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Save Me Sister

picture from my childhood

All you need is love

Photobomb me from the grave, will you? I see you there, don’t think you’re hiding. You with the big stuffed bunny toy, so pleased, me with my P-47. And why are we all dressed up? Oh right, this must be Easter Sunday: 1956 I’d say, Rhein-Main Air Force Base near Frankfurt. Occupied Germany still, the U.S. Zone. And to think we were living in the same apartments occupied by Luftwaffe pilots’ families during the war… (Someone calls out, “Which war?” World War II, of course, back when they were separate and didn’t run into each other until you couldn’t tell whom we’re bombing now and why.)

You’ve been gone for over four years. Can’t mean anything to you, I guess. Hardly a day goes by without my thinking of you and the way you lived. “Dying is perfectly safe!” you chortled, knowing you were right, and proved it. What can happen to you now?

I want to make a difference. Don’t want it said that all I did was take. The wagon piled up high with everything is rolling down the hill. I can’t run fast enough to jump on board. You knew what the secret was, how to let it all unfold and end. How to be yourself and nothing else. How to fill the life you had. When you left, the world was sorry. I still get emails from people with your paintings, sad that you’re not here. I wasn’t going to write this, but I came across the photo, and it hit me. Johnny’s not a genius any more and feels himself for lumps in funny places; not that anything would break, except a heart.

Hail Creek Drummers

Just a quick taste here from deep in the crowd. (They opened for the Kongos the other night on Taos Plaza.) I can never get enough of this music, always moved that it comes from right here. D.H. Lawrence called it “the deep voice of the Earth calling out,” and when you realize that the culture is way older than Jesus, the description makes a lot more sense.

I especially loved the little guy. The man next to him appeared to be his dad,* and I only saw a little bit of discipline one time, when the boy was restless between songs and started drumming on the microphone. What a cool thing to be up there with your old man beating on a drum. Would have happened to me like never.

The main act, the Kongos, are supposed to be hot right now. They played just fine but might as well have been lip-syncing. The sound was totally polished like on the radio. The energy seemed a little forced. I didn’t sense any real passion. No goosebumps, you know? Give me rock and roll or Indians, any day.

* Or maybe the other guy up there who’s dressed the same?

Perfect Chevy

perfect Chevy

Cool, smooth, awesome (firme)

I don’t know what to say about this. Just look at it. I’ve been staring at the image for twenty minutes and can’t stop. It makes me feel good to connect with it on so many levels, and I’m a Ford guy. I love these cars because they’re labors of love. They radiate appreciation. What if America radiated appreciation? What if everything we had and made reflected this sustained attention and awareness? What if there were fewer assholes? Peace out.

Dark Fantastic Beauty

Jeff Brock’s Bombshell Betty

So cool to see this thing up close

Okay, here you go: as promised, sculptor Jeff Brock’s “Bombshell Betty.” What we have here is a rolling work of art that also races the clock at Bonneville. What started out as a 1952 Buick Roadmaster is now a 165 mph speedster. A total race car. Bombshell Betty features a 1950 Buick 320 cubic inch straight eight with exhaust pipes exiting through the original Buick “portholes” on the driver’s side. For that alone, I’d drive a hundred miles to see it. As it happened, though, I only had to make it to the Harwood Museum in downtown Taos. And you really need to watch this video with the sound cranked up:

I love this car. It’s so dark. If I could write like this car, that’s all I’d ever want. It’s totally compelling and complete. I identify utterly with whatever demon spawned it. This is high art with real muscle. The artist teamed up with two young local guys to build it. I call that inspired, too. The team is called Rocket Heads Racing, and I wish I were a member. Hoo, boy.

All business interior

Credit where credit is due

Road Rage

Bombshell Betty

Jeff Brock’s “Bombshell Betty,” about which more later!

I spotted the huge red Ford truck (an F-350?) from about a hundred yards away, barreling down unpaved Miranda Canyon Road toward the stop sign at the intersection up ahead the way so many do. The other guy could surely see me but apparently had no thought of stopping. Of all the nerve, I thought, and dangerous, too. For several years now I’ve been on a hopeless one-man neighborhood crusade to alter that behavior in this location, so I was primed. Sometimes I just honk and shake my head, but as we were already on a collision course, I stomped on the gas to make it clear I knew I had the right-of-way. He did, too.

I wasn’t going to kill us, so I skidded to a stop on the gravel road and honked before I reached the intersection as he roared on through toward Hot Springs Road. A second later, however, he pulled over on the left side and slowed, leaving room for me to go by on the right. As I did, he swerved sharply in my direction! I slowed to a careful crawl and we both stopped.

“What the hell are you trying to do?” he yelled.

“Stop sign!” was all I said, jerking my thumb back to where he’d been, and then proceeded. So far, so good. I’m so smart.

Unfortunately, we were both headed in the same direction on a long road that went down to the highway; I’d have him in the rearview mirror all the way. To thwart any mischief and get the hell out of the way, I pulled into a driveway at the first curve. Instead of zooming by, he stopped in the road, blocking me in, and he was most offended:

“What the hell’s the matter with you, go home, get off the road, what do you think you’re doing?!?” etc., etc.

Imagine this about twenty times. I wasn’t angry, just incredulous. I hadn’t even entered the intersection where he ran the sign, and here he was yelling at me.

“There’s a stop sign back there!” I called out, rather calmly I thought.

“I saw that, but I was going faster than you!”

I have to admit, this momentarily disarmed me. “Uh, you have to stop at the stop sign…” Brilliant!

This he didn’t like, and the verbal punishment replayed. I just shrugged and said, “You gotta stop at the stop sign” three or four more times before he gave up and drove on down the road. Whew. Well, no whew. I could barely see around the curve as I backed out, but I noticed that he’d pulled into a driveway himself about fifty yards away, backed out, turned, and backed back in, facing the street, waiting to pounce when I drove by. I decided not to find out if he planned to ram or shoot me and quickly turned around the way I’d come. There was an alternate road down to the main one and I took it, holding my phone to dial 911. I guess he didn’t see me, though, because he didn’t follow.

Well, now.

Besides hoping he doesn’t live here, what else comes to mind? Time to stop driving like a fourteen-year-old in Abilene, Texas, perhaps? Those were the days, all right, and there were more than a few car chases, but we were having fun. A few trash cans in the alley got whacked and maybe a squirrel. Peel out in somebody’s driveway. Play the menace in the junior high school parking lot. No one was even dating yet, we jousted with our cars. Or Dad’s. But no, that’s not it. I learned a lot from those times. I know what a car can do.

This was like the time I yelled at a cop in Washington, D.C. (Don’t ever do that, by the way.) I was right and he was wrong and neither of those means a damn. There’s a higher order of awareness, anyway.

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