It’s an interesting phenomenon: the older I get, the shorter the letter.
There was quite a bit of live music in ‘22…but not as much as I would’ve liked.
Saw some of my favorite artists multiple times. Saw some folks I’ve listened to for years, but had never seen before. Sweet.
There were road trips…but not as many as I would’ve liked. Most of them were music related, and the favorites were meeting up with friends who had also road-tripped to KC and Nashville.
Friends came from FL and GA once again in June for music at The Rock House. Awesome.
The other road trip favorites of ‘22 were the 200 miles over to visit Dad. I threw him a surprise birthday party at the DQ. It was special…as was everyone who attended.
At 96, he’s still hanging in there. He’s now the only one remaining from the Elvins class of ‘44.
I know how very lucky I am to still have him, as several friends lost their parents in 2022.
I lost several friends and acquaintances this year. Probably every one reading this did too. As Dad says: “the troops are thinning.”
Like most everyone I know, Shelly and came down with Covid. Fortunately our cases were mild.
I didn’t badger friends to donate to The Victim Center’s Wine Women & Shoes fundraiser in 2022.
I’m sure that made some people on the receiving end of this e-mail happy.
But I did try to make up for it by taking advantage of a QCD (Qualified Charitable Distribution) to that and several other worthy organizations.
If you’re an old person like me and required to take distributions from your IRA, you really should utilize QCDs. Reduce your taxes while doing good.
Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, on12/16 we head for Gulf Shores, AL. It’s our 7th annual late December trip to the beach, and once again friends will be meeting us there. This year they’ll be coming from: Cumming, GA; Mulvane and Pittsburg, KS; and Reeds Spring, MO. Looking forward to 17 days of hugs, sunrises, sunsets, walks on the beach, naps, and more.
In 3 days we head for Gulf Shores, AL. It’s our 6h late December trip to the beach, and once again friends will be meeting us there. Looking forward to 16 days of sunrises, sunsets, naps, and more.
2021 has been similar in many ways to last year: Masked up; Hunkered down.
Add in: vaccinated; boostered; some road trips and live music.
Once again the first weekend of June was a highlight of the year: Shady Acres Motel; Tom and Gloria; Steve and Claudia; 2 nights of music in the back yard at The Rock House…The Creek Rocks…The Lacewings. Plus The Shandies at Bear Creek.
That weekend would have been on the short list of highlights for ANY year.
For the second year in a row I was named King of Soul at the Wine Women & Shoes fundraiser. Thanks again to the 50 folks from 16 different states who helped me raise $6,238.08 for The Victim Center. It’ll be my last year hounding friends for $$…it was Shelly’s swan song at the V.C.
It was my first time taking advantage of QCDs (Qualified Charitable Distributions). There will lots of checks from my Fidelity account to 501(c)(3) organizations in the future.
Shelly has been taking some time off since then…but she is NOT retired. In 2022 she will be moving on to another venture.
We celebrated with our first long road trip of 2021. It began with seeing Dawes at the Ryman and visiting some dear friends in Nashville, then we were off to Hotlanta, Tampa, Siesta Key, and Panama City Beach. Great visits with a few friends and with both my kids and their partners.
There have been other music related road trips: to Pittsburg, KS twice; KC once; STL 3 times; and another weekend in Nashville for 2 shows by The Mavericks at The Ryman.
And then there was a weekend in CoMo for the Roots&Blues Festival.
In many ways 2021 bore a semblance of normalcy.
But we still mask up when we go out, and I shake my head at the anti-vaxxers and the apologists for what happened on January 6. Lunacy, willful ignorance and apathy are deadly pandemics.
Here’s a repeat from last year:
I hope to do a better job of living “The Jimmy Valvano Three” each and every day of 2022.
“To me there are three things everyone should do every day. Number one is laugh. Number two is think — spend some time time in thought. Number three, you should have your emotions move you to tears. If you laugh, think and cry, that’s a heck of a day.”
This is my first blog post of 2020!! I drafted a number of items, but never finished them…it has been that kind of year.
December 16, 2020
I’m writing this from Gulf Shores, AL. It’s our 5th late December trip…and only the second time I have been out of the state of Missouri during this shitshow of a year.
If I wanted to keep it really short, this annual letter would only require six words to describe 2020:
Masked up; Hunkered down; Stayed home.
