On Choosing Mudflap’s—

The Kid’s Super Special Guy flew south, he had come this way to get a 1995 Toyota pickup truck and deliver it to Seattle. Never mind the arctic blast, the closed highways, the barely open chains only interstate, he’d hole up in a motel and wait for the all clear signal, his goal was simple his adventure purpose clear. 

Broken Windows and Empty Hallways

I grabbed him out of Oakland Airport put him up out back in our study, heater on, shades drawn, for California it has been a bitter piece of winter. This morning we took off headed across the San Rafael-Richmond Bridge into the strangest of places— Marin County. 

The truck we would pick up has a cool 200K on the odometer, doesn’t leak oil, and tires look to have plenty of tread left. Last year the vehicle had gotten a fresh set of brake pads, all in all mechanically the rig was good as new— ready to go. I can be prone to overstatement. 

This is the 2.5 liter inline 4-cylinder motor hooked up to a 5-speed manual row your own gearbox. Seats have seen better days but hell they were still there and that’s saying a lot— by some lucky error I am still here too. Rear compartment we found a pair of chains for the tires. There is no A/C or radio but those are minor inconveniences, a pair of good Airpods hooked into the Super Special Guy’s iPhone and hey you’re in business. 

The rear quarter panel window had been repaired with duct tape after a smash and grab event some months back. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area if you want to get into a booming new business, I’d recommend the auto glass business. Fentanyl, broken windows and finding a public bench where you might remain in near total unconsciousness has become too common a sight. 

North on Highway 101 appears to be the better option, Interstate 5 that transit the Siskiyou’s near the Oregon border are open, under chain control restrictions, but considerably more blustery a highway under the current wintery conditions. 

I’d recommended the Arcata Hotel as a stopover for the night. The town square in this community is surrounded by small businesses— there is coffee, books, groceries, and saloons you may visit to remedy whatever want that is itching you this lost moment of your need. Humboldt State University is here too. Instead of hobnobbing with logging truckers and dope smokers you may while away your time with various countercultural warriors that are the backbone and unapologetic progressive social glue to this community.

North of Arcata no more than a few miles past Trinidad at least for today the road to Crescent City is closed due to snow and ice. No worries forecasters have this clearing by late morning Friday. This is good news because if you do make it to the Arcata Hotel you may want to linger longer here and make this oasis of bohemian life the soul healing high water mark of your road trip. 

Aiming Mirrors

The Super Special Guy can use this time to replace burned out lightbulbs, check tire pressure, and refasten the missing bolts to the front grill. I’d mention the mudflaps are gone at all four corners, but that job is for another day, something to do in the mechanical splendor of your own garage with your favorite hand-tools. Just choosing the right mudflaps requires an appropriate lapse of time, you’ll choose best after some mindful and mud-fool deliberations.

I’d say my favorite leg of the journey is somewhere after you get to Willits and before you get to Eureka, Rockefeller Grove is located along this stretch of road. The Eel River is here, most of the time it is tame and obedient, then again back in 1956 it spilled its banks and climbed the sides of the canyon walls in an epic flood. Somehow the 2000 year old giant redwoods withstood the onslaught. 

I’ve been up this piece of highway over the last decades plenty. I’ve seen it in every kind of light and mood. Like the Super Special Guy the real feast of this adventure is the road itself, being left alone to your own thoughts while behind the wheel, a proper encounter with a chunk of something you’ve never seen before is both tonic and palliative, you can get home to Capitol Hill in Seattle and sink into your own too familiar bed and no longer feel as if you are missing the reason for your existence— to live a life made of long highways and clean rest stops.

It isn’t like you want to get somewhere so much as you want to enjoy going somewhere— all those gear choices, all the braking and accelerating, all those moments when the oncoming traffics lights are in your eyes, for many these discomforts keep them from going in the first place, but for the road hungry these minor inconveniences are well worth the investment— for God’s sake man I’ve got to roam before my life flashes past my eyes and the years start piling one upon the other. 

A beaten pickup truck with high miles could do just what you need the thing to do. First, it can look unreliable to the eye but remain a trustworthy companion despite the weather worn paint and assorted knicks, dents and scratches. From some distance you can see the thing is straight and sits on each corner at equal height to the asphalt, it is almost certain to have another 900 miles of reliable service to give.  Once you and the machine reach your destination you can part company, your friend will garage the old truck, care for its motor, repair its every problem, use the truck for its intended purpose, and because he is your friend will let you borrow it for hauling things to and away from your own domicile. 

This is the beauty of an old truck singularly dedicated to helping with household chores. Furniture is easily hauled, landscape debris disposed, neighbors moving to the other side of town can borrow the truck and return it when done. If you have a truck like this, you can say that it is more than fair that you loan the truck but not loan your own labor too. Find someone else for that part of the job— the truck is yours this sore back is mine.

