Halloween 2008

     Every year the Dead would visit him and when they did he would not tell them to go away nor would he welcome them quite.  He was polite, offering them what little he had in his cupboard, and he would extend himself for tidbits of conversation. Outside his little house, witches would fly aloft like cardboard blacknesses, brooms tucked tight between their legs. On his porch were orange heads with glowing eyes and jagged teeth and candles guttered in sconces on his sagging walls.

     When silences fell upon the little conversations, he would stay still as one does with Native Persons when there is no need to talk and so no one does. We ride in silence, we and the hitchhikers, in this case Navajo kids from Many Farms or thereabouts. In Navajo Country, the hitch-hiker will not look at you, walks quietly backwards so that when you stop and pull off to the side of the long red road and step out to motion him into your car, he is now looking at you for the first time. You must nearly beg him to ride with you and there is no conversation once inside and travelling. It was that way with him and the visits of the Dead.

     When the Dead came visiting, they often wished to dance and drink beer. When the Dead came visiting, they seemed to want to forget, to get a little high, to talk a little loud, to sing a bit.

 Dead in automobiles would slowly drive by outside his house, the booming thumps of their magnificent sound systems rumbling through the foundations of his house. Their blown V-8 engines purred like panthers, black in the Southern forests. The Dead preferred the big band sounds of El Salvador and the strange Norteno sounds of Los Tigres and would park their rigs and join the party. The strange skulls of the partiers were not good at showing emotion, but sometimes, as he sat in silence watching the dancers, he thought he could see a smile here and there.


    “I’m hungry for sugar,” said the child and her mother said “Quiet, little one. The nice man will feed us soon. He asks for nothing and fears us little and is quiet and unassuming and genteel.”

     “Still, I am hungry,”  complained the child.  She had travelled a long way from old high altitude caves where she had been bound in odd positions for some centuries, and her skin had shrunk down on her bones and the tragic story of her former wet and fleshy parts had been at least partially discerned by the producers of at least two semi-scholarly film documentaries commissioned by the Public Broadcasting System.

     “We are proud people,” whispered her mother. “We will wait for him to offer us sugar.”

     When he finished showing the big skull with the iron eyes how to plug in the CD player and the other skull thing with the necklace of thighbones had boosted the EQ to emphasize the rock-solid bass players of the South and the beer was flowing, he would motion to the skeletal child and offer her sugar in the form of little heads made of the stuff and other little things, butterflies and crosses and saquaros and woodpeckers, all of delicious sugar. All the Dead would eventually have a bite of sugar somethings, even the ladies with luscious hips and skeleton faces rouged and painted would have a tiny bite, so tiny that it posed no threat to their wonderful figures. The girls in the little skirts and halter tops and high, high heels who danced with each other out by the sulking lowered cars passed sugar from his kitchen each to the other.  All the dead would eat and dance and have a beer or two and slide away into the night until finally he was alone.

Now we start again

     Well, it’s been a while but I’ve finally posted Chapters Nineteen and Twenty of Beaver Teeth over on the right there, for anyone interested, and I’ve revamped this blog and sort of learned how to work this new format and I’m returning to the older blog format where I can post Beaver Teeth stuff over on the right and return to more frequent postings ala a normal blog.  Not that it’ll ever be normal, because I get into these stuck areas where I don’t post for months because I’m worried about something or other.  Lately it’s been the progress of Beaver Teeth.  I’ve been working on this novel since the early Nineties of the lamented last century and there are some twenty chapters to go, but the re-writing has become more burdensome and necessary as I actually confront what I’ve got myself into.

     But, on the other hand (where is that other hand and what is it doing?) I’ve finally reached some conclusions and I’m finally moving ahead.  I’m happier, that’s for sure.  Thanks to everyone who reads this blog for the patience.

     Erin, the guy who theoretically manages this blog for me, is going to get the posts we’re still missing up if I nag him enough.  At least the old ones are back, listed as Manila, for reasons no one needs to know.

     One thing missing is the ability for anyone to post pictures directly to the comments and I’ll try  to figure this out pretty soon.

     First, we’re going camping for a week.

