Monday, June 30, 2014

Hostile Natives

What consoles me in the furnace*of my isolation is the notion I that I am not a rebel/malcontent/misanthrope, but a weary traveler passing through hostile territory such as the original prairie schooner captains were when the Apache war cry made them fear the mornings. A case could be made that the difference between the two is naught in the eyes of the Comanche, but to my dreaming mind lost in obscurity and regret, the difference is substantial. The police may raid camp Oggy in the morning and I might be unsettled by the ramifications of this, but is it a slight on my morality, should shame accompany my convictions?
If we examine the oxen owning migrant from Tennessee in 1820, weathering dust and scorn, hunger and deprivation, animals dying in the heat and children withering like poisoned he much different? I am adrift and lost and wandering and have grey on my chin and white on my chest and my sleep is often interrupted by the owl of my memory questioning my past. Could I have said something different to make change the direction of the dry creek of romance? Probably not, I tell myself, and it's all irrelevant anyway. Marriage would not make me happier, but my misery would be more predictable.

*It's 114 degrees in my van.

Oggy's Latest Word on Gun Control

I think I have a good approach this time because it is both condescending and also pseudo-enlightened. I get an ear full of 2nd amendment nuts quite a bit in Texas and I'm always looking for a way to shut them up because there is no way a civilized nation would indiscriminately sell assault rifles and grenades. Yes, the law allows it but the seller has the last responsibility. I've seen people more guarded about selling their guitars. "I want it to go to a good home." A FUCKING GUITAR! But an assault rifle? "Shit, if the credit card company accepts the charge then you can wrap it up and take it home. I don't give a fuck what you do with it." AN ASSAULT RIFLE!
Someone wanted to buy my Original Vintage Honda Twinstar motorcycle to turn it into a cafe racer and I told him to get some chopped mufflers and stick them in his ass. And that was a crappy motorcycle but I have STANDARDS, which most gun sellers couldn't spell. So this is my latest piece of hand slapping to the lazy assholes who sell guns. It would be a supreme victory to piss one of them off so much that he guns me down in the street like a dog. "How dare you tell me to think for myself?" 
If I were trying to sell an assault rifle I would have so many requests and stipulations and demands and questions that the person would probably give up first. We'd have to go on a camping trip Baffin Island...we'd have to work in a homeless shelter for a year. All to give me an idea of what kind of person they are. If I still approved of them and trusted them at the end of the trial period I'd probably still not sell it to them because it's a frivolous possession. A hundred assault rifles will not protect you during the next apocalypse.
There's a particular professor here on campus that is going to get a copy of this stapled to his 2nd amendment rants that he has stapled to the wall.

Gun Rights Proponents win the debate not on the strength of their argument but by default. The Genie can not be put back in the bottle; guns are here to stay as 200 years of reckless trade ensures the worst criminal elements in America are likely armed. That status can't be overlooked and no legislation will fix it.

Gun control arguments are two centuries too late. Unlike drugs, which have a shelf life, guns and their deadly purpose are passed down for decades. Overturning the 2nd amendment to the Constitution would have no good effect for at least two generations. But those who see every gun empowered school massacre as predestined due to violence inherent in humans don't do their cause any favors. The status quo must change and since disarmament is now impossible, everyone must prepare to defend themselves. I accept that path but I'm not happy about it. It's a sign of failure that we've accepted a citizenry involved in an Arms Race against each other. There is one alternative but it involves self-reflection from the stubborn purveyors of deadly weapons so it's not likely to happen.

The problem won't be solved by a government deciding whom can buy what, but when sellers themselves set their own standards. Sellers don't want anyone regulating their trade, including themselves. They are lazy capitalists, buying low and selling high, ignoring the buyer's intent and focusing on the money. They engage not in "free" trade but in stupid trade. Gun dealers don't cause crime but they do fail to prevent it. They learned their crooked salesmanship ethics from tweaking meth dealers.

The cowardly sellers denounce every law regulating their enterprise but as soon as someone goes on a rampage with one of the guns they sold they immediately hide behind the tired excuse: "The buyer passed all required background checks...etc." Well, which is it? Are these sellers mature enough to make their own choices or do they require big daddy government to hold their hands and accept blame? They can't have it both ways and the bloody tradition of praying sellers exercise some judgement of their own is a complete failure. Like newly minted teenagers, they are so busy defending their right to be autonomous that they neglected to make up their own rules.

