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Friday August 1st, 2008

Drop By Drop

   We swallow with one gulp the lie that flatters us,
    and drink drop by drop the truth which is bitter to us.

Hi folks,

I appreciate the great feedback many of you sent me for last week’s newsletter. It’s not easy to always find a topic worth writing about. And a topic that others find worth their time to think about and to respond to. Of course, the entertainment component of the newsletter is always there but but I am interested in more than that: uncovering uncommon ideas. Some weeks are better than others. Last week was a good one. I mean: what do you reckon - discovering that the Underground Railroad practically went through your back yard! Now that’s worth investigating. Other weeks, I just tread water (like this week, probably.) In those cases, I’ll try to make up for it with a good recipe at least. Like the roast pork and gravy recipe at the bottom.

I’m traveling to the States in November to be a guest tutor at Lamb’s Springfed Songwriter’s Retreat in Michigan on the weekend of Nov 6-9. I hope some of my US readers in the area will come along and argue with me about counterpoint and such – and bring one of their own long lost family recipes.  

I am also looking for the odd solo show and house concert in the week before, and the week after, the retreat that follows my flight path which is tentatively: California-Michigan-Ohio-Michigan-California. Or something like that. I hope to do a performance in the Cleveland-Painesville area for my old high school mates and family. (If anyone wants to help me put something together, email my management: Dolce, Dolce, Dolce and Flywheel, at Seat-of-My-Pants Productions, via the newsletter email address.)

So far, it looks like I’ll be part of an exciting peace and love Age of Aquarius-style concert starting to shape up in the Marin County area of California so I will keep you posted on progress as I get more details. I have particularly strong bonds with that piece of ground. That’s where I wrote ‘My Home Aint in the Hall of Fame,’ in the 70s, the first song that made me any money as a writer. Where I lived with my gypsy girlfriend, Upsy Daisy, in a hollowed out Redwood tree when we both were homeless and on the road. Where I got married and had two children. Where I learned the crafts of carpentry, lead light and stained glass, tile setting, and house renovation.  Where I bought my first car (a Volkswagen bug that I covered with coffee sacks and five layers of estapol!) and bought, renovated and sold my first house in Berkeley (with a full cornfield on the land. There was a large family of Mexican-Americans renting at the time who stubbornly wouldn’t leave until we practically walked up the steps with our suitcases. Three years later, when we came to sell it, I found another old house up on blocks in a nearby street and had it moved onto our adjacent lot, effectively doubling our profit. Not bad for a hippy.)

The Sonoma-Marin County area is a magical place. Alfred Hitchcock shot The Birds in nearby Bodega Bay. It is also the home of my old communal stomping grounds - the Bermuda Triangle of Free Love: Morning Star Ranch, Wheeler’s Ranch and Star Mountain Ranch. Alternative land communes where I not only learned about Free Love, but also, about Expensive Love (aka divorce), Debt-Free Love, Love-on-Credit, Crabs Love, Scabies Love, I-O-U Love and Leave-A-Donation-in-the-Jar-On-Your-Way-Out Love.  There seems to be a renewed interest in psychedelic folk music amongst the kids there. The circle turns. I am anxious to see what mixture of age groups and generations come to this concert.

RECENT!!  Andre Steyl of dvtvaustralia has put two short youTube clips online of DIFFICULTWOMEN’s recent gala show for DENMARK ARTS. Featuring LIN VAN HEK.
(Both of these were discovered and sent to me by my brother, Frank -  who lives in Florida! Go figure. You got to love the internet.)

The first is an excerpt from Black Mountain Blues:

The second is a rendition of Kath Tait’s, Mr Bastard, complete with the Denmark Mr Bastard Choir.


Re: The Underground Railroad
This issue brought back some memories for me. Regarding Stepanie at LEC: In the ‘70s I dated a number of girls at Lake Erie who seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time in front of the mirror. Now I know why. Did you know that Mrs. Wilson’s (our somewhat sullen Harvey teacher and counselor) little house just to the east of Rider’s Tavern ( had a tunnel that ran from her  basement to Rider’s and then down to the creek that ran behind the Rider’s?  Supposedly how the escaping slaves entered and exited on their way to the lake and on to Canada. When we studied this in elementary school, I never understood why they weren’t safe in Ohio, since we didn’t have slavery. In later years I became more enlightened and learned about the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 (political payback to the South for allowing California into the Union). Ohio was a hotbed of abolitionist activity. “...Ohio abolitionists also opposed the Fugitive Slave Law. They encouraged people to oppose any attempts to enforce it and referred to the legislation as the "Kidnap Law." As in other parts of the United States, some African Americans in Ohio fled to Canada.”
Supposed to be a ghost in Riders too -- Civil War era . Supposedly stands in the windows and waves at passersby.
And remember going out to Doctor Crowes’ farm in Kirtland to drink and scare the crap out of each other? I googled Rider’s and came up with
I don’t remember the Melonheads part of it, though. . . .Hope you and yours are well. Best, JJ, Cleveland, Ohio.

