Meeting Moses, And Robin Too.

My autographed Charlton Heston promo from Planet Of The Apes

I’m watching Planet Of The Apes now, the original (and best one) from 1968. It’s a favorite of mine, always has been. Once a year or so I have an Apes binge and watch all the first five movies. Back around 1999 I noticed in my local newspaper that Charlton Heston was going to be speaking at a political function near where I live. He was a Republican but was speaking for a Democrat that was a friend of his, fair enough. I’ve always been one of those guys that hang around after concerts to get stuff signed and maybe get a picture with somebody. There’s a saying “Never meet your heroes”, I guess I’ve been lucky, because I’ve had some pretty cool encounters with people that I’ve met. I was off work the day Charlton was going to be here, and just by chance I had with me an 8×10 promo photo from Planet Of The Apes with me. I had a Sharpie with me too, always be prepared. We all were seated, there was maybe 40 or 50 people there, and then there he was. Charlton was starting to be a little frail by then, I found out later he was recovering from medical trouble. Age or not, when he spoke, all I could think of was him as Moses in The Ten Commandments, he still sounded like that. I’ve never heard anybody else with that kind of speaking voice in my life. He spoke maybe close to an hour, it was a great speech. After he took a break, a few people had books to get signed, and I had my picture. I’ve never had it happen when I met anybody else, but when I approached him and spoke it was pretty much babble, and he thought it was funny and smiled. He shook my hand, and he did have a strong grip for his age. I spoke to him for maybe five minutes, maybe a little more, and I thanked him for his time. I will never forget that as I turned to walk away, Charlton reached down and got my hand and shook it again. I was sad when he passed, most of the legends of Hollywood like him are gone now. He was in many of my favorite movies and meeting him was a special thing to me.

Burt Ward as Robin

Way before that, the first time I ever met anybody famous was Burt Ward, who played Robin in the Batman tv show. I grew up watching that show every time it was on, so this was a big deal. The town where I live had a T.G. & Y. store opening up, and Burt appeared at the grand opening. I don’t remember exactly what year this was, maybe 1974 or 1975. There was a big turnout, a lot of kids and their parents were there to meet Robin. I met him and remember thinking that he looked different in the Robin costume, not realizing that the tv show had been done in 1966. It was cool meeting him. Burt appeared at fan conventions and things like that a lot through the years, but what I liked was finding out that Burt did a lot of research into large breed dogs and improving their lifespan. I respected that a lot.

Shirley Jones and me, at the Texan Theater in Greenville, Texas

Musicians I’ve met ? There have been many. Some of my favorites have been Frank Marino, Uli Jon Roth, Jake E. Lee, Bugs Henderson, Yngwie Malmsteen, Graham Bonnet, UFO, Doogie White, Shirley Jones of Partridge Family fame, she was amazing to meet and is a beautiful lady. One night Roy Clark was here in town and my wife and I met him. I grew up watching Roy every week on Hee Haw and always loved watching him play. The man was one of the best there ever was on guitar, in my opinion. Roy was having trouble with palsy when we met him, he didn’t play guitar by then, but he had a very quick wit and was great to talk to. My wife mentioned to Roy that I collected guitars, and Roy looked at me and said “I’d like to see your guitar collection someday.” To have Roy Clark say that to me was something I’ll never forget. I was sad when he passed. Roy, your version of “Malaguena” is still the best.

Me, Roy Clark and my wife Carrie

One of my favorite guitarists has always been Frank Marino. He wasn’t touring much by the time I got into him, when I was in high school, but finally in 2007 he came to Dallas to the Grenada Theater, a great place for shows. That night was some of the most intense guitar playing I’ve ever heard. No opening act, and Frank came on and played three hours and twenty minutes, with only a five-minute break during a drum solo. Three and a half hours of music and the ticket had cost $20, that was a pretty good deal. I met him that night briefly, but the next year he came back and by chance was around when they were getting things ready for him to meet the fans. I was standing there with a couple of other fans and Frank came up, and I ended up talking to him for around twenty minutes. He was really great, even explained a lot of custom work he had done himself on his guitars. An incredibly smart man, I think he has had to stop touring because of shoulder trouble, I hope he gets well soon.

