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Crystal Ann Lea, Meg MacDonald, Rene Magallon 
Roscoe & Etta
"Stupid Pretty Face"
Tall Heights
"House on Fire"
Lake Street Dive
"Shame, Shame, Shame"
Chris Cornell
"When Bad Does Good"
"Back on the Chain Gang"
KT Tunstall
"The River"
A few columns ago, I wrote about my decision to stay in LA and abandon my plan to move to Nashville.  After the week our city and the surrounding areas have had, I’m more thankful than ever to be staying.  My mom back in Iowa would beg to differ but she’s easily distracted by chocolate; a few M&Ms and voila, the subject is changed.
Last week we watched coverage of another tragic shooting, this time in Thousand Oaks, CA, leaving at least 12 dead. We barely had time to learn the names of the victims and mourn for their families before the southland fires erupted. 
Mother Nature doesn’t wield a gun, but her fire power has been devastatingly destructive with the loss of life, homes, animals, historical landmarks, irreplaceable personal treasures and, as I type this, she continues to destroy.
Reporters interviewing people desperately looking for loved ones, trying to find out if their homes are still standing is impossible to watch and impossible not to. 
The blow becomes soul crushing when loved ones are directly affected.
All the text said was:  “My house is gone.”  All I could say back was: “I love you so much.”
We are all mourning Kim’s loss. If houses can hug, hers did.  It was a charming, warm retreat in Malibu Lake that was the scene for countless dinners, gatherings and stories over the years, and often used by so many of us as a getaway from the city.  She never said no to a friend who needed an overnight escape and the door was never locked.
We are rallying behind her, just as others will rally behind their friends and family.  And I’m so grateful I get to do it here, in person.  Nothing can be said through emails, texts or social media that compares to laughter through tears over a bottle of wine, remembering. 
Friends and situations like this are just some of the strings tying me to this place.  The others are my family; my sister Amy, her husband Dave and their two kids Dylan and Molly, and my brother Wade and his wife Jackie live here.  We are all a short drive from each other and we take full advantage.   
Even in the darkest times, we try and find humor to cope.   This week was no exception, and when Amy and Dave were evacuated from their Agoura Hills home, this house became theirs.
Ours is not a child-friendly home.  This is by design.  Sharp corners and fragile belongings abound.  Not a single socket is child-proofed, the stairs are hardwood and Emmett, our aging black lab, doesn’t like short people.
So when a six-year-old (Dylan) and a four-year-old (Molly), who make the Tasmanian Devil look sedate, come calling, the humor supplies itself.
We stashed the kids in the guest room, Amy and I took the master bedroom and Dave took the downstairs couch.  Maia had the good sense to be in Nashville for all this so slept soundly in a bed not covered in dog hair, stuffed animals and Curious George books and was spared the 2 a.m., 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. “Wake up I have to pee” announcements as well as the “I need more water” requests (it’s a vicious cycle).  I was on the side of the bed closest to the door, so while my sister snored noisily next to me, I sleepily obliged each time.  I’m still seeing spots.
To give their parents a break as they stayed glued to the TV for news on the fate of their neighborhood and to their phones checking in through their Ring cameras for the state of their house, I decided to take the kids out to dinner.
Me:  Ok guys where do you want to go?
Dylan:  The bagel store!
Molly: Black Dog!
Me (not wanting to go to either):  Ok, well they’re both closed. How about iHop?
Dylan:  Oh yeah!  I want green pancakes!
Me:  They have pancakes but if they’re green buddy, send them back.  They don’t make green pancakes.
Dylan:  Yes they do Aunt Meg!
I gave up the argument hoping there wouldn’t be a massive pancake-pout when they found out I was right.  As we left the house I yelled out to my sister, their mom.
Me:  Bye Amy!
Molly:  Yeah, bye Amy!
Once at the restaurant the waitress seated us and Dylan immediately asked for his green pancakes.
Me (rolling my eyes in what I assumed would be a bonding moment with her):  Sorry, I tried to explain to him that you don’t serve green pancakes.
Waitress:  Oh sure we do!  It’s a special for the new Grinch movie!
Dylan (pulling on her apron, leaned over and whispered loudly to her):  It’s ok, she knows other stuff.
The fires continue to burn and the loss isn’t over.  Thousands still don’t know the fate of their loved ones or homes.  There really are no words for so much pain.  I hope eventually the memories people have of their lives before this will be of some comfort.  Memories don’t burn.

"Our veterans left everything they knew and loved and served with exemplary dedication and courage so we could all know a safer America and a more just world. They have been tested in ways the rest of us may never fully understand...On Veterans Day, and every day, let us show them the extraordinary gratitude they so rightly deserve..."

– Barack Obama

“ of his most political musical statements in an already outspoken career.” Billboard
“As philosophical alt-rock standup goes, the man is still peerless.”
Rolling Stone
“...Low in High School returns him to his most utilitarian purpose: a spokesperson for youthful melancholy.” Pitchfork  

Roscoe & Etta
“Their blended voices brings a sense of calmness that really stands out.”
“Finding the right combination is essential in cooking, love and music. Roscoe and Etta have hit the jackpot with a combination of thoughtful lyrics, beautiful harmonies and great guitar work. Why didn’t they join forces sooner?” – WMMM
“a bubbly, polyphonic tune” – Vulture 
“[“New Birth In New England”] sounds like the spirit of Paul Simon has inhabited [Matthew] Houck” – UPROXX
““New Birth in New England” is an overwhelming display of color and genre” – Paste
 ‘Clean Eyes is a catchy song that Alternative can own!’
KXTE/Ross Mahoney
“Sounding like the best song The Killers never released, the Seattle native’s latest single is an upbeat synth-pop track with an anthemic    chorus…one of 2018’s best pop songs..." – Idolator  
SYML Music Video
Morrissey Late Late Show with James Corden
Kesha Live Acoustic
Noah Kahan Music Video
Elle Varner Music Video
Hippo Campus Music Video
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