I had high hopes for 2020 (and not just because of the symmetry): roadtrips planned and some booked, concert & festival tickets purchased, a 30th Year Tax Director Reunion in Sarasota…for starters.
Your hopes and plans were wiped out too.
2020 sucks for everyone, but at least we’re still breathing.
Add those last 2 words to the 6 above.
The first weekend of June was the highlight of the year. Shady Acres Motel. Joseph and his friend Karla. Tom and Gloria. Steve and Claudia.
2 nights of music in the canyon….Jeff Porter…The Nace Brothers.
That weekend would have been on the short list of highlights for ANY year.
Last year’s letter ended with a link to a song that matters and these words:
“Don’t let this happen to you: ‘All the words I never said falling from my eyes…’
Don’t miss your last chance.”
Soon after sending that, and being the spreadsheet guy that I have been since Visicalc, I created a file named “I wanta hear your voice in 2020.” I talked with 88% of the people on my list once, and most of them a couple of times or more. Others only heard my voice in a message.
Many of those conversations make the 2020 list of highlights too.
I missed the “last chance” once. That is one too many.
So now we all look forward to 2021, getting vaccinated, and getting back to some semblance of normalcy.
I hope to do a better job of living “The Jimmy Valvano Three” each and every day of 2021.
“To me there are three things everyone should do every day. Number one is laugh. Number two is think — spend some time time in thought. Number three, you should have your emotions move you to tears. If you laugh, think and cry, that’s a heck of a day.”
I hope you do too.
And I hope to hear your voice in 2021…and to give you a real hug. In 2020, this is the best I can do:
RE the letter: I reread last year’s. Too long…what a windbag!!!
This year it’s short & sweet.
Saw lots of live music in a variety of venues. Hope to see lots of shows in 2020.
Had some success raising vegetables. Hope for better crops in 2020.
Took several road trips. We’re on a roadtrip right now….our 4th end-of-December trip to Gulf Shores, AL. Hoping for more road trips in 2020.
On our CO/NM road trip we visited with one of the first friends I made in Orygun in 1976, who I hadn’t seen since my solo cross country drive in 2000. On our last night of the trip, I visited with friends from Sarasota who live in Denver. I hadn’t seen one of them since that 2000 roadtrip. Awesome.
A couple of contemplated trips never materialized. Enjoyed the contemplating.
Didn’t do any fishing. Maybe in 2020. Need to find a good farm pond/lake.
Didn’t get a haircut in 2019. Maybe in 2020. Maybe not.
Helped raise money for The Victim Center in my role as a “Sole Man” for their Wine Women & Shoes event. Thanks to all who donated. Hope to raise even more money for them in 2020. Expect to be asked…
Talked to my 93 year old Dad almost every day. He might outlive me.
Made more calls and sent more texts than I received. What’s up with that?
Read too many obituaries of friends and acquaintances. Two friends died suddenly. It’s a good way to go…we’re all gonna die…but it’s hell on the survivors.
If you want details, i.e. the windbag version, give me a call.
Here’s the “song that matters.” Give it a listen. Travis (the banjo player) had only written the first verse when his 91 year old grandpa passed.
Don’t let this happen to you: “All the words I never said falling from my eyes…”
I got started early on 9/23/19 and picked up speed later in the day. I posted comments on and links on Facebook to 14 songs by Bruce Springsteen on his 70th birthday.
They were done in chronological order based on release date, except for the last one. From 13 of his 19 studio albums.
#1 FB at 8:24
Bruce Springsteen is 70 today. Happy Birthday to The Boss.
His audition tape is pretty sweet.
“when they said ‘Sit down’ I stood up…”
#2 FB at 9:00
I’ve been cranking this one UP for 46 years. That ain’t gonna stop anytime soon.
He said: “I wrote ‘Rosalita’ as a kiss-off to everybody who counted you out, put you down or decided you weren’t good enough.”
My favorite line:
“Someday we’ll look back on this and it will all seem funny…”
Crank. It. UP!!
#3 FB at 11:22
I was a fan in my 20’s…back in the 1970’s.
I’ll be a fan in my 70’s in the 2020’s.
“So you’re scared and you’re thinking that maybe we ain’t that young anymore
Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night…”
Crank. This. UP!!
#4 FB at 1:14
The record company and lawyers mucked everything up for awhile.
It was almost three years before The Boss released his fourth album. This song is the first cut on the long-awaited “Darkness on the Edge of Town.”