Me and Frank Marino in 2007

I’ve never met any of the authors I like, I would love to meet Stephen King someday. Anytime he does a signing it’s a mob, so there wouldn’t be much interaction, but just to tell him how much I love his books would be enough. I guess that’s about it for now. This was fun to write, and there are more stories to tell, one thing I have a lot of is music stories. I’m about to make a road trip to see Zepparella, a great Led Zeppelin tribute band from California. I will hopefully be seeing them in Colorado soon, and that will be a story in itself.

One of my regrets in life is that when I met Charlton Heston, I wanted to ask him to say. “Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!” I like to think he would have done it. Thank you for reading.

Meeting Bigfoot, at the Monster Mart in Fouke, Arkansas
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Absent Companions

LtoR: Mina, Chewie, Simba, Buddy, Molly, Ramsey, Bond, Pirelli, Thomas, KC and Lady.
They were the best pets ever, See you all again, I hope.

We lost a pet here at home last weekend. Anytime one of our animal family has passed it is hard to deal with. I love my dogs like they are family, and it was hard getting through last week. Chewie was a huge lab mix that could be quite a handful, he had been here since he was small enough to hold in one hand, he got to be around 100 lbs. of big, beautiful dog. The pets in the above picture were ones that were here over a long span of years, I’d had Lady and Mina since about 1998 or 1999. Here it is 2022 and they were all here for a while and have gone on to where good pets go when they leave us. Guys, I still think about every single one of you every day.

Chewie

I’ve read that when we get to Heaven, every pet we ever loved will be there waiting for us. I hope that’s true. I can’t imagine having to exist forever in a hereafter without my animal friends. You guys were the best and I hope you save a place for me.

Thank you for reading, this wasn’t an easy one to write.

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Kid Stuff

“But I would not be convicted by a jury of my peers, still crazy after all these years.”Paul Simon

I’m old enough where I remember a lot of sixties stuff, I remember watching the moon landing with my dad as it happened. I remember seeing footage from Vietnam, it was on the news every day. My favorite tv show was always Batman, that silly show made me a Batman fan for life. I was here for six years of the 1960s, but I’m a product of the 1970s, and I’m glad I grew up when I did. I had a lot of friends growing up. Some I still see and talk to, but being older changes so much. Families, jobs, responsibilities, time goes by and everybody has a lot on their plate, it’s just the way it is. It’s summer here now and I don’t like it much anymore but being a kid in summer in the 1970s was a great time. I rode my bike all over town. I’d have to check in once in a while but that was okay. I have no idea who the kids with fireworks are in the picture, but that was me and my friends. Save up our money for weeks leading up to when the fireworks stands opened for the 4th of July. I remember how much fun that was, and we were damned lucky we never blew off a finger. One of my best friends almost did exactly that. Jerry, this means you.

There weren’t any video or computer games back then. We liked running amok in the neighborhood playing war, those were good times. I guess there were video games after a while, I remember playing Space Invaders when I could scrounge up quarters someplace. We were crazy kids that did crazy things. I remember how much fun it was sneaking out at night running around town dressed in black, we were lucky we never got shot at or arrested. It was pretty fun climbing up on top of buildings in the middle of the night. I do miss those days. As Bryan Adams sang, “Those were the best days of my life.” I had a lot of turbulence in my family as I grew up, I guess acting up with my friends was a way of coping. As we all got older, sometimes we had the attention of the local authorities, time to find something else to do. I was a crazy kid at times, I wasn’t very good at impulse control, especially if I was with my buddies. We hot-wired a pickup one fun night, I can’t believe we never got in more trouble. That was maybe forty or so years ago, I hope the statute of limitations has passed by now.

