no reason to ever leave the house

now playing: dan fogelberg, “in the passage”

favorite quote from the oscars:

“my grandmothers’ gone now, but she still talks to me in my dreams….

…and i can’t wait to go to sleep tonight, because we’ve got a lot to talk about.”

(jamie foxx, accepting his best actor award for his portrayal of ray charles in the movie ray)

got an instant message today from an old navy buddy – apparently, there’s a pretty solid movement afoot to stage a reunion this coming labor day weekend for our old crew from one of my duty stations in the navy…we’d tried this once before, a few years ago, and it petered out – but this time, there’s apparently a little more organization behind it.

i’m not sure i want to get too deeply into some of the things that happened there just now – it’d take longer than i really have at the moment. i’m trying to finish the work to get the amos guitars site ready to go live, and i’m probably gonna be leaving a little earlier than i probably would under normal circumstances, too.

i think i might’ve found keith a buyer for his antique ford, too…if that pans out, i know he’ll be a happy camper.

i had a conversation last week with a guy who works here – good guy, very curious about computers…married with a son from a previous marriage at home and two small children with his second wife. i’m not sure how it even came up, but i had told him that wendy and i were splitting up, and he confided in me that he’s been having thoughts about going the same route…he said that he doesn’t feel as though his wife has a great deal in common with him anymore, that they don’t really make any kind of effort to stay connected, and that he feels like he lives with two families – the one he shares with his son and the one he shares with his wife. the thing that struck me most about our conversation, though, was this one particular thing that he said….

…he said that it’s not even so much that he doesn’t want to be married anymore, but that sometimes he feels like packing up his shit and moving out and finding his own place. in his mind, it’s not really so much about his marriage deteriorating as it is about needing his own space. he feels like he needs a place to hide, to get away from his family when their issues get to be too much.

the conversation struck a nerve with me on a couple of different levels – on one hand, i can certainly relate to his situation, since i’m in a very similar place…as much as i know i’ll miss having wendy around once the changing of the guard has taken place, i’m already in the frame of mind that has me looking around the house and making plans – mentally moving this there and that over here and tossing this if it doesn’t make the move…things of that nature. so the thought of craving a space of your own isn’t foreign to me…but the more striking aspect of his position was that he wasn’t so much unhappy with his wife, or the prospect of being married, but his craving for solitude was claiming a bigger portion of his thoughts than any desire to contemplate the problems of his relationship.

it made me wonder – have we, as a species, started to lose a grip on our ability to co-exist with one another?

you see certain aspects of it all the time – whether in one’s own family, in their relationships with co-workers, with schoolmates, with whomever we might have an opportunity to deal with within the routine of our daily lives. we just don’t have the “face time” with other people that we used to be required to have in order to get through our lives. conversation (whether face to face or over the telephone) has gradually given way to email and instant messages, which give us time to contemplate responses and simultaneously robs us of any semblance of nuanced communication…some of us have the ability to hammer out an email that actually communicates – but communication via the internet has done more harm than good to our collective ability to connect with one another. the circuit may be open, but the path along the wires doesn’t foster a real sense of connection very often.

instead of going out, instead of doing things with our family, instead of calling people on their birthday or holidays, instead of sitting down to dinner at the same time with the whole family present, we all eat individually when we feel like it…we order take out instead of eating together…we send “e-cards” to say things that we either can’t or won’t…and we tend to avoid contact with our own families, because we see things in them that we don’t like and we’d prefer not to deal with them – so we want to run away from them.

some of us make that choice – we decide that there’s really no way that we’re going to find anything resembling acceptance among these people, or we decide with no real evidence that things have just got to be better elsewhere, and we run away.

because running away is always….always…easier than staying put and examining our circumstances.

i feel like i should point out that i’m not advocating staying in an unhealthy situation out of some twisted sense of loyalty, or because it’s what someone else thinks you should do or anything of that nature…what i’m trying to say is that a lot of times, we simply don’t know how bad things are (or aren’t) until the final box is in the back of the truck and you’re on your way to the next place, the next quiet place, the next place that you can call your own and no one elses’ – until such time as you bring someone else into it, once you’ve conveniently forgotten why it was that you craved this solitude in the first place.

“do you realize, janet, that in modern day society, there’s practically no reason to ever leave the house – AT ALL?”

(steve dunn (campbell scott) in singles)

it really does seem sometimes as though it’s collectively much easier for us to hide from each other than to contend with the challenges that we pose to one another. “easy” really is the word, too…it takes no effort whatsoever to hide in an apartment by ourselves and clutch the remote in one hand and order takeout over the internet and check our email and screen our phone calls and avoid contact with anyone whom we might deem the least bit unpleasant. it might require some work on our behalf to figure out how to deal with the person who just doesn’t fit into our personal grand scheme of things – a difficult boss or a whiny co-worker or a child who craves more attention than we’re willing to muster or, dare i say it, a partner who doesn’t fit our preconceived notion of what it was that we expected of them.

“people need people, steve. and it’s not just about sex. well, maybe sixty percent.”

