The holiday song made for #LosAngeles #ChristmasInLosAngeles stuff it up your dad’s stocking http://bit.ly/UGGmqT
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I stayed in Santa Fe for a few days and checked out the Georgia O’Queef museum. Then I hitchhiked up the State Road 503 to Taos. A black Escalade picked me up. There was a man with gray eyes and dark, long hair driving. He was heading to Taos.
“Hi, my name is Jack Kennedy,” I said.
“My name is Bob Marley,” he said.
He wasn’t fucking with me. His mom was half Irish and half Navajo. His father was Pueblo Indian with some Spanish thrown in a few centuries ago, probably from raping and pillaging. Both of his parents were huge Bob Marley fans. I made a mental note to write a song called Bob Marley.
He dropped me off in Arroyo Seco, which is a small ski village outside Taos. I found a boarding house at an old ski hotel. It was on an organic farm called the Abominable Snow Mansion. I checked in at the front desk. The girl working reception was beyond hot and Brazilian to match. She showed me to my room and asked me if I liked hiking. I said yes.
I laid down on the bottom bunk. I usually take the bottom bunk in a boarding house. I don’t want to wake the whole room up climbing into a creeky bunk late at night. I laid on the bed and stared up at the bunk above me. Carved into the wood, and painted over many times with gray paint were the words “Kennedy Stagecoach.” I fell asleep.
The girl at the front desk woke me up. She was going hiking with a friend and asked if I’d like to go. I said yes. She left my room and then abruptly came back in. She was agitated and had changed her mind. She said I wasn’t ready to hike in this altitude. She gave me some shit about being from LA and said she didn’t want to be responsible for me getting lost, left behind, dehydrated, or eaten by a cougar. I told her I was eaten by a cougar in Nashville and really enjoyed it. She said I could come along.
We met her friend by the trailhead. She went by the name ‘Little Switzerland” and claimed to be a singer and rap artist. We made a tentative plan to write a song together.
We hiked down into the Rio Grand. The sun was setting and the river was meandering by. The water level was low. It was just turning fall and most of the melted snow water had come and gone. I stopped to take a leak on a rock and told the girls I’d catch up. I thought about doing my taxes.
I walked back to the trail and the girls were nowhere to be found. The sun was going down fast and the light was almost gone. I felt a rush of panic. I was going to be eaten by cougars. The Brazilian girl was right. I’m not cut out for this hippy bullshit. I’m from LA; a liability anywhere outside Burbank.
I walked for a half mile with no sign of the ladies. When I came around a bend I heard a few people talking. There was a natural pool with a couple (man and woman) and another woman all skinny dipping.
“Have you seen 2 girls hiking this way?” I asked.
“Nope. But they are bound to come through here. Everyone stops at this hot spring on their way out of the canyon” said the man.
I took all my clothes off and eased into the spring. It was about 106.9 degrees. One of the ladies said the water in the hot spring was full of Lithium. This could solve all of my problems.
The man said the hot spring ran underground and trickled out through a cave on the side of the canyon, heating the cave in the winter time. A woman had come out to the area in the 1970s and lived in the cave right through the winter. She lived on the water from the Rio Grande and dry farmed corn. After a year one of the local Indian families took her in and she lived and learned from them for many years. Now she owned the Abominable Snow Mansion hostel in Arroyo Seco.
“What is this hot spring called’” I asked.
“The Stagecoach.” The man said.
The couple decided to leave. They clawed their way out of the Spring and I watched their pale bodies teeter on the rocks. They put their clothes on and hiked up the trail.
“It’s just you and me,” said the woman remaining in the pool.
It was night time and the moon was full. The woman had wavy blond hair and a pretty face. She looked like a young Susan Sarandon circa the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
“Want to hear a story?” she said.
“Back before the great catastrophe, or the great flood as they say in the bible, a local Indian boy came down to this spring to bathe. A young girl came out of a cave and approached the boy. She was dressed in white, with pale skin, silver hair, and the grey eyes of a wolf. She told the boy about an impending apocalypse and offered him shelter and protection with her people deep inside the earth. The Indian trusted her and they went into the earth for 13 years while the surface of the planet was in turmoil. There were floods, volcanoes, earthquakes, and a nuclear holocaust from the meltdown of Atlantean nuclear reactors near Sedona, Arizona. This is why people feel the energy vortexes in Sedona.”
I could feel her foot running up my leg.
“After 13 years the boy and the girl emerged from the caves. They came to this hot spring and made love. The woman fell pregnant and they restarted the human race.”
“That story is bullshit,” I said.
“Why is that?” She asked.
“Everyone knows you can’t get pregnant in a Jacuzzi.”