I guess it’s natural that when you’re not a teenager anymore some of the craziness goes away, finding out what jail is like will do that too. Still, there were plenty of weekends I had through my 20s and 30s that Hunter S. Thompson would have been proud of. One exploit that comes to mind is a friend and I taking his speedboat out on a lake in the middle of the night. That thing had a huge motor and was fast.

I don’t know who that kid jumping his bike is, but I used to do that, and it never did end very well. That was back when Evel Knievel was on tv all the time, I loved watching him jump, and there were a lot of times he didn’t land so well either. We all have a rough landing once in a while, it’s all part of the ride. Thank you for reading.

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Buddy and Me … Best Dog There Ever Was

Buddy

It’s rough when you lose a pet that you’ve had a while. I’ve been lucky and have had a lot of great pets in my life. They are very much my family. I spend a lot of time with my dogs, sometimes they can be a handful but that’s a part of having them. I live in a small town and stray animals show up here, if it’s where I can I find their owner, a few have stayed on and become a part of the clan here. Late in 2004, maybe November, a big white dog kept showing up in my yard, he came here several times but I thought I had enough dogs and wouldn’t let him stay. He was skinny as could be and hadn’t been fed well at all. This went on for a few weeks but I just thought I didn’t need another animal here. One day after I came home from work, this dog showed up again, this time he was dragging a heavy steel chain, like a big enough chain to tow a car with, and there was a hasp with screws and wood on the screws, you could tell the screws had been yanked out of a wall. The side of his face was bloody where he had been getting hit while being chained up. I realized that somebody had been seriously abusing the dog, when I saw where the chain had been pulled out of a wall I thought to myself, “If you want to be here with me that bad you are home now.” My wife, at the time, had heard that his name was Buddy, so that’s what I called him from then on. Nobody ever came around looking for him, sometimes animals pick their owners and I guess that’s what happened, he came in and was a big part of my dog family from then on.

Buddy was pretty skinny but filled out fast when I started feeding him, he could always eat like a horse and he got to be a big strong dog. I learned that a dog that weighs 75 pounds but still thinks like a puppy can be a challenge. Buddy was very playful we bonded very quickly. He loved to wrestle and play and his personality grew and grew when he knew he had a home. He had a huge personality and loved people. I had more than one friend get a surprise from Buddy when he would jump in their lap uninvited. My first wife got frustrated because he was so playful, Buddy ended up staying here a lot longer than she did, by many years. When I became single in 2005 I let Buddy have her side of the bed, not that I spoil dogs or anything.

Buddy … He was pretty well stoned here after a vet visit, I think he had a tooth pulled.

Buddy was the strongest dog I’ve ever had. I don’t know how many times there were when I would come home from work and he would have gotten loose and be roaming the neighborhood. I wish I had kept all the collars that he used to break, he was really something. Buddy also, unlike most any dog, absolutely loved going to the vet. He always went in and put on a show. Everybody there was friends with him, he would even put his paws up on the counter and bark at the girl at her desk, he was tall enough to see over the counter. One time a family was there with their small dog, and their daughter was fascinated with Buddy, she had never seen anything that big. I wish I had a picture of her petting him. The vet liked him too, he had the same vet most of his life.

Buddy asleep on the couch, my vet loved this picture.

When I began seeing my second wife, Carrie, Buddy took to her too, except for the battle of the wills over Buddy being on the couch when she wanted to sit down. Buddy would move and let her sit down, then he would sit right in front of her and not beg, but just sit there staring at her, the nerve of somebody wanting his spot on the couch. He was really something else. Dogs have distinct personalities from one another and Buddy definitely had a big personality. Those were good times that I will always miss. When I was single, I spent a lot of time with my dogs, me and them, and I bonded with all of them. For a long time I had six dogs and they were all special to me. My vet said I probably understood pack behavior in dogs better than he did because he saw them one at a time, and I had my pack, they were all great dogs. I think about every pet I’ve had every single day.

Buddy and Junior, another dog and story to tell.

