Ramblings - 3
I hope it's feeling like springtime where you live, it sure is here in Seattle. I just spent a few days on Whidbey Island with friends and it was so pretty out there. We spent a few hours rolling large logs up onto the sand in hopes of reversing the sand erosion that has taken place over the last few years. You ain't EVER had an exciting Sunday afternoon until you've watched three grown men clumsily and wildly wield log hooks and pry-bars, rolling thousand-pound water-soaked logs up a sandy hill. I had frequent, scary visual flashes of me and my friends flattened in the sand, four or five giant logs laying across our bodies. Wheee! Then there was the possibility that the cable we had tied to the biggest log and stretched to the bumper of my truck, might suddenly snap and whip like lightning into somebody's crotch. Yeeeoowww! Luckily, none of this happened and we were soon strutting around like roosters, hoping the women would see what a brave and skillful job we'd done. All this time, we'd thought they were in the house watching us out the window, biting fingernails and practicing dialing 911. Turns out they were playing Boggle and had just thought we were outside cleaning up dogshit. Oh well, you don't need an audience to brag to. We have a very refined and well-established mutual admiration society. "Wow! You are great!" "No man, YOU are great!" It went on and on to the bottom of the keg.
If you check back on this site by March 15, you'll see some changes. First of all, my friend Brian Dina, will begin to layout and maintain my site. I'll still do all of the writing, it will just be nice to have someone who knows more about it, put song samples on the site and make the secure order forms more up to date.
I really appreciate all of you who have already ordered my new CD, Watching the Storm Roll In. I've gotten great feedback so far and even heard one of the songs on a radio station that I did NOT send the CD to. Radio play is the big missing link for so many of us singer-songwriters these days since most stations are now owned by corporations who hire a single consultant to determine the playlist for sometimes fifty or more cities. For that reason, your sharing me with friends is even more important to my being able to continue writing and recording my music.
Almost every single day I get emails from folks around the country and the world who have finally located me again after years of looking in stores for my music. It moves me that anyone would keep on looking and wondering about me. I hope any of you who are interested, will send me your address for my mailing list. I just need a way to let you know when I have new CDs, retreats or concerts.
April 20, 2000
Iíve been feeling really creative lately and have been writing songs and also some chapters of my book that most people are beginning to think will never materialize. I have one new song called Big Moon that I wrote last week and played for the folks at the gathering. It was inspired by last monthís fantastic full moon. I was walking my dawg with my friend Christine, and people were all outside staring up at the moon and talking about it. I love it when something as natural as a rainbow or a full moon or a tree in full blossom gets people excited. We live in such a culture of frantic advertising and hype that it is reaffirming to remember that the natural things in life still inspire us.
In a couple of weeks I'll be playing two Colorado concerts...Colorado Springs on April 29 and Littleton on the 30th. Iím looking forward to being in the Rockies again. I grew up constantly looking toward those mountains. In the Texas panhandle, ant hills were considered vantage points across the plains and knowing that tall, rugged mountains and icy streams were just a dayís drive away was a thrilling thought for a Texas boy.
I hope you're having a good springtime wherever you are. I just love this time of year, the fragrances, the colors and the sense of all things being reborn. Take some deep breaths now and then and remember to be grateful youíre alive. Thanks for checking in on me now and then. - MT
April 28, 2000
My week has been pretty hectic what with rehearsing old songs, trying to smooth out new ones, getting orders filled, repairing my own teeth? What!?? Did I really say that? Well, I had this crown put in about 4 years ago by a dentist that should really have been a masonry man. He really missed his calling, I think, by not going into brick laying. Anyway, he did a terribly shoddy job of fitting (installing?) my crown and it has given me hell ever since. So one day I just took it out, post and all, tried to fit it better, didnít do a very good job. Sometimes I just leave it out but if I laugh really big, well, Iím just a gap-toothed Texan and who would want that? Two days ago I got serious and went to the hardware store for some grinding tools that fit on an electric drill. Iím serious. And I found some of the cement dentists use and decided I was going to finally do this thing right. If any of my friends had walked up with me holding this tiny tooth in a pair of pliers, grinding away with my electric drill, I think they may have attempted an intervention. I can hear them now. "Michael, weíve all watched you doing some bizarre things over the years, weíve worried and weíve kept silent. That was wrong. It was just plain bad and wrong. But this! This dental surgery is just going too far. We think you need help." At which point Iím sure I would have agreed and asked one of them at least to hold the vise-grips for me. Do you know how hard it is to hold a tooth in a pair for vise-grips and run a construction drill with the other, being oh, so careful not to grind away not only the best parts of the tooth but also a goodly amount of your thumb?
