Sunday, December 6, 2009

Song notes... "Crossroads and Crucifixes"

The Gulf Coast rain pounds a rhythm in my mind. There are some times when the night drags on and on and weighs me down, when I suffocate and feel like breaking apart, that I miss those long pine tree miles. I could give everything up for a one-way ticket to anywhere, but instead I watch the ashtray fill up and contemplate my defeat. Will they expect me to give a speech? I won't. I have nothing left to say. No matter what I do tonight, tomorrow will still come, and I take no solace in that thought.

The world spins round and round, and I'm stuck on the Gulf. Or the desert. New Mexico put the Gulf in my eyes, and all you see is a projection, a reflection. How's that make you feel; falling in love with something no more real than the mirror stretched abstract between sea and sky? Blue cold and hard as slate, ice you'll never melt. Las Cruces changed my bones to pigiron, a metal frame to protect a soft heart, pumping rain and sand and steam.

Robert Johnson, where are you now, and where's your Devil? Where's that crazy man I met in Florida who claimed to have found your bottleneck slide, buried somewhere in the Mississippi mud? I need you here, poison in your whiskey, and dying howling like a dog. I'll break the dial off the radio and we'll be stuck with each other all the way to the Delta, just a couple of wide-eyed ghosts. And I'll drive into the soft spiderweb underbelly of the South, where the green and black all gives way through the junkie veins of swamp and moss to the glowing, nuclear Gulf. And we'll sink 'til we're breathing mud.

*roadmaps, red and blue veins against the grey of my mind

Crossroads and crucifixes
I fell in love with every waitress
From Brooklyn, NY back to Memphis
Nothing but crossroads and crucifixes

Crossroads and crucifixes
Traded my soul for a life less wasted
From New Mexico back to Memphis
Nothing but crossroads and crucifixes

Crossroads and crucifixes
From the Emerald Coast back to Memphis
Nothing but crossroads and crucifixes

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Rainclouds and Cigarettes: Epilogue


"Whether he's happy or not, I don't know. I don't suppose happiness means as much to an artist as to ordinary folk."

All through this month, though I brought several books, I've focused mainly on one in particular; "The Air-Conditioned Nightmare", by Henry Miller. Superficially, there may be some parallels drawn; a book about traveling through America, written by a wholly natural expatriate who had lived abroad for several years, being read by a wholly natural wanderluster while he travels through America, after having been cooped up in domestic civility for several years. I spent most of my time in awe of the beauty and wildness of the traveler's America, however dreary and sinisterly multifaceted that America may have shown herself to be. Miller, on the other hand, spends a large portion of his travels disgusted, comparing everything to some idyllic and contrary chateau or cafe that he remembers from Paris or Algiers or wherever. But what do I know? Miller's one of the greatest writers America has ever produced, and I'm but halfway through his book.

"This subject, the relationship between wisdom and vitality, interests me because, contrary to the general opinion, I have never been able to look upon America as young and vital but rather as prematurely old, as a fruit which rotted before it had the chance to ripen. The word which gives the key to the national vice is waste. And people who are wasteful are not wise, neither can they remain young and vigorous. In order to transmute energy to higher and more subtle levels one must first conserve it."

Then again, as my father reminded me tonight, there are no coincedences. What may appear coincidences are just moments where you are clued in to the larger arrangements of the energy and potential of Everything, given a brief map of the overgrown paths that wind with the barely controlled and subtle chaos of the whipping of a conductor's wand through some orchestral and verdant forest. It's like dipping your finger into the righteous eddies of Lao Tzu's Mississippi River and, for one moment, tasting Wisconsin snow. What am I trying to teach myself? What are all these roadmaps tracing blue and red across my brains, seeping like little spiderweb tributaries into the fertile delta of my confused, exhausted dreams?

