Today is the birthday of an incredible guitarist and inspiration/hero of mine: Mr. Johnny Winter!
Happy 67 years, Johnny! Keep tearing up the blues!
Today is the birthday of an incredible guitarist and inspiration/hero of mine: Mr. Johnny Winter!
Happy 67 years, Johnny! Keep tearing up the blues!
As I was driving around in rural Texas a few days ago, I saw a gorgeous brown field with newly made round bales of hay scattered in it. I quickly pulled the car off the road, grabbed the camera and made my way across traffic, through the scrub and up onto some railroad tracks to snap what I thought was going to be a few great pictures. These shots were, to say the least, a disappointment. As I stood there, lamenting the heat, the poor shots and the trek through the brush to get them, I glanced up and down the railroad tracks and was immediately reminded of the beginning of ‘The Dharma Bums” where Ray Smith rides the rails, hobo style, all along the west coast, from Mexico to San Francisco.
I love Jack Kerouac book ‘The Dharma Bums‘! The Dharma Bums stands as one of Kerouac’s most powerful, influential, and bestselling novels. The story focuses on two untrammeled young Americans—mountaineer, poet, and Zen Buddhist Japhy Ryder and Ray Smith, a zestful, innocent writer—whose quest for Truth leads them on a heroic odyssey, from hobo train rides up and down the West coast, marathon parties and poetry jam sessions in San Francisco’s Bohemia to solitude and mountain climbing in the High Sierras to Ray’s sixty-day vigil by himself atop Desolation Peak in Washington State. I’ve read this book several times throughout my life and, while I question Kerouac’s understanding of Buddhism, at least as he portrayed it in the book, I have come to love the story.
So I became fascinated with trying to capture that feeling in some pictures of the tracks.
I got an email (several actually) from my friend Damon who I used to play music with back in the day. We were in and out of different bands together from about 1998 until he moved and he is, without a doubt the best drummer I have ever played with and probably the best all around musician I know. He moved away several years ago and, though we’ve talked sporadically, I haven’t heard from him in a while, until today.
At any rate, we did quite a bit of recording and he ran across some old jams we had done in his studio with his friend Frank Cabrera on drums, Damon on bass and me on guitar. These were instrumental recordings I had completely forgotten existed. I asked him if I could share them and he was cool with it, so here we go.
The first is just a loose blues jam
The other is the very beginnings of a melody that I had gotten in my head and I had showed Damon about an hour before this recording was made. Frank added the mad 6/8 drums and this is the only recording of it that exists (that I am aware of). In fact, I don’t even think we ever named the song.
This is a cross post from one of my other blogs Enlighten Up. I took out the part about tagging the other folks since that is already in the other post.
I’ve been tagged by Luis Sandoval at Daily Slackr to participate and share Seven Things You Don’t Know About Me writing project. So here goes:
1. I sleep hooked up to a machine
I have sleep apnea which means I stop breathing when I sleep. Consequently, I wear a mask at night that’s connected to a machine called a CPAP, that ensures I keep breathing during the night.
2. I always wanted to be a rock star
I started playing drums at an early age and sucked. I took up the guitar and, for a long time, sucked. But I eventually developed a little bit of ability with it. I’ve played in bands since high school and have actually been in some mildly successful ones. I’ve played country, blues, jazz, metal, folk…you name it, I have probably played it. There was even a time when I contemplated taking a couple of years off work and attending the Guitar Institute of Technology in LA and make a go as a professional musician, but, it wasn’t to be.
3. I’ve jammed with a number of members of the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame and one member of the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame
These include Skeet Seaton, Jimmy Evans, C.W. Gatlin and (although he probably doesn’t remember it) Levon Helm. Admittedly, most of these are because I was either friends or in bands with their kids, but hec, it still happenned numerous times!
4. I write poetry
Yup, that’s right. Snicker all you want but I enjoy it. I started in high school and continue to this day. Some of it turns into songs and some is just meant as spoken word. I also have an ever growing collection of Haiku that I have written over the last 10 years.
5. I had my hair cut by Elvis Presley’s hair stylist in his living room
The man’s name was Homer Gilliland and cut my hair in his kitchen using nothing but a straight razor. It was one of the best haircuts I ever had. He cut Elvis’ hair from the late 60’s to the mid 70’s and had numerous memorobelia in his house. (not to mention the large, white car with EP on it that sat in the driveway.
6. I have been the maid of honor at a wedding
Ok, let me tell you the story, then you can point and giggle. I lived in Vegas for a couple of years and my friends Dave and Sally Schwartz were living in Southern California and decided to come to Vegas to renew their wedding vows. They brought their two kids Landon and Jeff(affectionately referred to as ‘The Flying Schwartz Brothers”) The best man and maid of honor were going to fly in later and meet them for the ceremony at The Little White Wedding Chapel on the strip. Well, for some reason (if I recall, the flight was cancelled) the best man and maid of honor couldn’t make the ceremony. So there we stand: Bride, Groom, two pre teen boys and me. The first thing decided was that Landon, the oldest, should be the best man. So this left the maid of honor slot, me and a ten year old. Since Dave and Sally have a great sense of humor, and there was no way of convincing a 10 year old that he should be the maid of honor at his parents wedding, I stepped up and filled the role. It was a blast, and I love telling this story to people when it comes up.
