If you ever owned a Stihl - I used a Farm Boss for a while and had one of the legendary old 034's, you know what the ad is getting at. The revelation of a Stihl chainsaw after using a MacCullough, a Homelite and a Poulan, was like Paul on the road to Damascus. The damn things were - and I imagine still are - pro quality, unlike the consumer grade junk on the market. We heated the house with wood and had to put up 30-40 full cords per year when I was a kid. The cutting took weekend after weekend with the cheap saws. With a Stihl? Three or four days of hard cutting.
The splitting, trailering and stacking was another story, however.
People who have worked like that (e.g. like a rented mule) with a high quality piece of equipment remember it, and think about it like a family member. No criticism can be brooked. And you never forget it. I watch Ax Men and I think, "damn. I'd like to be out there cutting. I miss that." Part of it is watching them fire up their big Stihl MS 880's and hearing the two stroke engines wind out.
When I retire out of here, I'm buying a place with some land out in the boondocks. I may not heat with wood full time, but I am going to have a stove, and I'm going to buy a small portable sawmill and mill my own wood for hardwood floors and trim in the house. (You can buy a small trailer-able mill for $3k, a little cheaper used). I'm going to need a good saw. I know what brand I'll look at first.
But you don't give a crap and probably wouldn't know cutting a tree from cutting arugula. You're just here for the music.
I was reading about the death of an opera singer today, and her death reminded the author of the death of Alma Werfel. Nee Gropius. Nee Mahler. Nee Schindler. The gal married her way through three of the greatest geniuses of Europe over the course of 20 years. Alma is a girl worth talking about - and it gets to music in a second.
Here's her obit.
Alma Mahler August 31, 1879 - December 11, 1964, noted in her native Vienna for her beauty and intelligence, was the wife, successively, of one of the century's leading composers (Gustav Mahler), architects (Walter Gropius), and novelists (Franz Werfel). Her life reads like a Who's Who of early twentieth century Europe.
to artist Emil Jakob Schindler and his wife Anna von Bergen, in a privileged environment. Her father's friends included Gustav Klimt, to whom she gave her "first kiss". Vienna, Austria
As a young woman she had had a series of flirtations, including Klimt, director Max Burckhard and composer Alexander Zemlinsky. In 1902 she married Gustav Mahler, even though the composer was twenty years older than her. With him, she had two daughters, Maria Anna ( 1902- 1907), who died of scarlet fever or diphtheria , and Anna, who later became a sculptor. The terms of
's marriage with Mahler were that she would forego her own artistic interests in painting and music. Resenting this, Alma began an affair with the Bauhaus architect Walter Gropius. Mahler had a single consultation with Dr. Sigmund Freud as to the causes for his dissatisfied relationship. Alma
When Mahler died in 1911,
married Gropius. Alma
The marriage was tumultuous. For two years,
had an affair with artist Oskar Kokoschka, who painted his Bride of the Wind to represent their love. Fearful of the passion he evoked in her, Alma left Kokoschka for novelist Franz Werfel, and even became pregnant - she thought by him - while still married to Gropius. She divorced Gropius and married Werfel in 1929, but the child, Martin Carl Johannes, was born prematurely and died aged ten months. Alma
Alma and Gropius's daughter, Manon ( 1916- 1935), died of polio in 1935, aged seventeen. Composer Alban Berg wrote his Violin Concerto in memory of her.
In 1938 Alma and Werfel were forced to flee
for Austria to escape the Anschluss. With the German invasion and occupation of France during World War II, and the deportation of Jews to the Nazis death camps, she and her husband had to flee France . With the assistance of the American journalist Varian Fry in Marseille, they escaped the Nazi regime via a riveting journey across the France Pyreneesto and from there to Spain where they sailed to Portugal . Eventually they settled in New York City , where Werfel achieved a measure of success when his Song of Bernadette was made into a 1943 film starring Jennifer Jones. After Werfel's death in 1945, Los Angeles moved back to Alma where she was a major cultural figure until her death in 1964. New York
Damn. Now that's livin', huh?
It doesn't end there though. Mathematician / satirist / musician Tom Lehrer wrote a song about her. Here's how he introduced it.
Last December 13th, there appeared in the newspapers the juiciest, spiciest, raciest obituary that has ever been my pleasure to read. It was that of a lady name Alma Mahler Gropius Werfel who had, in her lifetime, managed to acquire as lovers practically all of the top creative men in central Europe, and, among these lovers, who were listed in the obituary, by the way, which was what made it so interesting, there were three whom she went so far as to marry.
One of the leading composers of the day: Gustav Mahler, composer of Das Lied von der Erde and other light classics. One of the leading architects: Walter Gropius of the Bauhaus school of design. And one of the leading writers: Franz Werfel, author of the song of Bernadette and other masterpieces. It's people like that who make you realize how little you've accomplished. It is a sobering thought, for example, that when Mozart was my age he had been dead for two years. It seemed to me, I'm reading this obituary, that the story of
was the stuff of which ballads should be made so here is one. Alma
Pretty mildly funny stuff, and actually a bit better than mildly funny; it's downright clever. Now here's a guy lip syncing to Lehrer's 1964 song, The New Math. This is a bit straight up funnier, and one of the things you'll realize is that Lehrer was sort of a godfather, in some ways, to geek pop.
Okay. That's fine. Now you want to see Lehrer do some scathe? Here's his take on Peter, Paul & Mary, and the other folk singer / protesters of the 1960's.
That's scathing because Lehrer himself was pretty liberal; it's just he liked punching hippies and folkies too.
But wait... could he be the spiritual godfather of Cracker?
Maybe. He wasn't the only guy to take on folkies and jam bands.
So like I just put Joel Gwadz into flashback mode with that... Anyhow, Lehrer was a pretty funny guy in his time. He sort of foreshadowed geek music and geek humor - They Might be Giants come to mind as a great example of brainy geek pop. I'm partial to this Craig Ferguson interpretation of their hit, Istanbul.
They Might Be Giants are doing a lot of pop/educational stuff these days - they're still popular but all their fans are 45, or 7.
Now, for no apparent reason, have some Cake.
Wow. Okay, fine. I guess I've inflicted enough of my weirdness on you. If you've lasted this long, you deserve some of the good stuff that I keep on the top shelf. Check out the Detroit Cobras.
Pretty nice, huh?
I'll let you off the hook easy with some nice Jaco Pastorius to carry you into the weekend. It's another version of The Chicken. Damned if Jaco didn't put the smooth in smooth jazz.
Have a good weekend y'all. See ya on the road.