Monday, October 31, 2005


New Orleans is not the only place where people love Halloween...

Jennifer's watermelon costume is pretty damned spectacular!

Herbie Hancock
would love it.

Let's Rebuild New Orleans

Jim Monaghan, the proprietor of Molly's, is the host of this crazy event tonight.

He's got something to say... sort of.
this is an audio post - click to play

All Hallows Eve

Sitting at Molly's (again) loading up files to the server and waiting for the parade to start.

Laura the bartender is dressed as Joan of Arc... other bartender costmes include a muskateer and a nurse (with blood all over her). Outside there are about a dozen old refrigerators, endless FEMA employees and an entire team of (very sexy) lifeguards.

Running to stand still...

Besides being Halloween, today is also (or, considering the time difference, WAS also) the running of the Dublin Marathon. Back last March, when I originally started my plan to move to New Orleans, I had planned on training for, and making the trip to, this event in the city where my grandmother was born. Like the only marathon I have ever run, Big Sur, the Dublin Marathon asserts a pull on me like few other experiences. Like my experience of New Orleans, I find some part of my soul in that city and combining that soul connection with the physical body connection of distance running is particularly vibrant. It creates a linkage between the spiritual, psychological and corporeal parts of my being that nothing else touches. It is an experience that I have been thoroughly lacking in over the last two months. My participation in this year's marathon is another casualty of my chaotic and crisis strewn life of the last several months and so it's not really surprising that instead of being there, I'm here... But being HERE is the right thing for right now.

This will make the first full week I have been in the Crescent City since the last week of August. I expect to - I must - get a lot of work done this week. Something that will be even more difficult than usual because the standard sluggish nature of doing business in the tropics has been increased exponentially by the devolution of the city's infrastructure A.K. Connected to that is the task of figuring out the new lay of the land; what CAN be done... and, even more importantly, WHEN.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Things you NEVER used to hear...

Two twenty-something guys, one helping the other with computer issues, in the back of the coffeeshop...

"My friend asked me to come and bring the chain saw."

With a big smile on his face, eyes wide with wonder, the other guy exclaims, "You HAVE a chainsaw!?"

"Mikey does."

"Would he let me use it?"

"He might come over and do it for you just because he LIKES using the chainsaw."

Gas Line

I've found a new place for coffee and WiFi in the Lower Garden District area. Rue de la Course is a local coffeehouse chain that, even in their smaller shops, features lots of tables with green shaded lawyer lamps for reading and a relatively pleasant, no hassle, atmosphere for hanging out. The one on Magazine near Washington is huge with easily thirty tables and a great (meaning fast and reliable) WiFi connection.

The problem is, it is one of the only coffeshops that is open in this part of town, and as such it is doing land office business. The line for coffee runs down the entire length of about a twenty foot counter and then extends an additional ten feet to the door, with many people regularly spilling out onto the sidewalk outside. The wait for coffee this morning was, conservatively, twenty minutes... Not only is it the only game in, this part of, town, the coffee is terrific and the almond croissants are the best I've ever tasted.


Yesterday I did exactly what I predicted and went out to spend my saved up energy capital from the night before. I finally made it back to bed at 1:30 in the morning (thank God for the gift of an extra hour for moving out of daily savings time) after walking home from the quarter after midnight.

It was a day filled with music (more on that later) and it closed, at 12:30 in the morning, on a little corner on Chartres Street, where I was given the gift of the blues from two guys sitting and playing Robert Johnson tunes on the corner.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Street Karma Part Deux

this is an audio post - click to play

Phone Call from the War Zone

this is an audio post - click to play

Comin' Back... New Orleans Style

Halloween in New Orleans, like most other excuses to party in New Orleans, is NOT a one day (let alone a one night) event. The celebrations really started last night with Kermit Ruffins at Fat Harry's and a big party at Snug Harbor. What's a bit odd, is that I didn't go to either one. I dropped off at a friend's house to "rest up" and wound up staying for the night. As I calculate it I got about 10 hours sleep for the first time since I can remember.

NOW... I'm ready to spend that banked energy!

In about an hour the first day of VooDoo Fest begins out at Audobon Park. B.K. this festival was scheduled to take place all weekend and friends and family from California were planning on coming to see Billy Idol, Nine Inch Nails, and loads of other groups (including loads of New Orleans groups )but A.K. the fest was moved to Memphis. Now... it's been split. The first day (today) is happening in New Orleans, primarily as a free concert for rescue workers and residents. The second day is remaining (as rescheduled) in Memphis. Another great thing is that my friend Tom Morgan is going to be broadcasting the fest LIVE on WWOZ as an incredible symbol of the rebirth of THAT great organization. You can listen live at the link above and get a taste of the party.

