SO BUSY LEAVING
Nov 2, 2018
So Busy leaving, I never said hello.
She waved good bye as I pulled out of the driveway, sun was almost coming up in my eyes. Finally, I was pointed east driving away from the pacific moving west on Torrance Blvd. Relieved, I caught her cheating on me, it saved me the trouble of finding a reason to go. We tried, what else could be said? The words got caught in my throat anyway. Restless heart, troubled soul.
In just a few hours the desert rolled out before my 1976 Rebel Ford pickup truck, driving past cement and plaster dinosaurs in Palm Springs reaching towards Barstow and the Mojave eventually planting my wheels on Interstate 40 and parts of the old Route 66 dreamscape, the sun still in my eyes but quite a bit higher now. The wind felt and smelled good, desert flowers and gasoline 70 miles per hour heading towards the Atlantic where summer was ending, and leaves would soon begin to change colors. My mind was ablaze, road maps rested on the passenger seat and the road was wide open.
The curse is cast.
1972, Oakhurst New Jersey. I’m 11 years old. My older brother had this blonde Yamaha guitar F125. His bedroom was in the basement of our house on Garfield Ave.
Being the little brother meant banishment on the top basement step where I was only allowed to “listen “to him and his friends play music together. Eventually I could move down and sit on the bottom step seeing them and watching their fingers move on the necks of their guitars, watching how they made them sound the way they did.
Three chords can’t really say if it was the truth or not, but it was the first thing I ever learned.
G , Am and C back to G. The song was You aint goin’ nowhere, written by Bob Dylan.
They beat it to death, minute by minute, hour by hour, day after day month after month and I loved every second of it. In my head I made up my own words to the tune, because what they were singing was undecipherable to me, I kept hearing the word prostitute in a verse and it felt forbidden, but I did hear that great chorus.
“ Wooee ride me high, tomorrows the day my brides gonna come
Wooee are we gonna fly, down into that easy chair.”
I remember my Father saying, Thank God they’re in the basement, little did he realize my room was across the hall from his and Moms and very soon I’d be echoing the noise from the dungeon, and more just a few feet from their bedroom door.
I took many a brotherly beating when he would come home and find me in my room, playing HIS guitar trying to learn the chords that I would copy. Every time he’d leave the house, I’d sneak into the forbidden basement bedroom and played that acoustic, even when he tried to hide it from me, it was to no avail, I wasn’t going to quit. I’d bring the guitar upstairs to my room because I knew he wouldn’t hit me as hard upstairs because Mom was usually around. One morning, many months had passed, and I awoke to find a Yamaha F75 in my bedroom with a note from my big brother that read “Stay out of my room or die!” Still have that guitar as I type this in 2018. Same mismatched guitar pegs plastic black and white, all original hardware and recently had it restored spending far more than it’s worth, but you know. The actions a bit high, so I tune it down a full step and capo on the second fret to play it at middle 440 C. She sounds great.
So there I was, fish tanks done and over, baseball bats and mitt collecting dust in the corner, GI Joe figures thrown into boxes on the closet floor and ignored, my new, old acoustic guitar in my hands. I was on my way, don’t know where I was going, but I was on my way.
A perfect day 1967
Cedarbrook Park had a real “it’s a wonderful life “feel to it, right out of a Frank Capra film. Small hill and oversized Delaware river round stone gazebo with a fire pit in its center, smoke pouring out of the center chimney in the middle of winter, families and kids pulling and riding Flexible Flyer sleds up and down the snow-covered path leading down to the thick ice-covered lake.
We lived about 4 blocks from the park on Pemberton Ave in Plainfield NJ. It always snowed back then in winter and it was always freezing cold. We couldn’t wait! My brother would get a running start down the hill and I’d jump on his back, holding on and heading down to the lake, zoom…….! Laughing all the way, hardly able to move, stiff with all the layers of clothes, scarves and gloves we had on. We only had the one sled. My sister was there somewhere 9 years older and off somewhere with her friends.
There were marshmallows melted on small tree branches we’d find or break off pines and shrubs, sparks from the fire, parents and kids, a police officer with shiny things attached to his jacket that made him look official and important. The air was cold in our noses and when the street lights came on, we’d head back up the 4 blocks to our house, the sidewalks were big and wide, uneven and tree roots pushed up the corners on some of the cement blocks, we’d slip and slide on the snow. Warm light came from the windows of the houses on our street and you could see the furniture and television sets glow as we passed each one, dinner was cooking, and you could hear children’s names being called by mothers or fathers as the sun was setting and the street lights began to glow, they made the mountains of snow gleam with the sparkle of prism colors on the icey snow. As we slid into our driveway our wet clothes peeled off in the garage, we’d walk the six stairs thorough the mudroom of our split-level home and sit by the fireplace, mom would make us hot coco, Dad played a Louis Armstrong record. America 1960’s was safe and warm.