The years went on, and 2019 was a bad one. Things were rough at home for a variety of reasons, and then I began having health trouble. I was losing weight at an alarming rate but swelling up. I went to many doctors trying to find out what was wrong. I’d had a cardiac scare already and now something else was going on. Buddy was having a lot of trouble too, he was getting to be an old dog, which was hard for me to see. It’s the worst part of being a pet owner, watching an animal that has been a big part of your life for so long then they start getting old in front of your eyes. Buddy was having a lot of accidents in the house, which he never had done before. The vet would prescribe something that worked for a while but it was just getting worse. It was hard taking care of me and him too, at times I got mad at me and Buddy both because I wished I could have done more.

Buddy and our cat Psycho cuddled and asleep, Buddy even liked cats.

In the summer of 2019, I had to have surgery for a hernia. That’s usually a fairly routine surgery, you get it done and go home the same day. Not mine, I woke up there in the hospital to an upset wife, the doctor told her that I had cancer, that it looked I was melting inside. There was all kinds of stuff floating around in there that just shouldn’t have been. The doctor that did my hernia surgery didn’t know how I could still be up and walking around. I lost my mother to colon and stomach cancer in 2014 and now here we go again. As I said before, 2019 was a bad year. I had to start seeing doctors that were specialists and I think I had enough biopsies done where I felt like Swiss cheese. Buddy was at home and things were getting rough for him too.

Me and Buddy, better days in 2010.

I was off work and home for a couple months recovering from surgery and getting more medical work done by the week, when Buddy started having accidents again. Age had slowed Buddy some but getting a big dog to the vet was hard. There were tests ran, I was told there was nothing else I could do, that it was Buddy’s time. I pretty well went to pieces. There was a large inoperable mass of cancer in Buddy, he was hurting, and it was just going to be worse. It was rough trying to find out what was wrong with me, and then he got sick too. I went to pieces at the vet that day. I had to say goodbye to Buddy and it was the hardest thing I’ve been through in my life. I knew it was his time when I hugged him and he could barely hold his head up against mine. Buddy had been a part of my life for almost sixteen years, and that’s old for a dog, but I wished it had been longer.

LtoR: Buddy, me, Maxwell and Ramsey. Good times.

My own trouble went away, more or less. It turned out I had a tumor that had ruptured and was causing a lot of fluid to accumulate all through my stomach area. The tumor was benign but had spread, and I had a pretty major surgery to get everything fixed. I was in the hospital nine days, which I don’t ever want to repeat. Losing a dog on top of that was a lot at times. That’s been a couple years ago now, and I still think about Buddy a lot. We have a lot of dogs and they are all loved, but I do think about the ones I lost too. If there is a Heaven and I make it there, I want my dogs there to meet me. I could write a book of dog stories and maybe one day I will. Guys, you were the best.

Maxwell and Buddy, there were quite a pair, Buddy was several times bigger but loved playing with Max.

We all hated 2020 because of covid, but 2019 was the bad one for me. Thank you for reading.

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The Song Remains The Same

Led Zeppelin in 1979

When I was in high school, I was always on a mission to find music that I enjoyed. Led Zeppelin were still together then, this would have been maybe 1979, they were always on Dallas rock radio, they were always in music magazines that I read, they were always a Presence (pun intended). I had grown up on seventies pop radio, there was a lot of great music when I was a kid that I still love listening to, but as I got older I got away from radio hits to what we now call ‘classic rock’. I wanted to see what Led Zeppelin were like, so one day at Howard’s (our local department store in Greenville, Texas) I bought the fourth album. No title or songs listed on the cover, they weren’t necessary. The journey had begun. That album is truly a classic, I still remember sitting in my room that day when I got home and I was mesmerized. Every song was a journey. I still get a rush inside when I hear the opening drum part to “Rock And Roll”. If I’m in the car that part always gets the volume turned up a bit. When I started playing guitar that was the second song I learned. I remember that my mother wasn’t exactly thrilled when my musical tastes evolved, I wasn’t discouraged, but my parents never really understood why I was so hooked on music. It was my own private world back then, and it still is today.