In addition, this afternoon is the New Orleans BookFair, which I really want to make it to - at least for a while. Then... the Cabildo museum is reopening today with free admission and a special celebration concert at 6:00 pm featuring Rebirth Brass Band (who else!?).

I haven't even started on the rest of the weekend...
MOM's Halloween Ball tonight at the new Howlin' Wolf - THEME: "Hell or High Water"
VooDooFest (the real thing) all day Monday
Molly's Halloween Parade on Monday evening featuring Queen Katrina.

There's of course much more than that... but I'll have to report on it AFTER it happens.

For all those out there who still think that katrina killed Mardi Gras, just consider THIS schedule and project three months out...
Like I said... We're comin' back...

New Orleans style.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Returning to the Scene of the Crime

Not much to say here, except that Fat Harry's appears to have WiFi.

Two words I have heard over and over and over in the last 48 hours... "Welcome Back!"

People on the street, in bars, restaurants, and sitting on the bus are perptually finding friends, smiling and cheering... People all over town are glad to be home.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

My Feet Are Gonna Tap

Thursday night at The Gold Mine Saloon. A short night for 17 poets (only about 5 poets actually), but a great night to be there. Most of the poems had a Katrina theme. Some worked to soothe the pained soul of fellow displaced travelers, some sought solace in humor and some simply poured out pain and confusion. The last poet of the evening had come in from Dallas where he is hunkered down for the time being. His name is Stan Beemis and he closed his crazy, chaotic Katrina poem by declaring, "As long as my feet are planted on this earth, MY FEET ARE GONNA TAP!"

Stan Beemis made my night.

After the poets I wandered down Bourbon in search of a cab (they're pretty scarce these days) to catch home. That experience I phoned in...
this is an audio post - click to play

Stealing WiFi

I'm sitting in one of my true guilty pleasures... the Storyville Tavern at Margaritaville.

A musician I am extremely fond of, Jesse Moore is playing here and there's one table in the corner of the bar where I can steal WiFi from across the street and experience the perfect internet moment (well... except for the drunk FEMA workers screaming "SALT... SALT... SALT!"

I'm stalling for time while I wait to go to The Gold Mine for poetry night, an event you've read about before on this blog and one of the last things I did B.K.

It's weird... but it's good... to be home.

Welcome to Zombie Town

Walking the half mile from the house to CC's coffee at Magazine and Jefferson where I can get coffee and WiFi (and power to recharge my computer) it doesn't feel like a ghost town at all. As soon as I step around the corner onto Napolean, I am confronted by a large collection of vehicles making its way across St. Charles. On all the corners there are stacks and stacks of garbage and debris. On almost every house, some window, somewhere, is broken. Refrigerators stand, or lie, along the sidewalk every few feet.

There are a whole lot of people doing a whole lot of work, but it is all mostly demolition or construction. There are people on the sidewalks, but they walk around in a fog.

Les Bon Temps Roulez on Magazine, one of my favorite little clubs in town, sports a big blue flag above the door that reads, "Don't Give Up The Ship." Les Bon Temps is open for business and Eric Lindell, with whom I share the bi-coastal behavior of living in Northern California and New Orleans simultaneously (to quote Firesign Theater, "How can you be in two places at once when you're not anywhere at all?"), played there Tuesday and Soul Rebels will be there tomorrow night; a make believe normalcy that feels a little like "fake it 'til you make it."

As I approach CC's from down the block I can't really see if they are open, but as I get closer I see a few faces looking out the window and I know I will at least get coffee. I utter a prayer for WiFi (yes, I really did) and figure that there will be a few people inside but nothing like the crowds I found B.K. (before Katrina).

Boy am I wrong! The place is packed. Every table and every power plug, is filled with people tapping on their laptops, sipping onn coffee and holding cell phones to their ear, the new communal office. A hand drawn sign stands by the counter. It silently declares, "Welcome Home! We Missed Y'all." Next to the sign is a large stack of employment applications that telegraphs the fact that a rather large segment of Community Coffee's former employees have vanished into the air.

The woman behind the counter looks at me with hopeful eyes and asks, "how're you doin' today?" The question bears the weight of two months of chaos and the confusion of what lies both behind and before. I smile weakly and say that I'm doing okay. Then, I volunteer the information that this is my first full day back. "Well, welcome home," she says as she taps my order into the computer. I thank her, smile back through a foggy interpersonal distance that is almost solid enough to touch, but hard to get a handle on.

