Thursday, January 29, 2015

Day 24 - Commitment

I made a commitment to myself 3 weeks ago to write this blog every day for the next 28 days. I don't know how news columnists do it.  I've missed 3 days at least.  Life has interfered with my schedule. Dad always said I was just like a turkey....".focused as hell until you see something shiney". He wasn't far off.

Living by myself, and writing this blog,  has allowed me to examine closer that relationship that we all must have with ourselves. My son, wise beyond his years, urged me to foster and cultivate a better relationship with myself - perhaps so I would quit pestering the shit out of him all the time.

In that direct effort, and in an effort to be completely honest with myself right from the start, I've written my own "profile" - as if I were dating me online.   Do me a favor and see if anything sticks out for you?  I don't want to scare me off.

Tony Rosario
6'1- ish
200 glorious lbs - slightly pudgy with real promise in that direction
Favorite Color - Green (cash)
Favorite Food - All
Favorite Movie - Hulu
Favorite Book - Curious George (the classics)

I'm notoriously lazy and I don't like making commitments.  Especially to myself.  I never hold up my end of the bargain.  I drag ass screwing around till the  very  last minute,  and then at the last minute - I stick me with all the work.

I lie to myself compulsively all the time too, about everything -  from money,  to "joining a gym",  to "how-far-I can-throw-a-bellhop".

 I get drunk and sleep in late way too often - and then lie to myself about where I was the night before - and who I went home with. The worst is when I promise myself a pony ride at the park, and  then don't . Those sad little bloodshot eyes in the mirror just tear my heart out.

Also,when I wake up in the morning, my breath smells like ass.

I wasn't always unreliable. Not till I got nailed right in the left eye with an ice-ball,  in kindergarten, by my truly beloved's  older brother Doug. - a strapping young lad already at the grand age of 8  - with an arm like a rocket and a dead aim. I've been dumb as a post  every since.

I've always been lippy too- always shootin' my mouth off over something that I don't know near enough about.. Just ask anyone who's ever known me........... "Ya gotta knock him out to get him to shut up"....."right between the eyes"???"  Nothing short of a coma ever seemed to work.

After years of smoking everything from Chesterfields to Chesters' fields, and after drinking gasoline on at least half-a-dozen occasions, I now possess a voice like a 2-octave dump truck.   My confused fingers often stumble like drunks - even when I'm not.

 I brush my teeth with a soup spoon,  run my hair with a rake, and  I only dress up when I have to - and even then it's sketchy. My water-pistols might be loaded - but my cowboy hat and my wallet are both generally empty from wall-to-wall.

I was indeed "born in a barn".

Finally;  I have no chest hair and no significant ambition - not a bit.

What I need to know from all of you is:  Should I continue to have a relationship with this person. - and is playing a wooden box with my feet really just a cry for help? Do ducks waddle backwards, and what are ya gonna do for big fun on this Friday evening?

If you're anywhere near Moab tonight, stop in at Woody's and I'll sing right at you.  In spite of my profile I believe you will find me in possession of at least one or two redeeming virtues.

"Peace Out"
"Don't take any wooden nickels"
Until Manyana

Day 23- "First Time I Did It For Money / Why It's Never Healed"

The First Gig

The first time I did it for money I was 5 months shy of 15 years old .  It was a country band named "Leroy Joy and The Country Kickers". I was a little kicker. We played at the American Legion Hall in Crook, CO. My Mom drove me 26 miles on dirt roads in a 1962 Bonneville, from Peetz to Crook, and dropped me off with my employer for the evening.

We rehearsed for as long as it took the other 3 fellas to get through a fifth of Old Crow and some little white pills that came in a baggie instead of a bottle.(approximately 20 minutes)

The drummer that night,  A hispanic fellow whose name slips my mind, just got drunker by the minute at the gig. 30 minutes into the 2nd set he  fell over backwards behind the drum kit, boots straight in the air,  and passed out cold.  Made a helluva racket.  Leroy and the bass player put him in a booth to sleep it off, and since I played drums in the high school band, I played drums the rest of the night.

  I didn't know half the songs. Everyone was pretty drunk but me. I did my best to hang on for dear life - I limped that beat along like I was whippin' a chicken for the next two hours. It was pretty awful but, at the end of the night, I did get sloppy french-kissed, and a winked invitation for a long slow ride in a Buick, from a "lacquered-up" - "liquored-up" "older women" out of Julesberg.  That was enough to set the hook.  I've been flopping around on that string every since.

I also got paid $40 cash that night. Somethings never change.

That year I had become completely fevered with learning to play guitar. Couldn't decide between Jerry Reed or Jimi Hendrix.   As soon as I could shine enough shoes in town, I paid my own $30 , and bought a 3/4 size Stella acoustic guitar at Larsen's jewelry store.  The strings on that thing tore my fingers to shreds, but I stuck with it, night and day.

  If you'd have unscrewed the top of my head back then - a Les Paul electric guitar, a Playboy Bunny, and  3 Dog Night would have popped out. Our music teacher at the time, Jim Keezer,  had a Les Paul,  and I don't know that I'e ever lusted harder after anything in my life.  It was cherry sunburst - cream pickguard -  2 Humbucking pickups - and it weighed a ton.

It was shaped like a woman.  That alone was reason enough to appreciate the fine instrument.

Mr. Keezer  let me take that Les Paul out of the case a few times during lessons, and I might as well have been holding the nails that pierced Jesus' feet on the cross. I was breathless. I wanted to weep for it's sheer beauty.  I was beginning to understand what was possible with one of these things.

That next August one of my local heroes, a 20-s something farm-boy with a pirates swagger and formidable pitching arm,  Mike Bules, changed my game entirely. He kicked the door open to a whole another realm of whoop-ass - in a single afternoon

.  Mike had been a major jock in high school, just a few short years before. He was cocky as hell - laughed easy and quick. - a complete smart-ass. He worked at the elevator and he drove a bright yellow Dodge SuperBee with hood scoops, a spoiler, and a 383 Hemi.

More-so than any of those things I've just mentioned, he was extremely kind and funny.

Mike's mother was my Aunt Helen's cousin . Mike would buy me a Mountain Dew  for helping unload grain trucks at the elevator whenever I'd wander across the tracks to hang out.  He and Ron Nelson  would take me along to Sidney with their softball team in the summer to shag bats and open beers on the way home:-)

Ron was Mike's nearest neighbor and best friend. His mother Delores, one of the sweetest funniest women to ever yell 95+ decibel obscenities at a high-school football referee with white foam coming out of her mouth -  worked for my mother at the Cafe we ran in town.

As far as I could see it back then - If I was o.k. with these guys, I was probably gonna be o.k. These fella's always took the time to treat me like I was somebody worth hangin' out with - to encourage me and occasionally include me in some bit of covert  mischief -  that made us all related in my book.

I was unaware, but everybody in town knew by that time, that music and specifically playing guitar, had become an apostolic obsession for me. From sunup to lights-out,  I couldn't think of anything else.  I was driving my teachers, parents, my friends, even my dog - completely  nuts.  .  My best friend thought I belonged in a home. From the time I woke up till the time I went to bed - that was all I thought about.

That August Saturday afternoon at the Bules farmhouse we were sat down to lunch. Mike's Dad -Dean - and he were discussing rod-weeders and vaccination syringes over their mashed potatoes. They would, in good-natured teasing, press me about football and the girls at school - in between farm implements.