Jimmy Page

After that, I don’t remember what order I got their albums in, but I know I got the first album pretty quickly. That album is probably my favorite, even more than the fourth one. For a debut album it’s amazingly powerful. Jimmy Page came out of The Yardbirds knowing exactly what he wanted to do. He had experience in recording studios as a session musician and knew exactly what he wanted to do. John Paul Jones was a busy session musician himself, he had worked with Donovan, The Rolling Stones, many others. He found out Jimmy was putting a band together and wanted in. Originally Page wanted to work with Steve Marriott on vocals, but was told something to the effect of it “might be hard playing guitar with broken fingers” by Marriott’s manager. I love Marriott’s singing, but things happen for a reason, the musical cosmos fell into place when Robert Plant was recommended to Jimmy by Terry Reid. Plant’s voice was, and still is, amazingly powerful. Plant recommended John Bonham, and the band was complete. Originally they band was billed as The New Yardbirds, but this was mainly due to fulfilling contractual obligations that original Yardbirds had when the band had broken up. You can hear some of what Jimmy wanted to do later in his recordings with The Yardbirds, but the new band was a different animal altogether. Led Zeppelin became the name of the band, and the rest was history. I don’t consider Led Zeppelin to be heavy metal, but they did influence it. That first Led Zeppelin album is heavier than most of what was around at the time. When the band began touring they were loud, and stole they show from many a headlining band. They were managed by Peter Grant, he was not a man to be messed with by any promoter, he got the band every dime they were owed.

Robert Plant

One of my favorite bootleg recordings is Led Zeppelin’s set at the Texas International Pop Festival in August 1969. Many great bands were there, including some that were at Woodstock. Led Zeppelin were in good form, I live an hour or so from where that show happened, and I would love to someday talk to somebody that was there. I bet it was incredibly hot, outdoor shows in August in Texas are going to be brutal. I love Texas nut not the summer weather. The band recorded their second album in different studios whil on the road, not an easy way to create music but they were touring nonstop.

John Paul Jones

While still in high school, I went to a midnight showing of The Song Remains The Same, their concert movie. I was blown away once again. When Jimmy did the violin bow solo during “Dazed And Confused”, I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing, I thought he had to have been a wizard to have done that. I never got to see the band live, this was close as I would get to that. One time I went three weeks in a row to Dallas to see the movie on a big screen. The last time Led Zeppelin played where I live I was in the seventh grade. They were gearing up for another North American tour in 1980 when John Bonham passed away. I still remember word going around school when that happened, and then a few months late it was announced Led Zeppelin would not continue without Bonham. Some bands can change members and continue but I think they made the right choice. I got to see Jimmy Page and Robert Plant together twice, both were amazing shows. They only reunited as Led Zeppelin a few times, there was Live Aid in 1985, which turned into a train wreck. Almost no rehearsal, the crowd went wild but when I see the footage now I do wish it had been different. There was another reunion in 1988 at an Atlantic Records, it wasn’t quite as ragged as Live Aid but it wasn’t like the old days. When they decided to play the Ahmet Ertegun tribute in 2007, this time they rehearsed for a month if I remember right, on a soundstage at Shepperton Studios in England. When the show happened, with Jason Bonham on drums, they showed they still had the magic. I never get tired of the Celebration Day concert movie. I wish they had done more, but I do think this was the last performance by Led Zeppelin. Robert doesn’t want to do it again, but that’s his choice.

John Bonham

I’ve been into Led Zeppelin long enough where it’s part of my life, I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I don’t think bands now have the same mystique that they used to. Led Zeppelin were legends in their own time. Not too many bands can lay claim to that. Thank you for reading.

