Monday, September 2, 2013

It's Not Only Rock and Roll

Nostalgic Preparations
My new Smart phone is driving me crazy. But what of that? It plays music, doesn't it?

It does and I have been streaming Pandora, listening to old tunes that I haven't heard for years. My taste in music, as you may imagine, does not exactly run to the sound of the Top Forty. (Do they still call it that?) Or maybe it does. A lot of this music was on the charts 'back in the day' (I promised myself I would never use that phrase, but by putting it in those single quotation marks (whatever they are called) I have marked my usage as 'ironic' (another word I swore never to use.))

A Labyrinth of Words
Good lord. I certainly have a knack for getting myself lost inside a sentence. Also lost inside an old tune. Never did I like the television, the canned laughter made me sad and seemed to not fall in the proper places. The commercials made me hungry for things I never knew existed (also making me feel like a failure for not owning those things) and there was usually a roomful of cigarette smoke in the room where the watching was done. I cannot abide cigarette smoke, which is ironic for someone who has spent a lot of time in smoky saloons...

Left-Handed Labor Day
It is Labor Day. I'm making preparations that involve not ribs and potato salad and baked beans, but rather I am preparing for future labor (tomorrow) in the hot Florida sun, long, lucrative days that may not end for many weeks. I hope not. By experience and planning I have learned that by going out with a road crew and working myself nearly to death over an extended length of time I end up tired, lean, and wealthy, for me. Tomorrow we head back out.

The Importance of Being  Grateful
I have earplugs stuck in my ears and I am listening to my personal Pandora station called Grateful Dead. The music is old and damned funky and as I listen something occurs to me. I see how much this music shaped my world-view over the decades and how it also affects my writing. An old Faces tune, “Angel” was just on and with these earplugs the lyrics were clear and I was thinking how much I loved the poetry of the song, made particularly poignant by Rod's whiskey-soaked voice.

Angel came down from Heaven yesterday, stayed with me long enough to rescue me...

Man! That's what I'm doing, here, hunkered over a keyboard, whiskey-soaked and trying to capture the essence of these old rock lyrics. Many of them made no sense at all, and yet they got the point across just fine.

And she told me a story yesterday about the sweet love between the Moon and the deep blue sea...

Sound familiar? Argh! I'm a plagiarist! Crap! I always thought I was just some kind of soulful white boy who paid his dues and earned the right to sing the blues. A Skydog of prose, as it were.

I live by the sea: and the moon, always there, is an unavoidable reference. Does 'channeling' count as plagiarism?

My Hands Are Not Idle
I have a big pile of tools to clean and prep and pack.  I find myself wondering how many of the other guys who will assemble tomorrow at dawn will have done this; this worshipful preparation, old rock hymns blasting and small prayers in the form of tool cleaning and oiling and is my life story, really, wrapped up in this music and these tools, these preparations.  I treat my career (for what it is worth) like a good gunslinger or practiced samurai:  if it is worth doing, it is worth doing as though the gods are watching.  Because they usually are: watching, I think.

More From the Jukebox

Check out the bass lines on that tune. Pure hypnosis. Or how about this: 
Saturday night I was downtown, workin' for the FBI...about as odd an opening rock line as ever imagined. The Hollies.

Where There Is Classic Rock, There Is Hope
Here's another thing I find ironic (hey, once you get started it's hard to stop.) At the job the other night, while remodeling a Carraba's Restaurant, somebody had their smart-phone plugged into a jobsite radio. I was working away at some simple task when it occurred to me that I was hearing the old good stuff. I asked who had that music playing? It was the youngest kid on the job. Twenty years old. Me, (the oldest guy on the job):  well, I was comforted and reassured that there was hope for the future if these young guys could still connect to the tunes that shaped our world back in the sixties, back in the day.  

I'm incorrigible.  But again, what of that?  I'm a dreamer and a rock star and a cowboy and a samurai.  The pay ain't much, but it makes Labor Days like this one, days like this, when it is just me and the Universe and a peaceful easy feelin', it makes days like this one count.  Big time.

tj the dj

The Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Juke Joint
Labor Day 2013

By the way, for those of you who are interested,  I started a new Blog for posting stray chapters of Smiling In the Sunshine.  You can link through to it on my Blog List.  And by some kind of cosmic coincidence, just as I finished putting together the new Blog, I was startled and honored to see that Lloyd Khan, one of the spiritual gurus who set me on the path I tread, had featured one of my favorite chapters on his great Blog.  Check it out!  Thanks, Lloyd!


  1. Just 'discovered' your incredible blog (through Lloyd Kahn's epistle) and I have to say that your perspective is one that I totally appreciate, being an old guy myself (well past the alloted three-score-and ten) and living on my SS stipend - in a trailer park, no less. I keep dreaming about and looking at bikes, but have yet to get into one. I'd probably just get run over anyway...

    Keep on Keepin' on....

    1. Martin, I can add to what TJ has replied with. I have learned so much from his friend and blog list about bikes. A huge amount of bike knowledge and help and the best part??? These guys will fall over themselves to help out with any bike decisions or problems you ask about.
      Good Luck!

    2. Martin - do it man! there are lots of old bikes out there needing a good home and some TLC and it doesn't take a lot to get an old 10 speed or mountain bike, depending on your preference, up and running. You might also see if you have a non-profit bike shop in your area. Sometimes these are called co-ops or bike "kitchens" but they are a great source of bikes, parts, learning and expertise. In my area, Seattle, my local co-op is where I get almost all my project bikes.