I don't remember what all was said.  I remember Mike got up from the table and walked out of the room.  When he came back in he was carrying an old  guitar case.  It looked old - and pretty beat up.  It was light chocolate brown and textured like alligator skin.  Mike laid it on the sofa a few feet away and pointed at it it - nodding to me.  "Take a look"

When I lifted the lid on that case I swear to Christ himself that I heard a choir of angels / NFL cheerleaders,  singing my name. It was a red Mahogany 1966 Les Paul Jr.- with one p-90 pickup- a volume- and a tone knob.  Most importantly, on it's signature dovetail shaped headstock - it read "Gibson" . Between the tuning pegs horizontally, in small scrolled and  faded white letters, it said "Les Paul Jr". I didn't understand.  I thought he was just showing it to me.

Mike reached down and closed the lid.  He looked at me with his signature smart-ass grin and pushed the guitar toward me. "You come back and work for me for 3 more Saturdays - and you can have it"  You just make sure you learn how to use the damn thing better than I did" - he chided. " Take it with ya - I know where you live"

 I couldn't even speak.  I was an odd screwy kid back then (go figure). Eaten up with the hormonal tornado that is 14, and ate up worse every time somebody dropped a dime in a jukebox or turned a radio on. Music tormented every secret dream I had back then, but I had no idea that anybody outside of my house was paying any serious attention to any of my  foolishness - to what I cared about, or to what I needed.

 I was wrong. They were.  Mike was. Turns out, the whole town was, and they all knew before I did.

I was playing that same Les Paul Jr. in Crook, Colorado the night I made my first $40. Not long after that I traded it off for another guitar that I , foolishly, thought was cooler at the time.  That was about 50 guitars ago now.

I wish I still had that Les Paul. It woud be worth around $20K now.   I still have everything that came with it though. That's worth more.

 I'm still all chewed up with the fever, and I still have these crazy wonderful friends and family that know me better than I know myself. Who see right through me, even when I think I'm flying under the radar. Who bless me with their kindness and grace at every turn, and who let me ride along so I can be that cool too.

 I still stop by Mike's place now and then when I go back home. Drink his coffee and talk about our kids, wives, and yesterdays.  He's still in my camp.  Still watching out for me.  They all are..

"Peace Out"
"Don't take any wooden nickels"
Until Manyana

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Day 22 - A Rich Man

I find the avarice of men - the wanton lust for money, power, etc - to be shameful, in any degree. All the money in China  isn't enough to compensate for the damage that bad manners and arrogant greed can create. It's pernicious and I vote we change that right now.

This weekend I witnessed first-hand,  a  snarky little snot-nose of a prep-school bellhop,  at a high-dollar resort  I was playing at - stand not 5 feet away  and watch me struggle with a cartload of guitars and speakers that I was trying to across the plaza and on the hotel elevator, to take to my gig,  one level up.

 The older model Kia I drive and the hurricane hair-do I usually sport, apparently signaled some crucial information to him upon my arrival regarding my tax bracket.  He wasn't about to move a muscle to help me. Looked at me sideways and actually smirked - the little prick smirked!

2 minutes later a quite lovely and, obviously-loaded, grande dame - with a sweatered Pomeranian and a Rolex on each ear- appears from out of nowhere. In a flurry of  near-curtsies? and slobberin' ":how-do-ya's"  - Rob Roy the door-boy just about breaks his neck to cut in front of me and put her on the elevator I had been waiting for , lick her Gucci ski-boots, and get a whiff of her Diner's Club Gold-card - all at the same time. He was grinning like a mongoloid chimp when she handed him a $10 tip.

 I could'a rung the insolent  little shit's neck - just for bad manners.  That poor dumb kid doesn't know what he was missing in passing up the opportunity to open the elevator door for both a wealthy women - and a rich man.

For the record, having money and being rich  aren't even close to the same thing where I come from.

Here's a little story about that:

He was the richest man in town.  Just about everybody in our little burg knew it.  He was not a trifling man either, but everybody respected George. His counsel was often sought by the locals, "unofficially",when disputes would come up between neighbors or kin around town.

He was honest as the day was long, fair to a fault, and everybody for 30 miles in every direction had at least one story about how George had done something or another for them, or their family, when they were in some sort of pickle. He couldn't seem to stand to see someone in a bad way, if he could help it.  He offered his assistance freely and he never asked a thing in return either. Never even mentioned it, like he and his family didn't even need what everybody else seemed to.

Seemingly unflappable, He was always pleasant and polite in public, soft spoken, sharp as a whip. Given to few words - and direct conversation.   He had served his country with distinction as a Captain in the U.S. Army  during World War II. When it was over he put away his bad dreams, came home a hero, bought a used tractor and a 3-bottom plow, married the smartest girl he knew, and took up the yoke of a dry-land wheat farmer, just like his father and grandfather before him.

When circumstances around town would occasionally fall to the chaotic, over some nonsense or another, George was often called upon as the voice of reason. He was on the school-board for what seemed perpetuity. He belonged to The American Legion and The Knights of Columbus, and was always being asked to be on some farm or church committee or board.

Unlike the rest of the "bib overall" crowd, you rarely ever saw him down at the Co-op in the mornings, drinking coffee from styrofoam cups and smartin' off about the government. He was never to be found playing pitch or rolling dice  for red beers at the Hot Spot for an hour or two,  like so many of his less-successful "gentleman" farmer counter-parts.

 He was apparently above all that. Unlike a good many of the locals, the man didn't drink to any significant degree - The wine at communion accounting for the lions share of his alcohol intake. 

He volunteered every August to work the American Legion hamburger booth at the fair, never missed a high school football & basketball games on Friday nights if he could help it,  He always graciously attended the occasional funeral when someone died - or wedding when someone wasn't careful, and he wouldn't dream of missing Sunday Mass with his wife and kids at The Sacred Heart Catholic Church in town.  These forays seemed to be his only indulgences or activities away from the farm.  

He kept to home and his wife and children. His corrals, buildings,  and machinery were kept ship-shape and ready to work at all times. He proudly loaned his farm equipment out all the time - to just about anybody around town who needed it . A small handful of the old sour-puss n'er-do-wells  would make cracks that he was "just showing off" or "putting on airs". That didn't keep those same people from turning to George first when misfortune would find their doorstep. 

For his pleasure, George only seemed to enjoy hard work, and plenty of it.  That's all anybody I ever knew could remember the man doing..He farmed an entire section of ground that his home place sat on, and another 320 acres on the east side of the highway. He ran as many as 50 beef cattle at a time in good years. Most years he ran about half that many. He was not a man given to foolishness or idle behavior. He might have known what the word vacation meant but I truly doubt if he ever took one. 

His wife, Dorys, bought new school clothes for their 5 children every fall after harvest. They would butcher a cow and a hog for meat through the winter. Dorys substitute-taught at the school in town, and they were never hard-pressed in need for anything.

George and  Dorys taught their children well about all things financial. Taught them to save birthday and Christmas money. How to keep themselves from spending their pocket money on candy or other foolishness like other kids. How to set aside dollars for the collection plate at church, and how to open a bank account at Sidney National Bank with $10. How to patiently, with diligently frugal  behavior, watch that grow into much, much more. 

