Wednesday, May 31, 2006

My dad's brother, Josh, likes to rodeo. This picture is from the late '60s after Josh broke his pelvis--probably in a bulldogging event. He was North Dakota State champion two years in a row. I think he broke a leg in the '70's when a horse rolled on him. He cut off the cast, and then broke it again. After that he mainly team roped.

Josh has been team roping for almost forty years now. Two days ago his foot slipped out of the stirrup and he parted ways with his horse--he broke his arm and pelvis. He claims to be in good spirits (could be the morphine speaking). Josh has always been a tough, athletic, beer drinking cowboy. A couple years ago he had a quadruple-bypass heart surgery. He recovered from that pretty good, too.

Damn, Josh. Don't let the good times kill ya!

I've got a lot of admiration for Uncle Josh. Besides being a good athlete, he's also a great rhythm guitar player and has an incredibly sweet voice. A mix of Elvis and Johnny Mathis.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Those mountains in the background were my playground as a child.

This picture was taken exactly on the land where I grew up in western Montana. What's weird is that I lived in a trailer about that size, raised sheep, and had an Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix that looked a lot like that guy's dog. Her name was Heidi and it was a sad, sad day when she got hit by a pickup and died.

Monday, May 29, 2006

The 20th Annual Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering is history.

Here's a picture Dad took yesterday. I'm blowin' harmonica during the song "Saddle Bum."

"They call me scum, the saddle bum, ever since the day
I quit the strife of cowboy life out to travel, sing, and play . . ."

That about sums it up. I felt like a fraud performing on the same stage as all these working ranchers and farmers, but the crowd liked me, and I guess that's what counts.

I appreciated my free stay at the Badlands Motel and getting "featured" status--this means they wrote up a little blurb on me in their program--and I heard some great recitations from masters like Georgie Sicking and Rodney Nelson.

And I'm relieved it's over. Now I can concentrate on the myriad of Dunn County Museum events that I'm organizing this summer.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Hoots' are tired of their goat and offered to give him to me. With the cost of gasoline, it's tempting, 'cause I need a lawn mower.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

My slot at the Medora Cowboy Poetry Gathering (May 27 and 28) just went from what I thought was going to be a 25-minute evening performance on both nights to two 6-minute 1 a.m. daytime slots. That's barely enough time for two poems. I still get a free room at the Badlands Hotel, but in some ways I'd rather be working on my house now. Mr. Lowman, the organizer, says that next year I'll get the evening slot. Payin' my dues, I guess.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Grandpa's seven-year-old horse, Peanut--the one who threw me twice last year--broke his leg yesterday, and had to be put down. Grandpa petted Peanut's nose with his left hand and shot him with his right, and let him lay.

The coyotes and birds will have a meal.

Peanut had a lot of starch in him (no pun intended), or maybe I should say erratic electricity. But he was my favorite of Grandpa's and my dad's horses. He was the friendliest to me.

Why do horses have to be breakin' legs all the time? The only horse I ever owned, Beebee, got a sliver in his right knee in 1980, and so he died, too. Dogs can lose a leg or two and still hobble about, but horses, unless you can afford surgery, get a one-way ticket to the Afterlife, which seems unfair. The other horses will miss him, and I know the Sand family already does.

Monday, May 22, 2006

11 Sandfastic things about my Minnesota weekend:

1. The holiness of the Mississippi River in mid-May.
2. Cruising and cuddling with Miranda and introducing her to my Winona friends.
3. My '89 Buick Century steed, "Excalibur," making the pilgrimage w/out a hitch.
4. Selling all 60 CDs that I took along (minus one solitary blackhole disc) and all but three pillowcases.
5. Leading an "MLK (Folk Legend)" sing-along at a school in Minnesota City with a group of students who were studying Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
6. Enjoying Katie Mae's organic farm-fresh brunch (and her blackcap jam/cayenne pepper/hard-boiled egg care basket!).
7. Learning from Froseph and Julia to craft flutes out of dandelion stalks.
8. The group of rowdy, enthusiastic, beer-guzzlin' dudes at the L-Cove.
9. Meeting nice new people everywhere and revisiting old chums like Alex, Tiffany, Brian, Elle, Jamie, Froseph, etc.
10.Selling a pink thong (a trial merchandise item) and some Pakistani bubble gum to my friend Derrick's hot mom.
11. Entertaining at Brandon's Waconia birthday/graduation show, a wholesome good time in the country. It took place under a big tent with young 'uns, the elderly, and an array of healthy fixings. At night's end I was generously handed a $300 check and a bountiful bag of leftover vittles for my return trip.
The show in Fargo was mostly a flop, but my cousins Dennis and Sean unexpectedly showed up, which made it all worth it. Sean gave Miranda, Osita, and me some gas money and a Burger King debit card. We then drove all night until we reached Winona at 5 AM and crashed on Jamie and Froseph's couch until noon.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