We started kissing and she climbed on top of me. I looked up into the sky and saw all the stars and the full moon. I could see the pixels of my vision in the blackness between the stars. The pixels became clearer and clearer, overtaking any objective images. A din of white noise, like the sound of the ocean, was growing in my ears. My vision turned entirely to TV static and in my ears I heard the crashing sound of the ocean. It was as loud as a 747 taking off at point blank range. Must be the lithium in the water.
We woke up spooning on a bunk bed in Old Orabi, in Hopiland Reservation. There was no funny business with my young travel partner, Brigett, a 19 year old beauty queen from Germany, much to my dismay. But we had stayed late on the Hopi reservation and one of the locals was kind enough to let us share a single bed in one of the 2 rooms in their home. There were three toddlers asleep on mats on the floor in our room and 2 more in the family room. The house was built of cinder blocks and had no electricity.
It was 7 am and way too early. We got into Brigett’s rented Mustang and she drove along the dirt road and onto the main highway. We didn’t speak. We got off the Hopi Land reservation and into the Navajo reservation. By the time we got to Leupp, AZ, I was dying for a coffee.
We pulled into a service station and I made a B line for the market. Briggett put gas in the tank. When I had some coffee I walked outside and starred blankly at the cookie cutter houses on the reservation. Brigett called to me from the car. “Look, over there, across the road.”
Across the highway was an old pick up truck with a boy sitting on the back of it playing guitar. Thank god. Flagstaff had been a bust for music and I was desperate for someone to record. We walked across the highway and met a young man in his late teens named Ray. I asked him if I could record him playing and singing and he agreed.
I went out for a bite to eat at one of the many food trucks in Austin. While standing in line at the organic, tofurkey, soy bean sprout wrap trucks, a homeless man with a beard approached me. He said he knew I was heading to New Mexico. I gave him 5 dollars and wished him good luck.
My food came and I sat down at a pick-nick table and began eating. The old man sat down next to me. He had a white beard, Oakley blades and boots with Cuban heels.
“I’m heading to Santa Fe. Let me give you a lift.”
I finished eating and followed him to a black Escalade. We got in and started driving. The old man told me his name was Tom Fruend. He worked building boats in Florida in the wintertime and spent the rest of the year meandering around the 4 corners and Texas.
We drove for 20 minutes then he pulled into the departures section of Austin Berstrom International Airport. He left the Escalade running next to the white curb.
“What are we doing here?” I asked.
“We’re talking my Gulfstream.” He said and winked.
We walked into the airport and through an unmarked door, down a series of long hallways, more doors, and hallways till we were out on the tarmac. Then we were on the plane taxiing to the runway. I heard traffic control come from the front of the plane and mention Santa Fe Municipal Airport.
The plane had a well stocked mini bar and one well endowed hostess. Tom sat down next to me and lit a Chesterfield King. He told me he had been listening to my radio program and thought it was decent. He said he had been writing some poetry and asked if I would be willing to record it. I said yes and when the plane reached cruising altitude I pulled out my computer and microphone.
I handed Tom the microphone and told him to read. Tom took off his leather vest and stood up in the plane. He appeared to be in a trance as he began mumbling and rambling about a Cyclops and the powers at be. I noticed the outline of an erection through his jeans. He finished his poem and disappeared in the bathroom with the stewardess.
The plane ride was gorgeous. We flew low over the Texas desert which went on forever. More and more trees and green appeared and the desert turned marvelous colors.
The stewardess brought me a cup of coffee, which I take the same way I take my presidents, weak and with a little cream. Before I could finish the coffee I felt a jet of warmth shoot up my spine. I looked around the plane. Everything looked sharper and brighter. The leather fabric of the seats seemed wet. I ran my hand across my seat and a rainbow of color traced off the seat, into the air, and out the window. I looked down my at my hands and henna tattoos raced from my fingertips up my forearms. I reached above me and turned on the air vent. A blast of sound, air, and light came out of the vent. It was Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al.” Christ not that! I stood up on the plane and screamed. A primal blast of air and fire came out of my mouth. I was pulled along with it. I was out of my body and through the roof of the airplane, soaring higher and higher.
Looking back at the earth, it was quiet from far away. I was going further and further into space, passing the moon and through an asteroid belt. I counted the planets all the way up to 13 before I was out of the solar system. There were two suns, I watched them get smaller and smaller until they were pinpoints of light, like any, ordinary stars. There was nothing around me. I could hear nothing. I could see nothing. Darkness was stabbing into me from every direction, like jumping into icy water and letting the cold overtake you. The last photon of light left me and I was nothing.
I woke up on a bus bench in front of a KFC. It looked like 7 or 8 in the morning. There was a group of female singers in the parking lot rehearsing 3 part harmonies in front of a UHaul van. I asked them if I could record them. They were called the Folkadots and were from Salt Lake City. They told me we were in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and asked me why I was sleeping outside with all this expensive equipment. I told them not to ask so many questions.
