Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Today's correspondence:

Q: "what are your feelings about g.love and special sauce? my son (four-yrs-old and LOVES your music, by the way) recently thought that one of their songs was one of yours... and there is a similar feel if not a similar sound (to what you and Camo laid down on Until the End of Time)... . they are more blues influenced which is what i'm getting around to... i've never ::heard:: you mention the blues in anyway and i'm wondering if that style of music has had any influence over you at all..." M

A: G. Love came out at the same time as Beck. I didn't like either of those guys for awhile since I felt they were invading my "territory"... but like you said, as it turned out G. Love was a bluesman and Beck was more punk/new-wave, and I, folk/country. So, I wouldn't say I was influenced by him, but we had the roots music thing in common. We both liked Dylan, Robert Johnson, Led Zep, Hendrix. Blues hasn't directly influenced me that much, but definitely some--in particular unreleased stuff from around '92, '93.
From last week...

"Driving to different cities to visit Humane Societies, looking for my dog that died from cancer 2 weeks ago. Ended up listening to your Long Walk Home that I bought from you at Erin's Missoula sleepover in January. So I felt like I knew, a little bit, who was singing to me. The plaintive, lost feeling this album gives me really suited my mood today.." A

That, to me, is the blues.
Now, check this out!!! Timezone LaFontaine (aka Giles O'Dell) has finished the artwork for: (return to) the blackhole... (of outerspace).

It will be released on Crunks Not Dead the flyest label of 2005.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Revisit my May 27th post if you can; I made it kindler and gentler. More of a solemn plea for help.

Today is Memorial Day. Dad and I took a tape recorder up to the mountain and recorded Gramps and Uncle Chris as they talked about their experiences in WWII.

Afterwards, he and I rode up to the beaver dams. Peanut was full of electricity and I had to really hang on. As soon as we mounted it began to rain, and by the end we were soaked and chilled. Nevertheless it was magical up there with the lichened buttes and foggy hollows. The dams are overflowing and the oaks finally unfurling.

I rode bareback, so the crotch of my jeans is plastered with wet horse hair.

I'm now able to shrink photos. Scroll down to see edits.
There is a puppy next door that wails whenever its humans are gone. They're gone a lot, like right now, and the dog's constant, high pitched grieving is irritating me to my core. I confronted my neighbor about it last week. He defensively said that the animal will soon outgrow its cry. It's been two months, though, with nothing changed. I've even talked to the animal itself and pleaded for mercy. S/he seemed to ask, "What's in it for me?" I didn't have an answer.

I look forward to finding my own place.

I know why I've been a little uninspired to write of late--it's the 40-hr. work week. My job is great and all, but it requires me to go to bed early so I can awaken early. But midnight is when my peak creative hours are. I was sacrificing sleep for a while, and it caught up with me. I still want to write daily, though.

I'm driven to write. To create. To entertain. To endure.

There's no telling what my motives are, and I'm not sure if they're healthy either. It sometimes feels like I'm avoiding certain things so I can do other things. Why do some people, like Arnold S., constantly work out physically? Why do others, like Buddhist monks, pray all day? Why does my father keep building houses and my mother study and read? (These feels like lyrics to Prince's "When Doves Cry." Maybe I'll rename it "When Dogs Cry.")
Yesterday I performed at the 19th annual Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Medora, ND. Medora is only 113 kilometers (70 miles) away. It was fully unexpected. Farmor introduced me to the founder of the gathering, Bill Lowman, yesterday morning and offhandedly announced that I knew some poems. Without hesitation he asked if I'd like to be added to the bill. I stammered "uh, well, I...sure!" and it was thus written. Lowman, it should be noted, has one of the most incredible and famous moustaches ever. In fact, I saw more bizarre handle-bar moustaches in that one room, yesterday, than I've seen in my whole life. No shit! But Mr. Lowman probably had the most original. I won't even try to explain it.

Lowman the Cowman from Bowman. Sandman the Ranch Hand from the Bad Lands. Hmmm...