It's late. I just played three separate venues in the Winona area--a house party, a school, and a bar. I sold about $300 in merchandise, which helped after only making $18 at the Fargo show. Winona is fluffy and green; its big Mississippi River is pregnant with mayflies.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I'm off for my final mini-tour of the year . . . at least until November. Miranda, Osita, and I roll to Fargo tomorrow and then Winona, Minnesota, on Saturday, then Waconia (MN), on Sunday. I'll return to NoDak solo, since Miranda has decided to resume hitchin'. Her destination is Michigan, to see family. It's been a nice change of pace having steady company the last few days. Miranda is a wild, young, free bird--with robin's eggs for eyes and a sandy nest perched atop her tan noggin. She likes to draw. Hates the color pink. And someday she wants to run a youth hostel. If you see her sitting along I-90 East, please give her and Osita (a black dog w/ one crimson ear) a ride.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Jeff Mitchell rocked out in my parents' living room tonight. The crowd consisted of me, Kristin, Miranda, and Margi. Jeff is a crazed carpenter hillbilly from the Iowa sticks. He stays in a raccoon-infested cabin in the woods with no running water. For years Jeff inhabited a tree-house he built. To hear his excellent music go here.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Not only did it reach 90 degrees today, but life, in general, has heated up considerably. On Friday I flew to Philadelphia for a mini-vacation/tour. I played two shows there and spent quality time with friends Jan, Jessica, and Jonny (AKA "The Corndawg"). Upon returning to North Dakota, I found that my friend, Miranda, who is hitch-hiking with her pup, Osita, from Oregon to Michigan, had just been dropped off by a trucker in Belfield (50 miles SW of Killdeer). I picked her up at 11pm, and we all set up camp at my Dunn Center shack.

Miranda and Osita, by the way, plan to stay with me at least until I drive to Minnesota next Friday afternoon. I'll play three or four shows there and then hurry home for my Monday night computer class in Killdeer. The weekend after that, I'll perform two nights at Medora's 20th Annual Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

After that things will start boiling at the museum--and stay that way for a few months.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Dear Mom,

I'm havin' a great time in Philly. Wish you were here! I'd take you to a delicious Liberian restaurant. Didn't you live in Liberia while in the Peace Corps in the '60s?

Well, gotta run! The show last night was great fun. I'll tell you more later.

Thanks for being such a great mom. I love you lots. Happy Mother's Day!

p.s. Jan, Fran, Schraga, and Jessica all say "hi!".

Friday, May 12, 2006

I'm in Philadelphia for the next three nights. Ethiopian food, Korean food, Afghani food, Venezuelan food, Ghanian food . . .

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I received two emails today from two people who've never met each other. Both compared me with Townes Van Zandt.

"I just saw the Townes Van Zandt documentary tonight and i just kept thinkin' about you. not the whole drunken falling short of your potential thing, of course, but Townes' dedication to the song and to the music...his ability to set everything else on earth aside and devote his life to his songs...i have seen that spark in your music too. i just thought i'd write to say that you enter my mind fairly often and i think you're a brilliant songwriter."
-M. from Minneapolis, TX

"I listened to Ghost on your webpage and I really, really like that has a very townes van zandt know townes never could seem to sit still, settle down, take care of his women and children, a restless man who died an early and tragic, anyway. In my experience . . . I've yet to meet someone with loads of unearthly talent who isnt restless and impaired in some way, and you Mr. Sand have got the kind of talent I'm talkin about."
-J. from Salt Lake City, UT


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Across Dunn County calves are being dehorned, vaccinated, castrated, and branded. Lambs are getting their tails docked and their ears tagged. Dads and moms are buying their one-year-olds tiny cowboy boots and western shirts. Gretchen Wilson and Toby Keith can be heard from any pickup within 50 miles. And three copies of Brokeback Mountain, the award-winning Western directed by Ang Lee, sit on the shelf in the Cenex convenience store . . . alone . . . and unwatched.