New home is north— you better go now

I get ahead of myself. The Super Special Guy simply must first delve into the pureness of driving Highway 101. Right now, he plans to turn east at Waldport to overnight at the family farm in Corvallis. Before he’ll need to reckon with what it means when he sees Brookings, Gold Beach, the Rogue River, and the odd tune that plays in the mind when you first see Coos Bay. To my mind the Alsea Highway into the coastal range plucks some rarest, noted string in my heart. A meadow cleared of trees, outbuildings with a good tractor parked safe inside, the wafting swirl of smoke from a wood burning stove, and the thorough drenching of this region by wave upon wave of fog, rain, snow and a charcoaled toned darkness— a shadow set upon by shadow— a kind of Rembrandt’s gloom, Spanish moss draped upon trees in a pileup nowhere else so complete.  Now you’ve done it, you’ve found the thing, as fine and uninhabited a place as a stranger passing through could want for, a place to see but not remain, a chunk of countryside that will cut like a cold cruel knife into your double edged dream, of a place so beautiful as not to be real, a forested range of mountains too drenched, dark and thick of mud to end any lingering thoughts of hitting your brakes as if to suggest you might choose to remain of all places right here. Only a few have such damp chilly appetites. This is the moonshot where you land in a river.

A good road will cut through your wilderness, this one will undo the gated cage to the coyote you are, run with the wind and then twist the ignition key off, go home, sometimes belonging has the final word, the very last mile to where you belong.


Spirit’s New Home

Here is the vessel Spirit the very Gulfstar 50 I sailed from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. We enjoyed about 3 weeks while sailing south then departed leaving Tom and Shauna to voyage throughout Mexico in the privacy and style they were accustomed to.


Sailing Vessel Spirit’s New Berth

Our passage began in late November 2019, in the before time’s, prior to the global chaos caused by Covid19. By many measures this is one of the last of my unburdened adventures. Vaccinations were still 16 months away from being available, wearing masks and such didn’t get underway until late March 2020.

The completely unencumbered fearless world was still available to any normally wired curious souls. You didn’t fear congregate settings, traveling by sailboat would be risky but not because of a virus, risks were offshore aboard a sailboat should a patch of nasty weather might kick up a messy sea.

I had by now logged about 3000 coastal ocean sailing miles aboard my boat primarily. There were a few other offshore jaunts with a host of other fine sailors, but the sail to Cabo with the skipper of Spirit was a next level experience.

Gulf Star 50—

First, the skipper knew every inch of the Gulfstar, he knew every system, had either replaced or repaired most of the systems aboard. A sailboat with a diesel powered generator, watermaker, vacuum powered toilets, air conditioning, heater, and refrigeration requires some dandy tool skills to keep all in good working order.

The vessel is powered by a 150 horsepower turbocharged Cummins diesel engine. Spirit was re-powered after the previous owners agonizing northbound trip up the coast from Mexico in the 1990’s.

My smaller sloop is 36’ and a much simpler boat. I have no watermaker, no generator, no vacuum flushing heads to keep running. The larger a boat the more systems are usually installed, and the consequences there are more things to go wrong.

As fine an experience as Spirit is she is also a lot of responsibility and keeping her in tip top condition will tap your wallet and time. For some years any talented sailor might muster the energy to keep up with a machine of this size and complexity, but a day will come when the sailing vessels keeper will have had enough.

I would have not an inkling of a clue to Spirit’s fate. I wasn’t sure they would drop us in Cabo and then continue on to circumnavigate the world, I’m not sure the skipper and his first mate had any fixed plans. By March 2020 with the global pandemic taking grip of the world most borders were closing down. In a sense the decision was made for the pair of voyagers.

By summertime I received word of Spirit returning to Southern California, they were able to find a suitable berth in the same Channel Island Harbor from where they had departed.

Circumstances changed. Opportunity pulled the voyagers in different directions. One went back to London while the other remained aboard. Some soul searching took place and the decision was made to put Spirit up for sale.


Spirit has fatefully been sold and has ended up here in San Francisco’s South Beach Harbor. We are berthed out at the end of C-Dock, Spirit is out on an end tie on A-Dock, as the bird flys perhaps no more than 200 feet north of where I keep Sweet Seas.

I can’t help but think of Spirit and her skipper as one inseparable thing. I see a few boats as well cared for, now and again, you have to know boats well enough to know when you are in the presence of such a finely maintained sailing craft. The pleasure of sailing with the vessel Spirit had to do with the personality, passion and skills of her skipper. My personal reward was how his caring for his boat influenced our taking care of our sailboat.

Hanging out with the skipper raised your game, you played a better version, you stepped up, you did better, you worked that much harder, you discovered the value of cleanliness and good order. We weren’t exactly slackers to begin with, we were pretty good in fact, but not this good, not this attentive to every detail, until now, and I can’t help thinking of the skipper of Spirit when I’m hard at a task varnishing the teak, cleaning the toilets, or troubleshooting the windlass.