Putting the X back in Xmas

“A member of St. Nicholas Catholic Church portrays Jesus while riding a lawn mower during the parade.”
The picture above and its caption appeared in the local weekly, the Mystery Island Slack Tide, a newspaper that at times rises to sublime heights of comedy proofreading, so insane and so often that I haven’t saved the mistakes over the years. This is typical of me, a person who cannot even remember simple jokes. Sometimes humor is best served by avoiding the obvious, however, and the Slack Tide’s Hilarious Headlines would be best served up in, say, Proctor’s Planet. But, proofreading isn’t the entire point here, there are deeper matters afoot.

Point being, as the Big Blonde Babe often says, point being the picture. You just can’t get something funnier than this picture on any number of levels. And look at the look on his face. When I first peered at him, I thought he might be slightly smiling behind the Insane Fake Beard, but now I think he’s uncomfortable, unsure of himself, perhaps hovering between a peremptory wave to his wife and daughter and a horrible sense that time is passing at an incredibly slow rate. And this Jesus has on a gold bracelet or watch and, best of all, sunglasses. The fact that he’s dragging a cart full of depressing Spring flowers makes it unseasonal for Christmas, but what the hell. It’s Jesus and the holiday is, if nothing else, named for him.

In other words, for most of us, of course, The Holiday has nothing to do with Him at all. It’s a cheerful Native Festival based around a yearly potlach-modeled gift/blackmail wealth distribution system, featuring a kind of display of ancient music forms with incomprehensible lyrics and legendary figures with or without red noses and features best of all, the worship of the real hero, the reason the whole thing should be called Santamas anyway.

Why it’s Christ’s mass, we’re not sure, most of us. But if you ask us about Santa, we’re with you. We know why it’s Santa’s mass. Every credit card in our depleted wallets knows why. I think that’s one reason that the picture is so disconcerting. If Santa were riding a lawn mower, we would immediately understand. They got the wrong guy on the mower and our Member is understandably confused, perhaps, as are we.

As well, we are assured that the person pictured is not Jesus Himself, but a Member portraying Him WHILE RIDING A LAWN MOWER. That’s the key point, the proofreading point, the editing point. A point worthy of capitalization.

Is The Member portraying Jesus while he, himself, is riding the lawn mower, or is he portraying a Jesus who is Himself riding the lawn mower? It’s not a minor point. This opens up a world beyond proofreading. Followers of Jesus will be quick to point out that He can do many more miraculous things than simply riding a lawn mower, in other words it’s perfectly plausible that Jesus might have ridden one, nothwithstanding the tremendous disparity in Time between the supposed death of Jesus and the commercial availability of the lawn mower. Think of the few things your santa-pagan brain knows about Jesus: water to wine, loaves to fishes or vice versa – whatever – and that whacky coming back from the Dead and not even mentioning the virgin birth thing. He might have created a lawn mower from a frog, he might have transported himself into a Future where a Time Traveler a little too large for the lawn mower still rode one. You can’t win this argument, and don’t bother.

On the other hand there’s the perfectly plausible argument from the even-handed Absent Proofreader that we’re merely looking at a guy dressed up as Jesus who is PORTRAYING Him while at the same time trying to drive a lawnmower downhill in front of townspeople while dragging a cart behind, blinded by the sun and wearing essentially a dress and a false beard and a wig. This in itself would be a considerable accomplishment, and the Slack Tide’s photographer has understandably not caught the intense pressure that would be felt by the innocent Member who is – at the same time – portraying someone who essentially commits suicide for the pleasure of a Guy who theoretically fathered him without actually penetrating Mom.

It’s all fraught with problems, it’s all deeper than it looks. In defense, over the years, I’ve come up with an antidote to the problem of Jesusers feeling slighted by Kwanzites, or Hebrites, or Pagites or Musites horning in on a holiday they consider theirs by virtue of an accident of nomenclature. My Holiday Peacemaker is called; “Let’s Put Jesus Back in Christmas.” And my plan involves simple lyric changes: When you peruse the following list, you’ll probably want to come up with some of your own.

