Birthday card from a Mad Dog in Albuquerque*

The last leaf on the tree. Well, not really;
we had to make life imitate art a little bit here.

A happy 71st birthday to Tom Waits. This particular autumn is taking a whole lot of leaves; I hope it won’t take him.

* For anyone who isn’t a Tom Waits fan — could such a person exist? — the headline riffs on the title to his song “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis,” from the album “Blue Valentine.”

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12 Responses to “Birthday card from a Mad Dog in Albuquerque*”

  1. katholoch Says:

    Ah, Tom Waits. I was lucky enough as a high-schooler to see Tom Waits play in the backroom at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in LA. I still remember seeing him walk by us as we waited in line to get in and thinking, “Who is that cool cat?” and then realizing it was him.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      My buddies and I saw him a couple times, once at Red Rocks (!), where he was subbing for the absent warmup act for the Eagles. The next time was in Denver proper, at a suburban movie theater repurposed as a music venue.

      That was cool. He did “Step Right Up,” using an old brass cash register as a percussion instrument. The man does not lack for imagination.

    • SAO' Says:

      Need everyone’s opinion:
      “ i’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.”

      Scripted? Or did he think that up on the spot?

      Go to the 50 second mark, Waits with Martin Mull on Fernwood 2 Night.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        My guess is that like me, Tomás is a pack rat. Acquires and stores oddball sayings and trots them out as necessary. I’ve heard that one elsewhere as “I’d rather have a free bottle in front of me than a prefrontal lobotomy.”

        That said, dude is quick on the draw with the weirdness, and not all of it came from outside his skull. Dig the wit and wisdom.

        Here’s a real good one:

        “I’ve always been afraid I was going to tap the world on the shoulder for 20 years and when it finally turned around, I was going to forget what I had to say.”

  2. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Where would a Mad Dog be without Waits and Zappa? Mr. Waits and I are the same age.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      The bit he did as a bushwhacked miner in the Coen brothers’ “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” gave us a new line for whenever one of us stubs a toe or bangs a thumb: “It didn’t hit nothin’ important!”

      • Tony Geller Says:

        Tom Waits and Buster Scruggs. Two of the best. It just so happens I’ve been listening to the Blue Valentine album lately and recently saw Buster Scruggs. I can’t get either out of my mind. The last segment of Buster Scruggs haunts me. In addition to everything else about it, it’s a master class in acting in a small space.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        So many keepers on “Blue Valentine,” which I first bought in vinyl back in 1980, in Tucson. I’ve had it in cassette, CD, and iTunes since.

        There’s “Christmas Card,” but also “Romeo Is Bleeding,” “Wrong Side of the Road,” “Whistlin’ Past the Graveyard,” and my personal fave, “$29.00,” which is a fine song to jam along with on flute.

    • DownhillBill Says:

      You, me, Richard Gere, and Bruce Springsteen (no, I’m not believing his hair). It was a good year. I remember when Whoopi Goldberg’s bio listed her as being our age, but every time I look she’s gotten younger. Privilege of being a lady, I guess.

  3. khal spencer Says:


  4. Herb from Michigan Says:

    When I was a guide on kayak trips we had a code phase to let the other guides know we had a dumb ass in our group who was sure to tip over and go for an unexpected swim cause he (always was a guy) didn’t pay any attention to our preamble instructions. Our split up groups would meet up for lunch and you’d hear one guide to the others declare “Small Change got rained on by his own 38”. It was easy to spot Small Change among the other paddlers. He’d be missing his hat and sunglasses which were now at the bottom of the lake or river.

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