Greetings all! Excuse the tardy arrival of our Yule log. Why so late with our tidings this year? We tried consulting a mental elf expert, and even read some self-elf books, but ultimately, one can only “postulate” (post-yule-late….) Oo, that was bad.Best to proceed straight to 2007 highlights … Happy New Year!
SPORTS: Brannies and back whips, gainers and ledge flips, jay-steps and dash vaults, flyaways, front fulls, circles on mushrooms and inverted hangs, these are a few of his favorite thangs … So sings 12-year-old traceur Amory,reportingabout Parkour, an activity that combines martial arts, gymnastics, acrobatics and running for your life. (If you saw the chase scene in Casino Royale, you’ve seen Parkour.) Should you care to experience Parkour in the comfort of your own home, simply run up your living room wall, and dismount with a back flip. (Standard disclaimer language here.)
THEATRE:Tennessee, now 16, has gotten very involved in the theatre department at MarinAcademy. For reasons that still elude us, we fell on the grenade and hosted the traditional all-night cast party this November. 45 of Tennessee’s best friends arrived at our small, one-bath flat at 1:30am. Car keys were collected, and a lecture delivered explaining the virtues of plausible deniability. The young actors appeared polite and responsive. But by 3:30am, the entire scene looked like a group audition for a convenience store surveillance film. And by 5:30am, the lot of them had dropped where they stood, most without bags, blankets or pillows, actually sleeping on slate tiles, urethaned oak, or, for the lucky few, throw rugs purchased ten years ago for the price of a decent steak.
MUSIC: Susie toured Japan with 70’s power-pop band The Rubinoos. Highlights included: Wasabi ice cream; derriere-douching toilets (complete with flushing sound effect button to mask any unseemly noises); scores of young Japanese fashion slaves wearing hot pants, knee sox and bee hive hairdos wobbling down the sidewalk in stiletto heels; and lots of signage in bad English. “No gumboots allowed in Pool Area” “No scribbling!” and “Extinguish all Naked Flames!” Also, while touring the Midwest with Those Darn Accordions, Susie discovered Cricket Spitting (a competitive event at the Indiana State Fair) and deep fried Snickers Bars. Yum.
Two -- count ‘em two -- records were released by members of the 209 Piedmont Place crew. “As You Like It”, Marc’s long-awaited CD, features 10 original songs,and includes Susie on backing vocals and keyboards. “Squeeze Machine”, by Those Darn Accordions, showcases Susie’s ripping vocals on ACDC’s Back in Black, while the more wistful “Glass of Beer Polka” features Marc and Tennessee singing behind comedian Drew Carey. (Both records are available on Cd Baby and iTunes.)
Meanwhile, both boys have become multi-instrumentalists. Amory’s main instrument is the cello, but he’s also playing drums, piano, and guitar. Tennessee rocked the house at MarinAcademy, playing bass, guitar, keyboards and singing with two different bands, The Flaccid Assassins and Cadillac Jam. In addition, Ten spent a day writing and recording with Bobby Weir of the Grateful Dead, on the John Lennon educational tour bus. The one-time band called itself Eat the Beat, and their song, "Here Come the Cops", showcased at Apple computer’s annual convention in San Francisco.
OUTDOORS: We embarked on a family back-packing trip this year to UpperHell-RoaringLake in the SawtoothMountains of Idaho. It was a first for the boys, and the heavy packs and challenging off-trail terrain put a little hair on their chests. They had a great time scampering over the granite slick, traversing gullies by shimmying across dead pine trees, and searching for treasure – mostly beautiful quartz crystals. Susie and Marc seemed particularly fond of whiskey and hot chocolate around the campfire at night. Go figure.
TRAVELS: We bodysurfed the Bitterroot and rafted the Clark Fork with the Weber Clan in Montana. Ten caught a 22”trout during the annual Alaskan fishing trip with Grandpa Jack.Marc and Susie enjoyed Lemon Drop cocktails and beautiful Kauai sunsets in HanaleiBay after Marc was sent to Hawaii by the EPA to green the 2006 Pro Bowl. Finally, an amazing four-day stay at Camp Lutherhaven on lake Coeur D’ Alene in northern Idaho where lots of us collected to celebrate the marriage of Susie’s cousin Jake to Kollette. People drank beer and bounced off a large inflated thing anchored in the lake. Marc discovered the joys of Hobble Ball (aka Hillbilly Golf). Amory danced with all the gorgeous bridesmaids. I hope he enjoyed it, ‘cause he might not get that lucky again for a long time.
