Archive for August, 2007

Johnny Horton – Whispering Pines

August 30, 2007

Johnny Horton – Whispering Pines

music from an early time in my life, for Carolyn and Bob

My First Bicycle

August 29, 2007

We were so poor growing up that to me having any kind of toy was a luxury.  I remember once I had been so desperate I even stole something from my cousin.  It seemed he had so many toys and I had none.  He would never miss the one I took.  I justified it that way in my mind and felt I could sneak away with out the theft being noticed.  But I got caught, ofcourse… my cousin was so generous he ended up giving me more than a single toy, he taught me how to ride a bicycle.

Most kids growing up have had their first bicycle well before they turn 11, but not me.  If my cousin and I were to go anywhere he would ride me double on one of the several bikes they had.  Other kids in his neighborhood had their own bicycle but ownership was an elaborate expense in my neck of the woods.  I could only dream about it. 

One day my cousin decided he was tired of transporting me. I learned how to balance, pedal and steer that afternoon… stopping was the hardest part. From then on I would ride one of his sister’s bikes whenever we went anywhere.  Then the urge grew stronger, it was all I could think about.  I ached for the unattainable freedom that would come with owning my first bike.  I cursed my existence and grew despondent.  A bike meant more than just ownership, it was an equalizer.  I could travel under my own power with my cousin and his friends, go left or right at will, I would have my independence and own identity.  I loathed being seen riding a girl’s bike, his sister’s bike.  But I knew my mother couldn’t afford one.  My spirit was crushed with the weighty knowlege of our poverty. 

My oldest sister had married when I was about 9 to a man named Bob.  He was a dark haired, good looking man that had this common sense and knowledge that left me in awe every time I was near him.  I had grown up to that ripe old age without a dad or a male role model.  I didn’t know the first thing about hunting or fishing, carpentry, auto mechanics, sports or constructive tomfoolery.  Bob had wisdom that I adored and I immediately took to him like he was a godsend. 

Working with Bob at various projects was exciting as we got to know one another.  He seemed to make it interesting and fun.  Our conversations were heart to heart and he taught me a morality that I hadn’t learned until that point.  Bob expounded on things like how to be a man and overcome my fears, to stand up for myself and do what was right.  He had a love for nature and a respect for the creatures that shared it with us.  I had only been aware of my miseries and what I could not possess, I repeatedly moped about the bicycle that I would never own.

 As time went on my Mom wanted to move to another city across the state.  We moved around alot in those days, usually because the rent became due and we couldn’t pay it.  I was still in school and it was decided that this time I could stay with my oldest sister and Bob long enough to finish the school year.  I was thrilled, being with Bob was like hanging around with the older brother I never had.  He taught me how to work with tools and took me hunting.  We’d haul ass around in a beater pickup truck that he constantly tinkered with and claimed was about to break down.  Bob would ask me whenever we went somewhere in it, “Do you think we’ll make er?”  We always did.

Bob had played football in high school.  He had lived in the same area most his life.  He spent time with his Dad, respected him and enjoyed his company.  He worked at several trades and built the first house my sister and he lived in.  Bob was strong and peaceful, he’d even picked guitar in a country music band for awhile.  He loved to play cards and laugh, he fit in with my uncles like he had been a part of our family forever.  Bob was generous and kind.  I was always proud to be hanging around with him and bragged about it like he was my own father.

Christmas was a nasty holiday for me because I never got what I wanted.  I was convinced I wasn’t a good enough kid even though I wasn’t sure what being bad meant.  I knew my cousin would rake in the loot and I was just as good as he was… at least in my mind, but disappointment came as a commodity wrapped in  dread when the season approached.  I didn’t dare hope for anything, but I yearned for two wheels and a set of handlebars…

It was to be one of the best holidays of my life.  My sister and Bob had purchased things for their daughters and me that piled up under the tree like carefully placed stones.  My Mom had made it back with my other sisters and we ripped the wrappings and thrilled at every gift.  Even if the most we got were new socks and a shirt, the festivity of gift opening was intoxicating.  I smiled until my cheeks hurt.  Soon the shredding gift paper stopped crinkling, each individual haul was separated and we surveyed the carnage.  I was happy for the first Christmas that I could remember.

Then Bob got up and went to the back of the house.  We didn’t think too much about it because the adults had been moving back and forth, getting hugs and thank yous from us kids.   Bob called to me from the utility room. I went back with the thrill of the holiday still lingering in my mind, not aware of the impression that was being made for me to relive time and again forever.  There was a red, 26″ three speed Schwinn propped up on it’s kick stand waiting for me when I got there.  I broke down and wept like a baby.

“Well… what’s a matter? don’t you like it?” Bob teased at me.

“I love it!” I bawled, not ashamed to cry in front of him.  I thanked Bob a million times, like my life had just been spared… and perhaps it had.  I had never wanted something so badly before yet felt it so unattainable to have that I resigned myself to disappointment without a struggle. That gift changed my life.   