His sons and daughters all bought and raised at least one or two calves each spring, with their own money. Raising their respective critters to market weight, and then using the proceeds to bolster their bank books - providing  themselves with "pocket-money" for non-neccessities such as a soda-pop at the ball games, or a movie ticket at the Fox theatre in Sidney once in awhile. They would all follow their fathers example in establishing a firm financial foundation  for themselves.

His kids were all taught from their earliest recollection, , that there is no excuse for low intelligence. Taught to work hard and study harder. They were all exceptionally smart,  and expected to excel in school - to earn substantial scholarships to good universities.

George had a "nearly new" Massey-Ferguson combine with a 30' header  for harvesting his wheat and millet, and two John Deere Tractors for pulling plows, planters, manure-spreaders, and the occasional tree-stump. The newer of the 2 even had air-conditioning and an enclosed cab.

 He changed his oil in his old pickup every 3000 miles and traded his family cars in for a "nearly-brand-new" 4-door - generally off the back row at the Chevy dealership in Sidney - every 4 to 5 years.Usually in coincidence with one of his 5 children either getting a drivers license, or going off to college.

When the news came  that George was sick, it spread across the county like tear-gas.  Everyone that knew him choked a little.  He and Dorys had gone to a big hospital in Denver at  the family doctors urging, over some irregularities in Georges yearly checkup. He'd been trying to shake a disturbingly worsening cough since late winter, with no success

The minute he wheeled into the admitting room in Denver,  things started going downhill fast.  Each test confirmed their worst unspoken fears.  "Cancer" - "inoperable".

There was no way of knowing how horribly aggressive his cancer was.  I can only imagine what the drive home from the city - 4 hours  in a car alone with his wife of 40 years - must have been like.

With every centimeter that the wheat in the fields grew that spring, with every changing shade of vibrant green that turned daily toward the brilliant yellow-gold  it would soon  become under the hot June sun  - Georges condition worsened.

 In the coming weeks every member of his family publicly displayed their grief  only sparingly - They sadly and proudly, all held their heads with the quiet dignity that George was so noted for himself. They comforted everyone else before themselves.

Anthropologist speculate ad-infinitum about the importance of non-verbal communication among ancient tribes and clans.  In any tribal family there are floods of information that pass non-verbally through nods, and winks, hand signals, body language, etc. Mountains of common "survival-dependent" information, social information, spiritual information,  shared among members of a single clan. Their spiritual ideology and moral inclinations are unified and upheld from one generation to the next, solely through the stewardship of their leaders and holy people. Their healers

 In our town, George was a leader and his wife, "Aunt Dorys", was a healer. They believed in God and the church, they believed in the goodness of each other, and they believed in the goodness of their children and their neighbors.  All his life George had quietly believed it was his job to give all that goodness a place to grow in, and plenty of sunlight, . As a result of their stewardship, we all believed it too.

At his funeral, that's where you understood the full scope of Georges wealth.  The church was full out to the sidewalk and packed up clear to the rafters. There wasn't a dry eye in the place and every single one of us had been given something at one time or another by the man. It looked like a hundred cars in that line that crawled away from the church that day. Out to our little country cemetery, small and lonesome, a quarter mile north of town on the same dirt road that led to Georges farm.

The wheat in the fields around the cemetery  was tall and brilliant gold that day, and just hours away from the magic 13% moisture content acceptable for harvesting.

As soon as the final "Amen" was sang at the graveside, every farmer and able bodied hand in attendance went home, changed out of their suits, and without any significant discussion amongst themselves - immediately drove their own combines and grain trucks to Georges fields first,  before their own.

They descended on the rolling fields of gold  like a swarm of  locust,  the instant  the moisture test at the elevator read 13%.  Nearly 100 men, 20-30 combines and nearly twice that many trucks - made quick work of over a section and a half of wheat before the sun fell that day, and as soon as all the grain was in the elevator - the weight tickets handed to Dorys - everybody went home and began cutting their own fields the next morning.  That's what George would have done for any one of them.

I'll always be proud of my home.  To Hell with politics - When the chips are down, you help your neighbor before you help yourself.  It's an unspoken point of honor among members of the tribe.

When he passed I don't believe George had any more money,  than anyone else around town. If he did it didn't matter. He was rich - with or without it.  He had the well-deserved admiration and respect of nearly every soul on legs from one side of the county to the next. He left more friends than he could count and he passed a legacy of dignity to his children and theirs. He lived simply and in doing so, through good stewardship and Christian decency, changed peoples lives around him  for the better. A simple farmer.

You can't buy that at Wal-Mart

"Peace Out"
"Don't take any wooden nickels"
Until Manyana

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Day 21 - The Anniversary

What  a life I lead:-)  Last nights gig at Montanya was superb:-)  Huge thanks to Karen and Brice Hoskins and their entire staff for having me. The audiences are getting younger - I'm getting older.  I don't know why it surprises me so when young people dig my hillbilly ass, but they sure seemed to last night. It must be the rakish tilt of my $3 Stetson.

I'll take another run at 'em this afternoon at the Sweet Spot up on the ski mountain .

After the gig I got to hang out with my dear friend Dawne Belloise - a delightful red-headed firecracker sprite of a woman.  She's a singer / journalist/ free spirit/  and working performer herself. We yukked it up like bankers and swallowed giggle water till our knees were fuzzy, Then she cooked me wild chanterelle mushrooms, sausage, and eggs to go with my horse-water. The woman has mad survival skills.

Later in the evening when - due to turbulent wind conditions between my ears, my kitchen chair began to buck a little more than I was cowboy for,  Dawne  graciously showed me to my stall for the evening, a very nice  cozy stall with a down comforter and decorator curtains, where I sailed off in gurgling burps to a dreamy slumber - thanking God for Fireball Whisky and praying that my hooves would turn back to hands before morning.

I talked to my old pal Clem this morning.  We have been best buds since the 6th Grade. We laughed our butts off like we always do. His wonderful parents, Maynard and Norma are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary today.

When we were kids his parents always treated me like I was just another one of their own.  Made me mind my manners at the table, wash behind my ears,  and hold still during church. They weren't fooling' around when it came to raising kids.  They had 11 of them and never flinched a minute.

Maynard worked his ass off every day without fail. Running a farm, raising livestock,  and keeping 12 souls fed and clothed.  The real front liner though was Norma.  She ran the house with the precision of an Israeli SWAT team.  No Baloney, no excuses,  no man left behind.  The women may well be the most brilliant military strategist of the past 200 years.

That house was always ship-shape clean, laundry always folded,  and dinner was on the table at 6 every night. Everyone in attendance had ears    and fingernails washed and  the chicken didn't get touched until everybody had bowed their head for grace. As soon as the food started making it's way around the table the laughing would begin.

Those lunatic white people would torment the hell out of one another.  Normas' sense of humor was lightning quick and wickedly irreverent. . She passed it on to every one of her kids.

They'd laugh at each other and laugh at themselves - like the whole damn thing was just a big joke.  Nobody was safe either. If you were sitting at that table you were gonna laughed at. And you were gonna laugh at somebody else,  and you were gonna like it. You couldn't stay unhappy in that house for very long before somebody would have you giggling in your gravy. Their table was a pretty fun place to be for a kid like me.

When we were in trouble for something else "stupid", a regular occurrence for my compadre-in-chaos and I - I was scared to death of Norma's eyebrows. That's how you could tell you were in for it.  Maynard didn't really have to say much to make a fella fall in line and march right.  He had the "look".