LOSS: We suffered a real loss to our little family on April 17, when cancer snatched away Uncle Chris. Marc created a virtual memorial at www.chrischester.org. Chris won the Oregon Book Award for creative nonfiction for “Providence of a Sparrow”, the central figure of which is the inimitable sparrow, “B”. There are some touching and hilarious clips of Chris and B posted on YouTube. We also lost Kali this year, Susie’s beautiful, blue-eyed husky, and have really missed her singing, her constant wandering downtown to sit outside the local bar and beg for hot dogs, and her gentle nature.
WORK: Amory had his first real job this year working as a cook prep at the Hidden City Café here in Point Richmond. He reported for duties at 8:30 am, and was released around noon. He saved his money, bought a nice digital SLR camera, and has begun posting his work on Flicker. He’s good!
SCHOOL:Tennessee's light shines brightly at MarinAcademy. He’s pulling straight A's, while managing to participate in theatre, serve as senior writer for the school paper, be a member of the swim and cross-country teams, and compose, record and place original music on myspace.com and ourstage.com. As for Amo, he really loves Waldorf. His teacher and class both look to him as a leader, a role he has accepted in a most unassuming way. Along with school, music and Parkour, Amory’s been studying Aikido, and is currently perfecting his 13, 8 and 6 count routines.
That’s all, folks. We wish you all health, happiness and hippie values in 2008!
Susie and the Rubinoos play Great American Music Hall. Here they are, backstage!
October 2007: Susie goes to Japan
Tennessee's light shone brightly this year at Marin Academy. He pulled straight A's, with a semester GPA of 3.91. All this while managing, among other extra-curricular activities, to be an active participant in the school musical (Marat/Sade), work on the school paper writing and laying out articles, compose, record and place original music on mystage.com, and be a member of the swim team with its daily 2-hour practices. Wow. Tennessee has a lot to be proud of this year.
Working Class Hero
Amory started his first real job this week as a cook prep and all-around go-to guy at the Hidden City Cafe. He reports for duties at 8:30am, and is released around noon. We already learned a little kitchen secret from him: Instead of cutting off and throwing away the fat ends of asparagus, you can peel it same as you would a carrot. Then you still get to eat the juicy center. His boss, Shellie, called me to say that Amory has a better attitude and is working harder than several of her grown-up employees! He has a future in the restaurant business. And with an Uncle that has a four-star restaurant in New York, it's in his blood!
April 17, 2007
Uncle Chris died today at 6am in Portland, Oregon. The cause of death was undetected squamous cell carcinoma. For more about Chris, go to chrischester.org
Eat the Beat
Tennessee recently spent a day writing and recording a song with Bobby Weir. How cool is that??!! The one-time band called itself Eat the Beat, and the song title is "Here Come the Cops". You can check it out at:
Stunned onlookers watch in disbelief as Amory is unable to defeat reigning arm wrestling champ Cole, despite blatantly cheating during the entire match. Even using both hands, and his all his body weight, Amory was unable to overtake Cole's powerful forearm.
A rematch is scheduled for Spring of 2040. When asked why he chose that particular year, Amory speculated: "By then, the one-year age difference between us probably won't matter as much". In the meantime, the would-be champ has plans to build muscle. "I will be eating as much Annie's Pasta and cookie dough as I can."
Amory turned 11 this year. He had a very sweet little party on the actual day, with Ten, Rick, Kath and me. (Susie was on tour with TDA and had to miss it ...) The hit gift this year was definitely the unicycle. He's already got the hang of it, and is starting to cruise around the neighborhood and make it look effortless.
August 8, 2006
From Desk Jockey to Mountain Man
Story and pictures soon to arrive about Marc and Susie's Idaho adventures!