“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Jesus”
“I Saw Mommy Kissing Jesus”
“Jingle Jesus”
“O Come All Ye Jesus””
“O Little Town of Jesus”
“Walking in a Winter JesusLand”
“Here Comes Jesus, Here Comes Jesus,
Right Down Jesus Lane”
“Jesus We Have Heard on High”
“Deck the Halls with Boughs of Jesus”
“God Rest You, Merry Jesus”
“Silent Jesus”

Gather the kids, round up the neighbors, write in the changes on the sheet music and set out for some caroling.

Got a lawn mower? Ride it. ’tis the season.


The Last Shows

Big Blonde Smaller

The joys of being in a comedy group are few, but they are indeed precious and seem to be worth more to me these days than I ever thought they should. I was beginnning to feel that forty years of being in mine brought with it a stack of troubles hardly matched by any joys. By this time in the little tour, the show had reached the last of its evolutions. Things were set, almost rehearsed. And many more people than expected showed up at San Rafael to a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building shaped like an arc, with long rows of seats and no intersecting aisles, so if a person is late to the show and has been assigned a seat near the middle of the theater, he has to step apologetically over the many knees and shoes of quite a lot of people, destroying as well the view of quite a lot more behind. I suppose this is evidence that Wright had some small, Grecian sense of humor.

There is a large pond, a small lake, outside this Ark. Above broad lawns, Mt. Tamalpais looms the horizon and ducks settle down at sunset on the pond. Winter sunset, cars come in and park and people stand in brief lines and then stand around for a while looking for people they know and then they find their seats, sliding sideways to reach them for what seems an eternity. Backstage, there is no easy access from the dressing rooms which sit a floor above the stage on the right, to those on the left. Oona and I stake out the right stage for ourselves, after we learn that everyone else has moved into the left hand side, near the catering tables. We are briefly alone, isolated from the infighting. And the infighting has been intense. It’s hard for people to understand, even when they’ve been told a million and a half times, that people who do comedy are just as unhappy and fretful as anyone else and that they’re quite capable of bringing that worry and fretting to the creation of comedy. The Firesign Theatre, after forty years of working with itself, is more than especially prone to this behaviour, since none of the four members has permanently left the group. We’re stuck with each other, at this late date, and the horrifying prospect of people in their sixties and seventies continuing to engage in internicine fights with one another was hard upon me and the Big Blonde at this stage of the proceedings. That’s why I wanted to contrast such things with what happened to us after this show – which went very well, by the way – and on the general theme of friendships. Three people came to the show, each of whom contribute mightily to this blog, and as well Taylor Jessen and I were there, working on the FST show. With the addition of Oona, it meant that for a couple of quick minutes, there were six Blogofunknown contributors staring at each other. Mark Trail is huge, the man is at least, big. and he and Bernie and Len and Mark were pronounced – by Oona – to be “nice guys,” which is a huge compliment coming from someone surrounded by the Firesign Theatre. I was just bonkered for a couple of minutes. I’m most interested in writing and over the past couple of years, I’ve so enjoyed reading these guys and their stuff that I was momentarily starstruck. Taylor was up to his ears in aftershow duties, counting t-shirt revenues and so forth, and none of us got more than a few minutes with each other, but I want to say right here that I thought this meeting more than made up for anything negative I’d been feeling. I headed south, after this show, feeling much better about writing and humor and history than anytime in recent memory and if we’d had Rich and Richard Brown and the Intrepid Margolis family with us, we’d all have been staring. I realized that this blog had just released me, had just blasted me, and the ten or so of us who’ve hung in with each other here in this little blue world had indeed become friends. It’s just a literary group hug, but there it is. It makes me feel better, that’s for sure, and I left San Rafael that night a happier person than when we’d driven in a few hours before.

Out to the parking lot, carrying our stuff, and I’m thinking about how a dozen years or so ago, I’d been in the Bay Area by myself – O had to work down in Hollywood – and I’d had to stay up north in order to attend a Grateful Dead Concert in order to solidify my and the producers’ ties to the group, since we’d convinced them to go along with us on a comedy movie that would star the entire band, but which was originally designed to star John Candy about a man who goes to a Dead Concert. Menno, the producer, and I drove to the Oakland Venue with Bob Weir, Menno having driven – or was I driving, I forget – to Weir’s house to pick him up and then made it on the Earthquake Highway’s to Oakland. I sat with Senor Garcia before the show and I still have guitar string he took off his guitar as we talked. I got to stand out on stage and talk to Phil Lesh and look at his rig and his stack, I got to meet and talk a little to The Lyricist, but mostly I got to sit almost in the middle of the entire band as everyone came into Jerry’s black tent set up on stage left, and discuss exactly what they were going to do. The conversation was kind of:

Mickey: So, what’ya think?

