Archive for the ‘Bad news’ Category

R.I.P, Jerry Jeff Walker

October 24, 2020

Scamp Walker has left the building.

Jerry Jeff finally got off of that L.A. freeway. But he had to get killed to do ’er.

“L.A. Freeway” wasn’t one of his songs. That was a Guy Clark number, like “Desperados Waiting for a Train.” Likewise, a lot of the songs I remember him for came from other musicians. “London Homesick Blues” (Gary P. Nunn). “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother” (Ray Wylie Hubbard). “Jaded Lover” (Chuck Pyle). “Night Rider’s Lament” (Michael Burton). And “Railroad Lady” (co-written with Jimmy Buffett). Etc.

“Mr. Bojangles” was the first actual Jerry Jeff tune I heard, by far his most famous, and I heard it from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

I got to say howdy to Jerry Jeff, briefly, at the Dirt Band’s 20th anniversary bash at Denver’s McNichols Arena, the same show where I met John Prine. Jerry Jeff was off the sauce then, or so we heard, and not at all the same fella who was so hammered he nearly fell off the stage during a concert years earlier in Greeley, when I was still pretending to go to college.

For my money, Roy Blount Jr. wrote the definitive Jerry Jeff story (The Early Years Edition).  Here’s a sample:

Not long ago Jerry Jeff telephoned my home in Massachusetts to report that he would be appearing in nearby Hartford the next weekend. My wife and I were out; our friend Rose took the message. “Where exactly in Hartford are you going to be?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” said Jerry Jeff. “Where exactly am I now?”

You get the picture. Religions have been founded on less. And Jerry Jeff was certainly one of our “high” priests Back in the Day®, with the live album “¡Viva Terlingua!” (recorded with The Lost Gonzo Band) containing most of the hymns. “Ridin’ High” was a close second.

Throat cancer nearly did for him a couple years ago. He managed to churn out another album (“It’s About Time”), but recently his voice went, and soon Jerry Jeff followed it, wherever it went. Peace to him, his family and friends, and his fans. Let’s sing him out with “Mr. Bojangles,” from the Dirt Band’s 50th anniversary show.

R.I.P., Garrett Lai

October 2, 2020

Sad news: Garrett Lai, one of the cycling journos, has gone west.

Garrett was running Bicycle Guide back when I was a minor cog in the VeloMachine, and from time to time we’d bump into each other, exchange compliments, usually at Interbike.

I can’t claim to have known him well, but I knew for sure that he was a top-shelf scribe with a finely honed personal style. And his curiosity, enthusiasm, and expertise were not limited to the bike world.

Once or twice we talked about doing some work together, but this never came to pass, more’s the pity.

Patrick Brady, who did know Garrett well, has a remembrance at his new operation, The Cycling Independent.

Peace to Garrett, and to those who knew and loved him. He left us far too soon.

R.I.P., Ruth Bader Ginsburg

September 18, 2020

This is a real blow, perhaps worse than Election Night 2016.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg did her best. Beat cancer twice, a blocked artery once.

Amy Howe at Scotusblog looks back at the career of “a reserved and relatively unknown court of appeals judge [who] became an improbable pop-culture icon, inspiring everything from an Oscar-nominated documentary film to her own action figure.”

She hung on as long as she could. It wasn’t long enough, but that’s not her fault. Peace to her, and to those who knew and loved her.

Sick and tired

July 2, 2020

The governor is not amused.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham didn’t bring the BFH* yesterday. But she pointed to the drawer where she keeps it and said, “A lot of y’all lookin’ like nails to me.”

No real surprises there. New Mexicans are acting like The Bug® has had its ass kicked. Nope. The caseload is rising, the numbers are even worse in a couple of neighboring states, and any further tiptoeing toward what passes for normalcy around here has been put on hold.

This is bad news for Herself the Elder, who would like to see some relaxation of restrictions on assisted-living centers. She’d enjoy an in-house sitdown with Herself, or maybe a short outing for some shrimp fried rice, that sort of thing.