The guy across the table from me is a construction sales director and he never stops using his cell phone. He just told someone, "When you get here, believe me, you won't get bored." New Orleans has never been boring, but that's not the kind of excitement he's talking about.

People are friendly, helpful and patient with each other (mostly), but everyone (even the obviously wealthy white women who desperately, and unsucessfully, attempt to project an air of normalcy and sophistication) seems to be in shock.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Here Today Gone To Molly's

Well... I made it! THE HOUSE IS IN PRETTY GOOD SHAPE! In fact it's in REALLY good shape, so, as far as the way things have been going, my luck is holding out.

The downside is there there is NO power, internet, phone, etc. at the house and it isn't clear when there will be, so as the sun when down and darkness fell upon the castle I made my way back to the quarter and my old faithful WiFi connection at Molly's.

You can hear my entire trip from Murphy to NOLA by clicking on each of the audio links below. If you want it in chronological order you've got to start at the bottom and work your way back up... or just for the hell of it, you could skip around. Knock yourself out.

I'll check in tomorrow... right now, I need a beer (sorry mom).
this is an audio post - click to play
this is an audio post - click to play
this is an audio post - click to play
this is an audio post - click to play
this is an audio post - click to play
this is an audio post - click to play
this is an audio post - click to play
this is an audio post - click to play
this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Mo Betta Blues

Well... I was supposed to be home by tonight, but instead I am freezing my butt of in North Carolina.

The van's ready, the dog's ready, I'm ready, but the weather (again) was a bit uncooperative this morning when I woke up to freezing winds and frozen roads. Waiting until later in the day to leave meant that I needed to find a place to stay on route. The only problem with that idea is that a week and a half ago the Red Cross and FEMA got everyone left in shelters out and into motels. That means that there is literally NO motel space between Murphy North Carolina and New Orleans.

SO... new plan. The weather is a little more ammendable tonight, so I planning to get to bed early and rise before the crack o' dawn and make the dash in a day. I hope to get home by mid-afternoon on Wednesday. The last rumor says that there's no pwer at the house so I would very much like to get in, and if need be, get out to someplace (what place?) else.

In the meantime, I spent the morning finally finishing up a new Blues Routes show. You can hear the show here, or you can find it in iTunes by searching for "BluesRoutes".

So... Tomorrow - keeping my fingers crossed - after exactly two months away, I'm goin' back to New Orleans to see what we shall see.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Waitin' on a Jet Plane

I'm in San Francisco airport, under perfectly clear skies, waiting for a flight that has been delayed due to fog. It was pretty deep fog when I came in this morning (ironically 2 hours before I needed to be here) only to find the plane delayed an hour and fifteen minute. Not a big deal except for the fact that I then miss my flight to Atlanta which means I don't get in there until 1:00 am... But even that's not a big deal except for the fact that my poor mom and dad have to drag themselves over the river and through the woods inn the middle of the night to pick up their prodigal son.

I could have taken an earlier flight on this end but I would have had to head out to the airport at 3:00 in the morning. As it stands now we will be getting HOME at about 3:00 in the morning.

As my friend Alan always says about New Orleans... "Choices... choices."

One thing I've learned over the last three months is that there's really no point in second guessing things. It really is Que Serra Serra... or as I learned 20 years ago in Nicaragua, Vamos a ver.

It's been a difficult lesson to learn, but I think that MAYBE it's finally been thoroughly drummed into my head.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Last Daze in P-town

Talking about feeling like starting over! 24 hours from now I will be on the Airport Express bus halfway to the San Francisco airport. At noon I will catch a plane to Atlanta where I will meet my folks, drive back to North Carolina and head back in the van, with Roxanne the dog, to the Crescent City. What awaits me remains to be seen.

It's very interesting that, despite news reports (Anderson Cooper on CNN has been broadcasting all week from the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street, a place that I only know from a few Mardi Gras soirees I've been to there) but the information on those shows has been about as limited as the few bits and pieces of info I have gleaned from emails and phone calls with friends who have returned. Even places where things are approaching "normal" seem to be covered in a great cloud of unknowing.

Even though the camera at Fat Harry's shows people eating outside most of the day, there is very little traffic that passes in the background and I have so far seen no sign of the St. Charles Streetcar (my primary mode of transportation) passing by on the neutral ground. I have a definite need to hit town and find out things for myself. As of now, I am planning on staying for several weeks and then coming back to California, but those plans could change at any time.