July 20, 2006
Marc joins the Alexis Harte Band
It appears I am now the keyboard player for the Alexis Harte band. I auditioned last night, and we all liked playing together. So, we -- the band and I -- are going to proceed as if I'm really doing this. We're angling to have me worked in enough that I can join the band for some shows in Sept/October. I will keep you posted.
Hey there, loyal readers. A lot has been happening with Tennessee and Amory, so this is a quick update ...
Circus Boy: This afternoon, Amory has a performance with the Circus Camp, the culmination of a week of hard work. There will be unicycling, gymnastics, trapeze acts, juggling and more. Wow! This is right up Amo's alley -- hey, that could be the name of your restaurant one day, Amory: Amo's Alley! Susie and I will be there to root for him, along with Katharine and Rick.
Footloose: Last night was the opening of Footloose, featuring our own Tennessee in the role of Lyle, one of the bad guys. Can you imagine Ten as a bad guy? Well we didn't have to imagine it -- we saw it with our own eyes. it was a wonderful opening night, and Tennessee was glowing. Susie was the music director/piano player and coached Ten and all the others through 10 weeks of grueling rehearsals in a hot theatre. That's dedication to the arts. In attendance last night: Moi, Rosetta, Katharine and Rick. Amory, Jack and Maria, Aunt Virginia (Maria's twin sister) and her son Lewis. Also, Shelley and Cole showed up! Even Carri Abrahms made an appearance. There are three more shows this weekend.
Alaska: Ten just returned on Sunday from a week of fly-fishing in Alaska with the Weiser menfolk and extended family. I'll have to get Ten to write this one, but I hear that Grandpa became the hands-down winner when he reeled in a 31" trout. I didn't even know God made 'em that big.
Cello: In preparation for Waldorf, Amory has begun learning the cello. He's really learned a lot fast, and we all support him in this new and wonderful endeavor. He's already the best cello player in the family.
Blue Bear: Right before leaving for Alaska, Tennessee did two weeks of Blue Bear rock n' roll camp. The first week, he played bass, keys, and sang on songs like London Calling, and Mr. Big Stuff. The second week was all originals, and Ten wrote a song that the group performed called Nuclear Spring. It's dark and funny, one of those ones where you hear the lyrics and start to laugh and then the laugh sort of dies in your throat.
June 15, 2006
Graduation Ceremonies to be Held in Spite of Failing Grades
Tennessee "Moe Down" Mowrey, and classmates Sam "BoyToy" Toizer and Michael "Big" Labowski will graduate tomorrow from Kent Middle School, in spite of failing grades and local animosity.
The long-simmering graduation battle was finally settled in Marin County Superior court last night. The 11th hour decision, which will permit the juveniles to proceed to highschool in spite of failing every course except shop and gym for three straight years, came on the heels of months of legal wrangling. It was Tennessee who finally hatched the winning scheme to file a class-action suit against the school district.
By definition, all members of such a suit are considered a single entity. This legal loophole entitled the youths to add up their individual GPAs and use the total as their final grade. At the close of 8th grade, each of the wayward students had an abyssmal Grade Point Average of approimately .7, not nearly enough to pass. But the simple mathematical procedure allowed for under the rules of the class action suit brought the boys' collective GPA up to 2.1, or a C-, thus permitting them all to graduate.
Although the boys are in a three-way tie for the worst grades since the school began keeping records in 1902, the sitting judge was sympathetic. "They presented a unique approach to the law, and to the school system", mused Judge Slacker. "Ultimately, I applauded their resourcefulness and creativity with a court victory on their behalf."
Others in the community were not so generous in their assessment of the court proceedings and outcome. "It was joke. Make mockery of great American school system.", asserted Herb Ivorski, an immigrant green grocer who's business was recently vandalized by a group of spray painting youth who apparently could not correctly spell commonly used expletives.
"That judge is brother to school principal. At bbq two nights ago they decide they don't want these crazy kids in school no more. I hear this over my fence. So Judge say, 'Sure, you win case.' It is criminal", complained Mr. Ivorski, who was recently indicted in a Russian mob case involving the international trafficking of Rhino tusks.
Most residents are glad to see the youths moving on. They will be bussed out of the district to Petaluma, a farming community with a two-year special education highschool.
