Friday, June 30, 2006

Today was the last day of the Dunn Center thrift store. The store didn't have a real name. It was a little white building on Main Street, next to City Hall. Martha Dvorak closed up shop at 3pm, and I believe I was the last shopper. I purchased an old-fashioned Zenith monitor to hook my Pong video controller into. Actually Martha gave me the monitor, saying to bring a dollar to her house next week if it works.

Now Dunn Center has only one private business left on Main Street, the Ilo Bar. Alice's Restaurant closed down last fall. Granfor's Garage, which sold Coca Cola and Mello Yello in returnable bottles, has been closed for over twenty years. So much has changed since I was a kid riding my bike with gangs of street urchins, chewing Copenhagen, and playing pool at Alice's. The trailer court is long abandoned. The rows of grey electrical hookups look like rows of veterans' tombstones.

Martha worked at the thrift store four days a week and had about two visitors a day. When I was younger, my cousins and I called it the Gift Store. We'd find lots of treasures. On July 11th City Hall will have a celebration for Martha, with cake.

Fortunately, my neighbor Loman Goetz recently started up a second-hand store about three blocks away, and it has many treasures, too. It's more of an antique store than a thrift store, but has good stuff. The coolest thing about Loman's Second Hand Corner is that it's so hidden. He barely advertises, and you'd need to look hard to see his narrow sign. He doesn't have an open or closed sign, but he usually leaves the door open if he's there. Last week I bought this amazing antique massage machine from him. It spins a series of grooved, wooden spindles at a high speed. You sit on it or lean against it and just hope it doesn't rip your clothes to shreds.
Trisha sent this today.

She psychedelified a photo that Tae Won Yu took of me in 2000.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Last January I wrote about hitchhiking 700 miles from Santa Fe, NM, to a show in Bisbee, AZ, and getting a serendipitous ride from an ABC News correspondent named Miguel Marquez. Miguel has covered many big stories: the Michael Jackson trial, the Schwarzenegger election, and the Saddam Hussein trial in Baghdad. Well, he was recently reassigned to cover the Iraq debacle, and since then he's been sending me and others his weekly reports. When the U.S. dropped a bomb on Zarqawi and posse, Miguel's crew was the first to arrive on the scene. In fact, I believe that Miguel was the one to report that Zarqawi was still alive (when other reports were saying he'd died immediately).

Here are some excerpts from his last letter:

"I hope things get better here. Not only because young Americans are dying by the dozens, some of them in horrific ways, but also because Iraqis are dying by the hundreds, if not thousands, and they are living in misery. Everyone who can is leaving the country."

"The Iraqi government is weak and knotted in confusion. Ministries often contradict other ministries. The Prime Minister's press office consists of a guy with a cell phone."

". . . filling up the car up can take 12 to 24 hours of waiting in line."

"In short, [the Iraqis'] whole way of life has been turned upside down and there is no end in sight. The grand promises of freedom and democracy have been ground down into the remnants of a thousand car and suicide bombs."

On top of all that, he reports that the temperature is "well over 115 degrees everyday."

War is hell . . .

Friday, June 23, 2006

I just ordered some buttons from my friend Lauren in Denton, TX ( This is the design, more or less. It's my logo and record label.
My buddy, Jeff Stern, is making a movie called The Romantic Possibilities. He's using my song "Hole Digger" in the soundtrack. Listen here.

Another pal, Willie Wisely, who produced my 2004 album Live & Suspicious, spent the last year catalyzing his own music career. He just completed a very sweet and funny video for his song "Staying Home Again," which features comedian Andy Dick and Playboy's Playmate of the Year, Kara Monaco. View here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Kristin and I hiked to one of the highest peaks on Killdeer Mountain tonight to watch the sunset. We saw a porcupine, raccoon, mule deer, and five whitetails. It seemed romantic, in spite of no romance, to be with a lovely lass on the longest day of this bright year, sprawled atop an alpine butte beneath the orange dusky ether.