Anyway, my time in the spotlight, along with 20 other novices, was brief. I was obviously not a main attraction. It was still an amazing experience. A lot of these novice poets/singers are legendary cowboys. Take for instance Dean Armstrong, who sang a couple songs from his wheel chair. Dean was part of the "Six Pack"--a group of six western North Dakota bronc riders who traveled together and won championships throughout the U.S. and Canada during the 1950s. After the show I helped him put his wheel chair in the back of his pickup. He and his wife, Fran, invited me to visit their Diamond Bar Ranch someday to swap songs.

Here's a good link to read more about him with some good photos, too.

While in Medora I visted the ND Cowboy Hall of Fame, which is still in the process of being established. Dean was one of the first to be inducted. Last year my great uncle-in-law, Walt Neuens, was posthumously inducted.

At day's end I was cowboy'd out. As Dad and I drove back to Killdeer I cranked a CD compilation of African songs to help me unwind. The funny thing, though, is African music fits better than Country in this arid, ancient, grassland region of west Dakota. If I ever get a chance to act or direct a "Western" movie I'll be askin' Habib Koite or Lobi Traore for help with the soundtrack.

By the way, the crowd received my poem ("Jack Potter's Courtin'") and song ("The Cowboy's Life is a Very Dreary Life") very warmly, and it felt strangely natural to be in their company. In fact, almost too natural for comfort. I'm more used to acting a fool in front of college kids. That could change, though.

Friday, May 27, 2005

It's possible to impeach G. Walker Bush

I'll always like him as a person (I like everyone), but not as King. I'd try to fire Jay Leno, too, if he attempted a hostile takeover of the Constitution. (Instead of the Downing Street Memo, it'd be the Leno Memo.)

Some of you might think I'm beating a dead horse, but George is not a horse, of course. Nor a cowboy. And on top of that, he's alive. He's the most powerful ex-cheerleader in the world. To our extreme misfortune, he's confused Imperialistic Psychosis w/ Christianity.

Fully forgivable, but...

Let's impeach him anyway. Seriously.

Last night I brought Margi and her friend, Kylie, up to G & G's cabin for s'mores. Kylie's Australian. Her name means "Whistling Boomerang" in Aborigine. She's a biologist who studies skinks. Skinks are a type of lizard. Good times on the mountain.

I'm glad Summer's coming. It's still below 50 F, though.

I'll be playing a show in late June at the Hilltop Elder Care Center. Apparently they appreciate the sing-a-long type cover songs like "Home on the Range." I've never been good at those sort of songs, but I'll soon be learning. My over-the-top raps will be shelved temporarily.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

I'm running out of inspiration... maybe I should take a break from blogging and see what kind of mischief gets stirred up.

Talk to you in a few.
From yesterday:

"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."

-- George W. Bush, Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The block of cds you see below are finally, after three years, listed on this website. What kind of a dot.com takes three years to update their merch page? Click on the homepage for more details.

Don't let my scary, moustache face intimidate you. It's just me. No more moustache. No more scowl. I'm friendly again...

Monday, May 23, 2005

Gramps called this morning at 6 a.m. to say that since I'd have to borrow one of the Voight's horses if I was to help with the round-up, he didn't feel comfortable bringing me along. Thus, I went back to sleep--partially grateful and partially disappointed.

After a leisurely morning, I made it down to the post office where I picked up a most welcome package from Giles O'Dell. He sent nineteen almost finished tracks from the CD we're co-creating: (return to) the black hole...(of outerspace). I've transcribed part of the letter he enclosed:

Well sir, pardon the interminable delays if you can, but at last here are some rough mixes of our epic collaboration, soon to be the theme music to a million collegiate smoke-outs, the album known as "(return to) the black hole...(of outerspace)." . . .The entire progression could be said to follow the archetype known as "the hero's journey."

