A year and two weeks ago, I wrote Snow in Austin, Winter in America, based on a powerful song by Gil Scott-Heron. I think that post is some of my best work, not necessarily prize-winning, but in trying to capture a mood. (You should go read it now. I’ll wait.) The street poet, progenitor of rap, musician, and author was a voice of conscience regarding the state of Black people in America, among other things. He could also lay down some serious grooves to go with his strong words; Winter in America is in a minor key and has a great blues flute solo. I wrote that post right before coronavirus began its whirlwind tour of the US — just before it went viral. (Ha!) It was a few months before the modern-day lynching of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. (Not ha.) Scott-Heron died on May 27, 2011, a decade ago later this year. What would he have to say about Floyd’s killer, Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin still being out on bail awaiting trial and maybe even getting some justice for George (yeah, we’ll see about that)? Time marches on. But as Sting once sang,“History will teach us nothing.” The prophetic music and lyrics of Scott-Heron and others like him (Marvin Gaye comes to mind) are relevant — still. Maybe in GSH’s poetry we can find a little solace in these cold and dark days. Or maybe we’ll get pissed and take action somehow. It is Black History Month, but is there more to it than history?Continue reading
The idea of reviewing books about bicycling has been in the back of my brain for a bunch of blogs. But I have Milly Schmidt from Australia (The Cat’s Write) and Shalini from India (Books, Reviews et al. by Shalini) to thank for reminding me that writing in different genres is perfectly acceptable (despite what some pro bloggers may say) and that reviewing books is a good thing to do for aspiring writers. I’ve just finished award-winning Walter’s Mosley’s Charcoal Joe: An Easy Rawlins Mystery, so don’t be blue. Without further ado, here is A Dude Abikes’ review. For you. It’s true! And brand new. Continue reading
The Downsides of Country Livin’
- Solitude is nice — unless you’ve caught the cabin on fire, a coyote is making a meal of your leg, or you’re out of salsa.
- Well water, especially the hot stuff, literally smells like rotten eggs, because it has sulfur in it.
- You can’t find your own ass after dark without a flashlight. Some scenes from the classic 1974 horror movie Texas Chainsaw Massacre were filmed not 10 miles from here. See the dark picture up there? Spooky. ‘Nuff said!
- Save for that one time the neighbors showed up on their daily walk and I was dead asleep in a nap, the roar of airplanes, the howling of coyotes, the very loud rain on the tin roof, and even louder electric or fire hazard gas heaters, it’s really mellow and safe out here.
- Speaking of heaters, it’s cold or hot until you turn something on. So peeing in a bucket at night is what you do to avoid a chilly trip to the bathroom.
- Tonight I couldn’t find a plug for a light in the dark, and hit my forehead on a shelf I forgot was there. Then I tepped off the raised floor in the living room and nearly fell over. Still couldn’t find a light. Stumbled into the bedroom. Cabins!
- The road is gravel, dirt, clay and mud — bad for cars and horrible for bikes. It’s getting really boring walking back and forth.
- You can literally be up the creek. Because of the steep incline, you could be trapped here in a gullywasher. (That’s the scientific term in Texan for flash flood.)
- The paved road to get in has no shoulder but does have hairpin turns, crazy hills, and speeders, drunks, or speeding drunks. Not fun for cycling although people do it. You gotta have a car out here and once you’re on the highway, it’s always a drive and rush hour is a big hot mess.
- The neighbors are all polite so far, and a few are model citizens who help with the dog or house, or give a city boy advice. But some are pretty private or their dogs don’t play well with others. I’m also still waiting on that first home-made pie. Like Waiting for Godot, I imagine.
- Coyotes, bobcats and snakes, oh my! Haven’t seen any of them, have heard the wild dogs, but I did see a mouse in the house.
The Upsides of Livin’ in the Country
- Things and time do move more slowly. I’m good with that!
- Peeing outside is pretty cool, especially if you’re a dude.
- Nobody cares if you’re nekkid. Elaine on Seinfeld is still right though, “Naked is not a good look for a man.”
- Peace and quiet, very little traffic noise. Nothing compared to where I stay in the city with its garbage trucks waking you up at 7 am, cop/fire/EMS sirens and Jehovah’s witness.
- All the comforts of home, heat, wi-fi, running water, electricity, but none of the pollution.
You don’t need to lock the doors; if there’s crime I haven’t heard about it.
- Being surrounded by the natural world of trees, dirt, birds, and wildlife is how we’re supposed to live.
- “The stars at night / are big and bright / [clap clap clap clap] / deep in the heart of Texas.” (It’s the fight song of the University of Texas Longhorn sports teams.)
- Compost right in the garden, or anywhere.
- There’s a lot less to distract you so you tend to do more walking, thinking, resting and reading, and a lot less stress eating, tv-watching, or going on wasted trips to fast food or convenience stores.
- Buddy the dog may be the happiest dog around and he’s what his owner called strong medicine. I need my Buddy prescription refilled please, doctor!
I could go on but I think you get the point: I really like the number 11. (Well, it’s true, I do! Because one plus one makes two!) But seriously, it’s different, but it’s still life.
- No biking, still too cold and wet, and I wimped out on a trainer ride, using how it bothers the dog as a reason/excuse. That means tomorrow I’ll have to do SOMETHING.
- Mosley’s book is really good; I feel like I know the characters and they have something to say about the time and place — black people in Los Angeles in the late 1950’s. I didn’t consciously check this book out of the library because he’s an African-American author and it’s Black History Month (yes, the shortest one, but perhaps the most powerful becauese of that!), but it’s interesting timing along with just seeing the reception of the movie Black Panther.
- There has been conversation about it serving as a real role model for young kids of color who usually don’t have a super hero who looks like them on the big silver screen. I’m also in touch with a Kenyan blogger, Twalha Fakhi, who lives in Kenya. I’ve really enjoyed a few of her posts and her nice comments about mine. Go check out her blog, Cafe ave Twali!
- Speaking of Kenya, the movie, and Africans and African-Americans, here’s a link to an interesting Washington Post interview with Larry Madowo by Karen Attiah, Global Opinions Editor. He’s a Kenyan journalist and broadcaster.
- Cleaner diet, higher energy and better sleep, plus catching some TV shows and movies, and of course bicycling are things still not happening as much as I’d like.
- Walking, yoga, work searching and networking, reading, blogging and engaging with other bloggers, plus typing for a friend — all these things are happening. As a Libra, I’m always searching for balance. Soon, having to work will probably wipe out alot of my extracurricular activities. Such is life. C’est la vie. Asi es la vida.
- Or, to quote Austin-area resident, Lincoln talks-to-himself spokesmodel and Oscar-winner Matthew McConaghey: “Just keep livin’.”
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