Saturday, January 16, 2016

Saturday morning videos 4

We crusin' southland lookin' for our long lost juke shack or maybe California and the heat of L.A. women, smell of the mountains, Got a six-pack of...Pabst Blue Ribbon, Schlitz or Rheingold. A few joints. Goin' to a beat up ROADHOUSE. We is holy, man. This is the land where the hoodoo man died, where Hooker reigns sublimely from the pitch black, Mississippi and Chicago chillen' deep from the pores of the Parchman black body of the blues and Morrison speaks of empresses, pharaohs, Ghost Dance and the lost American midnight. Yells with ferocity. Midnight. Goin' to the road house! Yeah.

Carol Burnett always had Jim Nabors on to launch each new season of her show. Here he is around in around 1976, 77. He's brilliant, holding stage command over the Lawrence Welk-like dancers. He enjoys it and how could anyone not know he's gay? I remember as a kid hearing him sing on one of those Thanksgiving or Christmas parade shows. "He sure can sing," my mom said. "You know he's a fairy?" I'm glad he made it legal with his long-time love, Stan. Good for them.

Can this song really be 25 years old? Whatever happened to youth? So elusive. Somewhere around 1991 I was at my friend Steve's house in Rushing Waters, Kan. He played me two cassette tapes he'd recently bought -- Smashing Pumpkins and Screaming Trees. They both rocked.

Iris Dement. You may have heard her version of "Everlasting Arms" in the Coen Brothers remake of True Grit. But she's been around since the early '90s. I think the above video is an Austin City Limits performance from 1995 where she sings about a philandering, dead beat dad husband who let his family down. But hey, he found religion so he's a new man and she should take him back. The song's title tells you how she feels about that. "God may forgive you but I don't, yes Jesus loves you but I don't." She's come into her own as a woman and there's no room for him.

Night time. I was on U.S. 254, driving home from a late night at work. I flipped the radio dial around, landed on this woman's show. Don't remember her name. I would later read some article saying she was a cross between Oprah and Sex and the City. Women called in and talked about being women. The woman's husband cheated on her. She discovered him in his car in a parking lot. The stylist who cut his hair was going down on him. "Just empty your bank account and let the bastard rot," the radio host said. (Silence) She played this song. I was nearing that turn on the highway that would take me home. I cried loudly and uncontrollably. There was that time when I fell in love (or thought I did) with a woman other than my wife who found out. I think I subconsciously set myself up to be found out. I was in hell, my lying, unreliable heart going against my morals. How could I have ever entertained the thought? What if I made love to another woman? What if I hurt my girl, my lover, my best friend, the woman of my life? Made her feel hallow, like living...half a life? That's what the singer is singing about. What if I killed her soul like this? The man in the video is toxic and full of lies and poison. I don't want to be that man. It's a beautiful video. Like a ballet. Artistic. I love the way it borrows from West Side Story.

My latest favorite song. I wake up early in the morning to it. Love the way it sounds on my phone. A classic from 1979, a year that saw a lot of great music. Love those original Gerry Rafferty lyrics. "He's got this dream about buying some land. He's gonna give up the booze and the one night stands." Dave Grohl sings, "He's gonna give up the crack..." It's hard edged, the signature saxophone sound of the original version duplicated by loud guitars. I love when newer artists take on '70s classics the way Sonic Youth did with the Carpenters' "Superstar" or Radiohead with their covers of "Nobody Does it Better" and "Rhinestone Cowboy." Foo Fighters has gotta be my favorite of the newer rock groups (and Radiohead). Yeah, they've been around for 20 years, which ain't really new until you think about the world's greatest living rock n' roll band, the Rolling Stones.

80 Proof Engine is a folkish accoustic bluegrass-punk band out of Newton, Kan. in the spirit such Wichita staples as Split Lip Rayfield and Carrie Nation and the Speakeasy. They regularly play at Sadie's in Newton and they'll be playing at Kirby's in Wichita this weekend. Unfortunately, I have a commitment this weekend and will not be able to make their show. Hopefully, next time. I wanted to show a video of them playing in some cellar, but this is the only one I could upload through YouTube on Blogger. Their new album is called Nastygrass. Upright bassist Dustin Nesser told the paper, Newton Now, the band is"an eight-cylinder alcohol-fueled machine." 

We can never have enough Leonard Nimoy. There were so many sides to him. He was much more than a Vulcan character on the Starship Enterprise. The man really did have feeling. His albums help make the late '60s and early '70s so wonderful. He was sensitive. What if he were a carpenter? Would you marry him anyway? Would you have his baby?

Stardust  written by the great Hoagy Carmichael. He was walking around the campus of his alma mater Indiana University in Bloomington one day in 1927 when the music entered his head. Recorded here by Louis Armstrong and his band Nov. 4, 1931 in Chicago. It's a sad song. The only way he can relieve the love he shared with a lost lover is through the stardust of a song that haunts his dreams. It's a standard, a prominent piece in the American songbook. Recorded by Artie Shaw, Glen Miller, Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Nat King Cole, Django Reinhart, Ringo Starr. Armstrong's has to be the definitive version.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

I want to reach you

I'm sitting in a beat up booth, watching darkness outside the glass window, gazing across the street at the honky tonk bar I could soon be drinking in, but I think I'll pass it up.

