Resurrection

January 29, 2023

Desert Oracle, Vol. 1. May there be many, many more.

Weirdos and those who love them, rejoice: Ken Layne says he’s reviving his Desert Oracle quarterly, which many of us thought had died and was buried without ceremony somewhere in the desert, like Cactus Ed Abbey.

I bought and enjoyed the first book, a collection, compendium, companion, whatevs. And I help underwrite Desert Oracle Radio, the only audio project I support, though I subscribe to a wide range of virtual and actual magazines.

My next step along this twisted trail is probably subscribing to the quarterly. In for a penny, in for a pound, as the fella says.

In his “An Ode to ‘Desert Oracle'” in Alta Journal, Layne cuts straight to the heart of the beast:

Publishing a little magazine is attractive to exactly one kind of person: a writer who doesn’t want to work for somebody else’s magazine.

My old Pueblo Chieftain bro’ Hal Walter, who didn’t want to work for somebody else’s newspaper anymore, did something similar with Mountain Athlete, which lasted about six or seven years back in the late Eighties and into the early Nineties. Denver Post columnist Ed Quillen did likewise with Colorado Central, which has outlived him.

I contributed to both efforts in small ways, once loaning Ed one of my trucks so he could make it to a speaking engagement.

“Now remember, Ed, you can’t smoke in my truck,” I told him before he motored off. The trip took him about twice as long as it would have taken me because I wouldn’t have stopped and climbed out to burn one at every other mile marker.

But the closest I ever came to “publishing a little magazine” is this comosellama you’re looking at right now. The deadlines are flexible and the audience tolerant, and I can bear the small expense without having to sell a few bikes or vintage Macs.

Not adding books, podcasts, and road shows to the to-do list helps, of course. Saves trees, eardrums, and gasoline, too.

Besides, someone’s got to rustle up the grub around here. There are only so many hours in the day.

A matter of degrees

January 26, 2023

Bare trees, gray light. Oh, yeah, it was a cold night.

We’re still in the freezer section here in The Duck! City.

The thermometer has been pegged at 13° since I got up way too early this morning because I was feeling chilly even in the bed, which Miss Mia Sopaipilla appropriated after I had adjusted the thermostat (and provided her a couple helpings of kibble, a tuna-water ice cube, and a soupçon of butter from my morning toast).

“I’d like my meals delivered, please.
As in ‘now.'”

Of course, 13° ain’t shit to you stolid Midwesterners, Canucks, and other polar explorers. And my man Hal reports minus-11° this morning at his compound in our old stomping grounds of Crusty County, which makes me miss the place not at all, not one itty-bitty bit.

I remember stuffing chunks of cedar, oak, and aspen into our Weirdcliffe woodstove like a Vegas bluehair shoving nickels into a one-armed bandit. But Hal can’t even do that, because his stove is on the DL.

Thus he burns propane and electricity like a city feller while he awaits parts for his wood-burner, a Drolet Outback Chef, some Quebecer deal with an Eyetalian overlay.

I don’t suppose Hal will pass the time by reading the continuing adventures of The Count of Mar-a-Lago, now available on Twatter and Buttface. But he does have a perverse streak. How many people do you know who cook their meals on a woodstove in the the Year of our Lard 2023?

Blowin’ in the wind

January 23, 2023

The wind is shrieking like a House Repuglican
whose Koch Brothers rent check got lost in the mail.

God is running His leaf blower today, and my back yard sports more needles than the alleys around Pennsylvania and Central.

Speaking of the mean streets of The Duck! City, a couple state legislators did a photo op over the weekend, kipping in a tent at 4th and Marble to draw attention to homelessness.

A few of our local TV stations took the bait, because they are local TV stations. And while some might take offense that one story was peppered with ads from Vrbo, Hotels.com, and Expedia.com, I doubt that many of the unhoused were browsing the ’Net from their cardboard condos. No harm, no foul.

The legislators would not have enjoyed street life today, though I hear Oz is lovely this time of year, and Emerald City Airlines rarely loses your tent.

Meanwhile, there’s an air-quality alert in place until noon tomorrow, and anyone who likes their air regular instead of extra-crispy is advised to hold their breath until then.

Symphony for Voices in the Head

January 20, 2023

And a-one, and a-two. …

Maybe it’s time for a stroll down Musical Memory Lane.

What/who were you listening to while growing up, or at least older?

My folks were into the big bands, so we had Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman and the like blaring out of the stereo whenever they were in the mood (ho ho ho).

I liked that just fine, and still do. But we all chart our own musical courses, and mine led into some very different waters.

