PAST RAMBLINGS - 6
MAY 9 , 2001
Howdy my friends,
Suddenly I was just struck with the urge to do something ridiculous. No, Iím not nekkid on my porch, but I AM sockless and LOVING EVERY MINUTE OF IT! Wheee! What an exhilerating feeling. Pardon me, but warm spring weather just does that to me.
My life is going along just fine other than the truck repairs I mentioned last time I wrote. Fortunately, it only cost me two monthís salary to fix it. I think my mechanic uses the same criteria as Zales in his pricing.
This time of year I start thinking about rounding up my friends and going for a weekend camping trip. Itís still a little chilly at night but since we all bring enough gear to equip a motel, getting cold is not often the problem. Usually, we do our first camping trip about a week before or after Memorial Day Weekend. You donít want to be out there on that specific weekend. Too much crazy stuff going on. I know this sounds wierd, but most of us donít have kids and we find that many of those families are just too dangerous to be around.
A few years back we all watched in horror as the the father of the family at the site down from us, squirted gasoline onto the campfire from a Super-Soaker! Iím not joking, his little sonís plastic water rifle was filled with gasoline and dad was pumping that deadly liquid directly onto the fire. The whole family dove for cover at the eruption that followed. What made it even more bizarre was that they had a blue tarp stretched out on four poles, directly over the campfire! That gas hit the flames and the tarp vaporized in a whoosh of fire that had us all dancing and hollering, even though we were 80 feet away. Weíre pretty sure that was the family The Simpsons were modeled after.
Though youíll read this after the fact, I have a concert in Seattle tomorrow night. Iím still kicking myself for going against my long-time promise to never, ( Continued. . .)
ever again play Seattle on a Sunday night. Weíre a fair-sized city but Iím telling you, people like to hang out at the house on Sunday night and it takes an earthquake to get them to step outside for a minute. Getting them to drive downtown would take something Iíve never figured out.
Though this is the day before my concert, I already know that it will be a small crowd. Hereís the way I look at it, though; Sometimes you have to trust the all the chairs that seem empty are really chock full of thin people. I mean, mighty slender. Thatís how I get through concerts with a low turnout. Iíve never revealed that before but I choose now to impart that wisdom on to all yall who are "playing" to empty seats.
Itís an old trick me and my buddies used years ago. If someone asked at a party for instance, how my love-life was, not wanting to be embarrassed by a total lack of one at the time, I would say, "Oh, Iím dating several real slender gals right now. Theyíre around here somewhere." And then Iíd squint and pretend to be looking for them behind a door or a painting. I always received quite a sundry mix of reactions from that reply. Women would gasp in horror at my chauvinistic reply and men would chuckle - they knew just what I meant - I hadnít had a date in months.
(This is not a new idea, I have a suspicious feeling that Ally McBeal is getting paid some weeks when she doesnít even show up on the set.)
Speaking of toothcare, (werenít we?) Did any of you try out the clever tool those people on Survivor created? First of all, let me say this - it is widely known that tooth brushes are absolutely filthy. Even if you boil yours before each use, (like most of my former girlfriends have) they are still a breeding ground for disease and fatal illness. I use a stick. Yep, I learned this on Survivor. You can pick up any old branch on the ground and carve the end of it into little nodes. Then stab it hard into your mouth and go to work on them babies. Talk about some pretty teeth. The ones that withstood the assault are sterling.
As you can tell, when I write these little monologues, I use what is called "stream of unconsciousness." That is my secret. If I thought about it very long Iíd destroy every word Iíve written and my computer, too. Iíve noticed from the responses that I get from folks who read these little ditties that they think my book will be this frantic and disjointed. Well, there might be some moments like that but hereís how to get a good picture of what it will be. Think about my melodious songs, the warmth and flow of my music, then look way down the pike to where I write these silly ramblings. My book will be right about in the middle. I could never write anything without injecting humor into it, I just canít help myself.
Once I started to seriously working on chapters, I found that the pace felt best when it was somewhat like my concerts, where I sing songs that make you look within, perhaps feeling something tender or loving or sad. Then after the songs, I tell a story that makes you laugh out-loud. That kind of flow feels right to me onstage and it is somewhat the way my book is turning out.
