Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Prose Power

A good turn out for my second class at KSR last night. Twenty students read aloud from their papers assigned last week that included their most intense moments and thoughts on Mongo Bear Wolf's "Man in his Cocoon."
     I was told when I first started teaching at KSR that the prisoners were secretive and would not want to read their papers out loud to their class mates. Quite the contrary. In three years I've had only a couple of students who complained. It really is a catharsis for most of them. And once they get started look out.
     Last night two of the men actually wept during their readings. One fellow wrote about his beautiful wife who died of cancer in front of him and his two children. Another wrote about his dead mother who he adored. The others wrote about their crimes or seeing their children born. All of the writing was heartfelt and all the men listened in respectful silence.
     What they witnessed was the power of prose. Carefully written, emotional descriptions of the their lives that at times approached poetry.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Bird Lives

Today is the birthday of the one and only Charlie Parker. Another August baby. This is indeed a strange month. Cloudy, cool and Fall-like this morning. The Hog has rather dull weekend which I guess is fitting considering last week was the birthday bash and later this week I'll be in Chicago. Interesting line-up for the JazzFest in Grant Park this year. Two 100 year birthday tributes one for Count Basie the other for Coleman Hawkins, both who I was fortunate enough to see perform.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Boots and Cowboys

Twenty-one new students in my class last night at KSR. Thursday night the class is split between regular and Tech students. I seldom can tell the difference. I'm always amazed at how deferential they are during my opening "lecture." And when I give them their first writing exercise, "Take 30 minutes and write down your most intense life-time experience. That moment when you felt most ALIVE," they go nuts. Sometimes I feel like the most intense moment in their lives was when some crazy professor asked them to write down and then read out loud to their fellow classmates their most intense moment.
     One older, gray haired man in a wheel chair kept looking at me while the others were writing. Finally he said, "Your wearing cowboy boots. Do ride a motorcycle or a horse." "Neither" I said, I just find them to be comfortable. "Yeah I know, I used to wear them every day before I went to prison," he said.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Hot Salsa Addendum

A couple of notes on last night. The salsa band I was trying to think of is Timbason. Maybe Yardhog had too many mohitas last night. They were on special and he couldn't resist. According to D, mohitas are the current "in" drink. An unusual combination of rum and mint. Sort of a Cuban Mint Julep. Lots of jazzers in the crowd last night including Ken Clay, Jamey Aebersold, Marty Sussman and Patty Bailey.
     There has been a dramatic sea change in the Louisville jazz scene since the early days of clubs like Washington St., On Broadway and Just Jazz. I don't know where the people are coming from but they turn out in large numbers on week  day nights to hear jazz and other alternative music.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The Hog Logs On

Yardhog's birthday month celebration continues tonight at the Jazz Factory with a performance by saxophonist Jane Bunnet and her Cuban band. I first saw Bunnet last year in Chicago at the Hot House, one of that city's most interesting venues for international music. I hope to get some good photos with my new digital camera. For some reason I've been taking a lot of photos lately of attractive female musicians and singers. At the Jazzfest Sunday I got a wonderful shot of singer Sonia Hensley in a short yellow mini dress and matching high heels. Bunnet is also a very attractive woman, although not as flashy Hensley. I remember I couldn't take my eyes off of her in Chicago. It's always amazing to me that someone who is beautiful and wonderful to look at, can also be a great musician.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004


"Losing hope is not so bad. There is something worse: losing hope and hiding it from yourself."

                             Walker Percy
                             "The Moviegoer"

School Days

"I have discovered that most people have no one to talk to, no one that is, who really wants to listen. When it does at last dawn on a man that you really want to hear about his business, the look that comes over his face is something to see."
                           Walker Percy
                           "The Moviegoer"

     Nineteen students showed up last night for my class at KSR. Let's see how many stay when they find out they'll have to do a two page paper after each meeting, plus read it aloud to their class-mates. I explained to them that my classes are like jam sessions and everyone will have a chance to solo.
     Walking by the large, imposing brick building with broken windows that serves as the "hole" at the prison last night. One of the inmates yell's at me "Hey, you a preacher man?
In a way, I guess I am.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Hog Heaven Addendum

Going through the check out lane at Kroger's today a headline on a tabloid screamed "Repent or Yea Shall Surely Perish." Actually, to born is to surely perish. So, NOW IS THE TIME.

