Sunday, April 30, 2006

Hello from the International Inn in Minot, ND. I'm at a thing called "Marketing Madness 2006" to learn how to promote Dunn County Museum better. I'm passing out brochures and schmoozing with other tourism representatives. I just played a little blackjack in the lounge and won $15. It's nice to be out of Dunn County for a couple days and livin' it up. I forgot my swim trunks, though. Otherwise I'd be doing triple-flips off the high dive into the jacuzzi.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Rural Devolopment will likely give me a $15,000 loan (at 1% interest) to fix up my house. I'll only have to pay $68.90 a month for 20 years. Odds are I'll pay it off sooner if Kanye West produces my next CD.

As for the auditorium, there's not much they can do for me there. I'm going to have to get a personal loan. If anybody wants to be my business partner, let me know.

I received a letter today from Mona, my friend in Harlem. Here's a quote from it: I had a dream . . . (where my friend and I) were on a road trip & we stopped in Dunn Center to say "Hi" to you & you had an office set up in a big field & were editing a new music video of yours on a computer. The really psychedelic thing was that you were also doing Photoshop right on the wheat & corn growing around to get it ready to shoot a new song.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

My 2nd ex-fiance, Nina, is in Argentina chillin'
with penguins and learning Spanish.

She sent this pic.

Monday, April 24, 2006

My friend Margi, the eagle biologist, just hired another biologist to help her out for the summer. The new biologist is Kristen, and she's super rad. Here are some Kristen factoids: she's from a prairie town south of Winnipeg, Manitoba; she's of Ukranian heritage; she's 28; she likes to surf and snowboard; she owns a huge dog; she has three brothers; she likes to bake things. Last night she cooked up a feast of Greek food for my folks and me. It's good to have another friend out here.

Today I got to thinking that the cover on my January-released CD, Good to Be Awake, was a poor choice. But then I came across these:

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Last night I performed at an Elks' Club variety show in Dickinson.

The highlight was a Mongolian dancer named Delgar.

I also enjoyed the Tiny Tot Dance Troupe working out to a Village People medley: "In the Navy" followed by "YMCA" followed by "Macho Man."

A second diminutive group of dancers followed with a disco jam choreographed to a chopped-up selection of Michael Jackson songs: "Beat It," "Wanna Be Startin' Something," "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," & "Bad."

North Dakota is more surreal than you can imagine.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The much-needed recent rains have turned Killdeer Mountain green in a few spots, and have filled the beaver dams behind my parents' house.

Grandpa's horse barn.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

To watch a short movie about how the world averted climate change, see:

I found it creative, hopeful, and a little bit cheesy. That's my style, you know.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I learned today that the Dunn Center auditorium was built in 1916--before my grandparents were born! Silent films were shown there in the '20s, kids rollerskated there in the '50s, and the Harlem Globe Trotter basketball team once played there in the early '60s.

Does anybody want to help me put on a new roof?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The stage.
(DC = Dunn Center)
(Click on images for full effect.)

The auditorium.

The bar in the basement.

The ice cream case in the kitchen.

At noon Dad and I explored with flashlights and camera. The biggest issue with the building is that it's been neglected so long. The roof leaks like a porous chia head. The windows have settled. Dead birds and dried-up spiders are scattered about. Etc. Plus the walls need insulation.

The good folks from Rural Development in Dickinson are coming next week to give me their thoughts.

Monday, April 17, 2006

It has dawned on me that I like being a neomodern homesteader. Tonight I'll light the kerosene lamp and read a couple A. B. Guthrie Jr. short stories. Don't ask about the chamber pot. And then I'll fluff up my straw mattress and sleep until the pheasant crows.

And did I mention that both of my pets, Onan the spider and sleekit the mouse, survived winter and seem relieved that spring is here? They are.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Here is a picture of lambs that I promised a couple weeks ago.
I snapped it yesterday morning at Waddington's sheep
ranch, south of Dunn Center.

Happy Easter to my Christian friends and relatives!
And (belated) Good Pesach to my Jewish friends!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

At Lake Ilo, there's a blue heron rookery.

I've never seen 'em so bunched up, tho'.
(Click on pic to enlarge.)

Friday, April 14, 2006

"It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go, we have come to our real journey."

— excerpt, "The Real Work," Wendell Berry

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I received a letter today that brought back memories.

I happened across your internet site . . . I was interested in your ties to the Malheur Rappel Crew, and when do we get our CD to listen to at the base? Take Care.
Chad S.
Lead Squad Leader
Malheur Rappel Crew

In 1990, and again in 1991, I worked for the helitack fire suppression crew out of John Day, Oregon. We were the initial attack squad for the Malheur Nat'l Forest. The first year we just did helitack, but the second year we transitioned into rappel work. I loved climbing out on the skids of a hovering helicopter and then, when given the signal, sliding down a 250' rope into pristine wilderness areas. And then hiking out a couple days later. I turned twenty my second season, and I'd begun writing a lot of songs/raps. At the end of the season I decided to quit and begin my career as Sandman the Rappin' Cowboy. I went from half-assed rappeler to jackass rapper in about five minutes after I walked into Ken Ross' office (Ken was a good boss, by the way) and handed in my helmet and harness. The next day I drove back to Montana and moved into my 1974 Dodge van where I spent the next three years developing my current troubador persona. There have been a few times, though, where I've lamented leaving that helisweet job. The only slightly boring thing was waiting. Waiting for puffs of tell-tale smoke, and then the siren. Once the siren rang, though, it was ON. Hazard pay and overpay kicked in, and life became real exciting for a few days.