Lesh: That thing in A, right?

Garcia: Well, I’ll do that D thing and then …

Weir: Faster…

Garcia: And then we’ll get into that other thing.

Bill: Do we want that thunk thunk thing again?

Mickey: Like the rehearsal?

The crowd outside is on their feet, screaming with anticipation, huge human scarecrow masque figures tower and sway over the crowd, and inside this little medieval soft cloth tent, I’m listening to:

Weir: I was thinking that we should …

Garcia: I want to do that in E.

Lesh: I can do that. Do you remember?

Hart: That’s what rehearsals are for.

Bill: We should do it.

Quick clasped hippie hands, I skoot for the sidelines, Menno and I stand under Lesh’s amps. We are in the dark and I watch an audience in its light and the band in theirs as the two meet and my head gets knocked forward by airpressure generated from the fingers of a guy with whom I not only share a first name, but who – a few months later – I will make sit in a plush suite at the Fairmont for two hours while I read aloud a screenplay I’ve written. He and Garcia and Weir, my little audience. A movie script is a long document and I’m supposed to be a comedy writer, in other words, I was hoping I could get a few laughs out of this little audience, or at least a grunt or two or three of approval. It was a performance, but all I had was a voice and my considerable reading skills and a hundred and ten pages of writing I wasn’t at all sure about. I got the job done, they laughed, they sat and listened and said they liked it. I’d sit on the floor sometimes in front of them, and read, or I’d get up and wander around, reading from a script like some guy in a Preston Sturgess movie who thinks he’s got the greatest idea for a screenplay in human history.

Me: We don’t have a title for it.

Garcia: We should call it, “The Dead Sell Out.”
It didn’t get made, but that’s seldom the point, down in Hollywood. You wrote it, that’s what counts, and it may be made into a story or a novel, or it may be sitting in a cardboard box in your garage in a water-stained cardboard box, but still, you wrote it.

And the Dead did.

And the Firesign Theatre did.

And doing something is better than not doing anything, and that’s why Oona is this month’s winner of the Blogofunknown “Genius” award, for being smart enough to realize that if we didn’t just charge in and start pushing and spending, these kids would be spending their nine and twelve and fourteen year-old Glorious Summer of Freedom in houses in which obese people smoke, in which families have been shattered and true uncertainty reigns. Watching them in Hollywood is fun, as they turn a little browner every day, each one of the little porkers visibly losing weight. Wrapped in towels, they stare at the high-speed world of “Need For Speed” in all it’s fender-smashing glory, adeptly tapping the controls, watching, intent, learned. They spend hours in our little pool and Oona has become the self-styled “Swim Nazi,” she and I both realizing why we had spent all that time on swim teams in our own youths, as we teach and watch all four kidz get that feeling for the water and for speed and grace that have enriched our lives. It passes on, it turns out, and now I realize why I got that brief national record when I was fourteen, me and my three buddies on the relay team – the Mealiffe twins and Hal Coulter and me, (the slowest of the four) – that broke the – get this – national record. I have authority with the little bastards because of this and besides, she and I still look like a million bucks in the water. We both hated competition, but we loved the grace and the flow and the ease that comes with water familiarity and watching the kidz get it ??? well, you can imagine how good we feel. They were good in the Suburban on the two day trip down and they got to go to Universal on the rides and Esther, the Sainted Esther, took them and her kids to Zuma beach for the day, but mostly they are in our pool and thank Submariner we’ve got such a thing. Ah, Hollywood. Ah, Fresno. Ah, Tacoma. We’re going to go to the Redwoods on the way back and I’m going to get to watch them look up at the Gigantic Trees and hopefully we’ll get to camp at least one night at Gold Bluffs beach where they will see the huge Roosevelt Elks and maybe see the Giant Whales swimming and where they will see what a wild beach is really like.

