Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Dad and I came down with colds and stayed home today. We worked on cleaning 319 Joe's carburetor this afternoon, and somehow the whole engine block caught fire! Dad ran inside the house, grabbed the fire extinguisher, and sprayed the flames out. Some wires and tubes melted, but it seems to run okay still.

I've reached a financial crisis and will very likely be defaulting on my credit card debt starting this month. Ouch! I'm becoming a back-to-the-lander by default (no pun intended). I'm ashamed that it's come to this. After my next five shows, though, I should be able to pay off all my friends, which is more important to me than Visa. I suppose if I had more integrity, I'd immediately cancel all 2005 shows and get a wage-earning job. It's confusing. Either way I'll have to find a job, but hopefully one with flexibility.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Brrrrr... it was friggin' frigid this morning on the mountain. My fingers got frostbitten many years ago, so now it's especially painful when I have to use them in sub-freezing temperatures. The wind-chill factor sucked. I was glad when we moved inside to stack straw bales. Tomorrow will be warmer. Exterior carpentry is a gruesome, winter, North Dakota occupation--and it's not even winter yet!

Actually, though, I love it here. My parents are good to me.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Computers have been scarce these last three days. I feel journalistically negligent. We're back from Spearfish in one piece--well fed and contented. Tomorrow I start working off parental debts again, here in Killdeer. Or maybe I can talk them into giving me one more day off to recover from the vacation. It'll be Sunday, after all.

To sum up the Thanksgiving Holiday... the relatives and I played board games, sang songs, drove around, ate, lounged about in our socks, and conversed. My three-year-old cousin/niece, Hannah Joy, has a little crush on me which tickled everyone, especially me. She and I spent some quality time hunting for vicious dinosaurs and reading fairy-tales. Her little sister, Liljana, who's walking everywhere now, was more interested in the cats and ice-cream.

Also, this weekend, I acquired two new cowboy hats. The first I found at Salvation Army in downtown Spearfish. Gramps paid the two bucks for it. The second Uncle Josh gave me (after disapproving of the appearance of the first). It's one of his old team-roping hats, but it's still in good shape. Both are panama-woven Bailey's. And they both fit! It's typically hard for me to find size seven-and-a-halves anywhere, but in one day I got two.

Lastly, 319 Joe is back in my world. I drove him five hours today, enroute to NoDak, with Mom in the passenger seat. He stalled in a K-Mart parking lot at one point and gave me a scare, but after twenty minutes of cajoling, he finally caught spark and gallantly galloped home.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Crazy times. I just returned to Killdeer, ND, this evening on the Amtrak Empire Builder. Tomorrow I'll cram into a car with G & G and my parents and we'll head to Spearfish, SD, for three days of Thanksgiving festivities with my aunts and uncles and cousins and such. Perhaps I will find some time to gamble in Deadwood, hike through the Black Hills, or get into a knife fight in Sturgis. Sadly, Mom chopped my thick mullet off tonight, and I fear my strength has been decreased. I look like a plucked Butterball! More like a plucked duck, probably.

The train-ride was cozy. Trisha drove me to the station yesterday. We ate crepes and piroushkies at Pike's Place Market, prior to departure. I left the VW pickup at Madrona Autoworks in Olympia. I'm so done with that ugly piece of beige crap. I gave the mechanic the title, so perhaps the four-month curse (which conceivably commenced the day I got it) has been lifted. Or at least shifted to another sorry sucker, trucker, plucked-duck motherscratcher.

And, tomorrow, to make the prophecy/poetry complete (see my astrologer's prediction from the November 16th post), I will be reunited with 319 Joe, whom I parked in Spearfish two months ago before hitch-hiking to Denver, where I then flew to the East Coast to start my tour with my pal Stephan Said (pronounced Si-eed). Aka Stephan Smith.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

I think I'm shedding my skin. Like a cobra. I want to disappear until Spring. Or fly South. Like a goose.

Tomorrow I'll take a train back to North Dakota, which is a start. My heart hurts and I don't know why.

