Friday, March 31, 2017

Rocket Fuel and Turnip Greens

I've told everybody everything I know and I'm left with no secrets. It's way too late to ask for any kind of immunity. When I was a kid I always longed for some kind of family compound so that I could be surrounded by cousins, aunts, uncles. 

It's still hard for me to see company leave. My friends took me to a family style restaurant last night and I hated to walk out. Maybe it's time to worry about fear of abandonment when you hate to walk out on strangers.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Coolerator Inventory

The stars were up to no-good on the night that I was born. I'm not like the rest. All my teachers knew. Miss Gammon, my first grade teacher, came to visit me in the hospital when I had my tonsils removed. She wanted to double promote me. I'm pretty sure that she thought I was from another planet.

Over the years some of them liked me. Some of them didn't. It took some a while to figure it out. I could always tell the ones who were pretty sure they had known me in another life.

When you know that you're different you learn to keep it to yourself. Well, you should. Too much babble about that sort of thing just complicates life.

Oh, it doesn't mean that you're better and I've spent a lot of time worrying and hoping that it doesn't mean you're worse.

Rock'n'roll has gotten me through seventy years of magic. I don't know, Butch- maybe it did come from Lubbock, Texas.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Day Drinkers and Hot Rods

Maybe it's the randomness that gets me. All I've got for you is some truth. In this day and age that's rare. I'm not sure that the throngs are screaming for it.

Heaven? Reincarnation? I wish I believed.

Evil? I wish I didn't.

When I was twelve I loved professional wrestling. Oh, I knew it wasn't real but I loved the melodrama and the spectacle. I was aware that there were folks who did believe it.

Now the network news is crazier than anything I ever saw on television wrestling. Ever. 

No wonder rock'n'roll is on the ropes. Why would anybody turn on wrestling when Sean Spicer comes out from under a rock for the TV cameras mid-day every day. American culture is all one big reality show. 

It must be hard to sell LSD now, too.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Right Makes Tight

When Mike and Frank drive off from a pick, I tear up as they hang out the windows of the van waving goodbye while the folks left behind call out, "Come back any time. Be safe."

I really can't watch TV ads at all around the holidays.

Of course I want to adopt every shelter animal while being well aware that they're the relatively lucky ones and I never see the gigantic tree service trucks in the neighborhood without worrying about squirrel families being displaced.

As fashion and I move in opposite directions, as usual, this one is okay with me. I won't ever be hip. I hope I'll usually be kind. World economies are only important up to the point that hungry folks are fed and everyone has shelter.

If you justify a "defense" budget based on your religion, you might want to consider your faith and check on a new one.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Captain's Table

All this gold and me without a thing to wear. I've just brushed my teeth and I can't do a thing with them.

Pass the kimchi, please.

Oh, by the way- I thought I saw Yuang Yang Kim throwing something off the Hwang Mangeyong bridge.

Papa San caught the bird flu last September and died. Mama spent the insurance settlement on super teeth whitening and tends to date younger men. Mostly men.

I'll have another helping of dog.

These days I spend most of my time in tight skirts thinking about nuclear annihilation up on the Hwang Mangeyong bridge.

Once you've seen the Kim Sister's Topless Review on the strip in Vegas it's hard to get that darned thing out of your head. Yeah, Kim Rich Un, Kim Kung Fu and Kimmie Rhodes tantalize and delight with their rich, exotic harmonies. I think I'll have some more tofu.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Too Tight

Poor old Gandhi. If the Hindu assassin's bullets hadn't gotten him first, TIME's young girl scandal was waiting. I suppose lust would have surely done me in, too, if I weren't so awkward socially. Oh, I have no regrets.

Of course I would like to think that I would be better at it all given another chance. Of course. I wouldn't.

I wouldn't.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Hillbillies, Barflies and Jutterbigs

You never forget the shock of foil on a filling. The thrill of gazing into the lights, knowing that thousands are looking back, never dims. The helpless elation that buckles your knees as you fall in love, in my experience, trumps all other memories.

Is there anyone out there who doesn't crumble when that song plays in the background in the grocery store? 

Oh, I know perfectly well that it's just biology. It was a central part of the design so that life would perpetuate. Something that would make sex more desirable than goofy golf. Napping. Television.

If falling in love is the pinnacle of life then I suppose that the end of love must be the nadir.