Hog Heaven

Yardhog's birthday weekend ended last night with a spectacular Jazzfest on the belvedere. Vocalist Sonia Hensley, a graduate of Louisville's Brown School who moved on to bigger things, including a stint with Mercer Ellington, sang and danced like a pro. In a short yellow, mini dress she belted out songs like "Besa Me Mucho" and "Moon Dance." Backed by the superb rhythmn team of bassist Tyrone Wheeler and drummer Colby Inzer. His father, Denny, would have been proud. The concert ended with the legendary alto saxophonist Lou Donaldson's band featuring Dr. Lonnie Smith, one of  world's greatest masters of the B3 organ. This was definitely the best concert I've seen this year. The Hog ended the night by stopping at Indies and ordering a large dinner of spicy fried chicken, wedges and peach cobbler. Shear ambrosia!

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Truths and Birthday Trivia

2004-08-22 17:09:35</logtime>

"God ain't no white bearded man up in the sky somewhere. He's a spirit. He ain't got no body... The only body he's got is us."

                         Brother Carl Porter,

"The poet hath the child's sight in his breast,
And sees all new. What oftenest he has viewed,
He views with the first glory. Fair and good
Pall never on him at the fairest, best,
But stand before him holy, and undressed
in week-day false conventions, such as would
Drag other men down from the altitude
Of primal types, too early dispossessed.
Why, God would tire of all his heavens as soon
As thou, O godlike, childlike poet, didst
Of daily and nightly sights of sun and moon;
And therefore hath He set thee in the midst,
Where men may hear thy wonder's ceaseless tune,
And praise His world forever as thou bidst."

                       Elizabeth Barret Browning


 A glorious weekend. Yardhog is now  officially 57 years alive. D gave him a raku pot engraved with a woman's face, he had actually picked out for himself several weeks ago after seeing it at a shop on Frankfort Ave. He told the owner to put it away for safe keeping until D purchased it for his birthday. Sometimes you just can't take any chances.

Friday, August 20, 2004

What Is This Thing Called Life?

Today is the begining of "Yardhog's Commemorative Birthday Weekend." Which the Hog will spend celebrating the mystery of LIFE. "What is this thing called life, this funny thing called life. Who knows the mystery, it's made fool of me.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Crepuscular With Yardhog

Ten more invigorating miles on my bike last night after an hour workout with weights in the gym.      
     As the Hog's birthday approaches (August 22) he can't help but wonder what all the fuss is about. The world would be much better off if instead of people asking how old you were they would ask "How alive are you?"
     Sitting last night watching a male and female cardinal make out on my bird feeder. Actually the male was feeding the female. He'd take a few seeds from the feeder then jump up to where she was perched and gently place them in her beak. They perform this loving ritual every night. Cardinals are crepuscular feeders, preferring twilight or just before sunrise. Some say this may be because of their bright plumage.
     After the cardinals left the stage was taken over by four or five brown bats soaring high above my deck.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

If you want to be in the play, don't forget your lines

Ever notice how people communicate, or should I say don't communicate in groups. Fellow came up to me today, who hardly knows me, and said "boy they're always giving you a hard time aren't they?" My reaction is rather slow to blather so, for a split, rather scary second he and I just stood our ground and looked at each another. He's expecting me to respond with some mindless cliche and I'm looking at him like he's totally fucking nuts. I wanted to say "Don't you realize man, I'm not in the play. I didn't study my lines and I don't have a clue what you're talking about!

Monday, August 16, 2004

Burroughs' Truths

"We make truth. Nobody else makes it."

"Writers are very powerful. They can write and "unwrite" the script for the reality film."

"Every object you touch is alive with your life and your will."

"Whites are the only ethnic group that marshaled an army before they had an enemy."

"To speak is to lie--to live is to collaborate."

                              William Burroughs

Just For Jolly

When asked by the police why he committed all his horrible crimes the Boston Strangler replied "Just for jolly." That's the same reason I keep this journal.

Sunday, August 15, 2004


According to an article in the Courier, that word was coined by  a psychotherapist to define "the clinical fear of Friday the 13th." The dreaded day went fine for the Hog. I purchased a new Trek bicycle to replace my ten year old Schwinn and as of today logged 52 miles.
     I just returned from a 4 hour ride that took me from Saint Matthews to Cox Park to Waterfront Park, then Portland to the lily pad pond in Shawnee Park. It's been a couple of years since I made that trip and I'd forgotten just how far it is.
     Riding a bicycle works on the mid-section. Flattens and tightens the stomach, the body's center. I haven't lost any weight this summer but my stomach is tight as a drum.
     My luck hasn't been bad just hilarious. Yesterday I opened a fortune cookie and got a misprinted fortune. "There's no greater pleasure than seeing your lived ones (sic) prosper."
School hasn't even started and I'm already having to read bad sentences.
     Picked up a beautiful book half price at CarMical's yesterday. A bio of Marie Laveau the New Orleans Voodoo Queen published the University of Mississippi Press.
     The weather continues to be heavenly. I've never experienced an August like this in my life time.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Reality Check

There is no such thing as sanity, only varying degrees of insanity. To be human is to be insane, and those most in touch with reality are the worst off.