Friday, November 19, 2004

First, the good news. An East Coast record label, Rock Ridge, wants to work with me. They have some amount of money to promote and distribute (and officially release) the new Sandman Live and Suspicious! CD. How much money I'm not sure, but surely over $5000. I'll keep you informed as knowledge becomes revealed on that front.

The bad news-- someone jacked the battery and starter out of my bio-diesel pickup, while I was on tour, which ups the mechanic's fee to over $500 to get it running again. I pray it's worth the trouble.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Today is filled with uninteresting, yet pleasant, chores. My goal is to get the VW pickup running before Friday.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Another tour has come full circle. My feet touched down on Olympia soil yesterday after a twenty-three hour train-ride from Williston, ND. Actually, I missed the train in Williston by a minute and had to have my parents drive me to Wolf Point, MT, at 80 mph, in order to catch up with it. (Wolf Point is 150 miles away from Williston.) It is a powerless sensation see that line of boxcars picking up speed. We managed to beat the train to Wolf Point by only five minutes. I was on copwatch for most of the chase-- binoculars firmly affixed.

The train-ride itself was good. I read a couple hundred pages of the Illuminatus trilogy. Jonah "Blandow" Carpenter picked me up in Seattle, along with Alex Stevens who had arrived the day before. Jonah found $30 on the ground outside the train-yard and treated Alex and me to breakfast with it. I puttered around Olympia, yesterday afternoon, and then spent last night at Nina's.

Now it's Tuesday, and it's raining. My morale is still searching for a toehold on Life's mildewed climbing-wall. However, check this-- my astrologist, Melissa Mooncat, has this to say:

"Took a peak at your stars and a BIG JUPITERIAN UPSWING Is just around the corner! By JOVE! November 24th has Jupiter (EXPAND, Adventure, Seek out your TRUTH, Travel) moving into your house of LEO! (CREATING, shining like the SUN, performing, being in front of 'God and EVERYBODY!'...)."

I will wait until then to make any drastic life decisions. That's what's going on for me, though-- I feel like I need to figure out so much right now. Where to live? What job to apply for? What kind of music to write and focus on? If I had money, and time to kill, I would hire Nerviz to help produce my next hip-hop project-- Sand Pan! However, I realize that I'm sort of gray-haired to continue trying to build a lucrative career as the next, great underground rapper. That might sound cynical, but I doubt 17-year-old kids-- the ones who predominantly support rap (or punk) music-- would fully relate to my twisted tale of a Pagan demigod who blows dollar bills out his butt. Actually, now that I frame it that way, 17-year-olds might be the ones who'll appreciate it the most. See? I've just spun myself in a perfect circle, and I'm back to square one. The geometry of catatonia! (Henry Miller wrote, "More obscene than anything is inertia. More blasphemous than the bloodiest oath is paralysis.") The boldest move I could make right now would be to tap into the Big, Friendly Folk circuit. I'd focus mostly on learning a bunch more cowboy-poems and country songs to supplement my folk-rap set. To the middle-aged crowd I'm a breath of fresh air; they see me as young and savvy and safe. I'm a bridge to their children's generation and they don't mind paying me fairly. This would be a saner life for me, but not as exhilarating and fantastically creative as writing layered, Tom Robbins-like, hip-hoperas. Not making money, though, is grinding my country confidence into the ground. I suppose I can always return to my bizarro rap rhythms when I can afford that luxury. I forget, sometimes, that there's no rush.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Last night my parents noticed my low spirits. After prying out the reasons for my dejection they encouraged me to not forfeit the train-ride home, but rather to use it and take care of vital business back in Olympia for a few days. I finally agreed that this would be a smart thing to do. Afterall, a train-ride alone will cure almost any ill-- pure meditation and easy rollin' bliss. It leaves early tomorrow morning from Williston, so I need to start packing now.

p.s. Mom baked an apple pie, tonight, as a sort of goodbye treat, and it totally rocked.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Depression. The job I wanted in Olympia has been gotten by someone else. I was planning to take a train there tomorrow morning, but now I must forfeit my ticket. I don't know what to do now. I am completely out of money. I am in debt to friends, family, and institutions. I'm really bummed.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Today while working on the mountain, I was given pause while pounding nails with Grandpa's red hammer. The handle is made from a smooth branch he found. Then he painted it red and affixed to it a sixteen-ounce hammer-head. It felt very good in my right hand. Grandpa's best saying, in my opinion, is:

"Anything worth painting, is worth painting red."