Summertime found us stealing and eating corn in Schneider’s field, there were eleven cousins all boys, except for my sister the only girl. Seven of us lived back to back our yards connected, there was a cherry tree and an apple tree, our Moms spread out sheets at the base of the trees and sent us all up there climbing the branches with strict orders to only drop down the ripe fruit. Pies were made, and our bellies were full. The other four cousins lived just a few blocks and a school yard away.
There were touch football games at Cedarbrook school across the street from my Aunt Jeanie and Uncle Lenny’s house, we were a gang of 10 boys, the thin sidewalk at the side entrance was our line of scrimmage. I was the third youngest and we were always told what to do by the older cousins. Run that way, don’t let go of the ball no matter what! The plans were shown to us in huddles on hands with landmarks and determination. Just make it to the goal line, don’t let them touch you. Run fast! Zig-zag, pretend your hurt, cry, then get up and run, even then the scam was in the making.
Sacrificed to the football Gods by our older cousins, I don’t remember winners or losers or points, but I do remember laughing so hard I’d pee in my pants. I remember crickets and fire flies and the light of the moon illuminating the sky.
July 20, 1969. We were playing football at Cedarbrook school, I’m 8 years old. It’s about 8 o’clock and my Aunt Jeanie yells from the drive way of their home to all of us kids in the field, “Get inside NOW! It’s on television, hurry up !!” Her voice was urgent. We ran back to the house crowding around the small black and white television. In their front door, straight int their den we all find a place where we can all see. All of us, eleven cousins, my dad his brother, sister spouses, 17 of us in total watching in awe an American spectacle full of magic, wonder and pride. The television was on a wire stand of some kind, squeaky wheels, everyone yelled at my Uncle Lenny who kept moving the set around for some reason. Get back! leave it alone, move, move! Helplessly and outnumbered, he moved away.
Apollo 11 was landing in the Sea of Tranquility, on the moon. The same moon outside lighting up our football field. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men to step there. It was the stuff dreams were made of and the power of that moment has never worn off the possibility that anything can be done, we stared in awe and silence as we held our breath. Surely this is madness, how can this wonderous thing be real? The world would never again, be the same.
Yankee Doodle Dandy
I was far stage right, last one in my row. It was 1966, five years old, Mrs. Bartle’s class Kindergarten. Cedarbrook school. I had one line. Just one. “Stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni.” That’s all I had to say. It was a big dark red curtain, I never touched it but could tell it was very heavy. The ropes made a sound on the pully I still love to hear to this day on any big stage production. The audience was full, and the piano filled the air, the music teacher was very serious and really pounded those keys, I remember thinking she must be very angry at that piano. But I knew my que and I knew my line, I was ready. I was dressed like Uncle Sam, beard and all.
Oh no. Ok, here comes my line, wait, I have to pee. Oh no. The music stops. I stare, they look, I pee. Yes, I pee on the stage in my pants. My red white and blue pants. The words don’t come. I run off the stage and vow never, never to return. My Mom is there backstage, she catches me holds me and tells me she how brave I was and gently pulls the fake beard off my face, she wipes away my tears and tells me how much she loves me. I feel safe and, in my heart, know tomorrows another day and the show must go on. Welcome to show biz.
Semi Autobiographical Notes and Observations by an
American Poet and Singer Songwriter
1. GEOMETRY continuous circling flat curve:
1. majority: a large number
2. dominance or superiority:.
I have been and still am many things.
Perhaps herein lies my dilemma one of many spirals; leading to an endless diversion of the grass is always greener. What lies beyond that field there or that river over yonder? Be right back, I’m just gonna peek over the top of that fence around the corner. Meanwhile in another part of town, life goes on and year’s rifle by some set goals hit milestones and move on.
To this very day I keep peeking over fences, walking into scenes and searching in the shadows for something I’m sure I’ll recognize.
I was born back in 1961, I’ve caught some glimpses, but I haven’t quite seen it yet in a clear crisp focus. It’s smoky in here. (Someone please open that window)
Husband, father, lover, friend, writer of songs, words and snatches of wind, marketer, businessman, ice cubes to Eskimos wasn’t it?
Loser and keeper of faiths gone by, who am I he asks. Who am I?
