Tag Archives: human folly

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

Step Ball Change

The Dance of Love

“Right now, but one day, when the dust settles, and you get your head screwed back on, and your feet are touching the ground, you’ll wake up and maybe I’ll just be a woman, not amazing, not beautiful, not anything special, just a woman.”

Highway Home

You don’t want to get caught on the wrong foot. Trying to change your footing after you’ve gone all in is most often impossible. Might be that the action you’ve taken is irreversible and you will suffer the consequences for the rest of your life. Going head over heels for a new love interest can be an exhilarating ride. It is fun to watch a friend’s dashboard light up and watch the launch. The risks of going all in with your heart is not a bad call, but sometimes these things don’t turn out, endings can be messy, feelings hurt worse in the end than the exhilarating feelings you had on the ride up into the wild blue yonder of romance. It is the ultimate damned if you do, damned if you don’t fact of a high risk love life. Too many people place too much caution into their romance and not enough chance. So, learning to keep your feet on the ground can turn into a lonely stance, losing your footing can be risky, then again being agile, staying on your toes, ready for whatever is next, open mind and open heart, when the moment arrives, and you find yourself right there at the beginning of something new, something you want to take a chance on…I wouldn’t recommend keeping your feet on the ground. I recommend being ready to change the foot your standing on. That’s dancing from the heart…

 

 

I Don’t Have to Show You No Stinkin’ Changes…

Version 1982 Bernal Heights, San Francisco

“He looked over his face in the mirror, checking his shave by running his hand across his cheek, chin, and neck. Then he took out his toothbrush and buffed up that wide grin of his. In-between strokes he kept practicing his smile.”

Noel Sanderson from Highway Home

 

I have had a steady stream of agreeable different versions of me. I’ve got my favorite version, the bad old version and of course the current version.I don’t get around to doing much about keeping up with all my versions. I usually check the daily version in the mirror first thing in the morning. I try to check under the gentleness of incandescent light. The florescent version goes against my current high opinion of the manipulated contemporary version. Having to carry all this around and it is a heavy load isn’t much fun for those people who come along and wish to puncture my ongoing personal version of a balloon. Now, this inflated balloon is a masterpiece, a lifework, an ongoing effort organized by the very nature of the beast to do everything in its power to sustain a maximum effort to place lipstick upon this present moment’s version. And then to find out all this is in fact a myth, a hoax, that there is no there “there”. Turns out I’ve been unmasked, that this fixed constant version never even existed, instead there is only yet another version. I’ve been getting out under a shade tree in the afternoons taking out the old version and waxing and polishing it up. Doesn’t stay clean long, I flip the light on the next morning and there it is looking at me in the mirror.

Everything Can Change in an Instant

Gone Forever...

 

      . “The Last Chance” had a neon sign hanging out front. The bar had been there a long time. Ceiling fans twirled aimlessly and easy. Older patrons were smoking and seated at the stools. Two men tossed a few darts at a bull’s eye, while two old gals sat at the corner of the bar drinking high balls and gossiping. It was cozy, dim, and smoke filled.”

                                          Late Night 1979… Portland, Oregon

                                          From the novel Highway Home

            My grandfather was a bootlegger. He built a bar at the end of prohibition in Oakland, California. It had fish tanks behind the bar, mirrors behind the booze. The bottles looked like they vanished into infinity. He had a parrot back where he did the books to keep him company. Bar was glued and doweled, not a nail was used in the Philippine mahogany interior. Place smelled like stale beer and tobacco. By 1965 the neighborhood had changed, swallowed any chance Tambo’s had of making a go of it. Had been a first class operation all the way, but nothing to do but close her down and walk away. Wrecking company demolished the building, would have been salvaged in this day and age. The whole of a man’s life vanished, in an instant, everything gone. Over the years when I can find an old joint to drink in, bars looking as if they’re cheating death, bars misplaced making a last stand in a decaying forgotten corner of a city. When I belly up to a bar, place named The Last Chance, I take a dive like that, I figure somebody must have known, place I can go, drink a few, listen for the voice of my grandfathers wisdom…

Changing Saddles

Author Dana Smith outbound on a trail hike...

 

“Let the world do what the world does. I don’t think I’ve ever taken this trail that it hasn’t changed me. Leave in the morning one person, and come back another kind.”

                         June, An old cowgirl from Jiggs, Nevada                            

                                          Highway Home

            Kicking up some dust on a trail hike can do a soul good. When I can get out on a track and let the rhythm of the place set to working against what I’m caught up about I can find a grip I can use to get back to who I am. The less that happens while I’m hiking the more a tonic I feel in my bones. If I got a worry it usually is gone by the time the walk is finished. It is odd how we spend so many of our years under the impression that we aren’t much changed, that we’re pretty close now to what we’ve always been. Good long walk is kind like a long slow cooking of a meal. Food inside a Dutch oven given enough time breaks down and merges into something you can find worth sopping up and eating with a slice of bread. Comes a point if you get on the trail enough that you’ll come to a panorama look out, see fifty miles to the next mountain range, you’ll be looking out into the distance, and you’ll find you are looking right into the heart of who you are right now…