I called the local Hostel, got the address, and walked a few miles to check in. The hostel was dingy but it would have to do. I checked into my room and went to the bathroom. When I looked in the mirror I screamed. My face was painted like Star Child from Kiss.
I met a woman named Belinda in New Orleans who was moving to California and had a 1984 Toyota Celica. She invited me to join her for the drive west and was going through Austin.
We stopped at a zydeco dance in Lafayette, Louisiana. The dance was mainly an older crowd of 6o somethings doing the 2 step and waltzing slowly around the dancefloor. I tried to keep up but my dance training is mainly in the moonwalk and backspin.
We got back to the car and all the doors were open, including the hatch back. Nothing seemed to be missing but the car was in disarray. Belinda’s clothes were all over the front seats and I had some tax documents laid out across the dashboard. Probably to be photographed.
Belinda asked me to drive. I’d never driven a manual transmission before. She didn’t notice me grinding the gears and stalling all the way to the highway.
Somewhere near Shreveport she fell asleep. It felt great to drive a car and listen to the radio. My 2nd favorite song by The Band, Up On Cripple Creek came on the radio. Levon Helm was singing “Lakes Charles Louisiana” just as I was passing a sign which read “Lake Charles Louisiana.” The universe was having a laugh at me.
Near the boarder with Texas a blimp like airplane appeared in the rear view. It was now dusk and the blimp had some elaborate lighting similar to what you’d see in the original Tron movie. The blimp was moving fast and eventually was traveling along side the right hand side of the car, about 3 miles away and 1000 feet in the air. The radio on the car began cutting in and out and my Iphone lost all power. I checked Belinda’s phone on the dash and it was off. The ship pulled away into the sunset and the radio came back on. Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders from mars was cutting in and out.
We arrived in Austin a few hours later and found a weekly boarding house for 100 bucks. The owner was a curious guy named Scooter. He was going on about anti corporate hostel unions in southern Texas and some injustices being waged against barista unions. I was too tired to keep up but I knew instinctively that I liked Scooter.
It was late but we decided to go to the White Horse and for some dancing. I saw a few solid country bands and made arrangements to record one of them the next day. I caught a blond girl looking at me so I asked her to dance. I stepped all over her feet but she laughed.
We danced for a few numbers then sat at the bar and talked. She told me her name was Olivia and I told her my name was Jack. She was a waitress and a singer. Her mom had died when she was very young and her father was in the army so she had moved around a lot as a child. She invited me back to her house in South Austin and we caught a cab.
We spent a few hours listening to old country records and making out. She had a song she had written called “My Ex-Girlfriend Is A Slut” which we recorded very quickly on an old Dictaphone. She went into the kitchen and hollered “Hey Kennedy, do you want some espresso?” I hadn’t told her my last name. “No, thanks.” It’s probably had some weird truth serum in it.
I thanked her for the southern hospitality and walked home just at the sun and the birds were coming out.
I woke up really late and walked a half mile to a blues guitarists house. His name was Will Knaak. I had a song called “A Girl Called Elvis” which I thought he’d be great to play on. Were recorded for a few hours and he told me about his life.
I cleaned up my aunt’s apartment in Lincoln Park, let myself out and slid the keys back under the front door. I walked to the L train and made my way to Union station.
Amtrack has a train running from Chicago to New Orleans in 19 hours and this sounded like a dream compared to a 30+ hour trip on the Greyhound. The train was a little run down but double level and complete with dining car, observation car, café car, and sleeper cars.
The young lady sat next to me was very sweet. She was young and 3 months pregnant. She was heading to Louisiana to spend some time with her relatives before she got too pregnant to travel.
Around midnight I moved downstairs into the Café car to mix some music on my computer. There were 2 guys and 2 girls having wine and talking. They saw my rig and asked me to play them some beats. The 2 guys made hip-hop music.
As I was playing them some music, one of their girlfriends sat down across from me. She was really hammered. Her eye was lazy and she was so trashed she thought I was her ex-husband. Her conversation turned aggressive.
“And another thing, I ain’t watching another white boy come down here and steal my ideas. You always stealing my ideas,” she said.
I started grabbing my things slowly moving away from her when she grabbed my computer. I hung onto it for a moment but I could feel the metal casing flex and I just let her have it. Then another girl tried to get the computer from her and was put into a headlock. The girl in the headlock started to yell and her voice dropped about 3 octaves. She was a guy. I was on Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train. Get me off.
I went upstairs to the observation car and waited for 10 minutes till the trans gender woman came up and gave me the computer. I gave her my number and she said “thank you baby.” She never called.
Fell asleep for a few hours and woke up to a man in a purple pinstriped suit and purple gators pacing up and down the aisle mumbling “Imma gonna stab em.” The train stopped in Memphis and the police came on and arrested him and the woman who took my computer.