Next week: I will explain why media is a virtual Good Cop/Bad Cop campaign attacking your mental health. The working title is "Why The Media is Gang-Raping Your Grandmother's Corpse."

Tarantino Unchained

Django Unchained is a piece of shit movie. I knew it would be but I was curious how bad Tarantino's movies are lately. Even with a talented cast (a shameful 7 Oscar nominees) this movie sucked ass. The worst thing I could say about it is that it's a story that does not need to be told. Fundamentally, it's a Tarantino/Weinstein suck-fest/vanity project.

I'll wager good money the principals were stoned out of their minds throughout the entire writing and production process because no sober person would think the majority of that script was interesting. Really, ten minutes of conversation in a hideout? Ten minute Flashbacks to something that happened merely 3 minutes a scene that lasts 13 minutes? Is there an easier target than proto-KKK lynchers? Most of us used Junior High School to make our comic books about gratuitous violence but Tarantino waited for his 50s (and $100 million from Weinstein and Colombia). Painfully forced and irrelevant German and French dialogue? Exploding heads? This charmless movie really needed a dose of Will Smith humor (who wisely turned down the title role).

Tarantino's main attraction is his love of Sergio Leone...and he's been milking this fetish for 20 years. He enthusiastically loves good moves and can convince every stoned production chief that he can make a movie that demonstrates how enthusiastically he loves good movies. I can hear him saying, "Yes, it will be a derivative piece of shit, but I'll be stealing from the best." The emperor wears no clothes but as long as everyone in Hollywood is also naked then they can have a fuck-fest orgy of repulsive cinema all night long.

His movies do try to steal from the best, but fail. Tarantino gets in his own way and instead of an homage to a good movie we get another piece of shit that is basically all the parts that were edited out of the good movie. I was a little shocked to learn the retreat of three actors from minor roles actually made this tired film shorter when their roles were eliminated. Really? Tarantino originally imagined a longer piece of shit? What a boorish hand-job of a film, lacking coherence, accuracy, humanity, point, and restraint. I hated this trashy expose of Tarantino's ego and took no pleasure watching Tarantino's cliche cameo appearance blow up in an irrelevant and dragged out scene that was awful, awful, awful. I almost wished I were watching Kill Bill Part Fifty Million.

 I love Sergio Leone films also but that does not mean I should be making Leone tributes in the style of Leone. Tarantino has the Weinstein Company wrapped around his water bong so he does as he pleases. I really pray Daniel Day Lewis does not sell out one day and take the ridiculous money Tarantino must be offering to him for a role. Nothing is worth being directed by a stoned talentless hack. I forgive Ennio Morricone* for his soundtrack because Senor Morricone is a genius and his score stands apart from this hateful movie. In fact, his music is the closest Tarantino will ever get to Leone, by which I mean Morricone is still awesome and Tarantino has no talent but has the money to buy Morricone's time.

*After working on this film, composer Ennio Morricone said he would probably never again collaborate with Quentin Tarantino since he didn't like the way the writer/director "places music in his films without coherence" and "never giving enough time". Morricone and Tarantino had also worked together on three previous movies. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Do You Know The Way To San Jose?

I gave this Bacharach and David tune the Oggy treatment. It's also a true story that pains me to think about.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Community Service

With all the elderly in this area you would think there would be one luxury long term care facility that I could go to play their piano, talk about Nat King Cole, eat the leftover crackers, and all those other activities that make my community service so interesting. Well, I've done nothing but strike out and the latest attempt has me shaken and unnerved. I saw a building "Res Care" or something like that. Residential housing. Perfect. I park the van and ring the bell to enter. Through the window I see all kinds of mobile bodies in the hallway which is a good sign. A nurse opens the door along with setting off an ear-piercing alarm.
"Hi, I'm Oggy, is there an entertainment director?"
The nurse shakes her head and mumbles something in Spanish.
"Director de entertainment?" I say in Spanglish.

I am puzzled because there is always some kind of entertainment in these joints.
"Piano? I play piano."
The nurse looks off into the distance like I'm babbling. Then I glance down the hallway and briefly thought to myself..."Man, there are a lot of young rehab patients living here."
But why are they walking around? Normally the rehab patients have broken their necks or backs or have terminal cancer and are obviously wasting away. But these patients were robust...erect...walking and talking.
I spotted a nearby woman who looked Anglo, perhaps a visiting relative, so I asked, "Is there a piano...see, I play Jazz and old time songs on the piano and..."
The woman literally looked at me like she was a character in a movie where the hero stumbles into an abandoned mental institution. She cocked her head far to one side...then even farther...grotesquely far...her sweater looked like it was from 1993...her eyes were pretty but hollow and she did not communicate with the living. The shutter was clicking but there was no film in the camera. I thought, What the fuck kind of operation have I walked into?

