Posts Tagged ‘Hal Walter’

The corral-based lifestyle

May 14, 2020

As long as we’re checking in with old compañeros, say howdy to my man Hal Walter.

Hal is Bug-bound up to Weirdcliffe, in Crusty County, Colo., where he’s helping his son finish his sophomore year in high school; trying to cobble together something approximating a living (he doesn’t call his blog “Hardscrabble Times” as a party gag); and pondering the cancellation of the marquee events on this year’s burro-racing calendar.

“You know, these are weird times,” he says in the video up top. “I’ve been in the sport of pack-burro racing for 40 years, and the idea that we wouldn’t … have a season is just unbelievable to me. The important thing, I think, is for us all to stay connected — stay connected to our animals, the earth, and the sky.”

Social distancing isn’t much of an adjustment for guys like Hal and me. We’ve been home-based scribes for hire since forever (some days it seems so, anyway). And we weren’t all that cuddly when we had reg’lar newspaper jobs. Ask anyone.

But The Bug® is out to bite us all in some tender place, no matter what we do or where we do it. The sumbitch got Hal and his burro-racing buddies right in the ass. So, like the rest of us, he’s just trying to keep himself plugged in and plugging along, putting one foot in front of the other.

You can download a free copy of Hal’s latest e-book, “American Flats,” at “Hardscrabble Times.”

Welfare check

May 11, 2020

Herself chats with her mom jailhouse style,
on the phone, through a pane of glass.

We swung by the Dark Tower yesterday, bearing gifts.

Herself the Elder had requested huevos rancheros for Mothers Day. So we ordered up the takeout from Weck’s and ran it on by.

“You’re spoiled!” exclaimed a staffer. Dern tootin’. As spoiled as one can be in an assisted-living facility under lockdown in plague time, anyway.

Ain’t nothin’ a couple sacks of mulch and a cat statue can’t fix.

Afterward we continued a ongoing backyard-cleanup project. I’m a lifelong asthmatic with a personal, portable plague of allergies, the most severe of which is to yardwork.

But the space was starting to look like a tumbledown Tinkertoy tower of rusty playground equipment, a bullet-riddled ’63 Rambler American on blocks, and a three-legged pit bull with bowel issues would actually constitute improvements.

So, yeah. Yardwork.

Up north, where the yards are 35 acres, my man Hal forwards a Colorado Public Broadcasting piece about how gig workers there — including him — are getting the runaround from the plague-jiggered unemployment system, such as it is.

“This is exactly what happened to me when I applied,” he said. “I apparently need to call there. But of course cannot get through.”

Well, you can always get through here, bub. What’s going on out there in Greater Dogpatch? Are you digging holes and filling them in again? Redistributing wealth? Fetching takeout to shut-ins? As the Year of the Plague drags on toward Memorial Day, we want to hear how our readers are getting by. Wag your tales in comments.

Hit the road, Jack

January 24, 2020

A few more days like this and the trails will look more like trails
and less like muddy creeks.

It’s hard to believe, but today’s outing was my first road ride of the new year.

Oh, sure, I’ve been riding the road, but on a cyclocross bike, or a gravel bike, and then only to get to the dirt, where the fun is.

But the trails have gotten pretty gooey lately, and with the sun peeking out and the temps inching up I’d just as soon not add my 33mm scrawl to the graffiti being carved into Mother Earth. Thus, today, the road.

In other news, my man Hal Walter is talking about pulling together another e-book with the tentative title of “American Flats,” a reference to a section of the World Championship Pack-Burro Race out of Fairplay. More as I hear it.

All stove up

November 27, 2019

The HAL 9000 unit effects repairs upon the Frigidaire 666 unit.
Photo: Hal Walter

The Retro-Grouch, Continued: Some people, and the devices they devise, can be too smart for their own good.

And more importantly, for ours.

Case in point: My man Hal up in Weirdcliffe just replaced a $200 control-board/keypad widget in his $1,500 Frigidaire oven for the third time, after being ovenless since March 29. He’s slightly over it, but consoles himself with the knowledge that had he employed the local appliance-repair dude to do the job(s), he’d be out another six hundy or so.

Next time around he may fix it for good.

“If this thing breaks down again, I will shoot it full of holes,” he said. “The backside of this fucker looks like the wiring to the starship Enterprise.”

