Monday, February 19, 2018

Oklahoma Outlaws

"You ever bring that old goddamned tongue of yours north of the Canadian [River] I'll cut it out and feed it to my wolf pups. That and your nuts, too. " - Bluford "Blue" Duck, Cherokee outlaw
Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Super Bowl LII

Eagles 41
Patriots 33

Frankly sick of the yoopers calling it a mild winter. Mild winter my ass. Snows three inches on a bi-nightly basis and it's permanently 3 degrees. Kindergartener's puking left and right at school.

Listened to some really bizarre stations driving out of the U.P. and below the bridge late Friday night: IUPUI basketball; Sharks--Bluejackets Columbus broadcast; high school hockey galore; the London Knights(!) broadcast from Ontario; ESPN Cincinatti; Chicago sports radio; and a neverending loop of Rush Limbaugh zealots while scanning the radio dial, on which today's buzz word is "memo". Can personally guarantee that I was the only one on the Mackinaw Bridge to catch Ken Kal's trademark "Scores!" for Trevor Daley's second period Red Wings game winner. Not a car in sight. Saw lots of snowmobiles headed East across the U.P., clustering for untold events in yooper towns like Munising, Seney, Christmas, and Manistique, but in total no more than ten cars travelling in my direction towards St. Ignace and the bridge.

Arrived in Farmington Hills circa 1:00 a.m., jittery from coffee and the road. Alone in the dark, watched "All Eyez on Me," the moving Tupac biopic, and in the unsettling dawn I'm forced to face bitter truths about my sheltered childhood -- how my opinions about all rappers as artists were subconsciously molded by teachers, nuns, Reagan parents. Tupac was vulgar, sure, but I have a new respect for him as an artist. Maybe that's why I'm so outraged at society. A sheltered upbringing plus a mercurial personality.

Spent Saturday morning home alone at Frank's. Slept only about five hours but drank two large cups of dark coffee and had some wedding cake while watching "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: the Long Haul," listening to Shooter Jennings and Jason Isbell, and editing, for the hundredth time, chapter one of Visions of Yzerman. Serenity starting to take hold. Played some Alligator Jackson and the Wrinkle Neck Mules.

Later, drove home through the snow listening to the beginning of the Michigan-Minnesota basketball game, which started as slow as the traffic in Livonia-Westland. Met up with the parents and the three of us ventured out to Depot Town in Ypsilanti, where we joined Pat, Colette, Kate, and Kris for an early dinner at Maiz. Patrick looking more like Jesus -- or Johnny Damon, take your pick -- every time I see him. We're a pretty progressive bunch. Ate tacos and enchiladas while I shuffled back and forth to catch the end of the basketball game, an overtime Wolverines win sealed by Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. Mom, Dad and I bitched about Trump the whole ride home (Dad's come a long way). Driving through Ypsi and Wayne, face unpleasant flashbacks to that summer I worked at the Washtenaw County PD Office, that summer my alcoholism started spiraling out of control.

Good times with the guys Saturday night at Frank's condo -- Adam, Bryan, Frank. Watched the Doc Ellis documentary. Goofballs left me to go out to "dinner," came back roaring drunk. Bryan got socked point blank with an indoor snowball. He and Frank engaged in a roughhouse game of tackle football wrestling. They're all passed out by eleven at the latest, after Taco Bell. Hockey Night in Canada and jams for me, please. We're mostly a progressive and hedonistic crew. "Mama, It's just my Medicine" blasts in the background.

Tampa Bay killing it under Steve Yzerman -- they're up 3-0 in the second period on HNIC from Vancouver. Come home, Stevie Y. "Sweet home Alabama, play that dead band's song. Turn those speakers up full blast, play it all night long."

Super Bowl Sunday

It's a dreary, snowy Super Bowl Sunday in metro Detroit. Jet-lagged (jeep-lagged?), I rose slowly before venturing outside to shovel the driveway for my parents. The woods hanging over Millwood Village were snow-capped like I remembered them. The smell of chimney smoke cut the cold air, and I found serenity again, for a time, remembering childhood snow days in those woods -- sledding down the banks of the Rouge River, or down Dead Man's Hill at the Nankin Mill. Lost serenity driving back over to Frank's, courtesy of impatient suburbanites racing each other to the grave.