I stood there awkwardly frowning. I'd never had such a bad feeling walking into a rehab hospital. Something felt wrong. I usually don't stare at the residents because they can't help being old and infirm, but this time I really looked at all the young people wandering through the halls and my heart sank. I was not in a rehab hospital because rehabilitation was not in the future for these patients. This was a group home for the mentally challenged and I was suddenly surrounded by a clawing hoard of Downs Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Rain Man Syndrome and God Have Mercy Syndrome. All traces of my desire to do good in the world, my noble ambitions and scarcely concealed narcissism vanished. I am selfish and only wanted to play Cole Porter songs for the silver hair set...and when it comes to really becoming a Patch Adams kind of savior to the spiritually malnourished I completely collapsed. I am no saint. I did not run out and get my guitar to play songs for this group of culturally starved inmates of their own mental prison. They had been farmed into this home, where they probably would never leave, because they had not committed a crime but could not take care of themselves. They were mostly adults in their 20s and while I projected my own sadness onto them (who in the world is more adrift than Oggy?) I did not feel comfortable singing songs for them.

The kids kind of clawed at me wondering if I was admitting myself or maybe I looked vaguely like someone who already lived there. It was like a scene from Night of The Living Dead except the only thing they wanted was to be stimulated. The nurse nodded as my expression gave away my sudden realization of where I was.
I backed away slowly and she opened the door for me. The patients all stood there gawking...I was escaping...but none dared follow me.

It was troubling moment.

Then I went to another home and walked the deserted halls. Found an old church piano in need of tuning in a dusty room with discarded Christmas decorations. A black janitor looked at me.
I said, "Does anyone play the piano to entertain people? I play Cole Porter."
He looked at me like I was crazy and went back to sweeping.

Thursday, June 26, 2014



Oggy Bleacher

WGA Registered: #1129922

Title: “Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed - Henry David Thoreau”
Walden Pond and the surrounding marshes and fields are silent. A single maple seed floats on the water near an area free of ice. A chipmunk scampers to the base of a pine tree and uncovers a buried acorn. A pine cone rests in a pile of snow.
Title: “Walden Pond. Concord, Massachusetts 1845”
Tracking away from the pond we soon focus on THOREAU’S BOOTS as they blaze a trail through the snow...20 yards, 40 yards, 100 yards...over a treeless meadow in the direction of the pond. Using a rope sling around his shoulders Thoreau drags behind him a long paper birch tree, stripped of its branches.
On the rope sling: the cotton rope rubs on the rough bark until it finally BREAKS, causing Thoreau to stumble to the ground. He lays there for a moment and then rolls over and looks at the sky, his breath steaming. We see his face for the first time, his long beard, his hair flowing from under a knit wool hat, the eyes of a man on a mission.
Thoreau is not yet 28 years old. He wears wool clothes, suspender straps, a torn (and mended) plaid shirt. He holds up his left hand to find he has IMPALED IT ON A STICK. He carefully cuts his glove off then holds his breath as he pulls the stick out of his palm. He stops the bleeding with a rag. Thoreau then stands and carefully ties the rope sling back on the tree.
Thoreau arrives at a small clearing near the pond. He drops the tree near some rough-cut lumber and surveying stakes that outline the foundation of his cabin. He moves to the smoldering campfire and throws some kindling on before blowing the embers back to life. He examines his hand in the firelight. The bleeding has stopped.
A breeze stirs in the pine trees. A deer looks up from a barren corn field. Thoreau walks to the shore, kneels, and splashes his face with water. Then he gently washes the puncture wound on his palm. A series of silent images slowly materialize on the water’s surface, gradually drawing Thoreau’s attention. These water-born images are accompanied by distant echoes of these past and future moments. The device will hereafter be known as the...
1. RALPH WALDO EMERSON lectures at the Harvard Lyceum.
2. ELLERY CHANNING throws a piece of paper at Thoreau’s back during a Harvard class.
3. MARGARET FULLER sits in a canoe on the Concord River. She reads to several children who are also in the canoe.
4. Henry’s older brother, JOHN THOREAU, stands on an exposed mountain slope, holding his hat on his head.
5. An image of a pine tree on a nearby dirt road.
Thoreau locks on this last image. As the vision comes into focus we are drawn in...
TITLE: 1834
A pair of old men, quintessential Yankees, shuffle along the dirt road near the pine tree. They are dressed in plain wool coats and take their time walking.
I tell you, it’s a sign of ill weathah.
(reading from a paper)
“Brits abolish slavery in West Indies!” Nothing ill ‘bout it.
Read between the lines. These freed slaves, where do you suppose they’ll go?
Back to Africa?
Not likely. Quick as I spit they’ll be in Boston working the docks, in Maine working the orchahds.
It’s too much change. This country’s had too much change.
Or not enough.
The old men shuffle past HENRY DAVID THOREAU, now age 17. Thoreau’s hair falls over his eyes, his face is smooth. He touches the bark of a pine tree on the edge of a thin forest. The mixed foliage of the few remaining trees explodes in colors of burnt orange, red, tan and evergreen.
(developing a poem)
How could the tree...How could the pine tree feel...How could the patient pine have known...The morning breeze would come...Or humble flowers anticipate...the insect’s noonday hum?
SFX: The rhythmic sound of a saw cutting a tree rises in the background. Thoreau is oblivious as he studies the pine needles and asks the question again:
How could the patient pine have known?

