The Graduate 

Benjamin Braddock and Elaine Robinson riding away on the bus.  Big smiles at first.  Then pensive looks.  Another big smile from Benjamin, then finally seeing Benjamin seemingly feeling the weight of his decision.

Is it happy? Is it sad? 

As a 12 or 13 year old, seeing The Graduate for the first time, I was affected by all of it.  The way the movie looked, the passion in Benjamin's pursuit of Elaine(For years, I thought that in order to love someone, I probably had to be willing to go bust up a wedding by pounding on glass and hollering a woman's name and literally fighting off wedding attendees) But yes, at the end I had my hands in the air(figuratively) I saw it as a victory for Love, passion, and youthful rebellion.  Later, after watching 500 Days of Summer, I was informed that much like Joseph Gordon Levitt's character, I apparently got it all wrong.  Apparently, it was not a happy ending.  I guess this is mostly based on the idea that what Benjamin and Elaine shared was not "love" but some sort of confused affection for each other.  Now, I don't know much about love, a word that we use too casually and apparently mostly wrong, as love is not a feeling, but an action, and the way it's supposed to work, is strong affection and connection leads to a powerful bond that should not be easily broken.  In essence, true love is less of the good feelings, and more of the willingness to hold strong when shit happens.  Because as we get older, holding on to passion, jobs, health, and happiness seems to get tougher.

But, as far as I can tell, Benjamin Braddock would be there for Elaine when the going got tough.  He ran the guantlet to stop her from getting married to Carl Smith, "The Make Out King" of what appeared to be the Theta Delta Chi fraternity, heading from Berkley back down to Pasadena, then back up to Berkley, then back down to Santa Barbara. Then literally fighting off wedding attendees to run away with Elaine.  Now, this is either the actions of a confused, obsessed young man, who may shift his affection easily, or a determined young man who was following his heart on a path to love and conviction.  I like to look at it as the latter, considering that throughout the majority of the film, Benjamin floats aimlessly in his parent's pool, drinking beer, with no direction.  The only assertive decison he makes is deciding to marry Elaine, and at this point he finally gets off his ass and drives to Berkley and gets a room.  Elaine seems to give him a purpose and direction that he was lacking previously.

Also, in terms of Elaine, and judging for the note she left for Benjamin, where she stated that she loved him, but didn't think it would work out, that marrying Carl Smith was not a decision that would bring her happiness in the long term, so whether or not she and Benjamin stay together, she still got away from the marriage to Carl, which would probably put her on the same path to unhappiness, vindictiveness, and depression that her mother was in. I think the fact that she would even consider seeing Benjamin after she found out he banged her mama, shows how strong their affection and connection was.  

On another positive note, Elaine's running off with Benjamin also seemed to break ties with her mother, which was a good thing as well, considering that it appears to me that Mrs. Robinson actually secretly despised Elaine, because her pregnancy is what forced her into the loveless and lifeless marriage that had served as an emotional prison for the last 20 or so years.

Speaking of Mrs. Robinson, viewing "The Graduate" as an adult closer to the age of the parents rather than Benjamin and Elaine(hell, let's be honest, I probably AM the age of the parents) I paid much more attention to the Robinson's this time around.   And, in trying to decipher why Mrs. Robinson chose to seduce Benjamin in the first place, I attempted to dissect her motivation:

Mrs Robinson is a character so detached from who she was before her marriage, that she is not even given a first name.  She is downright mean, as expressed early in the film when Ben offers her his car instead of driving her home, and when she finally convinces him to give her the ride, instead of handing him the keys, she throws them in the aquarium, forcing him to fish them out.  And, why did she choose Benjamin in the first place.  Obviously, he's an easy target, and young and attractive (I'm pretty sure Dustin Hoffman never had a six pack again after "The Graduate") But, if she was simply trying to get some attention that her husband wasn't giving her, she could have gone after any number of men, who weren't the son of her husband's law partner.  So why Benjamin?  My theory is that for years, the two families had talked about Benjamin and Elaine possibly getting married one day.  Judging from my experience briefly dating the daughter of family friends in college, this is a proposition that is exciting for friends.  I guess its the vision of a big fun wedding, full of mutual friends, and big holiday gatherings, and a sense of strengthening a friendship bond into something more like a family.  Mrs. Robinson, who, as stated earlier, secretly despises her daughter, blaming her for her unhappiness, knows that this union would bring Elaine happiness and fulfillment, something that she never had, and she wants to prevent her from finding this happiness.  So, she, she seduces Ben, thinking that this will sabotage any chance of Ben and Elaine winding up together.  I think in the real world, this would probably work.  Personally, I wouldn't want to as much as have a cup of coffee with a woman I knew my father had cheated on my mother with.  The look on her face when Benjamin picks Elaine up for their first date, is not one of anger, it is one of complete defeat, a spiritless blank stare that seems to express, "I thought I could at least control one thing in my miserable life, now I've failed at that, too." 

