Howdy, think it's time to tell some Kent-tales, considering the tiresome events plopping down right now from the top of the cultural flotation tank.
In 1966 I was a young yuppy--we called them Beta-boys back then, later Socs, yuppies, so on. I had a graduate degree, was a self-proclaimed religious saint, had a cool job as a professor in a quaint college in Fresno.
But I knew something was missing in my real-life training. All hell was busting loose over the war, hippies were protesting. Vets, my generation, were coming back from Nam all shot up and traumatized. Keep in mind that these vets were catalysts in the protest movements, not to mention they brought home with them the best pot. Some were still in the flag-waving mindset but many were really really pissed and rolled their wheelchairs right alongside the freaks to bring attention to the beanbrain elite-wars, the flailing screwed-up Skull-wars of that era.
I had to dive in and dump the yuppy-disguise to find out what the hell was really going on. Thank god for that.
So I taught during the day and hit the streets at night to learn the ways of the street gurus--much to the consternation of the college administration, had to learn to grapple with those nerds too..
No, it was not all reactionary I really wanted to learn basic survival skills, the kind of skills not spoon-fed by the academic world-- I was starting to see the hustle in that. So if I was going to be an ivory-tower shell-gamer I likewise wanted to learn how the street people panhandled too.
So I hung with hippies and bikers, homeless folk and street musicians.
Street musicians were a real RIFT for me. They taught me a lot.
Blind fiddler, Kenny Hall, was/is my great hero. He taught me the old tunes and how to really play them rather than thinking about playing them. Others, Otis Pierce, Oakie cowpoke roughneck and guitar picker (saved my life once)...many others.
An old feller, rhythm guitar savant, Frank Hicks, once told me, "boy, first thing you got to realize is that the worse the times get, the better musicians do...."
|Now this-here rant here might be crucial to your ongoing and there is much more to tell, survival, SURVIVAL Do you want me to go on? Eh? Well then plunk a coin into my open guitar case--thus encouraged I will continue...Kent|
Having just washed and waxed my persimmon red Bavarian sports car, I sauntered into my English Tudor Cottage in my Yuppy-strewn neighborhood, fetched a Heineken brew and plunked in my Charles Eames' chair to peruse the sacred Dow Jones from the Fresno Bee.
Things were good, really good, now about making them better...
A gentle knock at the door disturbed my sartori.
There was a blind gentleman with a broom.
I didn't need a broom had just financed a Kirby Vac array with all the attachments.
"No thanks," I said politely, began to close the door when a thought invaded, this guy, maybe he's the one I'd heard about from my students..."say, you wouldn't be the violin player, would you?"
"Fiddle," he declared, "actually my second instrument, mandolin preferred."
"The bluegrass musician?" I asked.
"Old-timey", he insisted. "Bluegrass came later, don't play nothin' after 1910."
What profound luck! I had just procured an antique roundback mando, was hanging on the wall, seemed to match the teak table and the Persian rug.
"Come on in, want a Heineken?"
"Sure do," he said. He soon had the brewsky and a Bentwood cane stool and the mandolin on his lap.
Hours went by, incredible music went by, like a sprinkle from the Muses, a hundred tunes, never repeated.
My friends Tony and Noel and KE drifted by as they always did on on a Friday afternoon. We were all transfixed, caught in a spell.
Damn, I didn't even buy a broom! The Muses recorded the fact and decided to teach me a lesson, a universal travail that has now continued for forty years. (appropriate sound)
What does good old old Kenny Want
What does good old Kenny Want
What Does good old Kenny Want
A Guiness on a saucer...
The Long Haul String band
Now this part is advanced old-coot reverie, apologies, not all of this happened at once, pieces glued from separate puzzles, in time many events become one, a kind of gestalt tick-tock-Yoga, a yarn, but here we go:
There we were all 16 of us newbie musicians picking along with the grand old man. Kenny had recently been awarded a real Maestro-hood by the State of Cal, most deserving, and we picked along the best we could on an assortment of instruments, mine a mountain dulcimer, forgiving instrument, less likely to make mistakes, can't play it do it anyway.
There we were with the Maestro at the most elite of establishments down by the Kings River. Outside at the entrance was a stuffed scarecrow-yankeedoodle hung by the straw neck from the streetlight.
Kenny's band was there, also encircled newbies as well as the saints of the art, Otis, Utah Phillips, Hicks, Marrying Harry the Fiddler, Bill the banjo bail bondsman, neighboring Oakies, assorted hippies from Berzerkeley and the Hell's Angels.
