Friday, November 13, 2009
From the West to the Atlantic
Having left my town of Las Cruces early on Sunday morning the first order was to get two large coffees and a breakfast burrito at our local Pic Quick. That could fuel me for several hundred miles. Good thing because the 9-1/2 drive to San Antonio is bleak I tells ya, bleak. Save for the wind turbines on the mesas, the prolific road-kill and constant Buzzards you see mostly the trucks in front of you. What I can never grasp is the huge amounts of dead animals on Texas and Oklahoma roads. In New Mexico we just don’t have that. The NMDOT is good about that. I do notice that none of the Deer have their heads in Texas. I understand the whole cut off the head take the antlers thing but if they are Does? It becomes unsettling after a while. I’m wondering if it isn’t the state meat of Texas.
I made my way into San Antonio. My brother is a Pediatrician and Capitan in the military and was based in SA for a while, but recently moved to Japan otherwise it would have been nice to visit. It was wet and raining but I went to the river walk and had dinner at Casa Rio which is the restaurant who takes credit for starting the idea of bringing diners on boats. It was nice to hear so many languages walking by and see the boats. Only thing it is really dark in so many of the cities I visit and after a rain especially so. I went and took some shots of downtown and had a conversation with a homeless guy with no legs. He went on and on about Texans. Turns out he is from Nebraska. I gave him a buck for his story and turned in. I have had trouble sleeping since I was a boy and still do. Sometimes I sleep and sometimes not when I’m on the road. When I was a boy I would hear loud music before the heater started. It was a combo of tambourine, drums and guitar. On top of that I saw creatures coming in and out of the walls and the occasional shadow walking the hallways. I was tortured by nightmares where I was being held down on a metal table as creatures around me cut pieces of flesh from me. You can imagine what my reaction was when I saw The Sixth Sense.
The next day I made it to New Orleans. Hurricane Ida was just ahead of me and made land that night. It was raining and windy but not much more. I walked to the Mississippi river front area near Café Du Monde. It was really dead because of Ida the bartender said. When I’m traveling alone I often eat at the bar and probe the staff for places to see or hear music etc. There was a great Jazz guitarist playing in the corner not looking very happy. I thought of how many “out of this world musicians” there are in NO all doing this kind of gig for tips. Meeting hotel and B&B owners they eventually ask about my music and instruments. So I take the time to explain about the Native Flute and Hang and have practice answering really uninformed but sincere questions about Native peoples. I see it as real opportunities to maybe inform and open dialogue, and of course talk them into buying my CD’s! I made my way over to the Mississippi and played my version of “Hallelujah” on the banks. It is a Leonard Cohen song but Jeff Buckley probably has the best know version. He drowned in the river while on tour sadly.
I stopped in Palm City Beach to break up the 10-1/2 hour drive to Tampa where my cousin lives. This was a great stop. The waves were really high and cresting white right outside my balcony. I’ve learned that states visitors center’s have free maps and books of coupons for hotels, restaurants and more so I found a place called Flamingos for a good price. It wasn’t pink however, yellow. Across the street was a place called Shuckem’s, bar-type place with local beer and lots of fried things. How can you go wrong? It is a place I had seen on the Food Network, but forgot until I saw the thousands of $1 bills covering every inch of the walls and ceilings. The story goes that he was about to go out of business and the people at the hotel across the road staples one’s and said when he needs rent money to take the bills down. My British waitress explained it all to me. I drew on the bill and stapled it to the ceiling next to the surfboard. If you go there take a pic for me please.
My cousin lives near Tampa with her partner. They are both in the TV news business and I hadn’t seen her in about 8 years. They invited me to stay with them before I went on to the festival in Melbourne. They took me down to Ybor City a cool area of Tampa. Kind of retro-hip/bohemian with a touch of Cuba. It was great and we ate at a Spanish placed called The Columbia. I wasn’t sure if that meant the Drug Cartel or the Coffee. Neither as it turned out. The tapas and salad were delicious and we laughed often. Their dog, Godiva, is a real sweetie and reminded me how much I miss my dogs. It was interesting for both of us I think, catching up and remembering what we never knew. We come from some pretty disastrous homes yet we both are pursuing happiness as well we can and don’t dwell on the past or blame anyone for our current state. It helps being wry and open about things and we are. I told her stories about our ancestors she hadn’t heard and about all the ghost stories which she was suitably skeptical about being a producer and all… I’ve included my uncle, her dad, in a song or two that I’m recording soon. He was a help when I was younger and very lost. I gave her a jar of salsa I made and carried across six states and three time-zones…
The skies have been gray and low with lots of moisture but overall not too bad. It is surprisingly cold here with a promise of blue skies and mild temps. I’m playing in the evening mostly so I hope it keeps warm for the audience. I will be playing solo and with the flutist Coyote Oldman, aka Michael Graham Allen. That alone is always worth the drive. He is a musician and flute maker I have so much respect for and happy to also call him a friend. In 2003 when I was first thinking about playing the Native American Flute I wrote Stephen Hill, Hearts of Space founder, and asked about spacey Native Flute Music and he turned me on to Coyote Oldman. Late 2004 I got my first flute from him and was moved to tears at the beauty and craftsmanship of his flutes and the sound was cooing. Five years later to be sharing the stage with him is humbling and deeply meaningful. http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20091113/LIFE/911130309/Rhythms+festival+honors+native+pride
Here are some things I’ve learned a few things driving so much:
• Car commercials are the same everywhere with people yelling at you.
• If you want someone to get off your bumper, turn on your blinker
• Be careful at rest stops. People are in a hurry to get to the restroom.
• The “non gourmet” coffee has way more caffeine
• Resist at all costs the leathery hot dogs in the rollers.
• A real smile can diffuse any situation you find yourself in.
• Audiobooks are the Only way to pass 12-hours drives.