(Note: JJ,  The Melonheads.  ‘Apparently the most common story behind these Mutant little creatures is that Dr. Crowe, who lived on Wisner Road, in Kirtland Ohio, ran an orphanage with many children and did various experiments on their brains causing their heads to become larger in proportion to the rest of their bodies. It is said that they roam the woods at night looking for humans, they eat their flesh. The most notable description of a Melon Head is about 3/4 feet tall with a large head, glowing eyes, and sometimes said to have razor teeth. One day the children killed the Dr. as well as his staff. The mutants still roam the area on a killing spree.’ Today, they are known as Republicans.)
See Melonhead Haircare Products:

Hi Joe,
RE: The Underground Railroad
what wonderful stories.
one of the main terminus points of that underground railroad was buxton, ontario.  
there is an underground railroad history museum there.
your readers can visit the museum's website here, if they are interested:
Cheers, Joan Besen, Canada

(Note: The Buxton Museum site above that Joan has recommended is a fantastic resource for information about happened to American slaves who escaped to Canada.)

Hello Joe,
 Many congratulations on creating such a fine and interesting newsletter (by far the best of it's kind).
Intriguing underground railway info + Stephanie in the Mirror -  Through The Looking Glass indeed - that's a concept that could easily find it's way into my groups' Gothic Folk Tales. cheers & all the best, Matt Swayne, South Australia

Love it! another Tour de Dolce, God Bless Ya! ps is that really you in that pic? I thought you were so much older (just jokes), Marcus W

(Note: Marcus, many people mix up Frederick Douglass, the Abolitionist, with my ancestor, Giuseppe Dolceglass, the Establitionist.  My ancestor founded the little-known Establition movement  His radical idea was instead of freeing the black slaves, to enslave white people as well, thus making everyone equal (or unequal, as you wish) under one Massa. The Massa could only be a Native American  -  or an Italian. Naturally, this idea was problematic and didn’t take hold - except amongst renegade cells of Catholic priests who still practice it today.)

Frederick Douglass & Giuseppe Dolceglass

I have no idea how I got on your mailing list.  I find it so ...ahem.. colorful I decided not to ask you to stop spamming me.
I grew up in the area of Ohio you wrote about and your mail reminds me of the duality you find there in terms of so-called race and social interaction even today.  Recently my cousin's son mailed me a Beginner's Guide To Racism-style forwarded junk email about 'why is wrong to be proud to be white?' and other such nonsense the white power crowd spouts in America. I had to email the poor sap and tell him I didn't care to receive his bullshit anymore and I CC'd the aunties, cousins, and grandmas for good measure.  It didn't go over so well in the extended family.  It just goes to show you how far America has really come in terms of 'race'.  Not very far since those days you mention of the Underground Railroad post-slavery. Interesting email Joe.  Hope you are staying dry.  Casey R

Ps  provides some more insight into american racism:

(Note: Casey, thanks for sending those interesting article. One clarification: my newsletter is not spamming per say -  but pamphleteering. I hand them out. People can refuse them. Hence the ‘Remove’ facility which is faithfully honoured. I also do not supply canned luncheon meat, but quality prime rib.  Incidentally, Hormel Foods Corporation, the maker of SPAM canned meat does not object to the Internet use of the term "spamming". However, they did ask that the capitalized word "SPAM" be reserved to refer to their product and trademark.  Hormel stated on its website: "Ultimately, we are trying to avoid the day when the consuming public asks, 'Why would Hormel Foods name its product after junk email?')

Hi Joe.
RE: Irish Radio Interview
I just thought i’d get in touch as i’m a listener to the Ray Darcy radio show in Ireland and i heard the interview you did with him today 25/7. Its hard to believe its over 25 years since i first heard of you,i reckon i was 10... maybe, but i used to sing shaddap your face every day, sometimes driving my parents mad. Im of the opinion that its great to think back of your youth and of all the things that made you smile and loved because im 37 now and have all the problems most people in the world have, well obviously there are many people in dire straights and i hope they can sort themselves out. Anyway, hearing you on the radio earlier made me smile and think back to you and your happy song,i had a goood day today, thanks to you. Im gona go so i wish you well and continued success in your career, all the best, joe. Derek, Ireland

