Jim Bartlett's Blog

40 Years of Boz

I have been fairly fortunate in that there's not much left on my rock concert bucket list. A full Bruce Springsteen show is about the last of it---having seen him during John Kerry's Madison presidential campaign rally in 2004, only a few feet from the stage, was merely an appetizer. I'd still like to see Fleetwood Mac, but only if Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie are part of the group, and in recent years. they have not always been.

Boz Scaggs was atop the list for a long time. He played an unusual gig in Madison in 2006, appearing on a bill with Ben Sidran, Leo Sidran, and Jorge Drexler in a show that was half-music, half-conversation. I saw him with Steely Dan's Donald Fagen and Michael McDonald as part of the Dukes of September in 2012. But a full Boz show remained a bucket-list item until the summer of 2015, when he played Potawatomi Bingo and Casino in Milwaukee. Just this week, Boz played Potawatomi again---and I was there again.

I have been a Boz Scaggs fan for 40 years now. This week in 1976, his first big hit, "Lowdown," was riding high on the singles chart, from the album Silk Degrees, an album no self-respecting fan of 70s music should be without. In September 1976, Boz performed "Lowdown" on Saturday Night Live, and it was pretty great. You can see the performance here.

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Sheep on a Plane

As you read this, I am on a business trip for one of my other jobs, a trip that requires me to fly. I don't particularly like to fly, but it has nothing to do with going 500 miles an hour while sealed in a tube six miles above the ground. It's the hurry-up-and-wait aspect of the whole thing.

The best way to be a happy airplane passenger is to consider yourself in a state of helplessness. Once you walk into the airport, there's not a thing you can do about anything that really matters. You're a sheep, and you're waiting for somebody to herd you from one pen to another. So when the airline announces that your flight has been delayed, or that you have to walk to the opposite end of the airport for a gate change, you don't concern yourself about it any more than a sheep would concern itself with being herded into a different pen. Better to take it that way then to blow a gasket at the gate agent, because gate agents are, in the end, as helpless as the passengers. If they could get you on the airplane any faster they certainly would, if only to get you and your sorry sheep's face out of their sight. To think that they have some sort of evil agenda—that they got out of bed that morning for the express purpose of messing with you personally, as some passengers seem to suspect—just isn't right.

I am still capable of being impressed by the idea that I'm six miles in the air, and I still find looking out the window more entertaining than almost anything I could bring along to read. Flying over the Midwest and seeing those neatly surveyed squares below always reminds me of Thomas Jefferson, whose idea such a systematic survey was, and who would no doubt enjoy being six miles in the air to see it.
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