The way Mr and Mrs Robinson both react to Benjamin's relentless pursuit of Elaine is telling of Mrs Robinson's hatred for her daughter as well: Mr. Robinson is trying to protect Elaine from Ben, who he considers a "degenerate" and "scum."  Mrs. Robinson is trying to prevent Elaine from experiencing joy and happiness, something she believes Elaine took from her simpy by being born.

So, the end of The Graduate is like any relationship, I guess.  It is uncertain.  And most likely depending on your personal perspective, one might see it as happy or sad.  Shit.  I hope a film professor doesn't read this. Ha.  I think I'm probably safe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A sort of Covid Chronicles type thing 

Strange days indeed.
The following 4 entries are character sketches, really just manifestations of some thoughts I was feeling amidst this staying at home and walking around with masks on our face like some twilight zone episode.

James 

His room had not changed since high school.  The Atlanta Falcons sheets on the single bed.  The Yardbirds family tree poster, the poster of Butch & Sundance guns drawn & charging. 
His mother said that it smelled like teenagers. 
And she would never be able to get the smell out. 
“Teenagers?”  
His mother made a laughing scoff.  “Boys,” she replied, shaking her head. “Sweat, and mud, grass.  Whatever in the world was going on behind these doors.  Boys.” 
He couldn’t smell anything. 
He’d been back in his room for a few months. 
His wife and 4 year old son had been staying with her parents. 
They had sold the house to purchase his place.  The place he’d wanted since he fell hard for cooking his Junior year of high school. 
One day, after school, he whipped up some eggs and used whatever he could find in the fridge. 
Then it was everyday and he started getting his own ingredients and experimenting, his palate was expanding.  Then his friends started coming over.  Everyday, it was shooting hoops and omelettes. 
A decade of working in restaurants.  First was a year at Waffle House in college.  His friends used to come in drunk, and heckle him.  They could not understand why he would work there, but asked him to steal shirts with logos and hats.  But he was fascinated and mesmerized by the short order cooking, he felt an artisanal beauty in it. After college he headed to Charleston. Line Cook.  Sous chef, eventually landing a head chef job.  But, it was always the short order breakfast.  That’s where his heart and passion was. 

A low rumbling voice.  Quiet but powerful, and it made its way to his brain.

Eggs? Said the voice. 
He ignored it. 
LOUDER.  HEY ASSHOLE-EGGS? WHY? 
I like eggs.  A lot of people do. 
Stupid idea if I ever heard one.  I told you not to do it.  You don’t listen to me. 
He did not respond. 
You quit your job, sold your home, and put everything you had into fuckin eggs.  And look what happened. 
He said nothing again. 
LOOK WHAT HAPPENED ASSHOLE! 
He sighed.  I didn’t know this virus was gonna happen. 
Maybe you should have. 
Nobody did.  Just bad timing. 
Bad timing? 
Yeah. 
Tell me when it’s good timing to take everything you have and put it into one thing? Huh? 
He said nothing. 
You even called it One Basket.  Dummy. 
He swung, but he was way off. 
Laughter. 
That’s a bitter pill, ain’t it.  A big brown horse looking pill with an I on it.  One Basket.  Dumbass.  You know, she’s pissed right?  You know she’s not gonna comeback from her folks place, right? 
That’s not true.  She supports me.  Hundred percent.  Always has.  Always will.  It’s just bad luck. 
You should’ve done the food truck first.  That’s what she thought was the best idea. 
We talked about it.  The food truck trend is going to burn out.  And a restaurant was always the end goal, so start at the top.  No baby steps. 
She’s not coming back, asshole. 
She loves me and she supports me. 
What the hell is she gonna come back to, smart guy?  You’re folks house? 
I’ll get a job, I’ll get back on my feet, and we’ll try it again. 
Yeah, that’s right. If at first you don’t succeed, keep screwing the pooch. 
SHUT UP! I’M SICK OF IT! SAY SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE FOR ONCE! SUPPORT ME! 
His mother was outside of the door. 
“James?” She said quietly.  “Who are you talking to,” she slowly opened the door.  He was sitting on his bed. 
“Nobody,” he said.