The Sons of Job

The Sons of Job

Oggy Bleacher

The Sons Of Job

A door hangs freely over mid-center stage. This door is the entrance to WORK-A-DAY LABOR HALL in Culver City, Los Angeles. A sign reads “OPEN” though the hall is closed. Another sign hangs in the window. This sign reads “Work Today Get Paid Today”

A pair of men, DON and BECKER, stand at the entrance shivering in the early morning cold. Don is a younger white man wearing dirty work clothes. An army surplus backpack lays at his feet. Becker is a middle aged black man. Both are in work clothes. To the left is the window of an ALL NIGHT DONUT BAKERY. The early rising waitresses and prep chefs and go-getters of Los Angeles are on their way to work in cars on the street.
Becker paces past a trash can and picks yesterdays newspaper out of it. Then he spies a cigarette butt on the ground. He picks it up and brushes it off then lights it. Don kicks his feet.
Headlights shine nearby followed by sound of hydraulic brakes.
Is that the Number Six?
It got a big yellow “Six” on the front of it?
Does the Six go to San Diego?
No. You wanna go to San Diego you gotta go Downtown.
That’s the opposite direction.
Some things are fucked up like that.
Ain’t that right Coach?
Coach enters from stage right, having just gotten off the Number 6 bus. He walks erectly and proudly, confident in his destiny. Coach is older than Becker and is dressed for work. He carries a newspaper paper.
If you say it’s right then that’s what it is.
(To Don)
Sonny, Becker’s been and done more than the prophet Moses, so listen...
(Coach touches his ear)
...and learn.
I heard the Number Six goes clear to San Diego. But Mr. Becker said it don’t. Then he said...
A word from the good book, boys. Bow your heads.
(solemnly, as he recites the quote)
Matthew 17:20: I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there" and it will move.’ Amen.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Doo Wop

This is obviously lip-synched since there are no microphones and the audio is flawless but I give them credit. Dion and The Belmonts were on the Winter Dance Party tour with Buddy Holly in early 1959. They were the only headliner to survive the Iowa gig. I kind of dig the doo wop sound. Dion later sang the hipster tune "Abraham, Martin, and John" which went great lengths to foster good will and peace in the world and that worked great!

I want to point out that this particular song was covered with real period correctness in the Coppola directed "Peggy Sue Got Married"...Nick Cage's character has designs to become the next Dion but a certain charisma escaped he became "Crazy Charlie" slashing prices on washing machines. Such is life. I once practiced catching a baseball in the snow by bashing it off a concrete racquetball court wall in big boots.

Western Swing Medley

I lost my voice due to travel stress and whatever viruses are between Texas and Boston. But the result is a more Western style of hoarseness that appeals to me. Ernest Tubb probably smoked cigarettes to get his voice in good form.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Dockside Tribute

About 1 year ago I decided only Funerals and Weddings will get me on a plane. The conventionality and generic cattle car treatment I receive in standard travel is like volunteering to be strip searched by an underpaid condescending immigrant...and since I've lost so much weight in the 110 heat all my pants fall down around my ass when I take my belt off. And when I take my boots off everyone can see my crippled toes...and I have to take my rings off...and my bracelets and my arrowhead necklace...and every pack of peanuts costs $5. It's a fucking insult.

