Sunday, December 29, 2019

Cowboys, Indians and Good Guys

When I was six years old I wanted to be a cowboy. Well, sir, they don't have cowboys in Birmingham, Alabama. I mean not real cowboys. Embroidered roses and tight pants tucked into fancy boots. A golden palomino, a fancy guitar and a red hot girl. Man-o-man-o-mighty!

From the age of nine until, oh, about yesterday, I suppose, my ambition has roller-coasted from rock'n'roll star to juvenile delinquent to race car driver to bon vivant to environmentalist, usually coming back around to rock'n'roll star. 

Besides lacking skills, credentials and knowledge, I've had inadequate pose. I mean I feel like a phony describing myself as anything with a title.

I write but I'm no writer. I sing but I'm no singer. I love... well, let's not go there.

Finally, it dawns on me that if you act like a nice guy, you're a nice guy. All I've ever wanted to be is a nice guy. 

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Over The Hill, Way Down Underneath

We're all fragile. It shows more on some of us. The holiday season is packed with all of the joy and all of the sorrow that flows in our veins. This fire in my mind consumes most of the negative brush and leaves a fertile ground for new beginnings.

Cursed with good memory, I walk in sand, counting stars and lucky breaks.

This life suits me.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Keep 'er In The Road, Boys

Life's a racket I tell ya. A racket. You think you're playing to win. Fact is, there are no winners. I'm betting that I don't have to tell you how it ends. If I have any strategy at all, I suppose it is to assemble more good memories than bad. 

Seems that I have a bunch.

So far, so good, I guess.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Most Likely

Maybe I can keep you from making the same mistake. I got out my three high school annuals. If only I could go back and re-write every message that I left for the ones who meant so very much to me.

I'm afraid that I've got too much love and I've never properly developed the skills to share it.

Oh, well. I suppose that I got the loving part right. "Socially awkward" just means that I don't express it well. After more than half a century, I finally understand some of the messages that my friends left for me.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

New Kid In Town

You spend years working on your act. For the most part, you're not even aware that you're doing it. I wanted to be a hoodlum but I didn't want to be mean or inconsiderate. I wanted to save the world but I don't have much ambition.

Rock'n'roll was my calling. Every now and then I was fashionable, based on that old saw about a broken clock being right twice a day.

Occasionally I have told folks that I wanted to be rich. Famous. Honestly, I never cared much about either one. I have always wanted to be happy. Sometimes I am.

Before you know it you're old as dirt and you are who you were always gonna be. The life omelette is done. Me? I'm something of a shy bon vivant. An introverted show off. A heathen preacher.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Whatta' ya Mean, We, Kemosabe?

Greta Thunberg's arrival on the world's stage staves off the sadness that consumes so much of my consciousness. I struggle with the images that I have seen of the starving polar bear. It is the thought of the ones who will never be born that does me in.

We all do what we can, I suppose. Thankfully, a few like Greta come along when it seems like the game isn't just rigged, it's over.

The Franklin Grahams and the Pat Robertsons of the world have done more than diminish a beautiful tradition for me and many others. That surely doesn't mean that I don't find some measure of joy and hope when the season rolls around to celebrate the birthday of the Prince of Peace.

You don't need a religion to know that the kingdom of God belongs to the children.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Okay Boomer

Holiday season is here and I find myself putting up a few lights. Hanging a couple of stockings. I don't know what's gotten into me.

Just as I was about to get good at feeling bad-


We all grieve in our own fashion, on our own schedule. I find myself now, overwhelmed with the joy of the love that I have known. The expectation is generally that we will "grow up." Well, sir, I got taller and my voice got lower. 

Mostly, though, I remember what they tried to teach me- "they" being my mom, my grandmother, the aunts and uncles, the cousins, some of the teachers, the heroes from rock'n'roll, the philosophers, a few of the preachers, lots of strangers and the women who put up with me for as long as they could. Oh, and the animals. Don't forget all the animals.

Funny- I kept thinking I was changing.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Fear Itself

Two things on earth I'm afraid of- the devil, himself, and falling in love.

Buddy, if you don't have voices in your head, I feel sorry for you. It must get awfully lonesome. Grandma's voice reminds me to get a coat. Jamaica's reminds me to enjoy myself. Maxine makes sure that Hank Penny or Sam Cooke keep singing. 

Of course, Sam Cooke and Hank Penny are long gone. Then again, so are Lottie and Maxine and Jamaica. I hear them. Loud. Clear. Often.

Recently I read that grieving is just a form of love. The object is "gone." Makes sense to me. If all lessons are about loss and all you need is love, my story almost makes sense.

