Category Archives: Performances

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The Concise Pocketbook of Change

That would be me in the center of the brochure. I didn’t runaway with the circus I took a Peerless Stage System bus. I began this journey in downtown San Jose, a not altogether bad place to begin. At least people stuck there are honest. I traveled the highway in the bus by way of the long way with stops in Pleasanton, Livermore, Tracy, Stockton, Lodi and finally to Sacramento. I slow walked my change. The circus had just been gifted a Red fox that was pacing back and forth in its cage in the backyard where the circus was parked for the night. If you haven’t heard a Red fox do its impression of a chicken clucking you haven’t really seen or heard it all yet. I found the animal’s invention and mimicry a curiosity of the highest order. I studied the animal for hours. He was wild and never going to be tamed. I think we were in agreement on that. Some animals would rather die than go against their nature. Of all the things in this foxes life he’d confronted changing the fix he’d found himself in was about the only thing he wanted out of life. He’d either have it the way he wanted it or be defiant in the involuntary captivity he’d found himself trapped into. We turned the fox over to a man who knew a good place for an animal like that to thrive back in the wilds. A few months later I found myself with a miniature horse to train. This is an animal that will open up to you, if you feed it, provide it water, good pasture, and attend to the horse’s needs it will come to trust you, care for you, and learn to enjoy being part of your life. This miniature horse was a stallion that was named Othello. Perhaps no sight in nature has been more beautiful than when Othello, the miniature horse met up with prettiest mare he’d ever seen, and she liked him too. Of course like so much love in the world, sometimes it’s just not meant to be. She lived in Ohio. He lived in a traveling circus. She was a full blooded draft horse, probably stood 17 hands, weighed 2500 lbs…Her head and neck was probably as big as the whole of Othello… head to tail. Still, it was one of the great romances, and like so many of the truly great love affairs, the one’s you remember often are the one’s where for reasons hard to understand it just never ever was going to work out…Othello I’m sure thought given half a chance if we’d just let him take a stallions chance he was sure could change all that…Honest to god I swear I heard Othello tell me to go get the stilts from backstage…

Small Horse, Big Heart

Highway Home   The Novel

” Jasper heard the horse approaching and
rolled up off his side and stood for a better look. The rider had two dogs with
her, a pair of Border collies, herding dogs. Jasper walked out toward the dogs.
The animals slowed at the end of their approach and walked up, respectful of
each other. The three canines traded sniffs and identified each other with
caution. Jasper had a good nature and his tail wagged and the Border collies
seemed harmless and ready to make friends.”

Metro movie change

image

Union street street shows…playing the Easter Day Parade. Street shows are eternal movie palaces, an art that no civilization, no amount of time will force to die. It’s just cheaper rent, we don’t have to fill the seats, we just have to fill the hat, we can always sleep beneath the stars, where we set our dreams and wishes for one more embrace of an audience……….The Street of Dreams, you can’t play the game unless you absolutely have to…….

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The End of Change itself….

Lasting Embers of an Incendiary Career....

 

Into the mix of changes comes mortality, birth- life- then death, then………..In some belief systems there is the notion that after death comes rebirth and after rebirth another incarnation and that this incarnation is part of many former lives and that we’ll likely be born again. I have a hard time buying in on this idea, but I have no difficulty seeing that after this version of being here that there are going to be other versions of being here even though I might not have the pleasure of a really fabulous human mind to play with in the next visit. We know that we know we are here and we can think about being here and reflect on the idea that it will end. Perhaps we come back as a tree and its hard for me to get my mind around the quality of a trees consciousness, whether it knows that it knows….I’m here in Seattle for a memorial for Hokum W Jeebs… his work as an eccentric musician is part of my second novel, Bankrupt Heart, and in this one sense Hokum’s life extends into the future in an absolute sense. And so we can view end in the strict sense of the word as having a final point, or we can see it to be a movable feast, that in another way nothing ever ends, things continue on and on and on……..

Neighborhood Change

Old Friend
One of the challenges of  long fiction is chronicling change over time. Observations of how things change asks of the observer to maintain a fresh and open mind. I performed my street show on Mill Avenue in Tempe, Arizona last week. New businesses have arrived while old businesses have vanished. My relationship to this neighborhood extends back to 1974. My first visit was to a dusty, simple, funky, partially paved street of pizza joints and sun baked old housing mixed in among stout brick buildings. In the scrimmage that is life this neighborhood is at risk. Too many ideas have not met with success. We feel this tension. Bright, educated, young people define the districts vitality. If we
could have pressed the pause button, if we could have deleted this decision, if the valleys population had not exploded, growing so fast as to exceed the speed of thoughtful urban planning things might have been different. Where once people felt that in this place anything was possible there are now many who are left to wonder. Even if Mill  Avenue by some miracle had got all its changes right there is still the surrounding tumult of what we know as the Valley of the Sun. We all watch the rise and fall, the waves of change… it tugs at our heartstrings.