I'm home now, and little worse for the wear. Stayed up late, watching Alien and reading and writing and smoking, keeping Megan up with me. It's going to be a lot of work to readjust, and in some ways I feel I'm too far gone. I can hear that same roar of the cosmic tumblers. The safe is being cracked again, and the dam within has sprung a few leaks.

Jeezus, I'm taking everything too seriously, everything for granted. I keep writing love letters to rivers, everything in motion, everything rolling and winding, each handful wholly unique, like swallowing a lungful of time, where only the shore stands still to be beaten and cheated and washed slowly out to sea.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Rainclouds and Cigarettes: Mama, I'm Coming Home


Ozzy Osbourne - "Mama, I'm Coming Home"

It was a muggy fucking night in Tuscaloosa.

Now all that was so long ago
But my luck still hasn't changed
And now it seems everywhere I go
I'm followed by the rain
So tell all them boys you just need to spend tonight alone
Cuz when you hear that rain a-fallin', then you know I'm coming home

Last real day of tour. We drive back to Memphis tonight. The rain's followed us all the way back to Nashville.

Last night in Tuscaloosa was a drunken frenzy. We played at Egan's; the Angel Sluts playing two sets with me playing a solo set in between. I was fairly well-received, though I can't truthfully remember much about playing.

We're in Greenbrier, TN now, at a coffee shop. The other band is a Christian metal band from Alabama who, ironically, we passed on Highway 65 and nearly ran off the road, thanks in no small part to Matt taking the driving reigns while I napped in the back.

Timmy and I stayed up late with our Alabama host last night, getting high and eating snacks and listening to Mineral.

I have definitely reached the end of my rope, and thank Gawd this coincides with the end of the road. Halloween show in Memphis tomorrow (I'm going as Doyle, and he as me), and then home, where all sorts of treats and amenities await.

There are dumb little boys strutting around this coffee shop who need to be slapped on principle.

I'm exhausted. No more writing until I'm back in Memphis.

. . . .

5 am? Maybe?

Memphis, safe and sound. Rainy, out of touch. It's like deep sea diving; you gotta be careful how you surface.

"Swamp Critters of Lost Lagoon" - Weird kids' show, possums and gators, bizarre, bad acting, cheap set, very fucking sincere. Surreal hillbilly role-models, woodland saints living together in transpecies jugband harmony.

"Nashville's Country Family Reunion" - RFD-TV - Is this for real? Spooky collections of pop-country also-rans, singing together and telling old stories, everyone looks like a drug user. Most of them have theaters in Branson. They force smiles until their exoskeletons crack, and squeeze all the right tears out of their saggy udder eyeballs. Weirdly touching. I want to download all the episodes.

Barbara Fairchild - "Opal and Euless"

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Rainclouds and Cigarettes: Going on and on 'bout silence.


Over four weeks in today. I've been watching these gauges for a month.

Charles Bukowski - "Women". Did I already make note of this one? I like the subject matter. Who recommended it to me? Jeremy in Cincinnati? Everything blurs.

I need to spend more time silent, I think. Observing and listening, leaving room to breath in the world. And all the characters I've met and known, and all those I've yet to meet and know. A silent man is regarded with suspicion, probably arising from misplaced jealousy, or perhaps because people think that a silent man is a judging man, or a man who knows some mystery or sinister secret and he dares not unsew his lips lest the wisdom escape. I am not wise, nor mysterious nor judgmental. I just feel that sometimes silence is a powerful tool, a gentle weapon, a medium which our heart can take hold and, uninhibited by a struggling tongue trying desperately to keep time with a fervent and fickle brain, paint our dreams on the the black canvas of our eyelids and write poems on the backs of our throats.

There's music everywhere, in everyone and everything, even this humid night in Atlanta, and perhaps it's time I shut the fuck up and let the music do the talking for me.

