Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I found a secret swimming hole. It's big, too--17 acres, or so. The water is black and cloudy due to the coal veins, but coal is a lot cleaner than cow poop, and, fortunately, there aren't any cattle using this particular pond. It's stocked with walleye pike and perch. The pike eat the perch. They also eat baby ducks. In fact one person saw a pike leap out of the water and catch a sparrow in mid-flight. Snapping turtles also patrol the murky depths. Don't think I'll be skinny dipping there ever! No, ma'am. . . . But it wasn't the reptiles or fish that I should have been worrying about.

A large black canine joined me as I swam. When we got out in the middle, this once friendly bear-dog grew tired and appeared to want to climb on me like an island for safety. I had to fend it off which angered the scruffy, snarling beast. Thus, I became it's enemy, and it vigorously attempted to attack and drown me. Made Jaws seem like Nemo the cuddly clown fish. I've never swum so fast! Great cardiovascular workout, though.

Prior to the Killdeer vs. Bowman football game, on Friday night, I'll be attending the all-you-can-eat Walleye Fish Fry at the Buckskin. I hope I don't find any beaks in my food.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Dad, Grandpa, and I fixed fence on the south side of the Lazy E 4 this afternoon. Peanut had gotten tangled up and cut himself in it last week. He's doing fine, now, gratefully. A lot of that barbed wire is pre-WWII. It's brittle and snaps easily. Peanut brittle . . .

Here's a picture of Grandpa and Grandma that my cousin Jenny took earlier this month:

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Dunn County Museum's 1st Annual Cream Can Supper went perfectly last evening. Eighty-five folks showed up for this delicious meal made by Dunn Center resident Janene Knudsvig. The ambience was highly augmented by the accordion tunes of my 75-yr-old pal, Joe Frederick, and an arrowhead-making demonstration by a fellow named Joe Hicks. The weather was sublime, and the garden vibrant. It was probably my favorite museum event of the summer. Here are some photos:

It took Janene & five of these cans to feed the hungry crowd.

Corn, cabbage, carrots, onions, spuds, and sausage in one can.

Come and get it! (Grandpa & Grandma are at the front of the line, on the left, w/ striped shirts.)

Me busting a honky tonk freestyle over Joe Frederick's accordion groove (not really--i'm just yapping). Joe played w/ Lawrence Welk once. Welk is from North Dakota, too.

The tables lined from the log cabin all around the garden.

Note: Click on pics to enlarge.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Six years ago a hyper 12-yr-old girl, named Autumn, sort of adopted me as her big brother. I worked construction with her dad, Bill, and that's how I met her. Today she turns 18. (I forgot to send her a present, so she gets this instead):

Polaroid ... wave of the future.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Someone wanted to know why my two newest cds are sequels...

Before I start, I want to say that these are possibly two of my most favorite cds ever. Many Hollywood movie sequels are created to capitalize on past successes, and often times wax duller than their predecessors. My new pair of cds, I feel, are much more inspired than their prequels. Here's a contrast and comparison of both sets:

1997- the blackhole (...of outerspace) - A six-song cassette-only release produced by Giles O'Dell in his living room. Camo Davi, my hip hop sidekick at the time, joined me on a few of these tracks. Camo was always notoriously late for everything, so while waiting for him to arrive Giles and I recorded one song, all freestyle, called "Waiting for Camo." Giles had only planned to record one or two songs, but by the time Camo arrived we had an EP.
2005- (return to) the blackhole (...of outerspace) - In March of this year Giles brought up the idea of doing a sequel to blackhole 1, as sort of a joke (or so I thought). I was still in Olympia. He said that he had some fresh beats and a free schedule. I said I had a notebook full of new raps that I could probably patchwork together. We made a date for recording some of them on the day before I was to depart for North Dakota. Our rules were simple: we had to complete the project that day. I was thinking we might finish 9 or 10 songs, but by day's end we had a 19-track masterpiece. The trickiest part of the process was deciding which of my rhymes fit best with his beats. Camo's southern-fried beatboxing is included on this one, too . . . but you have to wait for the hidden track.
p.s. I should add that Giles and I cheated on the "one-day rule." He spent at least 50 more hours, after I left, polishing up the beats, adding samples, and getting Blandow Charismium to scratch on some tracks.
1997- Love's Hangover Sale - This cd was recorded at Dub Narcotic (Calvin Johnson's K Records studio), by Diana Arens. I put down 30 songs during a couple days onto two-inch analog tape. I then brought these songs to Montana and let my mom help me choose which ones to keep and in what order to put them in. We narrowed it down to 14 songs. The only track I redid was "Love's Hangover Sale" which I had my old pal Carl Dexter produce. Camo played harmonica; Chad Austinson rocked percussion; Carl strummed mandolin; and I sang and played guitar. Then we overdubbed the vocals of Christine Cory, Andras Jones, and Carl Dexter. This record got favorobly reviewed in No Depression, and a few people consider it their favorite record of mine.
2005- Love's Hangover Sale, pt. 2 - My mom catalyzed this one. She thought I needed to document all the folk & country songs that Jen Grady and I used to sing together when we toured. I told Jen about this idea and she was game. Jen's friend Bob Schwenkler recorded six of the songs; Shawn Parke (who recorded Long Ride/Walk Home and Slippery Goodstuff) recorded nine more; and Carl Dexter produced one. Chad Austinson drums on three of these songs; Madeline Gonzales plays violin on one; and Jen Grady plays cello on one track, and sings with me on ten more. She also contributes two solo songs. This 16-song album is full of my (and Jen's) best love songs ever-- plus one of despair.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Does anyone have trouble finding my "homepage" or "tour dates" page? A couple people who stumbled upon this journal have mentioned they can't find my homepage. If you're one of them, click on "Sandman the Rappin' Cowboy" (upper left corner), and you'll see it.

You'll notice I have two shows coming up! It's been a few months, so I'm excited. The first is in Basin, MT on September 25th. The second in Dunn Center, ND on October 1st. By the end of October I may be back in the NW for a week or two. Soon after that I'll likely head down the coast to L.A. to record a new hip hop/pop CD. Ideally, I'll set up some shows along the way.

The music bug is starting to gnaw. Both my new CDs [Love's Hangover Sale, Pt. 2 & (return to) the blackhole (of outerspace)] should be ready to distribute by late September. People are ordering my older CDs again. I'm writing lots of songs. All rap and cowboy poetry, though. I rarely touch the guitar these days. Winter is my guitar season, I guess. That's when the folk & country & rock songs hatch.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Overheard in the Buckskin Bar tonight (a 65-yr-old feller wise-cracking with the 26-yr-old female bartender):

"I knew you when you had mustard in your pants."

If beer didn't taste so bad, I'd hang out at bars a lot more often. That's where the good stuff happens.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

As many of you know, I'm the current curator of the Dunn County Historical Museum in Dunn Center, North Dakota. I work 40 hours/week setting up events, writing articles, mowing, cleaning, giving tours, creating exhibits, etc. The museum is overseen by the Dunn County Historical Society, which is made of county residents who want to preserve local history.

The president of the Historical Society died two nights ago in her sleep. Her name was Virginia Wolff. (She married into the Wolff surname). She went by Ginnie, though. I gave her the nickname "G-Dub" when I last saw her, teasing her about being the president. She lived in Dodge, about 20 miles from the museum.

Ahh, how strange. Another death so soon. Ginnie was a big, kind farm woman, who I think just worked too hard. She loved to talk about cats, combines, and her husband, Clarence. At Historical Society meetings she tended to encourage people to ramble on about mundane things like the weather and gardening. This sometimes annoyed volunteer attendees who were on tight schedules, but I, being a paid employee, always appreciated her leisurely pace. She was a really sweet woman. Her funeral is on Thursday.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Inquiring minds want to know about my newly uncovered living room linoleum. Feast your eyes:

Still life w/ door and linoleum.

A contrast of linoleums.


Linoleum Blownapart?(!)
I sometimes run across poems that I like, like this:

. . . My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed

I have to cast my lot with those
who age after age, perversely,

with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.