Nope again. Not this week. Not as long as New Mexicans insist on wandering around in clusters with their faces hanging out, acting like preschoolers who won’t eat their vegetables.

The gov’ is sympathetic, to a degree. She sez to us she sez: “We do have isolation and COVID-19 fatigue. Everybody wants this to just go away.”

And despite all evidence to the contrary, she said she remains “cautiously optimistic … assuming people wear their masks and limit their traveling around in their communities. Let’s do this together.”

But she kept glancing at that drawer.

* That would be the Bravo Foxtrot Hotel, a.k.a. the Big Fucking Hammer.

Assault by battery

May 19, 2020

Guess which one starts?

Today was grocery day. I was armed with a rather extensive shopping list, my last trip having been a short one to the Wholeazon Amafoods to collect a few delicacies for our 30th anniversary dinner.

That list got edited more than somewhat when I slid behind the wheel of the Fearsome Furster, turned the key, and … bupkis.

Not a slow crank. Nary a whir, click, or grind. Fuck-all, is what. Dead silence.

The trusty Wald basket shifts easily from bike to scooter. I use toe straps to cinch it down.

Like the rest of us, ol’ Sue Baroo has been enjoying some extended downtime in the Year of the Plague. She gets out about every two weeks for a grocery run.

But our last voyage was just a week ago, so I can only assume I managed to trigger some pain-in-the-ass interior light that failed to catch my eye. The battery is fairly new. Newer than the car, anyway.

But plenty of things are. This beast dates back to the last dipshit fool we had in the White House.

“Well, hell,” sez I. “What else we got in this garage here?”

Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s Bike Month. I should’ve manned up and turned one of the touring bikes into a grocery cart. It’s not as though we lack for racks and sacks around here.

But I took the easy way out. Pulled the Wald basket off the Soma Double Cross, strapped it to the rear rack on the Vespa, and putt-putted over to the Sprouts with a messenger bag slung over one shoulder.

The lack of cargo capacity means no buttermilk biscuits for breakfast. But we all have our crosses to bear, amirite?

Bingo!

May 13, 2020

“Learn Big Numbers as you Play.” Or not.

Thomas B. Edsall at The New York Times cranks out another keeper about the unholy combination of church and casino that is the Il Douche re-election campaign.

This dude alone is worth the price of a subscription to Mother Times. He throws a wide loop and brings ’em back alive.

A Democratic tech strategist describes the campaign website as a casino, “purposefully built to keep gamblers inside and at the table … trapping people inside an ecosystem of dangerous misinformation, conspiracy theories, and grievance politics. And it’s doing so while making the experience as fun and exciting as possible.”

In the nation’s “political churches,” meanwhile, a survey of hymn-singing white Protestants finds “clergy speech is driving up the religious significance” of Il Douche. In short, a strong plurality of respondents believe this gibbering gobshite was anointed by the Lord to be our Leader.

While elite “right wing media are having a profound effect on public opinion, serving to insulate Trump supporters,” the authors write, the process is also “built and sustained from the bottom up. That is, political churches, among Republicans especially, reinforce the argumentation that is also coming from above.”

I consider this another solid argument for taxing churches. Uncle Sugar gets a cut of what I earn for preaching my gospel. You want to play too, padre? Ante up, sucker, the pot’s light again.

R.I.P., Mort Drucker

April 9, 2020

Mort Drucker at work.

Another of Mad magazine’s “usual gang of idiots” has shuffled off.

Mort Drucker made it to 91 before the Source called his name. And damn, was he ever good.

You know you’re good when Will “The Spirit” Eisner gives you your first recommendation.

Also, when the lawyers send you cease-and-desist orders without consulting the boss first. Quoth The New York Times:

According to [Grady] Hendrix, Mad’s 1981 parody of “The Empire Strikes Back,” “The Empire Strikes Out,” prompted the Lucasfilm legal department to send a cease-and-desist letter demanding that the issue be recalled. “Mad replied by sending a copy of another letter they had received the previous month — from George Lucas, offering to buy the original artwork for the ‘Empire’ parody and comparing Mort Drucker to Leonardo da Vinci.”