We're staying with Matt's ladyfriend Ashley tonight, a disdainful employee of CNN who has a small apartment well-stocked with books. She and I discussed Studs Terkel and poetry at length tonight, both finding inspiration and solace in the great subversive post-modernists, though perhaps I shouldn't speak for someone else and their literary convictions. She may have just been making conversation. Whatever.

Ashley sweetly offered me any of her books to borrow, and also offered to give me her corporate FedEx account number so that I may ship back the books when I'm finished. A wonderful proposal, but I distrust myself with others' books, whether I fear I'll destroy or lose them, or just become so attached that I can't bring myself to part with them. I think, instead, I'll make a list of all the recommended and captivating titles, and add 'em to my preexisting list which I fear will never be complete or conquered.

Funny to look back through this journal and watch my handwriting deteriorate into manic scribbling. The first few entries are neat, orderly. Now, nearing the end, they're barely legible. Notes in the margin, ink smudged across the page, entire paragraphs scratched out into oblivion. I'm frayed. Thank Gawd I'll be home soon.

Bride of Chucky is on TV.

One of the passages of the Tao Teh Ching teaches that "He who knows does not speak/He who speaks does not know". I've struggled often with this lesson. Back to the silence. I've spent most of my life with a humble heart but a quick, arrogant tongue. I admit my immodest faults, my flowery cocksure observations, and I really truly feel the need to finally reconcile the gross imbalance. It's easy to say this after a month in a subcultural stupor, in a capsule of tedium rocketing around with an endless array of color and variety on the bluescreen surrounding us. Whether or not I take these lessons, and all the other relative wisdom and insight I feel I've gained, back to the real world is up to me. I'm worried I'll lose some strength and perspective when my feet are firmly planted, and all this will have been for naught. It's tiring to try to prove myself to the world around me with frivolous hand-gestures and well-meaning but misguided gesticulation. It's time, I think, to prove myself to the world within.

Rainclouds and Cigarettes: Wistful in Hotlanta


Someday I'm going to write a book called "Oh, The Places I've Shit".

I bravely conquered rainy Atlanta traffic at rush hour today. We pulled into the familiar neighborhood of Cravey Drive and visited my uncle, who took us out for an amazing Chinese dinner. Watching his mannerisms and listening to him talk made me feel a little wistful. He's a Dietz as much as I, and it's a rare pleasure that we Dietz's get to share some moments together, face to face, basking in the warped mirror of each other's company. I miss my Ozarks Dietz's. Been thinking about my family all night. I'd like to somehow make it home for Thanksgiving. I've remained aloof for so long, estranged from my family in ways that no one, not even my closest friends, know about. I don't see my isolation ending any time soon, but I need to start working towards taking an active part in my family again, no matter how fucking crazy they are, and how much guilty anxiety they cause me. Birds of a feather, they know me better than I know myself. There's no sense in denying the cosmic strings that tug at all of us alike, and no reason to try to make sense of the tumultuous and taxing lives we all lead, independently and, more importantly, as a whole. Nobody ever said it would be easy, and goddamn if it's not just another river that just don't run straight.

I'll try to make it home for Thanksgiving. My family doesn't expect me to, and I honestly don't expect myself to either.

We're sleeping like princes in my uncle's basement tonight. Thor, the giant German Shepherd, is keeping us company. An off day tomorrow, we're hoping to visit the Coca-Cola factory. Alabama the next day, bringing our total of states visited on this tour to something like twenty-two or twenty-three. Then Nashville, and Memphis on Halloween. It'll feel so good to get home, back to my boys, and back to that sweet little doe-eyed girl who loves me in all the ways I don't deserve. I'll pay for all of my guilt and sins someday. I suppose, now, I should just keep free-falling, appreciating each moment and each soft kiss and on-ramp and warm meal and sloppy punk rock show for what they truly are; the individually unique moment, frozen in time, to be cherished as a world unto itself, dying with a heartbeat and stretching backwards infinitely. The centipede of blessed potential that nips at our heels with the sweet poison of passing time and heartachingly perfect memories.