Sail on, Sail on, Sailor
On Saturday night the bell on my landline went off and damn it all if it weren't the Sailor, ringing me up to hear more about Duke Ellington and his way with the piano.
"Come on over, August," he breathed gruffly and grandly into the handset, "and show me again how those first 16 bars go, because I have an idea on how to fit a harmonica over that bit, plus which I believe I can lay a fine shuffle under that storm and so we will be on our way to being a fine jazz band, after all."
I'd already had a couple of drinks of Wild Turkey by that time though and told him I didn't fancy driving through the student ghetto just to lay down some clumsy riffs on his Yamaha electric, but he disagreed.
"Go on and walk over then, Mr. March and I will mix you up a creme soda with Jameson's in the bottom of the glass."
I could not resist and so spent the next 3 hours rambling through "East Saint Louis Toodle-oo" while the rest of the boys followed along blithely. My wife called about 10 and told me I better get on home if I wanted any spaghetti. "Who could resist that," I told the Sailor as I dropped my charts onto his desk, grabbed my cane and ambled toward the door. I flashed him the peace sign and said I'd see him Tuesday for practice.
That was the last time I saw the man folks here in Dirt City called by a nautical name.
I'd known him since I was a kid, and him being 20 years my senior did stop us becoming fast friends. He was part brother and part father; we hiked, smoked, drank, jammed and regaled each other with stories of where the other had been on the Earth.
He was the only man I knew that had seen more of the planet than me. I'd been on all the continents, excepting Antarctica; his tale of seeing the Ross Ice Shelf rise up on the horizon set my brain on fire and besides that we always had a laugh about the after-midnight goings on in Singapore, the lights of the north star and the aurora way up north or how it was impossible to understand the dialect of the Peruvian seamen who landed in Guayaquil looking for a good time.
When he broke his hip late last year, my wife and I sat with him at the hospital, brought him dinner from Los Cuates on the weekends and made sure his walker was ready to go when he was. The pain was bad he told us, but nothing like the time he got burned putting out a fire on an oiler outside of Osaka.
Just last week, we spent an afternoon listening to the Rolling Stones new album, a blues thing. And I complained that Charlie Watts was about an eighth note behind Keith Richards when it counted but he said to take it easy because we were all getting old.
On Tuesday morning the bell on my cell phone went off and god damn it to hell, it was the Sailor's neighbor who was weeping on the line when I answered and then told me the news.
"Mike got up early this morning and now he has died."
I went home early that day, staring into the sky as I drove. I sat at my piano and played until my hands hurt, thinking about the time the Sailor told me how Polaris was possibly the center of the universe—blinking timelessly, brightly while the rest of the sky rolled and spun chaotically around and around.
No Good At Goodbyes
Saturday, Dec 10: Kicking the Bucket List: 100 Downsizing and Organizing Things to Do Before You Die
You Can't Spell Funeral Without Fun
Saturday, Jul 16: Making Home Funerals
Articles I've Read this Week
A reading list for wasting time at work[ Tue Feb 23 2016 11:18 AM ]
When I used to work in an office that required I be stationed at my desk for eight hours a day, no matter how productive I was or how much work I actually had to do, I found that I spent a lot of the extra, onerous hours reading. So, I appreciated a curated list of interesting content from the www. Here's a list of suggested reading for you poor saps just killing time. As always, check out the Daily Word for more weirdness from the backalleys of the internet.
A vagina-centric Japanese artist persists in making her work despite having been arrested TWICE. Read about Rokudenashiko HERE.
I'm a morning person, a so-called "lark" according to science. Now, researchers suggest that there are more than just two categories (morning people and "night owls"). I hate feeling low-energy, so new research on sleep is always interesting. Read about the four types of sleep schedules HERE.
This essay on one of my favorite websites, that of Bomb Magazine, had me at the subheader: "A confession: I can’t stop watching videos of marathon runners expiring at the finish line." Read this essay about death, running and so much more HERE.