And so at night, coming out of a theater somewhere near the Bay, I’m remembering after that concert in Oakland, that night, as we looked for a place to eat and drove – Weir, Meyjes and I – to Berkeley to a restaurant that turned out to be closed, and talked to Garcia who was alone in a huge black limo idling in the empty parking lot. He didn’t go with the rest of us to – I swear, Denny’s in Mill Valley – and we drove away and I’ll never forget this lonely man, this genius, idling alone with his driver – and there is, as is said in the style of Rudyard Kipling, no greater loneliness than this, my children, my beloveds.

I’m not lonely, as it turns out, as my life turns out. I’m the opposite, pretty damn full. Full up. Full of it. Fullness itself, that’s me. And busy.


The State of Jefferson and Old Friends and New Friends

I like this one, but then I like them all

This painting is by Oona Austin and it ain’t half what she does.

We drove down from Mystery Island, Island of Mysteries, after dropping the kidz back with their Hopefully Clean Mom and her Hopefully Employed Boyfriend and tearful farewells in which the message that we had to go to work in order that we might pay their (now our) mortgage may or may not have struck a rational chord. When you’re eight, life extends five minutes ahead of you and about two days behind. Most of what adults have to say, good or bad, does not fit comfortably in that frame and so can safely be ignored. Off we go. We drive away from their little house that hopefully will not fill up with Meth manufacturing or witchcraft, in which the hopes and fears of all the years will not come in one night, in which – the only real hope we’ve got – some vague memory will cut through years from now that those people – that Philip and that Oona – were pretty much fun and always told me I was smart and yet a lot of fun but that I was smart and that it was fun to be smart.

The Big Blonde has not fully understood the huge burden she’s taken on (I’m writing this a year later) and she thankfully starts concentrating on the Firesign Theatre show, now that she’s sat through three of the shows without doing any of her usual jobs. She’s been so busy with the kids and buying their house out of foreclosure that she hasn’t been a part of this show. For years she’s either stage managed, directed, lit, merchandised or some other huge job for the FST tours and this is the first one where she’s a little like me, sitting on stage being reflective. She’s free to just think for a minute and as we drive down through Oregon, into Jefferson, heading for our favorite and usual motel at Mt. Shasta, she starts to turn her attention to the fact that we’ve got three California shows to do: the first at the Heritage in San Jose, the second at the Marin Frank Lloyd Wright theater in San Rafael and the third at the Cerritos Center in Los Angeles. She’s made notes and we laugh and talk down Rte. 5 through south Washington and North Oregon and into the imaginary State of Jefferson before we hit California truly, which is about Redding or Red Bluff.

Oona, of all the people married to one or another of The Four of Us, is the one allowed by All to walk into the middle of our sacred life, our writing. Melinda, who thankfully married Mr. Proctor, feels free to direct us in our limited acting skills and she and Oona have formed a team over the last ten or fifteen years to try and bring us into some kind of performing mode that seems reasonable by Normal Human Standards, but only Oona dares face us down on writing choices. We’re all so verbal and she’s used to movie sets and the result is usually her hopping up and down in place, usually on stage at an afternoon rehearsal:

“Yes, yes, yes, yes,” she’ll say, literally hopping up and down in place, “but here’s what I want you to think about. Couldn’t you …? Why don’t you …? It’s just stupid and criminal that you don’t …” and so forth. For some reason that I think only I understand, everyone listens to her, everyone fills in for her, her love for the four of us so obvious that her points get made. She’s something to watch, that’s for sure.

