Thursday, August 17, 2017

CRITICAL THINKING ... NOT THESE DAYS

You know, I was going to write out a long dissertation on how I see things that are happening, but I realize it would not do any good or be of any worth.

The Free Speech clause of the First Amendment is slowly fading away.

President Trump is not the reason.... he is an excuse to be and act however you want, to destroy public property.  He was right though... it did take more than just the "White Supremacist" or "White Nationalist" (Depending on how liberal your news source is) to cause what has become one of the worst chapters in the history of this nation.

The "Anti-Protesters" at Charlottesville were agitators.  We have seen them over the last 5 years.  These agitators are the same ones who burned Berkeley, rioted in Baltimore and burned down Ferguson.

At times, it feels like the anti-haters are showing and talking more hate than the hate speechers have.  Like I said .. I just don't know.

My personal philosophy?  I despise the Klan and in no way support any sort of white supremacy group or any racial supremacy group.  I am for equality on an even playing field.  I am for getting along with and enjoying your neighbor.  I put great value on the freedom of speech for everyone.  I put great value in our Constitution and the rights and protections it affords us.  I do not believe we should abuse those rights and protections.  Abusing them will make them disappear.

What is going on in this country irritates me, saddens me, angers me.

Research Evergreen State College.
Research Ferguson again
Research Berkely
Research Charlottesville and watch those clips again, closely, and you will see more than one side armed to the teeth and doing battle.
Revisit the fight for civil rights and the lives given to reach 1964.
Then research Loving v Virginia and try to figure out how after 1964 CRA that in 1967 Many states still had laws on the books outlawing interracial marriage... (Missouri was one of those states, not proud, just giving a full account)
Revisit the teachings of Martin Luther King, JR, Robert Kennedy, John Stuart Mill, and John Locke.
Better yet, revisit the teaching of Jesus Christ.
Research the Furman v Georgia cases from the early 70's that said the death penalty was being used as a racist tool by some of the states and so the death penalty was outlawed until they passed fairer laws (still not totally fair but a lot better than it was).

Haters on both sides.  Speech and thought being shut down.  Art being removed from Universities.  Check out Yale University and how they are handling things.  They are removing paintings that may be too disturbing.

Let me say this.  Disturbing is GOOD sometimes.  Disturbing makes us stop and think. And when we stop and think, we can set things straight.

It is just a huge mob mentality across the spectrum.  Doesn't seem like anyone is thinking for themselves,  just follow whatever crowd your beliefs set you into.

I don't know.  Like I said, I have been thinking this over very seriously over the last couple of days.  I had a lot to say.  Then this morning it occurred to me that it doesn't matter anymore.  I got nothing to say really.  I know what I believe and I can live with that.  I was taught and raised well.  I had many good influences in my life as I have grown old.  Nothing that I see going on in this country today... the clash of the races, the clash of the genders, the clash of right or left .. none of that sits well with me and I don't think it should.

I am not going to go to battle with cousins that I love but disagree a little bit with... it isn't worth that to me.  It isn't worth losing friendships either.

This country is what... 241 years old?  You would think that we could get it right by now.

My bottom line is that I don't want to lose family, friends, or any relationships that I may have out there, in real life or on social media ... Just isn't worth it.  If  any of these mentioned want to talk about things, I'll talk... but I won't argue ... I won't let my emotions get carried away to the point of losing some REALLY good people that I have around.  Not worth it.

I got some good readers I think ... and I know that you know what I am talking about, where I am coming from.  I respect each and every one of you and I thank you for reading this silly little blog over the years.  I think it is time to start remembering stories from my past and going back to writing and sharing those with you.

For all of us, a quote from my Uncle Dan... "Take Care and Be Safe"

May God bless y'all.

Bill

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

AS LONG AS WE ARE REWRITING HISTORY

As long as we are rewriting history and destroying monuments and statues that remind us of our past, in particular concerning the slave issue and the Civil War, I think we should take it all the way instead of just those monuments of Civil war participants and Confederate Generals and armed forces.

So my first proposal is to rename any national monuments around the country that honor any president who owned slaves and held slaves which would lead up to the Civil War.  First off lets look at the Presidents of the United States who did own slaves.

01. George Washington owned slaves
02. John Adams did NOT own slaves
03. Thomas Jefferson owned slaves
04. James Madison owned slaves
05. James Monroe owned slaves
06. John Quincy Adams did NOT own slaves
07. Andrew Jackson owned slaves
08. Martin Van Buren owned slaves
09. William Henry Harrison owned slaves
10. John Tyler owned slaves
11. James K. Polk owned slaves
12. Zachary Taylor owned slaves
13. Millard Fillmore did NOT own slaves
14. Franklin Pierce did NOT own slaves
15. James Buchanan did NOT own slaves
16. Abraham Lincoln did NOT own slaves
17. Andrew Johnson owned slaves
18. Ulysses S Grant owned slaves

 Grant was the last President to own a slave.

The obvious first step is to rename the Washington Monument to the Quincy Adams Monument followed by renaming of the Jefferson Memorial to the Adams Memorial.  Give these two early opponents of slavery their due finally.

Next, replace Washington with John Adams on the Dollar bill and the quarter.  Followed of course by Quincy Adams being placed on the nickel and the 20 dollar bill along with Harry Truman or John Kennedy on the 50 dollar bill.

The destruction or removal of all memorials, statues of slave owing Presidents across the entire nation is a must.  Any National Parks or federally owned lands named in "honor" of these Presidents should be renamed to those who did not own slaves with Adams and Quincy Adams getting first chance.  Consideration should also be given to great Americans who did not hold the office of the presidency.  Abolitionists like John Brown, Fredrick Douglas, Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks in particular.  That is not sarcasm, I feel these Americans have long been over due recognition, particular John Brown, as has President Adams and President Quincy Adams.

The removal from the Register of National Historic Places of the homes, lands, or anything to do with the lives of these Presidents who upheld Slavery should take place.  First stop would be to bulldoze Mount Vernon and turn those lands into a National Park or reserve.  Bulldoze Monticello and all of Jefferson's holdings, again returning these lands to the American people in the way of a National Park or reserve.  Neither of these should be named for their former owners, Washington and Jefferson.  The third in this process would be to destroy the Hermitage in Tennessee and again, reclaim the lands and holdings for the American people.

After these three national ceremonies are completed, a very quick and systematic destruction of all homes and holdings of the remaining slave owning Presidents, including Grant's Tomb, should be destroyed and removed from memory.

History books used in our schools should pull any mention or teaching of these Presidents that were slave owners, replacing that space with Native American history.  John Adams should be taught as being the Father of the Country and the first legitimate President of the United States.

A commission should be established on the feasibility of re-carving Mount Rushmore to replace the likenesses of Washington and Jefferson with a carving of John Adams and  Woodrow Wilson.  If the commission decides that a re-carving could not be done safely, then the faces of Washington and Jefferson should be carved off to a flat surface.  The second part of the duties of this commission would be to oversee the total destruction of Stone Mountain in Georgia.

All Civil War Battlefields in which the Confederacy won should dutifully be removed from the Register of Historic Sights.  Any depictions or statues of a Confederate soldier ought to be destroyed on these sacred grounds where Union soldiers gave their lives.

All museums in the country which have any confederate memorabilia, especially a Confederate Flag of any kind, should destroy these artifacts of insurrection.

And you know, I kind of think that Grant's signature on the terms of surrender should be redacted.  Just a black box where Grant's signature use to be.  Once you destroy history, it cannot come back.

Now of course, all of these suggestions are ludicrous and would never happen or so I hope they don't.  This writing was intended to be sarcastic and satirical.  I am not so sure anymore.  History is important people, even if you don't like it or if it offends you.  It is still history and it is history that we should learn from.  It is OUR history, the citizens of the United States and even though it has lots of blemishes, lots of scars, it is still the best in the world.

We have had good Presidents and bad Presidents, even great Presidents as well as absolutely horrible Presidents.  I take great pride though in the fact that through all of our disagreements, both politically and philosophically, this nation has always stood as one when it came down to the bare bones.  I can, and have, disagree with cousins and neighbors and my grandfather on issues that are very important and come away from it still respecting each other and continue to talk and carry on the relationship we have forged.

There is a lot of hate going on in this country and it pains me to see it.  It isn't just Charlottesville or Evergreen State and it isn't coming from just one group of people.  There are pockets of hate in every part of the populace.  It is these small pockets of hate from all around that give rise to a crack in the American citizenry.

Freedom of Speech is at stake I feel.  I also feel Freedom of the Press is in peril.  The whole First Amendment seems to be collapsing.  The fourth and fourteenth amendments are coming close to being in danger.

Communication is the key.  Respectful communication where there is someone who's turn it is to speak and others listen carefully, closely, respectfully so that if they do not agree with speaker, they can have their turn to talk and be listened to closely and respectfully.   I don't mean only in words but in our actions as well.

We need our great leaders, our great minds of all races, creeds, cultures, philosophies and political leanings, great Americans to emerge from the shadows to lead, to think and to communicate.  Don't let this nation, this United States of America, be ripped apart anymore than it has in the whole of its history.

Our country needs this for now, for the future and for the future generations to come.

Friday, August 4, 2017

WHY I LOVE MISSOURI

Missouri.  It is my home.  I have lived here all of my life and honestly would not want to live anywhere else.

It is a beautiful state from the farmlands up north to the soft rolling hills on down to the wonderful Ozark Mountains, to the flood plain in the boothill.  You can see all manner of livestock as well as corn and wheat fields in the north central part of the state to vast cotton fields down south.