Those memories? More precious than rare jewels or more useless than tits on a bull?

Who knows? Who cares?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Safe At Home

When I was a kid I was afraid of the dark. Sometimes. Now darkness is comforting. I'm still afraid, though. Sometimes. My mind keeps me on short leash. I suppose that if you don't quite know what scares you, then you're anxious, not afraid. 

Weapons of war are mean. That's the point of war, right? We spend too much on war, not enough on love. We salute the generals, we overlook the saints.

Give us peace on earth and end this dreadful, dreadful war.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Get A Hat, Drop Dead

Any lawyer will tell you, "You can't represent yourself." Explains a lot or, in my case, provides excuse and rationalization. 

Oh, I've had producers, managers, publicists, booking agents and record promo men. Lawyers, too. Never at the same time, of course. Never at the right time.

It's been a decade or more since anyone put forth effort to "manage" me. As much as I have appreciated every attempt to help me out, I've known for a long time that it's a futile, if not thankless, task. I can't be managed.

The world has never wanted what I have to sell. At least not much of the world. This "business" that I'm in kindly refers to me as a cult artist. Of course I'm just proud to be called artist, cult or otherwise. Nobody wants LOSER chiseled in his headstone.

Folks with good intentions have suggested hats, attitudes, songs and death as career moves. That last one always intrigued me but I may not be serious enough about success. Besides, I think I waited for too long.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Is It The Wine?

Just when I start to worry that I've used up my joy, exuberance raises its hand and asks for a seat at the banquet. I'm just gonna plan to rock till I drop. What have I got to lose?

Dinner was papaya salad and banana pudding washed down with cheap Chilean wine. I've got velvet shoes and the best dog in the world.

Memories that exceed my adolescent imagination drown in the crevices of my medial temporal lobes. Can't do sixty no more. Come on, seventy- do your worst. Unburdened by success and unbridled by renown, I'm free to wiggle.

Would it embarrass you for me to tell you that I love you?

I love you.

Monday, March 20, 2017

True, Fine, Straight and Narrow

Old mountains are rounded. The steep, jagged peaks worn by weather and time. Old folks stoop. Pride and vanity eroded by loss and heartache. The lucky ones are left with love. Sweet memories.

I know more than I've ever known and I don't know much.

I can't sing on key and I never could and I'll fumble Bb two times out of three. Okay, ninety nine times out of a hundred.

If I sing you a happy song, though, that's real joy. If I sing you a sad one, well- let's just wait for another happy one.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Bye Bye Johnny

Of course I knew the day was coming. I won't start dropping cliches now- other than to say that my heart is broken. I've got lots of funny Chuck Berry stories. When you've got too much time on your hands you can go back through my old blogs and find them.

Oh, I grew up with heroes. Lots of heroes. There was only one Chuck Berry, though.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Under The Table

Isn't that where they drink you? Where they pay you for criminal activity? Where you find your fingers at the intersection of stockings and flesh? The mysterious land where old Beech Nut morphs into paleontological treasures?

Any time spent on activities that don't involve love is time wasted.

Those greedy men in suits don't represent me. They never will. I doubt they represent you. Put on a Little Willie John record and pet the dog.

Call the loneliest person you know and tell them that you love them.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Too Hip For The Radio

Well, I started off playing all of Chuck Berry's songs and I was working for the man before too long. I always wrote what I felt. I thought it was the blues till Mr. Petty wrote a letter and sent me the news. I played a lot of bars and I wasted lots of time trying to live some kind of life that ended with a rhyme.

Like to have froze in Manhattan in a psychedelic haze. Then I jumped the gun completely with the country tock craze. I added a bunch of drums and I worked with a fool. We jazzed up the Coasters even though it wasn't cool. I made a lot of records but I never had a hit. I lied and told my mother I was sure gonna quit.

Now they tell me I'm too hip for the radio. That's why they won't play me on the morning show. For fifty long years I've been playing it the same. I guess I just love this game.

Now this rock'n'roll life has taken its toll. I've got a lot of miles behind me and a hole in my soul. But when Berry bit the bullet and Dr. Diddley moved west, I hocked the love of my life and I prayed for the best. Jesus whispered to me with a hillbilly clue. I put the fiddles and maracas with the old voodoo.