(janet livermore (bridget fonda) to steve dunn during the same conversation in singles)

i can’t speak for anyone else but myself, where this situation is concerned…and the only thing i seem to be sure of is that i don’t know what it is that i need right now.

which probably means that a little solitude is in order.

sex with cars

now playing: the bee gees, “how deep is your love”

earlier this week, someone asked me how the van was running, and my reply was, “fine, so far…right now it’s lulling me back into a false sense of security so it can fuck me again.”

well, to put it bluntly, if you see me glowing tomorrow, you’ll know what happened.

we left it in the parking lot tonight – wendy picked dylan up and we went out for dinner, and i had them drop me off back at work so i could check on the backup, and i’d drive home after i’d checked everything out.

so i came back in, switched the tapes, and went outside to start ‘er up, and there it still sits.

stranger than usual tonight is the fact that when you turn it over, it will actually start – but then belts start whining and it starts gradually sputtering…and the minute you touch the accelerator, whether lightly or all the way to the floor, it shuts itself off.

so this weekend, i’m putting about a dozen guitars and various and sundry other items up for sale on eBay and we’re gonna remedy this fucking problem once and for all. i had hoped that it would hold out another two months, since it’s due for inspection in april and i could probably get a couple more bucks for it with an ’06 sticker on it…at this point, though, i’m not sure if it’s worth what i’ll get for it in trade for the satisfaction i’ll get from taking a fucking sledgehammer to it when it’s been replaced.

funny moment on the way back from dinner…

somehow, dylan had miscontstrued the meaning of bar mitzvah via some rumors he’d heard from his friends, and he was under the impression that jewish boys were circumcised when they were 13 years old as part of the mitzvah process.

as wendy was explaining to him what the real deal was, i chimed in and told him that i had to circumcise myself – i immediately had his attention.


“yeah, man…i was hiking in the mountains, and this huge boulder fell right on my foreskin. i was trapped, and i couldn’t move, and i had to choose between circumcising myself and going for help or dying in the wilderness with my foreskin trapped beneath that huge boulder.”

wendy had, by now, chimed in and started trying to discredit my story….

“where were you ever hiking in the mountains?”

“the grand tetons, man. hey, look…if you don’t believe me, i can take you there. it’s still there, under that big-assed boulder. i can show it to you.”

i kept going…”that took some serious courage on my part, man….it’s not every man that can take a bowie knife to their constant companion like that. it was one of the defining moments of my life. seriously.”

of course, i had nothing to say by that point that should’ve been taken seriously…

anyway, wendy is coming back to bail me out…i had walked across the street to catch the bus, and was standing inside the foyer, waiting for it to stop outside, and the sonofabitch didn’t even slow down! the other guy who drives the route earlier sits and waits for riders, but this jackass was obviously in a hurry to get back.

greetings from the bottomless pit



now playing: michael hedges, “i carry your heart”


so it appears that yours truly may be on the moral majority’s radar this week.

some backstory…

last week, my buddy todd came over here with a newspaper article in hand headlined hamburg: no rock bands in talent program. it went on to say how the hamburg school board was going to refuse to allow “rock bands” to play during the high schools’ talent show this year, for fear that moshing may erupt during the show.

now, for the benefit of those of you who aren’t familiar with the local turf, hamburg is a podunk town about thirty minutes or so north of the sprawling metropolis of reading…small in just about every definition of the word. they have a weekly paper which carries the typical small town gossip as news – fueling rumors about police officers, breaking scandals about teachers who have improper relations with their students, and egging on rivalries between township commisioners…right alongside the church bulletins and bake sale notices.

now, it might further benefit you to understand the stigma surrounding the inner city where i live…

reading, the city, and berks county couldn’t be further apart in the figurative sense…reading is a shithole in many, many ways…dilapidated housing, high welfare rolls and unemployment, and a general air of apathy cast a perpetual gray over the city. it’s a city that offers all the disadvantages of living in a major urban area, but none of the benefits…no real nightlife to speak of, very few cultural attractions, and so on and so forth.

over the years, the line of delineation between “the city” and “the county” have blurred somewhat, but not in people’s minds.

i haven’t lived in this area long enough to know what “old reading” was like, but from what i understand, it’s a night-and-day thing…reading apparently used to be a thriving city, but that hasn’t been the case in the time that i’ve lived here. it’s a vague shell of what it used to be. and those who have lived here long enough to remember “old reading” like to lay the blame for that at the feet of the rather large hispanic population that inhabit the city – since they’re a convienent target. no one wants to look at the fact that urban decay and what some people call “white flight” affects cities everywhere…affluent people seldom stay in urban areas when given the choice to live elsewhere, and that leaves the cities inhabited by low income families of all nationalities who often don’t have the capital (or the dignity or self-esteem) to invest of themselves into their accomodations…and believe me when i say it’s no different here. the flight of affluence (both personal and corporate) from the city to the outlying areas began long before i arrived, and with a few scant exceptions, there aren’t many signs of hope apparent when you drive through the city.

when you leave the city and head for the outlying areas, there really aren’t that many signs (with the exception of the few boroughs where the “haves” have grouped together) that things are much different outside of reading…yet when you talk to people or listen to others’ conversations, the sense of their perceived superiority to the city and its inhabitants is pretty acute. the references to “the city”, for instance…lines like “i had to go to the city for it, i didn’t have any choice”, or “they’re pretty nice, for people who live in the city”, or “why would you want to go into the city?” and the like…it’s “the city” and “those people” – as if somehow saying the word “hispanic” would acknowledge the elephant in the room.

the best place to see an example of this?

go to a sporting event that involves a city school and a suburban school.

i used to go to jayda’s basketball games, and i’d purposely sit close to the middle of the bleachers so i could overhear what other people would say…things like, “holy shit – lookit the size of that one black one over there…” certainly weren’t uncommon. and you could see the look of thinly-veiled discomfort on some of the faces in the stands at the prospect of their perfumed, prim and proper, neatly groomed christian white children having to face off against the racially mixed unwashed heathen bastard children of unwed mothers on the other team. you could actually see some of them squirm…disdain from the parents in the stands, and unmitigated fear in the eyes of courtney and heather on the basketball court as they prepared to square off against laquanda and rosario on the other team.

seriously. all you need to know to get inside the head of the average berks countian on this particular level lies in those two phrases.