Found Frank's condo deserted, again. Goofballs out getting drunk again, I presume. Winter weather advisory in effect for Wayne and Oakland counties. Aint no different here than in the Upper Peninsula. Reminds me of why I haven't quite run off to Alaska, yet. In an alternate life I should have went to law school in Baton Rouge, after all.

Bryan and I met up with our old friend Trey. We're a very progressive but multifarious group. Laughed harder with them than any other point of the weekend. When we returned, "the super bowl accident" heard 'round the condo cleared the place out pretty quick. Super Bowl more or less ruined by drunken debauchery and a short-temper -- an intra-cousin argument. Surprised to find myself feeling quite out of place, indeed, at the suburban super bowl parties.

Downright depressed Monday morning hitting the road North again. Lasted through Fenton, Mt. Morris, and Birch Run. Mood starting to lift past Saginaw and Flint, typical whitewash through No. Michigan -- West Branch, Gaylord, Indian River -- and massive ice glaciers beneath the Mighty Mac. Found some sort of serenity, again -- however fleeting -- at the 449 mile marker, a scenic pullout along Lake Superior that looks west to the pier-like town of Marquette, its city lights flickering under a brilliant pink, orange, and merlot sunset. The lake is frozen over clear across the Marquette Bay, rows of diagonal whitecaps frozen mid-crest as if stopped in time. A year to the day since I was in the psych hospital, again, so I guess I can say I'm doin' okay.

Saturday, February 3, 2018


Dropped acid, Blue Oyster Cult concert, fourteen years old
and I thought them lasers were a spider chasing me
On my way home, got pulled over in Rogersville, Alabama
With a half ounce of weed and a case of Sterling Big Mouth
My buddy Gene was driving, he just barely turned sixteen
And I'd like to say, "I'm sorry," but we lived to tell about it
And we lived to do a whole lot more crazy, stupid shit

And I never saw Lynyrd Skynyrd, but I sure saw Molly Hatchet
With a .38 special and the Johnny Van Zant Band

One night, when I was seventeen, I drank a fifth of vodka
On an empty stomach, then drove over to a friend's house
And I backed my car between his parents' Cadillacs without a scratch
Then crawled to the back door and slithered through the key hole
And sneaked up the stairs, and puked in the toilet
I passed out and nearly drowned, but his sister, Deedee, pulled me out

And I never saw Lynyrd Skynyrd but I sure saw Molly Hatchet
And the band I was in played "The Boys are Back in Town"

Skynyrd was set to play Huntsville, Alabama
In the spring of '77, I had a ticket but it got cancelled
So, the show, it was rescheduled for the "Street Survivors Tour"
And the rest, as they say, was history

So I never saw Lynyrd Skynyrd, but I sure saw Ozzy Osbourne
With Randy Rhoads in '82 right before that plane crash
And I never saw Lynyrd Skynyrd but I sure saw AC/DC
With Bon Scott singing, "Let There Be Rock Tour"
With Bon Scott singing, "LET THERE BE ROCK!"

- Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley
Drive By Truckers
"Let There Be Rock"

Saturday, January 27, 2018

On to Montana

"To Augustus's surprise, Call sat down on the porch and took a big swallow from the jug. He felt curious -- not sick but suddenly empty -- it was the way a kick in the stomach could make you feel. It was an odd thing, but true, that the death of an enemy could affect you almost as much as the death of a friend. He had experienced it before, when news reached them that Kicking Wolf was dead. Some young soldier on his second patrol had made a lucky shot and killed him, on the Clear Fork of the Brazos -- and Kicking Wolf had kept two companies of Rangers busy for twenty years. Killed by a private. Call had been shoeing a horse when Pea brought him that piece of news, and he felt so empty for a spell that he had to put off finishing the job.