It is home to the last eastern city in St. Louis to the first western city in Kansas City.  Small towns with friendly folk pepper the whole state.  From the Arch to the Shuttlecocks and on down to Springfield.

This state birthed one of our greatest Presidents in Harry S Truman, who was born in Lamar and passed on in Independence.

The University of Missouri at Columbia is host to one of the highest academic programs in the land, known primarily for it School of Journalism.

The University of Missouri at Rolla is known as one of the best Engineering Universities in the nation, ranking right up near the top with MIT.

The state has a rich history.  It was the kick off point for the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  In St. Joseph, the Pony Express found its beginnings.  The Oregon and Santa Fe trails began in the Kansas City area.  The first Governor was William Clark himself after his travels with Merriwether Lewis were completed.  It has legends of political machines in the 20's to the 40's.

The Capitol building in Jefferson City sits high on a bluff over looking the wide Missouri River.

Yes, this great state has a proud heritage and the citizens who inhabit its lands are a proud people.  The people of this great state range from academia to hard workers and farmers, many of the people are all three.  Our state motto says a lot about the state.  "Show Me"  Don't bull me, don't try to pull things on me, don't lie to me, but SHOW ME.  Facts.  Truths.

We have a strong Confederate legacy and a strong Union legacy.  We produced some of the greatest music to come out of this country.  Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Joe Turner and Sheryl Crowe among many many others.  We produced some of the great athletes like Satchel Page, Buck O'Neil Norm Stewart and many many others.

We even gave you Brad Pitt .... you're welcome.

We produced many leaders such as Tom Eagleton, Harry Truman, Dick Bolling and Stuart Symington.

The James/Younger gang came out of the northern hills of Missouri.  The Pendergast machine was famous for it's control of Kansas City.

Artists such as Mark Twain and Thomas Hart Benton came from this wonderful place.

We are the heart of America and we are proud to be known as such.  We have a rich and diverse culture that rivals that of any state in the country.

Lately though, Missouri has come under fire and came close to imploding.  The cause of this were mostly lies brought about by outsiders.  A graduate student in Columbia made up a hoax that started a chain reaction at the University that they are still trying to overcome.  There is great diversity at the university and the falsehood of swatzikas on campus and pick up trucks full of rednecks threatening minority students have all been proven false.  Once that story gets out there though, it is hard to show the rest of the country the truth, especially when the liberal media continue to propagate the lies.

The main thing that has stained our reputation came out of Ferguson, a small town north of St. Louis.  Even though the facts contradict what the media and certain organizations continue to put out there,  The Ferguson incident was not a case of racist cops gone wild.  The facts get ignored though and now, many Citizens are starting to believe the falsehoods, at least thinking that there is partial truth to them.

Missouri will overcome all of this hype and lies eventually.  The true nature of the state will eventually come back out.  The people will be seen as good people who love this country just as much as anyone in the land.

It also, in my opinion, has the nicest looking State Flag in the country.

I love this place.  I was born here.  I will die here.  To this Missouri boy, it is the greatest part of the greatest nation on the face of the earth.  No one can take that away from me.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

WHY THE WISE MAN ONCE SAID... NOTHING

Ever since President Trump became the nominee there have been those who have been determined to destroy his administration before it started.  Since he actually won the election, insiders have been determined to impeach him and are desperately looking for an impeachable offense.  They have used lies and innuendos about the President to distract anything being accomplished.

Social media has been non-stop Trump bashing from the Trump haters.  Unsubstantiated accusations against the administration have been tossed around carelessly.  There have been claims of the President lying without specifying what those lies were.  There has been this ridiculous accusation of the President's staff colluding with Russia to sway the election without any hard proof of such a thing happening.  The attacks continue in an attempt, I believe, to not only bring down the administration but to personally destroy the President.

My grandfather, a very wise man, told me one time after asking me if I was positive about something and getting a reply of "yes" from me, leaned forward, looked me in the eye and said "A positive man is a fool."  His point was that there are always another side.  Everything is a two way street.  You may be positive about something but chances are very good that there are more facts out there that you do not know about, and those facts could make you look like a fool when those facts come out.  Since that day I am extremely careful about being positive about somethings.

Last week the House Committee  on the Judiciary passed a resolution to return to reality and open an investigation into the possible criminal behavior of the former Secretary of State, the former Attorney General, the former Director of the FBI, members of congress, Susan Rice, numerous bureaucrats that have leaked secret or top secret information to the press.  The investigation into the Trump campaign is dying a slow death as facts continue to come out as fantasy.  They are getting ready to look at what could be a long list of felonies involving a long list of people who should know better.

Everything that the President does is called into question.  The most recent item was firing his White House Chief of Communications after appointing him just ten days earlier.  The reason the President fired Anthony Scaramucci?  Because he used uncalled for language to a member of the press, and President Trump does not want that kind of representation of his administration.  If the President had not fired Scaramucci, the distractors would have jumped on him for having such an ugly confrontation with the press.

ABC News had a headline the other day that said "Even though Hillary lost the election, some Republicans are calling for an investigation."  This implies that since Clinton lost the election, we should forget about all of the unanswered questions that were being brought up over the last few years.  Questions of felonies, perjury, conspiracy.  The list has gotten longer since the election.  The investigation that the House is calling for could bring to light who the true criminals are or were.  Of course, if she had won the election, there would not have been an investigation either.  Double standard in the nation's capital. Hopefully this will free up all of this innuendo and allow the President to attempt to put some of his agenda into place.

Why did our wise man once say ... nothing.?  Note he once said nothing, not always said nothing.  The reason our wise man said nothing now was because he was observing and listening.  He was trying to split the ludicrous from the believable, the truth from the lies, the good from the bad.  He was looking for justice where injustice seemed to rule.  He was searching for the return of the rule of law to the greatest nation on the face of the earth.

Our wise man once said nothing while waiting for this nation to come back together by holding people responsible for their actions.


Friday, July 28, 2017

IN MY MIND


"I’ll be all around in the dark – I’ll be everywhere. Wherever you can look – wherever there’s a fight, so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad. I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry and they know supper’s ready, and when the people are eatin’ the stuff they raise and livin’ in the houses they build – I’ll be there, too."
(John Steinbeck)

"I've got nothing on my mind,
Nothing to remember,
Nothing to forget.
And I've got nothing to regret.
But I'm all tied up on the inside,
No one knows quite what I've got,
And I know that on the outside
What I used to be
I'm not anymore."
(Don McLean)

"Always give your best, never get discouraged, never be petty; always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself."
(Richard Nixon)

"You can go to church and sing a hymn
You can judge me by the color of my skin
You can live a lie until you die
One thing you can't hide
Is when you're crippled inside"
(John Lennon)

"The planet will be here for a long, long, LONG time after we’re gone, and it will heal itself, it will cleanse itself, ’cause that’s what it does. It’s a self-correcting system. The air and the water will recover, the earth will be renewed. And if it’s true that plastic is not degradable, well, the planet will simply incorporate plastic into a new paradigm: the earth plus plastic. The earth doesn’t share our prejudice toward plastic. Plastic came out of the earth. The earth probably sees plastic as just another one of its children. Could be the only reason the earth allowed us to be spawned from it in the first place. It wanted plastic for itself. Didn’t know how to make it. Needed us. Could be the answer to our age-old egocentric philosophical question, “Why are we here?”
(George Carlin)

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."
(Declaration of Independence) 

It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.
(Rene Descartes)

"I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes. You’d know what a drag it is to see you."
(Bob Dylan)

"When they knock you down, you not only have to get up, but you have to make it clear that you won't be knocked down a second time."
(Carl Yastrzemski)

Marijuana will be legal someday, because the many law students who now smoke pot will one day be Congressmen and they will legalize it to protect themselves.
(Lenny Bruce)

"I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell
I know right now you can't tell
But stay awhile and maybe then you'll see
A different side of me
I'm not crazy, I'm just a little impaired
I know right now you don't care
But soon enough you're gonna think of me
And how I used to be"
(Rob Thomas)

"Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours."
(John Locke)

"The world is like a ride in an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it you think it's real because that's how powerful our minds are. The ride goes up and down, around and around, it has thrills and chills, and it's very brightly colored, and it's very loud, and it's fun for a while. Many people have been on the ride a long time, and they begin to wonder, "Hey, is this real, or is this just a ride?" And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and say, "Hey, don't worry; don't be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride." And we … kill those people. "Shut him up! I've got a lot invested in this ride, shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry, look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real." It's just a ride. But we always kill the good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok … But it doesn't matter, because it's just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one. Here's what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace."
(Bill Hicks)

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
(John Adams)

"See the children of the earth
Who wake to find the table bare
See the gentry in the country
Riding off to take the air
See the jailer with his key
Who locks away all trace of sin
See the judge upon the bench
Who tries the case as best he can
See the wise and wicked ones
Who feed upon life's sacred fire
See the soldier with his gun
Who must be dead to be admired
See the man who tips the needle
See the man who buys and sells
See the man who puts the collar
On the ones who dare not tell
See the drunkard in the tavern
Stemming gold to make ends meet
See the youth in ghetto black
Condemned to life upon the street"
(Gordon Lightfoot)

"Books, in all their variety, offer the human intellect the means whereby civilisation may be carried triumphantly forward."
(Winston Churchill)

"There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right."
(Martin Luther King, Jr.)