Love hard and love shamelessly.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Wire Me The Funds

Taking stock, I'm aware that all that I have accomplished in this lifetime is that I know right from wrong. Don't worry about my self-esteem. I'm bragging.

Goodness knows I've had some fine teachers.

Growing old is, I have to say, a whole lot easier than growing up. I didn't do that very well so I hope to make up for it. I suppose I was always in training for this part.

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

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Too Many Genies

Sometimes I fret that maybe we've let too many genies out of too many bottles. I don't understand why peace and empathy aren't fashionable.

It's a little after 4:00 am. I can't sleep. I'm worried about koala bears' existence and children without enough to eat.

Do you suppose that war would be so popular without profit?

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Tenting Tonight

When they told us about Buddhist monks who never ventured outdoors after dark, for fear of stepping on ants or grasshoppers, I was captivated. It smacked of the kind of fantasy that I had always assigned to those stories that foster doubt. You know the ones- bottomless wells; the hook on the car door after leaving lover's lane; the late show on the last night of the fair at the hoochie-coochie show, where they showed everything.

Well, sir, I ended up one of those folks who will do anything to avoid hurting a living creature. I venture out after dark, but not often. It's not really because of bugs, so much, but that's a different story, for another blog. I'm not really a Buddhist. I suppose I'm more of a mutt, when it comes to denomination. 

The day has come to treat my house for termites and my heart breaks. I've managed to relocate the albino frog family from the front porch and I've arranged for some new digs for a few lizards who call the carport home.

Now, I'm not crazy and I don't want my house to fall down. I would be lying, however, if I denied that I have dreaded this event.

This is a long-winded explanation of why there won't be blogs for a few days.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Washed Away

What if I told you that dislodging any single grain of sand on the beach might shift everything in the universe. Everything's important. Nothing's important. Karma is real if you think it's real.

Russian news claims that the civil war is here for the USA and that the American empire is history.

In the words of David Amram, "Next!"

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Shoulda' Been

My friend, Ed, sings, "The world is algebra and sometimes the heart gets in the way," and I realize that, for me, "The world is heart and sometimes algebra gets in the way." 

Boy, if I could make it all rhyme, I'd have a story to tell you.

Too old. Nobody has to tell me. Doesn't really seem all that sad to me. I wasn't always too old. I juggle memories and call it meditation.

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

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Expert Witness, Ex-Pat Blues

"Would you be willing to consider that you're more sentimental than she is?"

"So, can we agree that she's an extrovert and you're an introvert?"

Let me express my heartfelt gratitude for the women who have dragged me off to therapy.

As a kid, I pored over movie magazines. I had my favorites, of course. I would be lying to you if I said that Alan Ladd or Jeff Chandler meant as much to me as Tuesday Weld or Jayne Mansfield. My life preparation was based, pretty much, on Photoplay and Modern Screen.

It became obvious to me that movie stars all had psychiatrists. In my youthful naivety, I concluded that movie stars were all crazy.

My first experience with a therapist had one purpose. Once I was pronounced "crazy" we could solve all our problems. Of course that pronouncement came quickly in the first session. No surprise. When the other person in the room was tagged a minute or two later, the tears began.

Suddenly I realized that movie stars are all wealthy. They have therapists because they can afford therapists. We all need them!

These days, I'm old and I'm not wealthy. I'm alone and still crazy. Life's pretty good.

Friday, November 8, 2019

My Own Bed

Now, I am aware, of course, that every generation leaves something of a mess for the ones coming behind them. Still, I can't help but feel tremendous empathy for Generation X, the Millennials, Generation Z, and the ones not yet burdened with a demeaning tag.

We know better. We were gonna make love, not war.

Oh, we have plenty of the good ones. They just don't make the rules.

We know what the consequence of burning down the Amazon forest will be.

In this country we spend vast fortunes building airplanes longer than football fields that we can strap atomic bombs to. To insure peace, you understand. We laugh at the lady who suggests that we could afford healthcare for all of our citizens. Meanwhile, we have slipped to #33 for infant mortality.

We're 33, we're 33! U.S.A! U.S.A!

For my part and on my own behalf, I am truly sorry. 

It seems hypocritical to offer advice. Here goes- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Try, always, to get back to love. Be kind.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Don't Mention It

What, exactly, is a good cult?

Show me an outfit that opposes war, supports peace and justice, teaches equality, stands up for the disenfranchised and promotes love and I'll give you my credit card information so that you might renew my membership annually.

