A List of Things to Look Forward To

I can’t say I feel terribly inspired to do a year-end wrap-up here. It was kind of a boring year; not a bad one, on a personal level, but one lacking in what we generally think of as Events.

We did get to see Courtney Barnett at the Fox in Oakland earlier this month, on a trip that included my first visit to the Chase Center for a Warriors game. (A loss to the Spurs, unfortunately, but a fairly exciting game.) There were also several nice dinners with friends, and on the whole I can say that a good time was had.

But for the nonce I’ve decided to take Courtney’s advice and, rather than looking back, make a list of things to look forward to in 2022.


Time; a True Story; in Praise of a Vertical Man

Another thing I learned yesterday was that a Jazz Butcher single called “Time” had come out earlier this year. It’s a little spooky:

My hair’s all wrong. My time ain’t long.
Fishy go to heaven, get along, get along.

But also funny, and surprisingly funky. I give it two thumbs up:


I also ran across a video of his last performance, which apparently was on a Spanish radio show. Ignore the blaring tabloid headline — it’s actually quite a lovely and dignified moment:


R.I.P., J.B.

Within the past hour I have learned, first, that Pat Fish (a.k.a. The Jazz Butcher) had released a sprawling compilation of B-sides and rarities, including a bunch of things I’ve never heard before; and then, mere minutes later, that he had died — apparently of a heart attack — back in October.

So I am feeling a bit of whiplash.

Butch has been a favorite of mine ever since, looking for material for my radio show at KZSC in Santa Cruz (circa 1986), I slapped an album called Bloody Nonsense on the turntable. So it is possible that the first song I heard was “The Human Jungle”; though I feel like it was probably “Death Dentist,” which would mean I started with the B side. In any case, I was immediately smitten.

From that point on I followed his career through all its twists and turns, of which there were many. He was that rare artist who could be funny in a serious way; quintessentially British but also universal. He made some great records and some lesser records, but he devoted his life to the cause.


The Return of Light, 2021 Edition

The Judgment: Returning. Success. Going in and coming out without error. Friends come without blame. To and fro goes the way. On the seventh day comes return. It furthers one to have somewhere to go.

This hexagram is one of the twelve calendar hexagrams based on the coming and going of the light of the sun in the course of the year. Here the single line that has entered the hexagram at the bottom represents the first increase in the altitude of the sun since the winter solstice, hence its name, “Returning.”

The Sage defines the theme of this hexagram as returning to one’s original nature, and to unity with the Cosmic Whole, through splitting apart from the ego.

Returning also indicates the direction in which the path of development leads: back to the person’s original nature. It does not lead forward, through cultivating virtues or becoming something we are not, but is a process of continuous subtraction of what we have falsely added, thus to allow the true self to resume its path toward maturation. Each step on this path leads to increasing light and relief. One takes this path through ceasing to look outward for the solutions to problems, to look inward instead, to the choices that have been made.

I Ching: The Oracle of the Cosmic Way
Carol K. Anthony & Hanna Moog

The Obits

Sometime in the last few years I went through whatever life change it is that makes a person interested in obituaries. A well-written obit is a capsule biography that takes you through a whole life — often one lasting 90 years or more — whilst you drink your coffee of a Sunday morning. In this way I have learned about a bunch of very interesting people that I’d never even heard of before.

Today I thought I’d share three recent examples. For each one I’ve posted a few key paragraphs along with a link to the full obit. Only after the fact did I notice that these are all portraits of, shall we say, non-conforming women; make of that what you will.

I may make this a regular feature of the blog going forward. You have been warned.

(Note: If you run into the New York Times paywall whice trying to click through to any of these, let me know; my subscription lets me gift articles to people directly, which I’m happy to do.)


Jakucho Setouchi

In her 99 years this woman wrote over 400 books, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Jakucho Setouchi, a Buddhist priest and feminist author who wrote frankly about sex, entertained audiences with her insouciant wit and rendered one of Japan’s greatest classic works into a readable best seller, died on Nov. 9 in Kyoto, Japan. She was 99.