Paula B, possible presidential candidate, plans to "test the waters" in the South.
Paula B plans extensive southern tour "to hear the people"

Greenfield MA – Saying she has “fire in her legs” and a desire to walk the walk as well as talk the talk, Paula B of this town of 15,000 says she plans to tour the South this fall, but is hesitant to say “at this time” if that trip will kick off her campaign for a place on the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential ticket.

“I just want to hear the people, find out what they have to say,” said B, as she spoke to reporters today. 

B and her handlers will leave New England in mid-September, after they participate in local events commemorating the September 11 terrorist attack on eastern elitist cities. 

Following stops in New York City, Philadelphia and Washington DC (for a quick look at US Constitution and a drive down Constitution Avenue during morning rush so she can "smell the emissions"), B hopes to visit Civil War battlefields and other historic places in Virginia and the Carolinas. 

Her plan is to reach Atlanta by late September, where her followers will turn northwest, heading to Nashville for a few days of relaxation after a grueling, nonstop schedule of meet-and-greet opportunities. 

Taking the mountain route north, B will get a chance to hear what people in small towns -- especially in West Virginia -- have to say about their government (whether she wants to or not). If time allows, she will spend a day at Gettysburg, where some ancestors are buried.

“It’s important to honor the dead, and the live ones are pretty important, too!” she noted. B may be best known for her failure to win a spot on the 2008, 2004 and 2000 tickets, but she says she’s “undefeated” as far as she is concerned.

“I’m committed to this country, and when I make up my mind to do something, it’s made up,” she said with a wink.  

In honor of Bob Dylan's 70th birthday, it's good to remember his admonition, "he not busy being born is busy dying," from It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding). We know which direction he's been going all these years, since he's never stopped working at his art. 

So, what are your favorite Bob Dylan songs? You’ve got hundreds to choose from.

According to Wikipedia, over the last five decades, Dylan has recorded at least 34 studio albums, 58 singles, 13 live albums, nine bootleg collections and 14 compilation albums.

Here’s a list of titles of every song he recorded.

My favorites include When I Paint My Masterpiece, Maggie's Farm, Mr. Tambourine Man, All Along the Watchtower, Don't Think Twice, One More Cup of Coffee, Subterranean Homesick Blues, Masters of War, I Shall be Released, Mozambique and Hurricane, for starters. As someone said earlier today, it would be easier to list the songs I hate than those I love.
For fans or for those who want to know what all the hullabaloo is about, Rolling Stone has devoted an entire issue to Dylan, his music and impact on several generations.

I’m so glad Bob Dylan is still around, still doing what he’s always done. Yes, he’s evolved, gotten raspy and wrinkly and old, but his essence is still there, clear as it was in 1963. The first song I ever heard by him was "The Ballad of Hattie Carroll," and since I lived in the state where Carroll lived and was killed, that song rocked me to my core. Then I heard "Like a Rolling Stone" and he had me in the palm of his hand.   

To me, Bob Dylan is far more than a singer, songwriter, lyricist, artist or personality. He's my anchor to the beginning of my own sense of self. Without him in the world, I’d have to invent him.

One of my all-time favorite Dylan lyrics, if a bit cynical:

"Ah, get born, keep warm
Short pants, romance, learn to dance
Get dressed, get blessed
Try to be a success
Please her, please him, buy gifts
Don't steal, don't lift
Twenty years of schoolin'
And they put you on the day shift"
 - Subterranean Homesick Blues

Feel free to add your list of favorite songs or lines, in Comments.

Happy Birthday, Bob, and many, many more. 

If the world doesn’t end tomorrow, Bob Dylan will turn 70 next week. That’s right, 70.  I, for one, hope I don’t outlive him because I can’t imagine a world without Bob. 

You can hardly find a publication that isn’t honoring this milestone, but the best tribute of all may be from Psychology Today, of all places. Here are a few excerpts from Not Dark Yet: Bob Dylan at 70, in the April issue: 

Unlike many of his generation, who died or became nostalgia acts, Dylan remains active, innovative and relevant. He has continued to make new music, and his new music is often more urgent, more probing than before, exploring various aspects of Americana--its interior and exterior landscapes.

In a world where most artists have one good song, or at best one good record in them, Dylan has made multiple masterpiece recordings in each one of the last five decades, creating undoubtedly the deepest, richest, and most influential songbook in the history of adult American pop music.

His influence and longevity are even more startling given the fact that he's never sold that many records; he has sold less than the Spice Girls, less than Cher. He's never been a heartthrob, never shook his hips or pouted. He never starred in the tabloids, never did the talk show thing, the ‘reality' thing, the rehab thing. His children and ex-wives have never been paraded in the media. The only thing he's known widely for is his art.

Here are a few graphs from a beautifully written review of a New York City film festival featuring two documentaries about Dylan. For the full piece, go here.  

From The New York Times:

His Back Pages, Captured on Film
By A.O. Scott
Published: May 17, 2011

Bob Dylan will turn 70 next Tuesday — unless of course Judgment Day arrives in the meantime, an eventuality that Mr. Dylan might well take in stride. After all, the scope of his historical imagination stretches from before the flood to the end of days, and the man himself can sometimes seem to dwell outside of time altogether. Devotees who use the age of their idol to calculate their own dismaying senescence may be shocked that he is so old, but to many more of us he has always been around. He was never young. Or else he was so much older then, and he’s younger than that now.

A hustler and a confidence man arriving on a scene that valued authenticity and ideological relevance above all, he ruined any easy distinctions between protest and surrealism, parody and profundity.