There lies that eternal question right…?
Don’t we all want to know?
What’s my purpose and what is my place?
I’ve kept notes the last 26 or so years, lost more then I’ve kept, but for lack of a road map or something like it, I thought I would sketch out my past years by going back and going though my writings, ramblings songs and poems. Even some cassettes I’ve made that hold words and laughter of many a highway friend and nightrider along the way. The journey has logged many a mile and still we ride onward.
“It’s a road of reflection that tells me my name and what is my name?
I haven’t yet found, I know it no better then where I am bound”
Some songs took 3 minutes others 20 years, sewn together with a word found in a timeless forgotten place that peeks out and fits like a glove.
I’ve had periods of prolific abundance, words poring out of me and periods of complete desert dryness, cackling dry throated worthless garbage unfit to be shared with my muse, in fact I’m sure I caught her laughing. From the green pastures of inspiration, to the old ghost town of dry gulch county.
The road is long full of detours with the end nowhere in sight. (And that’s fine)
All the pieces are here. e.e.cummings began as an excuse for me to not use proper punctuation but, the meaning found its way to me and the attitude prevailed, I got “it” and I kept and used “it”. Ferlingetti, Jazz, Jacky Jack, Hemmingway, Zimmerman, Steinbach, Kerouac, Asimov, Van Ronk, Ali, Steel Bottleneck, Cottages, late night TV, Gilligans Island, John Wayne Young Tony Curtis, California, Texas, Jersey, boots, boats, planes, rivers and wheat fields, streams and railroad steam, comics and hero’s, the obvious and not so obvious, after dark and guitar strings, boardwalks, fine wine, Jon Daniel’s and wild things that all are a part of this parade. I’m taking a walk back though and grabbing parts to secure a new foundation. It’s the halfway mark, mile marker 50.
That’s what this effort, this story is to be. A stroll back through where I been, but in no order, I may write a new part and place it in. I’ll place dates where I find them and copy verbatim the words, to see if they catch the time and place I first caught them as they danced by. It’s a performance art book of words along a time line seeking a place to call home.
Good luck, please follow the bouncing ball.
All men suffer of loneliness
At one time or another
All men feel so alone
At one time or another
At one time or another
A man must be loved.
By one - or another.
The Sum of..
I wonder as I am here of things seen and done, of things taken and given, mended and broke up, twisted and straightened, strength and weakness,
Strength given and taken and mended and broke up
What equals the sums that haven’t been yet?
The ones no one sees?
What are these things no one wants to count?
Riding the twister 9/7/1983
There’s no safety net, no rubber walls to bounce on,
haywire jubilation sinks downward, stops stalwart riding the twister.
Leaving behind traces of dusty floors on floors of dust
Space has landed complete.
A proud but dark moment, history progresses, while progress is history
Shouts are in the wind as echoes are erased permanently on film to show our children how we did not listen.
How we silently preach what we sometimes practice in the beds and living rooms of America.
All hail the box of many lands, enjoy your success as it lasts
Until the explosions you show reach Americas living rooms.
Until they are seen in the bedroom window
Until we fall safely to a net balanced carefully on a rubber wall.
People wait for succeeding kings
And people wait for what tomorrow brings, and diamond rings
Do you know what this means?
An all those dreams and all them strings
Got no top or no bottom
Then when all seems forgotten
Them strings are pulled tight
And then you try with all your might………………………………
Shipwrecked in solitude
Well I been shipwrecked in solitude for too long now
My sails been ripped by the wind
Blowin straight from the north
Like a hurricane
Like a whirlwind
Like a whippin chain
Like a bowling pin
I been worn by the sand too long
Blown me down
I been raised like a flag
Then sunk like a ship
Frowned like a clown and up again.
Like a sleeping horse, like a bird with bad wings
Like a red explosion of many things
I’m still standin
I been shipwrecked in solitude
Had my sails blown in
My stowaways discovered
Been dropped by the wind, been picked up again
Rough seas ahead with a wind behind
I can make it to the next shore, without even tryin
Walkin like a ghost wind
Like army jackets and the smell of salt air
Like I don’t know when, but I know when its there
And voices don’t stop, all different tongues
And the night…oh the night
Just open space waiting to be filled
And silence hangin ‘round always bein killed
By voices, and those kids always runnin around
Like tomorrows got no end
‘cause it doesn’t y’know
Tomorrow always begins and nothin else means nothin
No, not to them, not to them
So let yourself go tonight
Today may explode, when the time is right, just let it go..
What rain is there to come?