Now they tell me I'm too hip for the radio. That's why they won't play me on the morning show. For fifty long years I've been playing it the same. I guess I just love this game.

Most of my songs mean "something." Well, heck, everything means something. I can't stop every song after every line and explain that it's not what you think. In this case I've written them down for you and I feel like I should straighten a few things out.

Mr. Petty is most certainly not the fair haired boy from Gainesville. Norman Petty, Buddy Holly's producer, once wrote me and suggested that I come out to Clovis to work on some material. He wanted to make sure that I knew that I was writing and playing country music.

I never wrote back.

My pal, Berry Oakley, was shopping for a record deal for my band when he was killed in a motorcycle accident. He was in Macon that week to set up a date for us.

Not the Berry you had in mind, huh?

Bo Diddley had talked about producing a record with us. Before we got around to anything serious he moved to New Mexico. By the time that he came back to Florida that band was history.

Some day I'll go through all of 'em and explain it all away.

Yeah, right.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Nerve Rattler

What's become of the rattletraps and jalopies? Maybe life isn't hard. Maybe you're trying too hard. Who made lazy shameful?

You dress for them, don't you? They don't care. While you're busy working to please them, they're busy trying to impress somebody else. 

Of all the nerve! Well, I never!

Oh, they're dying to dance with you as long as you're not dancing.

Just remember that they're all struggling. The Dalai Lama gets the blues, too. Kindness takes no energy. You can see which ones are having fun.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Looking For Diamonds In The Snow

Where is the mystery? Am I the only one who misses the exotic? What happened to the mysteries of the Orient? I'm not even supposed to call it the Orient. Maybe I'm exempt. I'm a geographer. You know- like doctors can ogle naked people.

I'm not interested in your hoo hoo. I'm a doctor.

I once found myself the only non-gynecologist in a cluster at a fancy cocktail party. The only topic of conversation was, yeah- you got it, vaginas. No, not in some clinical, boring physician-speak. Locker room talk. Think Billy Bush. Donald Trump. Names were named. Familiar names. I'll write it off to alcohol but I was embarrassed and, obviously, I never forgot it.

As usual, I digress.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Wrong Side

When the wind blows your dreams away and everything goes into black & white in slow motion, consider your options. You can wait for rain and bone up on your Portuguese or you can paint your nails in that shade of fuchsia that Jayne made famous. Either way, you're done.

Sometimes when daylight saving time starts I wake up in someone else's movie. I mean, I'm no fashion plate but these are not my duds, by God.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Frosty Hearts Don't Thaw

Truth went out of fashion quicker than the flattop once we were tempted by the alternative. Maybe it was always overrated. Maybe we're just drawn to the ones who tell us what we want to hear.

Cloudy eyes make it easy for old folks to ignore the present and dance in the past. Tears screw up that plan. Daylight savings time and another hour gone. Some of us don't have it to spare.

Maybe I should have written longer songs.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

These Ghosts

I know where they live. They can't hurt you when you realize that they depend on you for their existence. You put that tinfoil on your fillings to learn about pain. It worked. The dreams? That's their theater. Their dance floor. 

I've never forgotten anything. Any thing. There's a lot that I can't talk about, write about. There's a lot that I can't think about. I'll carry that with me till the end with all the rest of it. I hoard memories. That's what I do.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Time and Records Warp

She was smarter than the other girls, stronger than the boys. She was beautiful in every way. She was funny and she was kind. I'll never know what drew her to me. Everything about growing up finally pulled us apart.

Years and then decades passed. We would only hear from each other through high school friends.

Then, out of the blue, she visited.

"Are you happy?"

As usual we were communicating on separate planes. She could see that I wasn't living the life that I was built for.

She took her life a few weeks later.

I don't know that I'm happy now. I am living the life that I was built for. It's getting late. I may not save the world. I won't stop trying.

Give us peace on earth and end this dreadful, dreadful war.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Who's A Good Boy?

There are no pictures of him. I would know by now. Sometimes I go for six months, maybe a year, without thinking of him. He's never far from my mind and he'll always be in my heart.

 It was the first time I ever heard, "He's so ugly, he's cute."

About a foot long, half pekingese, half dachshund. My new puppy. Yeah- Sparkle looked just like what you're imagining. My mom brought him home from work. I was in the first grade.