"It is well known that when you do anything, unless you understand its actual circumstances, its nature and its relations to other things, you will not know the laws governing it, or know how to do it, or be able to do it well."
(Mao Tse Tung)

"I've built walls
A fortress, steep and mighty
That none may penetrate
I have no need of friendship
Friendship causes pain.
It's laughter and it's loving I disdain.
I have my books
And my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armor
Hiding in my room
Safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me
I am a rock
I am an island
And a rock feels no pain
And an island never cries"
(Paul Simon)

"Shadows are falling and I'm running out of breath
If I leave you it doesn't mean I love you any less
When you get up in the morning and you see that crazy sun
There's a train leaving nightly called when all is said and done
Keep me in your heart for awhile
Sometimes when you're doing simple things around the house
Maybe you'll think of me and smile
You know I'm tied to you like the buttons on your blouse
Hold me in your thoughts, take me to your dreams
Touch me as I fall into view
When the winter comes keep the fires lit
And I will be right next to you
Engine driver's headed north to Pleasant Stream
These wheels keep turning but they're running out of steam
Keep me in your heart for awhile"
(Warren Zevon)

Plus lots more ... maybe a "Part II" in the future.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

GRANDSON OF OLD RED

Many many years ago, I recorded in words the legacy and the legend of Old Red.  I have since lost that writing before I began this blog, but the memory of this fantastic animal has never left my mind.  Old Red was a racer, a runner who went from the old tree in our front yard, leap to the rooftop of the house, run over the crest of the house down to the telephone wire and then race to the telephone pole and retrace the route back to the old tree in the front yard.  He was a well known for more than his speed though.  He was the caregiver of the squirrel community on Marsh Avenue.  He helped out the whole of the squirrel community and was a leader of the group. Old Red, and the tree he use to race from in my front yard have both been gone for quite a while now.

Last summer, as I was watching the various families of squirrels go about their business, I noticed a new squirrel sprinting around from tree to tree.  He was small compared to the other squirrels that went about their daily chores on the street but one thing caught my eye.  He was mostly gray like most squirrels in western Missouri, but his tail was what caught my eye.  It was red.  The whole of the tail was red and not just any shade of red but a red that I recalled from many years ago.  It was the same hue of red as Old Red's whole body had been.

I thought of that color of red and remembered Old Red as I watched this little guy scamper about all over the place.  He was a little reckless in crossing the street, seldom checking for cars that might be heading in his direction.  After a few days of watching him I decided to go and ask the question that was burning in my mind.

It was a nice quiet Saturday morning when he recklessly crossed the street to land in my front yard.  I stood up and started to walk towards him.  It didn't take him long to notice me and he stood proudly up erect on his hind legs, and while putting his front paws together gave me the deadliest stare he could muster.  He shook his tail a bit hoping to warn me off.

"Hey" I said cheerfully with a wave of my hand

"What?!?"  His voice was loud, stern, high pitched and squeaky.  "What do you want?  I am not bothering you, you know.  I got a right to be here or didn't you read the VERY VERY small print in the contract when you bought this so called house?"

"What small print?" I asked with a smile trying not to laugh at him directly.

"The small print that says that ANY wild life NOT being kept as a pet, such as dogs and so forth, have the right to roam anywhere on this land that they want to.  THAT small print!"

With this he dropped his front paws down and placed them on his hips, tilted his head and resumed his menacing stare at me with his tail still shaking.

"Nah, I don't bother with small print.  Can't see small print well enough to read it", I smiled at him at he let out a deep irritated sigh. "So, what's your name?", I asked.

He looked at me with a questioning expression trying to figure out if he wanted to waste time with me.  Finally he decided that being friends with the land owner could come in handy in the future. His voice dropped in pitched and became less of a squeak as he realized I meant no harm.

"Well, my name is Redtail" he said as he raised his arm and pointed with his thumb over his shoulder toward his backside. "That's my name anyway but they don't call me Redtail.  They call me Red runt"

His head drop a bit and his shoulders slumped a bit with this revelation.  He lifted his head slowly and looked past me into space as he thought about the nick name he had been laden with.

He sighed a bit and looking at me revealed something else.

"Of course I suppose it could be a little worse.  They called my dad 'Reddy Mix' because he had small splotches of red all over his body.  Almost looked like a rash.  Dad taught me how to deal with having a not so good nick name.  I deal with it."

"Your dad was Reddy Mix?" I asked with recognition.  "Wow, you had a great dad.  I use to watch him scamper around here all the time."  I watched for a reaction for Redtail and only got a shrug of the shoulders.

"Yeah, dad was okay.  He didn't do much, not like grandpa anyway.  Grandpa was a great squirrel, he was one of the great squirrel racers in history!" he exclaimed as his chest puffed up just a little.  "I never knew grandpa though.  He died in some sort of accident.  They never told me what happened."

"Your grandpa.  I knew him.  He was indeed a great one and a great racer.  I saw him race lots of times."  I said respectfully thinking back to that last day that his grandpa had raced.

"You knew my grandpa?"  Redtail's eyes widened and his posture straightened up in excitement.  "You knew Old Red?  You saw him race?  Please, oh please tell me a little about Old Red.  Please?"

I looked at young Redtail, looked at his eyes and the excitement in them and decided it was time he learned a little about Old Red.

I began slowly and thoughtfully.

"Your grandpa.  Well, they told you right, He spent most of his time racing other squirrels.  He was fast.  Very fast.  Probably the fastest squirrel on the block at the time."

I took a seat on my porch and lit a cigarette taking my time before continuing.  Redtail's eyes never left my face as I began to continue.

"Old Red, I like to think, was a friend of mine.  As close of a friend as a squirrel and human can be anyway.  I use to sit right here on a lot of Saturdays watching the races which your grandfather never missed as far as I can remember.  You see the old track use to be right here in my front yard.  There use to be a big tree out there in the yard and they would race towards the roof of the house, leap onto the house, run over to the back of the house and run on the line that goes out to that pole in the back.  Once they touched the pole they raced back across the line, over the house then leap back to the tree grabbing at limb to pull them selves up and race back to the main trunk.  Your grand dad was one of the best at that.  My tree was where Old Red ran his last race.  I was out here that day.  I saw that last race of his and he was faster than he had ever been.  You see, earlier in the day a younger squirrel, a newcomer to the races had broke your grandpa's record for running the course.  Your grandpa's last race was an attempt to get that record back and he almost did just that."

I stopped and paused, thinking back in my mind to that day.  Eventually I woke out of my daydream to find Redtail still staring at me, waiting for more information.

"Yes sir, he almost got that record back, but he...." and I found myself grow quiet as I the vision of what had occurred that day filled my head.

"But?" asked Redtail wanting to know why his grandfather had not broken the record.

I started out slowly and quietly, almost reverently,  "Well, Old Red made a mistake.  He took a risk to try to shave off a little more time for the record.  He was on the last leg of the course, coming down the roof heading for the tree.  He left the roof just a little bit early in his leap for the limbs on the tree.  I knew as soon as he left the roof that it was too soon to jump.  I think he knew it as well.  He stretched out as far as he could and grabbed and caught one of the smallest limbs out there.  He grabbed it with both hands and held on with everything he could.  The, uh... well the limb bent down with his weight.  Once it bent as far as it could, it snapped upwards, taking your grandpa with it.  He held on tight and I honestly felt that he had done it.  I knew the limb would snap back down again but I figured once that had happened, he would be off to the trunk of the tree.  But..." and here I choked up a bit but pushed on with the story, "the limb snapped back down hard.  Your grandpa couldn't hold on and he lost his grip.  He was thrown to the ground.  I sat here and looked at him.  He wasn't moving.  Soon the squirrel community came down to him to check him over.  The fall took your grandpa's life Redtail.   It... umm... it... well it broke his neck kid.  He didn't feel a thing.

I stopped and looked at Redtail.  He was slouched down a little and was wiping his eyes of the tears that had begun to flow.  He slowly looked back up at me and I read in his eyes that he wanted me to go on.

"You know, Redtail, Your grandpa was a very strong squirrel.  That limb had a hell of a snap to it to be able to throw your grandpa loose and to the ground.  The community took your grandpa away to his nest where they laid him down so other squirrels could come and pay respects.  Three days.  Three days he laid in that nest and the line of squirrels continued to come to see him and tell him goodbye.  Then after the three days they took him over to the brush by the lake and laid him down with all of the squirrels that had gone before him.  He was a very respected squirrel Redtail.  You should be proud that he was your grandpa."

Redtail and myself sat there quietly thinking about the story I had just told.  Eventually Redtail climb up on my knee and stared out into the yard where the tree had once stood.

I started talking quietly again to the small squirrel.  "That tree came down during a winter storm several years ago.  It was a sad day not only for me but for the squirrel community as well.  Thousands of races had been run on that tree.  Your grandpa ran well over a hundred races and held the record most of the time that he was racing.  When the tree came down, the record did not have his name attached to it though.  That is why they race at the new track over there," I said pointing next door to the big tree in that front yard.  "It is kind of a more dangerous track to run than the old track use to be."

Redtail looked at the new track and nodded his head.  Eventually his head returned to where the old tree had once stood.

"Can you read? I asked Redtail seriously.

"Of course not, not human writing anyway.  I'm just a little squirrel, remember?"

"Come walk with me.  I got something to show you." I said as I stood up and began walking into the yard where the tree use to be.  I looked down to be sure Redtail was following me into the grass.  We walked down to the water meter that lay in the yard next to where the old tree use to be.  When we got there Redtail looked at the big metal disk with human letters on it.

"What does it say? Is it about grandpa?" he asked inquisitively.

"Well let's see,"  I said and I squatted down to clear some grass off of the top of the old water meter.

I began to "read" the water meter for Redtail making up the words as I went along.