Hat’s off to a good one, thank you Spirit and the best to the skipper wherever your muse and wonder might take you next—

Biography · Performances

Burt Bacharach Schools the Kid

I’m working a gig at Hokum Hall in West Seattle, staying with another player in the show on the other side of town. The Kid came along for the weekend. All of 5 years old she liked dressing up for the shows. Mom had put together a little makeup kit for her. While getting ready she was singing, “The moment I wake up, before I put on my makeup… I say a little prayer for you…” That little high pitched voice transformed me into the luckiest father in the world.

Props ready the show’s about to go on— places everybody

I was one of the two jugglers in the show, there was a husband-wife team that sang together, always the duo, always songs from Broadway shows, including a tune from Wouldn’t it be Loverly— from My Fair Lady and the Kid blessed with the memory of a circus elephant working in a sideshow is for the rest of the weekend and most of the next year singing this tune.

While touring in those years the Kid would tag along for a few months out on the county fair circuit. We had a few rules that made our life together all that much sweeter. First thing was spotting a good campsite where we could tuck ourselves in for the night. Second thing was managing our soundtrack, what we played, what we sang together, and always always it was our back and forth over the lyrics. 

On our list it was Burt Bacharach that rate number one. My mom never met the Kid, but she’d have been proud of her. Favorites of Burt’s included: Do You Know the Way to San Jose, Walk on By, I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself, and The Balance of Nature.

Our most important possession wasn’t our sleeping bags it was our Burt Bacharach Rhino Records three CD anthology of Burt and Hal David’s greatest hits. I dubbed all my music onto cassette tape. Besides Bacharach we traveled with Sondheim, Sinatra, and Bennett. A few more throwback acts including Louis Prima, Barbra Streisand, and Nancy Wilson made it into our mix. A good chunk of my collection included country singers— Patsy Cline, Buck Owens, Charlie Rich, Tammy Wynette, and Jim Reeves. Words lived as King in the cab of my pickup truck. 

Burt Bacharach’s Biggest Fan—the Kid

The Kid from right out the gate understood that Burt made music his partner Hal wrote the lyrics and then with a roster of talented singers they’d get into the studio and make a record. This was the water my daughter swam in. She understood Lennon/McCarthy not only wrote their own songs but also recorded them. All this coming of age listening to music on the road with her showman father. 

As soon as the news broke of Burt Bacharach’s passing the Kid shot me a message— RIP Burt. As an only child she spent way too much time around adults and not nearly as much time with kids her own age. Between my touring and her living outside of town on a farm she was set, all she had to do is put a favorite tune on and the music fixed everything. 

People grow up, there is this adulthood waiting to overwhelm us, we soon forget how a child’s imagination is the key to successful playing. The Kid didn’t just listen with a certain discerning adultness, this very precocious young girl would sing the lyrics and become completely absorbed in the melody and lyrics… “What’s it all about Alfie, is it just for the moment we live—” Somehow, I’m going town to town across Wyoming from fairground to fairground and I’ve got the Kid explaining to me how she thinks this whole living in the moment versus living to love someone is important and why she likes the song, because the lyrics tell an important story. 

I knew Burt’s hits from listening to the radio, all of us did, but it was my mom and then my father that filled in the gaps. My mom wore the grooves off Living Together. My father in his kind of odd longish hair went through a Karen Carpenter phase, much of it was in collaboration with Burt. 

I was working at Universal Studios and living in a trailer park in North Hollywood. Every night on my way home I’d pass the Palomino, many greats had played this joint, one of the most famous Ricky Nelson played here and one of his biggest hits was in collaboration with Burt Bacharach— Take a Broken Heart. I went inside for a beer after work. This was the early 1990’s, the booze was still here but the bands were long gone. The joint whispered long lost musical memories that were made here.

Comedy Tonight by Zero Mostel had made a big impression. The Kid began to understand how great movies were always that much greater with a sensational tune included. 

All those good little soles

The really great singers inhabit a song, make it their own. The Kid understood the songs were like movies, they painted pictures in your mind, and they were put across by a singer with a talent similar to the Kid’s juggling for his supper pop. 

Music, juggling, movies, traveling from town to town, setting up and tearing down, pulling in alongside a riverbank, building a fire, cooking supper, and curling up on the bunk with a lamp to read before falling to sleep, it was all part and parcel of her own songbook, the songs she picked, the music she played, these are indelibly inked into her memory now. None was a bigger influencer and favorite of the Kid’s than Burt Bacharach. I Say a Little Prayer indeed. Thank you, Mr. Bacharach— 

Biography · News!

Taking Your Identity With You

Disruption is the name of the digital game. But what if you don’t want to be disrupted, what if you want to leave and take you with you when you go? 

I have a website, a decade ago I grabbed my name when it became available. Still, most of us have learned that driving traffic to your website entails posting material on social media sites. 

I’ve used Twitter to enhance traffic. I’m not too happy with the new owner, so I surfed over to Mastodon, added an account at Post. But what if I my identity and the people that follow me were all able to easily be forwarded to me by my identifier. Instead, all of us have to start all over again and rebuild our followers. 