Speaking of writing, Iím thinking of doing a weekend creative writing workshop. It will be for all kinds of writing, songs, poetry, journals, letters, novels and non-fiction. Iíve been writing things for other people to read since I was 13 years old and Iíve made my living for over two decades doing various kinds of writing. Itís not that I think Iím a master at it, but I know for sure that I have things to say that can encourage others to write. And I have much to say about how free it can make you feel and how healing it can be to begin to express yourself well in printed words. If you think youíd be interested in a weekend workshop, send me an email about what youíd look for in such a gathering. Iíll get a sense of who might be interested and a clearer idea of what it might become.
I still hope to finish my book this summer and Iíll let you know how thatís going. I appreciate the couple of hundred folks who have pre-ordered my book. Itís helped me to make a living while I work on it.
There will definitely be some concerts later this year. Iíll be playing a Songwriters in the Round show with a few other songwriters in Bend, OR on June 3. Iíll be playing Denver on Oct 13 and possibly, Colorado Springs near that same time. I have a strong possibility of a concert in Phoenix in September and will try to do something in Seattle this summer. There is also a possibility of a benefit concert near Winthrop, WA for Nature Conservancy. Be sure and check my concert page now and then. And if youíre not actually on my mail list, please send me your address so I can send you my newsletter this summer and a postcard when I have a show in your area. By the way, I never share my list, your privacy is always honored.
Well my friends, thanks for taking the time to visit. I hope you got some chuckles out of my silliness and that you enjoy my songs. I have quite a few new ones that are ready to record and Iíll do that after my book is finished. Thanks also, for buying my music for your friends, that has really helped me to continue getting my music out there at a time when almost all radio has become run by corporations and consultants, leaving artists like me out of the circle. Your help in sharing my music is the main reason Iím still able to do this.
June 2, 2001
Howdy my friends,
It's unseasonably cold here in Seattle. And yet, I am unwilling to allow Old Man Winter to sneak back in here and mess with my good times all the way up into early June. So today I stubbornly sat outside while it was pouring sheets of cold rain. Of course, I was under a large patio umbrella, wrapped up in a blanket. I sipped my scalding ginger-cinnamon tea, stared into the trees and pretended I was getting a good, even tan. In my lap, wrapped in her own little blanket, was my little fluffy dawg, Bungee. And to my side, lying on the wet grass as if it was a warm rug, was my good friend Kala Don't worry, Kala is not a woman, I would not ask any humans I know to lie on the wet ground whilst I snuggle deeper into my blankets and steam my face with hot tea. No, Kala is a big ol' dog. She's become a good friend these last couple of years and I take her for adventures sometimes. It leaves people wondering what I could possibly have been thinking when they see me walking with a seven pound ball of fluff and a seventy-five pound bear of a dog.
Anyhow, we all sat, basically meditating, under the security of my big green umbrella. I suspect that we were pondering completely different subjects, though. Kala, I'm sure, was pontificating about the possibility that someone may have left a piece of toast somewhere in those bushes. If not toast, well then, perhaps a piece of a cinnamon roll, something pastry-like. Kala will eat anything that once was food or might possibly someday become food. I was like that when I was a teenager but have grown to be more selective in most circumstances. Once in awhile though, I must admit, on a camping trip for instance, I will eat anything that I can find in whose ever ice chest I can sneak into my tent. Of course, that's not just my appetite speaking, but the magic of outdoor life, the vigorous rhythms of icy rivers, the wind in the trees, snowy Cascade peaks and carved granite. And maybe a teeny hit of pot.
As I just said - in case your memory is plumb shot, Kala, I'm sure, was thinking of food. Now little Bungee, that's another story entirely. Here are the likely things she was considering as she warmed my lap and the rain fell ceaselessly. (1.) "Where is that damn cat I told to stay out of my yard!?" (2.) "Has anybody seen some cats?" (3.) "I sure would like to catch me a sneaky ol' cat out here." - Generally, just things of that nature were what I suspect she was thinking.
May I explain? About oh, seven hundred times per day, I must leave whatever I'm doing and run and open two doors, one from my kitchen into the garage, then another from the garage into the backyard, so that she can fling all seven pounds of her imposing self into the great outdoors and run off any of the various cats I feed daily.