U. Utah and Otis otherwise great pals, argued a lot. They were doing that: leftwing old Wobbley/ old rightwing cowpoke, the row getting louder and heated which was expected. Unfortunately a thin Berzerkeley fellow entered the fray and said something that turned Otis's face red, or so we thought, we who were side-eyeballing nervously.
Otis drew his sawed off scattergun from under the bar, Utah, Berzerkeley feller, and the rest of us hit the floor quick as a stone.
Alas, the target was NOT the nearby skinny liberal, just a strange synch. You see Little Arvin, a high-ranking Angel had just made a big mistake and roared atop-flaming-hog through the swinging doors bursting into the exalted tavern. Not good, Otis let him have it, both barrels, no, not to kill and maim. The Harley got the blast, stopped wheezing dead, and Little Arvin kept sailing forward; he effected a rather graceful landing actually, good Biker flight training.
Otis liked Arvin, scooped him up and apologized, declared that a seedy Commie had ruffled his feathers ahead of the fact. All parties understood. Glad the catalyst was Berzerkeley-Slim and not me as I too had listed politically way to port--my beatnik phase.
Kenny Hall utilized the moment to turn to me, a wee member of the huge orchestra to mention that my third string was slightly flat, Kenny could hear a duck molt in the next county. I diligently tuned up and we played "Little Girl Dressed in Blue."
Meanwhile, U. Utah was going on with his declaration in the background, something like this, "The earth is not dying - it is being killed. And the people who are killing it have names and addresses."
Things settled down, the night wore on, everybody became blood-brothers and ended up in a big round-dance singing, the Circle Unbroken-- peace always seems to prevail when things fall to deeper fertilizer.
The Board of Trustees at the college got wind of the event and canned me, behavior unbecoming a professional--didn't lose a day of work though. I had learned to debate too, like U. Utah, Kent's cloned motto: always argue with bosses, preachers and politicians otherwise you might become one. It worked! Little did I know at that time that I had another 20 years to go in the academic-aquarium.
A more lucid precise recollection:
It was an out of control day in Bungalow 13, mass-class Art Appreciation, the natives were restless, jocks in the back tossed Pepsi cups forth and back, Alvin and Kennedy, full colors, fresh out of Quentin sought the Philosopher's Stone. Lovely Laura on the front row stared through me--I allowed fleeting comparisons to Circe. Two blacksuits had handed me admit card a month after enrollment deadline, gray and grim were they. Outside the Russian woodpecker pecked and the grave drought lingered on in the San Joaquin.
The last observation stuck.
"Forget Renoir," I said, I turned up the microphone on the podium, "FORGET GODDAMN RENOIR," I said again. That worked better, some of the upwardly mobile scrawled Renoir's first name in their notes. A dog with a bandana, sauntered down the aisle and stared at me. Yes, yes, no dogs allowed in class, but this was the 70s and who cared to argue with paisley bandanas, besides that basset brought a chuckle, and needed attention-- so I launched through the launch window.
"Let's make it rain," I said. A short confusion followed but some of the freaks nodded quick affirmation. The blacksuits flinched.
"Draw a circle in your drawing pad, yes a circle, how big? Doesn't matter, just draw a blinkin circle."
"Fill it full of dots, random dots, just dots." the two hundred dot-makers in the tin bungalow made for quite a cadence.
"What do these dots remind you of?"
"Renoir," declared an art student. "Rain," said a Valley raisin farmer.
"Well let's find out. Try connecting the dots, that's the ticket, draw something, anything by connecting the dots."
Many of the students drew clouds as I somewhat expected. What do you do with randomly connected dots? And the power of suggestion?
"New drawing," I said, "draw better clouds, shade them in, don't worry about the final drawing, just clouds."
"Draw lightning." The students liked that, 200 clouds with bolts spearing to the ground.
The hour was over, thank God, I had survived another stint. The students rustled and arose and strolled outside...into the sudden, thunderous and most unexpected rain. It rained torrents for three days straight, the fields flooded and all was well...almost. (appropriate sound again)
From a More Dated Journal: As an art instructor at Fresno City College I would attempt creative exercises with my students, guided visualizations where all would through the power of imagination travel to remote realms. Sometimes lecture classes of two hundred would experience these "expeditions." [At times my lesser ego was involved for which I paid severe dues. But an empath at the core I realize that Babylon-ed cast-down Humanity if awakened to the greater innate gestalt identity is unyielding, not preyed upon and unconquerable. It is a mistake to declare the wee self more than it is, a greater mistake to declare the omnipresent Self less than It is.]
I want to build a free house, screw banks, screw loans.
Impossible? Nope, done it before. The Indians build free houses, someone dies, they torch the house, ghosts, build another one in a week. Free.