Apparently, the drunken woman and the purple gator guy had decided to have sex. He went into the Conductor’s sleeping cabin, took all his clothes off and waited for her, only to be found by the conductor. The rest of the train ride was boring.
I got in to New Orleans, checked in, and met up with David Burl Jr. and his friend Nate Peek. We spent the evening writing and recording a song called Peacemeal.
Dave and Nate were cool guys and we had a good time. Fell asleep straight upon getting back to the boarding house.
I woke up early and took the trolley in the French Quarter and had lunch. The architecture in the French quarter was interesting.
In the afternoon I took a cab a few miles outside of town and met with John Tyree and Samantha Farve. We wrote a song called Wash My Blues Away. Working with Samantha and John was great except when John’s dog bit me in the balls, mid guitar take. After that New Orleans was smooth sailing.
Chicago Witches hear it on Soundcloud now!
Rolling the Mustang put a damper on things. My head wound from crushing the Steely Dan tape ached, and my dreams were fevered and strange from a mild concussion.
In one of my dreams, I was looking into a bathroom mirror. I saw something dark behind the skin of my forehead. I picked at my forehead and dug into the skin, pulling out a computer chip. It had a serial number that read “WANKER.”
I woke up on the bus and Dara was gone. She must have gotten off in Knoxville. One lonely teardrop rolled down my cheek and dripped onto the floor of the bus. I rubbed it out with my shoe.
The Greyhound was back to Nashville by 5am. I had a quick recording session at noon with a band called Alabama Capital. They stole my phone but we wrote a solid song called Get Dangerous. Then I hopped back on the Greyhound for Chicago. The guys sitting behind me had guitar cases. I asked them about music in Chicago. One of them said, “It sucks.” I thought I’ll skip recording their band.
A black SUV pulled alongside the bus around 4am. It was followed by another, and another. 5 black SUV’s escorted the bus off the Highway into a rest stop. The bus driver came on the PA and announced if anyone needed to use the bathroom now was the time. I got off the bus and bought some peanuts in the vending machine. I watched from the bathroom as a man in a Greyhound uniform got out of one SUV and took the driver’s place on the bus.
The bus got into downtown Chicago around 9am. My old friend and confidant, EyeBall, met me at the James Hotel. EyeBall produces a pet psychic radio program. She only speaks Japanese. I only speak American.
EyeBall knew a band of witches called Doctor Pyramid in Logan’s Square. We took a cab across Chicago to a basement studio/ crack house. We got to know the band over some instant coffee. The drummer beer bonged some 151. (DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME) We started jamming and came up with a creepy recording called Not In My House.
The singer of Doctor Pyramid said she had recorded a ghost on her AmPro tape machine. She played us the audio and all the power shut off in the house. We lit some candles and played spin the bottle. The power never came back on so EyeBall and I bounced.
We stopped at a venue called the Hideout. It was Al Capon’s hangout during prohibition. Unfortunately, they had a jazz band, but we paid the cover and went inside anyway. EyeBall and I sat at the bar in silence. The bartender was a cute girl with tattoos. She gave me a folded napkin, which I stuffed into my shirt pocket.
After 5 whiskeys, EyeBall picked a fight with the bouncer. He grabbed her bicep and she squashed her heel into his loafer. Then she spun him around and smashed his face into a Ghostbuster’s pinball machine. She was muttering something in Japanese as I dragged her out of the bar and into a cab.
The next morning we checked out of the James Hotel and headed to Lincoln Park, where my aunt has an empty apartment. She works for the NSA and travels most of the time. We let ourselves in, turned the water on, opened all the doors and windows and aired the place out. No one had used it in months. A typed letter was on the floor in the entryway. It was dated February 14th, 2011.
Make yourself at home. Order food from the corner market and put it on my tab. Keys to my Range Rover are in the orange ashtray. No girls.
I asked EyeBall if that included her. She nodded.
A man called Emil Hyde called me. He had a song he’d like me to work on and was walking distance. Mr. Hyde lived in the basement of a funeral home. We walked down into his recording studio and his monitors were set up on a wooden coffin. EyeBall and I took turns singing and quickly came up with a fun song over Emil’s music which we called “Coming On The Nightbus.” As we were leaving Emil stopped me in the hallway. He told me very sternly “do register to not vote. You will get jury duty.”
We got back to my aunt’s and took off our shoes. There was an old reel of Ampro audio tape on my aunt’s fireplace. It said “New Years 1951” in blue ball point pen. My grandfather was an audio engineer for the Ampro Tape Company in Chicago in the 50s, this must be one of his home recordings. Eye Ball had a portable ¼ inch tape player in her carry on and began digitizing the tape.
I made a cup of Sanka and sat down in a rocking chair. I remembered the napkin the cute bartender had stuck in my pocket so I pulled it out. I unfolded it. It read “WANKER.”