It wasn’t new, but Bob had repainted and refurbished it himself.  I rode that Schwinn up and down the street over the ice and snow the rest of the day believing it to be the best Christmas I would ever have… and I was right.

For all those good, good memories… Robert, thank you. 

Rest in peace.

Elvis – Viva Las Vegas

August 26, 2007

Elvis Presley ( viva las vegas ) edited djf

still the King…


CDs and Elvis

August 26, 2007

Mid-August had the distinction of two passing milestones recently.  The 30th anniversary of Elvis’ death and the 25th for the Compact Disc.  I’ve read a bunch about both, both have had an impact on modern Americana.  While one seems to be fading in popularity the other is going strong. 

I have my own observations…

I have seen without exception ALL of Elvis Presley’s movies.  My sisters loved him and as I grew up I did, too.  Though later movies were dissed by the critics, his earlier black and whites mixed in some good character studies with a few original tunes.  Even Flaming Star, a western, had the King singing one number in the film and the title song as part of the soundtrack.  

In Jailhouse Rock (one of my favorites) Elvis did most of his own choreography.  Follow That Dream showed Elvis’ true colors, his hair is not dyed its traditional black.  The film, Blue Hawaii, was one of his most popular and I can still sing “wise men say… only fools rush in, but I can’t help… falling in love with you.” better than UB40.  (whose version I think sucked)  The movie I have probably seen the most of Elvis’ is, Viva Las Vegas.

I didn’t know it at the time but the title song, Viva Las Vegas, was the only song recorded for a movie where Elvis performed the entire song in one take and in front of a single camera.  It still gives me goose bumps watching it.  (I didn’t care for the ZZ Top version, I liked it better as one man’s stand against the odds then as a rock anthem)

It is has been documented that Elvis claimed he got ill watching himself in some of his movies and that Tom Parker insisted that he make musicals instead of trying dramatic roles.  But as I watch his films in retrospective, the man had charisma and gave each role all he had.  

Jesse Winchester asked, “Where were you when Elvis died?” and I remember distinctly where I was and with whom.  Though I haven’t seen that girl in ages, I know when she reminisces upon that dreadful day she remembers who she was comforted by… 

Long live the King of Rock and Roll.  

I remember the first CD I bought.  Originally when CDs first came out they were only recording current music.  I always bought new vinyl records, raced home and recorded them on cassette tapes so the albums remained in pristine condition.  The phenomenon of the digital era didn’t strike my fancy until the recording industry wised up and started reissuing earlier classics. 

The very first Beatles CD to be digitalized was the White Album.  Not only did I buy a copy on the first day it was released, I bought my first CD player the same day.  I have had many CD players since then, but that disc still sounds the same as when  I bought it, flawless.  Digital music has been a boon for the audiophile in me.  Ironically, the first vinyl record I owned was the Beatles, White Album.  (and yes, I do have Elvis’ the Number One Hits on disc as well)

Now the music industry is complaining about the downloading of music and the formats that are being enjoyed today.  The CDs days seem to be numbered and will no doubt go the way of the vinyl records, 8-tracks and cassettes that were used a generation ago.  But I question the quality of some music, maybe the content isn’t quite what it used to be and that is why the sales are down.  Or perhaps as the music changes so must the way it is recorded, produced and distributed. 

I miss those days of album cover art ala Sgt. Pepper and listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon in endless loops on an auto-reverse cassette player as we buzzed the rurals back in Iowa, but one thing remains the same.

To quote Mick Jagger…

 I know… it’s only Rock and Roll… but I LIKE it! (though he sings it better than me)


Amy Winehouse – Rehab

August 21, 2007

Amy Winehouse – Rehab

is anyone exempt? check out below…  by the way, double clicking again will direct you to youtube.  (p.s. rejecting video embedding sucks…)


rehab redux

August 21, 2007

I wondered should I go to rehab and they said ‘yes, yes, yes.’

Six weeks in the sack, when I’ll be back is anyone’s guess, guess, guess.

So I will be doin’ time, it’s like a country club so I don’t mind.

They suggested that I go to rehab relieve my stress, stress, stress.


I’d rather be able to play

I got nothin’ to do anyway

I’m sure mopin’

just a hopin’ that they can reach me

before I go completely astray.

Guess  I’m unlucky in love

but with a little bit of help from above.


I wondered should I go to rehab and they said ‘yes, yes, yes.’

Six weeks in the sack, when I’ll be back is anyone’s guess, guess, guess.

So I will be doin’ time, it’s like a country club so I don’t mind.

They suggested that I go to rehab relieve my stress, stress, stress.


The doctor said, ‘you know why you’re here’

I said, ‘I have an idea

I wanna, I wanna advertise my name 

and possibly revive my career.’

He said, ‘ Do whacha wanna,

it’s hip to be a prima donna.’


I wondered should I go to rehab and they said “yes, yes, yes.’

Six weeks in the sack, when I’ll be back is anyone’s guess, guess, guess.


I don’t wanna fade away

I just ooh I just need a place to stay,

where I can be pampered

and treated like a queen for a day.

