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I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts . . . and other thinks

Sitting in w/Jon Byrd, 10/2/17. Photo: Ward Weems

Sitting in w/Jon Byrd, 10/3/17. Photo: Ward Weems

Good morning. Happy Thursday. You know, I’ve been trying to figure out what to say, given all the terrible news of the past few days, and I still don’t have a very good answer. So, I’m just gonna piece this one together, from things I’ve written since Monday. But coming right up: 

Two shows this week–I’ll be at the new location of the Radio Cafe here on the east side tonight at 8pm, playing solo, on a bill with my pals Stuffy Shmitt and Lynn Taylor and his band the Barflies. Looking forward to playing here for the first time. Expect a new song.

This Saturday, 10/7, I’m thrilled to once again be a part of “TomFest“–it’s kinda like a private show for our NC friends and superfans Tom and Renee, and their friends, all coming in from out of town, except it’s not private. YOU can be a part of it too–the show is open to the public, at The Family Wash, starting at 7, I believe. I’ll be closing the show, in trio formation, with Ron Eoff and Megan Carchman.

American Girl: I got to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers twice–both transcendent experiences. But the first time I’ll always remember: it was early-mid 80s; they were opening for, and backing up, Dylan. I’d ridden over to Dallas from Monroe with a carload of friends, some of whom I didn’t know so well. One of those newer friends, as it turned out, was quite the marijuana enthusiast. Whether I inhaled or not, President Clinton, had very little to do with my state of mind–when your immediate airspace is 85% THC, things are gonna change on ya. We’d driven over the day before, crashed at somebody’s apartment, and went to the venue that next afternoon. By the time we got there I was pretty much already completely baked–the same atmospheric conditions being present in the car as the day before–and though I really wanted to hear the music and remember the experience, I’m afraid for Mr. Lightweight here, it was hopeless. (Though I do still have some blurry images from the show in my memory.) But I’ll never forget–walking in the outer hallway of the arena on the way to our seats, I heard someone call my name. I turned around and nearly keeled over. It was Janna Adams, the most beautiful girl from my high school; she’d graduated a year ahead of me–and I don’t think we’d ever spoken to one another before. We moved in different social universes. She was so pretty that looking at her was like staring into the sun. You just couldn’t bear it for long. And here she was, a few years later, calling my name, and talking to me–poor me, higher than Flagpole Joe and probably unable to complete a sentence! Haven’t seen her since, and I hope I made it through that conversation without anything too embarrassing happening or being said.

Now back to previous days’ scribblings:

from Wednesday, 10/4: Good afternoon (or whatever time of day it is where you are): I woke up Monday to the horrific news of the terror attack in Las Vegas, the first thing I saw on my phone that morning, while feeling mildly ill, like I’d caught a cold. My wife and I very subtlely celebrated 23 years of marriage on Sunday, mostly with her out working, and me trying to conjure a surprise dinner without burning anything, including our humble abode, while working at various tasks domestic and professional around “the estate.” Dinner-wise, everything turned out okay; good, even! (Though it was kinda like Homer Simpson cooking for Julia Child.) Maybe a little behind schedule (note to self: big brussels sprouts take longer to roast than smaller ones. (Duh . . . ) And cut those bigger potatoes in half before you boil them.) But it was a calm, quiet evening; before we went to bed at about 10, Boo read aloud from her phone various neighbors’ reports of shots fired, this time as close as two blocks away, though I can’t say I heard anything. Hearing gunfire around here is much rarer than it used to be. Can’t remember the last time the police helicopter hovered low over our block, spotlighting alleys, backyards and decks, that particular stark blue-tinged light moving over the property, looking for somebody on the run.

Saturday evening we’d attended our neighbors’ wedding, held in their backyard. Perfect weather, friendly people, and lots of well-articulated love amidst laughter and joyful tears. I have no sage advice regarding marriage, only some feelings. That the longer you continue the journey, the deeper the bond gets, in usually unspoken ways. You hone a greater respect for one another as individuals, regardless of each other’s shortcomings, and hopefully there is a safe zone created between you, where those faults are mutually forgiven, and accomplishments and efforts are mutually celebrated, that expands as you go on caring for one another–two people who continue to change, as folks will do over time, sharing a life together, a life which in some ways may not make complete “sense” on paper. But maybe long-term unions get past that, the whole “sense” thing becoming so laughably inconsequential, as you consider just how lucky you are to love and to be loved, and to be alive. All else is secondary.

from Tuesday, 10/3: “I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts”(title of a song by the band X)–I see on Facebook this morning various comments about keeping things “positive”, that some folks are just gonna up and unfriend anybody who spreads any negativity. But hey, this sure sounds like a thinly veiled excuse to not listen to folks you might not agree with. And I’m the first to admit that nobody has ever won an argument on social media–talk about a waste of time . . . . Our virtual megaphones work fine, blasting our own dearly-held profundities loud and clear, but our ears? Not so much, apparently. Seems to me that we need to be careful about this particularly contemporary luxury–that you can get your news and commentary from one source that tells you what you want to hear, instead of considering different perspectives. Paul Simon got it right: “A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest.”

In earlier drafts of this post I ranted and raved about certain issues surrounding the Las Vegas attack. But I realize now: why waste my time and breath? It’s still the Wild West here in this country, replete now with automatic weapons, even in our technologically advanced, 21st century mindset. What we do, if anything, to attempt to prevent or at very least hinder another attack like this, will require a lot of honesty, thought, compromise, and some of that American Exceptionalism I hear so much about. That’s all I’m going to say about it now. I’m just a guy, an observer, a student of this life–someone who makes words rhyme and tries to write songs etc. that mean something to me, and hopefully to you. In the words of my dear late friend and songwriter supreme, David Egan, a “dreamer.” In a world that makes a little less sense every day.

3:45pm, Monday 10/2

I’ve been outside this afternoon since the rumors surfaced of Tom Petty’s death. It was an automatic, unconscious reaction. I’ve been staring into space, out in the front flower bed, where this season the dahlias have decided to thrive. Long thick stems that bend and curl every which-way and big tufts of yellow flowers everywhere. In the fridge I found one remaining apple in the last bag we bought for Apollo. He’s been gone a month now, since August 29; apple slices and carrots were his treats. I just washed that apple, poured myself a bourbon, and I’m gonna sit out on the porch, taste the sweetness of that fruit and the amber burn of the whiskey mix together on my tongue, and feel the long-awaited hint of a Fall breeze. And look over what I’ve done since coming out here: in the midst of all this sadness I haven’t known what to do, but to hammer a few tall stakes into the ground around those dahlias, and tie on the tallest stems, to keep them growing up, towards open air, and not falling over from their own weight. To try to keep something beautiful up off the ground.

2 Responses to I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts . . . and other thinks

  1. John Jackson October 5, 2017 at 12:50 pm #

    Perfect words for this week, Kevin. No way to make any sense of it, we must simply keep moving and loving, and perhaps even enact some rational laws about the things that threaten us. Keep writing your songs and performing your art – we all need more and more of this realm in our lives.

  2. Lydia Manuel October 5, 2017 at 1:38 pm #

    “To try to keep something beautiful up off the ground.” Indeed. Nodding my head, with a lump in my throat, and misty eyes. Thank you, dear Kevin, for sharing your thoughts, words, music, and beautiful energy with this world. xo

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