Volcano Shasta and the hills of Jeffersonia

Entering Jefferson, the Twilight State, its State Mascot the rusted Moodonna, the Iron Governor, who presides over a State House filled with bales of hay, heading for yet another spooky volcano, in this case Shasta. The Evil Volcanos line the Pacific coast, of course, from the Cascades down into the Sierras, each one of them more wonderful, more beautiful, more stately, more placid, more evil than the next. Only St. Helen’s has blown in living memory and if Tahoma or Lassen or Mammoth Lakes or Hood ever goes, we probably won’t survive, the lot of us tectonic travelers. The Bombshell and I stay regularly right under Shasta at a motel we’re booked into so often that we’ve made friends with the staff to the point of exchanged xmas cards and knowledge of families and friends. Meg, who works in the office, just had knees replaced and Connie, who works in the restaurant just lost her mom. Meg always gives us 214 and the dogs run in the thick snow out in back among the big trees and below the stunning white mountain. We always go to Lalo’s restaurant and get the same wonderful shredded beef tacos and talk to Lalo a little about his other restaurants in Weed and – I forget – not Happy Camp, but somewhere near and then eat back at the motel. We fall asleep watching the weather channel, happy if we’re heading north and anxious if we’re heading south. We make this almost twelve hundred mile trip at least six times a year and it’s become a large part of our life. We have side trips, like Gold Bluffs beach, when we have the time, but we’ve come to think that, in a way, we live in the State of Jefferson. We often fantasize that we’ll buy the abandoned Shamrock Bar and Restaurant outside of Yreka (it seems to be on Easy Street) and we always call Barry and Peg Conner (or they call us because they not only live in LA, but also have a home in Grant’s Pass Oregon) as we pass Moodonna and we all think how happy we are up north and how conflicted we are down south, down there in the film business and all it’s attendant concerns, the main one being that none of the four of us has made enough money in it to quit and move permanently north. The mystical State of Jefferson means a lot to us, and Oona and I regularly price land north of Shasta and think how much we like that country. We’re overstretched though, with two homes twelve hundred miles apart, the kidz up north and work down south, a love for the desert of Sonora and the mysteries of south Utah, the tenthousand east feet of the Sierras and ???. ah, well. We travel a lot and we love Shasta, whether it blows or not.

The Bay Area is a mixed problem, I always think. I used to live there, I grew up in Fresno where, when you say “The City” you don’t mean Los Angeles, two of our best friends in the world – the Alexanders – live in Tiburon, the Firesign Theatre has done many shows there and in fact lots of people think we’re a product of KPFA wheras in fact, we’re out of KPFK and the densities of the South. We head first for a beautiful theater in San Jose.

The best thing about this performance is the appearance – in line in the autograph signings we do at the end of shows – of two people I haven’t seen since high school, veterans of the first grade at the Fresno State Experimental Elementary School; (Dr.) Les Naman and Jack (formerly Jackie) Globenfelt, now director of a prestigious theater in Carmel, California. First grade. Yikes.

(This is actually our class in second grade and I’m not in it, of course, but there they are, there we are. Can you find Jack and Les? I can.)

I’d been corresponding with Jack for a while and he’d been nice enough to send me pictures of our gradeschool days (see above) and share a bit of his interesting life with me, but still, I was completely flummoxed to see them. First grade. Yikes. Do I need to repeat it? First grade, Yikes. I’m sixty- four and they’ve got to be about the same. What the hell happened?

First grade friends are much like third-grade friends and although my whacky mother made me skip the second grade and moved my third-grade ass to a new school, I still get the willies seeing Les and Jack. And today Oona and I got the full third-grade treatment because on the first day after the ten days of Spring Break in which we’ve had the kids – the boys only – for the entire time, we volunteered to chaperone the third and fourth-grade class field trip to the Most Depressing Museum in the Northwest. Let me ask you this: when’s the last time you rode on a school bus for an hour going and an hour coming back? For me, it was this day, a year or so after the performance at San Jose in which I was performing for two people, it turns out, two guys who used to play out Winnie the Pooh stories with me under the hedges that surrounded the Elementary School of the Insane in Fresno, California in the late Forties of the lamented Last Century.

Our twins, Ben and Carter, got us up at six, off to school, onto the school bus with sixty or so kids and ten or so adults. Up in the morning and off to school, the teacher is teaching the golden rule ???. or so said Chuck Berry back in the days when Les and Jack and I were first-graders. Except, what happened to teaching the golden rule on the same day that Nick, our teenager, had to go to a school that, the week before, had been the subject of national news stories in which four kids were booked on suspicion of plotting to burn down the school and murder teachers and students? Nick and I had been on the internet, got Sara Green who writes for the Seattle Times to tell us everything she knew, were vaguely reassured that at least this day would be safe for him, but still ???.you’ve got to worry that the doing to others as they might do to you might have dire consequences here in the Bush Age.