“the city” and “those people”.

i know this is a lot of backstory, but if you’re not familiar with the lay of the land, it’s necessary.

anyway, hamburg – arguably the king of the “those people” and “the city” mentality – had apparently just had their high school talent show hijacked by the school board and the “rock bands” had been thrown out on their ear…all due to a fear of moshing.

so, i guess it could be said that todd knew what he was doing when he brought the article over for me to read, because i fired off a letter to the editor that read as follows:

Earlier this month, I had the privelege of providing sound reinforcement for the annual Talent Show at Reading High School. I agreed to do so because my daughter was performing during the show, and after having sat through the entire show, I was incredibly impressed with the variety and skill level exhibited by the students of the most maliciously maligned educational facility in Berks County. There were singers, dancers, rappers, musicians – the whole gamut of performing arts was represented at the show.

The show was held after hours in the auditorium, and the kids played to a packed house, with many more students than parents showing up to support their classmates. Were they loud? You bet they were. But there wasn’t a single reportable incident during the show.

So you can just imagine my surprise when I picked up the paper today to find out that our northern neighbors in sleepy little Hamburg have been quietly cultivating a reputation as the mosh pit capital of the world. I mean, really – whodathunkit? Hamburg?

I think that the kind of paranoia apparent in Hamburgs’ decision to disallow “rock bands” from playing at the talent show is tragic. I won’t pretend for a minute that I enjoy some of what passes for pop music in 2005. I think most of it is crap. But I doubt my current mindset differs much from my own parents’ disposition the first time they saw or heard some of what I listened to as a teenager. But, as a parent, I also realize that their music is their music, and I respect their right to listen to (or sing and play) anything they want, within reasonable limits.

Maybe Hamburg would do well to learn the simple lesson that the pistol-wielding thugs who attend Reading High have already taken to heart – something like this isn’t about the School Board or the Faculty or the Teachers. This is the students’ moment, and it shouldn’t be taken away from them just because we don’t relate to or identify with it.

And, Hamburg – if you can’t control your student body at assemblies, you’ve got bigger problems than rock bands playing at the talent show.

Tom Hampton

off it went, and they printed about sixty percent of it in monday’s paper. i got some jabs from some of the folks at work about it, all friendly, and i didn’t think anything else about it. BUT – in the time since, it’s gone on to become a “story”…it was on the front page of the weekly hamburg newspamphlet, and the reading eagle ran two other articles on the story, one on the front page…and long story short, it looks like the bands are going to get to play now…and thankfully, kevin bacon and dermot mulroney didn’t have to come dancing down main street to make it happen.

sooooo…end of story, right?

well, not quite.

last night, i came home and this envelope was on the “mail table” right inside the door….


inside the envelope was a pamphlet titled ‘the solution” – containing an uplifting message about god’s love and avoiding eternal damnation and the like…and on the back of the pamphlet was scribbled this little nugget of wisdom:


so at this point i guess there’s no more mystery surrounding how i’ll be spending the afterlife, folks.

the only thing i’m really curious about, though…would be what kinda music would be in my buddy mister swaggart’s record collection….

heavy sheep



now playing: the eagles, “new kid in town”


courtesy of my guitar buddy, bob stirner:

the music business is a cruel and shallow money trench…a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs.

…there’s also a negative side.”

hunter s. thompson

additional quote from my buddy blake, uttered while driving through the country in the rain:

man…i’ll bet sheep get really heavy in the rain.

i’ve managed, somehow, to crawl over a couple of pretty major humps at work, and it feels liberating to have done so…the largest of them, compiling a database tracking every PC and marrying it to the software installed on it, and tying that information to the purchase orders for the machines and the software finished up in a marathon sixteen hour day last weekend…and this week, i’ve finally managed to finish the XSL/CSS code for the template that the CEO wanted to print out labels for his DVD collection from a database he maintains. we finalized all that yesterday in a 90-minute “this is how you use it” session in his office that effectively kept me from another appointment i’d hoped to honor at lunchtime (taking my van over for a quick inspection to see if we can determine what the cute little hammering noise is that’s coming from my front suspension every now and then)…but now that both of those projects are done, i do feel considerably lighter when i walk in the door here at the beginning of the day.

now today, i have to shut down our main file server at lunchtime, pull the SCSI card and the tape drive that are running on the box, and set up a new machine specifically to run the backup hardware here in the office. and it needs to be up and running by morning.

so i’ll probably take that long lunch today and go home and grab some stuff and come back in and hunker down for the night – because it’s gonna be a long one…

last night, i sat down and went through every single piece of mail i could find in the house to try and collect some semblance of an idea as to where i stand financially – i need to try and get a glimpse of the picture so that i can plan accordingly from this point forward, and to try to come up with a “system” of some sort. i’ve taken steps in this direction before, but i’ve never made a very real commitment to staying on course. it’s a problem i’ve had for years – every dollar that comes my way is “found” money, and i’ve never had anything vaguely resembling financial discipline. while i’ve been no more responsible lately than in the past, i’ve definitely gotten myself into more dire straits in the distant past than in the recent past…and i’ve let the fact that it’s relatively easy for me to make money cloud things over for a long time now.

i feel a need, though, with everything that’s happening in my life right now, to fix that…in terms of having a heightened sense of awareness of where i stand at any given time. i don’t know how long it’ll last – because i know how easy it is for me to pile envelopes on the table next to the door when i come home and promptly forget that they ever showed up…especially when there’s a lot going on.

