Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cars Are People Too: An Essay On The Value of Sports Cars And Station Wagons In The Work Place

Cars are people too!

Years ago when my children were part of the boarder community (both skate and snow) I saw this logo on a t-shirt in a skateboard shop in Kamloops, British Columbia. Cars are people too never left my brain and I'll employ this car personification for an essay on guitar/banjitar busking.

In the world of work, there are sports cars and station wagons, and how people motor about at work very much determines their car personas.

Workers who use their place of employ as a bully pulpit, are sports cars. Sports cars love to expound their political personal preferences at every opportunity, be it in the lobby or the lunch room, even the lavatory. As a result of such chatty behaviors, sports cars often have loads of quality repartee.

Then there are those workers who behave in just the opposite manner; these people are station wagons, bastions who are rather fortified with regard to any personal disclosures whatsoever. Station wagons are very chary when expressing either personal or professional opinions. Station wagons will unload only the little luggage necessary to keep socially appropriate within the confines of their employ.

Sports car employees can be both beatific and narcissistic. They like to stay shiny and polished and look good. And oftentimes this sport car beauty can be more than skin deep, having the working abilities to scintillate and perform brilliantly; whereas station wagons oftentimes can be dowdy and frumpy.

Sports cars are always pert and flexuous and have the abs and curves to prove it. Sports cars consider work as a junket, a place where one can seek and find a disproportionate amount of pleasure holding court at every possible occasion. Station wagons, on the other hand, can be somewhat earthy and ordinary, even groundling-like in nature.

Sports cars can be capricious, multitasking on impulses and whims; whereas station wagons are the market martinets, staying rigid and pedantic.

Traveling most work worlds will reveal that there are exciting high roads of visibility and bland low roads of little renown. And always, there will be those middle roads of steady misadventure. If the work place is steady and the employees of that workplace solid, one will find that whatever road one takes to get the job done will, in fact, get the job done!

As for me and my world of busking, I consider myself a sedan. As a sedan, a busker must be bimotorous, able to change from sports car to station wagon behavior on a dime – performing with brilliance one moment, then having to roll up the mat and move up the street to another location on some authoritarian whim.

Buskers also have to be sedan-like banausic, realizing work for what it is – work! Buskers, for the most part, believe hitting the street is a practical way for make a living, just a utilitarian endeavor to support oneself in family, hobby, or habit.

Unlike regular workplace types, buskers are able to recognize the demarcations between sports cars and station wagons. In this regard, buskers must behave like sedans; they must be eclectic enough to adapt for the pitch at hand. Only sedans can pretend to be sports cars. The transformation from a sedan to a sports car may be just a pin stripe on a suit, or a coiffure from a salon instead of the barber shop.

To pursue a long and quality work life as a busker, one must definitely be a sedan. I suspect that most workers are, indeed, sedans, because sedans are malleable and sports cars and station wagons are not.

If Cars are people too -- people, too, are cars. And like most quality car lots, quality work places need a variety of models, including the sports cars and station wagons.

I wrote this song in memory of a green 1958 Chevrolet Del Ray my dad drove in the early sixties.


[C Am F G (x3) then C vamp]


I am [C]dreaming we are [Am]driving [F]away, [G]away

I am [C]dreaming we are [Am]driving [F]away, [G]away

I am [C]dreaming we are [Am]driving [F]away, [G]away

[C]In my [Am]’58 [F]Chevro[G]let Del [C]Ray


[C]My tractor tire [Am]do in [F]Brylcream [G]blue

[C]My cool white [Am]shades, my [F]faded [G]jeans

[C]Black Cat [Am]smokes [F]tucked in my t-shirt [G]sleeve

[C]The top rolled [Am]down, just [F]feel the [G]breeze.