A major sign of progress in my life right now is that plans change a couple times a week now, instead of a couple times a day. Stability and certainty (such as it is) is returning, ever so slowly, to my life.

The image I have of life for the next six months to a year is more like the years before I made the move to New Orleans (now three months ago). I plan to be in New Orleans as much as possible, but I also expect that to do all of the work I want and need to do I will have to be back in California pretty often. To that end, I met with the folks at Outpost Studios in San Francisco to set up a working relationship that allows me an office where I can work (as the contract reads)"safely, securely, and comfortably." Wow... What a concept! I wish the contract guaranteed stability and creativity, but that's probably too much to ask.

One thing that is very clear is that I will not be returning to Petaluma except to visit friends, have a beer at Dempsey's, meet with business clients, or have a coffee and a pastry at Della Fattoria. My five year stay in P-town (and my 16 year stay in Sonoma County) is over. When I am not in New Orleans, I will be based in San Francisco.

One way or another (or more likely BOTH ways AND the other), this city boy is going back to his city.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I'd like some Whine with that Cheese...

I got spanked (again) in the comments over the last post. And that's how it should be. I definitely have this penchant for becoming whiney and petulant when I'm feeling down and lonely. I hold highly unrealistic expectations of people who I need/want help from and I get stuck in a sort of low grade annoying little depression. At times like that I need someone to look me in the face, slap me across the cheek and yell "SNAP OUT OF IT!"

To answer the questions... I don't think ANYTHING will make it home when I get there... The Crescent City already IS my home. It was home before I left California in July. Like San Francisco was home the first time I walked down Haight Street with my parents on vacation, well before I left Arizona 28 years ago, New Orleans was home the very first time I heard Dr. John at 14.I've been headed for the Crescent City since that first taste of Gumbo, the first rattle of bones and the first time that deep, hot, humid air seeped into my pores like a ghost taking possesion of my body. In the days since I ran away I have been bereft in ways that I didn't even understand myself. I have been becalmed and aimless, wandering about like The Ancient Mariner.

It is indeed, hard to live, and like so many of the things in life the problem is not one thing or another, but more often, one thing AND another. Home is indeed a place, but it is also the journey itself. How that dichotomy is individually experienced has everything to do with how a person engages the process.

There's a song that Tom Petty did that talks about this experience. I've got a version I like better than his by Melissa Etheridge,and it speaks to this sense that even when things are spun out of control, it's important to remember who you are, where you belong and where the ground is.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Sea Has Spoken

My iTunes surprised me again this morning.

Several years ago, on his album, Life'll Kill Ya, Warren Zevon (whose life did kill him) put out an interesting little song about the crusades that has always been one of my favorites. It's primary point is that you take a journey - any journey - for the purpose of getting to know yourself better.

The last three weeks in Petaluma have been that kind of an experience for me. It isn't at all clear to me why I felt the need to spend all this time here, except for the fact that I found a comfortable motel run by people who seem to understand my predicament, at least a little bit.

What has been frustrating, exasperating and saddening to me is the extent to which friends (or people I at least thought of as friends) either don't get it, are, in some sense, tired of getting it, or just flat don't care to get it. Over the last few days I have experienced rude, unpleasant and hurtful behavior from people I trusted, respected and liked. I know that it's always a bad idea to take things personally, but it's difficult not to take such experiences personally and to react in kind. I regret the reactions. I do not regret the awareness that I have gained from the experience.

The entire process of the last three months (going back to the very beginning of this weblog) has been one of prying up and throwing away nearly twenty years of carefully (and not so carefully) constructed veneer. I did not lose much in the storm; I had already gotten rid of most of what I had. The small bit that was left I returned to when I returned to California. The last month in California has helped me detach from most of that.

This morning I find myself standing on a new precipice, starinng off into a completely uncertain future. There is a great freedom in this, but there is a psychic payment to be made when you make the choice to break out of a ragged rut that you have padded into a pleasant pathway by complacently traversing it day after day and year after year. The cost of freedom is paid with uncertainty, fear, and confusion, all things that I have experienced over this weird journey of the last three months. It is also the only way to seek out and to begin to find one's authentic self.

Last night I watched Benny & Joon for the first time in years. One of my favorite movies with one of my favorite songs. At the beginning of the film, Joon's "housekeeper" Mrs. Schmiel, explains her leaving by relaying an old Irish saying that, "When a ship runs aground... the sea has spoken." I think that the last 90 days of my life have been a process of listening, over and over again, to what the sea has been trying to tell me.