When I was 10 my secrety He-man Bicycle Daredevils Club built a really cool house. Multi-story! We picked a cottonwood tree down in Doc Andrus's field and started at the base. First we scrounged materials, sticks and stones, lumber in piles by building projects, sheets of tin, rope, hammer, scrounged nails some rusty.
Part of the house we wove like a basket, willows, parts we lashed together, nails were used sparingly. Started on a Saturday morning, some adults even got in on the deal. By Saturday night we had the first story of our great house, sturdy too, found that out later when Floyd Scoffield's gang attacked us with dirt clods, sling shots and BB guns. Warning, if you DO build a house someone will by default get envious and attack so build it strong.
Also by design do plan for Floyd's attack. We did.
On Sunday we nailed slats up the side of the cottonwood tree. Butch Williams who was a bit bonkers, wrestled together the platform up in that tree, a brave lad was Butch-- house building does take courage. Butch sat on a limb and tossed a rope over another limb and hauled up 4X4s which we, er, borrowed from old man Vern's construction sites--house building also takes stealth. With the 4X4s swinging wildly he lashed the ends to the tree. Others directed from below. I was a most excellent director. Suzanne Williams, Butch's sister, was also a great director. Although banned from the he-man society she always showed up anyways. Suzanne was bossy, in fact secret society or not she bossed everything. Suzanne was the neighborhood Mafia Godfather!
By evening we had a big platform, could sleep four. Old man Vern showed up at sunset looking for his 4X4s. At first red-faced fuming, we thought we were doomed, Vern took a second-gander at our housebuilding, drove away in a rush and came back with more stuff. Vern banged away up there on that platform after dark, by flashlight, good thing, Butch's version of a platform would have caused a club-disaster, mass death. We built a fire and roasted hotdogs and marshmallows. Quite a crowd had gathered to watch old man Vern building walls and roof above in that cottonwood tree by flashlight after dark.
The next week, it was summer, we furnished the house. From the William's attic we confiscated a really cool hardwood table and Queen Anne padded chairs', Suzanne's score, well temporary score. Ma Williams made us bring back the furniture, but also eyeballing the project got us some replacement stuff. Ma Williams also busted Suzanne, which was a relief, you see because girls were not allowed in the He-man Daredevil Bicycle club. That position was temporary-only due to furniture, later Suzanne lost her membership for a while then later weasled her way back into our society, which caused us inevitable trouble, sneers and derision by Floyd Scoffield's tough gang and an eventual assault on our fortress. Suzanne caused wars!
Doc Andrus who owned the field and directed that we build a pit for pop bottles and candy wrappers. He showed up at the building site with shovels. Doc directed the pit-digging. The boys did well; we dug a huge pit with anterooms and tunneling. Soon we had level three underground. Doc jumped into the project too. For some reason he really liked the tunnel idea, kept muttering wild stuff about fallout shelters, it was the Fifties. Doc was driven! We had a huge basement!
The clubhouse mutated to a real fortress, good thing, it withstood Floyd Scoffield's attack. Sort of. Floyd assaulted our fortress for two days. We won out the first day, dirt clod war only. We bombed Floyd and his warriors from above. The second day Floyd's army showed up with slingshots and BB guns. This greater tech had us in serious pending defeat. Suzanne cheering from the sidelines ran home and called in the higher powers. Ma Williams called Ma Scoffield. The moms and pops stopped the war.
By the way they should do that now, stop the wars, which they probably will not, sigh.
One good thing: if there is a big war, the hall monitors will get distracted, the economy might fall flat and hopefully county inspectors will be out of work.
So while they ain't watchin', build a free house.
The tale, with your generous considerations, will continue here.
Artists need Patrons need artists towards a noble culture!
.Forum squirms, what a kick, think I'll write a shootkickin' tune
|Ever misplace a whole farm?||
A year or 15 ago, Irish House Party
Kenny Hall, Teacher
Dulcimer: Lark in the Mornin', Irish Jig
Hey, who tore down the peach orchard? Looks like a putting green now, Slickers!
Wildflowers, Shannon, Leah
Arrgh Acres! Creek was wider than the farm
|Neighbor, saved my life|
NESARA NOW! Banjo: Lost Farm Lament
In return for your kindness, an original lullaby: The melody, sort-of, play by ear,not used to wrangling with pesky Tinkerbell notes: Lyrics:
Chorus: Mama don't you weep, baby don't you cry Daddy come to fetch you in the by and by. Run though the orchard, tumble down the hill Grampa filling sacks in the flour mill. Time to take a nap, listen to the clock Gonna settle into dreams to the ticky-tock. Hop aboard the saucer, fly to the moon Dip a piece of cheese with your silvery spoon.