Ramblin’ 5/10/17

I’m currently working on a Dum Dum. The sucker! Some call these tasty treats lollipops. We did not refer to them as such in Lower Alabama when I was growing up, We called them suckers. That’s what they shall remain in my frame of reference.

We did not call our tasty carbonated beverages soda or, God forbid, pop, either. They were “Co-Colas.” It didn’t matter if the drink was a Pepsi, RC, Dr. Pepper, or “Big” Orange. It was a “Co-Cola.” I will have to admit that I picked up on the term soda while we were residing in the beautiful Hudson Valley area of Upstate New York. My fellow Southerners can penalize me for that.

Speaking of colloquialisms, as some of you know, I have immersed myself in the crime mystery novels of the incomparable James Lee Burke. And I will continue to lavish praise on his brilliant prose and stunning imagery every chance I get. “Hit” don’t get no better.

Anyway, the Louisiana and Cajun colloquialisms I’ve learned in his Dave Robicheaux series are just wonderful. “Podna,” “Cher,” “Making groceries,” “Dat,” “Dem,”  “Neutral ground,” and “Fais do do” among them. (Look, ’em up, you!)

The omission of the letter “H” in Cajun speech is something I love. Thing becomes “t’ing” and mouth becomes “mout’,” for instance.

And now we have Canned Heat’s “Goin’ Up the Country” playing on this setlist composed by Apple Music.

It takes me back to an early scene in the Woodstock movie. When that song comes on  my mind immediately see’s  thousands of hippies descending on Max Yasgur’s farm in New Bethel/White Lake, New York. Volkswagen vans, peace signs, tie dyes, head bands, joints, and nuns flashing peace signs.

The power of association.

By the way, BTW in today’s texting/desrtuction of the King’s English world, the setlist is entitled “What are Earth’s Favorite Songs?” Some of its features… “Mother Nature’s Son,” “Big Yellow Taxi,” “Green River,” “After the Gold Rush,” and “Paradise.”

The one that really struck me, thus far, is one by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. It is a medley of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” with “When You Wish Upon a Star” and some other stuff thrown in there. He plays the ukulele. And it brought tears to my eyes.

The power of association. Words. Tunes. Sounds. Smells.

Let’s play some “first word(s) that come to your mind.”

Okay! I’ll provide the words and you make the association.

Music… Love… Hate… Sucker… Rain… Work… Bun… Peace… God.

How’d you do wid dat, you?

Is it summer at your locale yet? It is here at 116 Sundown Way in beautiful Acworth, Gawja. The high is expected to hit around 86 today and 89 tomorrow. 80% chance of rain Thursday, though.

And last weekend? The most miserable night I’ve ever attempted to spend outdoors at an event. And it wasn’t Legion Field in December. It was Hotlanta in MAY!

A dear friend came up from Alabammy, got the four of us a driver for the evening, an Escalade SUV, and took us to see Chris Stapleton. It was 40 something degrees (don’t know what it was with wind chill) with swirling winds and rain that cut us down to the bone!

We got there at the end of the second opening act’s last couple of songs and could only make it through one song by Chris and his band. “Might As Well Get Stoned.” Tell me about it.

But, we wound up at Wild Wing Cafe, in Alpharetta, and then back to 116. A good time was had by all in spite of the brutal “cold and damp” ($1 to Simon and Garfunkel).

Wow! There’s a song I wouldn’t have necessarily thought I would like. It was will. i. am’s “S.O.S.”

And now here’s one by the Friends of Distinction! For all of you out there in radioland. “Grazing in the Grass!” Can you dig it?

That’s my last one for you good folks!

Laissez les bon temps roulez!

Peace out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ramblin’ 4/20/17 (And the Summer of ’73)

Have mercy! It’s been far too long since we rambled! The truth of the matter is that I have been doing a whole lot of reading (James Lee Burke) and very little writing. I need to do both. We shall strive to do better.