PicMonkey art of Led Zeppelin by Jon McFaul
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I Miss Johnny Winter

PicMonkey art of Johnny Winter by Jon McFaul

A long time ago when I was in high school, maybe a junior, I was discovering how much I loved blues music. Back then there wasn’t any YouTube or even computers, not the kind we could have at home. I don’t know how we ever managed to get by … I was reading guitar magazines a lot before I ever started actually playing one. I knew what I wanted to do, it was just a matter of time. I’m a native Texan and have always been proud of all the great musicians that have come from here. Willie Nelson, Doug Sahm, Bugs Henderson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Michael Nesmith, the list goes on and on. There are countless more, and one of my biggest favorites is Johnny Winter. John Dawson Winter III was born in Beaumont, Texas in 1944. Johnny and his younger brother Edgar are both albinos, I would imagine it was not easy growing up and being different that way. Their parents encouraged their musical talent and both played music from an early age. The story goes that B.B. King was playing a small bar in the area, a blues dive where very many white people just didn’t go, and this skinny 16-year old white kid wanted to play. B.B. was hesitant, but once Johnny played B.B. knew he was the real deal.

The Progressive /Blues Experiment, released in 1968

Johnny recorded a lot of songs early in his career that later on got released without him having anything to do with it, but in 1968 The Progressive Blues Experiment got released. This was the real thing. Some of my favorite songs of his are on there, including “Mean Town Blues” and “Tribute To Muddy”. He sounds great on here, and from what I know the band recorded it together live in the studio. Thanks to an early mention in Rolling Stone magazine, Columbia records got interested and paid Johnny a huge advance. Johnny played the blues like nobody else, and the record label eventually wanted him to go in a more ‘rock’ direction. It always amazes me that a record company would sign a musician because they were doing something so well, and then try and change them into something different. Johnny took off pretty well, he toured relentlessly. There was a lot of pressure. He was at a lot of big rock festivals, even at Woodstock. He wasn’t in the Woodstock movie, but “Mean Town Blues” is on the extras included on the Blu-ray release, which I recommend.

Secon Winter, released in 1969

Second Winter, from 1969, was another great album. It’s the only three-sided album that I know of. Sides one, two and three are all Johnny, and the fourth side is smooth blank vinyl. I still have this and it’s cool, you don’t appreciate this unless you’ve seen the vinyl, CDs and downloads won’t do this one justice. Johnny began working with members of The McCoys, including guitar great Rick Derringer, and the band was now Johnny Winter And. More great music, Johnny and Rick were an awesome guitar team, the Johnny Winter And Live album is, to me, one of the best live rock albums ever. I mentioned earlier that I started listening to Johnny in high school, on a trip to a music store in Dallas, I bought the albums And Live, Still Alive And Well and Saints & Sinners. Johnny had developed a heroin addiction during the And period, he did go through treatment and Still Alive And Well was a ‘comeback’, he would battle substance abuse of one kind or another a lot through the rest of his life. In 1977, Johnny produced the Hard Again album for Muddy Waters. They ended up working together long enough to do three studio and one live album together. Muddy had been without a record label due to Chess Records going out of business, Johnny helped Muddy get signed to Blu Sky Records, a label distributed Columbia Records. Muddy was now on tour playing to larger audiences and touring with both Johnny and also Eric Clapton.

Muddy Waters and Johnny Winter

Johnny went on to record a lot of great music through the eighties and nineties, he toured constantly, and it took a toll on him. There were accusations toward the end of his life that his manager had kept him on one drug or another to keep Johnny out there on the road making money. Johnny got better but I think all the years on the road and substance abuse had taken their toll. Johnny was found dead in his hotel room in Zurich, Switzerland on July 16, 2014. He had just finished recording the Step Back album, which was released later that year.

PicMonkey art of Johnny by Jon McFaul

I never got to see Johnny in concert, I wish that I had. As far as I know, I have every album, cd, dvd, whatever that is available. I spent many a late night listening to all those albums, and I still always have some Johnny in the car. In 1992 there was a 30th anniversary all-star tribute to Bob Dylan. Johnny was there. He came out with his Gibson Firebird and did “Highway 61 Revisited”. There were a lot of great performers there that night but I thought Johnny stole the show.