-Adrienne Rich

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Margi and I didn't find the adolescent eagle we were looking for. We did see the eagle's parents soaring overhead, though. I had fun tromping through the badlands.

When I got home, I drove to Watership Down and tore out the carpet in the front room. Underneath it is this amazing old linoleum. Under the linoleum is a hardwood floor.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Went to the Buckskin with my pal Margi last night and played a butt load of foosball. Eric, the bar owner, and Stacey, a bartender, are master foosers. My foos skills are lacking. Margi's pretty good, but with me on her team, we got our asses waxed. Eric finesses the foos ball the way David Beckham controls a soccer ball.

Another Buckskin bartender is named Lacey. She's got a mouth like a pirate and angel eyes, which is a hot combo. She has a boyfriend, though. I probably couldn't keep up with her, anyway. Ol' Sandman is getting old and his bones don't bend like they used to. That doesn't make sense, but anyway . . .

Tomorrow I'll be going into the badlands with Margi in search of a dead adolescent eagle that somebody reported seeing. Margi's a golden eagle biologist--she wants to find out if there was any foul (fowl?) play.
As for the question someone asked regarding the political climate of western North Dakota, I still haven't figured it out. It seems like the old timers are mostly quietly against the war; the baby boomers (except for my parents) appear mostly gung ho for it; and the younger adults are split. This is a half-baked analysis, though. I've met two local soldiers, and both come across as a little shell shocked. One is anti-war and thinks the Bush administration should be hung for treason. The other one drinks a lot and doesn't say much. He looks imminently suicidal.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

My friends Mona, Sam, and Joe, who are driving from Olympia to New York, are staying over tonight. Tomorrow they'll check out my museum and new house, and then drive to somewhere in Wisconsin.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Cindy Sheehan: "For what noble cause did my son die?"

George B. Walker: "Our country made a grave mistake. Fact is, Mrs. Sheehan, your son and a bunch of other young people died in vain. I'm truly sorry."

Cindy Sheehan: "Excuse me?"

George B. Walker: "I'm sorry."

Cindy Sheehan: (Long pause) "W-why did we invade Iraq?"

George B. Walker: "To insure the increased wealth of my friends, I guess. . . . I know, I suck. It was a bad idea."

(A breeze picks up. The windmill by the bunk house creaks. A small horned toad hops onto a cow turd.)

Cindy Sheehan: "Well . . . What are you going to do about it now?"

George B. Walker: "Frankly, ma'am, I don't know. It's a real conundrum."

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A Toast to Silver Tip
(In memory of Great Uncle Chris
Sand, who died of cancer this week.)

It ain’t exactly like a lightning bolt
That somehow finds your address on the map
And takes your life with one fast fright’ning jolt
Before you even hear the thunder clap

It's nothing like a dose of friendly fire
A patriotic bullet through your brain
An oxymoron Orwell might admire
It’s lost on you, though, ‘cause you've just been slain

An’ yes, he was a military man
And once upon a time a cowboy, too
But how things can re-form within that span
From when we’re born to when we’re born anew

He could’ve done what other soldiers done
And maybe been less troubled by his lot
Taken down a favorite huntin' gun
And finished up with one decisive shot

But . . . what dreams may come? as Hamlet use to spin
What dreams may come, we ask, for who's to know?
Perhaps like snakes we shuffle off a skin
('Cept snakes don't seem to worry where they go)

Thus conscience does make humans of us all
Like Sisyphus we struggle and we slip
Yet somehow resurrect each time we fall
So here's a toast to Uncle Silver Tip.

Monday, August 15, 2005

My latest book acquisition: The Last Years of Sitting Bull (ND Historical Society, 1984).

Sitting Bull (Tatanka Iyotanka) is said to have called the Killdeer Mountains his favorite place. This is where my grandparents currently live, a few miles from the town of Killdeer where I'm living at present. The name Killdeer is a translation of Tahkakate, "the place where they kill the deer."

The book compares Sitting Bull to Martin Luther King, Jr., due to his courage and charisma. It says his original name was Jumping Badger, then it was changed to Slow. It became Sitting Bull when he was a teen, because he showed stubborness, stamina, and strength.