and it might be interesting to consider that as i’m typing all this, i’m exchanging emails with the webmaster of the joe walsh fan club and pondering whether or not to buy tickets for their upcoming show in reading at the “you must be fucking kidding me” price of $130 so that i can attend the meet and greet afterward…so the truth of the matter is that no matter how sincere i might be about trying to set things right, i’m every bit that easily sidetracked.

good judgement will prevail and i’ll talk myself out of it, but i’m honestly considering it at the moment…and for that alone, someone should whack me across the testicles with a wooden yardstick. and as the pain wracks my body, i should be made to scream “where’s felder’s cut?” over and over again at the top of my lungs until i regain the ability to stand upright.

in somewhat related news, i just started a dialogue with the manager of an eagles tribute band who are looking for a singer – they need someone to fill the don henley spot, apparently. we had a great discussion about it yesterday, and it sounds like they really understand what’s necessary to construct that kind of band…whether anything comes of it or not remains to be seen, but it could be a good opportunity. it’s right up my alley, in terms of what i’m willing to play…and if the right gigs are there, it’d be great. i just don’t know if i’m willing to join another start-up…i think i’ve been hoping that i’d find something that was already a working entity, something that would allow me to step into a working situation and hit the ground running.

maybe this is it, maybe it’s not…i remain guarded about it at this point.

i’ve been doing a small amount of fill-in work with a couple of country bands, and while that’s ok – it’s not what i want to do. i’ve been perusing the want ads (,, so on, so forth…the usual haunts) looking for potential work, but everything i’ve come across so far has been mediocre at best – one ad looked really promising until i downloaded one of their mp3’s – i got through about 45 seconds of it before i had to turn it off. i got a quizzical look from my office mate – “what the hell was that?” – and that was it for them.

i think the unspoken message here is that there just aren’t that many bands that are playing what i want to play anymore…all the bands that are playing the clubs seem to be either really poor renditions of “classic rock” done by hacks, or really loud, awful versions of already awful material that’s on the radio or MTV right now…also done by hacks. it almost seems like you have to either reside in (or be willing to associate yourself with) a state of mediocrity in order to be able to form a unit and play out…i’m starting to understand why so many great players play for themselves in their basement and aren’t in bands. but – it wasn’t always that way. that’s the thing that kills me. there was once enough work for everyone, and there were genuinely good bands on the circuit who were willing to take the trouble to learn to play the songs and go out and execute them…as opposed to the prevailing apathetic “that’s close enough, man” ethic that seems to prevail now.

i’m starting to find myself considering the prospect that i may have amassed all this experience, may have worked this hard on my ability, may have sacrificed all this time, may have accumulated all this equipment – to arrive at a place where i may have to seriously consider not playing anymore.

that’s a pretty terrifying concept.

speed bumps



now playing: joe walsh, “in my car”



came in against my will this morning to a bit of a mess (but came in i did, because i knew that my partner across the room would be out because her daughter-in-law was having some kind of gallstone surgery, and she was taking off to help with her kids…and if i didn’t come in, we’d have a repeat of the disastrous day when the boss was the only one here)…it seems that the new spam firewall that we put in on friday managed to block all outside email for the entire weekend. i did exactly as i was told – i backed up the configuration on the old one and loaded it into the new one as soon as i had it powered up and out of the box…but apparently it didn’t register the DNS server from the old machine, so that field was blank – which meant that every incoming email was blocked with an “no valid recipient” or “fake sender domain” error.

needless to say, there’s some unhappiness about that in the ranks.

i returned home this weekend, rather uneventfully…not that i expected it to be any different. considering my state, the only way i could’ve done less this weekend would’ve been by not getting out of bed at all – but that’s not an option. in fact, i’m thinking about packing wendy’s bed early and buying another mattress…i have about a six hour limit in this bed before i feel like i need cortisone just to get out of it. i had started to think that it was me until i had an extended opportunity to sleep elsewhere, and now i’m pretty much convinced that it’s not me at all. i think i got my most productive rest between the point when i got up and went downstairs and the point that i woke up on the sofa. other than that, i actually sat on my ass and watched movies all weekend…funny girl on sunday afternoon, desk set (a spencer tracy/katherine hepburn classic…the next to last movie they made together) on saturday night, right after one of the worst movies in the history of man (saturday night fever)…and finally – after much fanfare from my son – napoleon dynamite last night.

dylan spent most of the weekend with his buddy derrick, but then came over last night – they’re both at my house to make up for some lost time from last week now. he brought some great stories with him. apparently, derrick had a couple of friends, jose and steve (steve is the latino kid, jose is caucasian…go figure) stay over with them. at some point, they were playing video games and derrick turned down the music from the game and put on a shania twain cd instead – at which point, one of the kids said to derrick, “man…is this the music you jerk off to?

to which derrick replied, “well, it’s not the only music…

apparently, these remarks were caught on videotape, too.

so there’s video evidence of what could potentially be the most embarrassing public remarks of his short life.

have i repeated my “no way would i want to be a teenager now” rant lately?

the last time the three of us went out for dinner together, they did nothing but laugh – in fact, jayda caught dylan off-guard and he ended up spraying mountain dew out his nose across the table at her.

i want to think that the speed bumps from the last couple of weeks might be behind us for a bit. i know there’ll be more, but i do appreciate the smooth road between them right now.

there was a great saturday night live retrospective on tv last night…something i’d love to have on video if it ever shows up in purchasable form.  live from new york: saturday night live – the first five years. they actually dared to interview the writers, which is where the real story of the genesis of that show lies. those people were brilliant – and while they’ve had some good writers in the time since, i don’t think that show will ever again live up to the legend that looms over it from that first cast and the writers who wrote for them.