“You spend your life waiting
For a moment that just don’t come
Well don’t waste your time waiting…”
And this: “it ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive…”
#5 FB at 2:08
“The River” was his 5th album, his only double album and the first of the 80’s. This was his first album to go #1 on the Billboard 200. (He’s never had a #1 single…)
It was never my favorite album, but I’m a sucker for a rocker.
The link has the lyrics…but all you really need to know is this: “I’m a rocker, baby, I’m a rocker, every day…”
#6 FB at 2:44
This is the second cut of Springsteen’s sixth album, released 37 years ago on 9/30/82.
This song is NOT about Philip Testa. But Philly’s “chicken man” did get blown up in early ‘81 by a nail bomb as he was entering his south philly home. It started a gang war, with a couple of dozen made guys getting killed over the next few years.
Nebraska is a great album,,,but damned is it bleak or what?
Everybody knows this song. Damned near everybody covers it.
Nobody does it any better than my friend David and The Nace Brothers. Seriously.
I’ve always loved this line: “Everything dies baby that’s a fact, But maybe everything that dies someday comes back…”
But I love it even more now that i’m looking forward to being reincarnated and in 40 years or so reading about “the times in which we live.” (Dad uses that one often. 😉 )
#7 FB at 3:22
“Born in the U.S.A.”
Seven top 10 singles.
The Boss & the E Street Band achieve commercial success.
My favorite lyrics from any of the 12 songs aren’t from one of those seven songs.
“Well, we busted out of class
Had to get away from those fools
We learned more from a three-minute record, baby
Than we ever learned in school…”
(BTW…I loved school…most of the time…
I’ve learned a thing or two from 3 minute songs too.)
And: “We made a promise we swore we’d always remember
No retreat, baby, no surrender…”
And have fun like these folks.
#8 FB at 4:24
“Tunnel of Love” is the 8th studio album. Springsteen married Julianne Philips in Lake Oswego, Orygun on May 13, 1985 in Lake Oswego. A bad relationship spawned a pretty decent album.
I lived in Portland at the time. There was a rare sighting of The Boss in the PDX area. None by me.
At the time, I had made several more trips around the sun than I deserved based on a bit of risky behavior. And I was still making some bad choices, especially for my liver.
But my perspective on life had changed a bit.
“Now some may wanna die young man
Young and gloriously
Get it straight now mister
Hey buddy that ain’t me
‘Cause I got something on my mind
That sets me straight and walkin’ proud
And I want all the time
All that heaven will allow”
The Mavericks often have this one on their setlist. 🙂
#9 FB at: 5:08
I don’t own the next 3 albums.
On 9/11 I posted links to a couple of songs from his twelfth: “The Rising.” This was his first album with The E Street Band in almost 20 years.
Fifteen tracks. Damned near perfect.
For a 70th birthday party…or a wake, this one is also perfect.
“Seven days, seven candles
In my window lighting your way
Your favorite record’s on the turntable
I drop the needle and pray (turn it up)
Band’s countin’ out midnight (turn it up)
Floor’s rumblin’ loud (turn it up)…”
Turn. It. UP!
#10 FB at 5:58
The E Street Band was back for album #15. “Magic.” 9/25/2007.
Rolling Stone put it at #2 for the year.
Once again, the first track is my favorite…at least for today. 🙂
“This is radio nowhere, is there anybody alive out there…”
“I want a thousand guitars
I want pounding drums
I want a million different voices speaking in tongues…”
“I just want to hear some rhythm,
I just want to hear some rhythm…”
#11 FB at 6:56
Springsteen’s seventeenth album was released on March 6, 2012.
I’d been back in Missouri for 9 months. I was living alone. There was lots of music in A-306 at The Abbey.
“Wrecking Ball” was in rotation for awhile.
He wrote “Easy Money” right after the 2008 financial fiasco and said this about Wall Street walking away unscathed: “That hustle has been legitimized over the past four years, when you have the level of risk and greed at the top of the financial industry, and people basically walking away, relatively scot-free, completely unaccountable.” [Do NOT get me started!]
“There’s nothing to it mister, you won’t hear a sound
When your whole world comes tumbling down
And all them fat cats they just think it’s funny
I’m going on the town now looking for easy money…”
#12 FB at 8:24
Jan 14, 2014. “High Hopes” is released.
I like the album. It’s different. Covers. Outtakes that didn’t make earlier albums. Songs that had been on live albums or promo CDs.
There is good stuff here.