Sitting Bull toured for one year with the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show, but he didn't like it much. According to Buffalo Bill's biographer, Don Russell, Sitting Bull "was generous in giving his money to newsboys, bootblacks, and other urchins who hung about the showgrounds. He could not understand such poverty in the midst of . . . wealth."

The U.S. government eventually got paranoid that Sitting Bull was preparing to lead the Sioux Nation into battle with Whites, so they called for his arrest, planning to send him to prison. A skirmish ensued and Sitting Bull was shot and killed.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Friday, August 12, 2005

Today is dragging at the "Museums in North Dakota" conference. I skipped out of a meeting for a couple minutes to write this. Tomorrow is all about antique military collections and flag raising and such. The day starts at 6:30. I'd better use the jacuzzi tonight.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The AmericInn has free internet, a jacuzzi, and the biggest bed I've ever seen. Nice. Day one of the Museums in North Dakota conference is over.

For our meeting we met at the Chahinkapa Zoo carousel and drank wine and ate meatballs. A woman named Cathy had a baby spider monkey that played on her head for two hours. We were given free rides on one of the 12 oldest carousels in the United States. Tomorrow the spider monkey woman will give us a tour of the zoo.
I'm off to a 3-day North Dakota museum conference in Wahpeton (south of Fargo). Odds are I won't be able to blog until Sunday.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

a) bed (w/ angel)... b) coal-wood stove... c) kitchen cabinet.

I've been going up to Killdeer Mountain a lot because a few of my cousins are staying there this week. Tonight we played music around the fire for a few hours. Alex brought his mandolin. Margi came along. Mom made enchiladas.

Monday, August 08, 2005

My second post of the evening...

To the person who appeared disgusted by the foul "feces" comment in August 3rd's entry, I changed it. Whether you were being serious or not, I decided that my referencing of obscure and vulgar self-created mythologies might be missing the mark, so to speak. As my true goal is to elegantly nuzzle my way into the American heart, and not stay mired in the kidneys of bohemia, I hereby decide to rigorously strive to keep each and every blog accessible to every reader.

That said, I may continue to get lost "in the moment" from time to time. Daily all-access journals are a perilous art form! Especially to we who live in small, rural areas, eh? Without the time for thoughtful editing, random-fire ideas can come off as arrogant, childish, disrespectful, gross, etc..

I, also, don't want to get fired from my job or besmirch my family's name in this very small community. Truth.
My bawdy CDs, however, are a different beast. They have "parental advisory" stickers and I do my best to warn buyers which ones have obscene content. (On that note, I may get hanged yet--but not because I purposely stuck my neck in the loop...)

On a final note to new readers, please stick around. I like your feedback.
Today was spent cleaning out my house. I may also refer to this house as Watership Down-- named after the book about rabbits, since there are so many of them living there.

I continue to find interesting curios inside it. Take for instance this strange Polaroid I found on top of the Victrola. Reminds me of The Blair Witch Project.

The house is completely furnished! Every drawer, cupboard, cabinet, and closet holds interesting knick knacks to explore. My goal is to to not replace anything unless it's a necessity. For instance, I'll use up his stock of unopened Irish Spring bars of soap until I need a new bar. I'll clean out his pepper grinder instead of buying a new one. I'll use up his coal before cutting wood for my stove. I'll fix, recycle, and scrub my way to a new old house.

I will not steal his identity, though. I'm like the dodo bird who may appropriate their nest, but not their species. I remain a dodo. A bobo. Practically a squatter! Some creatures like to build up from thin air. I use what's there.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

It's now past midnight, so even though it's really tomorrow it still feels like today.

Yester-to-day I attended the 10th Annual North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Medora. Of the six inductees one of them was my great-aunt-in-law, Evelyn Neuens, who is 93. Another one was Chief Sitting Bull, who, of course, has been dead for over a century. The President of the N.D. Cowboy Hall of Fame is a Native American named Phil Baird. Thus, he's savvy about bridging cultures. There was a lot of drumming and gift giving by various North Dakota tribes.