but then again, we’ll never live in times like those again, either.

last night, while we were sitting together on the sofa after the kids had gone upstairs watching tv, wendy looked over at me and said, “we’re gonna be ok, you and me…aren’t we?”

i wasn’t sure, initially, if that was a question or an affirmation…and before i really got a chance to answer her, she’d managed to change the subject, so i don’t know if she heard me or not.

there’s been no real packing…the only sign that change is underfoot would be a slow stream of purchases on her behalf that are starting to clog the few remaining spaces in the house with their presence – new glasses, new pillows, things of that nature.

and i know that eventually, i’m going to have to start my own steady stream – it just seems at this point that there’s not much point in crowding the house even further than it already is. that, plus i have a ton of other stuff to pay for, pay off, and pay on between now and the point when i’ll actually need to replace some of these things…so i’m not going to sweat it for the moment. there’s plenty of other stuff to sweat.

we were 40 miles outside of Barstow when the acid kicked in…



now playing: stephen stills and manassas, “the treasure (take one)”

Hunter S. Thompson Dies at 67
‘Fear and Loathing’ Writer Apparently Committed Suicide

By Martin Weil and Allan Lengel
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, February 21, 2005; Page A04

Hunter S. Thompson, whose life and writing, vivid and quirky reflections of each other, made him one of the principal symbols of the American counterculture, shot and killed himself yesterday at his home near Aspen.

Thompson, 67, was celebrated as a practitioner of an outraged form of personal journalism, offering off-beat ideas and observations in a style that was wildly and vividly his own and that brought him cult-like status and widespread recognition.

His books on politics and society were regarded as groundbreaking among journalists and other students of current affairs in their irreverence and often angry insights.

Among those for which he was famed are “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail.” He rode for almost a year with the Hell’s Angels motorcycle outfit for research on another book. In all he wrote at least a dozen.

Jonathan Yardley, writing last year in The Washington Post, called him “a genuinely unique figure in American journalism,” citing his comic writing and social criticism.

Thompson, often seen wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap and with a cigarette dangling from his lips, showed up frequently as Uncle Duke in “Doonesbury,” the Garry Trudeau comic strip.

Part of what created his image of outlaw independence and defiance of norms and conventions was his claim to intimate familiarity with a variety of drugs and mind altering chemicals.

“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone . . . but they’ve always worked for me,” he once wrote.

Pitkin County, Colo., Sheriff Bob Braudis said in a brief telephone interview that Thompson was alone in his kitchen of his Woody Creek home when he shot himself with a handgun. His wife was at a gym, Braudis said.

The sheriff said Thompson had seemed “still on top of his game.”

But Braudis’s wife, Louisa Davidson, said “he was not going to age gracefully, he was going to go out with a bang. He was tormented.”

Thompson was known for a style that he described as “gonzo journalism,” a form of “new journalism.” It was based on the idea that fidelity to fact did not always blaze the way to truth.

Instead, “gonzo journalism” and its practitioners suggested that a deeper truth could be found in the ambiguous zones between fact and fiction.

“Objective journalism is one of the main reasons that American politics has been allowed to be so corrupt for so long,” Thompson told interviewers in a characteristic pronouncement on both institutions.

“You can’t be objective about Nixon,” he said. “How can you be objective about Clinton?”

Among the writers and works he cited as major influences were most of the classic American authors, including Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway, many or most read early in life. He also named the Biblical book of Revelation.

He was born in Louisville, and after a wild youth entered the Air Force, according to one account, as part of a parole agreement.

His writing career is traced to the 1950s, when he contributed to a base newspaper while in the Air Force.

He later wrote unpublished fiction, reported for the mainstream media from Latin America, and made his name with his Hell’s Angels article in Harper’s magazine.

His star rose while he worked for Rolling Stone magazine, where the “Fear and Loathing” books first appeared.

His beat, he once said was “the death of the American dream.” Interviewers later suggested to him that he in a way embodied that dream. They said he exploded in profanity, but conceded that perhaps he did.

if i may explain…



now playing: poco, “indian summer”

there’s a conversation that i’ve had several times over with several different people regarding my decision to go couch camping while wendy’s parents are in town to help her find a place to live post-breakup. it varies in actual content, but the theme seems to be pretty consistent. it always seems to follow the lines of “it’s your house, why are you the one staying somewhere else” or “why can’t they just find a hotel” or something similarly knee-jerk in its insinuation.

usually, all that i need to rebuke that line of thought is a simple “what would you do in my shoes?”. if it’s someone who’s familiar with the situation and with what i’m trying to do, that usually wraps it up pretty nicely.

but for those who might not be, (and who may similarly have been directed here by me for said explanation), i offer the following thoughts.

first of all, this is not an acrimonious breakup. no one here has any desire to cause anyone else any more hurt or resentment than what comes with the territory, and we’ve actually managed to go out of our way to be kind to one another and not engage in the usual repetitive laundry-listing of faults and blame-hurling that seems to be so common in these situations.

and guess what? so far, it’s working.

and in that spirit, when wendy told me that her parents were coming up to help her find a place, i told her i’d go somewhere else while they were here – and she immediately told me that it wasn’t necessary to do so, that they weren’t coming to cause trouble, et cetera…and i knew that they were a little too centered to be the kind of people who’d drive 1250 miles just to kick my ass – although i did make jokes about her father making a couple of phone calls and having me sent to gitmo with all the rest of the “enemy combatants”. and frankly, i could probably have stayed in the house without affecting their mission, in terms of its execution.