When he was perturbed it was cold as ice  and hard as nails - like a mob hit man.  I figured he'd just dispatch me with a ball-peen hammer  to the forehead and give my Mom one of his kids.  They all minded better than me.

Clem and I were ornery kids; thick as thieves and truly inventive.  Over the ensuing years, there's no way his parents, or mine, could have thought of everything we should have been told not to do.  I own a few of the gray hairs on those celebrated  heads today,  I'm sure.

Between under-age 3.2 beer, teenagers in cars,  town girls, getting shot at by drunk janitors, and stealing watermelons for sport - Clems' folks and my Mother, all had their hands full.  I will be indebted to Maynard and Norma until the day I die for the restraint they showed in not drowning both their son and I in a diaper pail, when we all knew they had plenty of good reason to.

Clem runs a bank now, His brothers and sisters are all solid and good successful people. Kind and honest - completely devoted to their families -  Just like their folks.  Me…….well…………who knows?   I'm not complaining one little bit. :-)

That family showed me how to laugh.  They showed me how families laugh.  I learned how to celebrate and how to take joy out of a plain old day. There's no way to ever repay that.  Sometimes laughter is all I have and it's nearly always enough :-)

Thank You and Happy 60th Anniversary Maynard and Norma -You Crazy Kids :-)

"Peace Out"
"Don't take any wooden nickels"
Until Manyana

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Day 20 - "Uncle Francis"

Uncle Francis was one of the most beautiful old souls to ever walk on two legs. He was my Grandmas younger brother and legendary in the family for both his accomplishments and his shortcomings.

To this day, I've  never seen bigger ears on a human in my life.  They stuck out of the side of his head, almost exactly like donkey ears - only rounded on the ends, instead of pointed. They would have looked inhuman and out-of-place  had it not been for the toothless jug-head grin planted squarely between those twin  aerofoils of flesh.

The lenses on his old tortoise-shell and wire rim glasses were always splotched with fingerprints and greasy smears.  I was about 6.  I would sit on his lap directly in the line of a face full of whisky-breath, and gently as I could, pull his glasses from the bridge of his nose - hold them up to his mouth so he could breathe on them to make them foggy, like GrandMa did with hers. I'd wipe them clean on my dirty t-shirt, and if  they passed muster I'd put them right back where I got them.

Uncle Francis would just smile through rheumy red eyes and chuckle a little - slur an  "att'away Son" in my dirrection, -and sometimes he'd even fish a 50 cent piece out of his shirt pocket (where he kept his drinking money) and stuff it in my palm - along with the secured promise that I wouldn't spend it all in one place.

He'd been sent France in WWI  as a cook near the front. Somehow the man won  a bunch of medals for bravery.  Took 2 bullets, one in the calf and the other in the left cheek of his ass,  from a German Mauser. When he was drinking you didn't dare bring it up - he'd show you the bullet holes.

 He was also a superb guitar-picker. He had enjoyed a brief career as a cowboy singer / guitar picker of some renown in his end of Kansas back in the early 40s' .I heard from a few folks that "Cowboy Jack" was truly something special in his day.  They said his voice could damn near make a person cry for the sweetness in it.

Uncle Frances never met a whisky jug he didn't like.   He'd been in consistent decline from the first time he unscrewed the first cork. In 30 years he had drank and whored his way through 6 wives, 4 kids, countless jobs, and countless opportunities to "straighten up" and be like his brothers Albert and Calvin

My Grandma and my Mom were the only ones in the family that would have too much to do with him after awhile..  They'd still let him in the house when he'd show up liquored to the gills, reeking of pool-hall whisky and Old Spice  They'd put him to bed in the back room and feed him coffee and toast when he came too.

When he was sober I don't think I ever knew a more sensible or intelligent man either. He was pretty wise about just about everything you could ever think of.  Funny too. His stories were just the best, and always side-splitting hilarious when he told them.  Frances could twist hat rubber face of his into a million expressions - everyone of them "piss-your-drawers"  funny.

When I was in the hospital once,after an appendicitis surgery,   He poured water in his brand new straw cowboy hat  and then put it on just to make me laugh . I about busted a stitch for laughing so hard.  It hurt like hell  and GrandMa like'to smacked Frances stupid with her purse for doing it.  Called him a "God-damned Clown".  I thought he'd lost his mind but I laughed my butt off.  He'd do stuff like that all the time.  Act the fool like no sane grownup would ever think acting.  I loved him.

The absolute BEST though...... was when Francis would play the old guitar that we always seemed to have stashed in our closet. I

He'd often show up on our front porch, knee-walking shit-faced with his hat screwed on sideways, from a night of carousing downtown.  Frances had been a snappy dresser in his heyday.  He didn't believe in going uptown unless he could make a good impression.  When he would venture out for an evening of adult pleasure at the local watering holes, his old brown cowboy suit was always pressed with creases in the trousers so sharp you could cut yourself on them.

Within 72 hours, after riding a bar stool for a couple days and whatever other nonsense Francis may have gotten into, and  the creases in those chocolate colored pin-stripe trousers would fade and slacken, giving way to the myriad of wrinkles and splotched boozey stains that overwhelmed them. Like a once beautiful structure fallen to the decay of an inner-city slum.

Made me think of what those streets in France that he'd told me all about, must have looked like when Uncle Francis and the rest of the Army finally got to Paris.

As soon as he was planted at the kitchen table, with some guidance from both Mom and I - Mom would put a hot cup of coffee in front of him - I would grab his cowboy hat, screw it down over my ears, and haul ass for the closet.  I'd dig out his guitar from behind the laundry and run it out to the kitchen just as fast as my legs would motate.

The man was an amazement.  He could be dead drunk with drool running outta both sides of  his mug, eye's like pissholes in a snowbank - and the minute that guitar would hit his hand he's straighten right up.  His brow would crease and the cigarette dangling from his lip would stick straight out of his mug at 90degrees with the authority of a smokestack. He'd turn his head like he was listening to a sea shell,  and listen closely to each string as he picked at at with  stained yellow finger-nails.

He'd judiciously tweak and pry gently at the tuners and then, just like a shot, he'd throw his head back and start singing loud as a foghorn - "The day I Took My Jenny.......Out Behind The Barn"  .  It was funny and Mom would make him quit before he said all the verses.  My favorite was "I'm So Lonesome I could Cry"  I always wanted to hug him when he was done.  It sounded, and looked,  like he meant every word. "When he'd sing "Old Rugged Cross" sometime his voice would start to shake and Mom would wipe at her eyes. She said it made her think of GrandDad.

When Mom wasn't looking - Francis would sneak a half-pint bottle out of his his back pocket and pour little splashes in his coffee.  He'd wink at me and put his index  finger to his lips - our little secret.  I never told on him either.  We had an understaanding.

Alas my covert cooperation would ultimately be to no avail .  Each and every time we went through this scenario, Frances would treat us to a cowboy music mini-concert  with that old guitar.  He'd sing and play through blurry eyes with increasingly fumbling hands and much good-natured cussing and laughter.  - Until his balance would betray him due to the  whisky, and he would fall out of his chair..

