Bird For the Green Stars (for Bobby Keys) Here You Go Neko

birdforthegreenstars
If you’d ever seen Bobby Keys, you’d never forget him; big body, face like a canned ham, sandy-grey hair, and a smile as big as Texas. He was from that part of the country where you swear there is something in the water that makes musicians–Lubbock County, which gave the world everyone from Buddy Holly to Delbert McClinton. Bobby was from Slaton Texas , a stone’s throw from the county seat in Lubbock.

I don’t know how many times and in how many incarnations I saw Bobby Keys. Of course I saw him with the Stones, his biggest platform in rock and roll. But I also got to see him with Joe Ely at the Fitzgeralds American Music Festival, playing the kind of music he was born to play and playing with musicians who shared the same hard-scrabble geography of childhood that he did.

Over the years I’d seen him play with Lloyd Maynes, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and all manner of Texas troubadours and he was never less than a force of nature. His sound was as distinct as that of big Lee Allen; like a sonic fingerprint. He also had the Bobby Keys mythology following him around– the only guy to get kicked out of the Stones for a while after drinking a bath-tub full of Dom Perignon. There was talk that he drank it while he and two French hookers had cavorted in it, but Bobby often said he’d already drank it by the time the hookers arrived, saying “I’ve got too much respect for Dom Perignon, than to BRUISE it in such a way.”

Whenever I listen to John Lennon’s Whatever Gets You Through the Night, I always think it is the kind of song he should have written more of. All throughout this joyful stomp is Bobby Keys, off the leash and running amok and it is the aural picture of a good time. Or when I hear the Stones’ Can’t You Hear Me Knockin‘, it is Bobby’s horn playing that low, rhythmic, dirty mind kind of horn that seems to crawl up from the depths and reach into your pants. His horn provided a great percentage of the Stones suggestive and transgressive funk, grease, and dirt and I, for one, am going to miss him.

Published in: on December 12, 2014 at 4:43 pm  Comments (1)  
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La Duo Infine

blackburnianwarblerThese are actually Blackburnian warblers. They blow through here during migration. My pal, Greg, knows a place where you can see them every year in Lincoln Park.

I met with a bunch of the Chicago and Illinois Birders the other night at The Rail, a joint up on the north side. We watched the Bears get creamed and talked birds. It’s amazing to be in the company of people who know so much; where the owls will be, where this bird and that bird will be and always having to adjust estimations because of stuff like climate-change and adjust expectations accordingly. Sometimes I feel like I am WAY too late to all of thit, but these folks made me feel at ease. The only desire that is important to them is the desire to see birds, and to share in the wonder of what they magically bring into our world. I’m very grateful to be in their company and it’s wonderful to be able to learn so much new information at my age. I’m lucky.

 

Published in: on December 9, 2014 at 4:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Bird from a Crown of Knives

Bird from a Crown of Knives

In the song, you gently built your nest in a crown of knives.

Somebody sent me a picture of this bird on Facebook. I believe its proper name is a “Silver Eared Maltesia,” which sounds like a medication you take for the clap. One often sees these birds in the Asian bird markets, where they are sold tethered to sticks as cage birds; a stupid and cruel practice which I wish would cease. In fact, I wish all trafficking in exotic birds would be outlawed. I’ve never understood the instinct of people who would cage a creature meant to fly. It seems contrary to the creature itself, and identifies a deep and abiding cruelty.

Published in: on November 5, 2014 at 1:12 am  Comments (1)  
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Riverside Wren

Your Songs Feel Out The River Like a Blind Man

This is actually a Riverside wren, a little bird endemic to Costa Rica and Central America. It is endangered because of shrinking habitat and climate change. The State of the Bird Report from the ABA came out last month with some dire and sobering results regarding the expected extinction of hundreds of songbirds in the next decade, which will be devastating to our ecosystem and a grim reminder of what “progress” has robbed us of. . .

Published in: on October 29, 2014 at 11:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Terraplane

Terraplane - Steve Earle CDFor the past 20 years, I’ve had the privilege of making the cover art for Steve Earle’s CD and album covers. The new one, Terraplane, is a blues record, and it is a knock-out. It is named for the old car that Nash used to make; one that  blues men referred to as, “The Money Ride.”