The object of the field trip was the Naval Undersea Museum on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, about an hour away from the Minter Creek Elementary School, and a more grey, windowless, spooky environment couldn’t have been dreamed up by even Artists of the Insane. Like all museums, however, it had a couple of surreal moments and these were my favorites: in a room devoted to the onship life of the poor trapped submariners, between the sinkings of Japanese ships, presumably, you sleep in something called a Berthing Compartment. In the demonstration of what a submariner might store in his tiny womb, there lay a copy of Tony Hillernan’s “Skinwalkers.” Great reading for a berthing. And in another corner, in the section devoted to the wives and families who wait in fear that something might leak in their husbands’ and fathers’ compartments, was a notice that read, in bold type, “After the euphoria of homecoming, husbands and wives face the intricate task of re-establishing relationships” and another detailing the “7 emotional stages of deployment.”
Wow. After the euphoria of murdering your classmates, you face the difficult task of re-establishing relationships. And we got back on the bus and third-graded our way back home, presumably the eighth or ninth emotional stage of deployment. Don’t get me started. Stop me.

I suffer from Turing Syndrome, which I define as the inability to ignore your own revelations.

The cure is to listen to Ben and Carter. Here’s Ben: “The sky is right up to my face,” and Carter: “I can’t get any happier.”
The school bus glides through the tunnel in the tall green trees, the kids shriek and laugh with Oona, Les and Jack are sitting with me, I think, behind Donna the bus driver. We are kind to one another, in my berthing compartment, back in Fresno, pulling the honeysuckle flowers off the vines that cover the fences around the school, biting off the tips and drinking the sweet nectar and inside the classroom there’s a big model of an Anasazi village and a teacher upset that I’d brought a rubber lizard to school, earnest college students observing us little guys, a tape recorder where I first learned that my voice and my ability to read could get me onto the radio. Under the watchful eyes.

Not underwater. Thinking, though.

We took the boys first-time snowboarding the week before. We got up on the mountain twice that week. The snow was wonderful. The Bombshell, as you can see, was happy. The kids flew down the hill and almost learned to turn. The water was frozen, the skinwalkers were absent, the revelations were immense, the sun shone.


Next post I’ll continue on with the last two shows.


Bebop at Quitobaquito/The Hootchiecutie at Chaco

This is Oona, not at Quitobaquito, but certainly at Chaco.

Alright, I am Bebob Lobo, Baby, child of the great snoring sleeping desert, the crazy puzzle desert that is the only thing beside me, the Bopster, the hilarious and mysterious me – that can cross through the ingenious designer border laid down by Lutherans and Mexicans for reasons known only to themselves and their pitifully shortened histories. I am Bebop, baby, on the radio, herzing over the Big Sonora at night, the full moon making the locomobile shine like the devil herself. And I snuggle my hoochiecutie next to me and she is so fine in the green luminous Bopstermobile with the HiLo Desert headers from the Moon and the Flaming Flowmaster tejano exhaust, the exhaust that sings like the tigers of the North.

And Bebop lays back and snuggles his baby and looks up at the moon and he is the Nightsmoocher, the man of moves, the slow-talking, time-delayed Night Howler.

And she says to me, Honey, let’s go home I bet the kid’s still wideawake and I say baby, watch the big desert, watch the Gila Woodpeckers in the Saguaro Hotels, watch the Diamondbacks whether they are smacking the ball or attacking your foot. Watch for a minute and let the big desert sky whirl around you. Your little sister is babysitting and it’s just you and the Night Wolf, sweetie and you are a thousand times pretty and she says, you got to work in the morning honey, you’ve got to go be Bebop Loco, the hilarious man of Mornings so let’s go home and I don’t care. Life is good, in this crazy life in the desert where the scorpions glow, where the snorty piglets sleep under the jumping chollas, where the radio plays some crazy navajo guy and his guitar all the way from Fourcorners. Where the Bopper is at peace and the Hoochiecutie loves him. And the night is forever young.