Arts DEVO: This is where the pickle jars go

Pantry Zen, plus the music of Barbara Manning

Jason Cassidy

Sometimes, when I feel overwhelmed, I’ll go stand inside the pantry closet. I’ll open the door from the hallway in the middle of our house, turn on the light, step in and quietly scan the shelves—letting out a couple of long breaths until my heart rate slows.

Sugars … (siiiiigh)
Legumes … (siiiiigh)
Olives, Pickles, Tuna … (aahhhh)

Since I couldn’t see friends, family or anything else outside of my home over the COVID holiday season, I made a project of cleaning and organizing the pantry. I removed all rarely-/never-used appliances, gadgets and dishes, and transferred them to shelves in the garage or gave them away; I threw out dozens of long-expired cans of food and countless piles of grains in sticky bags tucked into every spare inch of shelf space; and I rescued a bowing plastic shelving unit by transferring 50 pounds of liquor bottles to a proper wooden perch.

The floor is now clear of all recycled bags and rogue sticks of 5-year-old spaghetti (I can actually walk into the pantry now!), and all food items on the shelves have been organized into categories and separated into dedicated washable containers, each labeled with, like, real labels: “Sugars”, “Legumes”, “Olives, Pickles, Tuna”.

Everything is in order.
I can find what I need.
It all makes sense. … (aahhhh)

Thank you for coming to Arts DEVO’s pandemic meditation seminar. Join me next week as I torture ear-splitting inner peace from the vacuum tubes of my 160-watt Peavey Mace guitar amplifier—or give into the madness!

Speaking of guitar noise

I recently had that most wonderful of experiences of having my hair blown back by an exhilarating burst of fuzzed-out guitar licks. The furious cluster of notes came out of nowhere to punctuate the first verse in “Cantor’s Mind Was Rocking,” a new song by Barbara Manning. That’s right, a brand-new song by Chico’s favorite musical daughter—released free of charge on Valentine’s Day.

Barbara Manning

It’s one of three tracks recorded for the Lions With Wings Bandcamp page, part of an initiative by Earthwise Productions of Palo Alto that’s brought together sheltering-in-place artists who’ve agreed to create “covid-protocol, social-distance bubble projects” and share the fruits. Manning’s three cuts include covers of Elliott Smith’s “Twilight” and Edgar Winter’s “Dying to Live,” plus her rockin’ tribute to mathematician Georg Ferdinand Ludwig Philipp Cantor, featuring that amazing guitar lead (by Tony “Fingers” Naranjo—of L.A. punks Thee Undertakers fame) and my favorite lyrics of the year so far:

Cantor loved a good debate
 / His data did the talking / 
Ripping math almost in half
 / Cantor’s mind was rocking

Manning has also put out a few other tunes during the pandemic—three more covers released in December on her own Bandcamp page, including a gorgeous version of one of my all time favorite songs, “So Much Wine,” by The Handsome Family. It’s just the sort of sad story set in winter that makes for a great Christmas song:

Listen to me, Butterfly / There’s only so much wine you can drink in one life / And it will never be enough to save you from the bottom of your glass

In addition to all of that fun, the local music legend is returning Butte County this month to help wildfire victims. Manning will be performing a live-streamed show from Jen’s Place in Paradise, next Friday, Feb. 26, at 8 p.m., and will be seeking donations during the set for Concow residents impacted by fires. Visit Manning’s Facebook page to find out how to watch.

1 Comment

  1. Jason please check out Lions With Wings MC Lars “In The Land of The Grasshopper Song” because it takes place in NorCal.
    Yes, Barbara Manning is a national indie treasure.
    Mark Weiss
    In Palo Alto

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