Harry 

“Swut they call a catch 22, I reckon,”  Harry said to the attractive doctor who was currently taking his blood pressure in response to why he still drank so much.  “Booze got me on the street. But it also makes it bearable.” 
Harry smiled.  Sometimes he forgot how the last decade and a half years living under bridges and tents had left his teeth, on the inside he was still that shaggy haired fella that could make the girls swoon with his guitar.  And twenty years ago, this doctor was the type of lady he would’ve bought a beer for.  He didn’t much like the question, but he knew she was a genuine and good person, because she didn’t have to volunteer for this shit detail. The teeth were rough, but he still had a sparkle in his eyes. 
“Speaking of booze, you wanna col’ beer, Doc? Well, cold enough, anyway,” he asked. 
“No,” she said firmly. 
“Good person, bad small talker,” Harry thought to himself. 
"You know about this Corona Virus?” Asked the doctor. 
“Heard rumblings,” he said.  “Swhy we ain’t getting no money at the intersections and offramps, swut I’m hearing.” 
“Well, it's Pandemic.” 
“Sounds epic,” he said. 
“It’s certainly unprecedented, at least in this country.“ 
"Well, am I in danger or something?” He asked. 
“How old are you, sir?” 
“Harry,” he said. 
“How old are you, Harry?” 
“Fifty-two.” 
The doctor was taken back.  She would have guessed he was pushing 70. 
“You’re not in the high risk category.” 
Harry chuckled.  “Maybe not for this virus, I’m not.” 
“Truth is,” the Doctor continued, “What we’re trying to do is just flatten the curve.  And so, we are attempting to use social distancing techniques to keep the virus from spreading.” 
“Social distancing, huh? Said Harry, and sort of chuckled again.  “I’ve been participating in social distancing for a while now.  Nobody really comes near most of this crew, dahlin.  Hell, you’re the only person I talked to all week, that don’t smell just a little like piss.” 
“Well, here’s the issue, Harry.  The disease spreads really easily.  And, if it’s thriving in one area, it will continue to overwhelm.” “So wait, you’re not just talking about us giving it to each other, you’re talkin’ ‘bout us giving it to everybody else?” 
“In a sense.  What I’m talking about, is the reccomenndation for the entire country is to stay at home…” 
“And we ain’t got no fuckin’ homes, right?” Harry interrupted.  Then said, “Ok, Flatten the curve,  I guess I can go hang down in a little spot by the Cumberland.  I”m the only one ever goes there much.” 
“The mayor has set up a shelter at the fairgrounds,” she said.  “Beds are six feet apart.  It will keep you safe.” 
“And keep everybody else safe too, yeah?” 
“That’s right,” she said. 
Harry reached in his backpack and pulled out a can of Busch beer.  He popped the top took a gulp and started to sing, “Straightenin’ the curve, flattening the hills, someday the mountain might get em but the law never will.” 
“Take care of yourself, Harry.” 
“Thanks, Doc,” he said and took another swig. 
When she was out of hearing range and on to the next person, he chugged the rest of the beer and muttered, “What the hell has “everybody else” ever done for me?

Mr. Ruffles 

A plastic, crinkling cacophony spilled into the little girl’s ears. Her eyes darted to the sound, a blue and white plastic bag moving on its own.  Jerky, unrhythmic dashes beside a line of plastic trash cans on the alley behind her house.  She stopped her bike, newly liberated of training wheels and watched as the shape in the bag flattened and a figure slowly made himself known.  A small puppy, a black bully type, white stripe on its chest, and a pink spotted  nose with potato chip crumbs. Five minutes of incessant pleading and Mama finally relented, He can stay with us for the night, but we’ll have to go the appropriate route to see if he belongs to someone. 

