Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

Read The Label

Popular Culture

Farm Aid.

I don't attend very many 'big' concerts any longer but this Farm Aid gig caught Jill's attention and she purchased some tickets.  There was plenty to like in the promotion of the performance line-up - at least as far as she and I were concerned.

Here are my impressions following a marathon eleven hours of concert-going.

First, I want to take-back my snide comments that I made over on the Tosa Town Square insinuating that the artists appearing at Farm Aid were self-serving

I think that my friend Nancy is correct.  Many of these artists will die rich - notwithstanding their participation in Farm Aid.  We'll have to see about Willie Nelson though.

A wee bit of self-aggrandizement bled-through in the show last night.  Kenny Chesney pitched his new album.  I think Lukas Nelson (offspring of the awesome Willie Nelson) got just a bit too much stage time.  (Somehow I think that a head-banging, picking-a-guitar-with-your-teeth, tinny voice that puts your teeth on edge kind of guy who aspires to be an edgy blues singer is too much.) 

Chalk it up to personal tastes.

Farmers nowadays generally run their business' as a C-Corp or an S-Corp.  Some as LLCs or some other variation.  Very few fit a romantic view of a small-holding milking twenty-five head of cattle on forty acres of pasture.  Therefore I am leery of anyone casually tossing-about the term 'agri-business' as a pejorative characterization.

The business of agriculture has evolved in the past twenty-five years.  Just like most other businesses in this country who have found that they have to change or cease to exist.  That much has been the history of agriculture.  It has always been personified as a difficult and dangerous job for generally not a lot of money. 

I am one hundred percent behind family farms. 

I am personally acquainted with a number of farmers.  Every last one of them has a family-owned farm. 

I ran into my buddy John from Green Bay last night.  John's family is in the forest products industry and he complimented me on my sporting of a Tree Farm ball cap.  Almost half of Wisconsin is forest cover.  Three-fifths of it is owned by ordinary families.  These 'family farms' make a significant contribution to what is roughly a twenty billion dollar industry placing Wisconsin first in paper making in the nation.

I enjoyed a really good, locally-sourced Italian sausage along with the most incredible organically-raised baked potato smothered in butter, shredded cheese, bacon, sour cream and chives - both served on paper products.

I think the Farm Aid people get it.  They know that paper is biodegradable and a sustainable product made from trees.  In a plug for Wisconsin tree farmers I would add that growing and harvesting trees provides direct employment for millions of people - and millions of secondary jobs.  Working forests are good for all of us - providing a renewable resource, clean air, water, wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities and carbon storage.

So, go ahead and print this blog post.  You can recycle it later.

We early arrivals enjoyed some might fine music.  Like one of my favorites - the BoDeans...

And Amos Lee, Band of Horses, Jamey Johnson, Jason Mraz, Jeff Tweedy and (hubba hubba) Norah Jones...

I thought the crowd at Farm Aid skewed-old.  But there were a generous number of twenty and thirty-somethings who were in a partying kind of mood. 

The beer vendors were doing a brisk business keeping them well-lubricated.

And when Kenny Chesney took to the stage I learned that hunky, twenty-something men know every one of Chesney's lyrics by heart.  And they poured-forth their adoration and man-love with verbatim recitations while blubbering and hugging one another. 

It gets better.

When Dave Matthews took to the stage and his fiery songs descended from the doomed heavens of Miller Park upon the inebriated throngs of his faithful - their eyes glazed-over.  They swayed to every lyric.  They swilled deeply from their biodegradable paper cups and swayed some more.  Then they writhed and babbled in tongues.

Dave Matthews does not have fans.

Dave Matthews has his own personal cult.

From a purely anthropological perspective I should attend more concerts and study this phenomenon.

By this time Jill and I retreated to the concourse level to have a better view of John Mellencamp and escape from the row of Matthews fans in front of us who, freed from their inhibitions, had now become confrontational.

By the close of Mellencamp's set the Spawn of Matthews had departed for the bars - leaving mostly the older, wizened, concert-goers to behold an even older and more wizened Neil Young and Willie Nelson.

After more than a bazillion years Young and Nelson remain pretty good.

Neil Young sprinkled some of his old and new material with preachy admonitions.

Support family farms, buy locally and read the label.

There's not much to argue about there.  I read the label all the time.  My doctor tells me to.  I'm always on the lookout for sodium and saturated fats.

For years I have also read the label for other reasons.  I make an honest attempt to purchase my food from sources as close to home as possible.  If I cannot grow it or kill it myself I can at least take a pass on that exotic fruit from Peru in February.  I purchased a dozen eggs today at Metcalf's Sentry produced by a Bonduel, WI egg farmer.  Sure, they cost about a dime more apiece but that's OK.  My budget can bend under that burden.

If you have the opportunity - think about supporting agri-business close to home.  For that matter - be sure to support your neighborhood hardware store, insurance guy, bakery, butcher, or automobile dealer.

Just like Willie Nelson once said - Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start having positive results.

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