This wasn't in Texas
During this last trip I amended that decision to 1 Funeral and 1 someone better get married to get me on a plane because my funeral quota has been met. This trip didn't really qualify as a funeral but it was family, so although I have frozen to death mere miles from the warm houses of my family, been evicted from parking lots, lived at a halfway house, etc while they shrugged and pointed fingers from across the street*...I still recognize my blood relatives. I haven't been disowned by sheer perseverance and emotional decay.

I am planning an illustrated essay of this last trip but I'm feeling unmotivated. I do want to point out that my breakfast plans for the morning of my departure were aborted when the TSA goon casually tossed my milk in the trash. This sign specifically makes milk an exception to the 3 ounce rule. I wasn't pissed because it is petty and I am overfed like lactose intolerant swine and this was merely one of a series of personal violations I expected to tolerate in my travels. Compared to the shit smothered toilet seat in Dallas, this was quite minor.
"Permitted: Milk...(except when you are Oggy. Then we throw it in the garbage.)"
"...the security officer will immediately throw them away..."

My uncle's musical tastes were about the same as mine (gospel, bluegrass, folk) so it was my pleasure to sing his soul up to the great sailboat regatta in the sky... where the wind is always fair and the sea is always the sea.

Photography Prints

*Lest I forget they made sure I had leftover thanksgiving turkey in aluminum foil that would instantly freeze in my van. THANKS!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Me and Buddy

18 months is all he enjoyed as a pro. Don't Fade Away.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Dumbo Moment Public Service Announcement

Unlikely In More Ways Than One
I was watching Dumbo recently with a smile because the climax of the movie is actually a universal plot essential; basically Dumbo has already learned to fly with the mental help of this tiny feather he's holding in his trunk...and the psychological encouragement from the crows and Timothy the Mouse. But in the last scene of the movie he jumps from the burning building (as part of the circus act) and LOSES THE FEATHER. So he must fly without any mental help. The Character must Grow.

It's a great scene because it's exactly the pivotal moment in all good movies. I think of George McFly punching Biff in Back to The Future I, or Baby doing the lift with Johnny at the end of Dirty Dancing...Or Darth Vader refusing to kill Luke in Return of the Jedi. I will call it the "Dumbo Moment". I may have already had my Dumbo Moment pass me by but I was mired in self-examination at the time.
Interestingly, a movie like Top Gun has a scene that the filmmakers would like to describe as a Dumbo Moment but is really nothing more than artificial tension. When Maverick panics during the ultimate gunfight and wanders away from the dogfight he eventually turns around. Why? How? The character change is totally manufactured. The real climax is when Mav refuses to leave his position as wingman...thus signifying his change into a team player. However, this also is manufactured and hollow because he's only doing his job finally. BIG DEAL. Furthermore, Mav's immediate action after this enemy encounter is to elect to be an instructor back at Top Gun academy...signifying another hollow and unbelievable change and he's abandoning active duty to teach pilots those hard lessons he learned on the beach volleyball court!

The image above is something that troubled me because those look like power lines...because they have ceramic insulators at the top and they are separated. This image is from 1941 so I'm not sure what the animation artists were thinking. Those wires look like standard 3 phase power transmission wires and Dumbo is doing exactly what would cause him to be fried. We discussed this phenomena in the electrical field even though we were not power company electricians. A bird can land on a power line because he is not crossing phases. He can only touch one line at a time and he is not grounded so he won't get electrocuted. But a bird can not touch two lines at the same time, as Dumbo is doing here, or else he'd be toasted elephant. Telephone lines don't have to be separated...and they don't need ceramic insulators. But maybe in 1941 this is what telephone/telegraph wires looked like. I don't know. I want to caution all the elephants reading that when you learn to fly DO NOT land on power lines. You can land on telephone lines but they are very similar in appearance to power lines so just to be safe don't land on any lines. Ok?

Doesn't Matter

I'd like to revisit this song because it's more relevant today for me since not only am I near Lubbock, where Buddy Holly is from, and Paul Anka wrote this tune and if you pay close attention you can hear the sarcasm, and the despair. It matters, but he has to say it doesn't matter, to lie to himself.