 

“At the junction with the Coast Highway and the Carmel Valley Road he paused at a traffic
light and then proceeded straight into the heart of Carmel. The business district was comprised
of a quaint group of buildings nestled together beneath cypresses, eucalyptus,
live oaks, palms, and all manner of magnificent trees.”

Highway Home

Changing Arizona

Desert Spring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tonight in Tempe. Street shows at 5th and Mill Avenue. Four shows today. I played this space first in 1992. It has been on my schedule since.  Tempe Festival of the Arts has been happening since the 70’s…..  Lots of change… Played my first date in Tempe in 1974. Lacey is hanging with me at our hosts home. While out on the street she stays behind. Our audiences are banged up and you can feel it here. Arizona is on a down swing of some kind………it would be too easy to say it is politics, too easy to say it is economics, but we are in the realm of the changes here…something needs changing here…something…….needs to change

Quick Change Artist in Slow Motion…

It's the Good Life....

Take your tambourine and your guitar string and move on down the track
Don’t like the way that you comb your hair the way you drawl you all
And if you’re not out of town before sundown you won’t get out of town at all…

Get out of town before sunset     by Buck Owens

The small time entertainer has been my version of sanity. For most of my life it has driven me nuts having to stay in the same place doing the same thing day after day. I have found it infinitely better to drive from one town to another and pretend that things are different, that I’m escaping from the trap of being stuck in one place. With all the long hops and short stops the new places help keep it feeling like the deck is shuffling. Forget solitude, forget lost, get on out there and go see the world. And then it is as if fate has conspired with your demons and ends up playing its trick on you. The dashboard on the truck starts looking familiar. Truck stops start looking the same. All the small towns seem to be drying up. Yuma can look as bleak to the eye as Columbus, New Mexico. Stripe down the highway in Nevada looks pretty much like the same line you saw up in Montana. Pretty soon that psychic air bag installation has deployed right in front of your big fat delusions. I remember one magnificent sunset some years back. There were clouds in the sky, deepest blue I’d ever thought I’d ever seen, streaks of lavender, bursts of golden buckets of liquid light, saturated with pulsing deep reds, the whole sky afire heralding the end of the day, parked as I was with my rig and travel trailer, overlooking this pyrotechnic swan song to another turning of the cosmic wheel, in another of those small towns, happened to be Bakersfield that day. Stuck as I was in this insignificant corner of creation I could feel the twang and pang of Buck Owens in my heart, the whole thing brought tears to my eyes, what it didn’t bring was any true sense that any of this had made a difference, that all this running around had in the long haul not changed a thing…

Plane Change

The Traveling Show

 

I woke up at 4 in the morning. I’d slept backstage on a sofa in a portable building at the Ohio State Fair where I’d been working as emcee/stage manager on the Main Street Stage for twelve days. By the time I woke up the stage, sound and lights had been struck. Everything was gone. I rolled my gear off the grounds and caught a cab out to the airport. I went from Columbus to Las Vegas to Anchorage. Lacey and I picked up a rental took the Seward Highway westbound our destination Girdwood, Alaska. For three days I studied the love life of bush pilots. Turns out bush pilots compete with fishermen, not for passengers, not for fish, but for the rarest of all rare finds a good woman to hold over with when winter sets in.  I would perform at the Kenai Peninsula Fair about 150 miles south. I was put up in a place ten miles out of the town. One of my favorite events at this fair was the fish throwing contest, something I’d not known existed until I worked this show. Best I can tell nobody knows about the fish throwing contest until you get to Ninilchik. Owner of my cabin was a retired sea tug captain who had worked the Indian Ocean prior to coming back to this little piece of fish tossing heaven. Everyone invited me to go halibut fishing because fishing was epidemic in this part of the world, being the only thing a person could do besides trying to find someone to hold up with before winter sets in. For big excitement one night I drove down to Homer. It was here that I met a pontoon pilot who had lost his sweetheart to another fisherman, and it had sealed his fate. He’d hoped to hold up in his cabin with his lady for the winter and instead gave up, changed planes, changed plans, whole life changed. Last day of the fair this pontoon pilot entered the fish throwing contest. Must have tossed that thing like he was throwing a punch at the guy who’d run off with his girl. It was a silver sparkling thing of rural Alaskan beauty watching that old fish go flying across the fairgrounds…pontoon pilot lost the girl, but won the contest. Everything happens for a reason as best I can tell…