It has been a while, since I have written anything. A long time. That is not to say that I have forgotten about our friends who are still congregating at the Odd Fellows' Hall at the corners of Petersen and McKernan Streets in Muskrat Flats proper.
Coley Blackstone and his dog Chubby are doing fine. They are still going for their morning walks to the Odd Fellows' Hall. Coley still occasionally indulges himself by deftly yet discreetly plucking an interesting piece of paper out of a trash can he passes. I say indulges himself because he is working very hard to get to the root of his obsessions and compulsions. Chubby always offers never ending validation as he looks up lovingly while chewing on his plastic banana.
Moe Eckstein and Sid, his best buddy, are still holding court in the Banquet Hall every morning amid the the omnipresent aroma of freshly baked blueberry muffins.
The Memorial Day concert is still quite the topic of conversation when the town was overrun as word got out that the featured band for the evening, Odorono, was in reality the hippie jam band PRY.
Police were called in from local counties to control the crowd, early on. So things never really got all that out of hand.
They had a little mini Woodstock situation on their hands as about 10,000 more people than expected showed up for the event. The food vendors and local merchants were elated as their business for the day was brisk, giving a much needed bump in revenue during a period where the local economy had slowed down.
PRY did their best to keep everyone in line and did a fine job. Gomer was up on stage that night as well, bringing a big bottom to the band as they had two bass players for a major portion of the second set. Sveltie was up front, encouraging him while her husband was isolated in their house, much drunker than he intended or worse - promised he would get, that afternoon.
Later in the summer Silver Days was a success and the residents are now gearing up for the Fall Festival at the Farm Museum. Gomer took a few days off from PRY tour, where he is filling in for their bass player Lester Phillips, to do the annual Silver Days parachute jump and to perform that evening with his Hardcore Klezemer band Gomer Shabbos and the Hook Nosed Satans.
It wasn't quite the same situation as the Memorial Day concert, but there was a noticeable bump in attendance and there were a good amount of concert goers who were sporting PRY t-shirts.
As always, behind the scenes, a frequernt catalyst for shaping current days events in Muskrat Flats is the oft revered and even further maligned prankster, Sheriff Samuel Coleman Hawthorne III.
Gomer meandered into the Odd Fellows Hall, grabbed a coffee and a blueberry muffin. He was greeted by Iva Bartelby with a hug and a kiss. He spied Iva's husband, Sid and his father sitting in their usual spot, the table underneath Hawthorne's portrait and the two stuffed Jack-alopes.
He also spied Sveltie who was giving him that mischievous half smile. He went over and gave her a hug and chatted for a minute. He then reached into his sack and returned the wooden box containing what some perceive to be Sheriff Hawthorne's most recent prank on the modern day Flatlanders. They hugged again andGomer headed to greet his father.
Moe was locked and loaded.
"What's that all about, Sonny Boy?"
"It's nothing Dad ... I was returning that diary."
"Oy, that diary." Moe motioned with his thumb over his left shoulder,
"This guy, the Sheriff - he may have been a genius and did a lot of great things for this town, but he was fucking NUTS. He should have been locked up in some sanitarium or a looney bin. He is fucking with your lives with that crazy book."
"Daaaaddd!" Gomer wished he would shut the fuck up.
"Soooooooo ...." Gomer cringed. Here it comes, the clincher.
"How's Miranda? Does Sveltie know about you two, not that it matters to her since she's an adulterer too."
"Oh Dad, please can't you just let it go? Why can't you just give me a hug and tell me that you missed me?" Moe got up.
"Of course I can do that, I do love you, Sonny Boy." Moe said as he leaned in and grabbed his only son in a big bear hug. He whispered in Gomer's ear.
"I love you more than you will ever know. I just feel like I still need to protect you ... you're my baby." They broke apart.
"I know Dad, I know." Gomer wondered how long he was going to feel like a little kid.
"By the way, Dad, Miranda is fine. I'm going back to San Francisco in two days and she is going to accompany me on the last leg of the tour."
"That'll keep him out of trouble, eh Moe?" Sid chided.
Moe simply clicked his tongue against his teeth and grunted.
"Soooooo Sonny Boy ... " Gomer thought, what the fuck now? I thought we were done. He relaxed and even laughed when his father finished the sentence.
"What do you think about Mackenzie Phillips and Papa John Speedball? And you think your childhood was fucked up?"
"Oh Dad ..." Gomer admonished as the conversation meandered into less controversial territory.
Moe and Sid got up a little while later for their weekly run to Costco.
Gomer flipped 0pen his laptop and went through his mail. He got a correspondence from his buddy Pablo, a musician he had met at a recovery convention in the Northeast.
Hey Gomer, I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know I'm thinking about you. I hope things are going well with PRY. We'll see you at the Satans show in Burlington next month. In the meantime check out my latest blog. He clicked on the link and the blog popped up and began to read.
Monday Morning You Sure Look Fine
It has been a busy couple of weeks. Somehow music seems to have taken over my life. Between my work schedule and my obligation to my kid I don't have much free time. Now music seems to be dominating the landscape and stealing away any free time I may have thought I had.
Any of you who are regular readers here know that I'm a busy guy. But lately it has been insane. Not the kind of insanity that they talk about in the rooms of recovery, but It could be if I don't stay centered in my recovery. For the while, I think this is a good kind of insanity. It is becoming clear that things I have intended to do in my life, for a very long time are coming to fruition.
I was walking into my favorite coffee shop this morning. As I got out of my car I immediately spotted the group of guys having coffee. I knew two of them but this was the kind of group I could spot a mile away, they were all just like me.