It is with some measure of. . .anticipation that I am beginning to speculate that this record might have what it takes to provoke strong responses amongst your fans. Some may shed tears of joy, while others will cry foul. . . Some will. . .smile. . .To some, this record will be the awaited follow-up to Slippery G--to others, it might be an unwelcome detour. . .the polarities of the responses do not matter--what matters is the GUSTO of them. . . And it will be up to you to summon the MOXIE to ride the GUSTO to a new dawn.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

We got old binders, threshers, combines, balers, seeders, reapers, disc ploughs, sickle mowers, horse-drawn walking ploughs, harvesters, swathers, you name it! You really should plan a visit to the Dunn County Museum this summer.

Today I created a space for children to chill in. I want adults to be able to absorb all the curios and not have to worry about their kids getting bored. Plus, we have all these signs that say "Don't Touch," and so it makes sense to have at least one place where young ones can touch stuff: two broken phones, a vintage calculator, crayons and paper, an oatmeal container, a cow's thigh bone, a shark stencil, two pencils, a cigar box, a wooden truck, a troll w/ a koosh ball afro, and some children's books.

Tomorrow (and all Mondays) the museum is closed. I'll probably help gather cattle for the Voights. They might be branding as well. Good chance I'll get bucked off again if I ride Peanut, so stay tuned...
Here's a joke:
A married couple were attending a rather long church service. The husband leaned over and whispered, "My butt is going to sleep." "I know," replied his wife, "I heard it snore three times."
So anyway, in unrelated news, tomorrow will be my parents' 36th wedding anniversary.


Notice the lilacs on the table.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

My friend Alex Mahan's blog has a kindly write-up of my journal in his May 18th entry.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Dusky evening
8 p.m.

Off to the east, the most misshapen rainbow
I've ever seen

Bolts of MonDak sun
On a fresh poplar

Above the tree,
that yellow bird!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Dad's back from Montana.

My uncle Chris Sand is back, too. He spends his winters in California. He's eighty-eight. I haven't visited him yet, but apparently he's not doing too well. Rumour has it that he has cancer. He's not telling anyone about it, though. His kids called and reported it.

Here's a picture of me and him from last year. He's a cowboy poet and L.A. Dodgers baseball fan. In high school he was a star basketball player. His hands are huge and thick.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

This is looking out the gate from my Grandparent's Lazy E-Four spread. Dad is building his and my mom's straw bale house on this land.

This one is on the neighboring Diamond C. The grass is thriving from all the rain, snow, and sun. The horse is in rough shape, though. Old age.

Monday, May 16, 2005

In 1972, four years before his death at 84, Norman Rockwell admitted, "I was doing this best-possible-world, Santa-down-the-chimney. . .sort of thing. And I liked it, but now I'm sick of it." He told his son, "If I could start over again, I'd paint like Picasso."

Picasso had more sex appeal. So what? Both were masters. Both were millionaires. Both were "sell-outs." Both were geniuses. One drew portraits. One was a rebel. Pizza pizza.

It's what's for dinner.

This morning I drove to Dunn Center to scope the available housing. I talked to City Hall, as well as to the area's only real estate agent. They said that in spite every other house being abandoned, nothing's currently for sale or rent.

I accidentally took matters into my own hands when I drove up to a tiny house that's always intrigued me. No car was parked there and I wanted to peek in the windows to see if it, too, was abandoned. I was surprised to be greeted by a burly, gruff-looking character who must've thought I was a salesman, 'cause he asked sharply, "Whadya need?" When I told him my purpose he warmed up and we ended up chatting for over an hour. He's a Gulf War vet who's into big game hunting and fishing. He grew up in Montana and moved out here to avoid the yuppies. He's also one of the most eloquent philosophers I've met in months. He confided to me his opinions on the Gulf War and the current Iraq War, and let's just say he has more in common with Michael Moore than Dick Cheney. His name's Kirk.

At the end of our talk he said that it's possible he'll be moving to the northern border of Minnesota sometime this summer. He prefers to be surrounded by trees, and elk. He said if he decides to sell he'll let me know first.

