Henrietta, Texas, 1958: Billy Ray Johnson showed me how. You’ll need a shotgun shell, a bicycle spoke, a Kleenex, and some matches. Follow these instructions at your own risk.
Open the paper end of the shotgun shell — carefully — and take out the shot and the charge of gunpowder. Do not strike or mess with the firing cap on the metal end, because [Read more…]
Holiday Inn, Denton Texas, September 1965: James Cato was a cajun from Lake Charles, Louisiana. He had a wooden leg from his youth. He and a friend were drinking beer in the street outside a bar, when a speeding car lost control. James pushed his friend out of the way, but his leg was crushed between a parked car and the speeding car. So he was crippled for life.
He’d played guitar at the Grand Old Opry in Nashville, once upon a time, when Elvis was there. James was certain that Elvis was a tee-totaller. “I’ve got my first time,” he said, “to [Read more…]
This is a simple law of nature, but one which is very handy:
Paradox is an Illusion, caused by the Limitations of our Perception
Early in the morning on March 4th in 2004, Adrienne and I were smoozing over coffee, and she said she was re-reading a book on “enneagrams”, a scheme presented by Gurdjieff that classifies humans into nine personality types. She said she was a Two (the Giver) and that I was a Nine (the Boss).
Well, while I like to think of myself as a warm and wonderful person, and although I have learned not to have any employees, perhaps she is right.
But that’s not the point. [Read more…]
Medford, Oregon, July 14, 2016 — News Flash! I have upgraded to Windows 10 … and I am still alive … and so is my computer.
I was scared to do this. But finally I figured … what could be worse than that little popup nagging me worse than my mother ever did?
So finally I took the plunge, clicked the button that promised that all my files would be right where I left them. (Franky, that idea of leaving all my files was pretty scary, too.)
And then I watched it for about two hours, while it chugged away. Well actually I watched Limitless, almost three episodes.
And then it was done, and it looks a lot … like windows.
Go eat a fig.
Medford, Oregon, 2015 — In memory, an entire lost continent can repose, with sometime awakening to peek through eternal mists. And so many things can remain the same, in memory.
Once and again upon such a time, on a particular this morning, toward the end of breakfast, Susan said, “Oh, look at that,” pointing far to my left.
While I’m oogling out the window, seeing nothing unusual, she’s stealing the last sips of my coffee.
Ha! I’d let it go cold. Serves her right.
The rewards of crime are cold.
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
— Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate
Los Angeles, January 29, 1969: There was this jazz piano-player named LaMont Johnson, who was a roommate in our large house on Western Avenue. He lived from October 1941 until October 1999, but back then 30 years earlier, at that time he was very much alive. He bristled with energy.
He was very, very good as a piano player, ranging from funk to jazz and it all rocked. He had played and done recordings with Woody Shaw toward the end of bebop, and with Ornette Coleman, George Benson, and other luminaries of jazz.
I mention him because I had decided to learn how to play music. I wanted to learn how to improvise like he did, making up new songs on the fly. That’s what drove me. I wanted to be learn how to improvise.
And so it was that I asked him a simple question —
What are the good notes?
What are the notes to play?
Now, although he could play the “good” notes, [Read more…]