Now I'm headed home... I'm not there yet, and I likely won't be for a while (even after I physically arrive), because one thing I've learned out of all this is that... I always take the long way home. I think it's the only way to go.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Your time will come...

A musical interlude from an old album by Toni Childs. That's about all I've got for tonight. Like Alice down the rabbit hole, things are not what they seem, but I suppose they never were.

Anyway you cut it... it's a damn good song!


What would Fred do now? As we hit mid-October there's a new tropical depression brewing in the Cayman's, just south of Cuba.

They're saying on The Weather Channel that this tropical depression is likely to become Tropical Storm Wilma before the end of the day and the five day prediction cone from the hurricane center in Miami has it heading straight up into the Gulf of Mexico over the coming week.

I found all of this out just a few minutes ago as I sat down at my computer to find a flight back to New Orleans. Now it's waiting (and hoping and praying) mode again. Life is starting to feel like a Billy Joel song.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Shipwrecked At The Stable Door

It's morning again... And in the spirit of the first post yesterday, I am ready to start making it all over again today.

This song by Bruce Cockburn feels particularly appropriate to my curent situation (though in all honesty this song has always felt appropriate to WHATEVER situation I have been in at the time, so you are free to infer whatever you wish about the general state of my existence from the evidence presented). He sings pretty fast on this one, so you may want the lyrics.

One of the reasons that I like this song so much is because Cockburn uses a lyrical device that he uses often, a device that clearly reveals a perspective on the human condition that I happen to share. It basically amounts to the simple sense that as part of living we are given the greatest gift and the greatest curse. Humans are amazing and terrible, lovely and horrid, blessed and cursed. The implied question is "so what are ya gonna do with what you have?"

It's from Bruce's highly politicized album of the early 90s Big Circumstance,an album that is significant to me because it explores the human dilemma through a whole litany of places and events (many of which I had been to and involved with) all the while holding close to the magical mixture of good and evil, angel and beast, that Bruce has always touched on so well.

I have much to do today. I am determined to finally get a new start on Blues Routes, so expect a show before the end of the day. I also plan on releasing a new FoodFetish podcast taken from some of my weekend adventures during the last month in Northern California. I have some web work to do for clients and some writing I really want to get after (but then that's a perpetual problem so it probably doesn't count). Lot's to do today as I get ready to head back home.

It's been seven weeks since that angry lady swept into my town and sent me off on this journey. It's time for things to get back to some sense of normal.

"I've got this thing in my heart I must give you today... It only lives when you give it away."

Friday, October 14, 2005

There's No Place Like Home... There's No Place Like Home... There's No Place Like Home...

I've been back in Northern California for exactly a month and with the exception of the kindnesses I have experienced from the Red Cross people (mostly recently on the phone this afternoon), the ever so patient, friendly and steadfast folks at the Quality Inn where I have been staying over the last two weeks, and the delightful moments that I have been able to catch with my kid, it has been a frustrating, disillusioning and really kind of sad.

As has been obvious from the many opportunities I have had to do interesting and fun things, the month has not been any kind of horror, it's just that after 28 years in Northern California it's become very very clear that this place is not my home any longer. Even my good friends who offered to put me up are benignly out of touch with the sense of lostness and confusion that I feel. I try to be perky and funny and interesting, but it doesn't really come off. I try to get to work and do what I have learned (over so many years) how to do and somehow I seem to just be missing the groove.

The simple fact is that I don't belong in Northern California any more. The deep heart I felt in the culture, the people, and the land; the depth of spirit that drew me here 28 years ago has evaporated into the air, or fallen off the cliff into the Pacific. It's been replaced by a soft and callous, pseudo-liberal semi-concern that doesn't ever become real and is something I can no longer accept or stomach. Liberals in Louisiana have to fight for their lives... because, like the song says, they really are "tryin' to wash us away." In Louisiana (as well as a lot of other places that Californians look down their noses at) people learn how to put feet to their politics because if they don't they'll get passed over, pushed aside and generally dumped on. In Northern California it's easy to be liberal. You can claim the virtue of voting against George Bush and still be condescending toward homeless people, people of color, queer folks, and anyone else that is different from you (including Cajuns, rednecks, and Republicans). There is an atmosphere of liberal superiority here that does not bear out in the wider world. It's an atmosphere of out of touch superciliousness and it's positively creepy. It's disgusting and shameful and wrong.