If anyone opened the front door for too long or if the gate didn't latch right, Sparkle would go on the lam. We would always have to call Uncle Reid to come over and track him down. Once he spent several days in the pound. When Uncle Reid showed up to bail him out, he described him looking like a drunk in jail, looking up shamefully through bloodshot eyes.

Everybody loved Sparkle. I got used to hearing, "He's so ugly, he's cute."

When we decided to move to Florida my mom explained to me that we would have to find Sparkle a new home. He was still just a puppy.

Margaret, Aunt Noot's maid in Jemison, offered to take him. Margaret had, probably, the biggest heart in the world. In a real church in a perfect world Margaret would have been canonized a long time ago. She lived in Niggertown, on the edge of Jemison.

We had only been in Tampa for a few months when we got the news that Sparkle had died. He had been playing with the kids. That's what he did. He was running along with the little boy on a bike when he was run over. Margaret held him in her lap and rocked him while she sang to him all night until he took his last, sweet breath.

My first puppy. My first loss. I'm writing Sparkle a song. I don't get much written before tears keep me from seeing the page. I suppose Niggertown's gone. Probably some suburb now with electricity and indoor plumbing and everything.

I learned a lot about love from Sparkle. I learned a lot about love from Margaret.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Barnacles On The Anchor

How very queer. Kindness is free. Takes no real effort. Isn't it obvious to anyone paying attention? Sometimes it seems that I'm something of a broken record here. I sit down to write about rock'n'roll and hot rods and heroes. First thing you know I'm preaching about peace and love.

Oh, I'm not apologizing. If kindness ever becomes fashionable I may run for office.

Give us peace on earth and end this dreadful, dreadful war.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

What Would The Queen Say?

Spring has sprung and my emotional condition is on life's Tilt-A-Whirl. Again. My grasp on life is tenuous on a good day. Sadness brings songs and the joint is overflowing. This time around there seems to be a healthier mix of joy in the pudding.

Most folks don't take novelty songs seriously enough. I would love to sit with the Dalai Lama and listen to the Okeh Laughing record. Or this.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Everything Matters, Everyone Cares

Once they shielded me from darkness and now they're gone. Sometimes I look down and realize that I'm on the wire and there's no net. Oh, I'm closer to the other side but what comfort is that? How does fear manifest itself? Loneliness.

Maybe I would be jealous if there was something I wanted. Nope. 

Content. Peace of mind. No, something's burning.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Batman World

The news on TV reminds me of a new Batman movie. Chartreuse hair on a bloated orange villain boasting of grabbing women by the pussy; evil commie spies; stammering little dweeb, waving his arms trying to make it all go away- you know the characters. You've got a TV. You tell me that Kellyanne and the Steves aren't right out of central casting. Boy, oh boy.

Now, riddle me this:

Can you imagine the orange villain not pushing the button if, or when, they come to get him?

Friday, March 3, 2017

When To Fold 'em

Radio static and two more hours to fill. My, my. In my life I've often walked away. These days I seem to have little left to leave. That's okay. That's alright. 

I've tilted at more windmills than most folks will ever encounter. Oh, I'm not bragging. I'm not wringing my hands, either.

In my defense, I've been abandoned more often than any leaving that I've done. None of us will ever forget being the last one picked for the kickball game; the last boy asked to dance when they tried to teach us to square dance.

Here's the secret: I didn't play hard enough. I was socially inept. I am socially inept. I wouldn't pick me, either.

Don't read into any of this that I'm feeling sorry for myself. I have. I'm pretty good at it. Now? Now I wouldn't change a thing. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Quiet Life

Smiley sang and Elvis quoted, "Always lived a quiet life, I ain't never did no wrong."

Of course I was fascinated as an eleven year old. Still am.

I ain't never did much wrong, either, but I've always had bad intentions.

These days I tend to re-live the memories of the few sordid adventures that I've ever had. If you have good ones, share them with me. Please.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


Lower the bar? It's on the floor. As I listen to crude comparisons to Churchill and even Raegan, I'm more amused than alarmed. While I have been wringing my hands, mourning the loss of rock'n'roll, our democracy has been hijacked.

Maybe the miracle is that either one lasted as long as it did.

Every good story needs a villain. Roll over, Dick Clark, tell Donald Trump the news.