He'd come tumbling out of the chair like he'd been pushed. Guitar would go one direction and his glasses would go the other - the show was over. He liked big endings.  I would get on one side of him, and Mom on the other, and we'd hoist him, muttering and giggling,  over to the sofa and cover him up with an old patchwork quilt. I'd put his guitar back in the closet and head back outside.  Mom would carry on as usual.

I knew , even then, that whisky caused a lot of problems - for almost everyone I knew.  For the life of me I couldn't understand back then, why anybody would fool with it to begin with.  It smelled like ASS!! Little did I know how easily my opinions would change in the coming years.  Back then,I didn't much care for brussel sprouts either. At some point I changed my mind.

Francis would show up like that every now and then , with some regularity.  He'd stay for a day or two - or for a month or 6.  I always loved having him around.  We were buddies.  He would listen to me like I had something to say.  I never knew a kinder soul.  He knew every dirty joke that had ever been told, and he'd let me have sips off his beer when nobody was looking.  When I was 12 he taught me to drive a stickshift.

He was in a hospital in Denver the last time I saw him. After years of too-hard living, his heart and his lungs were just plain worn out.  I was just getting ready to move to Nashville to try my hand as a songwriter.  I wanted to tell him, more than about anybody, what I was up to and how hopeful I was for the future.

 His skin was grey and paper-thin on the back of his hands.  Tubes and needles and beeping lights - the morphine for the pain  had him fogged into semi-consciousness. He squeezed my fingers and winked.  That was all that was left.  I knew he fully understood - and he knew that I didn't.

His eyes stared straight at me for the longest time and I remembered the way his cowboy hat felt on my head all those years before. I tried to stop the tears, for his sake, but I couldn't. In that instant, that tired dying old man reached out to me and held me in his arms while I cried like a baby. He let me try say goodbye to him. To tell him everything he meant to me.  I couldn't....still can't.

He rides with me now, everywhere I go. My silent partner and adviser.  I trust him because I know he's still watching over me - that he loves me - and that he understands me.  I know he's already forgiven me before I even fall.  Wish I had that old hat.

"Peace Out"
"Don't take any wooden nickels"
Until Manyana

Friday, January 23, 2015

Day 19 - "Shotgun Hummus / Burned Fingers/ Ovaries"

Wallabee, Wallabee, Wallabee.... It cleanses the palate and prepares the tongue for precise erudition.  Here goes..,.I strike my muse on her delicate butterfly  knee with my little tin hammer - and she starts spittin' out nonsense like a jabberwockie

Some questions deserve to be answered, others defy logic at every turn.

The "Right-to-Life" coalition staged a candlelight vigil/march through downtown Grand Junction last night. I would guess 2-300 of these delightful and well-intentioned souls were out there - each carrying a single slender  burning candle, as if to the manger of Bethlehem.

 I had to traverse the march to get my gear into the gig.  Nearly got hot wax on me.  If I'm not paying for the hot wax "up-charge" - and you're not an NFL cheerleader in a teddy  - I find it presumptuous and rude.

 I saw a woman I even knew in the march. She looked the other way when she saw me- I think a little embarrassed.

I am also right-to-life;...... as in - "Right-to-MY-Life", as well as "Right-to-YOUR-Life".

Fellas we have no business weighing in on this one . It only spells trouble....we are not effectively qualified to mandate in the area of womens reproductive organs -  anymore than they're entitled to mandate that, upon entering into any  committed monogamous relationship with a significant other; - that our male testicles be surgically removed and placed in a very nice Chambreaux crystal glass of preservative formaldehyde, on a lacy pink doily, on the break-front nightstand beside the picture of her cat Boo-Boo.(A very well groomed Persian mix).

For our own self-preservation fellas,all politics aside. - any further ovarian interdiction by men  has got to stop.

 Do any of you really think that any male, apart from Richard Simmons,  is qualified to tell any woman what to do with her ovaries? If you said yes, you're way dumber than I look.   When's the last time any of you meat-whistles won an argument with your "significant other" - that didn't end up with you wishin' you would'a just shut up to begin with? Hell I can't even get one to change a flat tire in a rainstorm when I'm too drunk to say "noodle". We'll get into that later.

Anyhow, As I sat on my wooden box singing revolutionary songs of disenchantment last night, pedaling like
I was being chased, it came to me.  Right then and there, it hit me. I started the: International  "Right-To-"just my life, and nobody elses'"-Foundation. I held my own march.  Walked all the way down to 3rd . Burnt my fingers on my AC/DC lighter in front of the Rockslide and nearly spilled my cocktail.

Unfortunately I was forced to stop my march before I got too far;  both by  dangerous weather conditions (under 45 degrees), and a Grand Junction Police officer. A frightening man with an itchy trigger-finger and his hand on his loaded banana.  The fight will continue, but I just want to let folks know we're out there.  We're a subsidiary of the International "Don't be a Dick"  Foundation.

Tonight I will be at The Palisade Cafe for fun and foolishness with my pal T-Bone.  We talked about him the other day.  A Lincoln Burger is $5- a Beer is $4 - and I'll table dance for $40 but you damn-well better keep your nut-hooks to yourself.....this time.

 If I show up at the trailer in my underwear and a sombrero again, the dogs are gonna start talkin'

It's time for me to take a break now and go kill something to eat.  Today I'm making shotgun.hummus.

Using good quality duct tape, simply strap a 20 oz can of Del-Monte Garbanzos  to the end of a 20 guage loaded with #4 target shells. When all ingredients are prepared, aim and shoot at a large (8 feet x 8 feet minimum) sheet of pre-greased galvanized tin leaning against the barn. After you've finished pulling the trigger just scrape the fresh hummus of the wall with a spatula and season with a blend of cardamom and chicken feathers.  A yummy fun treat you can make right in the comfort of your own driveway. (remember to spit the lead out)

Peace Out
"Don't take any wooden nickels"
"Until Manyana"

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Day 18 - "Nobody Told Me It Was Gonna Hurt"???"

6:21 A.M.  The dogs of winter have risen.  I mean Elvis & June Carter.

2 minutes ago they were wrapped in their blankets, on what was once- not so long ago - my bed. Like a giant 2-pak of doggie chalupas.

Out of nowhere - perhaps a coyote may have broken wind a half-mile or so away -or perhaps a Slim-Jim wrapper rustling out of control in the 5 mph wind out by the highway - something huge  heralding either imminent danger or potential dinner,  happened right outside the trailer -and my two canine killers come to life in an explosion of electric invigorated life; joyful eager ear flapping, insistent frantic barking, and vigorous tail-thumping -  like their switch got flipped from "off" straight to "puree". I stand  amazed.

I wonder if that's what I look like when I've had too many Fireballs and I'm trying to get lucky?

I can't believe we're at Day 18 already with the blog. I'm as surprised as anyone.  It's been really fun - like opening up an old box of toys from childhood and reminiscing over each one.  Most of my childhood has actually taken place in my adulthood, thankfully - so I still appreciate toys. (Don't lie girls- so do you ;-)

I was busy in my childhood getting my PhD in "how shit works".  I spent a lot of time with the radio and a lot of time in front of the bathroom mirror.  If I wore Grandpas old Sunglasses, and put a handful of Brylcreem in my hair - I was Roy Orbison.  If I put shoe polish on my hands and face along with the sunglasses - I was Ray Charles.  If I put the shoe polish on my shirt and washed my face off, ditched the glasses and reloaded on Brylcreem - I got a whippin', but I was Johnny Cash. There were so many directions for a budding talent to go in.