7. My elementary teacher once broke my collar bone
I was in second grade and we were out at recess. I happened to accidentally walk through the middle of a football game that some kids were playing and ended up in part of a dog pile tackle. (It was a different time then. Kids could play rough at recess and it was no big deal.) As one of the final people jumped on, I felt a pain in my right shoulder and heard a snap. I had a fairly high pain threshold as a kid so rather than screaming and crying, I just sat quietly. I am told a few tears came down my face, but I just sat on the steps quietly holding my arm.
The bell rang and I went in for afternoon classes. In the afternoon I had English, writing, reading and spelling. Since I am right handed, I was trying to write with my left hand. My teacher came up and asked why I was doing that. I told her my arm hurt. Since I wasn’t crying or anything, she didn’t think much of it and told me to write with my right hand. I raised it to the desk and tried, but the pain was too great and there were a couple of tears. I put my right hand back in my lap and started to write with my left again.
After a few minutes, the teacher snapped at me “I TOLD you to write with your right hand!” She grabbed my right hand, yanked it over my head and slammed it on the table in front of me and told me to get to writing. This time, I felt a double pop, and the tears started streaming but I didn’t make any noise.
One of my mothers students (she taught in the same building at the other end of the hall) was walking by and saw me with the tears holding my shoulder. When he got back to her class, he asked her what was wrong with me. She came and took me too the hospital where they x-rayed my shoulder and discovered it was broken in three places. It was bad enough that I had to lay flat on my back on the floor for three weeks before they could put it in a brace.
When she raised the issue with the school, she was told that if she valued her job, she wouldn’t raise a fuss about it. It was an accident and I was ok, so everything was fine. I was young enough that I didn’t know any better.
So that’s it. Hopefully this sheds a little light into who I am, and perhaps will get some conversation going next time I see anyone in my network.
WARNING: Screen captures are a little blurry in this post. Click on them to see the full size, clear version.
I love WordPress, the kick ass blogging software that powers this site and enlighten-up.org , home of the Enlighten Up Podcast. It’s one of the best products out there period and is best in class for what I use it for. This afternoon they released version 2.5, which is a major overhaul of the software. I always try to upgrade my WordPress blogs as soon as a new version comes out, so let me run down the experience for you. Ever since the inclusion of the WordPress Automatic Update plugin, I do my updates in a specific way. The plugin gives you two choices. You can either have it handle the whole process for you or you can have it do the work, but you acknowledge each step. It’s kind of a semi-auto way to do it. Since I have two sites, I start with enlighten-up.org and I do the step by step. This prompts you at each step and you are allowed to download entire backups of the site and the database as you go. Assuming this is successful (it always has been) I then do this site, hoboslanding.com, in full auto. I began by running the Autmatic Update Plugin in WordPress. It had backed up the site files and had me download them. Then it backed up the database and I downloaded that. It put the site into maintenance mode, no problem. It turned off the plugins, went and got the upgrade files, installed them them and updated the database. After this, I was presented with a login screen. “No problem”, I thought. “It installed a big upgrade. I probably just need to login again.” Once I logged in, I was presented with this:
If you don’t want to look at it full size, it says “Are You Sure You Want To Do This?”, but there is nothing to click. No toggle, no button, nothing. I was a bit perplexed. I decided to click the Automatic Update tab and see what happened. This prompted me to start the whole thing over. “Hmm…I wonder if the site actually updated.” I took a look at it and it looked the same except there were a few things missing. It seemed to have to do with the plugins. A quick glance at the plugin tab confirmed that all the plugins were still off. I went through each and turned them on.
I looked at the site again and everything seemed OK. I was satisfied that, with the minor plugin problem that the update had gone fine. I then turned my attention to HobosLanding. My thought had always been that I check the step by step update first and if anything looked wrong or out of place, I wouldn’t mess everything up with the full auto. But, I decided to go ahead and try the full auto on this site anyway. When I clicked the Automatic Upgrade link to start the ball rolling, I was presented with a screen that told me that it had failed on step 3, the retrieval of the software. At this point, I decided it was better just to upgrade with semi auto and see if the problems before had been an anomaly. It seems they were not. I was presented with the exact same successes and failures as with the EU update, with one exception. When I tried to turn on the first plugin, the ‘404 Notifier’, I got a fatal error.
Since the new WordPress tells you when a plugin has an update, it appeared that I had the latest version and I have this same plugin running on enlighten-up.org and it had activated just fine. I decided that I would try reinstalling the plugin later. But WP 2.5 had a new feature that I wanted to test. It told you when there were updates for plugins and would supposedly install the new plugins automatically. I saw that the WP Automatic Updater was out of date.
I thought I had updated it just a week ago, but I really should have checked before I updated. At any rate, I clicked the ‘Upgrade Automatically’ link. This failed miserably. It was an unhandled code error:
At this point I decided to step back and type up this post, giving myself a chance to look over the new features and see if anything obvious had failed. A more in depth review of the new features, etc. Will be forth coming.