Oh, I want to rescue strays, disable weapons, feed the hungry, build homes for the homeless and outlaw guns and the internal combustion engine, too, but I figure we gotta' start somewhere.

Take a good look around. Jesus couldn't get the nomination from either of those two parties. Buddha couldn't get booked on Ellen

This is not my century, boys. Neither was the last.

If you need a mantra, I suggest love.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

In My Dreams

Now, how I ended up between the two of them, I don't know. There was Bucky Fuller on my left and Dr. Bronner on my right. They were both giggling like schoolgirls, slipping little, folded notes to each other behind my back.

Nobody up here opposes anything, as in "anything goes." Pansexuality isn't racy, it's just a normal state. If you can imagine it, it's normal. Ain't no victims in heaven.

These two are flirting because it's fun.

Dinner this evening is egg nog and eggplant parmesan. The menu is your imagination.

So is the music selection. Little Richard is in heavy rotation tonight. So is Grandpa Jones and Billie Holiday.

Of course what makes it heaven is the presence of everybody I've ever loved.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Of Worms and Early Birds

To say that I've lived a charmed life won't do. I'll bet with a little more heartbreak, I coulda' been a poet. With a little more bad luck, I mighta' sung the blues. Sometimes I worry that maybe I'm using up more than my share of good fortune.

The women who raised me wanted a perfect life for me. I got it.

I'm shooting for tri-polar. If joy has any value, I'm a rich 'un.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Slippery When Wet

It's always about the last one, isn't it? Everybody waits forever for something and my view in the rearview mirror is most of what I have. At this point, most of my memories are good ones. 

Now, of course, I know that I should have listened more. Listened better.

Showing off for a living creates a real challenge for an introvert.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Sometimes I Do, Then Again...

"By being too sensitive, I have wasted my life."

Oh, I know what you're thinking- here we go again. No, I'm just quoting Arthur Rimbaud, that most fragile of all our dead poets. 

Some of us just work without a net; don't have guardrails; lack filters; need a governor. 

There's not a boss, partner, producer, editor, teammate, director or mate who could put up with me. I would like to defend myself, at least half-heartedly, by claiming that I have good intentions, but we both know better.

If I had it all to do over, I guess I'd do it all over again.

Friday, October 18, 2019

The First Time I Saw Benny- The Last Time I Saw Benny

Regrets? Not really. Not many.

Some rise to the surface when I spend too much time with myself. I suppose we all have memories that we would like to erase. That first encounter barely registers in the hippocampus savings account. 

There he was- a legend-in-the-making. I remember feeling a little bit sorry for him. Rockabilly had come and gone. He was on a bill with current stars. We never even called it "rockabilly" until it came back around. He was local. That's not good anywhere. Still, it stirred that stuff that flows in my veins.

Somehow, over the next few decades, we got to be close friends. We would sit and drink coffee and tell tales of rock'n'roll for hours at a time. European fans had found him and begged him to return. He had been, in fact, the first of the rockabilly stars to tour over there.

As my life spiraled and began to seem like one of his songs, we lost touch.

Then, one day, I saw him several aisles over in a record store. His collar was turned up and his hair was slicked back. I could tell, though, that he was not well. I slipped out without saying anything to him.

His obituary showed up in the tribune a few days later.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Something To Write Home About

Life is easy until you learn to make it hard. The scientists, of course, consider their work holy. The poets, too. Sadly, weapons are spun from the alchemy of the scientists and record and radio men defile the pretty music and the rhymes.

Try to imagine "nothing" and remind yourself why you believe whatever it is that you believe.

Smile at a baby and it will smile back. Somebody will have to teach that baby to hate.

Kindness is fashionable. Some folks just don't know it.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

The Edge Of Truth

Sometimes, not often, but sometimes I find myself standing on the edge of truth. It's one of the benefits of my job. I don't make much money and the retirement plan is lacking, but there are occasions when I can see all the way inside.

Somewhere in the mix of poetry and science is the stuff that makes it all up. The dervishes dance to it. Rauschenberg found it in the trash all over lower Manhattan. Sometimes I can smell it. In fact, every now and then the very specific aroma will stay with me for days.

Looking for it is like playing with mercury. The best-laid plans won't get it and you surely can't buy it. Sit still and listen to your heart. Wait a lifetime. If you're lucky, you may catch a glimpse of it.

Here are a few hints:

Lester Young, crushed velvet, sunsets on the Gulf of Mexico, new romance, old dogs, cracks in marble, kindness.