Waltzing Across Texas

This is an Ernest Tubb tune that I think should be mandatory for any Texas singer.


My Harmonica tastes like Mississippi dirt.

This Land Was Made For You And Me

This should be my anthem.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Frim Fram Sauce

All I need now is a microphone and I'll be back in business as a legitimate nuisance to the community.
Frim Fram Sauce is my all time favorite Jazz song because it's classy. Nat King Cole covers it with such smooth class and flawless character and enunciation that no one can ever top it. But I understand this song and the message is the laughable pretense of the universe. Injured Geese waddling behind a defunct hippie, clad in his thin armor of disguise, his polyester shirts and bell bottoms are mere training wheels of disaster for the fallen knight.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


I've been sucked into the gadget domain again because Yamaha was so foolish as to not put a repeat feature on their recording option on the digital piano. That's all a looper does, record with endless repeat. So Yamaha lets me record a blues comp but then it only plays it back once. I can overdub but I can't loop the progression. So I borrowed a Boss Looper Station and this video is one that I made as soon as I got a new 9v battery for it. It's easy to make bad sounds on any recording gadget. GIGO means Garbage In, Garbage Out. I put a lot of garbage in so that's what I get out. Sloppy. But my goals was to see if the thing would record and loop the stereo of my digital piano. And it does so with one cable though I could use two. The rest is me being messy.

My feeling is that I would keep it if it was free but $200 for something that any computer can do is crazy. If I want a backing track then I can just record one. Why would I need to improvise one? This would only be useful if someone taught me a song and I was expected to accompany myself with no time to record a backing track. Otherwise just record the track you want, add layers and then play it back as you perform it live with another layer. Unless you want to impress people with live spontaneous layered overdubs and improvisation...which is cool. It's easy to stomp on the button too early and that causes a gap in the playback. But after an hour of practice the thing seems to work as advertised with no glaring design problems.
I reprogrammed it to record---then play---then overdub. The default setting is to Record---then overdub---then play...but that is kind of advanced because it means when you click after recording you must immediately record something else because it will begin recording instantly.
This really is just a compact multi-track recorder with foot commands. But you can't remove a layer once it's been overdubbed over. Layer Two becomes a permanent part of the master track once a third track has been added. You can remove and add the last track you added but not the second to last track. And it loops immediately instead of having to click play on a multi-track recorder. I see this used in live settings but I'm puzzled how this has become a gimmick. We already have digital multi-track recorders so this only caters to people who have no planning or organization skills because they couldn't be bothered to record a backing track before practice. Now you can record the backing track seconds before you practice a solo over it.
I really need to spend more time making backing tracks to the music I want to play rather than thinking these gadgets will allow me to play an accompaniment live and then loop it while I play a guitar solo. I compressed the video to let me upload it so that's why it's so fuzzy. You can tell I'm a hobo living in a parking lot playing piano for geese. I almost forgot to mention that the song I'm slaughtering is titled "Sonnymoon For Two" by Sonny Rollins. Sonny wouldn't recognize it in this Frankenstein form.

Sunflower And Survival

Punditry is like playing the violin: it's easy to do badly. I've got a big mouth and low self esteem. I live outside an abandoned cotton gin near a Baptist church with plywood on the window. I woke up this morning because a dump truck was bashing away at a dumpster I was almost blocking. The other evening I was puzzled as I watched dozens of residents hustle like busy grasshoppers to hide their vehicles under roofs. The storm clouds looked like impending rain but what's so bad about that? We need rain. BANG! Moments later I was frowning as I prepared to go assault the motherfucker who was pelting my van with chunks of concrete! My van has been hit with eggs, spit on, pissed on, shot with a shotgun slug, doused by a McDonalds shamrock shake, tagged by West Coast gangs, but never hit with concrete. I searched for my can of pepper spray to use to defend myself. It was dark and I was naked but I persevered. These small town punks would regret messing with the man in the van. BANG! BANG! The concrete was hitting the fiberglass roof of the van so forcefully that I thought it would break a hole through it. I had to hurry. Then something hit my foot and it wasn't a chunk of concrete but a fist-sized chunk of ice! Then another flew through the side screen window and knocked my cowboy hat off the guitar. Good lord! The hail was not the size of golf balls, like I'm accustomed, but the size of a peach...and they were landing like meteorites all around me, crashing to the asphalt, bashing on tin roofs, denting every surface in town. There was nothing I could do. I quickly thought of locations to hide but obviously I would've found them already in my quests to find shade. There is nowhere except the Sonic Hot Dog drive in junk food arena to get out of the weather so I closed the windows and began to pray. Then I sang "There's got to be a morning after,"