C Am F G

We’ll drive to the beach buy some fries and some shakes

C Am F G

We’ll stretch out on the sand for that California bake

C Am F G

We’ll turn up the tunes on my car radio

C Am F G

We’ll twist under the moonbeams until it’s time to go



C Am F G

I am back to pumping gas … and dreaming every day

C Am F- G

I am dreaming we are driving away, away

C Am F- G

I am dreaming we are driving away away

C Am F G C

In my ’58 Chevrolet Del Ray

[X 2]

[C Am F G (x3) then C vamp]

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Hirsute Of Happiness: An Essay On Busking And Beardom

Movember -- the month of the moustache. The portmanteau of moustache and November. As a show of support, most of the male staff members at my school are growing moustaches and beards for the international rally for Cancer research, research especially for those children with cancer and for the prevention of prostate cancer in men. The hairied results are socially positive – Everybody likes the moustache! And these are the types of moustaches and beards our Movember men are sporting. There are men with Anchors, having a beard styled along the jaw line along with a pencil moustache, and actually resembling an anchor. A couple of the guys have gangsta and sport Raps, manicured moustaches and thin lined beards. Others have Goatees and Van Dykes. Quite a number have the Lincolnic chin curtains just like Honest Abe's. Some of the fellows have opted for the Mutton Chops; one has a Fu Manchu, and another has a Handlebar. None have Leprechauns or Klingons (see The Irish Rovers and Star Trek).

Applying these Movember moments to yet another argy-bargy on the art of busking, here are some whiskerings to keep in mind:

  • Moustaches and beards are auxiliaries that cost nothing to grow and little effort to harvest.

  • Castaway moustaches and beards are for the canaille, not for buskers.

  • Moustaches and beards are cathartic – no more blades.

  • Moustaches and beards cosmeticize the real ugly busker.

  • Moustaches and beards signal a dalliance with the foot-loose and fancy-free.

  • Moustaches and beards are never demode; they are always trendy.

  • Moustaches and beards are not for fops.

  • Moustaches and beards represent free thinking, not indolence.

  • Moustaches and beards are not stigmatic; they are sweet.

  • Movember is a la mode.

  • Movember is hip and mod.

Brother buskers, next Movember be happy -- be hirsute.

Britt, one of our female staff members, jokingly proclaimed that we Movember men look like 70's porn stars! (See her picture atop her cast of porn stars.) In celebration of my own porn star past, I wrote this song:

Ice Cream Dreams

C Leafing yellowed

D Photographs

C Flipping pages

D Through my past

C From misty – rainbow

D Rings of gold

C Do shades of time and

D Dreams unfold [4x]

Verse 1

G A golden beach

D A blue green sea

C Hand in hand

Em We walked the sand

G Laughed and kissed

D In summer winds

C Whispered words

Em Of Harlequin


G Are you being

D Are you being

C Are you being

Em Lonely there

G In ice cream dreams

D And endless fun

C Ice Cream dreams

Em And bubblegum

Verse 2

G Danced around

D Those midnight fires

C Sang each other

Em Lullabies

G Wicked moons

D On silver waves

C Hand in hand

Em We walked the sand



C Rock Hudson

D Doris Day

C Mickey Mantle

D Cassius Clay

C Emma Peel

D Paladin

C Hand in hand

D We walked the sand [4x]


Photos by William Wright

Friday, November 12, 2010

To Live Is To Suffer: An Essay On Staying Alive

One Friday afternoon we were busking on the south east corner of the luxuriant Victoria Park in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, situated right across the street from the Saskatchewan Hotel (the Sask). This is the corner for the celebrity watch, where the frenzied residents of Regina have been known to gather for hours in the hope of catching a glimpse, and better yet, a polaroid snap of persons such as Queen Elizabeth, George W. Bush, Bob Dylan, all of which who stay at the Sask whenever they're scheduled for events in Regina. Baron, on his cajon box, and I, on my Alabama banjitar, were there to catch some coins. It was sunny; it was windy; it was busy. The Rolling Stones were in town, though not yet a sign of Mick or Keith.

Victoria Park was a buzz of people. Aside from those who were hoping to gaze at some stardom, others there were picnicking, feeding bread crumbs to the pigeons, minding their children at the playground. On the diagonal paths there were troops of gentlemen in business suits marching briskly while gesticulating to one another, and at the same time singular ladies dressed to the nines, ambling by in their clomping heels, while discreet couples cuddled and whispering to one another on the benches not quite hidden amongst the chaparral.

And then along came Eric, chuckling as he grabbed one of our shakers from my banjitar case, and giving it a joggle while he did a very funny bump and grind.

