Ramblin’ 8/16/16

Last week I mentioned the Woodstock Festival as High Holy Days, celebrated here at 116 Sundown Way, and now those days are upon us. We are in Day Two of the festivities, the day it began to rain. And it’s thundering, and about to rain. Right here. Right now. Seems fitting somehow.

Musically, at Woodstock, yesterday was Richie Havens, Arlo Guthrie, and Joan Baez, among others. Today features Country Joe McDonald (“Gimme an F!”), Santana, Canned Heat, Mountain, The Grateful Dead, and CCR .

Here are some festival facts I thought you might enjoy:

  • 1 Diabetic coma
  • 2 Festival births
  • 3 Tracheotomies performed
  • 6 Months preparation time before the festival
  • 15 Price for an ounce of marijuana (in dollars)
  • 18 Price of admission for three days (in dollars)
  • 18 Number of doctors who treated 6,000 patients
  • 20 Amount of bail bond for those held in possession of LSD (in THOUSANDS of dollars) DAY-UM!!!
  • 40 Shortest waiting time between acts (in minutes)
  • 80 Width of the stage (in feet)
  • 90 Percentage of festival attendees smoking marijuana
  • 346 Number of New York City off-duty policemen hired, joined by 100 local sheriffs, several hundred State Troopers and deputies from 12 counties
  • 346 Number of cops who walked off their jobs on the first day of the festival
  • 450 cows unfenced for three days with the campers (Mooooooo)
  • 2,500 1989 price of posters used to advertise the original event (in dollars)
  • 8,000 Price paid in 1989 for an uncollected festival ticket
  • 30,000 Number of sandwiches prepared by the Women’s Group of the Jewish Community Center of Monticello and distributed by the Sisters of the Convent of St. Thomas
  • 186,000 tickets sold
  • 250,000 Number of people who never made it to the site
  • 500,000 Frankfurters and hamburgers consumed on the first day

There’s more but you get the gist of it.

Impact of the festival… immeasurable.

I just returned home from running a couple of errands. Picked up a James Lee Burke novel. I don’t read a lot of fiction, but I stumbled upon his work a couple of years ago and I really loved it. Louisiana guy. This one, as were the other two I read, are from a series centered around a detective named Dave Robicheaux. Very intense stuff and written with equal parts beauty and horror.

The one I got today, with store credit, is entitled ‘The Tin Roof Blowdown’. It’s set in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina. Can’t wait to jump right in! The previous two I read were ‘Neon Rain’ and ‘Heaven’s Prisoners’.

I haven’t been to NOLA since the 2005 Sugar Bowl. It’s been far too long.

My bride and I have attended all of the Sugar Bowls our Auburn Tigers have participated in except the one following the 1971 season, when Pat Sullivan and Terry Beasley were seniors. Oklahoma, under head coach Chuck Fairbanks, whipped us like a red-headed stepchild. Glad I missed that one.

It would be great if Auburn made that New Year’s Six game this year, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you. On the other hand, don’t count us out. You never know.

Truck Drivin’ Classics playing on Apple Music as we ramble along. Six Days On the Road, Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses, East Bound and Down, and Guitar Town, to name a few of ’em.

My favorite truck drivin’ song is ‘Willin’, by Little Feat. Linda Ronstadt did a great cover of that one.

A quick ‘Willin’ story. I was at a Pak Mail store, about eleven years ago, near our house with some files to ship to a colleague of mine, Alice Vargas. I began to quietly sing a line from the words to ‘Willin’, “Dallas, Dallas Alice…” The lovely and spirited brunette, Carmen Park, who was preparing my package blurted out, “A Little Feat song!” And we connected. From that day to this, we have been fast friends. Even though she moved to Los Angeles, we remain in touch. We’ve tried to figure out past lives we might have shared and the forces of  God and nature that brought us together. One of our best theories is a life as French peasants.

The last time I saw her was when Auburn played Florida State in the BCS National Championship Game. Melodye, Me and Paul, spent an entire afternoon and evening with Carmen as our tour guide to LA. When we went out to the Rose Bowl, she exclaimed, “Y’all are family!”, after a few exchanges of ‘War Eagle!” with Tiger fans. We ate Thai food. We also drove by the Whiskey A Go Go, the Rainbow Room, the Chateau Marmont, and detoured into Laurel Canyon. A great day! I miss you, c!