but no one involved here could deny that there wouldn’t be an extra element of tension created by my presence in the house while they were going about this.

whether they would want to have to deal with that or not i can’t say. i can say whether or not i’d want to deal with it, though – and that’s why i feel better about being out of the way.

and i think that, as a parent, if i were in their shoes i’d probably breathe a bit of a sigh of relief at the prospect of not having me around, too. were i doing the same thing they’re doing with my daughter, i’d definitely find it stressful enough a prospect to take on what they’ve taken on in and of itself – coming up on what amounts to a moment’s notice to help their daughter sort out living arrangements, and trying to do so as quickly as possible so that they can feel that she’s taken care of – that’s enough to worry about as it is, without having the additional stress of potential conflict in the air around you.

they insisted, as did wendy, that this wasn’t necessary, and that’s very kind of them.   i appreciate their concern for my welfare. and, the thing is – i’ve been fine.  i’ve had some good friends offer couches or extra beds, and i’ve managed to get along just fine through this thus far.

the benefit for me, in addition to the things i’ve talked about, has been this unexpected gift of solitude.

i didn’t consider it when i initially decided to do things this way, but i think it’s been a real gift for me to have the “alone time” that i’ve had this week. i didn’t know i needed it as badly as i did. it’s been invaluable – so much so that i’ve actually kindly declined offers for shelter a couple of nights in exchange for sleeping in places that might be less comfortable, but with less human contact. (and before you fill up the comments with thoughts about how awful it must be to sleep in the van, let me assure you – it doesn’t suck. not as bad as it has at certain times in the past when conditions were much worse than they’ve been this week.)

i think that at some point, this kind of time was probably the basis for the first kid who was ever sent to his room after misbehaving – it’s nearly impossible to give events in your life the kind of consideration you’re capable of if you don’t have time for introspection.

and i need to give myself time to get used to the idea of being single again, too.

the latest word from wendy is that they’ve settled on an offer for the only house that they looked at that she really felt good about, and that they’re going to draw up an intent-to-purchase contract this week, and that they may actually be leaving this weekend. the owners of wendys’ new house won’t be settling on their new place until early in april, so she’ll have plenty of time to get ready for the move…i had honestly expected this to take much longer. so much so that i actually made other plans for the weekend, and now i feel bad about having made them…so i’m conflicted about it now, where i was actually kinda looking forward to it before.


from the looks of things, there’s an actual datestamp on these proceedings at this point. it’s no longer an open-ended thing.

i never thought of finality as something that would have degrees, or stages…i always had a pretty primitive notion that at some point, something was over, and that was pretty much the long and the short of it. now, though, it’s pretty intensely obvious that there are layers of finality – certainly degrees and stages. there’ll be a final box to pack, there’ll be a final trip to the grocery store, a final weekend, a final night together….a final look around…

and then once the truck pulls away, all those “lasts” will combine into one huge sense of how over it really is.

hopefully between now and the first week in april, we can maintain this newfound sense of kindness and concern for each other that seems to have been borne out of the ashes of the resentment and anger that we were so proficient at for so long.

after all…those “lasts” are going to be hard enough as it is.

top five, all time things that i love about wendy…



now playing: karla bonoff, “restless nights”



a valentines’ day memorial list, if you will.

(with whatever necessary apologies to nick hornby….this might read better if you can imagine john cusack reading them off into the camera, but this’ll have to do. i’m on a budget.)

ok, in no particular order – number one:

some people smile with their lips, some people use some of their face – wendy smiles with her whole body. and everyone around her knows it when she does. she adds something to the air around her that wasn’t there before she was.

number two:

she’s not afraid to show the world that she remembers what it’s like to inhabit the innocence of a child…taking pleasure in little things that other people who’ve forgotten will take for granted. she still delights in sesame street, for instance. (not to mention that awful computer-animated disney show, roly-poly-oley…or whatever it’s called.) granted, sometimes this means that she cries at times that are uncomfortable or maybe inconvienent, but i don’t think you get one without the other.

number three:

i know she thinks this is why i married her, but it’s not. still, i’d be remiss to leave this off my top five, all time list – she knows her guitars. trust me, this is pretty huge. she can tell the seemingly insignificant differences between a les paul standard and a les paul custom from a sizable distance…and while this part maybe doesn’t reflect on wendy directly, i love the reaction that i get when i tell other people that she can do that…that little hint of envy that shows up on my friends’ faces. it’s just one of many amazing things that she can do.

number four:

i know this is a direct cop from the book/movie, but it’s no less true…i love the way she smells. it’s some kind of mystery of human chemistry, but some people just feel like…home.

she fits.

number five:

i love the fact that (on the all-too rare occasions when i was able to make time to do so) she could make the world outside the door disappear just by sitting down on the sofa with me and reading a book next to me or watching TV with me. i didn’t always love her choices in programming, but every now and then we’d do it right – pop some popcorn, put on a movie, and ignore the phone and just enjoy each other. those are the moments that i want to take with me when this comes to its inevitable conclusion.

sure, i could make a top five, all time list of the things about laur – uh, wendy – that make me crazy, but that’s the kind of thinking that got me here….

favorite toys



now playing: lifehouse, “simon”

when i was a kid (and i mean kid – barely old enough to remember this, but i remember it nonetheless), i lived in a small apartment with my mom and dad and my baby brother – my mom was working at this place adjacent to it, if i remember correctly, but all those kinds of details are a blur to me now.

here’s what i do remember.

my dad had gotten me a toy guitar – it was as big as i was, and it was made of wood, not plastic, and it had real strings on it. hell, it might not have been a toy, i don’t know. he had given me one later in life that he’d found in a house that he was working in that was a real one, but it didn’t have any strings on it. at this point in my life, i’m almost sure it was a martin 00-17 or 000-17, because many years later when i owned one, it felt instantly familiar…the color of the wood, the feel of the neck…and i remembered that guitar that my dad found in the house in memphis the minute i played it.

but anyway, this guitar that he’d gotten me when i was still essentially a toddler…it did feel to me, at the time, that it was as big as i was, and i thought it was indestructible.

anyway, to this day, i still don’t know why i did this. all i know was that i did it, and i got my ass beat for it.

