that this is the message our leaders have received.