Friends like this are rare, people. I hope every one of you has at least one, and that you treasure them dearly.

“I been warped by the rain
Driven by the snow
I’m drunk and dirty, don’t ya know
And I’m still, willin’
Out on the road late at night
Seen my pretty Alice in every headlight
Alice, Dallas Alice

I’ve been from Tucson to Tucumcari
Tehachapi to Tonapah
Driven every kind of rig that’s ever been made
Driven the back roads so I wouldn’t get weighed
And if you give me weed, whites, and wine
And you show me a sign
I’ll be willin’ to be movin’…”

This old, retired road warrior will see y’all again soon.

Grace and peace. (Patti Smith sings us out)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book It!

This will probably be the last thing I write for Campus Pressbox until July. July will also be a very light month as far as writing here is concerned. August is when the heavy hitting begins again. We have slowed the pace down, on our sports site, but August will be here before we know it, and things will then begin to rock. SEC Media Days will be behind us and fall camp will be before us. Pace yourselves, folks. It’s coming!

So what do we do with ourselves until then?

Read. No, not on social media. Get actual books. Hold them in your hand. Feel them. Smell them. Read them. Here are thirteen recommendations, from a variety of types, and in no particular order. All of the books listed below have had a big impact on me.

For fun, I’ll tie a college football team to each title so we can keep the sports theme going for all you fans. Some titles will beg for me to depart from the SEC. See if you can decipher the connections when it’s not obvious.

Fear and Loathing: On The Campaign Trail ’72 – Hunter S. Thompson. The Gonzo journalist is my favorite and this might very well be my top choice of his. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a great, iconic work of American literature, and it gets all the press. But The Good Doctor’s take on the Nixon-McGovern presidential race is also essential reading, in my humble opinion. Whittier College.

The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien. Another marvelous novel that resides, somewhat, in the shadow of Tolkien’s opus, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I was assigned The Hobbit as my first book to read for freshman English 101 at Auburn. It was a game-changer which then led, of course, to my reading of the trilogy. Alabama. Hint, their coach.

Brother to a Dragonfly – Will D. Campbell. Campbell is my hero, and his life and work had as much, or possibly more, influence on my life than anyone else. This is his masterpiece. We old renegade Baptist preachers have to stick together. Georgia Tech.

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test – Tom Wolfe. From The New York Times’ Eliot Fremont-Smith, “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is not simply the best book on the hippies, it is the essential book… the pushing, ballooning heart of the matter… Vibrating dazzle.” We old hippies have to stick together. Sorry that I have to step out of the SEC, but this one just for the University of California at Berkeley.

On The Road – Jack Kerouac. Not stepping far from the previous Tom Wolfe recommendation. Another essential American novel. Brilliant, lucid, disturbed, wild, cavorting, mesmerizing. We old road warriors have to stick together. Mississippi State.

Ball Four – Jim Bouton. Groundbreaking, rule-breaking, eye-opening, code-of-honor shattering book about life inside the New York Yankees organization back in the 60’s. Bouton pitched for the Bronx Bombers back then. Sparky Lyle’s, The Bronx Zoo, would follow in that tradition. Fordham University.

Mockingbird’s Song, Hettie Keller’s 10 Maxims For Peace And Happiness – Arnold Heflin. Arnold is a friend of mine and an Auburn graduate. He wrote this book, a platonic love story, based on a true story, his story. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry and it might just change your life. It should be made into a movie. Beautiful. Auburn.

They Came To Nashville – Marshall Chapman. Another friend of mine. Required reading if you’re a fan of country music. Marshall interviewed Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, and Willie Nelson, along with eleven other Nashville singer-songwriters, and she shares their stories in this book that you will not be able to put down. Vanderbilt. Duh!

Skinny-dipping, Wildcat Wine, Bone Valley, and Sweetheart Deal – Claire Matturo. Claire and I studied journalism together at Troy State University, now known as Troy University. We also lived in the same trailer park for a brief period, and a good time was had by all. I am not a huge fan of fiction but this series, featuring protagonist/lawyer Lilly Belle Rose Cleary, is great fun. Smart, sharp-witted and sometimes spine-tingling crime fiction with great characters. Anybody see Kentucky in there?

