Friday, September 21, 2007

Going Green!

Well, I feel I'm doing my small bit for the environment: I just bought a hybrid vehicle, a "pre-owned" (they don't say "used" any more) 2006 Ford Escape, and so far I love it. It gets 31 mpg on the highway and 36 in the city - the reason for the better city mileage is that at lower speeds it kicks into electric-only mode. Very cool - this car does not "idle" in the traditional sense of the word, either. In fact, it feels like it shuts down when you come to a complete stop. That's got to be better emissions-wise. I'm eating my words though - I vowed several years ago I would never buy an SUV. But it's okay because this is a relatively small one and it's "green". If I had the option, I'd buy an all-electric car. (See the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? for an eye-opening story of what happened recently to that short-lived market.)

In honor of that, my Music Top Ten this week is "Songs with an Environmental Theme":

1. Big Yellow Taxi - Joni Mitchell
2. If a Tree Falls - Bruce Cockburn
3. Pollution -Tom Lehrer
4. Blue Water - Poco
5. Nothing But Flowers - Talking Heads (a rather ironic spin on the topic)
6. To the Last Whale (Critical Mass/Wind on the Water) - Crosby and Nash
7. Whose Garden Is This? - Tom Paxton
8. World Party - World Party
9. It's a Different World Now - Rodney Crowell
10. Don't Kill the Whale - Yes

Thanks again to XPN "boardie" buddies for some of these suggestions.

Some of my recent CD discoveries:

A.C. Newman - The Slow Wonder: The driving force behind The New Pornographers put out this solo album about 3 years ago, and it's excellent power-pop. A number of tunes are as good as the best of NP, especially "The Town Halo" and "On the Table" - catchy, brilliant stuff.

Arcade Fire - Neon Bible: I'm still warming up to this one, but it's got at least one thing going for it: "No Cars Go" is one of the best damn songs of the year.

Matt Pond PA - The Green Fury: These guys are becoming one of my favorite "new" bands. Sound a bit like the Shins but a little mellower. This 2002 release has been my entry point to their full-length catalog.

Here's one I wrote about visiting my poet friend James Byrne (editor of The Wolf) in London in 2005. It was nominated for a "Best of the Net" award by Sunken Lines:

Down from Hampstead

(for J.B.)

At the top of the climb
the Spaniard’s is closed,
so we hike to another café

for screw-top Rothschild
and a sandwich of rocket and egg,
then out to the overlook –

the city laid out like our oyster
(and I with my card) –
before we descend to the town,

muck of the Heath still on our shoes.
(Mine, camouflage brown; yours red –
do the angels still want to wear them?)

We accost bookshops and barkeeps,
clink cheers with a pint or two, or more,
and carry on to our true destination,

a cramped and smoky club
packed with fellow travelers
guilty of poetry,

cleaning the muck
from their own psychic shoes,
with a stiff brush of language.

After words, another pint
chased by last orders,
the night thus rolled in.

Trading valedictions,
we carry good books and thoughts back
to our own little nooks of the world.

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