"Here once stood a great tree that was used as the main race path for generations of squirrels.  Many great squirrels ran this tree but there was one that stood above the rest.  It was on this site where the famous racer Old Red ran his first and last race.  He was the greatest of all the racers who ever ran here.  He will forever be remembered for his kindness, thoughtfulness, strength and courage.  May the name of Old Red never be forgotten."

I felt a small tug on the leg of my jeans and looked down to see Redtail hold onto me as he stared at the meter.  He then got down on all fours and walked onto the metal plate and ran his claws over the letters embossed upon it.

I decided to leave Redtail alone with his thoughts and walked back to the porch and sat, watching him contemplate what he had just learned.  After awhile I watched Redtail turn around and look at me before starting to slowly head back to me and the porch.

He arrived at the porch and climbed back up on my knee, laying his head down with his eyes staring out into the yard.

"Thank you" Redtail said.  "Thank you so very much"

We sat on the porch together until the sun set and it began to get dark around us.  He climbed off of my knee and looked at me with a new awareness of where he had come from.

"I'll see you around." he said as he turned and headed off into the night air to his nest.

I have seen him a lot since that day and when I do see him, he shakes his tail at me, smiles and gives me a little wave.  No doubt he will pass the tale of Old Red to his offspring and grandchildren and the name of Old Red will never be forgotten, at least not in the squirrel community.

Monday, May 29, 2017

GREGG ALLMAN AND HIS LEGACY

I have written several entries when artists have passed away over the years.  Every one of them have been important to me in different ways.  Shaping my philosophy, making me think, while at the same time providing my life with beautiful music that sticks in my mind.  There have been a lot of them but some stand a head over the majority of them.  John Lennon, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen,  Warren Zevon and Ray Charles along with John Coltrane and Johnny Cash.

Gregg Allman with his brother Duane took the old rock/blues sound to a whole different level and different direction.  You can tell if it is an Allman Brothers song or a Gregg Allman song with in the first few notes, the sound was that distinctive.  Duane died after the release of the classic album "Live At The Fillmore East" and Gregg had a huge decision to make.  He decided to keep the band, and its music going.  As more of the country discovered Gregg Allman and the boys there came from the country the definition of a new music genre which they called southern rock.  Southern rock took the basics of rock, blues, jazz and country and melded them into a brand new sound.  More southern rock bands would crop up to follow the Allman Brothers but none ever matched them.

Gregg Allman was an innovator.  He was one of the few acts around that were better live than they were in the studio.  They seemed to step it up a notch when playing for a crowd that were totally drawn into their music.  Gregg Allman played the organ for the most part but it was his arrangement of songs and the voice he put to those arrangements that made him so great. As an example of this was a song written by Jackson Browne called "These Days".  It was a good song by Browne, a rock ballad that seemed to be Browne's best work.  Gregg Allman arranged the song into a heavy sad blues number that with his distinct voice made it a favorite on the play lists at concerts.

There are many good blues singers but the number of great blues singers and blues voices are few and far between.  Gregg Allman was a great blues singer.  He put his very soul into every song he sang and the songs he sang of were of life.  His life.  All of our lives.  He had a way of connecting to those who came to hear him.  I saw Gregg Allman perform but once, and let me tell you, his performance would grab your heart, your soul and you would be mesmerized until the number was finished.  Sometimes you would swear you forgot how to breathe while he was singing his songs.

Gregg Allman passed away this week at the age of 69.  A lot of the greats seem to be dying rather young.  It has been suggested to me that, well, they had lived a life, a hard life filled with drugs and alcohol, abusing their bodies at a young age and sometimes those things catch u to you.  This was certainly the case for Gregg Allman.

Gregg Allman is gone and so the Allman Brothers Band is gone and without the Allman Brothers, there can be no more southern rock.  Gregg Allman so defined the genre that it died with him.  There are plenty of southern rock bands that followed Gregg and Duane, but they are living in the past, not creating anything new.  Gregg Allman was still putting out new music.  Some of it was his and some were long forgotten blues numbers that he touched with his special magic of soul and blues.

Gregg Allman is gone.  His last album he released was last year.  It was a live recording of a performance in Macon, Georgia which was the base for the band for all these years.  With the history of the Allman Brothers Band and Gregg Allman as a solo artist, it seems somehow fitting that his last album would be a live album.

That is the way it should be and the way he should be remembered.  A singer of the people, for the people live, not shacked up in a studio.  It was at those times when he was at his best.

Gregg Allman will always be included at the top of my list as one of the pure greats.

Monday, May 1, 2017

THIRTY SIX MINUTES OF COHEN

Not often do I ask readers to take time to take a post seriously.  This is an exception.  It will take but thirty six minutes of your time and I implore you to listen to this album and read the lyrics as you do.  I don't bring up Leonard Cohen up very often and this will probably the last time I do. The video is the complete album and the words are so real.  The songs on this album talk to me.  I hear the words and can place them in where I find myself in my life most of the time.  All I ask is a short thirty six minutes and focus on the songs and what they are saying.  It is one of the best albums released in the last half century and will give you a window into my mind as well as Cohen's right before he passed away.
Thirty six minutes.  That is all I ask


  


You Want It Darker

If you are the dealer
I’m out of the game
If you are the healer
I’m broken and lame
If thine is the glory
Then mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame

Magnified and sanctified
Be Thy Holy Name
Vilified and crucified
In the human frame
A million candles burning
For the help that never came
You want it darker
We kill the flame

Hineni Hineni
I’m ready, my Lord

There’s a lover in the story
But the story is still the same
There’s an lullaby for suffering
And a paradox to blame
But it’s written in the scriptures
And it’s not some idle claim
You want it darker
We kill the flame

They’re lining up the prisoners now
The guards are taking aim
I struggled with some demons
They were middle-class and tame
Didn’t know I had permission
To murder and to maim
You want it darker
We kill the flame

Hineni Hineni
I’m ready, my Lord

Magnified and sanctified
Be Thy Holy Name
Vilified and crucified
In the human frame
A million candles burning
For the love that never came
You want it darker
We kill the flame

If you are the dealer
I’m out of the game
If you are the healer
I’m broken and lame
If thine is the glory
Then mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame

Hineni Hineni
I’m ready, my Lord

Treaty

I seen you change the water into wine
I seen you change it back to water too
I sit at your table every night
I try but I just don’t get high with you

I wish there was a treaty we could sign
I do not care who takes the bloody hill
I’m angry and I’m tired all the time
I wish there was a treaty
I wish there was a treaty
Between your love and mine

They’re dancing in the street – it’s Jubilee
We sold ourselves for love but now we’re free
I’m sorry for the ghost I made you be
Only one of us was real – and that was me.

I haven’t said a word since you’ve been gone
That any liar couldn’t say as well
I can’t believe the static coming on
You were my ground – my safe and sound
You were my aerial

The fields are crying out – it’s Jubilee
We sold ourselves for love but now we’re free
I’m sorry for the ghost I made you be
Only one of us was real – and that was me.

I heard the snake was baffled by his sin
He shed his scales to find the snake within
But born again is born without a skin
The poison enters into everything

I wish there was a treaty we could sign
I do not care who takes the bloody hill
I’m angry and I’m tired all the time
I wish there was a treaty
I wish there was a treaty
Between your love and mine

On The Level

I knew that it was wrong
I didn’t have a doubt
I was dying to get back home
And you were starting out

I said I better hurry on
You said, we have all day
You smiled at me like I was young
It took my breath away

Your crazy fragrance all around
Your secrets all in view
My lost, my lost was saying found
My don’t was saying do

Let’s keep it on the level
When I walked away from you
I turned my back on the devil
Turned my back on the angel too

They ought to give my heart a medal
For letting go of you
When I turned my back on the devil
Turned my back on the angel too

Now I’m living in this temple
Where they tell you what to do
I’m old and I’ve had to settle
On a different point of view

I was fighting with temptation
But I didn’t want to win
A man like me don’t like to see
Temptation caving in

Your crazy fragrance all around
You secrets all in view
My lost, my lost was saying found
My don’t was saying do

Let’s keep it on the level
When I walked away from you
I turned my back on the devil
Turned my back on the angel too

They ought to give my heart a medal
For letting go of you
When I turned my back on the devil
Turned my back on the angel too

Leaving The Table

I’m leaving the table
I’m out of the game
I don’t know the people
In your picture frame

If I ever loved you
It’s a crying shame
If I ever loved you
If I knew your name

You don’t need a lawyer
I’m not making a claim
You can put down your weapon
I’m not taking aim

I don’t need a lover
The wretched beast is tame
I don’t need a lover
So blow out the flame

There’s nobody missing
There is no reward
Little by little
We’re cutting the cord

We’re spending the treasure
That love cannot afford
I know you can feel it
The sweetness restored
I don’t need a reason

For what I became
I’ve got these excuses
They’re old and they’re lame
I don’t need a pardon
There’s no one left to blame

I’m leaving the table
I’m out of the game

If I Didn’t Have Your Love

If the sun would lose its light
And we lived an endless night
And there was nothing left
That you could feel
Well that’s how it would be
What the world would seem to me
If I didn’t have your love
To make it real

If the stars were all unpinned
And a cold and bitter wind
Swallowed up the world
Without a trace
Well that’s where I would be
What my life would seem to me
If I couldn’t lift the veil
And see your face

If no leaves were on the tree
And no water in the sea
And the break of day
Had nothing to reveal
That’s how broken I would be
What my life would seem to me
If I didn’t have your love
To make it real

If the sun would lose its light
And we lived an endless night
And there was nothing left
That you could feel
If the sea were sand alone
And the flowers made of stone
And no one that you hurt
Could ever heal

That’s how broken I would be
What my life would mean to me
If I didn’t have your love
To make it real