Here I sit, blathering on as though I'm some authority. I do know this- It parades in front of all of us. The fortunate ones, the poets, the scientists, are visited from time to time.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Where The Bones Are Buried

Overwhelmed with stimulus of every sort, I finally realize that I'm just along for the ride. I seem to barely settle into joy when heartbreak yanks me into the far lane. I swill poetry and I stop to look at every weed with a little flower. "Look Homeward, Angel" comes wafting across the lobes and I'm mournful. 

Knowing full well that I will leave this planet having experienced such a tiny portion of what has been right in front of me, keeps me searching. Oh, it doesn't keep me from a good nap. Yeah, boy- I'll rank a good siesta under a slow ceiling fan right up there with any extravaganza on Broadway.

Meanwhile, I've seen the girls dance at Club Lido and I've had Harold's root beer shakes at the Old Meeting House. I've danced and I've laughed, and I've loved and cried. I don't suppose that there's any such thing as doing it right or doing it wrong.

There's nothing out there that can't be patched up with kindness.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Majesty Traders

Maybe my reputation as lazy is based on misinterpretation of my distaste tor ambition. Now, I've always had some ambitious friends. I'm no threat.

Were the great Sufis lazy or merely anti-ambition. 

My secret is to keep expectations low.

I'm kidding you. I don't have any secrets.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Step On It

Luck, I have come to realize, is relative. I've already lived a long time, met the sweetest people, slept with the best dogs, looked at the most stunning art and listened to the prettiest music. I'm not bragging, I'm gushing,

Oh, I could rattle off specifics. You would hardly be impressed. One man's trash..., you know. 

At the tippy top of my list, though, is knowing just how lucky I am. 

Friday, September 27, 2019

Five More Minutes

Regrets? I have a few. 

No tour ever lasted for more than a month. Clearly a mistake in terms of career. Somehow, there was always a girl at home, or more often, a dog.

Given another crack at it, I wouldn't tour at all. What wouldn't I give for five more minutes to walk her and tell her what a good girl she is!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Rocket Boosters

A certain maudlin demeanor has set in on my leisurely existence. I cry over Publix commercials, natural disasters, left-over dog hair and Luke The Drifter records. I should be ashamed to tell you how excited I am about "God Friended Me" starting a new season. I am, but not much.

Maybe I'll get through the evening news with a Champagne Kir Royale and wait for a good Subaru ad to come on.

It's all in the hands of the poets now.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Boys In Hot Rods

There was a time when my every waking thought was about cars. Well, to be honest, there was the occasional stray fantasy featuring Brigitte Bardot or one of those peroxide blonde chorus girls from Club Lido, but I could dispose of those with a dose of manual dexterity.

Generally, though, it was all hot rods. By the time that I was legally able to drive, I was on my third car- a 1932 Ford, three window coupe with a Corvette engine. I most certainly would have killed myself except for the fact that it usually wasn't running. I have no mechanical aptitude. That has only been clear to me over the last ten years or so.

Now I drive what is likely to be the last automobile that I will ever own- my Aunt Jo's hand- me-down, 2001 Toyota Camry. What a fall from grace! 

I couldn't be more pleased with myself.

What is it about men and cars? Men and guns? Men and war? What is it about men?

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Hiding Elves' Ears

Everybody needs more love. It all seems so very simple. Somehow we seem to have created grand problems to make life difficult and painful for that path from birth to the grave. Worse, we have dragged all other creatures along.

After that first bite, we just couldn't put that apple down. From "Great googly moogly, she's naked!" to " I believe a half million smackers should get my kid into U.S.C.".

That therapist asked, " Could you consider that you're more sentimental than she is?"

Cue the comic book light bulb over my head.

Heck, I'm more sentimental than everybody.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Good Years And The Others

There may be no more daunting a task than to make up a "thank you" list. Looks like I may never win an oscar. Sad as that makes me, it's a big load off of my mind. My teachers and mentors, partners, bosses, relatives, lovers, roommates, wives, friends, gurus and neighbors make a list that is unwieldy. Add in dogs and cats, goldfish and assorted rodents and reptiles, and I have a list that nobody has the patience to abide.

You know who you are.

Most likely I have never thanked you properly. Acknowledging my social awkwardness, I will make no excuse. I have a sustained debt of gratitude that is no burden at all. It is an honor.

Don't think I don't know that you risked plenty to back me up; that you could have hired someone easier; that I'm difficult. Now, I'm aware that the dogs and cats and most of the relatives were in a more precarious position- not to mention the wives.

Oh, I know why you performed with me and I knew all along why I was invited to your party. Maybe I didn't say anything because I didn't want to embarrass you. 