Dubbed “Mr. Ruffles,” he crawled into her bed that night and nestled into the nook of her arm.  Newspaper and towels on the floor, the little girl woke up to a whimper and a few puddles on the floor.  She took the pup outside, as Mama had instructed her to do.  Firm instruction. It was an hour before she normally got it up, but she was still quite happy to be with Mr. Ruffles.  She felt calm.  A sense of beauty that flowed through her slightly electric as the gray morning blossomed to color. 

A month later, and Mr. Ruffles was still a part of the small family. Most mornings, Mr. Ruffles woke the little girl up with licks and nibbles, soft whimpers that bugged everybody but the girl.  Then it was breakfast, and his crate.  Or, what he recognized among the “Charlie Brown Cartoon” gibberish as “place.”  The little girl and Mama shut the door to his barks of urgency that funneled to a whine and eventually simmered to a sleepy acceptance. 
But, when the sun had moved across the three windows in front of his crate, and the sky faded leaving streaks of pink clouds,  he would see his two people coming in the door, Mama with an apron, he eventually recognized from the “Where’s my apron” commotion that took place a few times a week.   Money in her hands, he recognized from how much money did you make today, Mama?!  The girl with a book bag screaming “Mr. Ruffles” among the other sounds he could not understand.  He knew that soon there would be food and snuggles and that feeling, the electric feeling of genuine love.  Of course, this is not something he “knew” just something he felt. 

One day, after breakfast, he didn’t go back to his place.  The little girl crawled back into bad, and he nestled right in with her.  They did not awake until the sun was in the middle window.  And the girl never put on her shoes that day.  The next days were the same.  The electric feeling remained, undissolved. Sparks in his eyes. 

But he noticed Mama and less electricity in her eyes than there had been.  And he could feel the fear in her.  One afternoon, as the little girl was working in her coloring book, he saw Mama sitting on the couch, fearful and sad eyes looking through the window.  He wiggled his way over and jumped into her lap, nuzzling his head into her t-shirt.  He looked up as she looked down at him, and he could see and feel her momentary calm.  And Mama felt electricity and spark for a little while.

Bob/Todd & Jacob 


He was talking to his father on speaker.  Casual catch up conversation, the current goings on. 
“Tell him what happened at the Publix today, Bob,”  he heard his mother say in the background. 
“What happened in Publix?” 
“Oh, nothing really.  I was just doing all the social distancing stuff, standing back behind this guy in the steak section, and he was just taking his sweet ass time-must’ve spent ten minutes picking out a damned steak…”
 “Ten minutes?” 
“Yeah.  And there wasn’t a whole lot to choose from.” 
“Right.” 
“So, finally this guy grabs what he wants, and I walk up to the steaks.  And, I’m not there ten seconds before these two twenty year olds just come up right beside me.  You know I’ve never been a get off my lawn type,  but I really wanted to tell them to back the hell up.” 
“Maybe you should have.” 
“Well, that wouldn’t have done any good, just put me in even more contact.” 
“I guess.” 
“So, anyway, I just grabbed a couple of strips and moved on.” 
“Fuckers.”
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
There were about ten people at the house, playing quarters and other beer games around a thrift store patio table.  Todd sprayed lighter fluid on an already existing flame, making a woosh as it shot upwards from a rusted charcoal grill. Jacob reached his hand into a dirty Igloo with greek letters and fall house painted on the side, fished out a can of Bud Light.  He pulled out his keys, punched a hole in the back of the can, popped the top and chugged. “2 seconds,” he gargled, a little beer coming out of his mouth.  Then, “So, me and Todd were at the store today, and some old dude was taking way too long looking at the steaks.  And this other old guy, was  standing a long way from him, doing all that social distancing shit, we we were grabbing beers, so when we got a case we walked up to grab some steaks, and this other old guy huffed at us…” 
“Wait,” said Chad.  “He said something to you?” 
“Nah, I could just tell he was pissed.  People are really freaking out about this shit, man.” 
“Maybe they should,” said Ryan.  “It is a pandemic, after all.” 
“Pandemic? Come on.  This whole thing is getting way overblown.  Feels more like a vacation to me.  I don’t have to work, and for once, Mom and Dad aren’t bitching at me about it, they even offered to send me money.  Cheers, Mom and Dad,” he said, holding up his beer.  “Good times.”