The Beatles hit “The Ed Sullivan Show” in February 1964, and while my sister was wowed, I snorted and thought, “These guys will never be as big as Elvis.”  This was the first installment in our “I Will Never Be Smart” series, which continues 59 years later.

I eventually got into the Fab Four, like everyone else, but early on I leaned toward the Animals, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, The Byrds, the Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, The Sir Douglas Quintet and just about any act coming out of Motown — the Temptations, the Four Tops, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.

This goes to show the power of TV and AM radio in the mid-Sixties. Randolph AFB, Texas, was not exactly a multicultural paradise. To be blunt, it was light on Brits, Blacks, and surfers. But Ed Sullivan, Dick Clark, and AM radio helped us find them anyway.

If AM was the gateway drug, FM was the hard stuff. When we got transferred to Bibleburg in 1967 I discovered KKFM, and later KILO; the family console stereo had an FM receiver built in, and so did my mother’s 1962 Mercedes-Benz 220S.

So shit got loud, is what. Led Zeppelin. Black Sabbath. Iron Butterfly. Steppenwolf.

But along about the same time I was stumbling across Bob Dylan and Arlo Guthrie, David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix, Sly & the Family Stone and Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd and Moody Blues, Cream, Traffic and Mountain. Then it was The Allman Brothers and Elton John, Leon Russell and Santana. The Stones were still hanging in there, but the Beatles were off the back.

There was a long stretch of country-hippie during my second tour in college — Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Flying Burrito Brothers, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Charlie Daniels Band, Jimmy Buffett, Jerry Jeff Walker, etc. — which made about as much sense as soul and surf, as I was a middle-class white boy from the ’burbs.

John Prine, Emmylou Harris and Bonnie Raitt made the cut too, for obvious reasons. And the shapeshifting outfit George Carlin once called “Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Merrill, Lynch, Fenner, Pierce, Sacco & Vanzetti” was always warbling in the patchouli background wherever dope was smoked.

Tom Waits stumbled into my playlist somehow, after the Eagles covered his “Ol’ 55.” Los Lobos, too, possibly because I was running around with a crew of San Luis Valley vatos. Where Parliament-Funkadelic came from I have no idea, but suddenly they were there and they stayed and wasn’t nothin’ we could do but put a glide in our stride and a dip in our hip and head on up to the Mothership.

Rockers like ZZ Top and Bob Seger proved invaluable for road trips, which I undertook regularly, being indifferent to long-term employment.

I tiptoed into jazz via the back door — fusion combos like Crusaders and Return to Forever, and smooth-jazz dudes like Grover Washington Jr., Stanley Turrentine, and George Benson — and kept one ear tuned to classical because I had played piano and flute as a sprout.

This was a breeze, thanks to NPR. In Corvallis I could pick up three different NPR affiliates, each with its own specialty — jazz, classical, and whatever. Samey same in Bibleburg, with its excellent stations KRCC and KCME, and Denver with KUVO and KVOD.

I was late to punk, which may explain the Green Day discs in my collection. The Cars, Stray Cats, and Brian Setzer Orchestra are in there too, as are Stevie Ray Vaughan, James McMurtry, Planxty, Elvis Costello, Miles Davis, Steve Earle, The Pogues, Warren Zevon, Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Frank Zappa, Lyle Lovett, The Bueva Vista Social Club, Dire Straits, and Half Man Half Biscuit.

Good God awmighty. Each of the voices in my head likes a different kind of music! No wonder they’re arguing all the damn’ time.

Sun’s out, guns out

January 19, 2023

Looks cold up there. Let’s stay down here.

The weather turned a wee bit brisk this week. January can be that way, even in The Duck! City, with hired assassins throwing hot lead at decent people’s houses.

When we’re talking 30-something with wind and gloom outside, I’ll stay inside, or lace up the running shoes and go pound ground for a while. A short while. I’m not training for anything other than staying above the auld sod a while longer.

I’ve gone running twice this week, and stayed indoors once. But today the sun was out. Just 35 degrees, to be sure, but still; big yellow ball in sky. Which it apparently will not be tomorrow. Cloudy, cold, windy, 50 percent chance of snow, yadda yadda yadda. In other words, January.

Snow on the Crest, mud on the trails. But hey, the sun was out, and so was I.

With that in mind, I layered up, grabbed the Co-Motion, and got out there. Not for long, mind you, but I was riding a 30-pound touring bike on singletrack, so extra credit, please.

When I climbed off to take this photo some dude wearing VeloNews kit soldiered on by. I didn’t recognize him, but then I wouldn’t, having walked away from that low-speed crash back in 2016.

It took them six years and a change of ownership to stop sending me free copies of the magazine, which kept shrinking like a solo breakaway’s lead on a long, flat stage. I sold all the kit on eBay.