Yeah, I know. That's not it.

Keep an eye on me. I'm doing the best I can. I love you.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Bring In The Bird and Put Out The Fish

What if it all makes sense at the end? 

Well, sir, everything seems to be making sense and I'm not buying green bananas. I suppose that if you have a life plan, the plan has an end. Of course, I've never had a plan and I'm not likely to devise one now.

The benefit, if there is a benefit, to this aging stuff is that nobody will be surprised when I kick a bucket.

I suppose I should have paid more attention along the way, but I'll be darned if I can tell you why.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

In All Sizes

Just when I thought that I had run out of heroes- ker wham!- Greta Thunberg!

Now, if you come around here often, you've gotten used to me whining about the demise of my beloved rock'n'roll. Okay, let's be honest- you're bored sick of it. Geezus, it hung around for decades. It was meant to last for a year or two!

Not all of my heroes have come from rock'n'roll, of course. In fact, Roy Rogers was the first. It doesn't escape me that he wore glitter suits and played guitar while he sang. In what for me was a logical progression, Elvis, and then the Beatles, provided most of my inspiration for most of the rest of my life. 

While the trvialist ninnies argue over exactly what event signaled the official end of the fab four, we can all agree that they have been gone for nearly half a century, with only half of them walking on the planet. I have been rudderless for more than half my life. My long life.

Of course I have writers and race car drivers, poets, hookers and sons of god; doctors and scientists, movie stars, cult leaders and ventriloquists whom I tend to put up on wobbly pedestals. I try to talk like them and dress like them and comb my hair like they do. Well, I don't comb my hair all that often, but, if I did, I would try to comb it like James Dean combed his.

Finally, it seems only fitting that I am thunderstruck. 

This is the real thing. This is a hero.

Greta Thunberg is the sixteen year old Swedish student who began school strikes in 2018 to bring attention to the climate catastrophe that the planet faces. She is currently in the U.S. speaking to various groups and organizations to bring awareness to a wider audience. I feel the same excitement that coursed through my sixteen year old body when the Beatles first came to the states.

As you might guess, a great number of American adults are finding time to ridicule, harass and even threaten this brave, young prophet. Oh, it's not strictly an American thing. Jerks and jackasses from around the world, who happen to submit to profit over science, are in on the opposition.

The wise sixteen year old takes it as a sign that she's dealing with truth. I do, too.

Welcome, Greta. You're just in time.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

One Search

The search feels like such a lonely endeavor, and yet, it's all the same search. If you're naive enough, you'll never lose your innocence. Of course, you will just seem dumb to most of the folks you meet. I have suggested that we leave the decisions to the poets. I'm gonna guess that that will be considered naive.

My jokes and my philosophy share brainwave space. It's handy. Of course my favorite comedians don't tell jokes. Never did. 

Oh, I ramble. That's what I do. You don't get good at rambling, but you don't get tired of it, either.

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

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Born Lonely

They slap you on the bottom to make you cry in the beginning and they keep on until it's over. When someone takes your hand and loves you, it makes you wonder why it's not all like this.

Maxine and Lottie always insisted that I was the smartest one. The most handsome. They told me that I sang prettier than anyone ever had. 

Now, I'm not particularly smart, but I was always smart enough to know that none of that was true. It taught me about love and I suppose that was my lesson.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Teacher's Pet

It's not about the guru. Everybody's got something to teach you. There is no design, no plan, no righteous path. Children will show you kindness, and dogs and cats will share joy with you.

Everybody gets hurt on the journey and that's just the way it is.

Seems to me that those of us who have been given everything should be honored to share the love with everybody around us.

Go, cat, go.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Go Cut Me A Hickory Switch!

The morbid angels keep an eye on them. Once they slumped on green benches. Now they belly up to the bar at the Emerald. No rush. Bars are dark and the good ones are cold. It's all part of the preparation, I suppose.

It's all about kindness. Pity the ones who find out too late.

What key? What's the difference? Sing with all your heart and mean every word of it.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Pale Blue Jawbreakers

Seems to me that the validity of miracles is really just an exercise in semantics. It's all a miracle to me. Boy, I woulda' traded that island for those beads in a wink of the eye. Still would!

Now, I've never tried to tell you that I'm smart. What if I convinced you and later you found me out? I would like to tell you that it's more important to be happy, but I'm not always happy, either.

With me, what you see is pretty much what you get. Problem is what you see tomorrow might be something else. Oh, I try to tell the truth, but, honestly, that keeps changing on me, too.

While you're beating the swords into plowshares, melt those danged guns down, too. 

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