A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole. “A corker, an epic comedy, a rumbling, roaring, avalanche of a book.” The Washington Post. “A masterwork… the novel astonishes with its inventiveness… it is nothing less than grand comic fugue.” The New York Times Book Review. Ole Miss.

So, take a break from social media. Try to put behind you, if only for a brief period, the madness that seeks to engulf us each and every day. Relax and immerse yourself in some entertaining, inspiring, and excellent reading this summer. And let me hear from you. Tell me what you thought about these great literary works.

Peace.

But don’t forget, only 78 days remain until South Carolina and Vanderbilt kick it off. 😉

 

Ramblin’ 8/9/16

Coming straight to you from a brand new iMac with the 4K retina and all. First blog typed on this one. Wow! Should have upgraded before now! Oh, the speed!

Speed. That’s what Kam Martin, true freshman running back who transferred from Baylor to Auburn, has…in spades. He was the #1 running back coming out of the great state of Texas. He WILL see time on the field of play this fall. Hey! First scrimmage today! Probably still in progress.

Carolina Chocolate Drops playing on Apple Music. Amazing music! Check ’em out!

Love this new keyboard and wireless mouse, as well.

Anyone remember Mighty Mouse? “Here I come to save the day! Mighty Mouse is on his way!” I loved Andy Kaufman’s use of that song in one of his bits. He just played the vinyl of and pantomimed the lyrics. Mercy, he was funny. Brilliant! I mis him. RIP, Andy.

Miss Andy Griffith also.

And Don Knotts. Speaking of brilliant. No time or space to touch on of all the great Barney Fife moments here.  A quick one. Barney had Gomer with him on a stakeout. Remember their signal?  “Hooty Hoo. Hooty hoo.” I still use that one a lot. And, “Here at The Rock.”

Steve Spurrier’s autobiography comes out at the end of this month, the 30th, I believe. A must read. As is Bruce Springsteen’s, for me. It releases on September 27th. Just discovered the beauty of The Boss a few months back. All in.

Ray Wylie Hubbard now up on Apple Music. His album, A: Enlightenment B: Endarkenment (Hint There Is No C). Just great, as is all his work. One of my favorites on this record is Drunken Poet’s Dream.  It’s coming on! “I got a woman who’s wild as Rome. She likes being naked and gazed upon. She crosses a bridge and sets it on fire. She lands like a bird on a telephone wire. I’m gonna holler. I’m gonna scream. I’m gonna get us some mescaline, then I’m gonna rhyme that with gasoline. A drunken poet’s dream…”

I get it. Been there.

Here comes a SEGWAAAAAYYYY… Since hallucinogens are on the table, the 47th anniversary of Woodstock begins Monday. It’s observed at 116 Sundown Way. High Holy days. From the opening with Canned Heat’s ‘Going Up The Country’, to the nuns flashing peace signs, to  Richie Havens’ improvised opening set, to Hendrix on Monday morning. A thing of beauty. They pulled it off under the most adverse of circumstances. Three Days of Peace and Music. It can be done. A snapshot into a true moment of grace. Like the Dead sings, “Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.”Amen.

Here’s a blog I did on the epiphany I had when I saw the Woodstock movie for the first time as a freshman at Auburn in September of 1970. War Eagle to that!

The Braves are playing well. Took two out of three in St. Louis, of all places. Beat the Brewers, 4-3, in 12 innings last night. They’ve been hitting, including taters, over the last couple of weeks. They’ll get there in a couple of years. A plethora, remember that word from last week?, of young talent in their system.

Guess what just popped up on my phone? ‘Inside The AU Tigers – Scrimmage News & Notes.’ How about a teaser? “Sean White threw a touchdown pass to Marcus Davis. Jeremy Johnson hit Ryan Davis on a long pass play to near the goal line and then scored on a keeper. Franklin threw a short pass to Jason Smith who took it the distance for a touchdown…”

Football! Received a note pad from the University of Iowa with a picture of one of their all star candidates on the front, Desmond King. He’s s defensive back  and a candidate for the Bronco Nagurski, Jim Thorpe and Walter Camp awards, among others. As a member of the FWAA (Football Writers Association of America) I get to vote on those things as well as their All-America team, College Football Hall of Fame. It’s fun and something I dreamed of as a kid. I always wanted to be a sportswriter or a sportscaster. DJ too. That’s two out of three. Now, let’s find me an event to call the play-by-play on.