Trip Dodgely, the Kent Middle School math teacher and owner of a local dry cleaning business, said he recently found the three of them trying to ignite the fuel tank of a reconditioned Husqvarna Weed Wacker in his parking lot.
"I have a lot of flammable chemicals in here", Mr. Dodely offered. "This place could go up like an a-bomb, and in the process melt hundreds of synthetic, petroleum-based articles of clothing. Of course, no one would be wearing them at the time, and that's good. But that's beside the point."
Breathing a audible sigh of relief, the bespectacled math teacher concluded, "I just thank God those kids were unable to get past the child-proof mechanism on that lighter they stole from my desk".
Mow Down, Big and BoyToy appear unfazed by the local concerns. "Da fuck dey know?", pondered Mow Down. "Yeah", added Big. "My dirt bike was a Husqvarna. That burned up real nice one day in Ms. Quigley's driveway", reminisced Boy Toy.
Memorial Day, 2006
Neskowin Bake-Off a Valiant Effort
A stalwart group of family and friends gathered in Neskowin, Oregon this weekend for a hearty attempt to surpass the stratospheric quantities of marijuana consumed at Woodstock. The marijuana intake records set during the infamous 1969 music festival in upstate New York have long been deemed unbreakable. But that doesn't stop people from trying.
Data is still trickling in for the Idaho contenders, but early counts indicate that in spite of concerted efforts, the decades-old record from Woodstock will still hold it's historical place. One analyst who specializes in assessing maximum THC intake on a per capita basis points to the age of the Idaho team as a major factor.
"A lot of this team is over 60. On the one hand, that makes them trained professionals: they can pace themselves, and they know their limits. But more importantly, tar build-up over the years has diminished their lung capacity. And for a shot at a big-league record like Woodstock, I don't think there's any way around that kind of handicap. But, by God, I give these people an A for effort.", opined Bob "Buzz" Awlday, honorary chair of Wake-And-Bake, a discreet cannibis society on the outskirts of Boise, Idaho.
The group is undaunted. "There's always next year. And between now and then, we have months and months to hone our skills", asserted one confident participant who preferred to remain anonymous. "Besides, it's all just fun and games, man. I mean, come on; who do you think set those records at Woodstock, anyway? Fucking Batman? It was us, dude!"
Amory Mowrey, after years of watching his father juggle, finally taught himself how to juggle during the last few days. He was frustrated with his father's refusal to teach him juggling -- or anything else -- and finally took matters in his own hands. "I asked him hundreds of times, often in tears, to show me how. If he answered at all, it was usually just to tell me to shut up and play outside.", the usually taciturn youth confessed.
Asked for comment, Mr. Mowrey said simply: "I wasn't going to show him anything. I need something that I'm better at than the little runt. He always beats me at everything. First, it was shoe-tying. And soon he was operating toasters, doorknobs and other household appliances with greater skill and dexterity than me. Enough is enough."
The father's refusal to help his son learn to juggle has thus far not paid off. In the first round of a "Jugglin' Fight" yesterday, contending for 'most catches without a drop', Mr. Mowrey took an early lead with 168 catches. But Amory wore him down with repeated attempts. The young lad also wisely capitalized on his father's failing eyesight. As the sun was setting and the light grew dim, the old man was unable to surpass Amory's late-stage record of 258. "There are eight more rounds to this fight and let me say, I am far from beaten.", Mr. Mowrey claimed with a quivering lower lip following his stunning loss.
Looking for reasons for the unlikely upset, we interviewed experts. "What his fatha' didn't know was Amory was using Wilson tennis balls while he himself was using Penn. Everyone knows the Penn balls are fuzzier, which distorts the outline and makes them harda to catch.", explained Bill Mathis, a retired juggler living in a rent-controlled walk-up in Brighton Beach, New York.
On the evening of May 3rd, the fight will continue with round two. "We're going after it, regardless of wind and light conditions. I mean if it's windy for dad, it's windy for me, right? So it's all even. Besides, he's got nothin'.", claimed the feisty youth who played hookey from school today to refine his motor skills.
May 25, 2006
Amory Goes to Waldorf!