But picking just one cut is too easy.
It’s a song that was written in 2000 re Amadou Diallo. He started singing it again in 2012 after Trayvon Martin was gunned down.
This is an Important Song.
So is “What it Means” by Drive-by Truckers.
Black Lives Matter.
“Is it a gun, is it a knife
Is it a wallet, this is your life
It ain’t no secret
No secret my friend
You can get killed just for living in your American skin
#13 FB at 9:16
This makes it a Baker’s Dozen on The Boss’ birthday.
Just over 3 months ago, on June 14, 2019, Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen released his nineteenth studio album.
“Western Stars” is a solo studio album….and it is a dandy. I heard something about a documentary.
I loved this song at the first note…at the first sound of his voice…and the first time I heard this:
“Some find peace here on the sweet streets
The sweet streets of home…”
“When everyone’s asleep and the midnight bells sound
My wheels are hissin’ up the highway
Spinning ’round and ’round…”
#14 FB at 10:18
Why stop at thirteen? This wraps up Birthday songs for The Boss on his 70th, 9/23/19.
I have cranked this song up more than any other by Springsteen. It has rattled walls and made cars shake.
It was released Aug 25, 1975.
We were living in Cape Girardeau and had gotten married 237 days earlier on 12/31/74.
We wanted the hell out of Missouri. (I never expected to move back. Thirty-five years later I did…)
Not much more than a year after I first heard this song, our 2 VW bug caravan arrived in Corvallis.
No doubt this song gave us a push…not that we needed one.
“I’ll love you with all the madness in my soul
Oh, someday, girl, I don’t know when
We’re gonna get to that place
Where we really wanna go and we’ll walk in the sun
But ’til then, tramps like us
Baby, we were born to run…”
I have a ticket for “An evening with Jackson Browne” tonight at the Britt Festival in Jacksonville, OR. But on August 7, 2019 I’m gonna be 1984 miles away in Springtown, Misery.
On most days of our summer roadtrip I posted thirteen pictures on Facebook. This time I’m stealing lyrics from a baker’s dozen from the singer-songwriter who has been my favorite the longest.
If I was making up the setlist for “An evening with Jackson Browne” this 8/7/19 I’d have trouble limiting it to his standard setlist for 2019 of 22 songs. And I’d walk away from the show wanting more.
Picking only 13 is not gonna be easy. The first twelve are listed in the order released, and then my number one.
Some editorial comments; perhaps some background; and always the lyrics. Other than #12, these have been the songs of my life for the last 40-plus years.
1. Jackson Browne’s first album was released in January, 1972. I was a short-timer at Ft. Bragg. I wanted out of the army. They wanted me gone. This is one of the albums that pulled me thru the last few months of my 1 year, 6 months and 6 days in uniform. Angst running rampant. Hoping not to be court-martialed out.
“It’s a hotel at best, you’re here as a guest
You oughta make yourself at home…”
I’ve been lucky enough to bounce from room to room, and from pillar to post, for longer than anyone who knew me back then expected. I was a loose cannon. “Wanta do it? Wanta do it now.”
Last summer I drove by the four places I lived in Corvallis between 76&82.
2. From that same, self-titled album a song that seems like it should be played at the baptizing hole…or on a water bed perhaps. I read once that he said the song came from the desire for love and peace and release and reconciliation with the spiritual.
I can support those four.
BTW, the album is NOT titled “Saturate before using.” Just sayin’.
“Your walls are burning and your towers are turning
I’m going to leave you here and try to get down to the sea somehow…
…When my life is over, I’m going to stand before the Father
But the sisters of the sun are going to rock me on the water now”
This song meant more to me after we moved to Oregon and we could be at the beach in under an hour. Someday I hope to be closer to the Pacific again.
3. “For Everyman” was released in October of 73. I was getting ready to start my second year at SEMO. I was the sports editor for the Capaha Arrow, worked football and basketball games and did some tasks for the Sports Information department, and picked up a few bucks as a stringer for a couple of city papers and the AP.
I had been subjected to living for one term with my authoritarian asshole of a brother as a roommate. I spent a lot of time in the library and in my own head. I cannot hear this lyric without thinking of he who shall remain nameless.
I don’t expect to die while living in MO. But I’m not going anywhere that will keep me more than a few hours from Dad. And even though at 93 he talks about going somewhere, I’m expecting to be spending several days/weeks at some point wrapping things up at the house he had built a little over 30 years ago.