Unfortunately, it probably IS to be expected. After all, it's important to remember that California has already given us Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and is working on sending the ex-Austrian body builder to the White House. The Left Coast is a safe place from which to claim philosophical and political ascendancy while remaining safely encapsulated in a bubble of pristine political correctness.

Which brings me back to HOME. Like Dorothy, I have met some interesting people and have had some interesting adventures; some genuinely wonderful good times. Right now however, I'm feeling like a person without a country. I was picked up by Katrina and deposited in another land.

I want Glenda the Good Witch, and a pair of Ruby Slippers.

There's no place like home.

Story Time

The Story People created by Brian Andreas have long been a regular and delightful inspiration to my sometimes weary and disjointed spirit. I have a link at the top of my main browser that goes to their daily story and that gives me another one of those opportunities to lock on to mysterious synchronistic inspiration on a daily basis. Today's story (above) was of particular inspiration to me for, as many people have reminded me, my current homelessness actually provides a window on life that is regularly covered over by all the ways we work to keep ourselves safe and secure, believing that somehow we are different from other people and that the millenial history of human vulnerability on planet earth is something that we are uniquely exempt from.

Well... it's just not true. Every day really is a new day and opening up to that fact is likely the best way to avoid premature death (of the spirit if not the body). I remain lost and confused with little sense of what's around the corner, but in that sense I am actually lucky, for, unlike so many others, I know it. I am forced into facing the ephemeral reality of my life. It's a lesson I hope I can remember once life gets back to normal... whatever normal is now.


By the way... Brian is currently offering a limited edition poster to folks who make a donation to the Story People Katrina fund and I would like to encourage people to check it out.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

I Love the Smell of Chocolate in the Morning...

Smells like... Victory!

Okay... I apologize for that... But I have an excuse. Caffeine. Lots of caffeine.

You see, I lost my internet connection at the motel and so I had to return to my favorite place for breakfast.
With a couple of cups of Cafe American (espresso mixed with a little hot water) in me and a taste of the best pastry I have ever had (Della Fattoria Pan au Chocolate) I am wired and ready to go.

Some day this war's gonna end.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Silicone Synchronicity

When my computer goes to sleep at night (usually just shortly before I do) it shuts down the WiFi connection in my motel room and I have to reauthorize it every morning when I get up, pour my coffee, and head to the desk to check my email.

I have to launch my Firefox browser and then sign in. The browser tries to go straight for the main page and, because it has not been set up, I get an error message. This has been happening almost every morning for about a week and a half, but it was only this morning that I actually read - and thought about - the phrase that comes up on my screen when this happens.

It seems funny to me how we (I) tend to miss these little messages that move through our lives on a minute by minute basis... messages on TV, billboards on the freeway, advertising on the radio, picture ads in magazines, even product placement in movies (and now even on Broadway). It isn't even possible any longer to stand in line at the bank or the post office without being bombarded by messages. There are even ads on this page (something which no one seems to bother dealing with as my clickthrough stats would reveal). We learn to filter, to avert our eyes and turn off our ears... we learn to, at least partially, protect ourselves from the inundation of verbage.

By doing this, we also miss the moments of divine inspiration, the synchronicities, that I am really fond of discovering and playing with in the sandbox of my mind.

This morning's message came to me with compelling clarity, at once so funny that I laughed out loud, and instantly so startling that it made me stop and acknowledge the vary basic fact... YOU ARE NOT AUTHENTICATED.

With my computer all I do is click the "login.user" link and type the letter "t" in the box. The password feature automatically remembers the rest of the login - now THERE'S a feature I wouldn't mind having in my personal skill set these days - and I'm ready to go. What came to mind this morning however (just to beat a dead metaphor a little bit more) was the question of what would it require for me to be authenticated in the carbon based world?

Despite the really enjoyable times I have had through the past several weeks, and despite the relative ease with which I have been blessedly carried through this trauma, the basic reality is that I am still locked out, my connections are broken and my communication lines are down. Things really aren't bad. I have a pace to sleep, food to eat, coffee to drink, and... WiFi. I have family, friends and more fun than I deserve. I am, however, still very much out of my element, still not connected, not clear, and not home. I have not been authenticated, and I seem to have forgotten the password.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Everybody's Livin' for the Weekend...

Okay okay... I know... it's TUESDAY and I haven't written anything since FRIDAY, but I have an excuse.

I've been busy...

This weekend I hit the ground running and it didn't stop until Sunday night.