It’s April 20th or 4/20. 4/20 is a huge day for many who partake of cannabis sativa. Here is an article that seeks to trace the origins of  this “high” holy day.

*Disclaimer*  The editorial staff at Ramblin’ in no way condones the use of mind altering substances. But if one chooses to do so… be cool. My apologies to Jeff Sessions.

And what has Apple Music conjured up for us today? Rock Hits: 1973.

1973. Whew! That was the year that was. It started with my second attempt to master an academic agenda at Auburn University, which also failed for a second time, and ended with the University of Alabama being upset by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Sugar Bowl on 12/31. Yes, the Tide was a 7-point-favorite and there were many of us in Wilcox County who lost a goodly sum of money on that contest. I won’t name names but you know who you are.

Sigh.

From mid-March through mid-September of ’73 I was a disc jockey at WMFC AM radio in the “Hub of Southwest Alabama”, Monroeville. Six days a week. Sunday through Friday. I went on the air at 6AM and completed my shift at “high” noon.

We opened with gospel music and a Church of Christ preacher and then news, weather, and sports. At 7:08 AM we went to pop music. Suffice it to say, the powers-that-be did not care for Led Zeppelin at 7:08. Fine. Next day, ‘Shout Bamalama’ by Wet Willie. They didn’t like that either.

They also didn’t like me smoking cigarettes in the control room, speeding away, while I drummed my fingers and waited for the preachers to conclude their devotionals. There was also a Southern Baptist minister at 9 AM. I don’t think he liked me. His daughter did, though.

I was summarily dismissed from my position in September. I won’t go into details. You’ll have to speak to me personally about that little “misunderstanding.”

Sigh.

To my knowledge there was no official “4/20” celebration in the “Hub City.” If you came to 328 Lazenby St. during those days I can assure you there was one. There would have been on 4/21, 6/22 and 7/23, as well.

Also there were cattle owners in Peterman and Tunnel Springs that were puzzled by a few “long hairs” so interested in their pastures in those times.

Again, details will have to be obtained form moi.

The Psychedelic Summer of ’73 she was.

*See disclaimer above*

Some of those songs from that eventful time? Money, Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting, We’re an American Band, Kodachrome, Live and Let Die, Tie a Yellow Ribbon, and Stuck in the Middle With You.

And so, late September found me running hard on my $35 per week unemployment check, falling for a young lady down there, and, then, back to Camden, AL and reuniting with my homies. As one, now prominent citizen, said as we were riding around and sipping Schlitz one October afternoon, “Welcome back to society.”

Auburn went 6-5 that fall. It was the year they went to an 11 game schedule. It was also the first year that freshman began to play, again, on the varsity. I attended the Chattanooga, Ole Miss, LSU, Houston, and Florida games. They went 3-2 with the losses coming to LSU and Florida.

My mother talked me into going back to school at Troy and I applied there and was accepted late that autumn.

It was there, in the dog days of the summer of ’75 (which was becoming far too similar to the summer of ’73) that I found myself, late on the night of August 1, prostrate at the altar of the Episcopal church in Troy begging God to forgive me and come into my life.

He did.

I was, five years later, ordained as a Southern Baptist minister. As one of my fraternity brothers told me several years after the ‘event’, “Bird, they still talk about it down in Troy.” I wonder what those long-suffering preachers who, patiently, tolerated my presence in the WMFC control room would think about that. God bless them.

Amazing Grace… truly.

May that same grace be yours today.

 

 

 

 

Ramblin’ 10/11/16

Welcome back to Ramblin’!

It really feels like fall now. 71 degrees with a high of 75 on the way, and a low tonight of 47. Leaves are beginning to cover the side, fenced-in, yard. And Auburn is ranked. All is well!

I began reading Steve Spurrier’s autobiography, Head Ball Coach-My Life in Football, yesterday. A few chapters in and it is vintage Spurrier. Good stuff.