After his place in Doe Run is gone, who knows? Stay in Springfield? Orygun? Colorado? Virginia? Belize?
5. The album “Late for the sky” was released on my birthday in 1974. I’m pretty sure I didn’t get my copy on 9/13, but I’m sure the first vinyl had been played a hundred times before xmas of 74.
When I met Shelly she wasn’t all that familiar with Jackson Browne, so I bought her 2 CDs: a greatest hits….and this one.
Stick me on a desert island and tell me only one Jackson Browne album, “Late for the sky” is it.
Come to one of the ash scatterings that I wrote about, and this one will be playing. My sister says she wants this one played at her funeral too. When I heard this, I asked what she thought our fundamentalist, biblical inerrancy father and brother would think of the lyric, she said it is open to interpretation. Malarkey. Typical baptist bullshit.
As an evangelical agnostic, I love it:
“I don’t know what happens when people die
Can’t seem to grasp it as hard as I try…”
And others too:
“Keep a fire for the human race
And let your prayers go drifting into space
You never know will be coming down”
“Don’t let the uncertainty turn you around
Go on and make a joyful sound”
I saw Warren Zevon open for J.B. a couple of times.
7. Paula Rudloff and I moved everything we owned in a 2 car VW bug caravan from Washington, MO to Corvallis, OR at the end of August of 1976. The road trip was interesting. Saw POTUS in Russell, KS. Got yelled at for pumping my own gas in Ontario, OR.
“The Pretender” was released in November ’76. We were impoverished…with priorities. I scrounged up a few bucks for an album that stayed on the turntable for a long time.
This is another one that he seldom plays, but it has always been one of my favorites.
“Forget what life used to be, you are what you choose to be,
It’s whatever it is you see that life will become.
Whatever it is you might think you have you have nothing to lose,
Through every dead and living thing time runs like a fuse.
9. It was several years between the time I first heard the title track of “The Pretender” in 76 and when I started at AA&Co. in late May of 82. During those 6 years, I was a substitute teacher for a few and then at OSU on the GI Bill. There were also more than a few prolonged periods of stoned stupors and homemade blackberry wine benders.
At Andersen these lyrics applied. I worked my ass off there. There was tad bit of quality to go along with the quantity:
“I’m going to pack my lunch in the morning
And go to work each day
And when the evening rolls around
I’ll go on home and lay my body down…”
I became a full-fledged Pretender in 2011. I got lucky too….I found her!!
We house sat for her brother in Vancouver, BC for the summer. In the fall we moved into grad assistant housing. Made 4 batches of blackberry wine…20 gallons. Had grow lights in the extra closet.
As soon as the needle drops, the math works:
“In sixty five I was seventeen and running up 101
I don’t know where I’m running now, I’m just running on…”
“In sixty-nine I was twenty-one and I called the road my own
I don’t know when that road turned, into the road I’m on”
I dropped out of college at the end of 68. It’s a miracle I made it thru 69. Landed a union job at PPG Industries in Crystal City . Shift work. Carpooled…sometimes with a couple of wild guys from Bonne Terre. Booze was a big problem. Blackouts. Stories for another day…
No doubt about it. I had no idea what I was looking for in 1969. I was indeed running on empty.
13. After Shelly had listened to the album “Late for the sky” several times, including a few when I caterwauled along, I asked her for her favorite.
I don’t think I guessed right.
I Know that she didn’t guess mine.
So I played my favorite from the album and told her why.
The album had always been my favorite album. This start of “The late show” took on more meaning during the 14 years at Arthur Andersen. The politics there were cut throat at times. On the flip side, many of the friendships are irreplaceable.
These six lines start it off:
“Everyone I’ve ever known has wished me well
Anyway that’s how it seems, it’s hard to tell
Maybe people only ask you how you’re doing
‘Cause that’s easier than letting on how little they could care
But when you know that you’ve got a real friend somewhere
Suddenly all the others are so much easier to bear”
The other lyrics that we talked about that day were these:
“And now I’m sitting here wondering what to say,
Afraid that all these words might scare you away…”
I don’t 100% buy into the first half of “say it, forget it; write it, regret it.”
I told Shelly that I have mellowed, but my mouth has gotten me into, and out of, lots of trouble. I am a wise ass.
Every once in awhile I flash back to a morning in mid-October of last year and a “deja vu moment.” Shelly had been out of the apartment less than an hour. I was on the couch with a cup of coffee and the latest issue of Time magazine.