I originally began to feed a small group of feral cats when I first moved here about two years ago. I felt that wild cats living in a city might not get enough quality nutrients, and judging by some of their mangy coats, I was right. But then something weird happened, a kind of a cat miracle, I believed. I noticed that the cats rapidly became much sleeker and more healthy looking and they even changed colors and began sporting collars and tags! This didn't register with me at first, I'm a slow study at times - I just thought there were some damn good vitamins in the cat food I bought - 100 lbs for $3.
Had you been here, (like you should have been, dammit!) you would likely have factored out the likelihood of cats changing colors and, much quicker than me, deduced that these were new cats. Not improved, just brand new ones. These cats eating at my backyard bowl were not just the scraggly, sad, mangy-assed old cats I'd intended to feed. They were also tabbies and calicos and siamese and well, pretty much all the finicky, well-fed felines of my neighborhood. Yes, the homeless cats still eat there, but they'd better be quick about it or they miss out.
One of the things that first called this situation to my attention was a discussion I overheard one day as I was walking back home, cooling down after a run. There was a group of folks who live on my street, all clustered together in a yard down the way. I heard an elderly lady say "My cats are all fat! My cats have NEVER been fat! Alla the sudden, they just ballooned up and well, look at 'em, they look like fur-bearing balloons!"
I heard three other voices chime in, all with the similar observation about their cats and their blossoming girth. I looked real close and realized that I had been feeding those very cats for about a year. Yes, it's true. I'd been taking the money you folks send me for cds, and handing it over at an alarming rate, to the cashier down at Cheap Cat Food Is Us. I jogged on past, afraid to reveal that I was the reason twenty two cats in the neighborhood were in danger of needing angioplasty.
So what I did was, I started putting out the food only when I see the homeless felines. And when the others come around, I turn Bungee loose on them. I'll be standing at the kitchen sink and I'll look out the window and see seven or eight of them lounging around the backyard, waiting for hors d'oeuvres. I'll whisper to Bungee that kitty cats are being served. I'll sneak open the first door, then slip into the garage and carefully crack open the back door and zoom! Bungee is hauling little dawg ass out across the yard and jumping those stiff little front legs up and down in the ritual of bravado that canine-type creatures have performed since before cavemen had gum. This is the way I have begun to make amends in my neighborhood and to slim down the free-loading cats that have become porkers because of me.
As usual, I've strayed considerably from where I was going with this story. I was going to tell you all the things Bungee and Kala were meditating upon and then I was going to tell you the subjects of my own pondering. But now, I'm starting to think that I will save that for another time. It would take weeks to tell you what I was thinking about back there in the rain as I kept reading the same damn paragraphs over and over in the excellent little book I've been reading. I WILL tell you that - it's called The Bear Went Over the Mountain, by William Kotzwinkle. And it's one of the funniest things I've read in quite awhile.
Speaking of writing, I have not forgotten that I'm supposed to be nearly through with my own book. You know, the one I told you would be finished by last New year? That's the one. Well, I'm doing everything I can to finish it this summer. I write just about every day and I never know where the heck it's going. I will say this; when you are writing about things that happened in your life, and many of the people they happened with are still around, well dammit, you have to mostly tell the truth and that doesn't leave me as much leeway as a man might like to have when he's writing his first book. So I have to find ways to actually tell the truth and make it an interesting read at the same time. Try it sometime, you'll see how hard it is.
I have some shows coming up, this weekend I'm in Bend, Oregon. On July 28 I'll be at The CoachHouse in San Juan Capistrano. Sep 8 is a tentative date at Scottsdale Community College, Oct 12 is Idaho Springs, Co., Oct 13 is Denver and Oct 14 is Colorado Springs. I'll have these dates up with details soon on my concert page. I just wanted to let you know that they're happening.
Well, I've got to go buy some cat food.
I really go through that stuff.
June 25, 2001
Howdy my fine friends,
Here it is noon and itís been a long day already. I heard the robins calling me this morning and went out to sit in my backyard at 4:30 am, much to my little dawgís chagrin. She thought there was going to be some good olí Saturday morning sleeping-in time and sheís been irritable ever since. Iím telling you, seven pounds of grumpy dawg is not something you want to have to see if you can help it.
I love this time of year, the precious few weeks when there is such early sunrise and late sunset. Seattle is far enough north that we get extremely long days. I canít help but think back to last winter and what itís like to be in total darkness at 5 pm - it makes me want to soak up all the daylight I can get.