It's strange to think of myself as a potential home owner. Only three months ago I was defaulting on all credit card payments. I couldn't pay rent or loans. Now I'm thinking about buying a house! Only out here, though, where the economy is so depressed. Guess how much he'd be selling it for? $6500. That's ten times less than some of those used horse trailer/RVs they sell.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Broke nightly fast via mac & cheese, then walked three blocks to Killdeer arena for high school rodeo action. Gramps was there with some buddies. I withdrew to the west hill with a can of Red Bull and $2 burger, and squatted on the dirt to watch it alone. Rodeo is concentrated cowboy culture and it's been years since my last one. I've never liked seeing animals/people get hurt: necks snapped, legs broke, ribs cracked, etc.

As I studied the scene, though, I started to feel ashamed that I've ever called myself a "cowboy." I grew embarrassed thinking about the baggy Carhartts and Adidas sneakers I've often performed in. I consider myself a Neomodernist with anarchistic/hip-hop tendencies (how pretentious, right?), which oughta give me psychological leeway to wear what I want and be who I am. But for a couple hours on a hill, the feelings of fashion failure kicked dents in my chute.

But enough with that. I found Gramps who broke it down for me. He's a rodeo afficionado but never rodeoed himself because it's hard on family life and costs thousands and thousands of dollars. He was handy with a rope. His son Josh became a pro roper for awhile. His daughter, Christi, was involved with rodeo pageantry. My dad was more of a horseman, like Gramps. Grandpa said he might try to find me a lariat to practice doing tricks with.

Anyway, I drove Grandpa to the nursing home to find Farmor who was making the rounds. Alice and Orris Bang now stay there as does Dot Pelton. I was only going to stay for twenty minutes and then leave before the Sunday live entertainment started, but auspiciously the week's scheduled singer didn't show up, and so I offered to fill in. I did four cowboy poems and three songs: "Saddle Bum," "The Old Chisholm Trail," and "The Cowboy's Life is a Very Dreary Life." Grandpa sang "Frankie and Johnny." The nurses liked it and want me to be a regular! I'll bring a guitar next time.

P.S. Neomodernism = "the paradigm of free and undistorted communication leading to mutual understanding, coordination of actions, and consensual resolution of conflicts."

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Today was for mowing. Reuben Benz helped me repair the museum's riding lawn mower. Good timing, too. With all the melted snow the acreage was verdant. Amidst dandelions, broken tumbleweed stalks, and grass, were tufts of alfalfa and sage. There's no aroma sweeter to me than mingled sage and alfalfa.

The sounds around the museum are "western," too. The windmill creaks. The doves coo. And meadowlarks! They reign supreme with their supernatural, fence post arias. I want a ringtone like that someday in case I get trapped back in Nashville or Seattle.

Reuben Benz, the mechanic, is one of my favorite Dunn Center old-timers. He walks, or rather, scuffles, hunched over. He purrs as he moves, which must help him transcend certain physical pains. He can't hear well, so I have to yell. He has some of the most smiling eyes, like an elf's. With arthritic fingers he can still fix a lot.

In the last decade so many Dunn Center elders I knew as a kid have passed on. For that reason, I sometimes regret not moving out here earlier. On the bright side, a lot of them are still alive and healthy. I need them around so I can buggle carrots from their gardens at night. No one I know grows carrots like those of the sons and daughters of pioneers. I like their dill, currants, and rhubarb, too. Choke cherry syrup is my farmor's specialty, but choke cherries are a wild fruit that aren't to be found in gardens.

When I got home I pulled out my parent's push mower and mowed our yard. Dad will be home in three days. Here's a picture of him (pink) and his moustache (white):

Last and most, my mom's graduation ceremony happened today and she received her Doctorate of Education from the University of Montana. She's worked tirelessly for months. Here's a photo of her thirty-two years ago:

Friday, May 13, 2005

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are [a] few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."