My background is street theater. Street acts don’t dig gatekeepers. We prefer to throw it down on the sidewalk and make it all happen there, right in the moment, we build an audience starting there.

I’m not so sure that social media broadcasting, lucking into a viral moment, something that goes big, blows your thing, whatever your thing is, blows that up, that’s what many hope will happen. Maybe you are one of those lucky ducky’s, more likely your postings fall short of that viral moment, you do get some engagement but you wouldn’t want to quit your day job.

Lot of platforms are eager to get us to enter their domain, to come play in their arena, and you know if you do get some attention you’ll try building on it, maybe even get compulsively addicted to trying. That’s the cheese, you’re the mouse and the trap is the host who is there until they aren’t. Sometimes they become unpredictable, change their algorithms, terms of service are altered, maybe they find you vulgar, you harass someone, there are so many out there playing those games.

It turns out that managing our social media content takes valuable time and since it does maybe we should be getting a better more predictable deal for our efforts. 

Guy Kawasaki is a social media professional. He figures you’ll get about 1% of the people that follow you to buy your offering. I have maybe depending how you count about 1500 followers, maybe more, likely less. Even if you have 100,000 followers you are still not going to move many books. Even a million followers are too small a group and come on now how many of you reading this blog have a million followers. 

Having the formerly richest man in the world buy then blow up a social media platform like Twitter proves my point. Even if it is all on him the harm is falling on all of us. Taking our identity and moving somewhere else would go a long way toward balancing out their power over our identity. I’d think anyone managing a platform would soon be trying to keep as many users as is possible. 

We haven’t managed to pass any meaningful regulations for decades and not because there aren’t good ideas out there, but because a good many people like things just the way they are. Having control over our identity, our privacy, having the power of portability, to move freely across the internet’s social media platforms is the kind of disruption you can believe in.


Capitol Hill Dreamer

Back from Seattle after a romp across Capitol Hill for food, fun, and friends. If you had to ask you should know it was cold and at moments teasingly sunny. 

Cute Dog on Sofa— this is The Mezzo

Friday, we celebrated the Kid’s birthday. A whole mob of us showed up at Blotto’s to celebrate. This is Jordan and Christy’s pizza joint, bottle shop and bar on 12th Ave and E Denny Way. Wine selection is all-natural style, then there is the sourdough pizza crust, the only kind available. The dough is prepped prior to the open at 5 PM, if there’s a problem with the dough they won’t open, you’ll take your chances because it is just that good. 

From within this hole in the wall there are maybe a dozen seats in the main room, another dozen in the backroom, and another dozen out front. If it sounds like a lot, you’d be surprised at how much they’ve done with so little space. Residents on Capitol Hill cram into Blotto’s. Once they’ve sold out, and that’s almost every time they open their doors, they clean the ovens, wipe off the tables and then like that lights are off, and joint is closed.

To be clear this only looks inside— it was a wee bit nippy

Friday, we kept them late. No worries, Jordan and Christy are friends of the Kid. The enterprising couple are skilled natural wine purveyors. You’ll find this kind of wine here and there throughout Seattle, but it is still not to be expected. I’d wondered how they deal with new customers that have not run into this style of wine before. At the counter where you order Christy keeps a few bottles open. You want a red, white, rose or orange wine? No problem she’ll pour you a glass and like that you are on your way to becoming a fan of natural wine.

Another member of our group is about to open his own natural wine shop. You’ll find Other Worlds at the northeast corner of Pike and 14th .  The thing to know about this scene is that you don’t get into the natural wine business to make a great big fat killing at the cash register, you sell natural wines because it is the right thing to do, at least for you, for your values, because of what you know about how transformational a simple unmanipulated glass of wine can be in this overcomplicated too often too complex world we live in. 

There are way too many awkward definitions for what makes a glass of wine natural. I’ll give it my best shot, a winemaker takes grapes grown from their own vineyard and does their level best to not interfere. To ferment the grapes native yeast from the vineyard is used. Natural wine is first and foremost not created with supply chain yeasts that are marketed by various suppliers around the world. The flavors unlocked by wild yeast is specific to the place where the grapes are grown, skilled tasters can tell you where a wine is from simply by identifying the character of the wild yeast. 

Eyes to the Rear of the Pair— Natural Wine

L’Oursin is located down on E Jefferson St at 14th Ave. Like Blotto this French restaurant only has natural wines on its list. As far as the Kid knows these are the only two eating establishments that offer only natural wine. Saturday night we were a smaller foursome out to eat at this off the beaten path restaurant. 

The Kid’s circle of friends is all bound up in life on Capitol Hill. Especially fun is how this group of late 20-somethings to early 30-types thrive as the full power of their adulthoods blossom. There was a special event that pulled a big crowd, not their crowd, a big crowd of early 20-somethings, and it was in that instant that my Kid realized she was no longer a kid at all, not even a post adolescent teen type kid, she was for better or worse a wise world tested credit card carrying fully realized former kid. 