Traveling Light

I’m traveling light
It’s au revoir
My once so bright
My fallen star
I’m running late
They’ll close the bar
I used to play
One mean guitar
I guess I’m just
Somebody who
Has given up
On the me and you

I’m not alone
I’ve met a few
Traveling light like
We used to do
Goodnight goodnight
My fallen star

I guess you’re right
You always are
I know you’re right
About the blues
You live some life
You’d never choose
I’m just a fool
A dreamer who
Forgot to dream
Of the me and you

I am not alone
I’ve met a few
Traveling light like
We used to do
 
Traveling light
It’s au revoir
My once so bright
My fallen star
I’m running late
They’ll close the bar
I used to play
One mean guitar
I guess I’m just
Somebody who
Has given up
On the me and you

I’m not alone
I’ve met a few
Traveling light like
We used to do

But if the road
Leads back to you
Must I forget
The things I knew
When I was friends
With one or two
Traveling light like
We used to do

Seemed The Better Way

It seemed the better way
When first I heard him speak
But now it’s much too late
To turn the other cheek

It sounded like the truth
It seemed the better way
It sounded like the truth
But it’s not the truth today

I wonder what it was
I wonder what it meant
At first he touched on love
But then he touched on death

I better hold my tongue
I better take my place
Lift this glass of blood
Try to say the grace

Steer Your Way

Steer your way through the ruins
of the Altar and the Mall
Steer your way through the fables
of Creation and The Fall
Steer your way past the Palaces
that rise above the rot
Year by year
Month by month
Day by day
Thought by thought

Steer your heart past the Truth
you believed in yesterday
Such as Fundamental Goodness
and the Wisdom of the Way
Steer your heart, precious heart,
past the women whom you bought
Year by year
Month by month
Day by day
Thought by thought

Steer your path through the pain
that is far more real than you
That has smashed the Cosmic Model,
that has blinded every View
And please don’t make me go there,
tho’ there be a God or not
Year by year
Month by month
Day by day
Thought by thought

They whisper still, the injured stones,
the blunted mountains weep
As he died to make men holy,
let us die to make things cheap
And say the Mea Culpa which
you’ve probably forgot
Year by year
Month by month
Day by day
Thought by thought

Steer your way, O my heart,
tho’ I have no right to ask
To the one who was never
never equal to the task
Who knows he’s been convicted,
who knows he will be shot
Year by year
Month by month
Day by day
Thought by thought

String Reprise/Treaty

[Instrumental except final portion]
I wish there was a treaty we could sign
It’s over now, the water and the wine
We were broken then, but now we’re borderline
And I wish there was a treaty
I wish there was a treaty
Between your love and mine

All Songs Copyright 2016 by Old Ideas, LLC. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Friday, April 28, 2017

THE ESSENTIAL "LIVE" ALBUMS

Live albums.  Albums that record a band performing live in concert.  Let's face it, most artists are much better in the studio rather than performing on stage.  In the studio, you can correct mistakes, rerecord until it sounds the way you want it to.  You can put multiple tracks over each other called over dubbing and make the sound fuller and more rounded.  It takes a special artist to be able to give a live performance that sounds as good as the sound from the studio, if not better, in front of a live audience.  These are a few live albums that define an artist as being able to do on stage what they accomplish in the studio.

THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND - Live At The Fillmore East

The Allman Brothers were more a less a regional group with a huge following in the southern states, particularly in Georgia, Alabama and Florida.  Their studio albums had not been well received outside the south and even in the south fans preferred to see them live than listen to the studio takes.  When they went north and decided to cash in on their fans love of their live shows they decided to record it.  The result was an album that was an immediate hit and climbed the charts extremely quickly.  Suddenly the Allman Brothers Band were nationally known and going on tours would find all of their shows sold out.  Eventually they became part of the first wave of artist that were selling out stadiums.  When playing this album sided with their studio albums, it is clear that this was a band made to play live.  The southern blues that would produce songs on the stage that had a lot of improvisation put into the songs that would last well over the usual four to five minutes.  Shortly after the release of this album the groups leader, Duane Allman, died in a motorcycle accident but as the years have gone by, this band is still known as a concert group and they have released more live albums than most any other group in the modern era of rock.
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PETER FRAMPTOM - Frampton Comes Alive

Peter Framptom is a guitar player who is considered one of the better guitarists out there. In his early days in the late sixties he was a member of a band called Humble Pie.  Humble Pie had several great musicians but were only able to garner a small, albeit faithful fan base.  Frampton came to a point where he wanted to do his own sound, his own songs and so Humble Pie disbanded and Peter Frampton set out on a solo career that did not fair much better than Humble Pie had.  The same fans that had followed Humble Pie followed Frampton and so his four solo albums were never really high on the charts, that is until the summer of 1976.  As Framptom was setting out on an US tour, A&M executives noticed how responsive his fans were to his live show.  They decided to try to capture this magic and set up a recording of his shows in San Fransisco that spring.  The result was a live album that broke all sales records for not only a live album but also shattered records for a muti-disc album sales.   The album threw Frampton into the elite of rock and several singles were released from the album, marking an extremely rare practice of live singles, something that had not really been seen before.  The singles showed the same success as the album had shown.  Frampton went back to studio recording after the live album and sales sunk back down clearly defining Peter Frampton as a live act, not a studio act.

LOGGINS AND MESSINA - On Stage

Unlike the previous two artists listed here, Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina had a rather large and enthusiastic following.  Kenny Loggins was know for his exemplary songwriting and a large number of his songs had been covered throughout the industry.  When the two teamed up writing songs, hit after hit came from their studio albums.  On the road in concert, they sold out venue after venue although they never entered the stadium rock roster of acts.  When this album was released, it showed how strong they were not only on stage, but as individual musicians.  The album opens up with Kenny Loggins on stage with an acoustic guitar alone, singing some of his wider known songs that he had written and had been covered.  Then in the middle of the last song of Loggins solo part, the band suddenly shows up and joins in to finish off the song.  The real Loggins and Messina act then begins and Jim Messina joins Loggins on the stage to rip through their catalogue of hits that they had accrued over the years.  The result is a clean sounding, very tight band singing songs that were legitimate hits,  The harmonies are fantastic as the two run through the set.  It is an example of how a great studio group can also be a great group on stage.  When it was released it was a surprise to the industry doing much better than expected and still one of my go to live albums.

PAUL McCARTNEY AND WINGS - Wings Over America

Paul McCartney needs no introduction to my readers.  Nor do the two other members of Wings, Linda McCartney and Denny Laine.  This was recorded in several cities, including Kansas City, during McCartney's first United States tour since the Beatles had split up.  McCartney, of course, had an astonishing number of hits going into this tour and they perform them all.  A couple of Beatles tunes are thrown into the mix, but for the most part this is McCartney and his work.  There was no cutting out some of the songs from the set list making it a huge three album set that once the listener started listening to the opening number "Venus and Mars" made it very difficult to stop listening to until you had reached the end of side six and even then McCartney left the listener wanting more.  McCartney is awesome in a live atmosphere, this is no surprise, and so it is no surprise that this album is as good as a live album can get.  Picking and choosing the best performances of each song from the recordings of individual concerts makes sure that everything hits on target in this album.  The album itself, becomes McCartney's best concert ever.



ERIC CLAPTON - Eric Clapton's Rainbow Concert

This is not the best live album ever recorded but it is one of the most important ones.  Eric Clapton had spent years addicted to hard drugs and alcohol.  After a short career that would be the envy of any guitar player in the sixties (John Mayall and the Blues Breakers, The Yardbirds, Blind Faith, Cream, Derek and the Dominos) Clapton had found himself alone and in too bad of shape to even grant himself a job as a studio musician.  With the help of a lot of his friends from the industry, Clapton went in to rehab and cleaned himself up and began to play the guitar again.  After a year or so of being clean, these friends formed a back up band for Clapton and set up a concert at The Rainbow Room in London.  It was to be Clapton's coming back performance taking his place back where he belonged, at the top.  The band was an impressive list of names that the reader may or may not know.  Ronnie Wood, Pete Townsend, Jim Capaldi, Rick Grech, and Stevie Winwood among others.  The concert proved to be a success in getting Clapton back on the road to his music making and made for a pretty good concert album.  The sound quality is not the best, the band is not as tight as one would expect, but still, to hear those three guitars of Clapton, Townsend and Wood all playing together along with the keys of Stevie Winwood, the album brings itself together.  It is the documentation of the comeback of a musical icon, and if this concert had not happened, the music world may have lost out on many many great blues songs that Clapton brought to us.

HERBIE HANCOCK AND CHICK COREA - An Evening With ....

Okay, do I really need to describe this album?  The title alone says all there is to say.  Two of the jazz world's greatest pianists EVER playing in duet together on the same stage at the same time.  They team up together to play some of each others best known works for an hour and a half.  The sound is crystal clear.  The pianos play off of each other in a way that even during the improvisations that jazz demands, the pianos stay tight and together.  This is jazz at it's finest moment in my mind.  Sure there are a lot of live jazz albums out there, most of them are very good but this album..... THIS album is staggering.  I honestly don't know what else to say about it.  It is an album that I stumbled across many many years ago and I have never let it go.  I have shared it with cousins and Uncles and friends.  Any lover of jazz, especially jazz piano, will find this work relaxing and encompassing.  If you ever get a chance to hear this thing .... do it.
JACKSON BROWNE - Running On Empty

This is a different kind of live album.  It opens with a live performance on stage and closes with a live performance on stage, but a lot of the album are live cuts that were recorded on the tour bus and in hotel rooms.  This album gives us Jackson Browne in his purest form.  While the recordings taken from concerts are great, it is the acoustic improvisational Browne riding on a bus or sitting in a hotel room with his band and friends.  It is a relaxed Jackson Browne.  It shows us how much this singer/songwriter loves his music and how much he enjoys it.  It is a simple album.  It is easy to listen to and fun to listen.  Add in the fact that every song on this album is a gem and you got a live album like none other.  I like thinking outside of the box and in putting this album together, Jackson Browne certainly shows us that he is capable of that.  These recordings make up an album that rival Browne's better known studio albums in the must have Jackson Browne category.  A real find and a real pleasure to listen to and enjoy.

