Lunch Drawing #70: Motor Gypsy

Motor Gypsy


This drawing has its genesis in remembering ditching high school and going downtown to hang around the bus station, where you could buy cigarettes, fuck-books, and rolling papers. It was at the corner of Clark and Randolph and it was a pungent, down-at-the-heels, way station for transients and those down on their luck, forced to ride the dog. Old people would sit in their chairs and pay to watch television, 15 minutes at a time.

Homeless people would do the same thing, except pretend to watch television, catching a few nods. This place is where questions about “class” in America began to take sharper focus for me. This drawing is about remembering that place. I miss it. Every time I hear Steve Earle sing ‘Continental Trailways Blues‘ or think about Denis Johnson’s brilliant novel, Angelsthis place comes alive in my memory.

Published in: on December 26, 2014 at 8:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Bird for a Tightrope Walker

At the feet of a day-saint, she was part of their song; deep and blue.

At the feet of a day-saint, she was part of their song; deep and blue.

There is a marvelous novel by Colum McCann, the great Irish writer, called Let the Great World Spin, that is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It takes place on the day Phillipe Petit dances his magical dance on a high wire between the Twin Towers. It links together moments of lives that at first seem separate in the book, only to have sometimes close, sometimes tenuous connections, and hints at how dependent our stories are on each other. It is an immensely human and heartbreaking book. There is a couple mourning the deaths of their sons in VietNam and their grief renders a distance of whistling miles between them–a couple of Irish brothers, one a monk making their way in a new country they don’t quite comprehend and maybe aren’t quick enough for… it is a truly lovely book. I love daredevils like Petit, and his remarkable walk between the Towers, where he takes the time to play and dance and just almost become part of the air, and the wire, and the sky. . .it certainly makes the case that life is an all-or-nothing proposition. This bird is for Phillipe Petit.

Published in: on December 26, 2014 at 8:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Bird For the Green Stars (for Bobby Keys) Here You Go Neko

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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Jail Dog

Jail Dog etching

Published in: on December 11, 2014 at 11:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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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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