Well, I wonít brag but just let me say, I am getting on that plane today and Iíll be grinning ear to ear at the flight attendants and they wonít see nary a gap where there oughtnít be one. (Well, if they look into my eyes real deep they might see one.) If this music thang donít work out like I always hoped, Iíd preshate it if you keep me in mind the next time you need a little dental tune-up. We can work inside yer mouth if you like or I can take it home and do it all right here in my kitchen. Wheee!
Iíll be back from Colorado in early May. Thanks for checking in on me. I hope you enjoyed a chuckle or two and thanks a lot for listening to my music and sharing it with your friends. Take some deep breaths and enjoy your life.
June 12, 2000
Howdy my friends, Itís been some weeks since Iíve updated my site and I thought this might be just the day. Since I last wrote, Iíve played 2 shows in Colorado and 3 in Florida. A good time was had by all, at least I think so, very few canned vegetables flew my way and the ones that did were only lovingly hurled.
I just got back from a camping trip with several friends, we went up into the Cascade Mountains, just over an hour from Seattle and camped by the Skykomish River. I went up a day early to make sure we could get a spot, I usually do that since Iím the only one of the gang who doesnít hold down a regular job and I have the time to do such things. It was raining all week and I knew some of my friends were starting to fade on me, calling each day to say stuff like "what do you think? Itís pretty rainy over here at my house." I always pretend I donít hear stuff like that and that Iím amazed that there is rain at their house because itís sunny and clear at mine.
I took my little dawg Bungee and my friend Christineís big dawg Kala and drove out there with my truck looking like the one in the Beverly Hillbillys. I always bring stuff I think other people will need, extra chairs, food and especially tarps. When I got to the site it was drizzling lightly but in a way that you can tell is going to last for forty days and nights. I immediately began erecting "Tarp Town", the name we give our campsite once weíve hung blue tarps ten feet high in the trees, stretching out here and there about the camp making it look like some ridiculous land-locked sailing ship. There is a science to this type of shelter building, you must bring hundreds of feet of rope since the angle of pull you may need on a certain tarp corner can only be met by a tree perhaps 50 feet away. And besides the consideration of rope height, making sure none is stretched low enough to chop off the head of a person running pell-mell through the dark for more cream pies from the trunk, there is the situation of rain run-off to consider. You donít want to be thoroughly enjoying conversation and beers by the fire when a large tarp above you, having collected 15 or so gallons of rain, gives way, the edge forming a channel precisely over your crotch. This is not pleasant camping. Oh, itís great fun for the rest of the crew but you never know for sure whose crotch will be soaked and so, itís best to simply angle the tarps in such a way as to constantly pour the flood of rain off safely behind onto the ground.
Often, on these camping trips, youíll hear a person shuffling around in the dark, cussing inside his tent as he tries to find exactly where the damn large rock is under his sleeping bag. The camper will not recall having seen such a large obstruction when he pitched his tent and carefully created his "love hotel" inside. It sometimes takes awhile to find that the boulder is not inside the tent at all, not under the sleeping bag, but outside in the wild darkness, shoved under the bottom of his tent by a fellow camper, giggling and nearly peeing his pants as he places the pesky stone just so. Iíve heard this happens but I cannot produce proof.
Well, I stayed the first night out there in the rain, just me and the two dawgs. Though it rained all night long, I had stretched a tarp in the trees over my tent and did not get wet at all. However, let me tell you that even a grown man can lie wake in the darkness imagining big olí nasty creatures prowling around the tent all night. The sound of a rushing river and the random plopping of rain drops on tarp all night long sounds frighteningly like groups of murderers wielding axes and at one point, sounded exactly like buffalo with rabies. I swear. Had I managed to sleep through most of the night, this would not have been a problem but no, I was awakened about half-a-dozen times by the feel of cold hard ground pressed against my ass. Unfortunately, the air mattress which I was lying upon and which Iíd actually tested for leaks the night before the trip, was slowly leaking and about every hour or so, I was offered the opportunity of sleeping directly on the cold floor of my tent or, if I preferred, I could crawl out of my warm covers, disturb the dawgs by turning on torch-lights and with my butt up in the chilly, damp air, I could commence to blowing up the queen size mattress with my own lips. I did that six times that night. There was no mirror to check my face in the morning and for that Iím grateful. Iím sure I was hideous and quite elderly for my age.