The book I completed last week, prior to starting on Spurrier’s, was one by crime-mystery novelist James Lee Burke. The Tin Roof Blowdown. It’s from his Dave Robicheaux series. Excellent writing. Brilliant prose. Intricate, compelling plot lines. Superb characters.

The Tin Roof Blowdown takes place in the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans, New Iberia, Lafayette, and environs.

Highly recommended.

On the old Apple Music turntable, Lester Young and Billie Holiday. The album is entitled ‘A Musical Romance.’ Also brilliant.

Backing up to bring Auburn into the conversation again. They have an open date this Saturday. That will leave our focus on the SEC at Knoxville and Oxford. Alabama-Tennessee and Ole Miss-Arkansas.

Me and Paul will be having near and dear Bama friends over for for the occasion. I look forward to a great day and night of football, food, and music. An adult beverage or two might be consumed as well.

Birthdays today include Eleanor Roosevelt, Daryl Hall, Luke Perry, Elmore Leonard (speaking of great crime-mystery writers), and rapper U-God of Wu Tang Clan.

Yes, I have been to a Wu Tang Clan concert. They opened for Rage Against The Machine. How did I find myself at this event you might ask. It was 1997 and I took my son, Luke, to what was then Lakewood Amphitheater. It was an experience to be sure. People running around bumping into one another, et cetera. Old Dirty Bastard and all.

RIP ODB.

I was just scanning my Apple Music recommendations for today and under ‘Albums’ spotted one by UB 40.

UB 40 covered my favorite Neil Diamond song which is Red, Red Wine. UB 40’s cut was, of course, done in reggae style.

Another aside involving Luke. I was driving him to school at Lee-Scott Academy in Auburn back in 1989. I was then the retail store manager for Tiger Rags (shout out to Don, Charlie, and Jerry!). We were listening to a Columbus pop/rock station and they played the UB 40 cover of Red, Red Wine. The DJ followed the song with non-sensical lyrics of his own. “Red, red wine I can see your fanny. Red, red wine you got a hole in you panty.”

It’s all about those moments. Ain’t it?

Speaking of moments, I had one that knocked me for a loop back on September 15th. I had a bout of Transient Global Amnesia or, duh, TGA. Click the link and check it out.

It was scary. And I can’t imagine how awful it was for Melodye. I didn’t know what day it was or who the president was. I didn’t remember Auburn was playing Texas A&M in two days.

Mel had me on the phone and I asked her, “Paul, what is all this A&M stuff doing on the table? Are we playing football?” (I keep programs, cups, and paraphernalia from the coming Saturday’s opponent on the kitchen table the week of that game.)

She knew, then, we were in big trouble. It seemed so but all’s well that ends well. TGA is, essentially, harmless. ‘Twas NO fun though.

And thanks again for your thoughts and prayers. Your calls, texts, and well wishes.

Back in the saddle with ‘Ramblins’ again! It’s been far too long.

Ok! Apple Music now twangin’ out a ‘My Favorites Mix’ that they rustled up for me. All country. The last two songs were Hag’s ‘Somewhere Between’ and Conway’s ‘To See My Angel Cry’.

Now? Kristofferson’s ‘Why Me Lord’. That’s a great “hymn.”

Wow! How poignant!

“Why me Lord, what have I ever done
To deserve even one
Of the pleasures I’ve known
Tell me Lord, what did I ever do
That was worth loving you
Or the kindness you’ve shown.
Lord help me Jesus, I’ve wasted it so
Help me Jesus I know what I am
Now that I know that I’ve need you so
Help me Jesus, my soul’s in your hand.
Tell me Lord, if you think there’s a way
I can try to repay
All I’ve taken from you
Maybe Lord, I can show someone else
What I’ve been through myself
On my way back to you.
Lord help me Jesus, I’ve wasted it so
Help me Jesus I know what I am
Now that I know that I’ve need you so
Help me Jesus, my soul’s in your hand.”
Amen.
(Photo me & Paul with our Bama friends, Terry and Lyndie Sims)

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)