I'm just a movin' and shakin'. I'm seventy years old and am reflecting life as it comes. I'm embracing new experiences, not shying away from anything, I'm grabbing new moments and I'm staying alive! he said.

Seventy. That is the age when the hair is thin and gray, the skin wrinkled and saggy, the arteries stiff, and the libido soft. Eric did not look nor act his age. Rather, he looked to be closer to middle -aged, with his sun bleached hair, white Whistler t-shirt, and olive green hiking shorts, doing a dance and jam in his sand colored sandals with a couple of buskers. The process of aging happens and Eric, so far, had seemed to escape it. What was his anti-aging secret? An elixir he found? A drink from the Fountain of Youth?

After our busk Eric joined me for a coffee. I had my usual Americano Decaf and Eric had an espresso.

Liquids ought to be enjoyed in drams, he said. While sipping our javas, Eric shared the secrets he employed to optimize his natural longevity. He began by stating that Old Age never did affright him, but losing his mind and mobility always did. Eric, at one point, realized that his life had been asunder, his misspent youth being an Augean stable of too much drink and too little dance. It took a Spartan attitude, but from that point of release, Eric denied himself of alcohol forever after.

A beatific smile spread across his face as he reminisced. Before he spent thirty years as a college counselor he used to travel everywhere as an elite player on elite hockey teams, shooting pucks in practically every big rink the Prairie landscape had to offer – Winnipeg, Flin Flon, Brandon, Regina, Saskatoon, and Swift Current. And he used to travel west to ski Fernie, Big White, Silver Star, Apex Alpine, Sunshine, and Lake Louise. No longer the scoring iceman, Eric said he still skied the mountains a couple times each winter, and had lately taken up to being a skip on a curling team.

It pays to be fastidious, he said. I pay particular attention to everything I do. I am developing an ability to focus, and that, my friend, is what I believe to be the key to happiness. I used to spend hours fossicking my dresser drawers for stuff I thought I'd had, but had long ago given away or tossed away or might have even just misplaced. Now I know exactly what I have and where it's at. And that has proved to make my life just so much more enjoyable.

Gimracks I toss away. Since the kids have left I've really little use for them. I guess I used to keep those baubles and knicknacks for the kids until I realized they had absolutely no value to them. I used to imagine them saying after I had passed on, I wonder why he kept this junk and after saying this I imagined they, too, just tossing them away.

I work part-time contracts. I have a half-dozen or so clients from the Mental Health Clinic. I do my best to help keep them out of trouble. Without care and compassion and guidance, all my clients have a tendency to run afoul of the law or get themselves committed to the Psych ward. These guys keep me on my toes.

According to Freud, love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness. I'm still working but I must be looking for love in all the wrong places, he stated. And with an exiting giggle, Eric was gone, off to meet some clients I supposed.

I thought it funny that he mentioned Freud. You can take the boy out of the counseling, but you can't take the counseling out of the boy, I guess. And I also guess that I'd like to be like Eric, in the faint hope of staying my infirm until my very last gasp.

To anti-age is to understand that youth and middle-age and old age are all an interlace, a paralleled blur along our continuums of life. So as not to distinguish the states of age, one must always be malleable, having the constant capacity to adapt and find enjoyment in a never ending adaption. Being a medico of music, I can accommodate myself in this regard. I shall stay as long as possible in our seven member community service band (Grand Trunk Troubadours), our coffee house trio (Friday Harbor), and our busking duo (Seahorse).

In none of these bands do any of the members navel – gaze. Perhaps if any of us had the time, we would indulge, but as it stands, performing is always a rush and we are always on zoom time.

Moving to the right along the life continuum (we in the West tend to measure our days and years from left to right on a horizontal plane) one should never be purblind to the facts of sometimes escaping into adventures far from the status quo. If busking is to be the quarry of my life adventure, then taking every opportunity to busk should be the object of my pursuit, should indeed be my pursuit of happiness.

To live is to suffer is the skinny of Zen. To live and not suffer is to be torpor. And to be torpor is deadening – and to be making a sea change is staying alive.

