Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hello and welcome to Rainyday. Just about every day I go home for lunch and a brief visit with the sleeping chair. I take different routes just to break up the sameness. Today, however, I saw two life happenings involving a bicycle. A mother was balancing her son on his bicycle as she pushed him along the sidewalk. She was giving all of her support to help him learn to ride his bicycle on his own. So many things went through my mind. The love between parent and child. The desire all parents have for their child to succeed. The efforts parents go to helping their child fit in. As she gave him one good push he sailed off...not pedaling a bit. They'll keep trying.

Then as I made my return trip I passed a young pony-tailed man on his bicycle. He was wearing work boots, raveled blue jean cutoffs and a well-used cap. He had a guitar strapped to his back, along with a small backpack. Decals covered every inch on the face of this guitar. He had the trappings of a traveler hanging from both sides of the bike. I imagined this free spirit making his way across the countryside, stopping when the mood strikes. His good friend the guitar keeping him company. What a wonderful way to experience this land of ours, from the slow-moving saddle of a bicycle. A look of peace beamed from his face.

With all of the crazy shit going on in our world, it's cool that people still enjoy life's simple pleasures. I smiled!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hello and welcome to the day known as "hump". We were cleaning up the brain cell system last night and stumbled into some fun. You see, I believe in the "only the strong survive" theory. So if a little smoke and drink kills some brain cells, the weak ones will go first. You may actually becoming smarter the next time you hit that joint or chug a beer. Cool huh?

As we continued to sharpen our mental skills, we came up with a great new television game. Simply turn on one of the Spanish channels offered in your area, (most cities have a couple to choose from). Then you take turns speaking for the on screen characters. The deeper we got into the drama, the more the Spanish-speaking actors seemed to be playing along. It was hilarious. At one point this spicy little Hispanic actor licked her lips right on queue. Yet another advantage of the invasion from the south besides killer tostados.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hello. I saw two concerts this week. The first was a killer show by Jon Dee Graham. JD is a wonderful songwriter and guitar player from Austin, Texas. His gravel-toned voice and gut wrenching lyrics give your soul a firm jerk. I found myself laughing one moment and wiping a tear the next. We left the show thinking. He told a story about a recent trip to Berlin, which he described as a city with more shades of grey than he knew existed. He said he was in a down mood as he walked along a grey sidewalk and noticed graffiti on a wall that was only knee-high. The message scrawled on the wall was "I promise you a miracle." He's still waiting, but not giving up. He is confident that the message is legit. I loved his reserved optimism.

Then we went to see "an evening with Neil Diamond". What a contrast in shows! Graham was in a small bar packed with about 100 fans. Diamond was in a small event center packed with about 9,000 fans. Jon Dee Graham is as grounded as you'll ever see a performing artist. Neil Diamond is a tested superstar, taking advantage of ever stage pose he could. Neil is one hell of a performer. He has earned the right to turn his 70's guitar ballads into Vegas-style productions. Think about it. He built his star in the early seventies when people like the Stones were taking the world by the ear. Along comes this Jewish fella from Brooklyn with happy sing-along stuff like "Sweeeet,bom,bom".

This week reminds me why I love music. It connects people. It moves people. Both a gritty Karl Childers look-a-like (Sling Blade), and a polished man-in-black can find a place in the world of music. One performing songs that make you wince, and one performing songs that you wake up the next day humming. Music, medicine for the soul.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hello, and welcome to my world. NEWS ALERT!!! Things aren't as they seem. Nobody is real? You never really know someone? We just know the person they want us to meet. The more you listen to people, look at people or pay attention to people, the more you realize that everyone is hiding. We are all wearing a costume, trying to disguise the being inside.

I talked a while back about how strange it would be if there was an accurate biography available about every human walking the earth. Of course there would have to be a new release every year. Imagine a library where you could check out the "book" on your best friend, your spouse or your boss. I'm convinced this would be a bad thing. If we knew everything about another person, we might not get close to anyone. We've all got something to hide, and none of us are very good at accepting each other's flaws.