I was looking at a smiling, laughing group of junkies and drunks. All of whom woke up one day and through various circumstances and scenarios it came to be that they woke up for the last time to greet the last day they would ever take a drink or a drug.
That's how it always happens.
Call it God's plan.
Call it co-incidence.
Call it society intervening in your life for the last time and letting you know enough is enough in the likely instance that you can't figure it out for yourself.
Call it what ever you need to call it, but believe it.
The one guy of the group I knew well, spotted me. He is one of the old timers in the fellowship which I attend. He smiled greeted me and shook my hand.
He then asked me that inevitable question,
"How are you doing?"
I love that question. But, before I could answer he said,
"I always ask that question but I can tell by your demeanor and body language that you are doing great. It is good to see. So what's going on? Why so happy?" He inquired.
I told him that I had been super busy getting ready for a concert which I played in Bushnell Park in Hartford on Saturday. I was filling in on bass for another band whose regular bass player had a previous commitment. I mentioned that's why he hasn't seen me a too many meetings in the last few weeks because I have been practicing and getting ready for this.
"And you never could have done this if you were using, could you have?"
No, I absolutely could not, I assured him. I used to get high and get lost in my head saying I wish I could do this or I wish I could do that. One of those wishes was "I wish I could play music in front of people."
He was psyched to see how happy I was.
"You see how it works? I remember you when you first came around. Just keep doing what you are doing and everything is going to fall into place for you. It is good to see you," he said as he bid me farewell.
It is true there are things that are happening in my life which I absolutely could not do if I were still using. The joy and freedom I experienced playing on a real stage with a real sound system (Two 500 watt cones on each side of the stage stacked on top of 4 - 15 inch speakers at 1000 watts each) in front of a large and appreciative crowd of smiling faces. All of this would disappear if I picked up.
First, I was playing in a group where the core of the musicians are in recovery. They wouldn't want to play with me if I were using. I doubt would have the motivation to go out and get my own gigs or seek out other musicians. No one would want to play with me because I would be all screwed up. Then I would be back to hiding in the dark playing for myself.
I did something crazy today. I was looking through Facebook and came across a request from and old Deadhead acquaintance.
When I knew this guy, he was a liar, a cheat and probably many other things that I had yet to find out about him. I don't know if he has some kind of mental illness which prevents him from remembering some of the warped stuff he did to me or my friends, but he reached out to me anyway.
I took the higher road and approved the request. I have changed and continue to work on changing. Perhaps he has as well.
They say everything happens for a reason. This is a true story.
I began flipping through this guy's friends list on FB and I came across a smiling face I recognized - David Frieberg. If you are not familiar with David Frieberg, he is a musician who played and sang vocals with Quicksilver Messenger Service back in the 60s and continues to do so this day.
About two years ago, I went to the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love concert at the Fairgrounds in Northampton, MA.
It's a Beautiful Day, Tom Constanten, Big Brother, Quicksilver and Jefferson whatever the latest incarnation of their name is, played. Paul Kantner and Marty Balin were there, no Jorma, Jack or Grace though.
The crowd was small but enthusiastic. David Frieberg played a big part playing with multiple groups that day.
I was freshly out of detox for what would be the second to last time. I was about a month clean, going to meetings and really struggling to do the right thing. I was at the show with a friend who was telling me,
"You need to do this and you need to do that to get your shit together," all the while forgetting that we had snorted oxys together on a couple of occaisions and once asked me if I could cop him some heroin.
I was checking out the musicians to see what they were playing hoping to pick up some licks. I must have looked pretty serious, perhaps even like I wasn't having a good time.
At that very moment, I looked up and David Frieberg was staring right at me making eye contact. Then he pointed his index fingers upward at his mouth, indicating that I should smile and I seem to recall, sing along as well.
It cracked me up and I did smile.
And I did sing along ... Come on people, now, smile on your brother let us try to get together and love one another, right now."
It was once of those special moments where I first felt that as a clean and sober person, I wanted something that someone else had. Something intangible that can not be bought or sold. The only way I was going to be able to do what David Frieberg did for me that day was going to be to break out of my shell and get up in front of people and play some music.
The show was over early and it very well may have even been that night or perhaps even the next Saturday night that I went to an open mic at the local sober club where I got up in front of the crowd and played three of my songs.
All of the musicians there were humble, and encouraging. None believing it was my first public appearance. They encouraged me and told be to keep coming. Where have I heard that before?
It was that night I met one of the musicians who fronts the band I played with last weekend.
The crazy thing I did, which I referenced earlier, was to contact David Frieberg and tell him this story. I have a feeling he will appreciate it as much as I appreciated the kindness in his smile during that warm summer eve.
I want to keep what I have so I am going to keep giving it away. Especially if all I have to offer at the moment is the kindness of smile to someone in the audience who looks like they may need one.
Thanks for your time.
"Wow" Gomer thought. He closed the laptop and gathered up his things. He smiled to himself and checked his own inventory and recalled that kind of band audience interaction he had experienced so many times. He vowed to be more conscious of this situation in the future having been shown just how profound such an act can alter someone's path,
He wondered if Sveltie was going to be around. He would like to see her. Then he thought of Miranda and her wonderful smile and loving acceptance of his shortcomings. He had to push thoughts of pursuing some private time with Sveltie out of his head, He then made a vow to himself to make his brief visit in Muskrat Flats to be one where he could take care of business.
He also decided if anyone deserved a life changing smile of his from the stage, the only one he could think of right away was Miranda.
So he went down his todo list and made a hasty plan to get cracking so as soon as possible he would be ...
Running Hard Out of Muskrat Flats.