All my Kid’s circle are aiming higher, most want to go further, some have already left Capitol Hill, some have had to move back, a few vow to never leave— we know that’s more whimsical hope than a fait accompli. Setting your marker on the table of your life is fair game, you want to claim you’ll live and die on Capitol Hill then so be it, odds are long you won’t but no harm in saying you’re going to try. This is what is called an unknowable boast—

Ricocheting Sunlight on Capitol Hill— Rare Indeed

The Kid is in the prime of her life and this is where she’s been fated to play her cards. Capitol Hill has its own buzz, its vital, congested— if you lived her you wouldn’t have to leave here, it has everything you would want or need. That’s how it stands. One day parking starts to become a hassle, you want your own garden, instead of squeezing into a studio you start imagining you’d like to spread out two miles south in Columbia City with some of the refugees you came up with back in the day on Capitol Hill. 

You won’t admit to wanting this less pressurized life until you simply must. Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky few that never is overcome by this pressurized urbanity. Maybe you’ll be the one that becomes a curator at the Seattle Film Festival, maybe you get lucky, and your food blog takes off, there is a photo essay about where you live on Capitol Hill and how the thought of ever leaving the Hill is simply inconceivable. Your name and the Hill are synonymous, maybe the mayor or Seahawks quarterback are better known, but then those are personalities built by politics and sport, you have gained fame not just for a good eye for a good film but for a neighborhood you love too, and then there all those up and comers that want to grow up to be just like you, to live forever in one of Seattle’s finest corners, you become the Elaine Stritch of the Paris on the Puget Sound, you don’t spend five decades at New York’s Carlyle Hotel, instead you’re living life large on the top floor of a century old multi-unit building with floor to ceiling windows and the best damn view anyone could ever imagine having of the Space Needle. 

You haven’t just made it, you are it, you are that rare odd dweller of never to leave Capitol Hill dwellers. You didn’t die and go to heaven, you lived life large and ended up on Capitol Hill— 


Dad Visit— Run Everybody Run

Masking up and flying to Seattle to see the kid this weekend. Friday night is slated for small plates, natural wine and swift flowing conversation. The usual suspects in my daughter’s circle will drop by to offer their condolences as her odometer trips over to the 31 mark.

January 27, 1992 San Francisco

My odometer, that would be the father of the daughter’s odometer is in the nosebleed section of the center for the tragically hip and terminally cool. Aside from having pulled a muscle in my lower leg and having to hobble around like some errant penguin looking for a good piece of ice I’m reasonably useful. Capitol Hill in Seattle is peopled by our society’s up and comer’s, don’t ask if I suffer envy with any sort of grace. 

What is most important is that you can get good produce at the local Co-op, if you need the odd cheaper specialty item there is a Trader Joe’s, and to purchase adult beverages you’ve got options, lots and lots of alternative outlets. There is a butcher shop where you can purchase grass fed organic meat. There is a nearby dispensary where every kind of smokable, edible and drinkable is on offer.

Show Trunk Lid and Pictures of the Kid

Maybe I Do is in the theaters. The kid and I enjoy getting out to the cinema together. A comedy is right up there with what the doctor has ordered. Diane Keaton, Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, and William H Macy play the parents to a young couple. When the parents meet it turns out that the four have all cheated and that their partners are this other couple. I’m a sucker for funny sex, a friend tells me that there is no other kind of sex, she urged me to think about it, I want to believe she’s right, of course she’s right as she laughed—

Flying up to Seattle tends to mean it will be colder and likely wetter than here in Northern California. Fortunately, perhaps that’s exaggerating, we have just come out of a lengthy period of rain, snow and very chilly air. My years spent playing dates in Arizona has left me with little appreciation for what we call winter. It is one of my many emotional disabilities.

Sunday the Eagles play the 49ers for the National Football Conference Championship. I’ll need to be excused so I can watch the game. My kid knows about the dad’s football habit. Because of the pandemic we’ve tended to choose our visiting with larger gatherings to near zero. We see our very closest friends, best method is just one other couple, we think this reduces the chances of catching the bug of all bugs. 

Here is a shot of family— I am far right

Unfortunately, this cautiousness has gutted from our life the people we might recognize by face, bump into at the marina, see them at one of our favorite saloons, at the health club, now most of those second and third tier acquaintances have been melted away by the pandemic. 

As much as I like my best friends, they’ve all heard my stories before, it’s all the newer faces in the crowd that might like to hear about my life on stage, the books I’ve written, the sailing I’ve done, and the birds I’ve identified. 

In the before times to live a really well rounded life you’d mix and match your activities to blend your time visiting the time tested relationships with the newer people you are just getting to know. 