It's official -- Amory has accepted an offer to attend the Waldorf School in San Rafael, CA. Waldorf is an alternative private school, with a very unique and particular philosophy about learning and child development. It's too much to describe here -- to find out more about the school and it's ideaology, visit marinwaldorf.org
Among other things, Amo will be learning cello and German. He will also be studying Greek myths and botany.
He is extremely excited, so feel free to call and congratulate and encourage him on his new adventure!
May 1, 2006
Amory and Friends Win Grudge Match
On Sunday, Amory's soccer team shut out their arch nemesis from San Rafael, 1-0. Two weeks ago, the same team shut us out 7-0! Amo did not score the winning and only goal, but he did have the most shots on the goal, and was responsible for keeping the offensive pressure ratcheted up the entire game.
April 24, 2006
Susie, Marc, Katharine and Rick: Indian Music Promoters
Yesterday, the four of us co-hosted a remarkable musical event at the Vajrayogini Temple in Point Richmond. We featured two North Indian classical musicians on tabla and sitar. The training and talent of Rabindra Narayan Goswami and Ramchandra Pandit were remarkable. At one point, towards the end of the one-hour show and as they were going into the grand finale, the tabla player just blew us away. Susie and I looked at each other and had to laugh -- what he was playing really did not seem humanly possible. Unfortunately, Rick was unable to attend due to his father's illness, but we set up a little alter for him and sent along some good vibes.
April 22, 2006
Long Lost Relatives
I was contacted out the blue this weekend by a cousin I've never known. Carol Lindsay, nee Mowrey, daughter of Richard and Margaret Mowrey, phoned from nearby San Jose. She said she met me on 18 Shagbark Lane when I was about eight years old. I don't recall. She had some tidbits of information about Edgar Wells Mowrey, and his wife Gertrude Derr. Details soon to follow! If you want to call Carol, try 408.292.4780.
April 16, 2006
Mocadelic Features Tennessee on Backing Vocals!
Last night, my band -- Mocadelic -- played the Cafe Amsterdam in Fairfax. Tennessee, originally billed as the show photographer, expanded his role by singing harmonies with members Susie Davis and Carrie Abrahms for a few songs. It was Ten's first appearance with the band, and he did a fine job. Photos can be seen under 'Mocadelic Pics'.
April 2, 2006
Tennessee Accepted at Marin Academy
The word is in -- Ten has decided to pursue his acceptance to Marin Academy, and will begin his freshman year of highschool this fall at this excellent prepatory school in San Rafael, CA. Congratulations to Tennessee for all his great work that has brought him to this point!
April 1, 2006
Amory Releases First Single: Money to a Man
Amory Mowrey released his first single today. "Money to a Man", as it's called, can found on this website under 'Music/Amo's Music'. He and Matt Finkle wrote and recorded the monster hit, with Susie at the production helm.
March 27, 2006
Marc Goes Under the Knife
Last week I had surgery on my right hand to remove the scar tissue and correct the contracture associated with Dupuytren's Disease. The surgery went really well, and I'm healing more rapidly than I even hoped. Today I removed my dressing and showed Amory the scar, which is quite impressive. Amory said, "Oh man, that would look so cool if it was on your face." When prompted for further clarification, Amo explained that it would look like I'd been in a knife fight.
March 18, 2006
Ten Competes in State Math Competition
On Saturday, Tennessee and his mathlete friends -- Sam Toizer, Kevin Kennis, and Brad -- went to U.C. Davis to play on the big field with math whizzes from all over the state of California. They held their own very well, but ultimately were put down by the rhyming Asian juggernaut. Pictures can be found under 'Photos/More Photos'.
February 25, 2006
Amory Learns to Snowboard!
Last week, Susie took Amory up to the Weiser place at Northstar, and Amo spent a few days learning to snowboard. He got the hang of it very quickly. Here's some pictures of Susie and Amo's adventures ... and misadventures!
This past Saturday (2/4), Tennessee participated in the county math competition. The idea is to pit Marin County middle schools against each other by having each school select their four best math students and send them as a team to the competition. The accrue points for the right answers, and at the end of the four hours, there are awards for the three best school scores and the three best individual scores. Tennessee's school - Kent Middle -- swept the competition by winning the school and award and winning the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place individual awards. And Tennessee took first place!! (Last year he took 2nd, so the trend is very good.)