From right here in my backyard this morning Iíve seen crows and robins, blue-jays and seagulls and even eagles. I donít feed the eagles though, for fear theyíll mistake my dawg for a wabbit. I would hate to look up and see little Bungee Girl flailing away into the clouds in the gripping talons of a giant bald eagle. Iíd have no choice but to rent a plane and go after her. Only I canít fly, so that could be risky.
There are also raccoons and opossums and squirrels in my yard. Iíve not yet seen any mountain lions or grizzlies but since word has spread that I feed all animals, Iím sure theyíll turn up eventually.
I went from the peaceful serenity of birdsongs and a blooming dawn to the frenetic overload of a visit to Costco, all within the span of two hours. Man, if you were from another country and you walked into Costco, youíd think Americans had gone completely to hell. Itís odd, the strange sights you see there. I went out to have some new promo shots developed and thought Iíd go inside and see what new things you could buy by the case. I was stunned to see Tic Tacs in a 48 pound vat and toothpaste in a tube the size of a loaf of bread. A child would not be able to lift such a tube and would either have to let his little teefies rot or jump up and down on the thing to get any out. Did you know you can buy a gross of menís underwear for $38? Man, the times Iíve wished I had 144 pair of clean thong undies! I wouldnít do laundry for, well, for 144 days!
Speaking of promotional photographs, I spent last Saturday out in Snoqualmie, taking pictures for some magazines. (not Swank!) It is my least favorite thing to do after digging coal with my bare fingers. My friend Rick Grant made it as pleasurable as possible by narrating my expressions constantly as he snapped pictures.
"Ooh, do you want to kill me? Is that what that expression is saying? Now thatís better, that one says ĎMan, my tongue is so swollen I can barely keep it in my mouth."
We took about 150 photographs and I found only one, yes just one, that might work for promotion. Ran it by two friends and they shot it down immediately, so now I have to go shoot them all again next week - or as soon as my hair grows out where I gouged out a chunk running under a tree limb. Rick had coerced me into doing a Bay Watch style run down the shore of the river. I had no time to shave my chest but I flattened it all down with lotion and I think I looked pretty sleek. (except for my belly)
Actually running in slow-motion is not that easy - I donít know how the hell those actors do it. My quads were red-hot from lowering myself slowly and my glutes were quivering like jello from the stress of raising my body ever-so- slowly upwards again and again to affect something akin to a slow-motion stride. The last time I exploded upware - at an excrutiatingly slow pace - I noticed some resistance against my forehead and realized too late that Iíd scraped off several square inches of my scalp on the bark of a dogwood tree. The tree did nothing to miss me even though it could easily see my eyes were closed. Amazingly, my expression in the photo was perfect - I looked like a pouty beach boy, sullen and full of pride in my countenance. But I think the spurting blood ruined the whole effect.
As a performer and recording artist, Iím supposed to have photos and video for promotional purposes. Itís just part of the job. But I donít have those things. Instead, I have funny stories. But they wonít usually fit on a poster. I dislike photo sessions so much that I end up using the same photos for years and then when I finally get new ones, people think Iíve aged a decade in a week. Actually, I HAVE had weeks like that - the last presidential election pretty much took me on up into my eighties.
As I tell you everytime, Iím still working on my book. This is a real thing, I promise. Iím really writing one - I just have lots of stories. My plan is still to finish this summer and to work out some way to publish it in the fall. If you want to pre-order it, you may do that, just go to the book link. Iíll put your name in the acknowledgements insert that will be in the book.
If youíll go to my concerts link, you can see some new shows I have booked and Iíll have a few more listed soon. Also, Iíve just booked what may be my last Gathering of Friends Retreat. It will be on Nov 9-11, 2001. You can go to my retreat link to check it out or sign up. Iíve done these for 8 years and thoroughly enjoyed them. There is a chance that Iíll decide to hold one each year but for now, Iím going to end the series and look at it again next year to decide. I plan on making this final one quite a humdinger so if youíve been thinking about coming to a retreat for a while, come on out and join us this autumn.
Well, Iím all typed out and must go eat stuff now. Thanks for checking in on me. Feel free to email or write anytime. I hope you enjoyed some chuckles and that you have a fine summertime.
PS, if youíre not on my mail list, please send me your address and Iíll send you my humorous summer newsletter and postcard notice of any shows in your area. By the way, I never share my list, so your privacy is always honored.