Thursday, November 25, 2010

And on this day of giving thanks (or of robbing the Indians of their land, however you choose to look at it)....

Professor John Harrelson, my distinguished rock 'n' roll elder, asked via FaceSpace if "some friends had the good sense to include (me) in some misadventure or something." As it were, things didn't work out that way, actually. Blame it on logistics, really. This doesn't mean I wasn't able to find misadventure of my own....

Thanks to an ex-nun I work with who knows every social services or charity function going on in this city, I was aware of a Thanksgiving feast with music being offered at a neighborhood rec center today. When it finally became obvious that the one orphan's Thanksgiving I was offered was gonna end up a logistical nightmare, I finally cleaned up and hopped a subway and a bus to get to the rec center about 30 minutes before the 'do was to wind down. As I walked up, I heard a massive African-American gospel choir backed by a tight, solid, rockin' rhythm section. Which was fine by me, black gospel being some of the finest music you can possibly hear, and as fiery as the best rock 'n' roll.

When I walked in, I realized the song they were wailing: "My Way."

Really? "My Way?" The most arrogant, self-aggrandizing anthem of ego ever? Done by a black Baptist church choir?!

I must have looked more lost than Chris Columbus when he hit these shores back in 1492. I soon found a gorgeous, exotic black woman wrapped around me. And believe me, I was thankful this day to have those abundant curves pressed against me.

She whispered in my ear, "Do you want to eat dinner too, baby?" Um, sure. What are you offering besides dinner and incongruous gospel, darlin'?

She led me and my leather jacket and now-tighter-than-before stretch jeans to a table and placed a wonderfully piled-up plate before me. I was very thankful as I huffed my food, which was amazing. But I was not so thankful she had disappeared, never to be seen again. "My Way" was followed by "We Wish You A Merry Christmas." I wasn't too thankful to hear Xmas carols this early. Damn.

35 minutes later, I was back on the subway, heading back to Napalm HQ West, to meet with one of the few things I miss about Austin. (I'm trying to convince her to move out here. Dunno if I'm succeeding.) (And no, it ain't like that between us, smutbrains! At least, it hasn't been since maybe 12 years back.)  And I walk into the subway car...and see a gypsy accordionist in full "Lady Of Spain" mode, orange soda-colored shiny silk shirt, black crushed velvet trousers and vest, accompanying gypsy woman in blue crushed velvet gypsy woman dress passing the cup. 

Black Baptist church versions of "My Way" and fleshly temptation all at once. Gypsies "Lady Of Spain"-ing their way across my subway car. How could a day get any more bizarre?

I'm thankful to be able to relate such oddities to you.

I'm also thankful to have a life bizarre enough to write about.

I'm thankful I have a roof over my head and a job, modest as they may be.

I'm thankful to have my first guitar in two years.

I'm thankful for the friends I have. I have lost way too many friends the last few years. Yet the ones who've stuck by me have proven to be golden and true. And I couldn't keep going without you.

I'm thankful to be able to tell a story and sing you a song, and maybe give you a little thrill or a laugh in the process. And I'm thankful to have all of you wanting to read or hear whatever I have to offer.

I'm thankful for what family I have left in this world. They've been getting awfully thin on the ground the last few years, too.

I'm thankful to have inherited the best qualities of one of those I've lost the last few years, my mother: Her wit, her wisdom, her huge and open and generous heart, her love of language and literature. I'm proud to be your son, Judy Stegall, as we enter the fourth anniversary of your passing. I love you, Mom. Por vida.

I'm thankful the woman who re-opened what I thought was a permanently cold and closed-down heart seems to have won the battle for her life she's been waging for the past year. And I look forward to being reunited with her in the near future.

I'm thankful to be alive. I wasn't always, and this life isn't always that easy. But the alternatives kinds suck. And they would suck more for those I'd leave behind, I now see. I just have to keep mindful of these things.

I haven't got a lot. But I do have a lot to be thankful for. And I'm especially thankful I finally learned to count my blessings, not just on this day. Taking that inventory every morning keeps me going, keeps me humble, keeps me mindful of all that's at stake. Guess it's never too late to learn that lesson.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all. And thanks for reading this

Soundtrack for this post: Best Of by The Q65, who are sorta how you say "The Pretty Things" in Dutch. Thanks to Mike Stax from the brilliant Ugly Things fanzine for turning me on to these '60s Big Beat snotrockers.

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