- President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 11/8/54
What's up, Ike?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

If you haven't viewed the "home page" lately, please take a gander. I've posted links to view all cds that aren't yet listed on the "merchandise page." These are the ones I've been predominantly peddling during my most recent tours.
Dominic, from Fargo, sent this regarding the final project that he and three others just completed for their Poetry of Rock class at NDSU:

"...We tried to show your music from different influences of different generations of music... we played 'Radio Works Fine' and two others and I talked about the formal distinctions of a post-modernist voice. Irony, tragedy, politics etc... the blurred line between high art and kitsch... Our professor thoroughly enjoyed the presentation and the freshness of your music..."
Dominic's the guy who met me at the Fargo train yard at 3:55 AM to purchase four cds while I was enroute to Stanley, ND (from St. Paul).

This picture is of me and my first inamorata, Heather. I hear that she lives in Pittsburgh and has a nineteen-year-old daughter, but I haven't seen her in twenty-five years. We were close friends for three years and I imprinted on her like a fluffy duckling. Every woman I've ever gotten close to has been filtered through my Soul memory of Heather Dietz. I was definitely heart-broken when she disappeared from my life.

"Hez" blossomed so early and brightly; I still wait to take off Kemo Sabe's black Mask.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Here's Dunn County Museum's quasi-website: http://www.dakotawestadventures.com/member_detail.asp?ID=86
Does anyone have any tips on shrinking photos?

Monday, May 09, 2005

I wrote the oddest song today called "Mama Took the Laptop Away." I missed my italics, etc. However, Dad's iMac does have one thing that makes up for that--I can post pictures!! I can only rock the small ones at this point, though, 'cause otherwise it blows the picture up too big.

Today's picture is of Marie and me from 1992. She was my first post high school true love. I asked her to marry me and she said yes. We never did tie the knot, but we were engaged for over a year. I met her when I was nineteen at the University of Montana. I was a mountain guide working for the U of M outdoor program, and she signed up for one of my trips.

After we broke up I only saw her one time. I don't know where she lives anymore or what she's doing...

Here's to sweet Marie:

Marie was a dancer, actress, & singer; what theater people called a "triple-threat."
Happy Mother's Day, Ma! Give my love to Grandma, too.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Check this website out:


It's my meal-ticket. Look at the company I'm in--Branford Marsalis, Alison Krauss and Union Station, Cowboy Junkies, Alanis Morissette, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Robbie Robertson, Jane Siberry, and Bruce Hornsby.

(My mom took her PC laptop to Montana, so I can't do hyperlinks anymore. Gone too are italics, bold, and color.)

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Mom's gone to Montana for six weeks. Dad'll be back in 8 days. (Let's party!) Actually, I'm hoping to find my own house in Dunn Center this week...

Friday, May 06, 2005

Ate three bowls of ice cream.

Farmor's 85th birthday party was tonight at the Buckskin. "Farmor" is the Norwegian word meaning father's mother. "Farfar"= father's father. "Morfar"= mother's father, etc. "Jeg elsker deg"= I love you. My dad's siblings, and their spouses, cruised up from SoDak and Colorado for the event. I kicked off the evening with my new song "Farmor." One of the verses goes like this:

She's pretty as Medora, and tough as Teddy Roosevelt
When she walks by, all the cowboys they swoon and melt
The Sun gets jealous of her, that's what I said
'Cause all the sunflowers would rather follow her instead

At the end of the night I sang a couple more, and recited the poem "Jack Potter's Courtin'." It's groovy to do cowboy poetry in front of ranchers and ex-rodeo men. Dig?

Now I should sleep. Ice cream poisoning has taken grip, and my basal ganglia are freaking out!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Five / five/ five . . .
(Does this mean we're one year, one month, and one day away from armageddon?)

My grandma, Edna Nupen Sand, turns 85 tomorrow. I'm writing her a song tonight.

Ten years ago, for my mom's mom, Vi Sullivan Herak, I wrote a song called "Dear Grandma." She's also 85.