Some people hide the "real" person by disguising themselves as several different people. Their disguise varies, depending on who they are with at the moment. This would be too confusing for me. I wouldn't be able to remember who I was supposed to be. I mean, I would put on my carefree costume when I was going for earnest. I'll stick with one costume for all occasions...maybe slipping on a rubber nose once in a while, just to keep it interesting.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hello. I witnessed two human phenomenons last night...a parade and fireworks. What is it with people's desire to line a street waiting to be hit by candy and beads? It has never had much appeal to me. When our kids were young we took them to the local parades. I guess we wanted them to learn the art of survival of the fittest. You would swear that piece of stale candy thrown from a float, was the last crumb of sustenance on Earth. The entire downtown was swarming with people of all ages. It was hotter than hell! Once you've seen a small town marching band, a tractor and a clown you've pretty much seen it.

The fireworks launched on the riverfront about an hour after darkness had set in. I've seen several displays over the past couple of weeks. I enjoy a good sparkle of 4 or 5 thousand dollars as much as the next guy, but I can't believe how people clamor to see this stuff. You'd think it was the second coming. They fight for parking spots, push and shove to get the best view. Then they "oooh" and "ahhh" a little and go home. What little Chinese fella thought to himself, "These crazy people will pay anything to watch me blow shit up."

A little slice of heaven.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Hello and welcome to the weekend, or simply Friday for those of you who don't have the days off. I've been thinking lately how one slip of the heart can cause ripples in your life that never end. We've all done something without a second thought to the consequences. In a bright flash of life we let our heart take the wheel. Whether it's a business deal, a friendly conversation or a romantic situation, the heart can make bad decisions. Unfortunately our heart can't be trusted. After all it can be reckless and emotional in the same beat. Our soul, our pride and our true expression is locked up in that little fist-sized thumper.

The heart lives for the moment, never thinking about the past or the future. There are times when we have to step on our heart and say, "Stop, you trouble-maker!" The more free spirited you are, the harder it is to put a leash on it. I think you need to let the love-muscle go wild, as long as it's aimed in the right direction. Stifling the heart can lead to grey hair and deep lines on your face.

They say time heals all wounds. The time has to be spent filling the heart with good things pushing out the bad. Then the ripples of tears will disappear into a life of smiles.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Hello. The long weekend is over and Saturday in the Park is behind us. This is always a milestone during the summer for my family and I. We are not only involved with the Festival, we have been spectators at all 18 of them. Our kids went with us when they were young, now our grandbabies are enjoying Saturday in the Park. I guess you could say it's a family tradition.

The bands were great as usual. I have been a fan of the BoDeans for many years, so getting to finally see them was a real treat. They played a couple of my favorite songs to make the night even more enjoyable. The large tie-dyed crowd went wild when former Grateful Dead bassist, Phil Lesh and Friends took the stage. A young player by the name of Jackie Greene stole the show with great vocals and a killer display of talent on both the guitar and the keyboards.

The event has become a home-coming of sorts for Sioux Town. Every year I get a chance to party with friends I haven't seen in a while. In fact, it seems that SITP is the only time I get to party with some of these friends. It's cool. In talking with folks over the years, I know this is true for many of the locals. It is so much more than a music festival. Every year for a few brief hours, this struggling, cow town pulls up it's tattered blue jeans, puffs up it's chest and says, "We're alright, look what we can do!".

There is no place I'd rather be on Fourth of July Saturday each year.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Hello. We were at a wedding reception Saturday night and something that was said is stuck in my head. The DJ invited all married couples to the dance floor. While he played "Remember When" by Alan Jackson, he started eliminating couples by the length of time they were married. If you were married one year or less, you had to leave the floor. Five years or less, ten years or less, etc. We were on the floor for a while with over 30 years together. Eventually an elderly couple was the last two on the dance floor. They had been married 56 years. When the DJ asked the wife what the secret to such a long marriage was she said, "Don't give up."

Wow! I was shocked by the soft-spoken words of the gray-haired bride. It seems simple, but it is the answer. Don't give up when staying together gets tough. Don't give up on a love you have for each other. Don't give up on a life you've built together. I believe most married couples are faced with giving up. It's the easy thing to do. Many of my friends who are divorced wish they wouldn't have given up. The young couple who were married earlier that day, made promises "to not give up until death do us part." I hope they "don't give up."

We didn't give up.