I was about to wrap up a quick pass thru the magazine. The last page of each issue is usually “X number” of questions for a celebrity. Might be a politician, an actor, an activist, or an athlete. That day it was 8 questions for an author: Paulo Cohelo.
I’ll admit it: before I started reading I had no idea who “the Brazilian novelist, one of the world’s best-selling authors” was. As I read the piece I did recognize the name of his biggest seller “The Alchemist.”
What grabbed me were the last dozen words of the intro: “…on nostalgia for his hippie days and the forms that love takes.”
As I read the Q&A I found myself nodding in agreement with some of his answers.
Q. 3. “What did your generation fail to understand about society?”
A. 3. “My generation understood that once a hippie, always a hippie. Of course, I could not be a hippie today, sitting comfortably here in Geneva. But my values are still the same: simplify your life, eat healthy, respect women.”
As I read the remainder of that answer some lyrics from my favorite songwriter popped into my head.
Paulo Cohelo’s answer: “My generation understood the mind and our desire to journey–but then it came time to support ourselves. And it became difficult to broker a peace between the two.”
When Jackson Browne sings “The Pretender” I often say: “That was me. I was a pretender.”
His lyric: “I’m gonna be a happy idiot and struggle for the legal tender, Where the ads take aim and lay their claim to the heart and the soul of the spender, And believe in whatever may lie in those things that money can buy…”
Been there. Done that.
The deja vu moment happened as I read his answer to question #6 of 8: “The two have a complicated love for each other in the novel. Have you ever been in love?”
Cohelo said: “I don’t remember not being in love.”
That ain’t me.
I remember the first time I fell in love. I’m in love again now for just the second time. But I do remember when I wasn’t in love with anyone, including myself.
I got a refresher with part of his answer to Q6. “There are very different types of love. There’s Eros, love for another person. There’s Philia, love for wisdom. And there is Pragma, which is love that goes beyond everything.”
The last part of the answer had me going “Holy shit…that was me last night!!!”
His answer: “Every time I go to sleep, I look at her and she is already sleeping. And I say to myself, ‘Oh my God, this is the greatest blessing in my life, to have found the person who understands me.’ ”
Shelly is always asleep when I shut down for the night. When we first started sleeping together even the slightest touch would get a flinch. It took awhile, but now I can lightly stroke her butt cheeks or a shoulder w/o startling her.
That night before reading the magazine I had given her a couple of love touches as I settled into our bed.
Then I just watched her sleep for what seemed like a long time. It was probably only two or three minutes. I broke out into a smile. I remember chuckling for a second or 2…she tossed a bit and re-positioned.
I gazed at her some more and thought about how lucky I am.
I thought it again the next morning, Time magazine in hand.
I am a lucky old coot.
But this time I didn’t just chuckle.
I laughed out loud.
I do it often.
I hear somebody say “I wouldn’t have changed anything…” and I think:
What? The. Fuck!!
I do like to play Woulda/Shoulda/Coulda.
I have no idea how my life would’ve turned out of I had taken different forks in the road.
I am quite happy in 2019. I like the path that I’m on.
But that doesn’t keep me from having reminiscent fantasies.
Shelly gets subjected to me playing W/S/C sometimes, especially when I talk about “what I shoulda done in 2000.” (That is a story for another day…)
Her reply to “w/s/c scenario 2000”: “But we never woulda met.”
Most likely we wouldn’t have.
And it’s all just guess work as to whether or not an executed “coulda or shoulda” woulda been a better choice.
So here’s where I was in March, 1972, i.e. at the forks in the road:
Just out of the Army.
Biggest wad of cash I’d ever had in my life from separation pay.
Best physical shape of my life. The four months of basketball had me in shape.
That spring and summer I thought about what to do next. (Mostly I just got high…)
Four of five months later I was in college at southeast mo st in cape girardeau.
If I time travel back to 3/20/72, here’s my W/S/C:
I woulda found a job as a roadie for a band.
At 23 I coulda done some lifting and hauling and traveling.
When I’m dreaming big, I imagine that I am packing it up and tearing it down in 1972 on Jackson Browne’s first national tour.
I never did sleep all that much, and in my 20’s I’d have considered anything over 150 hours of shut-eye a month excessive. I woulda loved being the first to come and the last to leave.