PicMonkey art of Johnny by Jon McFaul

A lot of music sounds pretty sterile to me now. Technology can do great things, but it can take the life out of music if we let it. Johnny’s music was loud and raw and the real deal. No ProTools here, just playing the blues, and I think Johnny was one of the best there was. This last year Johnny’s brother Edgar released Brother Johnny, a great tribute album to his brother. There are many great players on there paying tribute to Johnny … Joe Bonamassa, Warren Haynes, Billy Gibbons, Keb Mo, even Ringo Starr and many more, I recommend it, and thank you for reading.

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Midnight Movies

I miss midnight movies. There was always something fun about going out with a friend or two in the middle of the night and sitting in a theater seeing something scary, and I saw a lot of great concert movies that way too. One time I drove into Dallas two weeks in a row to see Led Zeppelin’s The Song Remains The Same on the big screen. I was hooked on them and the audience was more like the crowd at a concert than a movie. I probably got a contact high from all the smoke in the air. “Dazed And Confused” is close to a half-hour long and is my favorite part of the movie, Jimmy Page was a wizard with a violin bow to me. Another big favorite to go see was Night Of The Living Dead, I love that movie as silly as it is and can now watch it in my own home whenever I want, but I saw it on a movie screen a couple of times and am glad I did. Midnight movie crowds were always a little rowdier than during the day, someone would scare their girlfriend and she would scream, popcorn might get thrown, I remember seeing My Bloody Valentine and someone dressed up like the killer in the movie went running up and down the aisle and we all went crazy. Good times.

From 1968’s Night Of The Living Dead

The Rocky Horror Picture Show wasn’t my cup of tea, but there was a theater in Dallas that showed it every Saturday at midnight, and it went on for years and I thought that was cool. I had friends that went in costume and had a blast. I wish I had gone now. I’ve read that midnight movies went into decline when VCR’s became popular in the 1980s , it became possible to watch whatever you wanted whenever you wanted to see it. Now you don’t even need a VCR, most people stream whatever they want. Maybe it’s just me, but I miss the effort it took to be out doing something late at night like that. At my age now it’s hard to get out of the house, time does march on.

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Once again, maybe it’s just me, but back then it took an effort to do things. Now whatever we want to see or hear is instantly available at any time day or night. If that makes me sound old then so be it. Standing in line for movie or concert tickets, if you wanted to hear a new album by your favorite band you went someplace and bought it. There was no streaming, no playlists, it took some effort on your part to enjoy something. I like technology but things are just too easy now. If you’ve read this, thank you. I’m off to the movies and hope to see you there.

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Life With Geezer

Geezer

Several years ago a friend of ours that does animal rescues called and said they had a dog in bad need of help. He had been left alone in an apartment and was half-starved, just very little muscle left. What I call the ‘hambone’, the thigh muscle, just wasn’t there, he was very emaciated. We decided to give him a chance, and I ended up naming him Geezer, after Geezer Butler the bass player for Black Sabbath. For whatever reason the name fits him. My vet had his work cut out for him, there were several infections, he needed a lot of care, even dental work due to a broken tooth that hadn’t ever been treated. It didn’t take long but he got some meat on his bones and has been a great dog. He has a quirky personality and I wonder a lot about what all he had been through before my wife and I took him in. Geezer is getting older, he has an awful lot of white on his muzzle now that used to not be there.

Geezer, pretty soon after we got him.

This dog has had quite some adventures, even after we took him in. Several months ago, a huge tree at the side of the yard where he stayed broke and fell, it could have crushed him, and I remember finding him stuck in the mess the tree had made, he was ready to be inside for a while. Another time he got loose from the yard when I was asleep. I woke up that day and he was gone, I drove all over town that day with no luck. Later that afternoon my wife saw his picture on a local Facebook page for lost and found pets. Geezer had gotten out of the yard made it to the highway and somebody did good, they took Geezer home, which was in the Dallas area, 50 or 60 miles away. We were able to get in touch with who found him and were lucky enough to get him home, it was very lucky for him and us both.