We all know that people remember where they were when big events happen.? Big, important events get written to our ‘non-volatile’ memory.? I know where I was for the moon landing, when Reagan was shot, the twin towers, and yes, where I was when Elvis died.? That last one I just realized within the past couple of days with all the coverage of the 30th anniversary.? I wasn’t a huge Elvis fan at 12 years old.? I knew he lived just up the road in Memphis and that we passed his place on the way to the mall, but I really wasn’t a fan.? I thought maybe it was that it got so much coverage from all the Memphis TV and maybe that is what I remembered, but I really don’t remember the coverage.? What I remember is the initial instant that I heard about it.
I was at my friends Jim and Gil Pillow’s house.? They had a pretty large home and had a kids room for us to play in.? It was full of toys and had it’s own bathroom and TV.? They had a bunch of big, square pillows that were very firm and we were jumping off the couch onto the pillows.? (I didn’t say we were behaving in the wake of such a profound event.)? As usual, we had the TV on, more for noise than entertainment.? They interrupted whatever program we were not watching with a news bulletin that Elvis was dead.? I remember that I stopped and watched the report, more out of shock than interest.? Jim and Gil kept playing.? After watching it, I felt a need to go tell their mom.? I don’t know why, but I just felt she should know.
Some events I can easily see why I remember them.? For instance, when the towers were hit, I was an adult and it hit me very hard, as it did everyone.? Even when Reagan was shot, I was in high school and old enough to know what was going on.? But some of the early memories, like the Moon Landing.? I have no idea why I remember it.? I was very small and I can remember that I was supposed to be taking a nap, but I was allowed to nap where the TV was because of the moon landing.? I never really figured that part out.? I was at a baby sitters and she wanted to see the moon landing, but we could nap in front of it.? Weird.? Anyway, I remember being mad because I had to lay down.? I lay there and fidgeted and glanced at the TV and thought how bad the picture was compared with normal TV.? I had no idea of the magnitude of the event and to this day, my memories of it are having to lay there and be still.? That is my only memory of that baby sitter’s house too, but I remember that event.?? It didn’t seem like a big event at the time, but I have never forgotten it.
“So where did all this come about? And who are you? And why hobo’s landing? and…”
“Alright…Alright…one thing at a time. Let’s see what I can let you in on the clear all this up. I ran a blog and subsequently a podcast over yonder at enlighten-up.org. Still do, as a matter of fact. Enlighten-up is where I write and talk about Buddhist Teachings and their relevance in the 21st century. Pretty heady stuff, I guess. As I went along, I found myself blogging about so much more than Buddhism that I sometimes got the feeling I was diluting the teachings that I wanted to talk about with horse pictures and podcast meetups and cooking and books and just news in general. I really wanted to keep my discussions of the Buddhist teachings something special, but I also didn’t wanna give up my discussions of EVERYTHING ELSE, so I just decided to separate the two. So now if you wanna talk Buddhism, enlighten-up.org is still the place to go. But for most other stuff you hop a box car right over here to hobo’s landing. ”
” Ok…but who the hell are you?” “Alright…simma down now. I’m just the head hobo ’round these parts. Anything else you need to know about me, I’m sure will come up sooner or later. And if not, or ifya just can’t wait, smack that old ‘Contact Me’ button at the top of the page and ask me anything you want. I’m not real stingy with the facts”
“Ok, ok…but why hoboslanding.com?”
“Now see…there’s a good question and I’m more than happy to give you an answer. See how easy that was? There are three reasons for using the name. I was trying to think of something that kinda reflected my personality. So I thought back in my childhood and came up with a couple of things. I was a pretty smart feller when I was tiny, you know, pretty much had my wits about me, but I don’t know what happened in the past couple of decades. Anyway, I could spell pretty good a real young age. For one, I knew how to spell my last name. Couldn’t walk…couldn’t talk real good either. Here is the point of the first story. My last name was on all the store scales and appliances (I’m sure now you can guess what it is). So as we pulled through the line, I would get very excited and point at the letters and say “Dat my name H….O….B….A….R….T….HOBO.” So from then on, my family nickname was Hobo.”
“The second part of the story comes from growing up in Helena, AR. It was a small farming community on the Mississippi river and when I was young, had quite a bit of rail traffic. At that point, there was also alot of folks riding the rails. My old Pappy (which was my grandfather on my mother’s side) would take me down to the tracks to watch the trains do their things. I loved the trains. There was also a little place where the hobos would gather around an old barrel with a fire and warm up and talk and sit around. We always called this the hobo’s landing. Not a technical term or anything. Just a term my pappy came up with when I asked about it. But from then on, that place was hobo’s landing.”
“The third part of the story is probably not so interensting, As I began to read, I really enjoyed the writing of Jack Kerouac. Not only the content, but the way he wrote, like a jazz player who would just barely pause to take a breath. Anyway, my favorite was always ‘The Dharma Bums’ (not the Buddhist influence) with Japhy Ryder and cruising up and down the west coast in a box car just watching the world.”
“So…all and all, I think that Hobo’s Landing was a pretty good choice for the name. Agree or disagree, either way, I’l love to hear from some of you folks.
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