Mr. Lucas knew Mr. Drucker’s work well. He had commissioned one of Mr. Drucker’s classic multicharacter pileups as the poster for his first hit, “American Graffiti” — a nostalgic movie set in the same summer “The JFK Coloring Book” was a best seller. And, of course, Mr. Drucker had illustrated Mad’s sendup, “American Confetti.”

I bet John Prine is offering him a vodka and ginger ale for a caricature right now.

Comrade Eeyore stands down

April 8, 2020

Adios, muchacho, compañero de me vida. …

Well, that, as they say, is that. Comrade Eeyore is hanging up his hammer and sickle.

Quick, somebody tell me why I should be thrilled that Daffy Uncle Joe is going to be our nominee.

As The New York Times notes: “Mr. Sanders, 78, leaves the campaign having almost single-handedly moved the Democratic Party to the left. … But Mr. Sanders stirred deep unease among party leaders, and as he ascended to the top of the field in February, establishment Democrats scrambled to block his path, convinced his far-reaching proposals would alienate great swaths of the electorate and make him an easy target for Mr. Trump.”

Thank God for that, eh? Because the party leaders and establishment Democrats got it so right the last time around.

Bugged

March 11, 2020

Hel-lo, sailor!

Well, there goes the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, what in the actual fuck?

R.I.P., Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein

March 6, 2020

His Excellency has gone west.

Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment), stood his final watch yesterday.

The old soldier was stricken suddenly and definitively, but the medics did their best to keep him here with us. In the end, we chose to let him go, and a fine strong wind arose in the evening to bear his spirit west.

The young Turk, playing with his absurdly huge, pink, bunny feet.

The Turk came to us in the traditional manner (“Hey, want a kitten?”), but with a twist. We’d only ever had girl cats, and back in April 2007, we simply assumed he was a she. Nope. The difference manifested itself in late May.

And he proved a wild boy. Rubber bands, paper bags, cardboard boxes, computer keyboards and the legs leading upward to them … nothing and no one was safe from Mighty Whitey, the Blue-Eyed Bully of Bibleburg.

This included our other cat, Ike, a.k.a. Chairman Meow, who was not exactly overjoyed to find The Great Leap Forward shaking the foundations of her People’s Republic of Oz.

Ike had come up the hard way, from the mean streets of Wetmore, Colorado, to the wilds of Weirdcliffe, where she survived a coyote attack that left her looking like she’d been shot at and hit, and then shit at and hit again. Life in Bibleburg was easy-breezy. All the predators worked for the government. Surely she could survive this latest assault on her person and dignity.

But in addition to her battle scars, Ike also had an enlarged heart we didn’t know about, and it abruptly did for her in October 2007, when the Turk was just eight months old.

“I hope we never die.”

In our grief, we immediately acquired another cat. Miss Mia Sopaipilla came complete with her own medical history (feline upper-respiratory disorder), but once she’d beaten that back we were all one big, happy family.

People without children probably attach outsized importance to their pets. As a teenager I used to enjoy a good heehaw at a neighbor couple who referred to their portly dachshund as their “child.” But I came to appreciate their perspective over the years spent with my own animals. Jojo, Fuerte, Bandit, Ike, Tina, Turk, Mia, and Mister Boo weren’t blood kin, but they damn sure were family.

It was funny. I chose Mia from the congregation of cats at the shelter, but Mia selected Herself as her personal servant. Herself brought Turkish home, but he attached himself to me, probably because I was the dude with the lap who was home all the time, knew where the cat food was, and could operate doorknobs.

Before Turkish came along, I’d never seen a cat like him, and suddenly I was seeing two of him.