In June of last summer, I dropped a propane tank on my big toe. That wiped out most of the summertime. Walking was difficult. I’ve been shooting baskets down at the club since September. It’s a terrific workout, you can kick up the pace and you’ll know you’ve been exercising once you are finished. I shoot for 45 minutes most days. Then, last week I picked up a ball dribbled and took a few steps and my lower leg on the same side as the damaged toe decided to pop. I’ll be back in another week. At first, I thought I’d be down for months. 

Prop case circa February 2020

Most years when I’ve been onstage I would do about five-hundred shows. These have been physically challenging, besides juggling you’ve got to chat up your crowd. In the early years you had no sense of pace, didn’t even consider you could get injured, you just let it rip. Once you’ve got a long string of contracts to honor you start streamlining your time on stage and the training you do to maintain the act. You don’t want any stubbed toes, no twisted ankles, no pulled muscles in your back, no damage to your voice, not too much direct sun on your face, you end up smoothing out your daily routine. 

A well trained showman will walk at a good pace but not sprint from place to place. Moderation is key. For decades I performed a few handstand stunts in the act. All in all it worked out, a few unplanned tumbles got me banged up, but I was able to work around the injuries.

A colleague in the biz has a big show in May and has asked if I would do something. It some ways doing 5 minutes is harder than doing 500 shows. You have to prepare just about as thoroughly. If you count the number of lines, calculate which stunts you are going to include, it will eat up more than a few day’s to be sure you are well prepared for the appearance.

As life would have it my daughter and I get along swell. Her dog Mezzo seems to think the world of me, at least I pretend the little guy does. Most amazing about time shared with my kid is being in the midst of her great talents. Besides being a damn good cook, she has this other talent for being organized. You really can’t appreciate this talent until you look in her dresser drawers, go through her clothes in the closet, or admire her tree of earrings. 

Fort Lincoln, Arizona and the Kid and the Old Man out for a Walk

Five days in Seattle in late January is the first installment. We are due back up for a trip out to Orcas Island late this summer. Sometime between now and then the kid will make it down to the Bay Area. It isn’t as much as we’d like, but we see one another and we find it better than not getting together.

I was ambivalent over becoming a father, my mother passing away at 56 changed my mind. A daughter changes how a father feels about the project of being alive. To the extent unconditional love can be found anywhere in this world it must be located somewhere between  a parent and their child. The emotions come with a gravitational force all their own. The rising tides of closeness, belonging, and understanding fill the famous void. 

Whatever it is a site of the kind I run here is about, one thing it could be about is self-care, perhaps a flow chart showing how to stay out of harm’s way and where to find the good stuff that makes our short time here worth the effort. 

I’m packing my bags now

Biography · Books · Screenplay

Timeline of the Bagatelle

I posted my first blog here in 2011. I joined Twitter about the same time. I cross post whenever I put a new piece up, some I’ll put on the Face. The difference is that I view Twitter as a public/political forum whereas I view Facebook as a private/apolitical venue. Friends already know what I think, the public at large may find what I’m writing worth a look, it’s a choice. 

Coffee in Barcelona

Early on I was careful about what content I covered, I was still doing a lot of summer library programs and sexual innuendo and white-hot political spear throwing could blow back on the librarians that supported my act, so I held my fire.

I remember workshopping at a writer’s conference, there was a social media breakout session, the presenter was sure the best path forward was to build your platform. Building a platform had to do with gaining followers, you would find followers on Facebook, Twitter and so on and so forth. 

Lacey retired to Oregon

Nonfiction writers’ currency of value is stored in their subject matter, fiction’s value is stored in the emotional power of the story told. Search Engine Optimization’s (SEO’s) are made for facts, they do much less well conveying emotions.

Back in the early days of social media readers observational skills were in transition, having a cup of coffee while pouring over the pages of the New York Times produced a style of reader that took their time, those old school types would read from start to finish, then choose another item and then another. 

The blizzard of stories a reader encounters online overwhelms; fewer and fewer readers can aim and sustain their attention on this whirligig digital publishing platform.

This has happened over time, not for all of us, but many if not most hardly have the same reading habits. If you were born at the turn of the new millennium, you are a person born into this current mashup of digitized platforms. In some sense you are trained from the beginning in modern day digital literacy, you are fluent in this system, know how to work with it, many times it isn’t the written word you use, instead it is a picture, audio or short video. 

Road and Dog

While I may remember the fads and fashions of the decades of yesteryear, born in the 50’s, coming of age in the 60’s, owned the post adolescent world in the ‘70’s, then dove headlong into the ‘80’s as I misappropriated my adulthood by clinging to the hope of being forever young. 

Our daughter was born in the early ‘90’s, that put an end to my completely dodging my adulthood. I fumbled through the go-go-90’s as the prime street show years in San Francisco closed out and what might come next was still far from visible.

Once I’d moved to Oregon and struggled through the offseason, then figured out how to work festivals with the help of a local event producer— one of my life’s great alliances. In short order I created a circuit that was loosely based on my being in Arizona in winter and the Northwest in summer. I took that plan across half of the 90’s and most of the next two decades until the pandemic hit.