And why is that, d’you suppose? What do we require of an oven? That it boldly go where no one has gone before? Nope. That it bake things, and roast things, and broil things, and not take eight months off per annum, amirite? What do we need for that? Heating coils, a thermostat, and knobs to make it all hop, yeah?

My old Whirlpool double-decker uses analog knobs and is about as smart as an Iowa Republican. The knob that sets the clock is missing. Happily, unlike an Iowa Republican, I know what time it is.

And unlike Hal, I never have to crawl into the backside of the fucker with a toolbox, like Scotty, with Kirk hollering into his communicator.

“Captain, I canna make ’er cook nae faster! She’s about to blow!”

When Ross was boss

November 7, 2019

Heavy metal: The Ross Mt. Rainier.

BRAIN honcho Steve Frothingham takes us on a spin down Memory Lane with a look at Ross Bicycles, then and now.

I saw my first Ross mountain bike in the mid-1980s. My man Hal Walter had one, a blue Mt. Rainier acquired from Great Divide in Pueblo, and what a beast it was. A steel burro that never needed hay.

“That was a great bike,” Hal said today via Messages. “It was almost heavy enough to get a workout.”

Oh, indeed. Ishiwata 4130 chromoly tubes, 48/39/28 Sakai crank, Suntour derailleurs, 14-34 freewheel, Dia-Compe cantis, and chromoly Bull Nose bar and stem, a heavy-metal package that tipped the scale at 31 pounds.

It encouraged me to get my own mountain bike, a 1986 Trek Antelope 830, a comparative featherweight at just 28.9 pounds. Light enough for me to throw it into an arroyo on some BLM land outside Española when it failed to climb a loose, steep pitch after several tries. Only as the bike was leaving my fingers did I recall that I would need it to get home.

Of course, this was when men were men, and so were the women, and we all rode rigid steel, with thumbshifters, rim brakes and 26-inch wheels. I will concede, however, that today’s machinery is a whole lot easier to throw when it lets you down. Which it will.

The Apple of his eye

September 10, 2019

I generally don’t pay much attention to the various Apple announcements. I’ve never been an early adopter, and in any case my basket is always pretty well full up with the old, dried-up fruit of Cupertino’s loins (see G4 AGP Graphics Power Mac, circa 1999).

But I watched today’s hoopla from the Steve Jobs Theater, because my man Hal Walter and his boy Harrison got a little screen time in a short video made to pitch the Apple Watch Series 5.

Regulars here will recall that Harrison is on the autism spectrum and uses music to help him focus while running cross country and track for the Custer County Schools. Since Harrison is an Apple Fanboi First Class, it goes without saying that it’s an Apple Watch feeding the earworms to his headphones.

Hal will have something to say about it all directly over at Hardscrabble Times. But speaking for myself, it was pretty damn’ cool to see the kid’s image splashed all over the screen behind Tim Cook after the video ended. Have a peek.

Todos mañana

May 9, 2019

Harrison Walter inspects the family’s new Maytag top-loader.
Photo: Hal Walter

“Man plans, God laughs,” says the Yiddish proverb.

Hal Walter and I had planned an International Donkey Day podcast yesterday, but technical difficulties arose — FaceTime was not cooperating on my end, the mic/earbud setup was untested on his end, and the deliverymen fetching a new clothes washer from Pueblo to Weirdcliffe were at large and incommunicado.

So we said, as one so often does in the Great American West, “Mañana.” We stole that from the Mexicans, along with much of the country hereabouts.

Well, here it is mañana and the podcast remains at large, unlike the deliverymen, who eventually turned up, though they declined to let Hal shoot his defunct Samsung front-loader before dragging it away.

The rain arrived shortly thereafter, followed by the snow, and the mud. And this morning school was canceled, which means Hal has a rambunctious 15-year-old making his own unique contributions to to the sonic environment in a house that must feel about the size of a padded cell without the padding.

Which is the long way around to saying you shouldn’t expect a podcast from us today.

Maybe mañana. ¿Que no?

Snow fun

February 24, 2019

Harrison and Hal. | Photo: Nancy Hobbs

My man Hal Walter and his boy Harrison suited up for a 10K on my old cyclocross course in Bibleburg on Saturday, but it wasn’t exactly a triumph, or even one of those father-son interactions that makes you go “Awwwwwwww. …”

Still, as Hal notes over at Hardscrabble Times: “Sometimes you ‘win.’ Sometimes you learn.”