The next morning I got up not remotely rested and drove back to town to buy a new mattress and to pick up my friend Christine. I was fairly certain that no one else was going to show since the forecast was for profound and heavier rain throughout the weekend. But around 7 PM there began to arrive carloads of friends. Eventually, about 8 humans and 3 dawgs shared the campfire that night. It was really fun and they were pleased to find Tarp Town up and adequate to our needs. Mainly, covering the picnic table where all the food was and all sides of the fire so we could sit around the fire chatting with little concern for the falling rain. It turned out to be quite a fine trip except for packing up a bunch of soaked tents and tarps the next morning. But hey, sometimes you just got to pay for your fun.
Aug 7, 2000
Howdy my fine friends,
Itís been quite a lovely summer here in Seattle. Mostly hot, sunny days and warm, starry nights. Iíve been swimming in rivers and lakes, camping twice, (both in the rain) kayaking in Monterey after a concert there and working on my book many, many hours. I know if youíre from here you wouldnít think it was hot but when we get 5 or 6 days in a row of 80-degree weather in Seattle, we have to stand nekkid in the open door of the refrigerator to get real relief. Plus, itís just kind of daring and fun. (My fridge is now in the living room picture window. Wheee!)
At a rainy camping trip recently with some friends, I came up with this idea Iíd like to run by you; I had brought this awning like they use at art fests, they call it an Insta-shade but up here where we already have plenty of shade, we use them for rain protection. The contraption has four legs that pull out and away from each other sort of like an accordion and a canvas top,10-feet by 10-feet. From living in a large city for so long and developing an aversion to large crowds, I have felt the need to find a way to be a part of things, festivals, concerts, riots, without being crushed like a grape in the turbulent crowd. I think Iíve come up with an invention that will give me some space, some elbow-room in which to function and yet, keep the hordes at bay.
Iíve designed a shoulder-strap harness system that will support the entire Insta-shade awning and frame when Iím standing directly in the center, underneath. If I stand up on my tippy-toes, I can walk along and the whole thing will lift and move with me. Itís not heavy or unwieldy and can easily be supported though I donít look as manly as Iíd prefer on my tiptoes so I might need to dress in buckskin or wear an NRA hat.
I will wrap yellow police caution tape all around the perimeter legs and hang a sign on each side that reads, "STAY OUT!! PLEASE RESPECT MY PERSONAL SPACE." Then Iíll go to large festivals and walk through the crowd. It will be slow but should be ideal for meeting people as each side will have a wall of people looking in on me in my "spacious oasis." I believe this will become a popular item to take to crowded fairs, midways, etc. Iíll have room for friends to accompany me, as long as they pay attention to the direction and speed Iím traveling theyíll have plenty oí room to dance, eat, party, and perhaps make cabinets.
I hope this goes over big and makes me millions since radio-play sucks these days. I believe I can put the same heart into it that I previously did my music.
Now that Iíve got that really important stuff out of the way, Iíd like to let you know that Iíll be doing some concerts soon, one is here in Seattle, a benefit on Aug 25 for Mariaís Children, a non-profit organization that uses art to foster and educate Russian orphans. Itís a very worthy organization and you can read more about it on my concert page.
I will likely be doing a concert in Santa Cruz this autumn and will send you info if youíre on my mail list.
Finally, Iím playing LA for the first time in many years. On Dec 9 Iíll be doing a concert to benefit the Make A Wish Foundation at the Wilshire Ebell Theater in LA. Iíll have more notice up here very soon and will have some details in my upcoming newsletter.
My book will be going to print late this fall. Itís a book of stories and memories connected to my songs and life. It will also have photos, lyrics and chords to 25 songs. Iíll have info in the newsletter and soon, on the website.
I hope youíre doing well. I appreciate that you tracked me down and that you listen to my music. In order to continue to write and sing and do retreats for a living it has been of the utmost importance that those of you who enjoy my music, share it with others. I know youíve done that and I truly appreciate it. Thanks for listening.