We faced west until the dark cougar of evening swallowed our mason jar of melted sky-sherbet, and then we climbed down to the four-wheeler and went home.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

North Dakota is in full splendor this week. The buttes are green. The alfalfa fields smell sweet. Wild tiger lilies and other bright flowers, like echinacea, are in bloom in the Killdeer Mountains. Jack rabbits, horses, and pronghorn antelope graze in meditative repose. Birds sing. The days are long. Sunsets have been serene.

I changed the spark plug cables on Excalibur and he's running smoothly again. I've got some money in the bank, and a low-interest house loan is coming through. I'm catching up on rest. Allergies are subsiding.

Tomorrow morning I'll knock out the wall between the kitchen and living room at Watership Down, my home. Gone are the claustrophobic dust bowl days of yesteryear. Ahead are wide-open vistas of prairie paradise.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Finally! Finally I had a day to work on my house. I got a lot done today. It's a good little house, I say.

By request from Mom, I'm attaching three more early Dad pics.

1971 was a good year to be a baby in Montana. I wonder what music my folks listened to. Mom: Barbara Streisand. Dad: Willie Nelson. Son: Led Zeppelin. I wish.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Yesterday the Dunn County Historical Museum celebrated Sacagawea Day. We were able to book Amy Mossett, who is internationally famous for her Sacagawea presentations.

Amy (in photo above) grew up here in Dunn County. Over 100 people showed up to see her performance, and many participated in games and arts and crafts beforehand. The Museum really came to life for the afternoon. Amy was amazing!
Happy Father's Day, Dad!

You did good.
Three pictures from family reunion on Killdeer Mountain:

Niece Liljiana and nephews Connor & Andrew (twins). They are children of my cousins Kelly and Sarah, respectively.

Aunt Christi (my dad's sister) and Uncle Ken on their 37th wedding anniversary.

Uncle Josh (Dad's brother, who recently broke pelvis and arm roping a steer) and cousin Kirby (wearing his tent hat).

Friday, June 16, 2006

It's family reunion time w/ the Sand family! Pictures will be forthcoming . . .

Bismarck Tribune called today and want to do a story on the "rappin' cowboy." I was hesitant, but the journalist was persistent. I got out of a Dunn County Herald interview last fall. The Bismarck Tribune interview is scheduled for July 10th.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I found this article in an old Dunn County Herald dated Dec. 5, 1918.

J. A. Berdahl, Dunn Center, N. D., Coming Young Exhibitor, Books Productions for His Town Before They Appear in Leading Cities of North Dakota:

Dunn Center, N. D., should be congratulated. That little city has a motion picture exhibitor who would make good anywhere. The community in which he lives owes Mr. Berdahl a debt.

Berdahl is well known among motion picture exhibitors throughout the northwest for his hustling enterprise.

Recently, while on a visit to Minneapolis, in search of new productions for his theatre for the coming season, Berdahl attended a private showing of "The Right to Happiness." This is the great production starring Miss Dorothy Phillips which begins its Minneapolis engagement Saturday, Sept. 27.

So pleased was Mr. Berdhal with "The Right to Happiness" that he immediately booked "Destiny" and "Paid in Advance," in which Miss Phillips also appeared in the leading roles.

"Destiny" recently appeared at the New Garrick theatre in Minneapolis, the leading motion picture theatre of the northwest, where it literally jammed the theatre for seven consecutive days. "Paid in Advance" is another production which will be caught in the tide of popular favor wherever it is presented.

Dunn Center, N. D., is indeed to be congratulated. As far as entertainment for the coming season is concerned, it will be on a par with Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the other large cities of the middle west. Watch out Dunn Center! Somebody is going to come along and steal that wide-awake theatre manager right from under your very nose if you don't watch out.
In the same issue, Dunn County Herald also printed a congratulatory letter from Universal Pictures' Director of Publicity, Cliff Blanchard. I'll include his last paragraph.

Dear Mr. Berdahl:

. . . In booking "The Right to Happiness," "Paid in Advance," and "Destiny," you have certainly prepared for a big season with these marvelous productions. I wonder if the people of your town really understand what you are doing for them in bringing such high class productions to them. Why "The Right to Happiness" has not yet concluded its New York appearance, and you have it already booked. I guess at's [sic?] putting Dunn Center on the theatrical map O. K.