But what is hardest to believe may be what is most self-evidently true, namely that this kid from Minnesota, before he was 25, was able to absorb so much of the history of the world, musical and otherwise, and turn it into songs that are likely to last at least un
til Judgment Day.

Here’s another uplifting wedding story to brighten your day. It’s been raining here for what-seems-like-an-eternity. Maybe you’re soggy, too. 

This is from The Washington Post, May 13: 

All Adam Johnson was looking for was a place to live.

In May 2009, he was new in town and desperate for a spot in a Capitol Hill home he found on Craigslist that had a room available for under $600 a month — a steal by Washington standards. When he showed up for a tour of the house he was “laying it on thick,” he remembers, trying to charm the two women living there.

A few days later, he got a “nicely-worded three-sentence rejection letter” from one of the roommates, Sarah Gillespie. Recalling the attractive blonde who laughed at his jokes, Johnson, a lawyer, dashed off a witty reply. When Gillespie and her housemates decided to host a barbecue the next weekend, she invited Johnson, thinking, “He was funny, why not?”

But she didn’t have romantic designs. The day before she met Johnson she’d broken up with a boyfriend of two years. Besides, she figured he was a “typical D.C. lawyer,” which had never been her type.

Follow this link to the complete, lovely story.


Watch the full episode. See more American Experience.

Get on the bus with the Freedom Riders tonight, and be amazed.

Check your local television listings for American Experience on PBS tonight (Monday, May 16).

See what risks college kids (including this one) took, before drugs and binge drinking were cool.  See what people were willing to lay down their lives for. See the consequences of hateful rhetoric in graphic (real) footage of almost unbelievable violence put upon young people committed to turning the other cheek.  

Be angry. Be sad. Be amazed at how far we’ve come and how far we have to go.  But, be there.  

This, from Birds reader and long-time friend Ellen Mendlow:

“Instead of standing on the shore convinced that the ocean cannot carry us, let us venture onto its waters, just to see.”
-P. Teilhard de Chardin

One day I went to tea and met a couple just celebrating their 1st year in a relationship. They’d met at work – he shy and she nervous and both coming off failed relationships. Celebrating a year in Cape May

Seconds after I took the sunset pictures a young couple approached breathlessly begging a photo of them…I was annoyed to be interrupted in my solitude. But the girl beamed “we’ve just been engaged” and I relented taking several pictures against this beautiful backdrop.  They literally had just pledged 15 minutes before…and had told no one.

That night, I woke suddenly from my sleep and though I should have stayed in bed I really, really felt I wanted to go to the shore, so in a half conscious stupor I got up and walked across Ocean Drive. Three doors down were some young folks having a party and they were also headed to the beach. Again I felt invaded in my peace (at 1:30 AM no less!)…but I followed a girl in a long white dress—she’d been married  that day and, still in her wedding gear, was headed with her party for a late night plunge in the ocean. I told her about the other couples I’d met and the sense of seeing the whole story (courtship, commitment, wedding) in one weekend…how I got up just in time to witness this  — she said it was the best story she’d heard and she regaled her wedding party with it all night.

I’ve been thinking a lot about healing this week, as I watch my body go from neutral to first, then to second gear in a few short days. Today is Day 10 of my new life with two new hips and the promise of a level of mobility I haven’t seen in years.

All around, there are signs of healing. Longer days and stronger sun have prompted green stuff to cover the scrapes and scratches of ice. We’ve actually gone from bare, cold earth to lawn-mower days in less than a week.

At the same time, the US, in a way, is healing from a decade of grief complicated by the creeping paralysis of a polarized political environment. So much has happened since 911, yet we can call up the searing pain of that day in an instant, with the right trigger. And, this was the right trigger.

In life and in death, Osama bin Laden has hurt us. On Monday, one at a time, we played back those old tapes, reliving our losses. If we thought we had run out of tears years ago, we were wrong. 

I had just gotten out of the hospital when I heard the president’s announcement, and instantly wrapped myself in a shawl to help me process the news.  

Was I glad? Yes, but not joyful. Was I sad? Yes, but not for OBL. Was I angry? You bet. Not only was I angry for thousands of senseless deaths, but also for the generation that,  thanks to him, has had to live with the threat of annihilation. Most of all, I wanted assurance that I need not worry anymore about my family in DC or NY or SF. Tell me it’s really, really over.

And, that’s when I thought of my mother.

She’s been dead a few years, but was lost many years earlier to the fog of Alzheimer’s, and before that to her own demons. On the day I gave birth to my son, I learned exactly what my mom wanted to be to me, even when she couldn’t. It’s okay, I wanted to say. I understand. Now – lucky me - I get to revitalize the primal connection of motherhood vicariously, as a grandmother. 

Today, I talked to a cousin who lived with my family when she was young. As soon as she left college, she moved to Spain and never came back. Every now and then we get on the phone and talk about our lives, especially about our mothers.

They were sisters, and as far as mothering goes, they weren’t the best and they weren’t the worst, but they were ours. We loved them and we hated them. We swore we'd never be like them when we grew up, yet can’t look at each other or talk on the phone without seeing, hearing and feeling the presence of those two women, in each other. 

And, so it goes.

Here’s a very touching tale that ties together cultures, tragedies and two women from opposite ends of the earth. I'm not sure I could be so generous, but, in spite of vast differences, these women meet at the mother nexus, that place that connects them to the past, future and oddly, to each other.

Here’s to all nurturers, teachers, mothers, everywhere.