Because the Turk’s outsized personality could not be contained by four walls and a roof. And so he was an inside-outside cat for a while. He climbed apple, apricot and maple trees, earning a new moniker (“The Rare and Wonderful Albino Tree Weasel”); scaled the garage to strike a Peter O’Tooleish “Lion in Winter” pose; and even brought home a dopplegänger once. Swear to God, the two cats were identical save for the eyes. Turk’s were a striking blue that made Paul Newman’s peepers look like pissholes in a snowbank.

His vertical leap was marvelous, so much so that a neighbor had to relocate her bird feeder because despite the tall fence separating our yards, it had suddenly become a cat feeder. Whoever said “white guys can’t jump” never saw the Turk grabbing some sky.

But after the big fella came home with an expensive war wound, that was the end of that. He and Mia still went out, but only on harnesses, and under strict supervision.

All I ask is a tall sink and a window to steer her by.

That was OK, kinda, sorta. The house in Bibleburg had a ton of windows, and Turk came to appreciate a relaxing sprawl on the back of the couch, or atop my drawing board, where he could keep an eye on the street.

The long kitchen window was another favorite spot; from there, he could spy on the neighbors, Marv and Judy, and enjoy an occasional drink from the faucet, his favorite source of refreshment. Now and then he’d simply curl up in the sink. Turkish Vans are famous leapers and swimmers, and ours certainly had the family affinity for both.

Turkish working on his tan

Once the Turk was no longer at liberty to roam as he pleased, he settled for watching what we called DoorVision®.

The downside of becoming an indoor cat? Weight gain. His Anatolian ancestors may have been champion open-water swimmers and high jumpers, but our big, big boy developed into an all-American couch potato. It was a struggle to keep him under 15 pounds (Mia, a smaller, more active cat, weighs 11).

When we moved to the Duke City in 2014, the big galoot started giving hints that he would not be what Herself calls “a 20-year-cat.”

He developed arthritis and some muscle loss in his once-powerful hindquarters, which made it tough for him to get to his beloved sinks and windows. Happily, his new digs had two sets of sliding glass doors, so he could still inspect the perimeter from ground level.

Chronic constipation reared its ugly head, but was brought under control with a light dose of stool softener. Then, like Mister Boo before him, Turkish developed bladder stones, which happily required only a change in diet rather than surgery.

Also like The Boo, The Turk had a profound lack of faith in the medical-industrial complex. And he was not shy about airing his opinions on the topic. One was inclined to pay close attention to these diatribes, because a pissed-off 15-pound cat with teeth like a young Dracula and paws like tennis balls studded with X-acto knives is not something you want to turn your back on.

Waiting for a snuggle.

If the Turk occasionally got a cursory once-over during a regular checkup, it was because the vet didn’t want to have him sedated by a robot orderly just to be able to sneak into the exam room. Also, it’s hard to practice medicine in body armor.

It’s a pity that his doctors never got to see his softer side. True, the voices in his head were not all friendlies; more than a few of them came from outside the wire. And he had been known to actually bite the hand that fed him.

But he relished a short snuggle in the bed nearly every morning and evening. And he loved performing his dance cycle, The Roll of the Happy Cat, on some sunny spot on the brick pavers.

So why should yesterday have been any different? But it was.

The day began with rolls and happy cat and breakfast and ended with an injection in emergency care, after an operation to remove an unidentified mass from the Turk’s spleen. It had ruptured. There was internal bleeding. Kidney failure. Part of his pancreas had to go, too. He crashed three times, the last time as we discussed heroic measures and likely outcomes. Brain damage. Cancer. Diabetes. Dialysis. Pancreatitis.

We said, “Enough.” We said our goodbyes. And we went home without my friend, my comrade, my big, big boy.

In the night, I went to a place where the Turk lounges in a backyard tree, drinks from a faucet, and performs the Roll of the Happy Cat in a perpetually sunny spot. The breakfasts are large and endless and nobody gets fat. Snuggles come with.

But they wouldn’t let me stay. And I woke up crying.