FRANK SINATRA - Sinatra At The Sands

This is more than a Frank Sinatra album.  Sinatra is accompanied by Count Basie and his orchestra and the songs are arranged and conducted by Quincy Jones.  It was recorded in 1966 so if you are looking for live versions of "My Way" or "New York, New York" you won't find them here. Instead what you get is Sinatra doing some of his classics like "Fly Me To The Moon" and "My Kind Of Town".  The newest song in this set is probably "It Was a Very Good Year".  The album gives the Count his dues when it includes the Basie classic "One O'clock Jump".  The concert has that feel of being in a small intimate venue where Sinatra feels comfortable talking to the people who had come to see him on this special night.  It sounds as though Sinatra is singing to individual members of the audience at times.  This was also at a time when Sinatra's voice was at its peak.  Strong baritone voice, holding notes out and using his usual ending each word sung completely, as your hear the "t's" at the end of words for example.  Tough to beat Sinatra in studio, but this comes very close to doing so.


JOHNNY CASH - At Folsom Prison

Johnny Cash was never sentenced to prison, but between this album and his San Quentin album, a lot of people thought he did.  In one interview that I heard he said "People are always coming up to me and saying, 'My daddy was in prison with you'" and he laughed.  There is a lot of debate over which of the two albums is better, Folsom or San Quentin.  As far as I am concerned, At Folsom Prison is near, if not at, the top of country live albums.  The album opens up with Cash saying those famous words of his.... "Hello ... I'm Johnny Cash" and as the inmates start to go wild the band starts to playing and never stops.  He does a set that does not fail to prove that he was one great performer.  His wife, June, gets up on stage with him and does a fantastic version of "Jackson".   This doesn't need to be said because i am sure that every Johnny Cash fan has this album in their collection, but if you DON'T have it in your collection..... get it.

AL KOOPER/MIKE BLOOMFIELD - Lost Concert Tapes '68

Ever since I first heard this album I couldn't believe that these tapes were actually lost, but apparently they were recorded and stuck in the vaults at Columbia Records.  Someone should have been fired for that although they were probably retired by the time the tapes were released.  This is not only great live blues with guitar genius Mike Bloomfield with his pal Blood Sweat and Tears founder Al Kooper on the organ, it has a little extra special part to it.  During this concert at the Fillmore East, Bloomfield and Kooper introduce Johnny Winter to the world.  I can not imagine how the people who were lucky enough to be there felt listening to Winter for the first time, but as I listened to Johnny Winter on this album, I was blown away... and at that time I knew most of Johnny Winter's work that would follow this introduction of him to the world of blues.  This record is astounding.  We find both Bloomfield and Kooper at the top of their game.  The songs are great, the band is tight and as I listen to this set I can almost see this concert taking place.  Nothing is better live than a good blues performance and these two definitely deliver.  The couple of songs by Johnny Winter, however, puts it over the top and into the place of one of the best blues albums to come out of the sixties.  The set ends with a great rendition of Donovan's "Season Of The Witch" which would become a staple for Al Kooper as his career progressed.

Well, I listed more than I intended to do, but there are some good live albums out there.  I'll make a secondary list at some point I suppose.  For the most part, live albums have been seen as a lower form of recording than studio albums.  Only real fanatics of a group buy a live album of theirs.  But all of these albums, as well as numerous others, stand on their own merits.  If anything, a live recording when done well, is a lot more impressive than a studio recording.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

THE IMPORTANCE OF GOODBYE

I have been haunted as of late by Leonard Cohen's last album before he passed away.  Cohen had a special following of fans, some of them didn't even know they were fans.  Cohen's songs were covered by many other artists who got a lot of airplay for their interpretation of his songs.  The most recent group to hit it big thanks to Leonard Cohen was a group called Pentatonix, who recorded Cohen's "Hallelujah" on their Christmas album last year even though the song has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas.  It is kind of like a group of Christian teens who decided to sing George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" in a Youth for Christ meeting when I was young teenager.  They decided not to do it once they realized that Harrison's "Sweet Lord" was the Hare Krishna, a far cry from their Lord that they thought they were going to praise that night.   See, this is why I always say "LISTEN TO THE LYRICS PEOPLE!".  There are a lot of songs out there that actually have some philosophical meaning if you stop to actually listen to what the writer is trying to say.

Leonard Cohen's songs were like that.  His writing was usually dark and foreboding.  He seemed to always slip in some religious themes in his songs and most of the time his songs wrapped around broken or lost love, lost loved ones and the poor future of our civilization that was to come.  At the same time he was penning these dark lyrics, he was putting them to beautiful melodies.

As Cohen aged into his eighties, he set out to write a set of songs that expressed what he was feeling as he became closer to facing his own death.  The album was titled "You Want It Darker" which was also the title of the first track on the album.  His health was failing as he finished writing the songs and he recorded it a few months before he died leave this earth.  He had to sit in a chair in his apartment, which was transformed into a small sound studio, to record his final verses.  In an interview about the yet to be released album Cohen said "I am ready to die.  I am not afraid".  Cohen held a strong faith in his Jewish heritage and leaned on that faith as death neared.

I have been a Leonard Cohen fan for many years.  His dark sense of humor seemed to match mine and his pessimistic outlook in the human race seemed to mirror mine as well.  His music made an impact on me that for the most part I kept to myself.  Me and Leonard.  His was the one music I really didn't share with others.  If I could write music, I would want it to be like his.  I kept his music so much to myself, that I am not sure even my wife knew who Leonard Cohen was when I informed her in my sadness that he had died.  I spent a couple of evenings with her playing some of Cohen's tunes on YOUTUBE for her.  A few of the songs she recognized from the covers that had been recorded.  It didn't take long for her to come to appreciate the talent that this man had.

"You Want It Darker" is by far his masterpiece.  The songs are honest, spiritual and looks into the dark of night with more clarity than any songwriter I have heard.  This album has a hold on me and I listen to it often.  The words speak to me and I feel like I understand them and therefore understand Cohen.  This album was Leonard Cohen telling the world "goodbye".  I am so glad he took the time to tell us that.

As I listen to these songs my mind wanders back to those who I have loved and have gone before me.  As I age I find this album bring to mind thoughts of not only my own demise, but how many more loved ones am I going to lose before I am gone myself and don't have to face that prospect anymore.

I go back to when my great grandmother Hill died.  I loved her, I really did.  She was a tough lady that had a rough life but she fought her way through all of the setbacks and lived a long good life.  However, and looking back I am not really proud of this, but the main thing I remember about my great grandmother's death is that her funeral was to be in Springfield, Missouri on a day when I had a date with Patty Mason to go to my first school dance, and I had to cancel out.  I look back and I miss her now.  I have a few of her things that I remember from my childhood and find good memories floating through my brain of spending time with her.  I never got to tell her goodbye though and at the time it didn't bother me that I didn't have that chance.  Actually it still does not bother me much to this day.

The last time I saw my grandfather Hill, I knew inside of myself that it would be the last time I saw him.  He was heading down to Alabama to spend time with my Aunt Sue and I knew that he would not be coming back.  That night as I left, I did tell him goodbye.  I gave him a small hug which is not normal for me and maybe he was thinking what that was all about.  He did pass away on that visit to Alabama and even though I was extremely broken by his death, I was able to hold on to the fact that I was able to tell him goodbye.

I love all my Aunts and Uncles from both the fraternal and the maternal side of my family.  I am greatly blessed to have them as part of my life.  My Uncle Melvin was attacked with cancer.  He spent a lot of time in the hospital and I kept up on his condition through reports from my mother.  Uncle Melvin was special, as all my Uncles were.  As I sensed his health worsening I decided to make a visit to him.  After some of the things he did for me, covertly I might add, I felt like I wanted to see him at least one more time.  As I entered the hospital room he was in, my cousins all greeted me very warmly and led me to where my Uncle lay.  He patted his bedside indicating for me to sit and so I did.  He took my hand and told me things were going to be okay.  We talked a bit about things and then I told him I was going to miss him.  He looked me square in the eye, as Hills are taught to do, and told me he would miss me too.  I told him I loved him and as I leaned over to give him a hug he quietly said that he loved me as well.  It was not long after that when he left this world that he loved so much.  I am so glad I decided to make that visit.  Those words from my Uncle helped me to help my grandpa the day of the funeral.

My Uncle Duane was another very special uncle.  Although he had moved away to Nebraska then Colorado and I didn't get to see him much, I have many fond memories of him.  He was one of the most gentle men I ever knew and he had a knack for talking to me and showing me things.  This is one that really hurts that I didn't get to say goodbye to.  I knew he was sick, very sick.  Life kept me from making a trip to Colorado to see him though.  That was the excuse I used anyway.  I was and still am not sure if I could have handled it seeing him before he passed.  I loved him so very much.  When he did die, I beat myself up for not taking time to drive out to Colorado to see him and my aunt and two cousins.  I am still beating myself up for that slip.  Then when I think about it, it would have been extremely rough on me and chances are he wouldn't know who I was anyway, which would make it hurt even more.  Maybe it is best for both of us that I didn't make that trip.  I just am not sure.