(maybe it says something about human nature that we still analyze our motives for things that we did as tiny children, even decades later, but i digress…)

the guitar was laying on the sofa. and i was climbing on the sofa, which was up against a wall of the apartment, and i managed to get up onto the back of the sofa and i was standing on the back of the sofa, with my back against the wall.

i sidestepped over to the part of the back of the sofa that was right above the guitar, and i jumped off the back of the sofa and extended my legs and landed, ass-first, on my favorite toy…i felt the top of it crunch under me, and i laughed.

i was sitting in a pile of splinters that used to be my guitar, and i was laughing. i don’t know why i thought it was funny…maybe the way it felt when i landed on it, i don’t know. but i had just succeeded in destroying my guitar, and i had no clue why i’d done it.

so, obvious ending…dad grabs me from the wreckage and beats my ass, asks why i did it and i said i didn’t know, which probably only pissed him off more – after all, adults assume that all actions have logical motivations, right?

i know i do…

i find myself remembering this tonight, though, and for the longest time i wasn’t sure why it had occured to me…but i think there’s a parable in that story, where it pertains to my life as it’s going right now.

in some ways, i feel as though right now i’m suspended in mid-air, having just jumped from the back of the sofa…and my ass is careening through the air toward something that, in moments, will be destroyed on impact as a result of my actions, and i’m powerless to stop it from happening, now that my feet have left the point at which i still had other options.

now that i’ve jumped, my only option is to brace for the impact.

not your average sunday morning



now playing: shane nicholson, “life on mars”


for better or worse, i think the songs from shane’s album are going to be forever tied to the end of this relationship. i just can’t stop listening to this album. so – sorry, shane. and to eastmountainsouth, too.

your music has henceforth been consigned to the bittersweet.

i haven’t perceived any real change in my habits, but somehow i’ve lost six pounds in the last two weeks. go figure.

the only reason i know this is because i was standing on the shipping scale a couple of weeks ago while i was working on the computer next to it, and i saw how much i weighed then…this morning i noticed that the pants i’m wearing are fitting a little more loosely than they normally do, so i walked down after i got settled in at work, and lo and behold – i seem to have misplaced six pounds. dunno what happened.

i accepted keith’s invitation to play the gig with his band last night, and walked away with some extra cushion to my budget for the week, which was a nice bonus. and i actually enjoyed playing with them…it was my first actual publig gig since the dissolution of stone road, and it was nice to be up and in front of a crowd again. i still don’t know how i’d feel about playing country music full time, but i felt pretty good about it last night.

well, except for one little thing.

after the first set, i walked into the back and turned on my cellphone (which i’d turned off in the afternoon when i went to work and had neglected to turn back on) and had four voicemails, all from jill.

it turns out she had a situation on her hands.

now, i don’t know why it didn’t occur to me – well, no, that’s not true. i did know why. it didn’t occur to me that something like this would happen because i had faith in my daughters’ sense of what’s appropriate and what’s not. i really never thought in a million years she’d come to where she’s come to.

anyway, yesterday after she returned from school, she told her mom that she and her stepsister chelsea were going for a walk and off they went.

after a couple of hours had passed, her mom started to wonder where she’d gotten to…she usually ends up at her friend frankies’ house. but when a call to frankie’s failed to turn her up, her mom started to worry.

cut to about an hour later, which finds jill standing in front of Loser Boyfriend’s house on 8th street in the city.

she knocks on the door, and an older guy answers, and she asks for jayda…and this guy (apparently either the dad or the uncle or whoever…you never really fuckin’ know) says she’s not there, and he closes the door and locks it. so she knocks on it again, and Loser Boyfriend comes down and says that they were there earlier, but that they left – and jill (God love her at times like these, she’s fuckin’ ferocious) tells him that if the girls aren’t outside the house in two minutes, she’s calling the police. (which i would’ve done the minute i got there, personally…)

and sure enough, a couple of minutes later, out they come.

i’ve told jayda since before she was old enough for it to be an issue that i would trust her until she gave me a reason not to.

that day has officially arrived.

as i was saying, though, maybe it should have occured to me that she might consider doing something like this from the moment that i made it clear to her that i didn’t care for the guy. after all, her mother has already made that clear to her, and i think she saw her time at my house as the only real opportunity that she had to spend any time with him outside of school. once that appeared to be gone, she obviously felt that she had to resort to shit like this to see this asshole.

i wonder if she stopped for a moment to consider what her life would be like after she got caught.

because now, her social life outside of school is, for any and all practical purposes, over. there’ll be no picking her and her friends up and taking them to or retrieving them from the mall, the movies, nothing. her life will consist of getting up and going to school and coming home to whichever house is home that night and sitting there until it’s time to get up and do it again. having already lost her cellphone, i’d say that it’s a certainty at this point that she won’t be getting it back at all, and i told her mother last night to make sure that she knew the whereabouts of dylan’s, since i’ll be keeping it in my posession until such time as he pulls his academic shit together. i talked to wendy briefly about possibly getting a cheap replacement for jayda’s and giving it to her parents so she could keep in touch. all the cellphones are still on wendy’s account right now – we haven’t split them off yet – so it’d be an alternative to cancelling the account altogether and paying the early termination fees that would go along with cancelling the account altogether.