Never Say Die
Friday, Feb 19: Albuquerque Death Cafe
New Science Fiction at Page 1 Books
The Daily Word in death, asshole lab rats and chess queens
#1 reason not to perform animal testing: lab rats are jerks.
Further proof that animals are only pretending to be cute.
A rare albino turtle hatched in Australia.
Migrant students are better than your lazy American kid.
Hell yes, women can beat you at chess.
Thinking about death makes you more punitive, religious and conservative.
Fatal insomnia is a thing.
So The Guest has a killer soundtrack. Who knew?
A Lousy Robot Must Be Human
"Every life is in many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love. But always meeting ourselves." — Stephen Daedalus
Jim Phillips was a musician from Albuquerque. He directed the creative activities of a band called Lousy Robot. When he died unexpectedly last spring, Phillips left behind a body of work notable for defining a fragile, yet brightly expressed nexus of what it means to be human.
Invoking the wide and melodically winsome swath carved out by power-pop adherents like the Easybeats, Big Star, the Cars and Elvis Costello, singer/guitarist Phillips and his ensemble (Ben Wood, keyboards; Joey Gonzales, drums and Dandee Fleming on bass) added intensity and a profound sense of dark realism to their rocanrol stew.
The result included unforgettably haunting recordings like 2011's Hail The Conquering Fool.
This week, Lousy Robot bassist Fleming reached out to Weekly Alibi to tell about a new collection of recordings by Lousy Robot, available at Bandcamp.
Fleming wrote, "Before his death Jim and the band had been working on collecting outtakes and rarities from previous recording sessions in hopes of putting out a collection of weirdness titled Oddities, Obscurities & Obscenities. The work started with a cover of “Dead Flowers” and an iPhone remix of “Peacocks." During this time, I continued to work on remixes on several other songs. After Jim’s death, I found two songs that the group had demoed but never completed. I edited and restructured those songs and sent them to friend and long-time producer John Dufliho to complete.
The result is a work of complex beauty; the circumstances—rendered as music, hopeful and dire—that make up human life.
The Daily Word in the culprit of the Bacha Khan University attacks, marriage, and NM's leading cause of death
In the last decade NM's most distinctive cause of death has been interactions with law enforcement. Incredible.
Neat garage, bro.
Spotify absorbed some startups and will be trying some new stuff.
A fight between high-schoolers in Santa Fe ends with a hospitalized girl.
The Daily Word in innovative helmets, an escaped prisoner, and the State of the Union Address
Finally, a way to stop sports from killing people.
Albuquerque man shoots dog in a disturbing and unpleasant incident.
The future of mass transit, hopefully.
A Haiku for Cold Weather
The Daily Word in why the hell there was fog, our sci-fi future, and Bill Cosby
A case is reopened against Bill Cosby just before the 12-year statute of limitation deadline.
Stay warm, stay safe. This winter is deadly.
How this year brought us closer to our ideal sci-fi future.
The rather creepy mystery of lights in an abandoned New Orleans hospital is solved.
If you saw fog last night, you're probably as confused as I was. Here's an explanation.
The Daily Word in Republicans, bad sex, and space death
Last night's GOP debate is calm and mature... Relatively.
The people at BuzzFeed share with us their lousy sex experience.
Albuquerque honors its veterans- with free stuff!
Yet another “Beauty Through the Decades” video, but this one takes the romantic filter off of the past to show what women were really doing.
A planet far far away causes scientists to rethink the way they see planetary orbit.
Space is terrifying. Death is around every corner, and these astronauts have faced it head on.
Here's a page thats full of people gushing about Fallout 4. If that interests you.
The Daily Word: The Art Awakens
Introducing, Diane Coffee.
The Mountain that eats men.
We are traveling at warp speed.
The death of death.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s an anthropomorphic lemon picking up garbage in the streets of Tokyo?
Star Wars: The Art Awakens
Another “branch” of advertising.