Just think—if I woulda landed on his road crew in 1972 I coulda been rolling cases and lifting amps and one of the guys he was singing about 5 years later when he released “Load out.”
There is a site that features “song meanings provided by the songwriters themselves.”
They attribute this to Jackson Browne: “”The Load-Out” is a love song to the audience and the crew. I was always tight with certain members of the crew – my manager used to be my crew chief; he used to tune guitars. They always took care of you. Then this one turns into “Stay” – on that, we’re actually asking the audience to stay, because we don’t want to stop playing.”
Just think—it coulda been awesome—or a disaster.
Most likely I woulda been dead before “Running on Empty” was released.
Discipline has never been my strong suit and I do have a tendency toward excess.
I mighta tried to keep up with Warren Zevon slamming back booze.
I coulda been sharing downers with Phyllis Major and ODed too.
Or I coulda been hit by a bus.
A few Realities:
1. The reality is that I woulda done lots of things differently in Cape Girardeau, but I have absolutely no regrets about that choice. I had good times at SEMO. I have great memories from those days. I have friendships from those days that I cherish.
2. The odds of some guy like me getting a job as a roadie for anybody woulda been slim. The odds of it being for J.B? Not a chance. It’s a nice little fantasy tho.
3. And I’ll always be baffled by people who “wouldn’t have changed anything.” Really??
I didn’t put on fatigues for over four months while I was stationed at Ft. Bragg. I got paid to play basketball. It seemed surreal at the time.
We had a new first sergeant. He was an airborne ranger. He wanted to turn our company of misfits in First Psyops at the JFK Center for Military Intelligence into a lean, mean fighting machine.
He had us doing calisthenics in the parking lot and running several miles in formation five mornings a week.
I developed a very painful case of shin splints. Climbing steps to the 3rd floor of the barracks hurt like hell. Running was out of the question.
I went to the infirmary and got what the Army calls “a Profile.” It qualifies a soldier in six areas: physical condition, upper extremities, lower extremities, hearing, sight, psychiatric.
My lower extremities were not good. There was swelling and pain.
The six month Profile exempted me from the calisthenics and the running,
When “Profiles fall-out” was called at morning formation the group included me, my friend who told me to get the Profile, and several over-weight lifers. For the next hour, while everyone else worked up a sweat, we went on “police call” i.e., we picked up litter.
After a few weeks with no running on concrete, my shin splints were healed, but I decided that I would milk the Profile.
However there was a downside: I had to stop playing basketball on the court next to the barracks. If I was seen shooting hoops, my early morning strolls would be replaced with jumping jacks, squat thrusts, push-ups, and 4 mile runs.
I stayed off the basketball court as long as I could.
I finally decided it was safe to do some shooting by myself early on weekend mornings.
One Sunday a guy came out of the mess hall and came over to talk.
First words out of his mouth: “Nice shooting….are you trying out tomorrow for the team?”
I had no idea what he was talking about. What team??
I asked him some questions. He answered them all. Turns out that Jack was from Kansas City…and he was the assistant coach.
He was optimistic that I would make the cut.
I told him about my Profile.
“If you make the team, head to the Infirmary and ditch the Profile.”
“But then I’ll be back to push ups and road runs!”
“Nope. We skip morning formation and head to the gym.”
I made the team.
The doc did his thing and toasted the Profile. It was a miracle!! Shin splints gone just as basketball season was about to start!
I told my friend the company clerk that I was on the battalion team.
We came up with a plan, and the scam began.
Jack was married and lived off base. After practice he and I would go to his place to shower and eat lunch. Then he would go to work.
The plan and the scam: I had Jack drop me off at the USO after lunch for the next month. I would read newspapers and magazines, shoot pool and play ping pong all afternoon or head to the PX to see if there were was any new vinyl.
That scam only lasted about a month, but it worked like a charm.
And then my not having to “break starch” became legit.
The battalion season ended.
I tried out for…and made…the brigade team.
I didn’t have to hide at the USO anymore. My full-time Army job was now playing basketball.
I was the only guy on the brigade team who hadn’t been on a college team. Our best player, Vann Williford, had been on the cover of Sports Illustrated. He played at NC State and had been named MVP of the ACC Tournament the year before.
The brigade season ended and the next step up was the Ft. Bragg team. Vann talked me into trying out. I didn’t make the travel team, but being a practice dummy was my job for another month or so.
By the time the season ended the first sergeant had given up on whipping First Psyops into shape.