That had been ten years ago, and he and Gus soon quit rangering. So far as Call was concerned, the death of Kicking Wolf meant the end of the Comanches, and thus the end of their real job. There were other chiefs, true, and the final fights were yet to be fought, but he had never had the vengeful nature of some Rangers and had no interest in spending a decade mopping up renegades and stragglers.

Pedro Flores was a far cry from being the fighter Kicking Wolf had been. Pedro seldom rode without twenty or thirty vaqueros to back him up, whereas Kicking Wolf, a small man no bigger than the boy, would raid San Antonio with five or six braves and manage to carry off three women and scare all the whites out of seven or eight counties just by traveling through them. But Pedro was of the same time, and had occupied them just as long.

"I didn't know you liked that old bandit so much," Augustus said.

"I didn't like him," Call said. "I just didn't expect him to die."

"He probably never expected it neither," Augustus said. "He was a rough old cob."

After a few minutes the empty feeling passed, but Call didn't get to his feet. The sense that he needed to hurry, which had been with him most of his life, had disappeared for a space.

"We might as well go on to Montana," he said. "The fun's over around here.""

- Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

Friday, January 12, 2018

I had a cure, for your disease
But you threw it away
And you made it clear I was not welcome on these seas
And you threw it away

So I sailed and I sailed for so long
My hair grew long and my heart grew cold
I face certain death without you near

And I felt the storm and swam until the skies were clear
And I found a home along this crooked road
And all of this would have been
All of this could have been yours
All of this should have been
All of this could have been yours

Black clouds roll, right over red doors
As the waves were high
So was I
And the moon never looked so angry
As when our walls came crumbling down

It was so peaceful
It was so beautiful

All the destruction, it was quiet
All of this would have been 
All of this could have been yours
All that you love, will be carried away
Oh all that you love, will be carried away

All of my pain, that you put on my name
All of my doubt, and all of my shame
All of my guilt, my denial and fear
All of my hatred and all of my tears
All of the time that I couldn't go home
All of the times that I froze alone
All of the sadness all of the lies
All of the shadows that blackened my eyes
All of the servants, who cheated, who stole
All of the colors from the depths of my soul
All of the wounded, that you left for dead
Now creep in the corner, they're all in my head

- Shooter Jennings, "All of This Could Have Been Yours"

My Friends in the Pre-dawn Silence

"We had known each other for eight years at that point, and our flat, fierce disagreement over virtually every line of this ditty for Tracks (an Australian surf mag) made me wonder when our literary differences had become so pronounced. When we first met, in Lahaina, what drew us together was discovering we loved the same books. In fact, the first words I ever spoke to Bryan were, "What are you doing with that book?" He was crossing a post office parking lot with a Ulysses in hand, and the familiar prongs of the big "U" on the Random House paperback cover had caught my eye. We stood there in the sun talking about Joyce, and then the Beats, for an hour or two -- while Dominic waited impatiently in the shade -- and it seemed inevitable that we would meet again. Of course, our tastes had never been exactly the same. I was the more dedicated Joyce fan -- I later spent a year studying Finnegan's Wake with Norman O. Brown, an exercise in masturbatory obscurantism that Bryan would have never undertaken -- and he had an eye for genre fiction, including westerns, that I lacked. I liked Pynchos; Bryan thought his prose awful. And so on. But we were always turning each other on to new writers and, more often than not, finding the same virtues in their stuff. Bryan tended to be years ahead of the reading public -- he was extolling Cormac McCarthy's work long before most critics had heard of him -- and I was glad to follow his leads. In Australia we were digging into Patrick White and Thomas Kenneally and turning up our noses at Colleen McCullough. So why did every sentence he write about Aussie surfing annoy me, and vice versa?

We were headed in different directions, clearly. I had started as a teenage lyric surrealist, language drunk a la Dylan Thomas, and had been slowly trying to sober up. I was now more interested in transparency and accuracy, less enamored of showy originality. Bryan remained enchanted by the music of words -- what he once called the 'incredible foot-stomping joy of a well-turned phrase'. He loved pure captured dialect, cracked vernacular humor, vivid physicality, and a knockout metaphor, and he disliked nothing more than a lazy stock expression."

- William Finnegan, Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life