He Had a Wife and Kids in Fresno


When I give a speech, they usually mention in the introduction that I’m a musician and songwriter.  I often lead off with this joke.  “My musician friends always ask me why I sold out and got a real job.  It’s really simple.  I like to live indoors.”  It usually gets a laugh.

It’s also a softer version of the truth.  I don’t want to become Uncle Lloyd.

Everybody talks about You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive, but that’s Darrell Scott’s second best song.

I’ll be 57 next year.  Got a lot of work today.

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Things Just Don’t Feel Normal

This sums up 2016 pretty well.

Things don’t feel normal.  Unless unfettered bullshit is the new normal, which based on my unscientific survey of my social media feeds, it may be.  My disinterest in wading into the digital fray makes me wonder if I’m done with Facebook, and maybe social media in general.  There’s far too much going wrong, seemingly on a daily basis, for me to rationally digest.  Heck, I still haven’t got- and may never get- my head around the fact that we (actually some of you) elected Donald Trump as President of the United States of America.  It all seems remote, and reality-TVish now, but just wait.  It’s going to be a clown show, and all of us are going to pay the price.


So maybe the thing to do is pull back a bit, and see how it goes.  If the hordes of gullibles who elected an unqualified, petulant billionaire simply because he isn’t Hillary Clinton continue to bathe in cognitive dissonance after he turns on them (it’s hard to imagine how the slate of characters above are going to line up in support of the working man) and makes American foreign policy look like an Idiocracy outtake, we’ll know all is lost.  If enough people veer back towards logic and facts, maybe there’s a chance for something better than disaster.

Meanwhile, things that were once constant continue shifting.  Temperatures and tempers rise, combatants skirmish and then retreat to their corners.  Science takes a backseat to ideology.  It looks bleak, but it’s not yet full-on terrifying.  Like a filtered sky at the crossroads of thunderstorm and tornado, it could go either way.  My grandmother told us to listen for the sound of a train.  If you hear one coming, head for the storm cellar.

I’m listening.  At the moment, all I hear for sure are some coyotes out in the woods.  A few early fireworks off in the distance, getting ready to usher in a new and maybe better year.  A lonesome cow out in the pasture, wondering what mysteries the future holds.


Political Nihilism

“The United States has fallen into a state of utter political nihilism, where there is no limit to what one party can say or do in order to achieve and maintain power.  Worse, there is no meaning other than political theater behind it.”


“Trump and his people play by the reality TV rules. All that’s required is a plausible facade, while we expect adherence to actual facts. ***  All that Trump’s followers want is a powerful fiction, something they can sink their teeth into, something with which to taunt us college-educated Atlantic readers.”

(via The Atlantic)

I Knew it Wouldn’t Work Out

For a hayseed like me.

If I ever figured out how to rank my all-time favorite songs, this one would be in the top 25.  I’ve heard a buttload of songs, so top 25 is good.  Very good.

The best songs sound like a Cormac McCarthy story (with or without the Spanish), told over music that sounds like rockers playing country.  So many so-called Americana artists are long on (attempts at) the Cormac part, while utterly ignoring the rocking part.  Bores me to tears.  Listen for that guitar solo.  William Clark Green, from Tyler Texas.  Like Earl.  And the Jackal, I think.

Now she tries to act.  Like she don’t remember me.

Yep. It happens.

Back in Tyler, the Jackal once had a date with a future Ms. Universe.  I wonder if she’d acknowledge him now.  Maybe, in the way some of the pretentious fondly recall their embellished trip abroad back in college.  I’ll be your third world country, if you be my reality show.  Or something like that.

I once overheard this epic response to a snobby inquiry in a semi-crowded elevator.  “Did you study abroad in college?”  “Every chance I could.”  Mental high-fives were given.  One other guy laughed out loud too.

All that highfalutin’ stuff  bores me to tears.  So do fancy cars, and names.  The King makes it a point to memorize the names of all of his kids’ friends- their real names- not the made up ones like we give our pets.  I think he has charts.  I imagine Angel from New Jersey is written in pencil on the edge of a page.  I’m a sonder-loving edge dweller myself, who wrote on concrete sidewalks with pine tree bark when I was a kid.  No charts, no chalk, but probably some names.  I don’t remember many of them.  Andy, Thomas.  Definitely Buck.

But the King is a good soul, so chart on, brother.

What doesn’t bore me to tears, but still involves them, is StoryCorps.  It provides more tears per minute than any other podcast I’ve heard.  This one is a recent favorite.  Like a lot of them, it makes me feel better about the human race in general, and worse about my place in it.

Tiny Buddha, is sort of the opposite.  A lot of new-aged fluff, and then every once in a while a knock-out punch.

Self-protection might involve avoiding the family (or certain members) while you take time to figure things out; *** it might mean a short, long, or forever period of limited or no contact. It might mean a whole host of other things, entirely.

A-fucking-men, sister.  It’s too often the people who don’t grasp or care that their baggage is crushing bystanders who scream bloody murder at the sight of circled wagons.  I had a recurring dream when I was a kid that I lived in an underground bunker in the woods behind my house.  It was peaceful, like staring at your hands in church.

Speaking of names, I wonder what my dogs would call me if they could talk?  Food-giver, Rex, Asshole?  Some dude displaying both the cognitive ability and self-awareness of my dumbest dog (the little one that won’t come when you call him) called me an absolute asshole this week.

I should get a tax deduction for the charity I give people once in a while when I choose not to fight back.  My dogs might or might not agree.  I shot the big one with a BB gun once when he didn’t come when I called him.  Maybe he thinks I’m an asshole too, but now he comes when I call him.  Every time.  When I cook a burger for dinner at the farm, I cook him one too.  It’s complicated.

I know I ain’t got it so bad.  I can go home at night.  Sometimes.

Charlie Parr.  From Austin.  Minnesota.