My Malheur Summer

Plaza Hotel - Burns, Oregon
Plaza Hotel – Burns, Oregon

The sun was just rising when I kick-started my motorcycle. An army-surplus backpack, recently purchased from Andy and Bax Military Surplus, was strapped to the back of the bike. My duffle bag had departed on a Trailways bus the day before. Lombard Street took me east, away from the city.

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Literally Decimated & Other Malapropisms: Post-Mother’s-Day Thoughts

E. B. White & friend
E. B. White & friend

Language is a living, ever-evolving organism. The meanings and uses of words change over time. If a word is misused enough over a long-enough period of time, it becomes part of the accepted language.

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Merle Haggard – March 2014

MerleHaggard-620x400The band came out first, dressed in dark suits. They warmed up the crowd with a couple songs before Merle Haggard came on stage. He also wore a suit. Underneath his jacket, instead of white shirt and tie, he sported a red hoodie sweatshirt, white drawstrings hanging down. The hood flopped in the back; a cowboy hat was pulled down over his gray mane.

The Sunset Center in Carmel-by-the Sea is a long way from Bakersfield by most any measure. This show attracted more cowboy boots than had ever been inside the venue. Haggard prefaced the song “Workin’ Man Blues” by saying people in Carmel might not understand it, but then “You probably did all your working before you got to Carmel.”

He closed the show with the provocative “Okie From Muskogee.” merlehaggardHaggard’s parents came from Oklahoma to Oildale, California, where Merle was born. He introduced the song by saying he had written it for his father. He instructed the audience to sing the first line, “We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee.” He said that wasn’t loud enough and to do it again. We did, with more enthusiasm. Haggard finished the song by stating he doesn’t smoke marijuana much any more.

Click here for a later version of “Okie” with Marty Stuart and Willie Nelson.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude

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Christo & Jeanne-Claude, Central Park 2005

If you happen to be in northern Italy in June, you’ll want to visit Lake Iseo, about seventy miles northeast from Milan. There you can see – and be part of – The Floating Piers.

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Nuns and Bowie Kuhn

cold playoffs
Cubs and Mets 2015 National League Championship Series

Last night the Kansas City Royals beat the New York Metropolitans – Mets for short – in the first game of the World Series. They did it in fourteen innings played over five hours in fifty-five degree weather. The last time a World Series game went that many innings was in 2005 when the White Sox beat the Astros in game three. (The White Sox swept the Series in four games.) That game lasted five hours and forty-one minutes. It hasn’t always been this way. In 1916, the Red Sox beat the Brooklyn Robins – aka Dodgers – in fourteen innings. That game lasted 2:32.

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Whiskey & Hot Brown

Does softball lead to crime? Maybe in this instance. Authorities in Kentucky have broken up a whiskey-theft crime ring. Nine people, who got to know each other from playing softball, were charged with conspiracy. They stole eleven stainless-steel barrels of whiskey worth $100,000 from Buffalo Trace and Wild Turkey distilleries. The stolen whiskeys included seventeen-year-old Eagle Rare bourbon and twenty-year-old Pappy Van Winkle.

Also indicted was a security guard for Buffalo Trace, who was paid $800 by the conspirators, to look the other way while thefts occurred. You can read about it here.

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