Hello Joe:
RE: MorningStar and 'Hey Lou Gottlieb'
We self-produced the play 'MORNINGSTAR' this last May. Included in the performance was your song 'Hey Lou Gottlieb, He Opened Up His Land'. The song actually became the basis for an entire scene with some dialogue spoken over an instrumental section of the piece and the song ended with a spiral dance. Thank you for that, it was a huge contribution to the work.  The premier was a great success, audience wise, critically and artistically. We are looking to have the play performed in other venues. . .   Also, I am working on self-publishing an audio book meets concept album of the play. I think that this will be very successful and I will look into serious distribution once the recording is complete. I wanted to ask you if it would be all right to continue including 'Hey Lou Gottlieb'. . .  I was really proud of having your song in the play. When we told people who wrote the song we of course referred to 'Shaddap You Face', and people joined in singing it and looked at us with a look of how did this connection happen. It was very cool, thank you again. We do have a play website.  We may later put some of the play on You Tube.  All the best........... Sincerely, Nick Alva, Creator of ‘MorningStar’, Cotati, California.

Ps  It is nice to hear your thoughts on Lou [Gottlieb].. It is very interesting in that during the whole process I felt at times that Lou was up above (or somewhere)  encouraging, and helping. One night I had a dream that I was composing a song and Lou came into the room and said that if I played this chord instead of the one I had chosen I might find that the song will sound better, and it did. I did have the opportunity to meet Lou ( I think that he was a judge at a Napa Valley Folk Festival song competition that my band competed in) but I didn't. And even from that moment I knew that I should have. But there are plenty of people to collaborate with still on the planet, Ramon, Alicia and with 'Hey Lou' you. Which is very cool....

“The Cotati playwright, scholar, musician and library toiler  [Nick Alva] has created a marvelous chunk of stagecraft unlike anything else thrust out to an audience in the small Condiotti experimental theater in Spreckels. They showered it with a standing ovation opening night.’ Jud Snyder, Community Voice

(Note: Nick, I miss Lou, too – he was one of the earliest 'authorities' so to speak to encourage my ideas. I always think of him when I create something epic (like my latest 40 original song, 100 page, Leadbelly Ballad Novel, on the life and times of Huddie Ledbetter). I think: 'Lou would really like this!'  I guess that's what is meant by the spirit of the beloved dead are always with us.)




Two Crocodiles were sitting at the side of the swamp near the lake in Canberra.

The smaller one turned to the bigger one and said, "I can't  understand
how you can be so much bigger than me. We're the same age, we were the
same size as kids. I just don't get it."

"Well," said the big Croc, "what have you been eating?"

"Politicians, same as you," replied the small Croc.

"Hmm. Well, where do you catch them?"

"Down the other side of the lake near the parking lot by the  Parliament

"Same here. Hmm.. How do you catch them?"

"Well, I crawl up under one of their Lexus cars and wait for  one to
unlock the car door. Then I jump out, grab them by the leg, shake the
shit out of  them and eat 'em!"

"Ah!" says the big Crocodile, "I think I see your problem.
You're not getting any real nourishment.
See, by the time you finish shaking the shit out of a Politician,
there's nothing left but an asshole and a briefcase."
(thanks to Andrew.Bicknell)

2. USA

By Charlie Reese -
(former columnist of the Orlando Sentinel newspaper)

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.
Have you ever wondered why, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits,  WHY do we have deficits?
Have you ever wondered why, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?
You and I don't propose a Federal budget.   The President does.
You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations.   The House of Representatives does.
You and I don't write the tax code, Congress does.
You and I don't set fiscal policy, Congress does.
You and I don't control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president, and nine Supreme Court justices - 545 human beings out of the 300 million - are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress.   In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.
I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason.   They have no legal authority.   They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a president to do one cotton-picking thing.   I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash.   The politician has the power to accept or reject it.; No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he votes.
Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault.  They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.
What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall.  No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits.   The president can only propose a budget.   He cannot force the Congress to accept it.
The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes.    Who is the speaker of the House?   She is the leader of the majority party.     She and fellow House members, not the president, can approve any budget they want.   If the president vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.
It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million can not replace 545 people who stand convicted -- by present facts -- of incompetence and irresponsibility.   I can't think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people.   When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.
If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair.
If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red.
If the Army & Marines are in  IRAQ , it's because they want them in IRAQ.
If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it's because they want it that way.
There are no insoluble government problems.
Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power.   Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like 'the economy,' 'inflation,' or 'politics' that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.
Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible.
They, and they alone, have the power.
They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses.
(thanks to Jim Testa)


1.  In Praise of Joe Dolce
By Newmainia, Art Forum

Art Forum examines the work of Joe Dolce.

In “About a boy”, Nick Hornby the hero Will , makes a living from royalties from an ancient Christmas hit always on a new advert somewhere in The East. The “friend” in Bridget Jones` Diaries had one hit in the 80s and found this enough to get shagged forever. I saw one of the Bros Brothers saying something rather mournful which was that you cease to be “hot” but the pure recognition stays forever . That’s right isn’t it? You don’t forget people. They never cease to be interesting like a pile of junk in the basement . Sigue Sigue Sputnik were a truly awful one hit wonder, they wander this penumbral region of virtual half life like unquiet spirits.