My job writing and investigating for a secret underworld society keeps me jumpin' like Jack Flash. Stuck in Grossmont County, Kansas again. Some kind of blues brewing within my soul like the piercing guitar solo at the festival somewhere in the spirited 196_.

The last time I did my laundry here was around 25 years ago. Had a job waiting tables at the country club here in the great town of Beulah. Waited on the upper crust during the lunch and evening hours. I remember late nights too, serving food and drinks to get-togethers of the Beulah Realtor Association, the Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce, the board of directors of the local community college from which I'd graduated.

Late nights I'd cut out with friends I'd worked with at the plastics factory before I got the uptown job. We'd go bar hopping, cow tipping, smoke a little dope, play some rock n' roll. But those lost nights are all an opaque haze now, some fog of life that occurs as you're jetting and jaunting from station to station and sometimes

getting stuck

Dirt and sudz

"Get over here, Gunner, don't be a buttface," the woman yelled at one of the three boys running and crawling over the concrete floor. She's wearing a fatigue jacket over her slightly overweight frame, her dark hair in a bun. She's called those kids "buttface" about 10 times.

There's a pudgy bald guy, a woman (the only attractive one in the bunch) wearing a pink jacket and a gruff man in a fading red shirt, his long gray hair giving him a look like a tougher, countrier version of Frank (William H. Macy). Looks were all he had in common with the user loser character. This guy at Country Queen Sudz was in control of his clan.

"If you make another comment, you're gonna make my decision for me," the old man told his son, definitely not a model of fealty as I'd seen John Gotti, Jr. to be toward his mob boss dead father on a recent 60 Minutes.

A woman in a dark vanilla hoodie was mopping a leak under one of the washers cleaning my clothes.

"I hope I didn't cause this," I told her. "Did I do something wrong."

"Nah," she assured me. Machines there do that shit all the time.

That family comes into the laundromat once a week, she told me while swooping the mop over the water and soap. They live in Cash.

"Cash?" I said. "Shit, that's 30 miles away. There's no laundromat between here and there."

Nope. No place to go

The grandparents are raising the three boys and the baby in the carrier set on a table beside folded underwear, jeans and flannel shirts.

"So they were taken away from their mother?" I said.

"She gets supervised visits, but yeah they were taken away. She's on drugs."


"Yeah," she said as she placed the "Caution wet floor" sign down. "Those little boys know their daddies but they're no better than she is."

Trap town

The last time I was in that laundromat (it wasn't called Country Queen Sudz then, don't remember what it was) I had washed my clothes at around 7 a.m. in the morning before work. I heard this woman on the pay phone, crying and pleading with somebody, sounding down on her luck and short of hope.

After my clothes were washed, dried and folded, I went into the broom closet-sized bathroom and changed into my country club uniform, black slacks, white shirt and black bow tie. There was a knock on the door. Less than a second later, I answered it, ready to go.

It was the woman who had been crying into the phone. Her eyes were still red with tears. I noticed she was holding a basset hound. "I'm sorry," she said tearfully to me as if she had disturbed one more person in life.

"It's okay," I said. I tried to sound compassionate regarding whatever she was going through, but I was soon gone. I wish I could've comforted that girl way back then but I didn't know what to say. I didn't know how to be a life toucher.

I could never reconcile the poverty and sadness in Beulah with my job, serving rich (they seemed rich to me) -- guess the right word is upscale -- people at the country club. Today I would say I'm just doing my job, trying to get by like everybody else. These days I know everyone has problems. Strained marriages. Infidelities. Drugs. Alcoholism. Those well-to-do people had it to, but it's taken time, a lot of time for me to figure things out.

"I'm gonna get the fuck 'outa Dodge," my fellow waiter friend Keith said after each shift. One evening, he didn't show up for work. Four, 4:15, 4:30 p.m. No Keith. He'd been at Schmoochie's bar all day where he'd gotten blasted on gin, Jack, vodka, beer. I knew he did Coke, pills and other shit I had a healthy fear of ever trying. I didn't judge. If my friends wanted to get drugged and snorted out, that was cool for them, but I wasn't going there. I was a beer, weed and Jim Beam man.

I got out years ago, but I've made peace with Beulah like I've made peace with God. God's all perfect. Beulah has some shit, good and bad. There's no reason for me to do my laundry here. I can do that at the hotel I'll be staying in tonight. Guess I just came here 'cuz I wanted to write. Things are getting better.

I've found ways to comfort the afflicted, other human beings, you know.

                               "Something on My Mind" -- Karen Dalton

The American Way of Dying

                                              "Vehicle" -- The Ides of March My Nissan sitting in the parking lot of Fairview...