Mom had a record player in a suitcase with a flip-top lid and Stereophonic sound - along with a massive collection  of .45s  that filled 3 apple boxes covering the entire back seat of a 1962 Fairlane.  This car would today house a family of 8.  Mom loved her Rock & Roll but she flat worshipped Hank Williams, Kitty Wells, Ernest Tubb, Dave Dudley, Johnny Horton, Lorretta Lynn, etc. - she was a country, country girl .

We moved around a lot up until we moved out to Peetz.  22 houses in 11 years.  A lot got left behind on occasion, but Mom's suitcase record-player never did.  That and a stack of records was always the first thing we'd grab on the way out the door.

 I started shining shoes in the bars and in front of the drugstore in Sidney when I was about 10. .A quarter a pop. I always got good tips and as soon as I got my first $30, I bought my own record player.

My next $30 (after I spent $7 at the Ben Franklin lunch counter on milkshakes for my best pals Jimmy Stark and Henry Scheinholz)  all went to the jewelry store next to Western Auto. They sold guitars in a little corner, clear at the back of the store. 

They had a 3/4 size Stella acoustic guitar hanging on their wall that I was in a flat fever over- real wood with a cool geometric-y decal around the sound hole - brand new for $30. I knew if I was gonna be a cowboy, I needed a pony - and that Stella guitar was it. The strings were nearly 1/4" off the neck and old enough to have rust on them.  It had been hanging on that wall for a long time ...............just waiting for me.

I put $5 down and every Saturday for the next 3 weeks I took my shoeshine money down and plunked it down on that guitar. The day I paid of that $30 I walked past those cases full of diamond rings like they were nothin'. Like I had something in my hands exponentially more valuable than paltry gems.

With Henry and Jimmy right beside me, me in the middle ,my instrument firmly in grasp, we were ruling the street that day. I was waving my future sucess,  like it was Excalibur.  Most of the locals knew me, and most had heard either the "drank turpentine" or the "head injury" rumors - no one really took my behavior as unusual, just a little sad.

We all 3 went our separate ways and headed home for supper later that afternoon. As I carried my new treasure in one hand and my shoe-shine box in the other, through our front door that evening' -  I felt the confident self-assuredness of a man who knows he is on the cusp of greatness.

After picking at a too-large serving of tuna noodle casserole for 15 agonizingly long minutes, and after successfully dumping my mandatory serving of green beans behind the heat register (a whipping offense) without detection, so as to produce the required "clean" plate , I was released from the table to pursue my budding music career.

 Had I known then what I know now, I wouldn't change much - but I sure would have bought me some lighter guitar strings to start off with.  I had watched Uncle Francis play his old guitar when he was dead drunk, and if he could do it, I knew I could. Unfortunately I greatly overestimated both my capabilities and my threshold for pain.

I sat on the sofa all that evening with my new guitar. At first in complete bliss, but within minutes -  breathing hard through gritted teeth and growing more and more frustrated with each squawk and thud; the wisdom of my purchase beginning to come into question.

 I knew what it was supposed to sound like and what I had didn't sound anything like that. All of a sudden that fretboard  now seemed to be about 3 blocks wide.I tried pressing the strings down  like Uncle Francis did but I wasn't having any luck at all. . I was squeezing so hard it nearly sliced my fingers in two but it still just made a thud. and made my left hand hurt like the dickens!!!.  I tried turning the tuning pegs a few revolutions to see if that helped but it just made it worse.

 I was beside myself with frustration.  By the time Mom whistled up bedtime I was in tears and mad as a wet hen.  I could'a bought 10 hot wheels and the whole Hot Wheels Starter Track Kit for $30. I wanted to burn that damn guitar.

I went to sleep that night rubbing the ends of my fingers and  trying to calculate how many loafers I would
have to buff to get my Official Hot Wheels Starter track - and at least 3  new cars to go with it. I was also pretty sure , at that very moment, that I did indeed want to go ahead and be, either a policeman, or an astronaut after all.

I couldn't go back uptown until Saturday so I was stuck with the guitar until at least then.  Maybe I could get my money back

 In the meantime a  friend of my Mom's who was also a DJ at KSID - I don't even remember his name - was at our house visiting, a day or so later. He picked up my little guitar from the couch and  - miracle of miracles - HE TUNED IT!!!  Wow!!!! Completely different ballgame.

He played pretty well as I recall. Well enough for my developing brain to fire a fresh volley of "renewed-optimism" endorphins back and forth across it's  synapses. Perhaps I could make this work after all.

For some odd reason, even as a child, even with mountains of evidence to the contrary, - I just assumed that I was at least as smart and usually quite a bit smarter than anybody on legs.  I may have miscalculated my position.

I could wiggle my ass like Elvis. I did it in the living room all the time.  I could sure as hell holler like little Richard.  I did it every time I got  the belt. This guitar was all I needed and we were off to the races.

Mom wasn't going to wait tables anymore and we'd have lots of money - I could have all the Hot Wheels I wanted and a brand new Stingray bicycle. And the next time one of Moms' knot-head boyfriends got drunk and slapped her around, I could pay somebody big, to drown the son-of-a-bitch in a gunny sack.  That'd fix their wagons.

All I had to do was figure out how to operate that damn guitar.The rest was gonna be easy....I just knew it.

Mom waited tables at the Ben Franklin during the days back then, and cocktailed at nights down at The Mill Bar & Lounge. She worked her ass off in a "one-horse town" dive beer joint and a "greasy-spoon" blue-plate diner from sunup to 2 am  at least 6 days a week, for wages so paltry it was embarrassing,  just to cover the bills and keep me fed - and it still wasn't enough at the end of the month.

We were always hand-to-mouth back then, and we ate a lot of macaroni and hot dogs. A couple days after her friend had renewed my fervor by tuning and actually playing my new guitar,  She surprised me.

she came home from work in her white waitress uniform,  big ketchup and hamburger grease splotches all over it, and  hollered me out of my room. "JOHN ANTHONY!!!!! GET IN HERE....NOW!!!!"

I wasn't sure what I might have done wrong since morning. I couldn't remember anything real bad since the last time I got paddled.It took a couple swallowed breaths for me to decipher that the holler wasn't a "gonna whip your butt" holler - it was a "This is gonna be good" holler. Whenever she called me by my middle name it was a toss-up.

 I strutted out, fearless. There was a large white Ben Franklin sack on the kitchen table.  It was stapled shut with the employee 10% discount receipt (blue) attached to it, and when I looked up at her she just smiled past a big cloud of cigarette smoke, and pointed at it non-chalantly with her left hand - a lip-sticked  Kool stuck between her detergent-reddened fingers.    "Open it" she winked.

 I thought it might have been a couple Classics Illustrated comics - she'd do that some times.

I tore open the sack and produced "Mel Bay" Vol's 1 & 2- Easy Guitar for Beginners. These books had pictures.They showed you where to put my fingers.  This was HUGE!!!!  I really could figure this out.  I just knew it, and now, so did my Mom.

Mom was a teenage dreamer and motherhood fell on her like the proverbial grand piano from the rooftop. she wasn't prepared to do it alone but she did the absolute best she could. The day I brought that cheap guitar in the door she started dreaming too. She saw something in me that gave her tired soul flight.