  2. Martin, as you may have expected, I encourage you to buy a bicycle and not get run over, in that order. Before you do, (the buying part, not the not getting run over part) I also encourage you to avail yourself of the vast resources of cycling knowledge available here at the Park. Not my knowledge, it ain't all that vast. But every blog listed here on my Blog list is manned by veritable geniuses of all things cycling and if you visit their sites, you will have met some cyclists and mechanics and philosophers worth knowing.

    From the highly-limited vastness of my own cycling knowledge, I will only say this: ignore department store bicycles. They will only break your heart. Try craigslist or your local bike shop and before you put any credit card numbers into the interworld, drop by here and talk it up. You will be instantly inundated with a flood of info that will make your decision informed and god-like and rewarding.

    OK, maybe not god-like; but I know about living on a fixed (or non-existent) income and trust me, there is always a way to get up on two wheels and change everything.

    yer new pal,


  3. TJ,

    Glad the employment is continuing to keep you housed and fed, and I hope in a bit of rum, or whiskey.

    It is amazing how the younger generation is able to appreciate classic rock! It does give me hope for mankind as well.

    Heading over to the other trailer to see if there are any new installments.

    Keep those pedals turning!


  4. TJ,

    I can relate. Back in prehistory I used to be a 'professional musician' (single quotes indicate irony - can you be a professional if your bar tab outpaces your evening's earnings every time??) Still have that back beat running through my veins, and good ol' music (some of it REALLY old) makes me smile.

    I saw the Grateful Dead near the end of their run. Wasn't really my scene, but I'm extremely glad I got to experience it. Add that to another hundred or so concerts and I've seen damn near everyone that I really wanted to (except Tom Waits).

    Keep it all in perspective friend. Glad to see your own personal wheel has rolled around again, and things are looking a bit different - maybe even better.

    Don't get so busy you aren't riding your bike.

    Steve Z

  5. TJ,

    Most of the stuff I listen to is 30-40 years old. My kids listen to it, too. My friends' kids also listen to it. I'm guess their kids will be listening to it, as well, when I'm taking the dirt nap. Know why? Cause it was some of the best music ever recorded. Quality always comes through.

    I know what you mean about the preparation. I always spend time prepping the tools needed before starting a project. It's part of performing the ceremony and it's brutally important to true craftsman, no matter the work.

    Best to you, my friend!

    Brian in VA

  6. Two ironics and an incorrigible and then finish it all off with an Eagles reference.....nice job.
    Old music is always welcome at our home. Every Labor Day I play in a golf tournament here in town. This year I was joined by my sister and Brother-in-law. They are pretty good company. After play we were enjoying some quality deck time with the company of the Coors family and some Bushmills. We had my iPod shuffle playing and the old rock and roll led to great conversation about the bands and who saw who in concert when we were young adults. That of course led to favorite album and why, type of talk. Just some good talk and good times!
    Brian is right, it is all about the quality. So many musicians of that era were classically trained and turned their talents to rock and roll. Part of the shuffle brought up Thick as a Brick by Jethro Tull. Ian Anderson, IMO, is a musical genius. Anyway, the quality of that era of music will keep it playing well into the future.
    It sure is nice to see the TP cyclist bringing a regular blog back to the forefront. Makes for a good day to read your words.

    Enjoy your work!
    Your Colorado friend,

  7. HEY DAWGS! I'm sitting here in the motel room scarfing potassium-rich stuff and chasing it with beer mixed with v-8 (the spicy-hot) I just did a twelve hour shift in the parking lot and on the roof of a mcDonalds where I thought I would die of overwork and heat frustration, but I'm still alive. I'm eating avocados with a hunting knife and shoving bananas down my gullet and dipping some mediocre bread in olive oil. Sushi and more beer for desert. Yeoww! Survival living is the only way to fly but...

    Thanks for all the comments! I gotta crash now. (sound of old barn-stormin' bi-plane spiraling into the the earth in flames)

  8. "there is always a way to get up on two wheels and change everything"
    -tj comstock

    Wisdom my friend, wisdom

  9. Play that Funky Music - Samurai Carpenter. One thing I miss about living in a house with a garage is space for my bike tools. I did a DIY peg board based on a bicycling magazine article and had all the most used tools up there and organized and it felt very zen to see them all -now they are all stuck in a tool box or scattered about under the bike stand and I swear I spend more time looking for tools than wrenching. Your tool packing ritual sounds like meditation.

    Namaste Velo Brother

    1. My tools are also on the wall. The only real furniture in my trailer is my oak writing table (3 ft x 5 ft on folding legs) and my ten foot by 2 ft work bench with the tools. No recliner or sofa or even a bed. I sleep on a monk's bunk of plywood with a heavy quilt for a mattress. I have one pretty nice executive chair at my table but I recently threw everything else out. There are a couple tool shelves that are pretty bare now that I'm on the road. I made my shelves and work bench with these:

      They are pretty cool and would work fine in an apartment.You could even buy the plywood and 2x4s precut at home depot.

      But first you have to do away with the furniture. Or move into a trailer park.

      Namaste yer ownself, my velo brother.

  10. I do still have the couch recliner and TV but in place of a dining room set I have a big blue tarp which my Park work stand sits on top of