Out here, it's a sad-but-true fact that only Jesus himself would dare rent one. Digital leprosy, maybe? Even other DVDs are phobic. I swore I saw King Kong squirm to the far side of his skyscraper and Reese Witherspoon reach for her pocket bible.

"It's like that, and that's the way it is."
-Run-DMC (1983)

Monday, May 08, 2006

Four brothers left home for college, became successful doctors and lawyers, and prospered. Some years later, after having dinner together, they chatted. They discussed the Christmas gifts they recently had given their elderly mother, who lived far away in another city.

The first said, "I had a big house built for Mama." The second said, "I had a hundred thousand dollar theatre built in the house." The third said, "I had my Mercedes dealer deliver an SL600 to her." The fourth said, "You know how Mama loved reading her Bible, and you know she can't read anymore because she can't see very well. I met this preacher who told me about a parrot that could recite the entire Bible. It had taken twenty preachers twelve years to teach him. I had to pledge to contribute $100,000 a year for twenty years to the church, but I got that parrot for Mama. Now she just has to name the chapter and verse, and the parrot will recite it." The other brothers were impressed.

After the holidays, their mother sent out her thank-you notes:

"Milton, the house you built is so huge. I live in only one room, but have to clean the whole house. Thanks, anyway."
"Marvin, I am too old to travel. I stay home and have my groceries delivered, so I never use the Mercedes. The thought was nice. Thanks."
"Michael, you gave me an expensive theater with Dolby surround sound. It can hold 50 people, but all my friends are dead, I've lost my hearing, and I am nearly blind. I'll never use it, but thank you for the kind gesture."
"Dearest Melvin, you were the only son to have the good sense to give a little thought to your gift. The chicken was delicious. Thank you."
If anybody knows anyone in Philadelphia, let 'em know I'll be there this weekend. Thanks!

May 14th - Philadelphia, PA @ Marvelous Records Comics & Books - 208 S 40th St. (40th & Walnut) Philadelphia, PA 19104. (215) 386-6110. 3pm. Free.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Yep, Dunn County Museum is open and ready for visitors.
Jeri and I spiffed it up over the winter.
Grandma Sand turned 86 today. Her party was held on the mountain and was excellent: food, friends, family, and frogs. Margi caught one at the beaver dam. A frog that is. I caught ten ticks, but none embedded in my skin. After the party Margi, Kristin, and I went to the Buckskin and played foosball. I'm getting better, thanks to being forced to challenge Lacy and Stacey, the two kickass bartenders who control the ball like Jedi-geisha-ninja-queens, and Shawn and Ron (trucker and cook), with their wrist-jamming power punts. I once witnessed Shawn break the plastic legs off of an opposing foos defender with a snap-turtle bully crack. I've even begun to develop a signature backfield horse-flavored light-rock graffiti-inspired chart-intolerant rap-spiker. Follow? I don't.

Friday, May 05, 2006

In 1862, on this day, the Mexican army booted the French out of their country. On September 16, 1825, they finally pushed the Spaniards out. They never evicted the Americans from Tejas, although they tried in 1846. A couple years later the U.S. snatched up New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, and part of Colorado. Heck if I know, but maybe Mexico's illegal immigrants--the ones in the news--are just trying to get home.

That's a simplistic view, I know, but I'm a simpleton who likes simple things. ¡Viva México!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I'm in a funk. It could be the frigid driving wind.

I don't want the fruit blossoms to freeze like they did last year.
(Dear God. Please take the ticks and deer flies instead!)

a) b) c)
a) choke cherries b) buffalo berries c) juneberries

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Last Friday I went to the Grassy Butte Steak Feed
with Grandma, Grandpa, and Kristin. While waiting
for the steaks to cook, Kristin and I explored.

This chimney has staying power.

Monday, May 01, 2006

I'm still in Minot at this conference. There's no new news.

I can, however, list the last ten cassettes I listened to last week:

1. Run-DMC - (self-titled) . . . twice
2. Prince - 1999
3. Chris Ledoux - (a random mix)
4. Sade - Diamond Life
5. R. Kelly - 12 Play . . . twice
6. Steve Earle - Copperhead Road
7. Prince - Purple Rain . . . twice
8. Led Zeppelin - IV
9. Bob Marley - Kaya
10. Anita Baker - Rapture