It’s not a sacrilege

infamy’s good for my image.


I wondered should I go to rehab and they said ‘yes, yes. yes.’

Six weeks in the sack, when I’ll be back is anyone’s guess, guess, guess.

Soon I will be doin’ time, like all the divas out on Hollywood ‘n’ Vine.

They suggested that I go to rehab relieve my stress, stress, stress.


Casablanca – As Time Goes By

August 19, 2007

As Time Goes By

the fundamental things apply…


John Mayer – In Repair

August 19, 2007

John Mayer – In Repair

not together but I’m gettin’ there…


new socks… same ol’ jaw

August 18, 2007

My socks are probably the worst casualty of my wardrobe.   I wear them mismatched, I wear them holy, I wear them without shoes… I just plain wear them out.  So last Thursday I bought a bundle of new socks at Sears just to help replenish my supply.  At my house socks don’t get thrown out, they just quietly fade away… (or get eaten by the sock monster)

 Anyway, I got to thinking about a conversation I had once about new socks.  We were talking about the experiencing of new things and somehow we got to talking about wearing new socks.

 “I’d like to have a new pair of socks for every day of the year!”  my friend states.

I thought that an odd request but I bit on it.  “Why?” I asked, knowing that we were headed for one of those cerebral conversations that I would one day reflect back on with wonder… (what the heck were we talkin’ about?)

“That way I could know the feeling of wearing a new pair of socks every day for a full year!”

I pondered that briefly.  (You know I had to have a rebuttal, don’t you?)

“Yeah, but after a while it would get to feeling old.”

“How could it?” my friend retorts, “They would always be new socks.  Every day a new pair of socks!”

“Yeah, but after a while they would feel the same.”

“You know the way a new pair of socks feel the first time you put them on before washing them?  That’s what I mean… every single day of the year a new pair of socks.  You’d have the feeling of wearing a new pair of socks each time you put on a pair.”

“Yeah, I get it… but I’m saying it would start to feel old after a while because it is the same feeling over and over again.  You’d get used to it.”

“That’s the feeling I’m talking about, wearing new socks every day.  How could new socks not feel like new socks?”

“BECAUSE THEY WOULD START TO FEEL OLD!  You’d get used to the feeling each time you put them on.  After a while the feeling of a new pair of socks would get old because it no longer feels different!  Every day, day in and day out… a new pair of socks.  Your feet would become accustomed to wearing them, there would be nothing new about them.  It would be like driving  the same new car every day, it would be a new car but it would be the same make, year and model as the day before and it will be the same make, year and model tomorrow and the next day and the next… eventually it would feel the same.”

“But it’s still a new car…”

“Yes.”  I’m exasperated by now.  “You’re right, it’d still be a new car…”

“And it’s always going to feel like a new car…”

“Yes… it would always feel like the same new car… not a different feeling but the same feeling of a new car every day of the year.”

“That’s my point… that’s the feeling I’d like to have every day for a year with wearing a new pair of socks.”


Sometimes I think I get the heel in before the toes…


bad attitudes, sick bastards and cheaters win…

August 12, 2007

Rory Sabbatini, Michael Vick and Barry Bonds.   Three different sports figures, three role models… is this what modern sports is all about?  We make them millionaires, put them on pedestals and label them heros… and when they don’t measure up we make excuses for them.  Or for ourselves for being so engrossed in their abilities and successes in the first place.

Sabbatini opens mouth and inserts foot.  Claims Tiger Woods is primed to be beaten but blows his chances to put his money where his mouth is.  Then he gets ticked off when an onlooker questions him during a tournament and has him thrown out.  Sorry dude, you set yourself up for that one.  Nothing wrong with putting the monkey on your back but if you get caca on your golf shoes, don’t blame the spectators who call you out for it. 

Michael Vick is a victim, I’ve heard it said.  The poor guy was coddled, made rich and famous before he was able to get the ghetto completely out of his system.  Deion Sanders said it wasn’t his fault, dogfighting is a heritage.  I can’t imagine such cruelty in the name of sport, and then the consequences facing the animals win or lose is appalling.  What mentality makes a man so indifferent to the suffering of man’s best friend?  I think of Lady and the Tramp, Old Yeller, Benji or Lassie and feel Michael must have missed out on those growing up.  I don’t care how well he plays football;  his heart is prone to sick, sadistic, blood thirsty violence.  

 Barry Bonds, home run king.  Not a media darling.  Angry with his image.  Feels he hasn’t been given his due.  Alright, maybe so.  But baseball has a legacy.  Statistics rule in this game.  Home runs by mere mortals like the Babe and Hank Aaron have been counted and replayed over and over again.  If steriods play a part in those stats, Barry has added a new column.  Mark McGwire should take notice.  

Oh, there are others, too.  It is probably a testament to where we are in the world today.  I read in the paper this morning they are drug testing high school students for steriods now…  16, 17, 18 year olds, possibly younger.  Where are the parents?  Looking out for that next hero’s paycheck… 

Why am I not surprised?