People are always saying what a tragedy it was that the sublime ( I don’t think) “Vienna “ was kept of the top spot by Joe Dolce and Shaddup You Face. Au contraire Vienna was manure in a raincoat and Joe Dolce was a genius with much to say about life and art .

Let us examine the La Dolce Vita.

Hello, I'ma Guiseppi, I gottta something speciala for you, Ready, uno, duo, tres, quatro.
(…………..calling to the muse clearly Homeric in inspiration… ),

When I was a boy just about a fiftha grade, Mama used to say don'ta stay out alate With the badda boys, always shoota pool, Guiseppi goin-ta flunka school
(Immediately savage social commentary is commenced with the mother making explicit, the moral centre of the piece)

Boy it make-a me sick, everyting I gotta doI can'ta getta no kicks, always gotta follow rules Boy it make-a me sick, just to make-a lousy bucks Gotta a feela like a fool
the hero chafes at the discipline required for the nation to succeed . Shakespeare dealt with similar material in Henry V part 1, the hero must cast the childish, the Falstaffian aside.)

And the mama used to say all the time,What'sa matter you, hey, gotta no respectWhatta you tink you do, why you looka so sadItsa not so bad, Itsa nice-a place, Ahh shaddupa you face
(In the Greek style chorus, the emotional counterpoint mirrors the dialectic between conformity and inspiration , resolved with the a plea for silence as the hero struggles to find reconciliation)
Newmainia is a sensitive feeling person and always looking for beauty.


NozzleRage: Attack of the Pump
(thanks to Ramon Sender)


Last week I talked about gravy. Here’s a simple pork roast I made the other day, with a fantastic gravy.

Roast Pork with Gravy

1 medium pork roast (with skin, scored)
olive oil
salt and pepper

1 stick chopped celery
1 medium onion, chopped coarsely
1 bulb of garlic, broken into cloves, skin on
2 cups white wine
4 whole sprigs fresh rosemary
1 litre chicken stock (cook some chicken bones in water with a bay leaf, half onion and whole peppercorns for about an hour prior)
red chili flakes

4 medium potatoes, peeled
4 wedges of pumpkin, peeled

Place pork in roasting pan and massage some olive oil, salt & pepper all over the meat and let rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to hottest temperature. Place roast in oven and turn heat down to 180C (Gas 4).
Roast for about an hour, maybe turning once if desired.
Remove pan from oven, add the white wine, the chopped vegetables, the potatoes, garlic cloves and pumpkin to the pan, and return to the oven for another two hours of cooking. Every 20 minutes or so, baste or turn the veggies.

When the meat is cooked, remove pan from oven. Remove meat to a cutting board and let rest. Remove potatoes, garlic cloves and pumpkin to a serving dish and keep warm. Mash and scrape up the bits remaining in the pan, remove and set aside, leaving about 3-4 tables of fat in the pan. Place pan over medium heat and add three or four tbles of flour to the fat, stirring for a couple of minutes, but do not burn. Add enough chicken stock to make a smooth gravy. Add the reserved mashed and scraped bits from the pan and some red chili flakes, salt and pepper to taste. Stir until desired thickness, adding more stock if necessary. Place gravy in a heated serving bowl, slice the roast and serve with potatoes and pumpkin. A side of homemade applesauce.

Dawn Revisited

Imagine you wake up
with a second chance: The blue jay
hawks his pretty wares
and the oak still stands, spreading
glorious shade. If you don't look back,
the future never happens.
How good to rise in sunlight,
in the prodigal smell of biscuits -
eggs and sausage on the grill.
The whole sky is yours
to write on, blown open
to a blank page. Come on,
shake a leg! You'll never know
who's down there, frying those eggs,
if you don't get up and see.
~ Rita Dove ~
 (On the Bus with Rosa Parks)


A 7 year old and a 4 year old are upstairs in their bedroom.
'You know what?' says the 7 year old, 'I think it's about time we started Swearing.'
The 4 year old nods his head in approval.
'When we go downstairs for breakfast I'm gonna swear first, then you swear after me, ok?'
'Ok' the 4 year old, agrees with enthusiasm
The mother walks into the kitchen and asks the 7 year old what he wants for breakfast.
'Oh, sh *t mum, I guess I'll have some Coco Pops'
WHACK!! He flew out of his chair, tumbled across the kitchen floor, got up, and ran upstairs crying his eyes out.
She looked at the 4 year old and asked with a stern voice, 'And what do YOU want for breakfast, young man?'

'I don't know,' he blubbers, 'but it won't be f**king Coco Pops!'
(Thanks to Cinzia Ambrosio)