Geezer

I know Geezer is an old dog, age will take him to where dogs go eventually. I have been blessed in this life to have had a lot of great pets that I still think about every day. I’ve read that when we pass, Heaven could be where every dog you ever loved was there to meet you, and I hope that’s what it’s like. Geezer is quite a handful even at his age and always into something. Going by the vet’s guess when we got him, Geezer is around sixteen years old, and he’ll be spoiled here until his day comes.

The Stare-Down, Geezer’s good at it.

Most all the dogs we’ve taken in were abandoned or abused in one way or another, and we live in a small town where unwanted pets get dropped off, which I really hate when people do. I can’t imagine ever paying for a dog, mine have all showed up on their own. I think word spreads from one dog to another that there might be a meal here. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My wife Carrie and Geezer, he’s not spoiled at all.

And … we always say we have broken the laws of nature here, dogs and cats do indeed get along at times!

Bond the cat (RIP) and Geezer
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In Praise Of Cream

PicMonkey art by Jon McFaul , Original Photo is of Eric Clapton in 1968

Cream didn’t last very long as a band, maybe two and a half to three years, but their impact still can be felt in music. They were three musicians at the top of their game. Eric Clapton had already been in The Yardbirds and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, and Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker were veterans of the British jazz scene. Bruce and Baker couldn’t stand each other, but combined with Clapton they were an amazing combination. All three were at the top of their game. There are times when I think I was born in the wrong time, I wish I had been there to experience so many of the bands I like first hand. I first got into Cream because I was a Clapton fan and searched back through his career wanting to hear everything he had done. I bought the Fresh Cream album at a flea market and was hooked from the moment I put the needle down on side one and “I Feel Free” came on, it’s still one of my favorite songs. “Spoonful” is another big favorite from that album, a classic blues song that many musicians have covered, but Cream’s version is my favorite.

PicMonkey art by Jon McFaul, Original is of Jack Bruce

Cream didn’t last long. I’ve seen their touring schedule and it was show after show, with short breaks to be in the studio. Clapton heard the music of The Band and that was a big influence on his musical direction. Being top gun began to feel empty. After a farewell tour, Clapton and Baker went on to form Blind Faith and Bruce began playing jazz again with occasional trips back to rock. He was a part of West, Bruce & Laing with Leslie West and Corky Laing, but it didn’t last very long. The BBM project in 1993 with Jack, Ginger and Gary Moore had one album, but Cream wouldn’t play again until they were inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall Of Fame in 1993 and there was finally a reunion of several shows at the Royal Albert Hall in 2005. There sadly won’t be anymore reunions, Jack Bruce died in 2014 and Ginger Baker in 2019.

PicMonkey art by Jon McFaul, Original photo is of Ginger Baker.

I was lucky enough to see Jack Bruce in 2008 at Hippiefest in Dallas. Several great performers were on the bill, but I thought Bruce was best. He played an hour long set of Cream classics and I was amazed at his playing on a fretless bass. I’ve seen Clapton several times and he still plays “Sunshine Of Your Love” in concert, it’s a great one to hear him do in concert. I recommend anything by then, especially the ‘Fresh Cream’ and “Disraeli Gears’ albums. Enjoy.

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The Blue Front Cafe, Having The Blues Since 1948

The Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Mississippi

I’ve never been to the Blue Front Cafe, but found out about it earlier today while I was researching old ‘Juke Joints’ where blues is played. The Blue Front is the oldest surviving Juke Joint in Mississippi and has been open for business since 1948. I think that’s really something. Jimmy ‘Duck’ Holmes is the owner and he’s an older man but still plays there. It’s a five hour drive (thank you Google Maps), I’d love to make that trip someday. When I look at a place like this, to me it’s Saturday night, the door is open, and a band is playing the blues to a room full of people. Wish I was there.

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