ROCK & ROLL ALMOST RUINED MY LIFE SORTA 


 

Small town southern son coming home from the movies.
Recreating what was just viewed.
Cameras nobody else could see.  
 Kurt Loder interviewing River Phoenix, or somebody like River Phoenix.  
Ego lighting up like a flame thrower.  
I wanted to have long hair and answer questions about the cool movie I was just in.  
80s music videos.  Heartland, English, Glam Metal, Alternative. 
Decadence > music.  
Not gonna fall in line like everybody’s parents.  
I was MEANT TO BE SOMEBODY.  
Mind made up to go all in.  
THE SPOTLIGHT rent free living in my brain.  
14 years old.  One year of guitar.  “More than a Feeling” on a nylon string. 
What does a kid have to do to get an electric around here.  
Holden Caulfield.  
Lloyd Dobbler.  
Paul Westerberg.  
Grunge.  
Big brother’s freshman roommate has a duo who needs a “lead’ guitar player.  
Sorta know some lead.  
Real shows.  
Cash money. 

Big crowds at the College Bars. 
Manager.  
Image projected on us 
Doesn’t fit.  
Doesn’t work.  
We try anyway.  
Britney. 
Boy Bands. 
Rap Metal. 
Visions of Limos, The VMAs, partying with hotties from some WB show.  
Practical life skills shirked.  
Levis.  Pearl snaps. Chucks. Cowboy boots.  
The Last Waltz.  
Ryan Adams. 
Decadence under the guise of substance.  
“Rock starring”is acceptable as long as you talk about Flannery O’Connor, Big Star and the Carter Family in interviews.  
Decades of booze and romanticizing rock & roll.  
The occasional mustache.
Faces.  
High Life.
Prine. 
Kristofferson. 
Jack Daniel. 
Back burnered God.  
Same story different towns.  
Pretty good ain’t half bad.  
Rotting on the vine.  
Self serving recognized.  
Indolence realized.  
This is not my life to waste.  
I was given this opportunity.  
God takes center stage.  
I'm trying to find my seat.

Truth & Salvage Co 

The Charleston Pour House.  Sometime around a decade ago. 
There were maybe fifty people in the audience. 
Truth & Salvage Company slid into their set with a genuine ease & confidence that cannot be manufactured.  I remember reading the liner notes for the Faces compilation, “Good Boys When They’re Asleep,” where someone from Creem Magazine, not Lester Bangs mind you, Dave Marsh it was, described seeing Rod, Woody, Ronnie & crew take the stage “the way a teenage gang takes a street corner, rolling into place with unfeigned casualness, tossing a leer and giggle here and there.”  That seemed like an appropriate description for the T&S Co boys.  If I recall, they sort of just rolled right into “Hail Hail,” starting it off acapella, and then Scotty got down to those really sweet guitar licks on that great SG, and they preceded to sing a song that felt like it was somehow simultaneously about the members of the band as well as everybody else in the room.   

Now, anybody that has ever been to a show with me before, can attest to the fact that I am usually one of those dudes toward the back, arms crossed, occasionally nodding my head.  But, as soon as they started, there was a surge of joy, a real shot in the arm.  And, at the time, I wasn’t feeling very happy about much.  I was not healthy in any aspect of my life.  It was as if I was dealing with some sort of spiritual limp.  I would find out a few months later that I had a golf ball sized brain tumor, that had been slowing growing above my right eye for years, and that was what throwing me way the hell off.  (A few months after I had surgery to get that bastard out of my head and the T&S Boys took part in a benefit to help me get back on my feet, singing "Don't Let The Bad Times Get You Down," appropriately enough.)  But, at that moment, I felt genuine and pure joy watching this band, they radiated such a relaxed positive energy, they were exactly who they were, not some band trying to pull the wool over the audience. 

A few nights ago, I drove across the Cumberland River to go check Truth & Salvage at the Basement East.  It was a good crowd, full of folks just as eager as I was to see this reunion.  First song was “Hail Hail,” and I was right back where I was a decade ago, the first time I saw T&S Co.  Granted I wasn’t in as bad of shape as I was then, no brain tumor, but y’all know how life can be: juggling marriage, kids, work, it can get a little stressful.  And, I needed that show that night.  Just as a reminder that I can still enjoy the hell out of some good and genuine rock and roll.

Thanks for the music, boys.  Please keep doing it, at least every now and then.   I know y'all are spread all over the place.  But, I'm pretty damn sure I'm not the only one that could always use a little more Truth & Salvage Company.