Luck Would Have It

Last night the preternaturally cool summer day was ended by a spectacular rosy sunset sunset on one side of the horizon and a rainbow on the other. Quite a sight. The Yardhog was already buzzing, having just survived a breakdown on I-64 in the Hogmobile. The car stopped just in time for him to seek the left shoulder lane and hop out for a two mile walk to the Hurstbourne exit. But a good Samaritan in a SUV picked him up and not only took him to the nearest service station but let the Hog use his cell phone to call road service and then took him back his car to wait. The fellow sacrificed  a sizable portion of his day to the Hog's rescue. What wonders! The tow truck driver, who happened to be a woman (do we see a pattern here?) also did a wondrous job in saving the Hog from harm. All this while thousands of rush hour crazed drivers drove by at high rates of speed. Oh I'm a lucky Porker!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Endless Fox Hunt

When you are on a search (D.H. Lawrence compared it to an endless fox hunt, where the fox is never caught but the joy is in the chase)
Every moment of your life has meaning. There are no coincidences. You live in synchronicity.

The Search

"The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. This morning, for example, I felt as if I had come to myself on a strange island. And what does such a castaway do? Why, he pokes around the neighborhood and he doesn't miss a trick.
     To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. NOT TO BE ONTO SOMETHING IS TO BE IN DESPAIR."

                                                Walker Percy
                                                "The Moviegoer"

"And this is the simple truth: that to live is to feel oneself lost. The ideas of the shipwrecked are the only genuine ideas. All else is rhetoric, posturing, farce."
                                            Soren Kierkegaard

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Enigma - Addendum


A strange,
 clown faced man
    performs perversions
      and sells choir robes
             in his

Ape Rape

Faye Ray, the original "Damsel in Distress" died in her apartment in Manhattan yesterday. She was 96. She said over the years she'd grown to see a spiritual side to her confrontation with the big ape Kong. Here was this creature that had such power to destroy and yet he had the capacity to appreciate beauty, she said. Actually I think he really wanted to ravish and do sundry unmentionable things to her body. It's just hard to do that while clinging to skyscraper tower and being attacked by numerous fighter planes.

Monday, August 9, 2004

Knife Play


An elderly couple at Wal-Mart
trying to operate a digital photo machine.
She's fumbling with the controls as he looks over her shoulder.
"I can't figure this damn thing out," she complains.
"We've already wasted 45 minutes!" he fumes.
Suddenly a voice comes over the store's p.a. system.
"Today everyone in the store will be given a free stainless steel paring knife."

Bird Droppings

Yesterday morning, around 7 a.m. a flock of geese flew over my house. And when I drove over to Winn Dixie for some coffee I saw a crow as big as a turkey pick up a piece of carrion on the street and fly off with it clasped tightly in its greedy beak. People fight wars, seek money, pleasure, fame. The birds continue...
     Saturday night I went to ParkSide a little night club tucked in one corner of the new ball park downtown. Gail Wynters was singing with guitarist Greg Walker and three other musicians. Gail was great as always. Unfortunately the p.a. was terrible and distorted her voice.
     The acoustic bassist was a lovely, little brunette girl, who couldn't take her dark eyes off the lead sheet in front of her. It was probably the first time I ever enjoyed just looking at at bass player sexist pig that I am.
A few minutes into the set drummer Rob Williams came in and told me she was his girl friend. Rob plays drums in my band Lush Life and is a wild man. I'm glad he's found a woman to calm him down. And on top of that she's a good bass player!

Saturday, August 7, 2004

God Is Pooh Bear

You might be asking. What was all that Winnie the Poo stuff about yesterday. Well, I'll tell you. I was at lunch yesterday in Frankfort and passed a table in front of a little flea market store. And sitting on the table was a brightly colored purple, red and green plastic lunch box made to resemble a house, with a banner that read "Poo's House." And sure enough, standing out front was the Bear with Little Brain. It only cost $6 and I had to buy it. Because I kept hearing Jack Kerouac's voice reciting the from the last paragraph of "On the Road."
     "So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all the raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars will be out, and don't you know that God is Pooh Bear?"