Published in: on October 18, 2014 at 5:20 pm  Comments (3)  
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Bird for Cuba

Bird for Cuba

Published in: on October 8, 2014 at 12:15 am  Comments (2)  
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Bird For Puerto Rico

Bird for Puerto Rico

Little Dweller

Published in: on October 7, 2014 at 11:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

The lord's own rough beast; devoured by the children of other beasts on the boulevard. . . The sun was killing him

The lord’s own rough beast; devoured by the children of other beasts on the boulevard. . .
The sun was killing him

Published in: on September 27, 2014 at 4:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Bird for Israel

bird for israel

She flies from Tel Aviv to the wall, moving the silences tree to tree

Published in: on August 27, 2014 at 10:48 am  Comments (1)  
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Bird for Palestine

Bird for Palestine

Published in: on August 19, 2014 at 11:54 pm  Comments (1)  
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Volo

 With Your Bloody Bib, In Secret, You Do The Work Of The Songs.


With
Your
Bloody
Bib,
In
Secret,
You
Do
The
Work
Of
The
Songs.

Published in: on August 14, 2014 at 1:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

Published in: on August 7, 2014 at 11:50 pm  Comments (1)  

Lunch Drawing #55

lunch drawing 55

Published in: on August 7, 2014 at 11:48 pm  Comments (1)  

Pink Death

Pink Death

My pal Penn Jillette once owned a vehicle named Pink Death. It was a Ford Bronco painted a color Penn invented, called “Stripper Inner Labia Pink.”  So candy-colored pink was this car, that the guy at the body shop made Penn stand there and watch as they gave his formerly butch truck something like a hundred coats to get it the right blush of “Inner Labia Pink,” which is, “Stripper.” There is actually a paint-chip named Stripper.

Damn I love this country.

I spent a week zipping around Vegas with Penn on assignment from Playboy and it was a holy hoot watching people’s reactions to Pink Death. It were as if the goddamn thing were radioactive. Even twenty years ago in Vegas this was regarded as weird.

Penn is full of funny traits and quirky observations; one of the benefits of being his friend is, though we are polar opposites in some of our political beliefs, we never fail to crack each other up. He is also one of the smartest people I’ve ever known with a searching intellect and endlessly inquisitive mind that wants to know the nuances of every single thing that interests him.

For years, Penn and Teller have had a bit where a rabbit winds up in a chipper and for years, Penn convinced me that they actually just threw the fucking rabbit into the chipper.  “Rabbits are CHEAP,” Penn would explain, and I believed him. That’s a bad habit of mine; believing Penn when he’s pulling my joint.

He once staged an elaborate subterfuge to get me to believe that everyone we knew got a discount from Federal Express, except me. He surreptitiously emailed all of my friends to get them to go along with the gag and I believed them.

So, like an asshole, I called FedEx and asked them if they thought I was a fucking mark. I told them that I used FedEx almost everyday and that I should get the discount that my friends enjoy.

They asked me what I was referring to. That while they valued my business, their rates were their rates and everyone paid the same. I told them I wasn’t some douche-bag or a mark; that I knew how this game was played and I wanted in on the discount, and to quit working my stick.

The woman, Nora, assured me that there was no secret discount and that I was mistaken, which just infuriated me. I started yelling, “I’m not a sucker, lady. I’m not some fucking hick you can jerk-off like Dickie Dope. I’m not a mark.” And I added “Now don’t fuck around with me Nora. I’m in no mood!”

She asked me who told me this and I said all of my friends had told me, in fact, Penn…

PENN! Mother-fucker. That Mother-fucker.

Then I got it. I swear I could hear him laughing his Newfie ass off all the way from Vegas.

The “Tony Called FedEx” story was born and all of my friends know it. And at every opportunity Penn relates it, with great relish and much embroidery to entertain all who are present, including me—the Sap who called FedEx.

I used to draw rabbits for my mother. As a kid, my sisters had them as pets and they got huge. They were also not as gentle as you might think. I saw one of our bunnies kick the holy dog-shit out of a wild rabbit that had come into the yard and attempted to eat some of his food. They’re nasty little fuckers and territorial as hell. Whenever I felt the need to get out of the doghouse with my mom, I’d draw her a rabbit or a bird and she would then become convinced of my better side long enough to get me out of the house and back on the street with my friends. I was good at charming my mother. I once sold her a baggie full of Cheerios by telling her they were “donut seeds.” She gave me a buck. Even I, as a child had some of the Penn Jillette carny-trash in me.

In the city where I live, you mostly see squirrels, though lately I’ve noticed a lot more rabbits. I like them. I love drawing their odd shape and when I spot one, the stillness of them is almost eerie. Often they freeze right in the middle of the road and get creamed, which is kind of a dumb-fuck way to get killed. At least squirrels run away.

I found out later that Penn and Teller don’t kill the rabbits—cheap or not, they actually treat them quite well. As Penn explained, “Hey, the little fuckers work six shows a week.”

Published in: on July 31, 2014 at 1:58 am  Comments (1)  
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Bird for Bobby Womack

birdforbobbywomack

Published in: on July 8, 2014 at 2:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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