‘The Wisdom of Solomon’

January 17, 2023

“You have the right to remain stupid. …”

The final entry in The Duck! City trilogy that began with “Breaking Bad” and continued with “Better Call Saul” stars “This Fool” co-star Frankie Quiñones as Solomon Peña, a failed GOP candidate accused of ordering — and participating in — drive-bys on Democratic officials’ houses and offices.

Hilarity ensues. Or not.

Look for the premiere, “Don’t Recount … Reload!” on Court TV.

A Charles Pelkey live update

January 16, 2023

The GoFundMe that David Stanley set up to help our old pal Charles “Live Update Guy” Pelkey is ticking along nicely, which is more than I can say for the “classic” LUG video up above.

As of 2 p.m. Dog time the fund was at $24,410 — a tip jar that we never could’ve imagined when we were begging for nickels to run Live Update Guy. A thousand thank-yous to everyone who has contributed and/or spread the word about the fundraiser.

Now, give a listen to another old pal, Diane “The Outspoken Cyclist” Jenks, who interviewed David for the most recent episode of her long-running podcast.* You’ll get a better idea of how all this good fellowship came about.

If you haven’t joined the party, here’s a link to CP’s GoFundMe page.

* One minor correction: The cartoon of Charles that accompanies the GoFundMe news Diane and I spread around is not by Your Humble Narrator. It’s by David Brinton, a.k.a. Brintoni, who did such great work illustrating “At the Back” in VeloNews while I was up front pissing on people’s shoes.®

Snow joke

January 16, 2023

I guess we can leave the skinny skis in the garage.

Well, it must be true, if both The New York Times and The Washington Post simultaneously catch up to the sad story about Rio Verde Foothills, where dreams go to die in the dust.

It’s an old story, with the new wrinkle being Scottsdale finally putting a cork in water sales to Rio Verde, saying it had to consider its own residents first and foremost. From the WaPo:

“The city cannot be responsible for the water needs of a separate community especially given its unlimited and unregulated growth,” the city manager’s office wrote in December.

The stories share a squeaky wheel — Cody Reim, who has a wife and four kids, works for the family’s sheet-metal business, and is looking at a water bill that could surpass the tab for his mortgage, when he’s not chatting up the national press. Again, from the WaPo:

“I thought, this is the United States of America, we do so much in humanitarian aid to other countries that don’t have water, they’re not going to let taxpaying citizens of this county go without water,” he said.

“You don’t think this could happen,” he added. “You have this belief that there’s going to be help.”

I have sympathy for the Reim family. Like them, we chose to live in a sandbox — the northern edge of the Chihuahuan Desert — and our water gets humped uphill to El Rancho Pendejo via a series of pumping stations. If we paid what this liquid gold is actually worth, or had to fetch it here by bike or burro, you can bet your ass we’d use a lot less of it.

Either that or we’d move to where the water is. Yet here we are.

Deciding to build your base camp in the desert is magical thinking going toe to toe with mathematics. As John Fleck observes in his ongoing Dead Pool Diaries, decent runoff this year will not change the fact that Colorado River water is overallocated and always has been.

“It’s just arithmetic!” he says.

If God wanted us here, He would’ve stored more agua fria under the rocks and cacti. But clearly He wasn’t expecting quite so much company.

“Hey, you come to the desert to get wisdom, 40 days and nights, tops. And then you go back where you came from. You silly sods never went back.”

Son of a beach

January 15, 2023

“We are not amused.”

Miss Mia Sopaipilla is doing her Queen Victoria impression again, so you know it’s not going to be sunny and fiddy-sumpin’ today in The Duck! City.

Happily, it was sunny and fiddy-sumpin’ the past couple of days, so I was able to get out and about on a two-wheeler, in this case the Co-Motion Divide Rohloff.

My man Chris Coursey, a beach bum and journo who rose from his humble origins to become Santa Rosa’s mayor and then a Sonoma County supervisor, probably longs for the days when he had to drive to the California coast to see a few gajillion tons of water in motion.

Friday and Saturday marked my first off-road rides of 2023, and they were a nice change from running, which I will probably return to today, if I can pull myself together in time to beat the rain to the punch.

Yes, the wizards are predicting rain, and even a small chance of snow, so I guess we’re getting a little spillover from the atmospheric rivers that have been drenching the West Coast.

I’ve never had to contend with weather like that, and I hope to keep that lucky streak unbroken. It makes the occasional four-foot Colorado snowstorm look like a day at the beach with a cold sixer and a hot girl.

Happy Friday the 13th

January 13, 2023

The whole album, from 1974, is a treat. Here’s another cut. And another. And another.