Here's a photo of Phil and Evelyn ceremoniously cutting the barb wire in honor of the inaugural day of the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

My house is in Dunn Center. Population: 105.

This is the side of my new house.

This is the front porch from the living room door.

These are some guns on my couch that I found in the closet.

This is the month and year that the previous homeowner died. This calendar is hanging on the bathroom wall.

Although I live in the town of Dunn Center, I practically live in the country. Half a block north is a wheat field that stretches on to infinity. You can see the Killdeer Mountains hazily in the background.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Today I paid a dude $1000 straight up for this 95-year-old house. It's charmingly odd and old-fashioned, and no one has lived there since the previous owner (an uncle of the seller) blew his brains out on the porch ten years ago. Thus, it's overrun w/ shrubs, mice, and spiders. I'll fix it up good, though, as soon as the utility people turn the water and electricity on.

Holy shit, I'm a home owner!!!

This is my first bachelor house. I had to borrow the money from Mom, but within two paychecks I'll have it completely paid off.

There's much more to this story that I want to tell you; I shall try to slowly unfold it like a mystery novel.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Cowboy continued...

I want to psychedelically explore the American mind. What's more surreal than John Voight in Midnight Cowboy? Or Li'l Kim in Gang of Roses?

Cowboys(/girls) are everywhere and nowhere. All-pervasive and yet anonymous-- like a pirate, gypsy, or samurai. Here's a quote from a book, The Cowboy Hero:

"As a representative of an occupational group he has received perhaps more attention than any other worker in the history of the world... yet, despite the tomes that commemorate him, the cowboy remains the invisible man in our national past..."

The image of Cowboy is one of capitalism's greatest commodities--up there with naked ladies and Elvis. But once the camera focuses on the actual working stiff cowboy, most of the population loses interest.

Here's dialogue from Bill Moyer's Journal between two old-time buckaroos:

Sheridan: "About the only ones that's cowboys any more is just some old broken-down guys who can't do nothin' else, you know."
"There's nobody around that will know the life we led."


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

One quasi-literal definition I once read for the cowboy is "a man with guts and a hoss." Cattle ought to be involved somehow, too. That definition would end my goose chase, though. I'm in search of something much more ethereal. I want to know what the cowboy's spirit is supposed to look like in August of 2005.

Maybe it's Matthew McConaughey. He just signed on as main model for Stetson cologne.

According to a Zap2it article, "the modern cowboy qualities that Stetson embodies are rugged masculinity, originality, independence, western heritage and genuine American values." They continue, "Certainly McConaughey's naked bongo-playing incident in October 1999 demonstrates a certain amount of originality, independence from clothing and the American value of expressing oneself freely."


As for George W.-- he doesn't make the traditional list. Gene Autry's cowboy code disappoves of "shooting first." It's the number one sin on his list, in fact. Bonnie Wheeler, a medieval studies professor in Dallas, uses Autry's list to make some points of her own. She claims that our idea of what makes a cowboy a cowboy descends directly from the Arthurian chivalric code. "Our president," she says, "is neither a knight nor a cowboy. He doesn't believe in taking care of the little guy, nor does he have the restraint or dignity of the cowboy."

Enough Bush bashing. I'm no cowboy either. I know that.

I try to be a cowboy, but I think I'm too devious for my own good. I'd rather make love or sleep in than dash about like the Lone Ranger rescuing people. Being a true cowboy hero is a thankless job.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

What defines the current model of the "Cowboy"? If you study the history of the pop culture cowboy, he morphs with each passing generation. From the colorful Buffalo Bill Cody to the robust Teddy Roosevelt to the family man Roy Rogers to the pissed off John Wayne to the sociopathic Clint Eastwood to the thoughtful but boring Kevin Costner, the "cowboy" mutates. He's always the rugged individualist, though.

The best parts of the true cowboy code, in my opinion, revolve around the quest for liberty, fairness, kindness, and the love of nature.

This week I will explore this fellow known as Cowboy.

Ya feel me?

Monday, August 01, 2005

Today was an average day. Nothing happened out of the normal.

Unless you count going to the clinic for a full physical exam.