My Uncle Dan and Aunt June were also very special.  June was married to Dan's brother, my Uncle Jack.  When Dan got cancer, we made a bond that we would fight this thing together and we did.  I saw him everyday and my wife would spend the night at his house to take care of him.  During this time, my Aunt June was also very ill and it was obvious that she was getting worse.  In spite of that, she traveled with my Uncle Jack from St Louis to Kansas City every other weekend to help take care of Dan.  Every weekend when they headed back to St. Louis, I would give her a hug and tell her goodbye as I did with my Uncle Jack.  But my goodbyes to my Aunt June held a lot more meaning.  I wanted to be sure that she knew I appreciated and loved her and considered myself lucky to have her for an Aunt.  Dan's cancer eventually took him to the point of where I had to take him to the hospice house.  The pain he was in was at a point of being more than I could help him with.  I stayed in hospice with him for a week, never leaving him as I had promised.  Each time I left the room though, I would tell him goodbye and let him know I would be right back.  I was able to whisper an almost silent goodbye the night he died.  At his funeral, as I was leaving his house I made a special effort to be sure and tell my Aunt June goodbye.  There would be no more bi-weekly weekend visits from her now.  I am so glad I did tell her that.

Then there was my sister Carol.  Carol had come up to help me take care of mom and dad during the summer when she was diagnosed with cancer.  She was determined to fight it as hard as she could, if anything just so she could get back to Georgia where her home was and her grandkids.  The two of us, along with my faux sister Karen, decided that we would get her well enough to get back home.  We succeeded.  As she and my sister Elaine left to head back south, I was able to give Carol a huge hug a big I love you and a kiss on her forehead.  We each said we would see each other the next summer when she came back.  She never came back to Kansas City though.  The next spring the cancer returned and raced through Carol's body.  The goodbye I had with Carol was one I would not trade for the world.

Then there is the loved one passing that comes out of the blue, totally out of nowhere.  This happened to me last February when one of my friends died.  Dennis was healthy.  He took care of himself.  He ate right.  He was active.  He also had a damaged heart from a heart attack several years ago.  That heart quit working that day in February.  I had not told him good bye.  I didn't have the chance to.  We had planned on meeting up in Mississippi later on this spring when I was planning to visit Alabama.  I had talked to him the day after his birthday in January.  No goodbye.  We never said goodbye to each other.  It was always "Take it easy, see ya later".  With Den though, there wasn't a later.  He was here one day and the next day, just gone.

I didn't go through all of the goodbyes I said or didn't say.  I use these few as examples of how my mind works when dealing with these situations.

So now for today.  I am 60 now and in what I have come to realize is the "window of death".  It seems like once a person gets pass 60 years old, all bets are off.  My parents moved to Alabama last fall so that my sister could take care of them while I try to take care of my wife.  My brother is in South Dakota, my sister, as mentioned, is in Alabama as well as my Aunt Sue.  My aunt Eva is the closest on the Hill side living in Clinton, Missouri while my Uncle Jack still can't pull himself from St.Louis.  He likes it there for some odd reason.  Aunt Velma is in Colorado while my Aunt Fay is in western Kansas.  My Uncle Jim, well I think he is in Warrensburg, Missouri, not too far away.  I do still have my Aunt Norva and Uncle Dale living here in Kansas City but I do not get out to see them much.

The question that hits me as I listen to Leonard Cohen's last album goes like this.  "Is it better to say be able to say good bye to loved ones or easier not to."  I don't know.  I sincerely just don't know.

It kind of feels like my good byes may be finished no matter what the answer may be.

It is starting to get a little lonely around Kansas City.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

I CAN WRITE FICTION, I THINK .....

Eddie woke up in the backseat of his old Chevy.  He was covered in sweat and his hands were shaking.  It was still dark outside and a glance at his wrist revealed that the watch that normally resided there was gone.  Looking around he noticed that he was at a rest stop of some sort off away from a highway.  He crawled out of the car and noticing that there wasn't a building on the lot, walked over to a line of trees to relieve himself.  The sweat continued to bead over his body as he tried to get his bearings as to where he was.  He had no memory of pulling into this rest stop or falling asleep.

He sat on the hood of his car shivering a bit watching the traffic on the highway.  He tried to remember what had happened the previous night.  He knew something had happened, he could feel it inside of himself.  His sleep had been restless with images flashing in his dreams waking him up twice during the night.  He couldn't remember the images.  He was trying, but all he had was a knowledge that the images had popped in his mind and left as fast as they entered.  They were not good images.  Eddie felt ill at ease as he tried to remember his dreams.  He laid back on the hood of the car and closed his eyes and began trying to fill in this dark void in his memory that seemed to cover at least yesterday.

As he lay there he remembered what he thought was Tuesday night when he had driven to a motel with a girl that he had been drinking with.  That girl, what was her name?  He thought it was a strange name at the time. It started with a "C" he was pretty sure.  Candy? No. It was a strange name. Cally? Candell?  Candell... yeah, that was it.  He was pretty sure anyway.  Candell.  He remembered he had seen her hitchhiking as he was driving along the highway from Louisiana east towards Mississippi.  His goal was to get to Alabama and find a small time job for a few weeks to get some cash up then on to Georgia where he planned on settling down in one of the rural areas around Macon.  He had cousins in Macon and Eddie figured they would help him get started there, help him with a job, give him a place to stay until he could afford a small place for himself.

He thought back in time.  It was late Monday night when he had spotted Candell along the highway.  She wasn't no beauty but not too bad either.  Anyway, truth is it wouldn't matter what she looked like, he just wanted some company for a little while, someone to talk to.  When he had pulled over and stopped, Candell had approached the car slowly, peeking inside and looking him over.  He had seen her glance in the backseat before looking at Eddie in the face.  Eddie had asked her where she was heading, he would be happy to give her a lift for a bit.  She was heading to Mobile and so Eddie said he would take her as far as Birmingham if she wanted.  She accepted and slid into the car, hugging the door as Eddie pulled away.
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Detective Mark Edler pulled his car into the motel parking lot.  He noticed four squad cars already there with the officers standing outside the motel room door talking.  They had already taped off a perimeter with yellow streamers and were waiting on him to give the go ahead to start the taking up of evidence.  He walked up to the motel room door and greeted the officers.

"Sir," one of the officers was holding up his hand. "Sir, it is pretty bad in there, just thought you should know."

Edler looked at the officer that he knew as McFay.

"Well, let's go see what we got," Edler said as he motione dfor the other officers to stay outside while he and McFay went into the darkened room.  The curtains were pulled shut and the lights were out so that the only source of light was from the doorway and what filtered through the curtains,

"Body?" Edler asked the officer.

"Well sir, we haven't gone through the room at all.  We just looked at what the manager showed us when we arrived."  With that, McFay pulled out his flashlight and turned it on, pointing it towards the television set.  There on top of the TV was a human head.  It appeared to be a male.  The hair was messed up.  The eyes were opened wide and almost bulging out of the sockets.  The mouth was open in a silent scream as if begging for help.

Edler took the flashlight from McFay and traced a trail of blood from the neck of the head, down the front of the television to a large pool of blood on the floor.  He used the flashlight to look around the pool and noticed a trail of blood lead from the pool off into the bathroom of the small room.

"Are the techs here yet?" he asked McFay who answered in the affirmative.

"Yes sir.  Been here awhile waiting on you."

Edler walked out side and went over to the techs to describe what he had seen and what  they should expect.  Particular interest would be the bathroom of course.  The officers would stay outside unless the techs needed assistance, then an officer could enter to help and leave the room when the chore was complete.  The crime scene technicians began to gather their equipment together and then headed into the room.  There were four techs and when the lead tech turned on the light, all four stood still in shock at the display on the television.

"Bathroom?" the tech asked Edler.

"Ya think?" Edler responded sarcastically.

The two men walked slowly towards the bathroom in the back of the room, being careful  not to step in any of the blood trail or disturb anything else.  Edler turned on the light over the sink area of the bathroom.  The sinks was filled with a red liquid.

"Blood?" Edler asked and the tech slowly nodded his head.

"Probably.  I'll have Johnny take some pictures before we drain it."

The tech yelled for Johnny to come back and take pictures of whatever they found and informed the other techs to get the spare camera and take their own pictures of evidence since Johnny was going to be with him for awhile.

Johnny took pictures of the blood trail on the bathroom floor and the sink of red.  The sink area was spotless, everything seeming to be in place.  Johnny then informed the detective and his boss that he was going to drain the sink now.  He pulled up on the plunger and slowly the water level began to descend.  Suddenly something broke the surface of the water.  Edler looked on as slowly a human hand was revealed sitting in the sink, cut off at the wrist.  Edler began to wonder how many body parts they were going to have to catalogue.  Johnny took pictures of the hand from different angles before Edler and the lead tech turned towards the door that opened into the toilet and shower area of the bathroom.  Edler hesitated just a brief moment before placing his hand on the door knob to open the door.
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Eddie noticed for first time since he had woke up that he had a headache.  It wasn't a bad one, just one of those small ones that pounds with your heartbeat to remind you that it is there.  Sitting up he watched the traffic continue to flow by on the highway.  Cigarette.  He needed a smoke and so he got off the car and went to reach in the front window for his pack.  As he reached in he noticed that the sleeve of his shirt was covered in a dry dark dried up liquid.  He looked at it closely then slowly turned his head to look in the car.  The passenger door and seat had splotches of blood on them as did the drivers side.  He began to shake again as he quickly grabbed the pack of smokes out of the car.

