Saturday, April 26, 2014

Summertime in Iowa: On the Porch Scratching a Friendly Racoon

Sitting on my mom's lap soaking up the sunshine

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Bob Dylan and the Band Play Chicago 1974 - The Concert Mom Went into Labor At

I believe there were two shows in Chicago to kick off this tour. I'm not certain if this was the January 3, 1974 show or the January 4th show, but if it is then this is the concert mom had to leave because I was busy being born.

Anyone else have any other footage, set lists or bootlegs of these shows?

I just found this 1974 Tour Guide online!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Unity's Gizmo Top Rock

Nearly 25 years ago, I learned to top rock in Iowa City, IA. Yep, the movie Wild Style changed my life and living in a college town I was fortunate to have access to the school's indie film theater called the Bijou.

The music I used to play was a little more Jam On It, but it's all about the flow anyway.

My street name was Gizmo:-)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Unity in 1984

Photo by Peter Feldstein for The Oxford Project.

Monday, October 02, 2006

January 3, 1974




Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Freedom To Get A Mohawk At 6

Did you ever really want to do something when you were a child and your parents would always say no?

That didn't happen too often with my parents...

When I was about 10 and my youngest brother Cayenne was 6, he desperately wanted a mohawk.

Perhaps in New York City, or London at the time, this would not have been such a dramatic fashion statement. But for a lily white boy growing up among the cornfields of Iowa this certainly was not the normal request. (Nowadays it probably wouldn't seem unique at all.)

I'm not sure why my brother wanted a mohawk in the first place because neither I, nor our other brother Patrick-Spirit (PS) ever had our hair done that way...and certainly no others from the community did either. It was likely the combo effect of influences floating around our house and the popular culture of the time. My mom would often post colorful images on the fridge such as the one I remember of two London street punks with spiked purple hair, dog collars around their necks, walking down the street hand in hand. Or it could have been Mr. T and the A-Team show my brothers and I loved so much.

The hairdo didn't last more than a few months, and our parents seemed to get a kick out of it. Our grandparents didn't approve and even tried to take my brother to go get another hair cut once. And a lame portrait photographer tried to comb it down for Cayenne's annual school photo. But other than that it was just another hippie kid memory of childhood freedom...

(Photo courtesy of Peter Feldstein who photographed my brother at the time as part of his project: Everyone in Oxford, Iowa 1984.)

Copyright Unity

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Car Surfing In Iowa

Is it irresponsible to let one's children stand on top of the hood of their car as they drive down a winding gravel road?

I ask this question, only because I have recently been reminiscing about one of my favorite summer past-times as a boy: car-surfing in Iowa.

It would work like this. When I was about 12 or so, my brothers and I would beg my mom to stop the car about a mile and a half from home so that we could surf the remaining road home. With no other cars on the road, my mom would pull over and we would jump out of the car Dukes of Hazard-style and take up our positions on the hood of the car. Sometimes standing as if on a surf board -- sometimes hanging off the hood like we were TJ Hooker in a chase -- we would ride the gravel roads home, wind blowing through our hair, dust trails in our wake.

Surfing the country roads truly was an exhilarating experience and it never grew old. It was best in the early summer evening, just before sunset. The air was warm then and the roads were free.

To put this all into context, my mom would cruise at only a few miles an hour until she knew we were steady. The pace would pick up to no more than 15 miles per hour - top speed - bugs rushing by and all. It was better than any carnival ride – we were in control!

No one was ever hurt and looking back I don’t recall any real danger. To some friends, these stories sound odd, but if you think about it, riding horses or 4-wheelers, or even surfing can be much more dangerous. Today seems like a different era, however: one more litigious, more controlling, more fearful. But are these times any more safe? Any more responsible?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Hippie Halloween - Cool Costumes But No Sugar!

One of the best times of year growing up in my family was Halloween. Cool costumes...happy cider...banjo playing by big bonfires.

But wait. No candy!

You see, my parents didn’t allow us to eat sugar back then.It was a time filled with mixed emotions for me. An exciting jumble of anticipation and superhero dreams. But at the core, times like Halloween also presented complex challenges more scary than the ghosts and goblins of the Day.

On these monumental days of tradition and consumerism, I became increasingly aware that my life was very much different from that of many of my friends.

Occasions like Halloween offered stark contrasts between the way my parents did things with the way some of our neighbors and classmate’s families did them. Don't get me wrong: being different wasn’t the challenge. The challenge was with the little things, like not getting to eat sugar on Halloween, or with costume malfunctions.
My mom was an expert at helping us design funky handmade costumes. They were cool and all, but I must admit I was always a little envious of the other kids who got to wear store-bought masks that looked more real. Take my Spiderman outfit when I was 10. It was a rustic patchwork that included loosely fitting dark blue tights featuring unevenly finger-painted stripes. I wore a black cotton ski mask and a red sweatshirt with embroidered spider-like shapes stitched across the chest. Looking back it worked out ok, but back then I used to imagine having a costume that really looked like the comic book hero. I would dream about the store-bought plastic costumes my friends got to wear.But the costumes were hardly the main thing me and my brothers were envious about. While lots of the other kids from our school were filling up bags with juicy candy, my parents had a different trick-or-treating route planned for us -- one a little more natural to say the least. The houses on my parents' route gave us fresh apples, hot cider, and bags of dried fruit. Instead of chocolate bars, we got carob bars and popcorn sprinkled with honey. Apparently, none of the homes on our journey used sugar in anything!

Let's be real. Even hippy kids want to trick or treat for a little sugar on Halloween.

But all in all, besides the funky costumes and sugarless treats, Halloween was full of good times. And I didn't realize it then, but it was many of those little differences at the time that have made me stronger and healthier today.