Like Spencer Short says, "There is nothing to not be amazed at". Everything is "not" the same. Madison is lakes & bricks & structures that are so aesthetically pleasing I feel like a dope. How can I be so young? I will be turning 45 on August 2...45!? It's like I am seeing the world for the first time. I lived in California all of my life. I have never traveled. Often I couldn't get out of my room. Soon I took my writing desk & pushed it against the door. It was not for writing it was a barricade. I came & went through the bedroom window. I put my cigarettes out on the floor. Last night I saw fireflies for the first time in my life. If I have seen them before I have no memory of it. I thought I was light-headed. I thought I was seeing things. Out of the corner of my eye, something blinked on, then off again. I stopped & squinted, then it happened again. & as my eyes adjusted, there they all were, a whole squadron of blinking lights turning circles in random patterns @ dusk.
It is shocking, really, to see so many things untouched. That is not even the right phrase. I think it is: To see so much cared for, maintained, respected. Montana & North Dakota were breathtaking. My cell phone stopped working. For miles & miles it was green. The Badlands, the silos & barns. The cattle & horses. No billboards. & I didn't even realize that's what it was until we made our way into Minneapolis & a pink moon rose over St. Cloud & our windshield was battered by mosquitoes, so much so that we had to pull over & wash them off because we could no longer see. & suddenly the same old landscape: Billboards & fast food chains, the same signs of the same wounds we have been running away from appear again & St. Cloud is no different than Motel Drive or 16th & Imperial or South Nashville or West Sacramento, because the sickness is everywhere in this country & in this culture & I am tired of fighting it. & I am not wrong & I am not crazy, there is something eating @ us & devouring us & we are too fucking blind & corrupt & stupid to see it. Maybe that is easier...because Love takes work & it is painful. The thing that is constantly on my mind & the thing that is nagging @ me is how do I protect it? & how do I keep it? & I realize there is nothing I can do. Once I start down that road I have already lost. I am wandering around with flying saucers for eyeballs & I am alone again. So...thank you Montana & thank you North Dakota, all is not lost & that is a trap in my mind, I don't have to chew my leg off to get out anymore. I am already free & the easiest thing to do is breathe.
Everything lead to here. We don't know what to expect. We move forward because we are compelled to do so. We just keep showing up. We keep listening to the ideas that arrive from...where? We keep saying, "Yes" even though The Fear & The Insecurtiy screams, "You can't do that!" "You can't go there!" We are learning to live with the voices of the unwanted guests in our heads. They moved in so long ago & apparently have no intention of leaving. But then there are these moments that confirm the journey. After falling flat on my face in Eugene, I get to stand up straight in Wibaux. Now here is the lesson: They both count. They both matter. One is just as important as the other. Everything is connected & the planet spins & spins & spins.
It's all connected. I have always thought so. Even when I didn't want to believe it & I thought I was losing my mind. Even when I couldn't listen to one more thought & my best idea was my worst idea. I couldn't trust what was happening. How could I? I was not smart enough or strong enough to hear the truth. It takes a world of effort to believe oneself. It takes every bit of courage one might have to follow the ghosts & souls of the past. The haunted words that appear in books & songs: Believe Them. "Don't be afraid" - That is what they are saying. If you feel apart or crazy or alone or different or hopeless or crazy...Good! What else could one feel in the face of complete madness? That is the "correct" feeling. The one that says, "Listen, Cry, Scream, Sing!" Stagger Lee, John Henry, Henry & Mr. Bones, Robinson - They might have dropped dead but, BOOM, they beat it.
The phone has stopped working. There is no internet service. We built a fire & watched the moon. I slept like I was dead. Melanie roamed the landscape & took pictures. Spike drank from the creek. I sat out in a chair & started writing the new record. Three new songs appeared from nowhere. Time has moved on. We hit the road today to try to catch up. Ten hours to Wibaux. Show number six.
I can get used to this business of being on the road. We have been traveling for ten days. I sat in the back of Luxe Coffee House in Spokane as the sun went down & the blue lights came up across the performer's face & I said out loud to myself, "I want to do this for the rest of my life". I said it without fanfare. I just said it like a reflex. It came out the same way a yell would if someone struck my finger with a hammer or I took a punch to the chest. It was involuntary & as clear as the sky above the river snaking away through the trees.
Because it has been said already doesn't mean that it is understood. So we keep finding a new way to say the same things. The hidden meanings. We stumble across them on the street or in a Korean Restaurant. We dream them & wake up & fumble for a pen before it's gone. & It is gone. There are buildings & bridges everywhere. A University town. I am floored by youth; the faces & the conversations & I can't help but feel I missed something. I certainly missed that. I learned something else. The girl with the sores on her arm & the backpack - the one picking her face. That is my education, my university & my mind. The Library of Time. The shelves are packed. A voluminous life. I fooled myself outside of Rep's Motel twenty some years ago. I told myself I had to go in to write the story. I didn't know the door would lock behind me. I didn't know I couldn't go back the way I came in. I've waited so long to tell it. You have waited to hear it I hope. I'd like to think I did it for you...for us.
Looks like we are headed to Woodstock. What happens next I can't tell. Today we are walking blindfolded. Today we are headed into the unknown. Events have been set in motion. The form has been chosen. What words will be written? What colours will be painted? What notes will be played? Leaving Eugene today. Leaving Oregon. Headed to Washington. When we get there we will have traveled the length of the Western United States. It doesn't mean anything. We could have stayed in San Diego. There are more trees in Oregon. It is cooler. Portland is green & cut with rivers & connected by bridges. We could stay here. Instead, we are moving on. Why? I don't know. Is it normal to not know why you do something? I think the question: "Is it normal?" is problematic. I want to stop asking that question.