Friday, August 6, 2004

Crustimony Proseedcake

"What does Crustimoney Proseedcake" mean because I am a bear of little brain and big words bother me."
                                       Winnie the Pooh

     Our favorite local columnist and mangler of the language C.D. Yaplan is up to his old tricks. Yesterday while waiting in line at a fast food eatery I made the mistake of picking up a LEO and found my self perusing (wait a minute I'm starting to sound like him) "reading" his column.
     He was ranting  about the recent Baxter Ave. nightlife fiasco and comparing it to Frankfort Ave. back in the old days when he used to drink and chase women. Neither of which he indulges in today, the first for health reasons and the second for, well you HAVE seen the photo adorning his column.
     C.D. likes to use big polysyllabic words to prove how smart he is. Trouble is, he don't have no rhythm and he sings off key. The fact that he has inflicted his ego on local readers for so long must point to fact of some strange, perverted relationship he has with the publisher. BUT I AM A HOG OF LITTLE BRAIN AND BIG WORDS BOTHER ME! luv, Yardhog

Birds, Babes and White Castles

Warning: Never drink five martinis late at night and chase them with five White Castle grease bombs. It's not a pretty picture.
     Instead of riding my bike last night I decided to go to the Jazz Factory downtown and catch Pete Peterson. I called singer Gayle Wynters earlier in the day and she met me there. Pete was playing with a trio led by Jamaican drummer Hugh Peterson (no relation) and featuring tenor saxophonist Tim Whalen, and young bass player. I can't remember his name.
     Pete kicked ass on the club's big Yamaha grand. And I got some great pictures with my new digital camera, although I'm still learning and all thumbs.
     Gayle had great news. Pianist Roger Kellaway, for those who don't know his outstanding jazz credentials, he's the guy who composed and played the opening piano theme on the 1970s tv show "All In the Family," is wanting her to record a new cd with him of Cole Porter songs at Vic's a jazz club in Santa Monica, California. He loves Gail's singing and wrote to her in an email that they should have performed the music in the recent Cole Porter film "Da' Lovely." He said even Natalie Cole couldn't over-come the lousy arrangements used in that flick.
     Yesterday before I left for the club I went to Winn Dixie in Saint Matthews, which is located in the middle of what was formerly a horse farm before suburbia encroached. The paved lot, which contains several large stores, is still the home of many birds including mallard ducks, crows and a little bird, I forget its name, that resembles a sand piper.
     Last night the lot was full of these tiny creatures. There were also several colorful, old customized cars from the Classic Car show that's in town this weekend. Lots of eye candy. All you have to do is PAY ATTENTION.
     There was so much to look at that I nearly missed seeing a young, attractive woman in a Hooters t-shirt holding hands with her boy friend at the super market's entrance. But she was just a cliche, a distraction. Everybody looks at a  pretty girl.

Thursday, August 5, 2004

Addendum For Pete

Here's a quote from an article by Marc Stone from this month's edition of New Orlean's OffBeat magazine:

"Pianist Mike Hood grew up in Louisville, Kentucky and caught the music bug while still in junior high school when a friend's dad showed him how to play the organ parts to the Doors "Light My Fire." From there he began to teach himself, following his keen ear and the advice of older players. "I'm mostly self-taught, I guess but with a whole lot of help from the outside."
     "I didn't take lessons, I went out and bought books, and one day I actually did, I took lessons from a guy named Pete Peterson, who gave lessons where I later taught, at Mom's Music (in Louisville). I took about two lessons from him but I but I got away from it."