I went back to work as a process photographer in the print shop, locking the door to my darkroom and replying “I’m developing film” anytime there was a knock.
That scam worked well too.
I sure wish I’d been keeping a journal “back in the day.” It would help me nail down some of the tees in the memory quilt with more specificity.
I have started a journal several times. It only “took” once. That was in the journal that I started on October 26, 2012, which starts this way: “this will be page 1 of my journal. I need to start writing every (or at least “most every”) day. We’ll see how I do. Discipline is not my strong suit.”
It’s just one more woulda/shoulda/coulda…
Ron Jon Surf Shop (2002)
We were living at the first place that we lived in Tampa.
Paula, Joseph & Caroline headed for Cocoa Beach to meet up with relatives from Missouri.
My road warrior days were at their peak. I couldn’t get away, other than via Delta or US Airways.
My souvenir was this tee.
Margaritaville—Cayman Islands (2008)
Paula and Caroline went to the Cayman Islands for a gymnastics meet, using some of my frequent flier miles. (Back when they were worth something…)
I have never been to the Caymans.
This is another souvenir from a trip that I never went on.
The tee shirt got a lot of use.
But like many light colored tees, I spilled coffee, chocolate sauce and probably some drool on it, making it an around-the-house tee until it got a place in the memory quilt.
Dr. Seuss nightshirt (2009)
This was a Christmas present from Caroline.
I spilled lots of early morning coffee on it. Some jelly and apple butter too.
It got torn in a couple of places and the tears kept getting bigger and bigger.
Finally it got put into safe keeping. I was never gonna throw it away. Ever.
Thanks to the Memory Quilt it will always be with me.
USF Dad (2011)
Another present from Caroline.
I’ll always remember the day that she and I walked around campus together. I told her that I was envious.
She wanted to know why. It was easy: I loved college. If I coulda made a living going to school, I’d still be “working.”
I made the tactical error of helping a friend sling paint wearing this tee.
The shirt suffered. Bigly.
It never recovered.
But I like where it is now. I especially like the heart-shaped stitching.
Table Rock Lake shore clean-up (2012)
My sister and her husband moved from the prairie of central Illinois to the Little Aunts Creek arm of southwest Missouri’s Table Rock Lake in 2008.
In early July 2011 I moved into their spare bedroom. Three months later I was in an apartment at The Abbey in Springfield. I’m still there, in a different apartment down the hall.
Paula and I “made up” soon after she kicked me out.
I was a bad influence on Don.
Seems like my quest for sex, drugs and rock-n-roll was just a bit much.
RE the shore clean-up tee itself.
I have never actually participated on the official day.
But I always spend some of my lake shore time picking up the trash that some asshole tossed. (Those pathetic littering pricks should be subjected to my “Reverse Rapture.”)
And Paula&Don always reward me with a tee each year.
Rock House “classic” (2013)
This is not the first R.H. tee that I’ve bought. That would be the orange “classic.” That one is in worse shape than the one in the quilt, however I’m not ready to stop wearing it. Someday it will probably be in a quilt.
I didn’t tell Kathy where to place any of the tees.
She picked the perfect place for this one.
Rock House Summer Music Festival (2015)
It was my 4th year back in Missouri.
My fourth R.H. Festival.
It was the first festival after the party got too big for Bruce&Jeanette’s backyard.
I got myself a couple of tees…and even got Violet and The Undercurrents to sign the back of one of them.
I was still just “one of the crowd” back then.
Now I’m the treasurer for the 501(c)(3)…another one of the many good things that have happened to me since I first stepped foot into 41 High Street, Reeds Spring, MO.
Mexican Villa/Springfield Cardinals (2017)
I love a good silent auction. This tee was included in a bundle of goodies from the Mexican Villa.
I have never been inside any of the Mexican Villa locations. (None of the “goodies” were for meals.)
I have never been to a Springfield Cardinals game.
I have never even been inside the gates of Hammons Field.
Maybe someday I’ll eat at the Mexican Villa.
Maybe someday I’ll take in a Double A game here in Springtown.
But whether that happens or not, I really like the color that this tee adds to my Memory Quilt.
I especially like the birds and the bat.
There you have it.
18 Tees in a Memory Quilt.
Some that I will never forget.
Some that are more than a bit foggy.
Some memories are noticeably missing, e.g. somehow none of my Oregon State tees made it into the quilt. WTF??!!
Next time. Next Memory Quilt.