She saw it when she'd walk by the bathroom and find my Brylcreem mini-pompadour screaming into a hair brush to "Ring Of Fire". She saw it when she was holding me down and scrubbing the shoe polish off my face with turpentine, after "Georgia".

She didn't hound me at all about the guitar books - she'd just ask once in awhile. She'd lie and tell me things sounded "better" even when they didn't. She put up with the thuds and the squawks and the pops.  Later she tolerated my drumsticks pounding on everything in sight. A few years later, when I was 14 and just starting to gig for money,  she would drive me to my gigs with a local country band.

She passed away last November at 74, and I think about her a lot now, when I'm singing some song she liked. She asked me to sing to her a couple days before she died and it still made her smile.

  Mom sacrificed a lot, and fought through her own mountains of misery just to raise me. I've been blessed to do and see alot of things in the years since that old guitar from the jewelry store, just because of those sacrifices. It's been nothing short of wonderful, and I appreciate every minute of this life absolutely.

I am grateful beyond measure for all of it. That said:  I'd give every bit of it back right now if, for just a minute,  I could just hold my mother, Patsy Anne Call; and that old Stella guitar - just one more time. Kiss her warm wrinkled cheek and tell her Thank You - sing her to sleep one more time.

Peace Out"
"Don't take any wooden nickels"
Until Manyana.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Day 17 - "Why Wolves Eat Their Young"

The statute of limitations has long since run out so I'm gonna come clean.  I did it.  By the time the sun came up everybody in town knew I did it.  The old-timers were already bitchin' a blue streak and pitchin' a fit, all over me, by the time 10 o'clock Mass started at The Sacred Heart Catholic Church that morning.

"The crazy little bastards gone too far this time" ......................"we should drown him" "let's pray". Incidentally - it wasn't the first time this same discussion had been on the table.

In our little town a sparrow fart didn't go un-noticed.  Half of the older folks could tell you what the damn thing had for dinner. There are no secrets in a community of 300 souls, give-or-take. Everybody knows everybody, and most everybody's related in some direction or another. By marriage, by birth, or by accident.

The fella's down at the Hot Spot were having a bit of a chuckle  that morning at my expense.  They could see the damage in the little town park across the street ,right out the front window. The juniper bushes looked like they were goners.  There were big circular tire tracks in the grass and big chunks of mud all over the apple blossoms. And to top it off, there sat my Malibu SS, covered in mud, parked side-ways in front of the old hotel next door.  It didn't take Perry Mason to figure this shit out.

Pretty soon the boys were off telling stories about some of the stupid shit they had done under similar  influence of youth and alcohol. It sounded adventurous when they said it.  That was really what started this whole mess to begin with.

I was an impressionable, adventurous lad of  21; and I looked up to these people.  I admired these men from the Hot Spot. They  were good solid , salt-of-the-earth" ranchers, farmers, cowhands, and truck drivers.  They were honest, to-a-man,  and stood for God, Country, Family, Church, and high school football. Good decent Christian fellas saddled on those bar stools, but they were also a bunch of barn-yard comedians and nearly-prosecutable knotheads. Here they were tellin' me war stories about their mis-spent youth, and making horrendously dangerous feats of stupidity and bad taste, sound adventurous and heroic - romantic even.  What was I supposed to think?  What was I supposed to do?

Clem and I had been to Sidney on this particular evening, as was our Friday/Saturday night custom.  Clem and I had both drank too much at the Branding Iron, narrowly escaped getting the shit kicked out of us for something one of us may or may not have actually done or said,  and somehow arrived miraculously back in Peetz  without the aid of the police or an ambulance - as was our Friday / Saturday night custom as well.

As it was, He and I were already legendary across 5 counties for our well-documented idiocy by the time we were freshmen in high school. No one around town  really had any great expectations of either of us. "Put 'em in a home" -It still hurts.

 He had asthma and psoriasis - bad for a farm kid. I didn't have the common sense God gave geese.  When either of us were exposed to even miniscule amounts of 3.2 beer, we turned into "Super-Doofus and Dingle Balls"

We had been in some sort of trouble for something, always together, since the 7th grade. We were creative. A pair to draw to, and after awhile folks just let us be, for the most part.  "Just don't give them matches". No one else in the community could ever make heads or tails of what Clem and I were up to, or smoking. We had no idea either.  We were just surviving by being  idiots and laughing at each other - and everyone else as well. We didn't pay a lot of attention to the noise.

It wasn't always fun and games with my compadre though.  He was a projectile puker.  When Clem was full up on liquor, beer, and truck-stop eggs, he was a ticking time-bomb. And talk about sheer force.  I once saw him, with my own eyes, throw a 12" stream of yak over 8 feet directly into  the open window of an adjoining car at the drive-in movie theatre without even hitting the window trim.  (Right before we left at approximately the velocity of a 30-06 slug)  I think he probably still feels bad about jackin' up movie night for that car load of Brownies. I sure do.( I still hear their frightened little squeals in my sleep.)

On the night in question, my dear friend and runnin' buddy, had indeed, imbibed well beyond the full mark.  He was set to blow and I, preoccupied, failed to acknowledge the gravity of the situation.  The fault is mine. Cardinal rule: drooling precedes puking.

He went off inside the Chevelle at about 60 mph.  It was a mess.  All over the dash,  the windshield,  the seat, the floorboard .  I had corn on my shirt. The window beside him was wide open but his neck would no longer turn to the right due to tequila poisoning.  The puddle in the floor board was sloshing.

I made a snap decision - not a good one. I don't know why it seemed like a good idea, even now.  I was whippin cookies in the middle of the street with the passenger door open to try to get the puddle on the floor  to fly out of the car - so I wouldn't have to clean as much up.  That's stupid with a capital P right there. I was givin' that 327 hell and we were spinning like a merry go around.  Fear having sobered him some. Clem was hanging on to the steering wheel, my leg, the mirror and the headreast, all simultaneously - like a cat. His singing voice still worked pretty good too.

The car got away from me and we traversed the sidewalk and continued to spin until, having pulled Clems hands off of my head, had managed to come to a stop ..  We had come to rest in the center of the Garden Clubs finest work.  The Azalea garden. 3 large juniper bushes wrecked and every Azalea mangled.  To make matter worse, the Chevelle was high-centered on the juniper bushes.

My confederate friend, covered in puke and carrying what I'm nearly certain was a fresh steamer in his drawers, had had enough.  He wiped himself up as best he could with a beer can, and his took leave; walking  as proudly as a man trying not to make shit-gravy in his britches can, back to his own car to sleep off the "whirlies" till sun-up.

I has no choice but to engage my own mothers complicity that fateful night as well. Shameless.  After repeated attempts to get unstuck, I walked into the back door of my house at 3 a.m. and into my mothers bedroom.  As politely as I could I woke her from what I'm sure had been a delightful slumber. I explained to her that a cat had run in front of my car and that I had accidentally, through no fault of my own, after heroically swerving to avoid injuring the cat, had somehow gotten high centered on the junipers in the park next door.

She bought my story for about as long as it took to put her glasses on. Mother was cagey that way. She began chewin' on my bony ass that very minute, and didn't even begin to slow down for about a week. She did although , get out of bed, pull the car keys down, and put her coat on over her nightdress - all while hollering very curtly at me in her "special" voice,  "I don't suppose you're smart enough to find the tow rope on the porch  - are you there genius??""