It's A Slippery Slope

Last night, before the latest cold front rolled in, I was feeling rather tired but instead of lying down I hopped on my bike and did a quick 10 mile ride in the park. It worked wonders, got me completely out of funk city.
     I'm going to miss it when the days become short in the Fall and I won't be able to use this therapy. Walking doesn't do it. I'm sure there's some advantage but it's not stressful enough to get the heart pumping and the endorphins going.
     Yesterday I bought a new helmet and a pair of bike gloves. The old ones I hadn't replaced in years and they were getting pretty funky. The gloves stunk to high heaven and my old helmet looked like something a street person in Chicago would wear. Today I'll work out with weights in the gym for an hour and then do another ride tonight.
     Had a close call this morning I was backing out of my drive-way when I suddenly remembered I needed gas, which caused me to stop for a split second. Just then a car whizzed past going at least 40 miles an hour. If I hadn't stopped I'd probably be a dead man. Moments like that make you think and come up with old cliches like "I guess it wasn't my time."
     Speaking of death I'm currently reading "It's a Slippery Slope." by the late monologist Spalding Gray. I picked the book up two years ago because of the title before I ever heard of Gray. I had a little intrigue with one of my muses on her front porch one night and she warned me "We are approaching a slippery slope!"
So, when I saw the title on the remainder table at Hawley Cooke I bought it to give her. Luckily I didn't so, two years later I discover it's by Spalding Gray, who I just learned of after his suicide earlier this year. Gray's mother committed suicide in her early 50s and he seems to have a morbid wish to join her. Early in the book he quotes from Becker's "Denial of Death."
     "The irony of man's condition is that the deepest need is to be free of the anxiety of death and annihilation--but it is life itself that awakens this anxiety, and so we shrink from being fully alive."
     Being fully alive is something you have to work on every day.
     I keep waking up about 3 a.m. every morning with mini-panic attacks. Not fully blown, I don't have to jump in the car and drive around town in the middle of the night like a maniac trying to out run my angst. I just turn the tv on and let its babble wash over me. I don't really watch it of course, too inane. But this morning I turned it on and there was Little Joe Cartwright with a full head of hair and Dean Martin on his old tv variety show. It was an advertisement for a DVD that featured Martin and his show from the 1960s. Later clips showed him with Ethel Merman, Frank Sinatra and all these other dead stars. They all looked so alive and healthy. Boy, if they'd only known what was waiting in the wings. luv, yardhog

Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Summer Musings

I'm starting to enjoy the benefits of 14 months of house renovation. Last night I was sitting at my new granite breakfast bar, when I realized the two rooms together have an altogether different acoustic balance. By sitting further away from the speakers you get the effect of being in an actual nightclub sitting at the bar facing the bandstand. The sensation is exquisite.
     At the same time I could look out into the yard and see at the birdfeeders - Get This - black-caped chickadees, tufted tit mice, cardinals, doves, robins, woodpeckers and an occassional hummingbird.  Plus squirrels and chipmunks feeding on the ground. A much better show than "Thunder Over Louisville."
     These are re-cyclable natural pets. They don't cost anything. You don't have to walk them in the morning, take them to the vet and if they die they're immediately replaced. COOL! D said it would be a good thing if husbands were like that.
     Pianist Pete Peterson is playing at the Jazz Factory downtown tonight and tomorrow. I was reading an article in New Orlean's "OffBeat" magazine yesterday that mentioned Pete. The piano player being profiled, a fellow named Hood, I forgot his first name, said the only piano lesson he had ever taken was from a guy named Pete Petterson at Mom's Music in Louisville.

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Prison All The Time


     I've always thought that working for state government and the prison system had a lot of similarities. Like every morning I have to unlock three large doors to gain access to my office. And there are always several prisoners from the state rehabilitation center working on the grounds in their distinctive brown prison garb.
     Today I had a further confirmation. I was driving through the guard shack at the base. Each time I pass through there I have to show my picture I.D. to a female soldier dressed in camouflage, despite the fact I drive the only blue sports car in the agency, wear three ear rings and always wear a loud Hawaiian shirt. Today when I was asked for my i.d. I gave her the one I use at the prison that has a photo of the Kentucky State Reformatory prison tower coming out of the back of my head. "JCC Professor" it says officially. Although the prison secretary that made it for me three years ago wasn't really concerned. "What do you want on your I.D. Sir? "Oh, JCC Clown," I might have told her. Anyway, when I showed the guard my card she smiled broadly and said " How about that, I'm a security guard at Luther Luckett Prison. Been there nine years. It's a small world."  I thought I recognized that lady!


The other day I was having lunch at my favorite, next door Mexican eatery and I couldn't help but notice that everyone in the room must have been over 70. The fellow sitting with his aged wife across from me had something wrong with his throat (probably from smoking) and everytime he spoke he would emit a low gurgle. One lady sitting with her friends at a table was so bent that her face was practically  lying in her plate. I felt like I was in a nursing home. What bothered me most though, was the fact that this was all rather up-setting to me, almost ruined my meal.

Monday, August 2, 2004

Blogging Along

Long time no blog... Too many distractions, mainly preparation for last night's open house, which was a resounding success. Among the exalted guests were singers Gayle Wynters, Vickie True, poets Bill Smith, Ron Whitehead and Elizabeth, photographer John Hill and pianist Pete Peterson. Not bad considering it was really D's soiree, celebrating the completion of a project that she fully orchestrated and paid for. (My own "Mid-Summer's Night Dream will be coming up in a couple of weeks.) It's been a trying 14 months. What I really enjoyed last night were the reactions of everyone as they took in all the photos, paintings, books, music, sculptures, etc, etc. As I said last night, you can not look in any direction in any room of the house that there isn't a story. But where oh, where was the Guru of Bardstown Road. Missing in action?