 Believe me, it sounded nothing like the Maureen McGovern version.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


Big Bend had the most ridiculous night sky, like staring God in the face and for the whole time I was there I was trying to remember all the stars I learned during my midnight watch in the Merchant Marines when I had a star navigation book to memorize for 6 hours. The light from the oil platform drilling rig did cause some pollution as we weren't anchored in the middle of nowhere, but I could still learn a few of the popular constellations. The one that I always remembered is called Zuben El Genubi. It's Arabic for "The Southern Claw" of Scorpion. But that star is officially called Alpha1, and it's actually a double star along with Alpha2 but light pollution and some 76 million light years between us make that hard to discern. Furthermore, it's now part of Libra, The Scales constellation. I mention this because if you are in the northern Hemisphere and you look to the south east you will see the Scorpion's hooked body low on the horizon and three stars that make a kind of arrow that point toward Libra, which is an unmissable quadrangle shape and the upper right star in Libra is Zuben El Genubi. And I'm pretty sure right now (tonight the 5th of June 2014) the closest bright object to Zuben El Genubi is the planet Saturn. The moon isn't yet half full so there's a chance to see these objects.

Night sky is a big deal at Big Bend so I was turned on to some cool star software available for PCs. Because the last thing I need is another huge star navigation book in my van. I saw some folks with a similar application on their smart phones and was amazed. This free software doesn't automatically scroll depending on where you point the laptop but for a few dollars you can turn your smart phone into a kind of virtual self adjusting telescope. The one I use has an animation feature that opened my eyes.

If you want to get specific, around 10 or 11 tonight the constellation of Scorpio will be pointing at Libra, where Saturn is, and then follow the same line to Mars where it's talking dirty to the virgin Virgo, and continue on to our own moon.

We're all getting more like Science Officer Spock every day.

Editor's Note: This was a prophetic post as I looked out of the van as I was getting ready to sleep on the side of the road near an oil field supply yard and to the south east was the top half of Scorpio and the bright Saturn and a glimmering Zuben El Genubi and in line with the nearly half moon was Mars. Even with light pollution most was visible.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

How Can You Not Love Jazz?

My guitar teacher turned me on to The Pizzarelli guitar family., Sick licks. Those are seven string guitars because they are that good.
If I can make progress toward this kind of skill all these sweaty nights on the side of the road will be worth it. If not, then I'm an asshole.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Tired Cliche Continues

Author At Work

I'm not bored of the vagabond life because it does present challenges every day and excitement but because it's more like a marathon of problems and obstacles and police harassment there is never a moment to relax and enjoy any of the small successes. That part is draining. Here I am in a makeshift art studio finishing my latest belt buckle project. You can't see the number of bugs flying into my face but it forced me to close up shop early. I'm also using red nail polish for paint because it was cheaper.

You can see the tornado that's going to destroy your house for two hours before it hits
I'm adrift in the world again with a current goal of playing Western Swing guitar for 8 hours a day for one month to see if that helps my approach. I've come to West Texas because I didn't get the memo that Baptist churches are more plentiful here than hair on a hippie. Traditionalists, as I like to think of them, don't like my kind but I don't mind them. I see traditionalists as important to the culture, even if it's a culture that's in decay.
I could go on and transcribe the conversations I have about gun control and politics with myself in the demon-infested van, where it is 110 degrees and my body leaves an imprint of my wasting skeleton in sweat on the sun faded sheets. Every song reminds me of a broken heart and I feel more like Gordon Lightfoot every day. But it's no longer punishment for my trespasses and sins, it is a cleansing of the burger king finger foods that poisoned me when I was working in the oil field. I saw my old coworkers and of course they all got a raise when I quit. But their lives are 72 hours of pipe and wire a week. They have their responsibilities and I have my narcissistic crafts.

Big Bend was wonderful right up to the point I started a band called Oggy and the Reckless Romantics. Our first gig was at Heartbreak Hotel and we got stiffed by the promoter. It's fate that I pack up my belongings and drive on a long road to nothing with wind and storms on the horizon and a broken dream bouncing to oblivion in my rear view mirror.

Sure, nail polish was a good idea.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.