Friday afternoon I got a call from my friend Jon Fox who runs the San Francisco Comedy Competition. He was short a judge for one of the final rounds and asked if I could hump it over the mountain and meet him at the Napa Valley Opera House for an evening of comedy from five comedians. Not one to let a free ticket go to waste (more on that later) and having enjoyed the comedy competition year in and year out for the last 14 years, I jumped on it, making the hour drive through the wine country's winding roads to downtown Napa.

It was a fun night with a lot of laughs from all of the competitors (my personal favorite was Floyd J. Philips, but Don Friesen actually won my slightly higher score based on all the various criteria we were supposed to be judging on). You think it's EASY judging a comedy competition don't ya? Well... let me tell you buddy it's difficult, brain numbing, cheek aching, wrinkle developing WORK. But I found it in me to face up to the task.

After the competition was over I popped back over to Sonoma where I spent that night at my friend Jim Callahan's. He was pouring bronze the next morning, and while I have filmed this process for a documentary about Jim that I have been working on for the past three years, I have always wanted to actually assist but have never had the opportunity.

After the pour (ultimately a relatively brief task with enormous amounts of preparation and followup that I didn't have to do), I was off to another musical weekend event, this time in Duncan's Mills, out near the Sonoma Coast. The Russian River Acoustic Festival to which I actually won tickets on KRSH radio was actually a bit of a disappointment after the incredible treat of the past weekend in Golden Gate Park. Even though I didn't have to pay for the ticket, I left after only about an hour. The opening act, bluegrass band, The Earl Brothers, was terrific. I seem to have caught some kind of bluegrass bug while in Southern Appalachia a few weeks ago, for so much of the music that has sustained me and eased my struggles over the last month has come from that tradition.

After the second act, The ThugZ, had mangled three of my favorite songs (including Bruce Cockburn's Waiting For A Miracle) I decided what I really needed was a dose of ocean waves and wind, so I headed out for Goat Rock Beach; one of my favorite places in Northern California and a place where I have experienced a lot of pleasure, a lot of thoughtfulness, and a lot of shared delight.

The wind was wild and the waves were in complete chaos. The surf was raging in from across the Pacific with a force that was a reminder of some of what mother nature can do in her beautiful fury when she has a mind to. It brought back memories of a month ago, but from a safe, respectful place that was awe inspiring in the way that the Pacific (which is always in such opposition to her name), especially in wintertime, always is.

Saturday night was more music when a friend of mine in Petaluma made me an offer I couldn't refuse on a ticket for Adrien Belew at Slim's in San Francisco, a club where - on the other side of chaos - I had last seen Dr. John a few weeks before I moved to New Orleans. It was an AMAZING concert, free-form, creative guitar work with a rhythm section so tight they almost squeeked. The crowd was wild as well, completely wrapped up in the concert and the musicians (as musicians tend to do) gave back to the audience with the same kind of enthusiasm, blending together and forming a unique gestalt that really fits the definition of concert - "Unity achieved by mutual communication of views, ideas, and opinions" - a description of the live musical experience I first picked up about a year ago in an interview someone did with Bruce Springsteen. It was an exhilerating end to a loaded day.

Sunday morning I was up early to catch the San Francisco ferry to church, where I met Jennifer and we heard Alan Jones preach a sermon that was of particularly synchronistic significance as he spoke about the "wild disruption" of living after catastrophe.

After church Jennifer and I went out to the beach for brunch at The Park Chalet, one of those dad & daughter moments that I have written about before that make my life happy even at the most horrible moments I can imagine. The Eggs Benedict was great, but the company of my daughter brings me a cheer that I experience nowhere else. It was a good time.

After brunch, Jen braved the aggravating traffic of Fleet Week in San Francisco, so I could indulge my rather questionable fascination with The Blue Angels.

I have loved The Blue Angels (and their Air Force counterparts, The Thunderbirds) since I was a kid. I even built a plastic model of the team with a clear plastic holder that put them in formation and it never fails that when they are around I want to see them. The problem is they are unequivically a big league advertisement for the military and while I am willing to acknowledge that we are forced in some way, some how... PROBABLY... to have a military in this modern world, I neither agree with the way it is being used currently or the way it has been used during most, if not all, of my life. At the same time, there is one thing about this military team that is at the heart of what captures my imagination. They are THE BEST at what they do, and I am completely taken by people at the top of their game... ANY game.