 

Carolina Run 

“This guy doesn’t know shit.” 
I’m assuming this was the first impression of the rest of the guys I was about to start a week long run with, as I walked into a bar in Anderson, SC, running a little late, because I had trouble finding the place.  And, I couldn’t get to the direct box I had borrowed from a friend to work.  Corey Hunt, saw me on my knees looking at the direct box like I’d never seen one before, reached down and plugged my cord into the jack that clearly said “input” and gave me a pat on the back, which I would have taken as condescending if it wasn’t such an obvious dumbass oversight on my part. But, besides having a coughing fit during one of my songs (I was on the tail end of a cold, and it was a smoking bar) everything went well that evening.  It was a good crowd for a Monday night.  And I enjoyed getting to know everybody, at least through their songs, anyway. 

 

I stayed at my folks house that evening.  I didn’t sleep that well, though.  Those of you who keep up these posts might recall that I get the insomnia something fierce sometimes.  But, I managed to finally get to sleep around the time most people are starting their day, and I ended up sleeping until about one in the afternoon.  I woke up, and had to get ready to hit the road and meet up with the rest of the guys somewhere around Gaffney, SC.  Y’all might have driven through Gaffney before on Interstate 85 driving from Atlanta to Charlotte or something.  My high school football team used to get our asses handed to us by Gaffney every now and then.  Anyway, I met up with the rest of the crew, parked my car and hopped into the back seat of a van, which was nice for a change: just riding, I mean. I’m usually the one manning the steering wheel when I’m on the road.   
 

Tuesday night's show was in Dallas, NC.  Which is a little town south of Charlotte.  I didn’t know such a town even existed.  There is obviously one Dallas in particular that casts a shadow over the rest of them.  There are apparently 16 places named Dallas in the US.  Two in Canada.  One in Australia.  One in Scotland  And interestingly enough, one in outer space.  No shit: 8084 Dallas, it’s an asteroid, apparently.  So, we played at a Brewery in Dallas.   And, I was off the beer for 3 months, ketogenic diet, for brain health and focus, I don’t think it worked, though-my wife says I’m more forgetful than ever.  That’s not true, though.  I’m just a Godawful listener.  I’m working on it.  I promise.  So, I took a few pulls off a flask, but I could’ve used a beer.  They had a porter or a stout that seemed like it would have been perfect on a cold night.  But, standing around a fire pit with a little whiskey was good, too.  The show was good, and I was getting to know everybody a little bit better.  Van rides and Waffle Houses are good on the getting to know folks front. 
  

Next day was a long drive to Greenville, NC.  Which is close to the coast, if you’re not familiar with North Carolina geography.  It was another good night and good crowd.  Even though, I got in trouble just a little bit for taking pulls off my flask on stage.  It was mostly for my throat.  I had cough drops, too.  I would’ve been more discrete had I known somebody gave a shit.  No Waffle House that night, but we stayed in a farm house in the middle of a cotton field, which, was pretty cool.  Probably a good photo op for the social media, but damn, I always seem to forget about that stuff in the moment. 
  

 Another long drive the next day, to Boiling Springs, SC.  It was a good another good crowd, but a fight broke out, acoustic music doesn’t seem like a good instigator for a fighting, but, hey it’s Spartanburg County, I guess it comes with the territory.  I’m pretty sure there was no Waffle House that evening.
    

The next night we drove to Asheboro, NC.  Asheboro is kind of in the middle of the state.  I think there was almost a fight at the show.  Apparently, Randolph County NC has some kinship with Spartanburg County, SC.  No Waffle House this evening, instead we stopped at a local diner, Golden Waffle.  Golden Waffle had quite a colorful staff, who seemed a little worried about an elderly regular going by the name Slick, who had apparently been wearing the same clothes for three days.  We stayed out in the country that night, and there was a huge puppy of a lab, and damnit, I can’t remember his name, but a good boy who attempted to kick me off the couch at some point, even though I was trying my best to share with him. 
    

Last night of the run was in Mooresville, NC, and I thought there was going to be another fight, as the crowd seemed especially rowdy.  But, we played a long set, with no fights and after the show I high tailed it back to Greenville, SC and the folks house.  I made it home around three am and slept until my dad woke me up at quarter till eleven, we were having a family Christmas reunion, and my parents assumed I didn’t want to walk through the house in my boxers as aunts and uncles were drinking coffee Bloody Mary’s and mimosas.  They were correct in their assumption.  Damn.  I’m writing this at about 9:30 PM.  Some coffee sounds fantastic right now.  But, I better not, insomnia and all that.  Maybe some decaf. 
    