It's true. His house is red, his tool-shed is red, his axes are red, his tractor is red, his barn, of course, is red, and his hammer is red. I could go on and on. The siding that I've been putting up, even though it's not his house, will soon be painted this same color red.

I used to think that I was the next Bob Dylan. I always wondered where I might find my Woody Guthrie/mentor figure. I recently realized I'm not Bob Dylan or even close. My lineage is luckier, though, for my own Grandpa is my "Woody Guthrie." He's no folk-singer, or famous personality. He's just a chivalrous and humble horseman who likes to paint things red for some reason. He's sure to be the first person elected to my own, personal "Sandman Hall of Fame." Well, he might have to be elected as the second, now that I think about it. My other Grandpa--Grandpa Herak--will probably be first (he died in 1987). There was, perhaps, never a gentler Croation-farmer Soul than he.

Tonight Grandpa, Grandma, and Aunt Olga came over to play Whist. The women-folk gave me and Grandpa a firm flogging at the table. Afterwords Gramps bequeathed to me his old, wool jacket. You can guess what color it is.

Other Grandpa facts:

1. He was a WWII war hero, who still despises all wars, since he knows first-hand how brutal, classist, and mostly unnecessary they are.

2. His mom died shortly after giving birth to him eighty-five years ago.

3. He was a full-time sheepherder as a young boy.

4. He boxed in college. That's how his nose got flattened.

(Coming soon... "Grandma facts.")

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

To see photo links to the eighteen people whom some say I look like, scroll down three posts.

Last night I had dinner with Grandma and Grandpa. They gave me a beautiful "ranch" quilt they made twelve years ago when I was about to get married to Marie. They saved it for eight years and were going to gift me with it when I was supposed to marry Nina. I guess they realized that I might be a bachelor for life. It's seriously the finest quilt I've ever seen.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Suspicious? It's worth pondering...

As Willie sez: "Let's raise up our glasses against evil forces. Whiskey for my men, and beer for my horses."

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Today is a day of self-reflection. My mom asked me to sort through a box of photos and newspaper articles she's been collecting over the last thirty-three years, of yours truly, and there were hundreds! Eighty-five percent of them were embarrassing to look at, but some were eye-opening. For instance, I forgot how buff I was in my late teens, or how doe-eyed and awkward I looked in my early teens. I forgot how curly and blonde I was at age three, and how bearded and stern I looked in my mid-twenties. Images of me with ex-girlfriends, cousins, classmates. A clip-out, quarter-page salute in the Ronan Pioneer to the Future Farmers of America, with my picture underscored with-- "Sheep." Other images painted me as a hippy, a mountain man, a tennis player, a baseball card enthusiast, a beach bum, a firefighter. I was a sweet boy, a lonely adolescent, an angry collegiate, a failed homeowner/fiance, a re-determined musician-poet. Ick! The stages of life are messy and indescribable. I think it would be a worthy experiment to hide all traces of my past and start again with merely a corn-cob pipe and type-writer. I could record essays about dirt or water-- or mud when they combine!!! I mean, why should I wait?

If the hundred-year-life is trisected then I will be middle-aged in two months. Today, then, I decide to live to be two-hundred. I can't grow up yet (nor maybe ever)!!! My parents will be alarmed, but it's not their fault, 'cause see, well, Capricorns grow in reverse of other zodiac signs. When I turn sixty-six I promise to examine the consequences of my decision, and, if deemed appropriate, renegotiate my life-span.
Lots of people tell me that I look like someone they know. Below is a short list of the more famous ones (with the number of times people have mentioned it in parentheses):

  1. Michael Keaton (7)
  2. JFK, Jr. (1)
  3. Dudley Moore (1)
  4. Hugh Grant (1)
  5. Woody Guthrie (3)
  6. Jakob Dylan (2)
  7. The first drummer for Styx (1)
  8. Neil Young (1)
  9. Tom Hanks (2)
  10. Jerry Seinfeld (1)
  11. Charles Manson (4)
  12. Jesus Christ (1)
  13. Elvis Presley (2)
  14. Peter O'Toole (1)
  15. Paul McCartney (1)
  16. Matthew McConaughey (2)
  17. Lou Reed (1)

Comments? Click below-- it's easy!