Jennifer dropped me off at the Golden Gate Bridge just before the show began and I walked out onto the span where I was treated to close up flyovers that dropped down over the bridge cables and toward the surface of the bay at astonishing speeds. It was one of those moments that is best described by Jack Nicholson's devilish character in The Witches of Eastwick, when he looks up at his friendly trio of women and says to his dog... "See what HUMANS can do?"

And speaking of what humans can do... Check out how a 9 year old San Francisco kid spent his Columbus Day holiday!

So... how did you spend YOUR weekend?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Simple Pleasures

I took this photo (it's a little blurry because I still can't figure out my little digital camera) as I was walking across the bridge in downtown Petlauma last night.

As it happened, I stepped out of the pub and headed toward the grocery store only to be stopped dead in my tracks by this lovely crescent moon and Venus up above the old town clock. It took my breath away, I ran to my car, grabbed my camera and took the shot.

There are times, places, moments, even days and sometimes weeks (but let's not push it) where things just are... where wonder can be experienced and where life is as beautiful as we always hope it will be. Last night at approximately 7:34pm at Latitude 38 and Longitude 122, in Petaluma California, I experienced one of those moments.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Holy Shit!

For the first time since August 29 when the camera went dark (probably blown off the wall), the web cam at Fat Harry's, just two blocks from my house at the corner of Napolean and St. Charles, is actually working. This means there is power and some kind of internet access. The presence of the Budweiser truck (standing in front of the bar when I first discovered the camera working) would indicate something to drink!

If you click on the picture you can get an updated picture to see what's going on right now!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The People Whisperer

My plans (which change about every six hours) were to head back east on Thursday. To fly to Atlanta and drive up to Murphy and pick up Roxanne and head back to my city.

So I got up this morning with this on my mind and this is what I found. A new tropical storm, expected exactly over Atlanta at precisely the time I was planning on landing, driving up through the mountains and heading back to Murphy.

I expect it's not too much of a surprise to people that I decided to change my plans.

Then... later today I had lunch with my good friend Jim Callahan, who proposed a whole new way of looking at the way my life has gone for the last 40 days.

He suggested to me that perhaps my experience was a lot like the training of a horse.

He said that the way you work with a horse is that you prevent it from moving in the direction you don't want it to go, not with anger or force, but by simply standing in the way. You do that again, and again... until when the horse goes where you DO want it to go, you give it its head and let it run.

What happens from this process is that the horse learns that doing the right thing (as it were) is its own decision and it becomes capable of acting on its own in the way you want it to act. At least that's how I understand it from within my world of absolute equine ignorance.

What Jim suggested was that, like the horse, when I find my way, everything will suddenly open up and it will be - to mix metaphors - smooth sailing.

Frankly... despite my religious tendencies and my sense of a generally faith based reality, I find the whole idea of being directed in such a manner to be a little creepy. At the same time... I'm damn ready for some smooth sailing.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The New Normal

It's been four days since my last posting here and I woke up this morning feeling an odd sense of responsibility to get something up so that I give the lovely people who care enough about me to read this load of dung some kind of fodder for your trouble.

A lot has happened in those four days and at the same time nothing has happened.

This past weekend I traveled into The City to attend The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, the height of which came at the end of the day on Sunday when Emmylou Harris and Buddy Miller were joined onstage by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings after a set that covered the whole range of Emmylou's music, and more. The weekend also included incredible sets by Rodney Crowell, Roseanne Cash, Guy Clark, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and others spread out over 5 stages and two days, all FOR FREE.

The vibe of the people, the widely ranging music and the massive audience spread across the entire western end of Golden Gate Park made it feel a lot like Jazz Fest in New Orleans. Sucking up some damn good crawfish etouffee didn't hurt either. It wasn't exactly home, but it was a pretty good substitute considering the circumstances.

I'll have some musical postings and some "sound-seeing" from the fest coming up soon... Hopefully later today.

Late on Sunday I got an email from a friend of mine who has a recording studio in San Francisco. We had met up a week earlier (for the first time in about ten years) and we discussed the possibility of my setting up an office next to his studio that would help to serve as a base of operations while I try to figure out the rest of my life. The email he sent on Sunday was to tell me that the space was unexpectedly available and to ask if I was still interested. I told him that I was, and so it seems that at least part of my confusion has been at least partially (and temporarily) settled.

This is what Aaron Brown of CNN likes to call "the new normal." I've still got much to do and I've got to get back on the road shortly, but the last few days have at least begun to give me a handle on sanity again. As I talk to, and receive email from, friends from New Orleans this seems to be happening all over. It's been a month since we left The Crescent City, and while things are still confusing, they also seem to be settling out... more or less.