Very Sincerely,
Cliff Blanchard

The theatre that the journalist and Blanchard (seemingly the same person) are both referring to is the abandoned Dvorak Auditorium, which I still would like to buy if I could. It's one of the last historic places in Dunn Center, and it needs a new roof before winter. I see that theatre as not only the heart of Dunn County, but also of all of western North Dakota.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I'm stuck in a blog rut. Museum work is taking up all of my creative time this week.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The schedule for today was to wake up at 5:30 a.m. to go help the Schettlers brand. The Schettlers live way, way, way out in the Badlands along the Little Missouri River. I rode in Ron & Sarah McFadden's outfit w/ their five little ones, plus Margi and Kristin. When we arrived at the corrals, it was raining. Seven or eight pickups with 30 or 40 cattlemen and women were there. Burning brands on wet hide doesn't work well, so we all waited in the damp mud and fog with the bellowing heifers and calves. The riders had gathered up the herd, though, so it seemed things would get cooking before too long. We waited some more, but the rain wouldn't let up. Around noon we slip-slided to the ranch house for coffee. I felt sorry for Mrs. Schettler, because we muddied up her kitchen something terrible in the process. Eventually the whiskey got passed around, and other beverages. I'm recovering from a cough, so I abstained. And the rain continued.

Then it was dinner time, so we ate a Schettler feast. Peach pie was my dessert choice.

At around 6:00 p.m. the branding got called off, and by 8:30 p.m. I was back at my parents' house, in their bathtub, washing off the mud that Katie McFadden wiped on my cheeks and forehead. As I stared into the bathroom mirror, I was once again confronted with how truly unCowboy I feel--wheezing w/ hay fever, carsick, shivering, lonesome for my computer, pallid-faced, tender-footed, and mute.

Nevertheless, it was a fine day amongst sweet people. Little Missouri Badlands country is as beautiful as it gets. Atop one butte we saw three bighorn sheep. And the grass is greener than ever.

Friday, June 09, 2006

We're getting lots of rain tonight. Tomorrow's branding should be slippery good fun in the clay, mud, manure, mucous, and blood. The poor little calves will have it worse than I will.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Grandpa turned 87 two days ago.

He and Grandma married almost 65 years ago.

He was telling me some war stories last week that amazed me. Once, to escape the Germans, who'd surrounded him, he chose to charge into their trenches. It was pitch black, and he said he blazed through their ranks like a maniac. I would've too. By war's end he had two or three purple hearts and some shrapnel souvenirs.

Grandpa hates war and the war machine. He frequently declares, "War is hell, and it's the only kind of hell I believe exists."

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

5 reasons that 6 is a better number than 5:

1. It's rounder.
2. It's older.
3. You don't have to move your lips to say it.
4. It echoes when you say it.
5. It has evil potential.

Speaking of evil--check out my barbaric
Winona audience from two weeks ago:

(Thanks Tiffany for the photo.)

Monday, June 05, 2006

5 bad band names that I thought up on the way home from work today:

1. Dr. Longhorn and the Manitoba Pronghorn
2. Mount Rashmore
3. Iranium
4. Orwell's Doorbell
5. Bird Flute

You may vote for your favorite.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

5 Websites that Sell Sandman Merchandise:


Not to mention: - (Now with Paypal)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Five thoughts:

1. Tonight's sky is perfect.
2. I've been up for 20 hours already.
3. Western North Dakota smells earthy in the late spring.
4. Time to go fishing soon.
5. I like my Killdeer friends.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Five happenings:

1. Dixie Chicks' new album debuts at #1
2. Haditha probe opens
3. Alice Cooper receives "Key" to Alice, North Dakota
4. Barry Bonds hits 715th home run
5. Allergy season begins for pollen boy

Thursday, June 01, 2006

That silver box, between the tractor and the trailer house,

was where I slept in the summers, in the '80s.
"Tractor pull me from my town
Tractor pull me from my friends
Tractor pull me underground
Tractor pull me back again."