So is my grandpa Bob Sand. I have three living grandparents who have lived a combined total of 255 years.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

My friend Laurence often sends Bushisms. They're not as timeless as those of say, Yogi Berra. They're confusing. Weirder. Which is why they're funny. Here's today's:

"See, it's interesting, isn't it -- I can't tell you how good it is for the country to be sitting next to Cynthia Roberts, working right here at Nissan, and she's talking to me about watching her assets grow."

-- G-Dub, continuing his Social Security roadshow in Canton, Miss.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Ani DiFranco just played a song on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. I don't feel anyanienvy. She earns everything she gets. Go Ani! Also, I don't care for Conan O's show as much as I do Leno's. I do like Conor Oberst, though. Go Conor! (Envy is different than jealousy.)

Enough with that. I just dreamed I saw the ghost of Theodore Roosevelt! He spoke to me for two hours, shook my hand, encouraged me to body build, and then galloped into the badlands in search of a quadraped to murder. He had a voice like Mike Tyson--high and cocky. I'm inspired to live a more vigorous life.

Monday, May 02, 2005

I love Jay Leno and his nightly show. Jay's good. Tonight Wanda Sykes was on there. I like Wanda, too. At the end of the show Conor Oberst aka Bright Eyes sang a protest song basically calling the President a jack ass. He wore red cowboy clothes and a black cowboy hat. Just him, and his clothes, and a guitar. Leno compared him to Bob.

I am the man of constant envy.

Conor is 24, sells a lot of records, and gets good reviews in Rolling Stone.

I want to tell him, "I'm the rappin' cowboy, dude. Can you thrust your pelvis like this? Can you curate a museum in a town with the population of the moon? Can you make love to thin air with nothing but formaldehyde and a broken cattle prod? Can you remember Pong vs. Billy Beer?

Oh, I wish I was Conor Oberst. Then Wanda Sykes would see me for who I am.

Envy. Not sorrow, not pride, not anger, not greed, not sloth, not meth. But envy, envy, envy...

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Last night I went to the Buckskin Bar & Grill to watch a local country band. Lots of little country buggers hugger-muggered the dance floor. For the first hour adults hung around the bar, and teenagers clustered near the back. Eventually, though, high schoolers and older folks danced, too. I didn't. A deep embarrassment took over my heart and I had to slip away into the safety of snow.

Reinserting myself here will be incremental. I need a year to thaw out. Otherwise I'll crack apart and people will see my grief-stricken core. I should take dance lessons.

Hard core, rural, White cowboy culture has many similarities to hard core, urban, African American culture. There is religion, poverty, and sports. There are differences, too--like dancing.

One little, blonde boy attempted to break dance. He liked the ground (the earth). Again and again he spiraled towards the floor. He sported a Spider Man t-shirt like one I used to wear. I didn't see him smile all evening. Break dancing can be lonely business in cowboy country.

Margi was there. She's a beautiful woman, same age as me, who looks good in her cowgirl boots and Levi's. Ironically, she has to scrounge to get guys to dance with her. Almost every guy is shy out here. Beer plays an important role. As the evening wore on, Margi found more men willing to take a chance.

Beni Paulson is the lead guitar player in the band. He's a 29-year-old professional bull rider who just broke his leg in a competition in New Mexico. His right leg is in a full cast. He's also a rancher and single dad. His dad, Dennis, plays harmonica for the band.

Dennis fought in Vietnam. He adopted a Vietnamese daughter, named Sady. Sady doesn't have a lot of muscle control, so she uses a wheel chair. She looks to be around 18. Her friend pushed her out on the floor so she could dance. Sady is also the name of the Japanese bartender in Dunn Center.

Alejandro, or Al, is a Chilean horse trainer. He's a genuine "horse whisperer"--can tame anything with hooves and a hide. He looked epic, clad in his black cowboy hat, black leather jacket, black jeans, and black cowboy boots. Black's also the color of his Hoxton Handle moustache. Black is not the color of his true love's hair, though. She's a blonde. I bought him a Coors Lite. We stood together listening to the band, but it was too loud to talk, so I sat back down and nursed my Miller.

Then I went home and slept, sad though I was.