Scatterer of Crows

I’ve been listening to this song a lot the last couple days. It was recorded by my last band, Lazerwolfs (or, “The Goddamn Fucking Lazerwolfs! as our friend Yale Kaul used to say, the guy who gifted us with the name). To me, the song represents a tendency of mine to go through life kind of bull-headed, a trait I’m not proud of that I try and keep a rein on, sometimes more successfully than others. You know how all the self help books say you need to shed yourself of poisonous people and relationships and situations in order to be happy? When I think of all the friends, lovers, family members, et al who aren’t in my life anymore, or aren’t speaking to me (some for decades), I wonder if I was that person in their “get right with myself” regimens. Who knows. I try to be kind, but goddamn it’s a process and I fuck up sometimes. Reflecting on Father’s Day about the loss of my dad, listening to this song and reflecting on the loss of my friend who plays drums on it, reflecting on leaving a job after 13 years and not having one lasting relationship from that era as a result, all of it . . . I can’t afford to be that guy anymore.

Anyway, there is a story here. As I said, the band was called Lazerwolfs. This was on a CD we released in 2005, which means it was probably written in ’03 or ’04. I adapted the lyrics from a poem I discovered, and loved, called “I Am The Stone That Breaks All Hearts” by Bill Lewis. In an amazing, and bizarre, coincidence, I later learned (via this posting of the poem) that he originally published it in a collection released by a publishing house called . . . Lazerwolf Press. How freaky is that?

Some things I like about it. I love the power and dynamics (though my bass line I modified slightly after recording it, and I prefer the new version, which I play every show when sound checking for the sound man). I love Bubba’s drumming so much. We were all three really into the grunge era band Mad Season at the time, and he lifted a couple drum fills from that record. But goddamn could he play those drums. There is a live recording of us in Bozeman, just weeks before our last show with him and his disappearance (we learned of his passing away last fall). Back to back we play my two most favorite songs from that era, 16+ epic minutes combined, and I don’t think we ever did that before or after. RIP, Bubba, damn it.

Finally, Jimmy’s abuse of his Stratocaster on this one. Especially the short solo that kicks in around 6:52. This was always a very emotional song for me to sing, though I learned to sing it better than it is here, and it often brought me to tears on stage, just the power of three guys making it happen and what the words mean to me. How they felt to sing. Something about the single note that Jimmy hits starting around 7:05 and hammers over and over thirteen times or so are like a fist just clenching on my heart. It still gets me. The final refrain — I am the stone, that breaks, every heart — is delivered with the kind of angry, frustrated passion that I haven’t been able to get with anything we’ve done yet in American Falcon. We used to make music that was sometimes meaningful. I’d like to get back to that.

Okay, so maybe this post is a little melodramatic, self-serving, personal, whatever. But this is my place, people. This one means a lot to me. If you’re reading it, you mean a lot to me.

One of Many Reasons I’m a Misanthrope

This is why I hate people, summertime, and nice weather.

The last two evenings I’ve been down to the river with my dog, the main beach has been overrun by loud, sunburned meatheads and their hangers-on. Not the same groups, just two different versions of the same basic mouth breather. I skirt the beach when that happens, just to avoid whatever is going on. Today I ventured out in the morning before the place gets overrun just to have some peace, which is the reason I go there in the first place. This is what I found there.

fires

Illegal fire built using logs and branches torn from the surrounding area. Charred beer cans in and around the scorched patch. Cigarette butts. Various assorted other bits and pieces of trash. I wish these people would just set themselves on fire instead.

It’s why I love cold and clouds and shitty weather. It keeps people like this inside watching television and ruining their own shit. As if I wasn’t enough of a seething cauldron of rage as it is, for crissakes. I think I am going to retire socially until the weather matches my demeanor.

Sitting on Logs

With National Poetry Month winding down, I thought I would recognize it. I’ve been meaning to for about 28 days now, as a matter of fact. I’ve read more poetry in the past year than I have in my lifetime prior, I think. I’ve even taken to writing it. Last year, I recognized April with one of my own, the first I’d written in at least a couple decades, directly inspired by one from Jim Harrison.

Considering Harrison left us a month ago, I thought this year I would share one of his, this sort of prose poem from his last collection, Dead Man’s Float, to mark the event. It’s one I love, for its beauty and its sadness. I’ll miss the man’s work, though I suspect there is probably some stashed away we’ve yet to see.

___________________________

Notes on the Sacred Art of Log Sitting
by Jim Harrison

 

To give the surgeon a better view of my interior carcass I was slashed from neck to tailbone. Recovery was slow and the chief neurologist told me, “You can walk your way out of this.” I began walking out by shuffling down a long hallway. It was very hard on my tender empathy to see so many hopeless cases, especially the truly beautiful girl who was paralyzed for life.

I want to walk in the morning with Zilpha again. I want to walk in the morning with Zilpha again. I want to walk in the morning with Zilpha again. I want to walk in the morning with Zilpha again. I want to walk in the morning with Zilpha again. Amen.

And I want to bird hunt, which I’ve done with intensity for forty years in a row. Is this even possible? The answer, come to find out, was that I couldn’t keep up. Zilpha would flush some birds then look to me wondering why I hadn’t shot. I was far behind, sitting on an Emory oak log and staring hard at the landscape.

My shuffling mood was always corrected by sitting on an oak log, so I decided to make some notes on the sacred art of log sitting:

  • Approach the log cautiously with proper reverence as if you were entering a French cathedral or the bedroom of your lover.
  • If it’s over 60 degrees, inspect the lower side of the log for Mohave rattlesnakes.
  • Now examine the log closely for the most comfortable place to sit, usually away from the sun.
  • Sit down.
  • Empty your mind of everything except what is in front of you — the natural landscape of the canyon.
  • Dismiss or allow to slide away any aspect of your grand or pathetic life.
  • Breathe softly.
  • Avoid a doze.
  • Internalize what you see in the canyon: the oaks and mesquites, the rumpled and grassy earth, hawks flying by, a few songbirds.
  • Stay put for forty-five minutes to an hour.
  • When you get up bow nine times to the log.
  • Three logs a day is generally my maximum.

When you get in your car it will seem as wretched as it is. A horse would be far better. For hours your mind will still be absorbed in the glory of what you saw rather than mail, emails, cell phones, TV, etc. Hopefully log sitting will allow you to change the contents of your life. You will introduce yourself as a “log sitter” rather than a novelist, detective, or mortician. You will walk more slowly and perhaps your feet will shuffle like mine. I can readily imagine buying a small ranch I’d call “The Log Ranch.” I’d truck in thirty-three logs and arrange them on the property like the Stations of the Cross. This could soothe me during my limited time in the twenty-first century, which has been very coarse indeed. Especially after Zilpha died.