This was my 1991 crew and our trusty Bell 206 Jet Ranger Helicopter "Foxtrot Whiskey."

I had just helped to knock down an eighth-of-an-acre lightning strike blaze in the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness. Monte Mooney and I put a line around it, and while we were letting the fire burn itself out I picked a bushel of wild strawberries (that's what I'm pointing at with my grimy finger). When night came I found a patch of smoldering duff, threw a foot of dirt over it, and slept warmly thanks to my well-cushioned infernal quasi-geothermal dirt mattress. And that's how I rolled back in '91: Laid back--with my mind on my money, and my money on my mind.

See also:

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Dad says that water's running strong on the mountain, and the frogs were singin' today. Yesterday he went to the Spring Horse Sale in Dickinson and bought two horses for $1000. Grass Dancer, the year-old 1/2 Shire, will eventually be for pulling things--buggies, wagons, trees--and also for riding. The taller one, Pardner, is a 12-year-old Quarter Horse. Here they are.

Apparently Pardner is having to duke it out with Grandpa's alpha horse, Dude. Dad says Pard's holding his own. Someday Grass Dancer will be the biggest of all the current Lazy E-Four horses, but not for a couple years.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Scroll down to the April 4th entry to see an 80-yr-old picture of my house.
Here's the theater/gymnasium/dance hall
I spoke of wanting to buy and restore:

Big and beautiful:

Monday, April 10, 2006

Spring has arrived in Dunn County. My friend Jan flew in from Philadelphia to go on a three-day safari with me across the breaks and plains of western North Dakota. Among other activities, we stopped at a lot of thrift stores. I bought a vintage movie screen and a large aluminum bowl for mixing bread dough. Jan found a silk scarf and some boots. I got a Jonathan Richman cassette. She purchased a Sarah Vaughn record. The weather was warm. We ate out a few times. We explored abandoned houses and found secret treasures. All in all, 'twas vacationland on the prairie. She flew back to Philly yesterday.

Tonight I went to a Dunn Center City Hall meeting to learn about one of our town's last remaining old buildings--The Dvorak Center. It's a huge theater/dance hall with an equally large basement. The wood floors are awesome. Unfortunately, its roof leaks and needs immediate repair; this is an estimated $20,000 job. Other repairs are imminent, and the building itself would cost about $20,000. The city can't afford to buy it, and many think it's soon to be a goner--just like all the other great old buildings that have been bulldozed and brought down like Cheney gunblast victims. This one is too beautiful and soulful, though. It's no doubt a money pit, but I want to buy it. I want to bring back the old sock hops and country oprys. I want to see variety shows, and listen to ranch-inspired poetry, and play in half-court basketball games there. I want to buy pie from Adeline T. or jam from Emogene S. at some worthy auction.

As a youth I ran across those magic floors shooting hoops and hiding behind the gigantic velvet curtain. I once threw a rock from its outside porch at a high school kid's car and cracked his windshield. He and his brothers caught me and hung me from a nail by my belt loop until a local mechanic found me there twenty minutes later with a Wrangler wedgie. How can I not love the place? It needs to be saved, right?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

"An optimist isn't necessarily a blithe, slightly sappy whistler in the dark of our time. To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places--and there are so many--where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."

-Howard Zinn
A People's History of the United States

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Tonight I will sleep in my $1000 house for the first time this year. I will ignite the propane heat and dream about dust bowls and Studebakers.

This pic of my abode is from the 1920's when it resided ten miles north of Dunn Center. It was relocated to Dunn Center in 1952. Everything about it is pretty much the same--even the porch. The two girls are Olga and Emma. Olga (the taller of the two) passed away in 1981. Emma, below, is 84 and lives in South Dakota.

Many thanks to Darrel Goth (Emma's son) for sending me these pictures!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Yesterday was sunny and warm. I helped Dad insulate and sheetrock up on Killdeer Mountain. Grandpa came, too, and helped out. Three generations of Sand men. Grandpa wanted to worm the horses, so I used the 4-wheeler to find and herd them in. Finding horses on Grandpa's ranch is not as easy as gazing across a flat prairie and locating them. The Lazy E Four is filled with hills, gullies, shadowy trails, and hidden meadows. The vegetation consists of aspen, oak, ash, birch, and lots of fruit-bearing bushes: chokecherry, buffalo berry, june berry, hazelnuts, wild plum, and snow berry. Along the way I saw a massive sloth-like porcupine. Also, the beaver dams are overflowing. My long-time friends from Montana, Tom Smith and Karin Stallard, are visiting today. I look forward to showing them around when they arrive. Last weekend I took my pal Vaughn from Minnesota up there, and on Thursday my flame Jan will be flying in from Philadelphia for three sweet days of cruising and camping here in west Dakota. As spring slowly thaws me out, I'm reminded that I live in one of the most beautiful areas in North America.