He was shaking so badly that he could not open the pack of cigarettes.  His mind was racing trying to remember.  He had to remember.  At last he got the cigarettes open only to find it empty.  He stopped and leaned against the car trying to think.  It was then he noticed a highway patrol car drive past him down the highway.  He quickly took off his shirt and threw it in the backseat leaving him in a white t-shirt that was still wet with sweat.

Think. Think. Think. he kept telling himself.  Candell.  Where was Candell?  Suddenly a picture flashed through his mind.  It was a picture of a set of eyes, open wide in fright, looking side to side and growing wider by the second.  Eddie put his hands up to his face to try to block out the image.  He remembered those eyes now.  It almost seemed like they were his own, as if he were looking in a mirror.

Eddie leaned against his car and slid to the ground, his knees folding up to his chin. Those eyes were so haunting, so real.  As he sat he remembered walking into the motel room behind Candell.  They had stopped at the motel bar after dinner and both were a little off kilter.  He didn't remember having that much to drink but apparently he did.  Candell seemed to be woozy as well and they had both fallen onto the bed only because their feet could not hold them up anymore.  He was sure that nothing had happened between him and the girl as he seemed to remember falling asleep very quickly.  So why did he have this image of those eyes in his head?

After awhile Eddie stood back up to try to figure out where he was.  He walked down to the highway and looking towards the east saw a Mississippi state highway sign.  Okay, fine, he was in Mississippi. He didn't know exactly where in Mississippi he was, but at least he had a frame of reference.  He walked back to the car and sat on the hood, closing his eyes again to try to get rid of some of that headache.  He had sat for a few minutes when another image came to him.  It was the eyes again, open wide in terror but there was more.  There was the whole face of the person and he could tell it wasn't himself this time.  The mouth was wide open as if screaming then he saw two hands, one on each side of the face carrying what eventually became just a head over to a wall in a room and being set down.  The face was frozen in its silent terror and the hands that carried it looked a lot like his.  He was sure they were his hands.  What had he done?  Was it just a dream?  No, not a dream.  Dreams don't leave blood all over the inside of your car.  It seemed like his memory was coming back quicker.  Suddenly, he didn't want to remember anymore.

Eddie remembered waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of Candell coming into the room.  She had another man with her and she was holding him up on her shoulder as she walked him to the bed.  As he landed on the bed, the other man looked over at Eddie.

"Hey lady, you didn't say anything about anything, you know, like, nah lady I ain't into strange stuff.  I thought you an me were just going to, you know, have a little fun."

"Oh, we'll have some fun." Candell had said before throwing a rope over to Eddie.  "Tie him up good" she had ordered.

For some reason Eddie had felt like he had no choice but to do what Candell told him to and so he tied up the man.  After binding the man, Eddie remembered looking at Candell and seeing a smile creep across her face as she looked at Eddie.

"Now, we are going to have some fun." Candell had told Eddie as she smiled at her prisoner.

Eddie shook his head vigorously to wake himself out of the memory.  What the hell? he thought.  He started walking back and forth around the rest area.  Just walking and thinking.  Walking and not wanting to think.  He wasn't sure he wanted to remember anymore if the memories were real.  He had recognized the man he had tied up as the head that the hands had placed in the room.  It seemed like it was too real not to be a true memory.

He felt tired again suddenly and walked over to a tree and laid down in the shade. As he slept, the dreams returned and his nap was not a peaceful one.
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Edler opened the door to the main bathroom and flipped on the lights.  He instantly turned away from the scene and and held his breath, trying to keep his breakfast from coming up.  He looked at the tech and the photographer, shook his head, then turned to face the scene again.

There was a hand placed as though turning on the water in the sink.  Two feet, cut off at the ankle, stood on a towel on the floor just outside the tub.  The toilet was stuffed with upper and lower arms, disconnected from each other and the legs, cut into four pieces as the arms had been were floating in a tub full of red water.  The walls were splattered with blood along with the ceiling.  Obviously, this was where the crime had taken place.

Edler turned to leave the bathroom and go outside for some fresh air, leaving the tech and photographer to do their job.  As he walked through the room he instructed the techs if to come outside to talk to him about anything they found, at least until he got his head clear and had come to terms with what he was dealing with here.

After processing what he had seen, Edler began the walk to the office of the motel to talk to the manager hoping to find out who had been in the room the night before.  The manager was more than willing to help, excited because nothing like this had ever happened in the county as far as he could remember and here he was, right in the middle of it.  He began to answer Edler's questions before the detective even had a chance to ask them.

"Yes sir, there was two of em.  I got the register right here, now it was about seven last night when they pulled in, let's see ... umm ... a Rick and Wanda White, yes sir, Rick and Wanda White. that's what it says here.  They seemed like a pretty nice couple, her hanging on his arm and such.  I remember they went to the room to put there stuff in there before walking over there to the cafe for dinner I suppose.  They were in there an hour or so, maybe an hour and a half.  I got lots of time to observe what people do around here you know, not a lot else going on.  Anyways, they come out of the cafe and then go back to the room.  Don't know why, but they were there about an hour or so, and then they went to the bar next to the cafe.  They were in the bar for a long time.  The bar don't close until three or three thirty depending on the crowd or how tired old Joe is.  Joe is the bartender, you might want to talk to him maybe but he doesn't have the memory I have.  Anyways, I had to go back to the back room to do some paper work, end of the month you know, I have to turn in reports to the owners in Atlanta every month so that they know the place is still open and doin good business.  Anyways, I am back in the room catching up on the paper work until about, well must have been between two thirty or three and I come out here to check things over, take a look see to be sure everything is in order and such and I looked over there at their room and Mrs. White, well I am assuming she was Mrs. White, not sure if they were married or not, but anyway she is having to help him into the room.  He must have drunk a lot because he could hardly stand and she was carrying him to the room holding him up.  After she got the door shut I figured I should head to bed myself and so I did.  Didn't hear anything more until Nora, Nora is the housekeeper here, well I hear Nora let out such a scream and I looked up and Nora was running over here yelling at me to call you guys.... so I did.  Then I walked over to the room ... tell you what, I saw the TV and that was enough for me, I figured you guys can take care of the rest, so I came back here to wait on you.  Sent Nora home.  She was really shook up and wouldn't be worth a nickel the rest of the day.  I doubt if I could have even gotten her to go into another room to clean it after what she saw in the White's room.  Rick and Wanda White.... yes sir, that was their names.  I haven't seen Mrs. White this morning, she got off to somewhere in that Chevy they were driving... I mention they were driving a Chevy?  Well they were not sure what model or anything, Ford man myself, but it was a Chevy of some sort. ... well I guess that's about it, about all I know...." and he fell silent, staring at Edler as if waiting for a question.

Edler looked at the manager with vacant eyes and shook his head.  He felt like he owed it to the manager to ask at least one question.

Edler sighed and without looking up asked "What color was this Chevy?"

"Blue.  Not dark blue but not powder blue either.  I guess a lighter color of blue.  Maybe a sky blue?  somewhere between dark blue and light blue... you know... blue."

"I don't see a license plate number in the register.  Aren't you suppose to take that information when someone checks in?"

The manager looked around as if he had been caught in a crime himself.  "Well, she said couldn't remember the plate number.  Told em to come back and give it to me later.  I figured it would be okay."

"She?  The guy didn't come in here?"

"Nah," the manager pointed outside the window, "He stayed out to have a smoke while she registered."

"Thanks" Edler said as he turned to walk back to the motel room.  Although he felt like his head was spinning from the rapid fire talk of the manager, he had to hand it to him, he did a good job of observing.

"Found the poor sap's I.D." yelled one of the techs to Edler as he approached.  "Apparently he is a Richard A. White from Wakeeney, Kansas."

"What Kansas?"

"Wakeeney." the tech answered.  "I know, I never heard of it either.  Good thing is that this Wakeeney may be such a small place we won't have too much trouble tracing footprints from there to here."

Edler reached in his car and picked up the radio to tell Marla, the dispatcher at the Highway Patrol Office to put out an all points bulletin on a blue Chevy possibly with Kansas plates on it.  Marla said she would do it right away and he heard her voice come back over the radio putting out the APB for the car.

The crime scene crew had removed all the body parts by now so Edler felt comfortable going into the room.  He walked around slowly looking at everything his eyes landed on and then started going over evidence that the team had collected.  Three sets of prints, one type of blood and various other things.  There weren't any drugs, but the ashtray was filled with cigarette butts.  From the look of the furniture in the room it did not look like a struggle of any kind had taken place.  He found it curious and began to process the knowledge he had in his brain as to what might have happened.  This could be a tough case.
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OKAY .... well I think I wrote enough to show myself that I can write fiction.  I will say this though, it is a bit tougher writing fiction than it is writing non-fiction.  You have to make things up.  I understand you can draw from your personal experiences to write about things that never happened but it is much easier to just write down facts as you understand them to be.  It is easier to tell a story that actually happened to me.  For those who have read my blog over the years, you probably come away thinking a lot of the time that I stretched the facts a bit, almost to the point of actually being fiction.  Guilty.  I realize I do that and I do it intentionally most of the time.  Keeps people wondering how much of what I write is virtual fact.  Writing fiction wears me out.

So to my readers, I gave you a pretty good start so that if you want you can finish it for me.  I admit the head on the television MAY have crossed the line a bit and if I were to actually finish this thing, I would probably take that out.

I started writing this over a month ago.  I haven't touched it in at least two and a half weeks.  So if you have the desire to finish it because you can't stand an unfinished story, be my guest.

Have fun.