She bitched to high heaven all the way, but in a cloud of dust and a hail of pea gravel, Mother did pull me out of the bushes.  I had previously witnessed my sweet mother deck a grown man with a hot cast iron skillet in a domestic altercation.  I knew what she was capable of when angered.  I might'a been 21 and grown, but when Momma was real pissed off, - chewin my haunches in a nightcoat and curlers, and holding my ear in a death grip with bony little fingers that felt like pliers - I just wanted help. She was mad enough by the time we got back to the house that she wasn't even talking - just blowing cigarette smoke out her ears and pointing.  I went up those stairs rubbing the sting out of  my aching ear-flaps, with my head hanging like I was 4 years old and just got caught .

A lot of bitching about me went on around town in the ensuing weeks. I was no stranger to the controversy. There was even discussion of filing charges, but none ever were.  I believe now no charges were filed because it would have implicated my mother. Everybody in town liked my mother and sorta felt sorry for her already, over me..

It was suggested to me that I repair the sod and the Azalea bed, and I did. I wish I could say that was the end of stupid for me,  but in truth , I was just getting warmed up.

I left home a few months after that park incident  with only the highest of aspirations - go play with the Eagle's, smoke weed with the Beatles, and have monkey sex with Farah Fawcett:-).  That didn't turn out the way I planned either.

When they were sure I was really gone, The town put up a heavy log chain barrier about 18" off the ground, all the way around the park. The old timers at Sacred Heart lit candles in thanks, and the boys at the Hot Spot just kept laughin' and carryin' on telling stories................about me:-)

Peace Out
"Don't take any wooden nickels"
"Until Manyana"

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Day 16 - "Illusions of Romance, Martin Luther King, and The Promise"

We all know how screwed-up I am.  It's no secret.  All my ex-wives will tell you the same thing.  Yet....I have noticed recently, when I perform,  an increased level of interest coming from some very attractive women in my own proximal age group. There's been 3 in as many weeks.  That's an 3000% increase.

I must look real promising when I'm up there playing my old Silvertone, stompin' that box like we were both on fire.  Nobody ever makes eyes like that at me down at the Conoco, or at WalMart.  Of course, once happy hour starts, you don't generally find a ton of drunk, financially independent, and extremely-horny divorcee prom-queens at Walmart  either.

If they ever do make cougar hunting an official sport - like alligator hunting. I'm either going to be an extremely good hunting guide, or the goat they tie to a stump in the swamp.  last Saturday evening it didn't dawn on me till I was nearly to Idaho Springs that there probably wasn't anything wrong with that womens right eye at all - she'd been winking! Right at me!  Probably wasn't anything wrong with her neck either - she was tilting her head in what I now believe she intended to be a seductive, come-hither gaze.  I thought she had a cramp and went hither elsewhere.

I believe a large part of what some few,unfortunate, women have previously found attractive in me, is a very profound  incognizance of my own situation, surroundings, and best interests - at all times.  It sure as hell ain't the paint job.

I possess the God-given simplicity of a toad-stool;.- coupled with the savant-like ability to speak and make music. Some gals like that sort of thing.  I can play my country ass off,  but I will lick light sockets if somebody doesn't keep an eye on me.

30 years ago, in the heat of a sweat-bath summer kick-ass gig, some adventurous young trollop threw her underwear at me while I was playing.  I didn't have a clue.  I took them home  and had them laundered. Brought them back (folded - heavy starch) the very next time I played there. Next thing I know I'm running a Chinese laundry for strippers. It's how I worked my way through charm school:-)


The only bigger hero I ever had, other than Martin Luther King, was My Grandma, Nellie Marie Call - and this is what she had to say about that..

Grandma was a plain-as-cotton, solid-as-stone country girl;  born dirt poor  in September of 1914 on a share-cropped farm just outside of Leota , Kansas.  Her Daddy liked to drink more than he should have.  When he was in his cups, He was more than a little mean to his wife and children. Frank Wimer, went blind when Grandma was 12 from bad batch of  "corn",  and when she turned 14 he married her off to his wife's second cousin, a widower, John Call,  in exchange for a $40, a Ford radiator, some hog-meat,  and 2 mules.

When she married my Grandad he was 23 years her senior.  John Call was not a cruel man. Quite the contrary, he was good to her. He was a likeable cut-up of a man, Short and solid like a fire-plug. He worked hard and kept groceries on the table and clothes on their backs at all times.  Didn't drink more than a little on occasion, didn't carouse around or beat her like some men did. She told me that "he never paddled his children unless they really had it coming, and even then he showed a soft-hearted restraint that she thought too extreme. GrandDad was a good man. .They had 5  kids between them,  along with his 6 from his previously departed wife. . From everything I ever heard or saw, she loved him greatly,  and he loved her - but I get the sense looking back, that they probably had to work at that some.

In 1948 Grand Dad was diagnosed with leukemia and he passed in 1954.   Grandma had kept house and farm running without skipping a beat all the while.She was tough as nails, smart as hell, and always soft-spoken - nearly to a fault.

 After Grandad passed. she would sit at the kitchen table in the evenings, tired from a full day of "man's" work along with her own, wearing his old work jeans and plaid work shirts, (they fit her as well as they ever had him). She would smoke Chesterfields,  one after another, and with drifting clouds of yellow-gray smoke circling around her silver-greyed  head, she would stare for what seemed like hours out the kitchen window of the house that she and my GrandDad had built together, side-by-side, while she had carried his child inside her . She'd just sit staring and quietly waiting for something I could never begin to comprehend until recently..

I was 9 years old on April 4, 1968. The day Martin Luther King was assassinated. Grandma and I were both covered with dirt and happy as clams.  We had been out in her flower bed digging up tulip bulbs. It was a beautiful Nebraska spring day. The sunlight was so crisp you could hear it. We first heard what had happened in Memphis on the kitchen radio when we came in from the yard to get a drink.  Grandma stopped cold as soon as the sad urgency in Walter Cronkites emergency pre-empt  took shape in her head . It had only been 5 years earlier that we had sat together in that very room and watched the nation bury JFK.

At her request I turned on the black & white T.V. and we sat on the big red couch together, watching the ensuing pandemonium for the rest of the day, from half a country away.

Granny was the sweetest, kindest, softest person I have ever known, even to this day -and I had honestly never seen her that upset over anything. We sat on that couch that entire afternoon, her squeezing me hard like she needed to protect me, with huge tears of exasperation and disbelief falling like rain from her pained face.  She whispered over and over "What's wrong with these people"  "That man didn't deserve to die".

She reached out and grabbed my confused face in her hands 3 different times that afternoon.It scared me some. She made me look her right in her tear-filled eyes,  right at her, and promise.....that I would never be like those people who had done this awful thing. Like the people that say such awful words - that I wouldn't ever give 2 shits about someones skin color. That I would never hate.  Like those sad, sick animals who gunned an innocent man down for his color.

She asked through a veil of tears. Tears that I would have crawled through a mile of busted burning glass on my 9-year old hands and knees just to stop.  She made me promise....

This was my Grandma. I still hear her voice all the time.  I love that old woman more today than I ever did - not only for what she planted in me, but for what she planted in my children, and now in theirs.  We do not hate.  We do not judge by color.  We do not hate.

I wish all the world had known the blessing of that old womans' touch.  I wish we'd all promised her not to hate.

"Peace Out"
"Don't take any wooden nickels"
Until Manyana