Give it a read.

 

Fathers and sons: Going the distance

November 2, 2018

Harrison “The Blur” Walter hits the creek crossing at the 2018 Colorado cross-country championships. | Photo: Hal Walter

Kicking off his interview with John Cleese last week, Marc Maron talked briefly about being invited to play guitar alongside Slash and Jimmy Vivino while hosting a benefit show for The Blues Foundation and The Americana Music Association.

Maron plays, but not at that level, and noted afterward: “The thing I always seem to learn over and over when I am around real musicians is they have committed their lives to a magical art. I am always amazed and excited at how consistently they nail songs and take you on that journey.”

Hey, I can dig it. Now me, I’m a professional rumormonger, which is to say that I get money to mong rumors, mostly by writing, occasionally by cartooning. And after more than a few decades of practice, practice, practice, which has yet to get me to Carnegie Hall, I can mong a quick rumor with keyboard or pen at the drop of a hat full of cash.

And a very small hat it usually is, too. More of a cap, actually. The sort one might find on a pint of Jameson or a bottle of Advil.

But podcasting? It feels like typing with boxing gloves, or drawing with a banana.

So, yeah, I get it when Maron — who is a podcaster, among other things — says of his hobbyist guitar-playing: “I can show up, and I can play, but I’m gonna clunk up something … that is not my craft, that is not my art, that is not my form. …”

Which is the long way around to saying that yes, we have another episode of the distinctly unprofessional and gratuitously hobbyist Radio Free Dogpatch on tap. It is quite literally an amateur hour, and you might need the Jameson and Advil to get through it.

In this one I chat at some length (and some distance) with my old comrade Hal Walter about his son Harrison, who just wrapped his first year with the high school cross-country team.

It was an up-and-down season for the 14-year-old, and he didn’t qualify as a varsity athlete for the state championship meet, held last Saturday in Bibleburg. But as an autistic athlete it seems he was eligible to race an event for special-needs kids.

Now, Hal prefers to keep Harrison in the mainstream whenever it’s possible and practical. But Harrison had been talking all season about going to states, and while he hadn’t made the varsity cut, he did have a strong finish to the regular season.

This left his dad with a tough call to make. Give it a listen.

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with a Shure SM58 microphone and a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB audio interface plugged into a a late-2009 iMac, using Ecamm’s Call Recorder for FaceTime, which apparently will not survive Apple’s transition to macOS Mojave. I edited the audio using Apple’s GarageBand. The background music is “Matador’s Entry” from ZapSplat, and the race-day audio was stripped from a couple video clips forwarded by Hal Walter.

Bang a gong, get it on

May 2, 2018

The stars of The Pueblo Chieftain copy desk circa 1984. Two of us are still walking the earth. Guess which ones.

The news biz is a tough racket. Yeah, I know, “stop the presses.”

Up in Colorado, The Denver Post is in a bad way, thanks to the vulture capitalists who have been treating it like an ATM at a Vegas casino. They may be wiping their overfed asses with your local daily, too.

And now The Pueblo Chieftain is said to be in the midst of a sale to … well, someone. Some thing.

I worked at The Chieftain for a spell back in the early Eighties. It’s where I met my man Hal Walter, who helped me get off the cigarettes and back onto the bike — at that point, a $320 fire-engine-red Centurion Le Mans 12.

As I wrote in my journal in 1983 — you remember journals, a sort of analog blog with a readership of one — “I can’t wait to get it and start riding all over fucking town. I may take it with me during my vacation so’s I can get some exercise between drinks.”

Yeah, I still had a ways to go. But still, baby steps, amirite?

Anyway, Hal has penned a recollection of the glory days — and some observations about The Chieftain‘s future — for Colorado Central magazine. He makes mention of Your Humble Narrator, and yes, my lawyers have been informed, so you’ll want to read the piece before HBO makes a documentary of the entire sordid mess and we’re strolling along the red carpet at Cannes giving the finger to Tarantino, the Coen brothers and del Toro.

I see T.J. Miller playing me, or perhaps Rory McCann, and probably Justin Timberlake as Hal, whom we used to call “Teen Angel,” for reasons that should be obvious. I mean, just look at that fucking picture, f’chrissakes.