Oh tell me so I’ll know.. Oh tell me so I’ll know…
Windows got filled by your flowerpots and the sidewalk you stare at all
Day long, all day long. Rain? What rain?
Here she comes that girl again,
Lets not ignore her tonight. let her smile around
This rubber band town
Snappin and whippin like a slingshot, but we’ll go higher
Then any other shot ‘till I fly right over the wall out of this town
No not around, no more, no more.
Dining with tails & models
“Countless times and time s again” and what is the specialty of the house tonight Madame?
“Well sir, steak and lobster tail caught right here in Wakiki, the lobster is from a preserve, you only get the tail the rest is set free, and would you like a shoebox with your meal?”
“No maem, I’ll finish it here, can I have the bean soup please? Thank you”.
And we’re off and running, and what were the circumstances surrounding the models death anyway?, Did she like to read late at night?
Miles to Go 1996 (From the Album “Rudy’s Thread 1997 by Ronnie Brandt)
I’m Free to Ramble well I’m free to roam I’m miles out here far from my home
Got a restless heart, and a troubled soul
I got miles behind me miles to go
I Know a good man, he can’t find a job,
His families prayin’ its getting mighty tough
Hard road to travel tough roe to hoe
He got miles behind him miles to go
We grow enough food here to feed the whole world,
Why’s there a hungry child anywhere That still can’t fond a meal?
Something’s wrong here, hey don’t ya know ?
We got miles behind us, miles to go
Got to get on back to our same old used to be
Before we move to far ahead and just can’t see
It ain’t no big deal really ain’t no kinda mystery
Its al right there for us to find..
We all search for love, pray for peace,
Look for purpose, it hangs just out of reach,
We all gonna reap exactly what we sow
We got miles behind us Miles to go, We got miles behind us Miles to go
And the score is set
The tables are cleared
And the dancers come in and begin the show
And the curtain is raised the music begins
Fir the first time in years he see and he knows
Knows how quick ya gotta admit
How quick ya gotta see
What returns doesn’t
Will go free
And at the end of the show
When the lights are turned off from high up above
They say goodnight and walk out of the club
The night is done..or just begun
Whatever it is, its never the same
Whatever it is, its callin my name.
July 7, 2000 from the street s of Washington D.C.
Roads still traveled ,sketchy visions of the nations capitol – clean and brilliant, trees thick, the road closed, steps almost drunken and stumbled – over through the sea – Iwo Jima and Lincoln resting majestically in the eternal seat, a flame flickers.
Memory and description, still stumblin’ etched in stone are the names along the mall are echos
The city breathes and shadows are everywhere – 2 million feet marched – a dream becomes real, yet still. Just an echo.
Cheering crowds and songs of freedom cling to these walls- The reflection screams back at us as we glide through the streets – the still July night breathes steady,
We have not left you
For we never really arrived
Our voices still cut through the still air, our eyes still see
Our ears still hear the cries
Let freedom ring
The bell tomes as though padded like a piano key, lying before the great dome the American dream still sings, while the voices of our fathers,
Still echo –
Out of the tunnels of commerce into the fields of green marshes. Of what value do they place upon me?
Of what consequence should it matter?
When will I learn?
Have I bitten off more than I can chew?
Must find a steady bead and draw upon it and yield at no time.
A moment to thank a selfish muse.
Consider myself insanely lucky, certainly have deep lows like everyone, regrets more than a few. Music has saved my life, figuratively, actually, completely. That statement is not made lightly. If not for a gypsy song and the neon lights, nowhere is where my boots would stand.
I meet & know people of all walks of life, the only happy ones I know in their heart of hearts are those that follow their passion and don’t get lost in the web of others approvals and dissent.
There’s road maps of empty treasure at every turn. There are boundless riches in the out of tune songs , broken words, after hours shot glasses and back room secrets & jokes. An empty room, stairs and a table of friends sharing laughter and adventure. That is where the true treasure lies. In the songs and tales old souls gathered at a table and exposed under floodlights between each shadow. That’s where I live these days.
Years lost in the rat race choir where there was no voice, no sound, no vision to pull or sing for, dreams abandoned, so it was. Then the old grey cat creeping down the hall, where the hells that ticking noise coming from? Then she appears and calls me in, that selfish muse, That bitch doesn’t want me anymore than I do her, I coulda walked away.. ( yeah right)
Then you make a deal, you know the cost, take a shot, put down the glass .. keep to the trail and watch the sun rise more times than watch it set. all I can do is continue on.. and pick up that God damn guitar. Yep, I’m lucky.