My father was a computer buff, in 1995 he taught me how to use a dial up modem and link to a server at Oregon State University. It was awkward, there was no browser, we figured out how to write down various addresses, one was to a portal supported by NASA. Netscape just weeks later was released and was soon loaded onto my personal computer.

Leaves are not forgotten

I had written a first novel in 1980 on a manual typewriter. By the turn of the new century, I was soon to be afforded the opportunity to revise and finish the book. There would be another three more produced, all told these four novels were completed between the years 2007 and 2020, this timeline tracks the release of the iPhone and then the development of all the myriad social media platforms that soon followed. Mobility was the key. 

Bookstores were closing right and left, Amazon shouldered most of the blame, but in fact it was more than just Amazon, reading habits were changing.

Once upon a time an author, and his publisher would work to get their book onto the shelves at a bookstore. In the before times, you would go into the biggest bookstore in the world and maybe you could choose between a thousand, perhaps as many as five thousand novels. Today you surf over to Amazon where you will find millions of titles to choose from.  

All of this has happened in less than two decades, the previous system has been supplanted by this new one, what is sometimes obliquely referred to as the attention economy. 

I’m making my way through a terrific novel by Susan Gee Rumsey, Why You Must that will eventually be seen by a few hundred, no more than a few thousand I would guess, and that has nothing to do with the novel’s quality. Gorilla marketing will only take a book so far, ultimately this inanimate object loses its momentum lands on a shelf and that is where it will ride out its days, years and decades.

Blogging I use for research, it is my public facing sketchpad, where I’m sharing the underlying facts that I will use to build my fiction. On my desk now is a screenplay, a comedy about climate change set in the American Southwest and loosely to do with the scarcity of water coming out of the Colorado River. 

In the months ahead I’ll complete a full-length screenplay. What I can make happen after I finish with all the probabilities that entails are a very steep climb. 

Hotel Majestic where I was holed up working on a blog

Into this cauldron of change is the bizarre turn that our digital landscape is undergoing. I’m especially grateful that I have maintained my own website, that I can post what I want as I want. If your business model depends on Elon Musk’s mood, Facebook’s tweaking their algorithms, or whether Google will continue supporting Google Plus well you have been taken on a ride you were never going to be in control of.

Keeping a public facing blog alive, pulling some readers along, bouncing about riding from topic to topic, doing work that won’t get you dragged into court, producing material that gives some pleasure to your readers, that’s something like what I’ve been doing over here.

Much of the very best sentences, paragraphs, pages and chapters of my writing have been captured in my long fiction. A short piece here on my blog is cranked out with a sensibility of being breezy, offhanded, of the moment, not too much care, kind of let it go and move on, life is short, and anything can be improved upon, but to what end and to what difference—

The madness of the new Twitter owner, Google’s downturn, Facebook’s fated decline is proving to be game changing, we’re on our way from one place to another and none of us are sure what that next digitized realm will be. What is certain is it won’t be this, the world is moving on, there is a better next set of platforms and formulas to experiment with.

I’ve tried to drive my engagement by earnest qualities, as best I can, as honest as I can, giving some of you a chance to see other more bohemian perspectives, sharing what I find and giving voice to all those likeminded misfits I’ve come to meet along the way over the course of time. You all do know I’m onto you right— and you have found me out too. Thanks for hanging around now and again­— 

Biography · Performances

The Golden Gate Garbage Company

Mike Stroud and Dana Smith circa 80’s

The burn rate was high, and the hits were few. Most of the routines washout even before tested in front of an audience. Still the new material offers clues. You’ll take this add that and try it out.

My two dogs always are at the top of the mind of people who have seen my act. Because so much of the material was an odd mashup of various elements it was often difficult to explain what might have caught the attention of someone.

Songwriter on road in Homer, Alaska 2005

For some years I opened with ball spinning and fire juggling and then finished with the dog. Unpacking the details isn’t often much help when prodding the memories of audience members.

Someone would offer— He did something with the dog— Fair enough. So, there was a dog in the act? Yeah, the dog was good—

Vancouver British Columbia 1990

I’ve written lyrics and music for ukulele throughout my years drifting town to town doing shows. The ukulele was quite the constant companion. Sometimes I admired a particular piece of music and would put my own farcical lyrics to the tune. My originals where I did both song and lyrics are hardly jewels, but a few turned out, they’re not too bad.

I was influenced by Tin Pan Alley, Cole Porter, Sammy Cahn, Rodgers and Hart, Ira Gershwin, Frank Loesser and so many others. Chord changes to a tune like My Funny Valentine twist and turn at a quicker pace. When you only have four strings the chord change tempo helps.

Lacey Christmas Show San Francisco 2003

Both dogs provided the on-cue barks to How Much is that Doggie in the Window. The tune provided a sentimental touch to my act, softening my personality, helping to add another dimension. I’ve played this tune in performance well over 10,000 times. You can see one version with Sunshine on my posted videos at this site.