Saturday, November 06, 2004

While working on the mountain today, a gray wind broke the spell of the morning sun's gay promise. It got too cold and I was glad when work was through. At five-thirty G & G picked my parents and me up and drove us to Grassy Butte for a chili feed.

Whoever says that North Dakota doesn't have any culture should come out to a Grassy Butte chili feed and observe the locals as they auction off gooseberry pies to the grinning oil rig workers and elderly ranch ladies. Grassy Butte probably only has fifty residents, but it's obvious that each one of 'em has deep-cut culture and soul.

By the way, I found out last night that I have a job interview in Olympia next Monday. I'd better buy my train ticket tonight. If I don't get that job I'm trying for there, I'll take the next Empire Maker back here that I can. If I do get it, well, then I'm outta here for a good long while.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Today was unseasonably warm here in Killdeer, and windy; my dad and I got a lot done. Again, the beauty of Killdeer Mountain inspires awe. I want my friends to come out and witness it, 'cause words cannot relay what I see daily. I've spent over twenty years visiting this land--riding horses through it and digging holes on it--and my brain still spins each time the day-moon rollerblades over the south eighty.

Killdeer Mountain is like a grassy, prehistoric bridge that connects North Dakota with infinity. The rattlesnakes are asleep until Spring, and the beaver are probably hibernating, too.

I four-wheeled around some after the work was done.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

I went to the chiropractor today in Dickinson. Before that, though, my dad gave me a muscle relaxant so I'd be pliable. It really worked, 'cause I'm still loose as a goose. I only worked a couple hours when we returned in the afternoon. Chainsawed down a couple trees in the back yard. Then my folks and I walked to the Buckskin for margaritas, chips and salsa. Must sleep now. Very tired. Goooodnighmndabbbd...

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I had trouble sleeping last night. Around 6 a.m. I turned on the television to learn that John Kerry had lost Ohio. I ate some oatmeal and drove to the mountain with my dad to put some siding on the north wall. The Killdeer Mountain is less a mountain than a series of bluffs and buttes shoved up against a river of meandering badlands. The scenery is truly astonishing from atop my parents' roof. The golden hills and gullies are hyper clear in the crisp, morning air. They make me think of African grasslands. It's hard to believe that we are the only humans for miles and miles around as we hammer and measure and cut and drill. We move slowly.

(My parents are watching West Wing now, and I can't concentrate to write more...)

Ok, I'll try. So, the Evangelicals beat the Slackers. Karl Rove says that four million more Evangelicals voted this year than last election. The Catholic Church has joined ranks, too. Heartland Republicans don't seem to relish abortions and gay marriages (or New Englanders). These aren't the core values of the Democratic Party, either, of course. Somehow, though, "tolerant" has become synonymous with "immoral."

WWWRW?! (What would Will Rogers write?)

I wish I knew. Here are a couple of his quotes from yesteryear, though:

"People talk peace. But men give their life's work to war. It won't stop 'til there is as much brains and scientific study put to aid peace as there is to promote war."

"We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others."

Monday, November 01, 2004

Today was my day to recuperate. Dad and I went to the Buckskin Bar for $1 beer and 10-cent buffalo wings. Killdeer, ND, is very desolate and quiet, with wide streets. Maybe five hundred people live here. I guess, all in all, it's a typical prairie community. Lots of Norwegians, Germans, and Russians. I'm hoping to find a weekly poker game somewhere. There's a pro bull rider/country singer named Benny Paulson, who I'm planning to swap tunes with one of these days. I may end up doing some sort of show at the Buckskin in a couple Fridays. But mostly I'll just be working with my dad up on the mountain as we attempt to make progress on building the house. I suppose Sundays will be a church-going affair with my grandparents. I'm actually real happy to be here for the next few weeks. It'll be good for my head and heart and body and soul.

PS-- Don't forgit to vote. Nov. 2nd!!!!