Once again, events outside the trench alter the trajectory of my planned
screed. It hardly seems meet to rant about soundmen and clubowners when faced
with another international tragedy.

I grew up with the space program. I remember trying to see the first Sputnik
traveling overhead in the night sky. John Glenn went into space the day after
my 9th birthday. My childhood library was filled with the books of Willy Ley,
and many of my cherished toys were aeronautical in nature. I was also
involved in the science-fiction fan world in my adolescence, and I was at the
authors Alex and Phyllis Eisentein's apartment, with most of the rest of
Chicago's s-f fans, on the night of the moonwalk.

Today I heard a man-on-the-street interview with some clown from the Devon
and Western neighborhood who wondered if now everyone would start to think if
traveling in space was worth more than educating our kids. Hey, schmuck,
that's what the space program is all about! How many band instruments could
you buy for the price of one military Hummer? How many libraries could have
been funded with what was spent prosecuting Bill Clinton? How many more books
could you buy for your kids if you didn't have to fill your SUV with gas
every week and pay your cell-phone and cable (or satellite) bill every month?

In short, the space program is the least of our fiscal worries. If popular
opinion forces further cuts in the space program then all of the lives who've
been lost up until now have been in vain, and in a larger sense every
explorer in history who sacrificed his or her life have also been martyred in
futility. You, of course, have every right to vehemently disagree with me --
last I heard, it was still a free country (today's Sunday, right?), but dat's
da way I feel.

This week Steven Hashimoto will play with heavy heart at:

SUN. 2/2: THE GREEN MILL, 4802 N. Broadway, 8-10pm, with poet Marc Smith and
The Pong Unit (Mike Smith, guitar; Dave Flippo, keyboards; Ted Sirota, drums)
for The Uptown Poetry Slam.

TUES. 2/4: THE LEOPARD LOUNGE, 1645 W. Cortland, 10pm-1am, with The Steven
Hashimoto Quartet (Dan Hesler, sax; Neal Alger, guitar; Heath Chappell,

WEDS. 2/5: ANDY'S, 11 E. Hubbard, noon-2:30pm, with guitarist Pat Fleming.

FRI. 2/7: THE GREEN MILL, 4802 N. Broadway, 1:30-3:45am, with The Green Mill
Quartet (Barely Winograd, bari sax; Bob Long, piano; Rick Shandling, drums)
for the After-Hours Jam Session.

SAT. 2/8: CY'S CRAB HOUSE, 933 N. Milwaukee (in Wheeling, I think), 7-10pm,
with guitarist Zvonimir Tot (it's Zvon's gig -- thanks, big man).

I'm looking to fill Saturday Feb. 22 -- call me at 708-222-6520. Muito