Sunshine Miami, Florida 1987

The Golden Gate Garbage Company never got much attention. Both Mike Stroud and I had more polished solo shows, but we banged out more than a few sets in front of audiences. While working dates in Montana in 1988-1989 we got a chance to play this material atop a flatbed truck trailer to an enthusiastic remote and isolated wheat growing community along the border of Canada and North Dakota.

That was then and this is now. Here for your pleasure the shows signature tune…

Garbage Man…

Biography · Performances

Her Name Was Lola…She was a Dancer

Alex and Dante


Alejandro and Dante Loading Up for Shows

Today in Playacar, Mexico was shopping day. Stand-up comic roommate Ted Holum and I walked across town into Playa Del Carmen and replenished the cupboards. Teddy’s a month younger than me, so he’s the kid in our odd coupled family. We share an apartment here. We share the same stages too.

He’s the old pro really. I am the green “gringo” from San Francisco taking a bite of show business by way of playing the stages and bars at the resorts along the Caribbean here in the Yucatan. They are all targeted to tourists. We do our show in our English. The language we speak translates well to people from the United States, Canada and England.

Ted’s strictly stand-up. I’m a juggling comedy act and so the English kind of have something to hang onto while trying to fathom the mystery of the American mind playing with comedy via the mother tongue that they know.

I’ve survived the first action packed week. Six different shows, six different nights, six different resort stages, six different supporting staffs, and as you might imagine six different results. First night was like learning to swim. You have to trust the water, learn to float, trust. Night two kind of other problems arise not anticipated after the first night. By the third night I’m realizing this isn’t going to be an easy gig. On the fourth night I finally hit the ball and almost knock it out of the park. Hey! I connected pretty good even if it was right over the middle of the plate.

I’ve got the shows running order figured out. I got the piece I improvise. I got the closer. I got pretty much the whole enchilada dialed in. And then there is the utter unpredictable nature of each room, each night and each resort.



You Got to Love this Guys Face…

I come from San Francisco. It is foggy, but its California, we don’t have this thing called humidity. Humidity is what other parts of the world have. I have not spent my career juggling in sticky, hot, wet, slick a sn_t weather. It makes juggling different. Let’s put it that way. Unpredictable perhaps another word that comes to mind.

Anyway, off for work around 6. Back from the show about 11. We get the show. We get one free meal. We get to talk the Alejandro. He is 29. He is a gem of a human. He’s got the eye for the ladies. He has girlfriends. He finds it impossible to believe I am married. He finds that possible I suppose, but finds the whole idea of being married impossible, and therefore I am performing the biggest most amazing trick and I haven’t even done a show.

One week down. I’ve got the night off and tomorrow I start a second six night run. You would be incorrect to make any assumptions about this gig. It takes a certain skill beyond anything you might present on stage. And then you know there is being suddenly thrust into a live version of the Odd Couple. One last clue…I’m the neat one.


Iguana in the neighborhood



Biography · Books · Performances

Sustainable Comedy and the Folly of Capitalism

For years, economists have posited that prosperity requires growth, with environmental damage as the regrettable but unavoidable consequence. A growing number of critics are now challenging this equation, though, calling for a radical revamping of the economic system.

                             Nils Klawitter

touring vehicle

My Cowboy Cadillac and the Place I’ve Called Home for Near Four Decades

I’ve drifted the American West as a juggling act for much of the last four decades. Crossing vast landscapes, pulling into isolated towns, spying all manner of misguided enterprise or not. A good drifter knows how to pull off the paved highways and roll out into the wild lands on the dirt tracks. Time stills the pace of the modern world and in its place the chirp of bird, the dusk, the breeze, the silence. Surrounded as we are by so many man imagined systems, especially the concept of money and the economy in all its shapes and forms, what we are awakening to is the inadequacy of capitalism’s various configurations. Large scale businesses have proliferated until we sense the festering clash of purpose between their zeal for profit and humanities need for survival. It is out here in Nevada where I have placed my latest novel, Hot Spring Honeymoon, and it is here where the struggle of a small community being overrun by the globalized economic system that the story plays out as comedy.

British economist Tim Jackson. In his 2009 book “Prosperity Without Growth,” he outlined a “coherent ecological macroeconomics” based on a “fixed” economy with strict upper limits on emissions and resources.


“Let me have a look,” the scientist said examining the side of Keefe’s head. “How do you feel?”

“I see things now I didn’t see before. I hear things I never listened to.” Keefe said. “My ex-wife looks at me like I’m nothing but a piece of vulture bait.”

“You think something’s wrong?”

“There’s always been something wrong with me. But, since I got bonked on the head I see an eternity of beauty in a thimbleful of whiskey. I love this hot spring; know what I’m doing now. It seems to come natural to me…And I got to tell you, man to man, I’ve never seen anything in my whole life that has riled up my thirst more than the sight of that woman they call my ex-wife.”