Thursday, May 19, 2011


After a few months of waiting, the time had arrived to load up the truck and head west. The purpose was twofold: visit my friend Coston in Portland Oregon who is seriously ill and to spend three nights with Echo and The Bunnymen. The day before I was scheduled to depart, it snowed several inches overnight up at the house, turning the property into a winter wonderland one last time this season.

I left work early in the afternoon, pulling off the highway just short of Boise Idaho sometime after midnight to sleep. Up by 7 Am and found myself at Coston's apartment at around 1:30 PM, completing the 1300+ mile trip in 24 hours. Not having much of a future, he has the best bachelor pad around, where anything goes. Although a couch was available, I chose to sleep in the back of the truck where there were fewer odors and the temperature made for an more pleasant sleep.

My few days with him were spent visiting restaurants of his choice, a strip club he had always been curious about, a day on the coast walking the beaches, sunset atop a cliff overlooking the Columbia River and just hanging out in his apartment talking and watching the video of Nirvana's live performance at the Reading Music Festival. With us every moment was the memory of John, our best friend we've known since high school who passed away last December.

I delivered him to his scheduled doctor's appointment Tuesday morning, saying farewell to someone I've known for 40 years, most likely for the very last time. What do you say? It was hard getting back in the truck to continue my journey, schedules to meet, places to be.

It was gray and wet as I drove through Oregon into California. By early evening I was driving up to Mt. Lassen National Park where I hoped to ski up to and possibly climb that southernmost volcano in the Cascade Range. But I was immediately doubtful because when I pulled into the park entrance a heavy snow was coming down, at least 6 inches already on the roadway, with no sign of it slowing down. Instead of being trapped in the visitors center parking lot, I drove back downhill and found a turnout on a secluded logging road where I parked with a mixture of rain and snow coming down. I set up a tarp over the truck so that I could enjoy a virtual concert without getting soaked.

This evening I chose to listen to the two hour long live performance by Public Image Limited at the 930 Club in Washington DC on May 12, 2010. An excellent recording and one of Johnny's best shows! Considering where he was, there were numerous political digs at the audience. My feeling is that John Lydon has only gotten better with age, maturing like a fine wine, such that his 2010 shows are some of the best around. The combination of his voice and the music make for a very hypnotic experience, something I immediately grasped when I saw him at Coachella.

Several inches of snow had fallen by the time I went to bed. Considering the air temperature was hovering around freezing, it made for a very pleasant sleep.

After a nearly 20-year hiatus, the highly revered and often imitated post-punk group Public Image Ltd. has re-formed and launched a new U.S. tour. The band made a stop in Washington, D.C., for a full concert, recorded live at the 9:30 Club.

Public Image Ltd. was frequently overlooked when it originally formed and released a string of records in the 1980s and early '90s, or maybe it was looked at for the wrong reasons. The band is the creative vision of John Lydon, not the angry punk he called "Johnny Rotten" in The Sex Pistols. When The Sex Pistols broke up, it was expected that any new band Lydon fronted would be a punk group. In fact, the first single from Public Image Ltd. pretty much was. It was called "Public Image," and was straight out of The Sex Pistols' bag of tricks. Lydon, in fact, wrote the song back in the day, but everything that came after that cut was so different: The music was slower, more open and groove-based. The poetry and the subject matter was all different, while the singing — though distinctly Lydon — was more spacious. It was still in your face, but it wasn't ugly.

Over the years, Public image has created music that felt original, with roots in dub, reggae and pop. Later, it grew more upbeat and rocky and danceable, even incorporating some Celtic sounds. The band has seen nearly 40 members come and go, with one constant: John Lydon. It's his band, for sure.

These days, Public image consists of John Lydon on vocals, Lu Edmonds on guitar (he's played with The Damned, the Mekons and even the lighthearted world-music band 3 Mustaphas 3), Bruce Smith on drums (he's played with The Pop Group and The Slits, and in studio sessions with Bjork). Scott Firth plays bass.

See it here:

Download it here:

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