Back @ the Motel 6 in Eugene. Show @ Sam Bond's Garage starts in about an hour. Sharing the stage with two other acts: Owl Paws & Moonlit Wheat. Cool little place, used to be an automotive garage. Melanie & Spike & I had lunch there. We met Diane & Molly & a crazy named Jack. Jack spit when he talked & his pants didn't fit. He screamed, "I want one hundred dollars." Jack is not alone in his desire for more.
Played to a packed house @ The Torch Club in Sacramento. Lots of friends & family were there. We met Downtown Willy Brown. Stayed @ an old friends house & Spike was on the "outs" so I slept in a hammock in the backyard with him. Slept two hours then hit the road for Oregon. Spent all day on the road & rolled into Eugene around 5pm. Checked in to a Motel 6. Played @ Mulligan's Irish Pub from 9-11. The only ones there were the bartender & a crazy guy shooting pool & Little Charlie, who gave me some weed(I threw it out). Got back to the Motel & slept like stone straight through till today. Made a REAL cup of coffee(finally). Headed to Portland to visit an old friend of Melanie's. Maybe I can find a suit in the city, oh yeah & maybe a ring.
I can hear dogs barking & crickets. The hum of the refrigerator. The clicking of the keys I hit with my fingertips. 5:30 a.m. I am sitting in the kitchen by the sliding glass door to my sister's backyard. The air is still cool. Spike is lying next to his water bowl. Today we leave Fresno. Our destination: Sacramento. I lived there for many years. I lived & worked & drank Downtown. I managed a bookstore there, then a restaurant. I was two people there, like I was always two people. The one I wanted to be & the hidden one. The hidden one was the real one & he devoured the false one. That was where I met Kid Durango & we discussed his movie: The Last Cigarette. I lived on 10th St. & 22nd St. & 26th St. I was living on 22nd St. when my mother died. Then came the madness & the move to 26th St. & that was my last stand in Sacramento & everything fell away from me. From there to here has been a lifetime. I am afraid to return. I am ready to return.
There is no time clock. Nobody has to punch in. We have to be in Sacramento on July 3. I have to be @ The Torch Club @ about 7pm. I can play & sing any song I want. I can crack a joke between songs or I can remain silent. We can drive during the day with the air-conditioning on, or late @ night with the windows rolled down. We have to be in Eugene on the 4th of July. I start singing songs @ Mulligan's Pub around 9pm. There might be somebody named Louis there.
Today was like my favorite kind of movie...nothing happened. A good movie has believable characters who are working things out & the dialogue is interesting & there are no car chases & nobody gets shot & nobody is a CIA operative or a serial killer. There is usually a main character or protagonist. Let's call him, oh I don't know...Marc. & this guy Marc, he has a checkered past. Not the most likeable fellow; a bit of an asshole if you want to get down to it. But you could say, if we were telling his story in a movie type setting, anyway the kind of movie I like, you could say this Marc figure had a nice day. Maybe that's not right. You could, or one could say, he had a rewarding or redemptive day. How so? Well, Marc spoke to an old friend, somebody he really loved & admired & that old friend seemed genuinely happy to speak to him, which is hard to believe because Marc was not kind. Maybe, if we were telling the story in pictures Marc is sitting in his Sister & Brother-in-Law's house, maybe in the parlour by the big front window. & in the other room we hear voices, his fiance & sister talking & laughing & @ his feet is a big white dog sleeping. We don't see the friend but we hear him & we watch Marc's face move & grin, only slightly, we would definitely need a skilled actor here...a master of subtlety. Its is a gratifying moment, because the first half of the movie was painful to watch. & then after that there is a long walk along a canal( I guess we could do some type of montage here, with say Fionn Regan as soundtrack? Yes, definitely Fionn Regan) with his sister & his fiance & a big white dog. A scene by the pool, a Chinese restaurant with friends...
We made it to Fresno! The landscape along Highway 99 is severe: scorched earth, piles of junk, abandoned buildings & miles of freight trains. The temperature is well above 100 degrees. Our vehicle overheated going over The Grapevine. Buck Owens Crystal Palace looks less than majestic. Spike got carsick & threw up. It is a mysterious place: The San Joaquin Valley. There is certainly something sinister hidden among the vines...but there is something else too. The symmetry of the fields, the ranch houses, the machinery & the silos. The breath-taking view as one descends from the mountains to the valley below. The geometry of a place mapped out in rows & green fields & orchards & ditches & railroad veins.
Today Melanie & I put all of our belongings into a trailer hitched to the back of our jeep. Everything else has been placed, kindly, thoughtfully, into the alley. North Park, San Diego now has the most well-read homeless(I have painfully departed with half of my book collection). It will be a long day, no doubt. Once this day is done, we begin a new chapter. First thing tomorrow morning we leave San Diego for good & head North. The first leg of the trip begins where it all started: Fresno. We will spend a few days there regrouping with family & friends. Then, July 3 is the first of a few shows we have set up along the way. Sacramento, Ca. The Torch Club. Hopefully nobody from the past will show up & ask me to leave. Like all days, there is no way of knowing what will happen next...stay tuned for details. peace. mxd