Grace and peace (and music).

 

Ramblin’ 8/2/16

I went to the dentist, today, for my regular cleaning, x-rays, etc. All is well. It really helps when you have a hygienist that is gentle, swift, and conversant. Her name is Leah, which is my daughter’s name. Actually, a pleasant visit. But, my guess is everyone has hellish dentist stories, as do I.

I’m listening to an old Willie Nelson album on Apple Music. 1967 old. ‘The Party’s Over And Other Great Willie Nelson Songs.’ Amen.

Fall camp begins on The Plains TODAY! Hot diggity dank! Column to follow on Thursday.

Back to Willie. He did a duet with Tracy Nelson, no relation, many, many moons ago. After the Fire is Gone. Conway and Loretta did it as did many others. Spend the .99 and get it. Killer!

The Party’s Over always makes me think of Dandy Don Meredith and Monday Night Football. Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford, may they rest in peace. Such great stuff. Howard introduced many of us to the term “plethora.” As in, “A Plethora of wide receivers.”

Was Rush Limbaugh actually on MNF a few years back or was that just a nightmare? I didn’t watch it for  years. Didn’t watch much in the way of pro sports for quite some time. My NFL now consist of the Panthers, some Falcons, and the playoffs.

Cosell’s autobiography is quite good.

We’ve been watching Fargo, the FX series, for the past three nights. I absolutely loved the movie, but I love most anything the Coen brothers do. Billy Bob Thornton is great in the TV series.

Billy Bob is from Malvern, AR. Arkansas was in my territory, from ’93-’96, when I was working for AAA. Malvern had one motel, The Trout Motel. One of those old ‘mom and pop’ motor courts. It was clean. I love those old motels, particularly along old Route 66 in New Mexico and Arizona.

Now it’s chains. Everything is a chain. Food, beverage, drugs, retail, blah blah blah. We used to go to Liddell’s, Wetherbee’s, Joe C. Williams, Matthews Hardware, Albritton Drugs, Ratcliffe’s, et al, in Camden, AL. Same in Selma, often on Thursday afternoons  when Camden was shut down, or Saturdays. There was Lilienthal’s, Jackson’s, Brown Drugstore, Swift Drugstore, The Toy Arcade, and the Selma Del restaurant, among others.

Now ‘The Best of the British Invasion’ on Apple music… ‘She Loves You’ up first!

Anyway… chains. I try to avoid chain restaurants, unless it’s a rare “cheat” meal at a fast food place. It’s tough to avoid Target or Walmart. I’ll start with Goodwill first.

One chain I did love going to was Howard Johnson’s in Montgomery on the south side of town. I always ordered a ‘grilled frankfurter on a toasted bun,’ and either Swiss Chocolate Almond or Pistachio ice cream. Pistachio seemed so exotic. Went to the Paramount and Empire movie theaters up in the Capital City.

Hey! We had not one but TWO movie theaters in Camden, AL! The Alco and The Baggett. We’d stay all day on Saturdays usually watching either ‘cowboy’ or ‘scary’ movies.

Once I went to see ‘Frankenstein’s Daughter’ with Rich Jones (RIP, brother) one afternoon at the Alco. In one scene, the girl who transformed into Frankenstein’s daughter was sitting at a vanity and all of a sudden the camera zoomed in as she turned around, fully transformed. I fried like an egg,  jumped from my seat, and hauled butt to the concession area, screaming all the way. Rich came up there, got me, and talked me into going back in. He assured me the worst was over. I remain terrified at the thought.

And, oh! It was the ‘picture show’ and not the movies or the theater. Also it was ‘funny papers’ instead comics.

Something else just occurred to me, we, occasionally had a magician or some other type of live entertainment at the ‘picture show,’ if I’m remembering correctly. And the concessions were a pittance, as was the price of admission. A quarter for me to get in until I was twelve and then it went to fifty cents. A dime would do for your snacks. If you had a quarter you were in high cotton.

Wow! Today took a nostalgic turn. I’ll leave you with ‘The Game of Love’ playing in the background. Can anyone name the artist without cheating?

Ok… you can cheat now.

Grace and peace.