All in all it was a hell of a good run.  I made some new friends that I hope to see again really soon, and shook a lot of hands along the way.  I’ve been back in Nashville since Monday, and now Christmas is sneaking up on me.  I can honestly say, this has been the most sneak up Christmas season I’ve ever had.  I hope everybody is doing well.  Let’s all get together soon and hang a banner in 2019.   
Much love to everybody! Cheers!

5 Singer/Songwriters 1 Van Texas Hill Country 

Sleep didn't come easy for me the first night in Dripping Springs, Texas.  The insomnia thing is a gift from my mother’s side of the Family. Apparently, quite a few McKeowns spend a good portion of their nights staring up at ceilings. I’d had a little more whiskey than a I normally drink, so I thought I might shut my eyes to the world fairly easily, but sometime around 3 in the morning I was still awake.  Then some rain rolled in and I finally rested.  Rain on the canvas pop out section of a trailer is a mighty fine lullaby. 

The next morning, there were bacon and eggs and really good coffee, and we all sat around a beautiful old table swapping thoughts and stories, slowly revealing ourselves to one another.  At this point, we knew each other mostly through our songs, as the conversation progressed, the songs began to make more sense.   

As the week moved forward, sleep came easier for me.  One night, or early morning, I woke up in that state of mind that sometimes shows up when you’re a long way from home and you’re not sure exactly where you are.  I was surrounded by wild sounds, the wildest being what was described to me as a “horny donkey” which basically meant a male donkey separated from the females, his painful moaning haw littering the surrounding country.  There were also birds(I think it was birds, anyway) calling back and forth.  At first the calls were sharp and responsive, as they continued, the signal strength became weaker and the responses more delayed.   

Our gracious hosts, Gail and Thomas, always had something cooking for breakfast.  And, we’d all find our way to the table at some point between nine and noon.  Although, after that first Sunday, we were rarely all at the table at the same time.  Each morning, after a little breakfast, I always found my way to the stream, maybe fifty yards away from the house.  The days were warm enough to contemplate stripping down and jumping in the section of rocks where the blue green water pooled four or five feet deep, and looked cleaner than a swimming pool in some gated community.  But one toe in, and I decided that would rapidly become a bad decision.  But, submerged or not, I found time to pray and calm my spirit on those rocks daily. 

The days were filled with songs, mostly new to me, melodies and guitar strumming coming from open doors and wooden chairs all around the property we were staying.  And then, usually around 3 pm, we’d load up in my van, and hit the Texas back roads heading to places like New Braunfels and Wimberly and some tucked away little house concert.  Those rides were more of a chance to get to know each other as we drove through the hill country and slowly opened up more and more on each drive. 

On Thursday, we left Thomas and Gail’s property in Dripping Springs and were on our own.  I took in a movie, something I used to do quite often, and mostly haven’t gotten a chance to after my son was born.  Then we met up for a show at a Presbyterian Church in Austin.  We played on an altar with backdrop of a wooden cross, and it felt spiritual, and certainly bested the backdrop of couple of football games on giant flat screens, as is often the case for my shows. 
 

Friday, we made it to Fischer, Texas and participated in a parade, throwing beads and waving, then played in a beautiful barn style theater that was described to me before I got there as playing in a guitar sound hole.  After playing Fischer Hall, I’d say it was that was an accurate description. 

Saturday was the last show, in San Antonio.  My dad surprised me, by flying in From South Carolina.  The round was finished with Sarah Morris singing lead on a John R Butler song, “Corner of the Universe,” which was a fitting close to our Texas Jaunt. 

We said our goodbyes and I drove to Rockwall, Texas, arriving around 3 in the morning.  I was tired, but it took me a while to fall asleep.  Eventually, I found a few hours sleep and was on the road back to Nashville by 9:30. 

Coming in the door around 7pm and seeing my young son, and hearing him say "Hi Daddy!" and running to me, is as good as anything I've ever experienced.  It is good to be home, but a signinficant part of my spirit is longing for the Texas Hill Country and my fellow Kerrville friends.  I hope to be back and see them all soon.  This is not something to be forgotten.  Much love to all!