Here is a song that I wrote in a Walter Mitty moment:


[Am]Some days I wanna [D]do like [Am]Dangerman

[Am]Fun in the [D]sun on the [Am]Riviera, man

[Am]Suave and debon[D]air, [Am]undercover [D]ladies man

[Mute]And just [Am]shoot my [Em]troubles [Am]away.


[Em]I sometimes [D]think [C]my imagin[Em]ation

[Em]I sometimes [D]think [C]my imagin[Em]ation

[Em]I sometimes [D]think [C]my imagin[Em]ation

[G]Is the [Am]model, the [C]model for the [Em]nation (for complete annihilation)

Am D Am

Some days I wanna do like Steve McQueen

Am D Am

Cool and cruel on that movie screen

Am D Am D

Ride shotgun with Yul, blaze to Boot Hill

Mute Am Em Am

And just shoot my troubles away.


Am D Am

Some days I wanna do like the President

Am D Am

Cruise the clear blue sky in Air Force One

Am D Am D

Protect the planet, police everyone

Mute Am Em Am

And just shoot my troubles away.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Monogamy With My Mahogany: An Essay On Simplicity

My first one had been battered by another player. He was a poet, slim, hybearded, and actually sold his original poems for a living. I knew him in his early years before he became famous, those years when he would stand on the street corner peddling his wall paper poetry. It was always the short verse, usually his haiku, that he orationed with enthusiasm. Too bad that same enthusiasm never ventured to his playmate. Instead, he battered her, eventually giving her to me because it was the convenient thing to do at the time. I, too, was a poet and he liked some of my stuff. But it was really because of her, that I learned to play, and I knew the whole time I would never forsake her as did he. Our relationship lasted just a year, until an acquaintance, another poetician, stole her away one hot summer evening.

My second one I met by chance in a music shop. Those days I would oft avert every day strife, languidly strolling the songbook aisles of the music shops on junket Saturday mornings. And in one bright moment there she was, flexuous, blue, and beatific! It was love at first sight! Strangely though, it was never meant to be. My lust for her outward appearance was but a deception, and within a couple years slowly realized she was, and always would be, a six stringer. By mutual agreement she returned to the musical place from whence she came.

And since then I've doubled my pleasure and doubled my fun. My latest being a dreadnought with plenty of style, cherry sides, cedar top, mahogany neck, and a gorgeous resonance that bellows big rich and rounded sounds whenever I strum anywhere along any her twelve strings!

She was introduced her to me by my colleague, Kent. She was just one of his seven concubines, never mistreated, but never really favored either. Needless to say our beginnings together were somewhat amoral, but the more I touched her, the more I liked her, and the more I liked her, the more addicted I became to her, and the more immoral my fantasies. Nothing about her resembled her antecessors.

Cap-a-pie she has become my sole mate. Whenever together I dress for the occasion, hatless, in a crisp white shirt, faded blue jeans, upon either work boots or sandals. On a busk we are forever in complicity, guileful, continually setting up our ambuscade of street music surprise. The more times I busk with her, the more in apotheosis I revere her. Stroking her strings has become my daily intoxicate – this is my simple, simple pleasure.

[photograph courtesy of William Wright]

Behavioral counseling often poses/offers three questions for clients:

Who am I? What have I been doing? Where am I going?

I wrote this following song in response.



D A Em

[Em]Hey hey I'm [C]going, I'm [Am]going some[Em]where

[D]I[A] don't know [Em]where

[Em]I'm not going [C]back, no I'm [Am]not going [Em]there

[D]ne[A]ver [Em]again [X2]

Em C Am Em D A Em

Hey hey I'm going, I'm going somewhere

I don't know where

Em C Am Em

I've been in chains and I've served my time

D A Em

never again [X2]

C Am Em D A Em

Hey hey I'm going, I'm going somewhere

I don't know where

Em C Am Em

I've been in arms, been a soldier at war

D A Em

never again [X2]

[instrumental and humming]

Em C Am Em D A Em

Em C Am Em D A Em

D A Em

Em C Am Em D A Em

Hey hey I'm going, I'm going somewhere

I don't know where

Em C Am Em

I've been in love, had my heart broke enough

D A Em

never again [X2 & FADE]