i just can’t, for the life of me, figure out how we got to this place.

from early on in their lives, my kids’ personalities seemed to be fleshed out pretty vividly…dylan was the introspective dreamer – the mix of shy and goofy that he seemed to inherit from his father. jayda was the bubbly, happy and yet centered and responsible of the pair. she was always ahead of her time in her ability to reason and to relate to people. she was incredibly intelligent and intuitive, where other people were concerned.

i would never in a million years have thought that she’d have ended up making some of the choices she’s made.

ever since Loser Asshole Boyfriend (LAB for short…that’s what we’ll call him from this point forward) has come into the picture, she’s been different. i can’t really put my finger on it – what it is specifically that has sparked this change in her, but it seems too chronologically close to be coincidental. She’s affected an accent that seems to be a permanent thing now – i can’t even imagine how that came to pass, but she talks now as if english was a second language to her. i’ve heard her affect this in the past, in the presence of certain people, but when the partner in conversation eventually disappeared, so did the vocal affectation. now it almost seems to be a permanent thing.

her ambition – once so obvious – has started to wither as well.

so much of what i love about my daughter is still present, but i’m starting to wonder how long i can count on that. she’s still an excellent student – her grades haven’t slipped at all. i’ve seen no evidence of any kind of introduction to anything that could be considered substance abuse on her part…i think she still has a disdain for that, to some extent. and up until very recently, she used to call me at work and we’d talk about her day, about school, about whatever…but that hasn’t happened for a while now.

i’ve watched as one by one, certain friends of hers have become sexually active – some of them girls i’ve known since they were toddlers. now i have to wonder if my daughter has joined the club.

also, without going too far down the path of trashing LAB and his family, i have to wonder what kind of fucking lowlife would stand in the doorway of their house and lie to a parent about the whereabouts of their child? i mean, as an adult, (not counting them as parents because frankly, i don’t know who the fuck they were) i’d think that’d be below you if you had a single ounce of decency as a human being.

not something that you’ll find in the LAB household, obviously.

i know my kids aren’t five and seven anymore. i know they’re older and that their social structures are different now. i don’t know when being in a relationship as a teenager took on such a premium. i can’t even begin to go into how much things have changed now from when i was in high school, even though we’re talking twenty years’ time, but at what point did the act of being in a relationship (or not) take on so much importance in one’s social standing? i never had a steady girlfriend in high school, and even then, i didn’t feel like i was missing out on anything by not being with someone…nor did i feel judged by the people i surrounded myself with for not keeping a girlfriend. jayda, though, seems to see it as a necessity. i don’t know, maybe it’s not that – it’s not as though she’s unattractive, and wouldn’t have options at a given time…but the choices she’s made in that department have, at times, concerned me quite a bit.

never more than now, though…that’s for damn sure.

never more than now.

last night, after the gig, i went back to keiths’ house and curled up with a pillow in the guest room and laid awake for what must’ve been at least an hour thinking about all this, and what (if anything) i can do to try to reverse the course she’s hell bent on staying on. jill told me last night that jayda told her that her dad hates her. i don’t know how much of that is the typical melodramatic teenage embellishment of our last couple of conversations, or if she really, truly believes that.

the fact is, though, if i didn’t love her, i wouldn’t care what she does with herself or her life. i’d give her free reign to go spend as much time with LAB as she wanted. hell, get a whole slew of LABs and divide your time among them as you see fit. it wouldn’t matter to me if i felt the way about her that she’s convinced that i do.

i think, though, that as advanced as jayda is on so many levels, that inside she’s still a little girl in some ways. and right now, she wants to think that any attempt on the part of her mother and i to keep her from something that she wants is an act of hatred. i remember that mindset pretty well myself.

i don’t think you grow out of that at her age. that comes later, when you have an appreciation for what it means to be a parent, maybe.

i guess that if i needed something extra to make these next few months a little more trying than they’re already gonna be, i need look no further.

last night, after i finally fell asleep, i dreamed that i got a call to sub for jeff pevar in the touring band for crosby stills and nash – not that any of this has any foundation whatsoever in truth, but kenny passarelli was playing bass for them, and when jeff had to leave the tour, he recommended me to the band, and they hired me based on his recommendation. not that any of this happened in the dream, but i remember that being the reason i was there. they were playing at a theatre in new jersey somewhere, and i got there early and set up next to kenny, and we were chatting as i set up. the lights went down and they walked onstage and started while i was still getting my equipment set up, but i was ready by the second verse of the first song – which was “do for the others”, a stephen song. i put a kick-ass, david lindley-style lap steel part on the song and stills turned around and smiled at me.

after the show, he came over and we were chatting – he looked a lot younger than he looks now in my dream, and we were chatting about some of my instruments and i was asking him questions about his playing. after we finished talking, i noticed that the theatre had almost completely emptied out, and i said something about having to go, and he asked me where i was going, and i said that i had to get up to go to work in the morning.

he said, “stay right here for a minute,” and walked away for just a second, and came back and said that he was going to go talk to david and graham about having me stay with the tour…they were going to be playing this particular hall for six more nights, and then moving on to someplace in upstate new york for a week, and would i come along if i got the gig…

and then i woke up.

i do wish i’d stayed asleep long enough to ask him what chord voicing he used for the intro to “carry on”, though.

always wondered about that….