The title song of this album was recorded live in Luckenbach, Texas, in 1974 or 5? If Gary P. Nunn seems to have been dragging through this version, it's probably because he was. I was there that night drunk, whooping-it-up in the background during the recording and then later getting stoned out of my mind among the boulders and the rocks overlooking the Luchenbach Saloon.
There was a raffle and I won a copy of the Whole Earth Catalog. I felt so lucky. It was like a badge of my countercultural status, one that I could show my friends later or place on my coffee table as a conversation piece next to the rolling tray. And it was so big -- 11 x 14 with a black and white picture of the earth from outer space on the cover -- I used it to roll a few numbers that night and missed the irony completely. But then, so did its authors.
My older brother, who was in pharmacy school at the time and never was the sort to actually use the drugs he was studying so that, instead, he could continue to proficiently and professionally count them and place them in brown plastic bottles and then slap on a label without fear of arrest, just shook his head at me in bewilderment.
He is still counting and measuring while I have changed careers three times since then; but I still know "pharmacology" in a way that he could never comprehend pharmacology. Of course, his brain remains in much better condition for such tasks, tasks that Buckminster Fuller and we, his countercultural followers, used to call "linear;" whereas, my gifts were more of a "spatial" nature. It's an epistemological issue, you know.
Now in my view, Black Jack and Weed was never a good combination (it always seemed to make me sick and throw-up); but I never quite got the teaching on avoidance once my frontal lobes were relieved by the night crew. I've seen grown men passed out, face down in their own vomit at Willie Nelson concerts because of this combination utilized without moderation for just such celebrations. In fact, I was awakened one morning in the same condition by the neighbor's dog licking my face as I lay in the yard -- face down in it -- outside my brother's pick-up truck where I had made it about three steps, leaving the door wide open and engine still running (I somehow managed to forget one of my younger brothers at the "Upstairs Club" topless bar on South Lamar and drove home in his truck. I probably convinced him that he was too drunk to drive and that I should keep the keys for him. I still don't know how he got home and probably shouldn't ask). Back then, I was such a hunk-a-hunk of burning love that I was getting it from one of the strippers for free until her fiancée came back to town, leaving me brokenhearted and crying "Why Me?" -- drunk of course -- to the giant live oak in the front yard of my Newning Street cabin in Travis Heights (Austin).
And as if this form of obsessively repeated craziness, drowning in drunken memories of outlaw and cowboy times long past, is not absurd enough on the simple merit the Luckenbach Saloon never was much of anything but a honky tonk dance hall for hate-crimes-commitin' rednecks until "Waylon & Willie & the Boys" made it a happenin' thang for the counterculture on the sheer power of their own legendary status -- then the fact that all of the "cowboys" and "cowgirls" and "outlaws" out there that night, whooping and-a-hollerin' were all hippies like me should set the standard for Austintatiousness so that social constructionists in the years of Culture Wars to come can effectively differentiate bullshit from genuine cultural malaise -- we being the bullshit; the red necks being the cultural malaise. Of course the easiest way to tell the recovering hippies from the righteously abstinent Southern Baptists patriots during a national political convention is that the hippies will wave at you in a whore house.
Okay, so I actually had worked on a ranch in New Mexico once. But that still doesn't explain away the pretentiousness of My Generation. Nor our romantic notions of the Old West. I was in my early twenties then and my horse was a better horse than I was a cowboy; but by then I had already done way more acid than either he or Carlos Casteneda's crow could imagine. So yes, I would say my experience was magical, but I would never compare myself to Waylon Jennings. Now that was a cowboy.
They called it "Progressive Country," and the thing that made it "progressive" you see, was the weed. Willie Nelson used to get so heartfelt concerned about the drinking among members of his band and the tragedy it caused in their lives that he'd encourage them to go to detox at Oak Springs in Austin. All the while he was smokin' bud and never has quit far as I know. But then, he's an Indian, you see. It's the cowboys you gotta watch out for in today's social paradigms. The Indians are wise and crafty like a coyote in this, our New Age shaman opera, where guys like Willie get to sing the best arias and make the audience cry.
Looking back.... er, that's Luckenbach... I still don't get how being a slobbering drunk dying of cirrhosis of the liver came to be such an heroic thing. I think even Waylon Jennings came to regret it but then there's a little phenom known as "powerlessness," that just irks the shit out of "real men" and many just can't come to that place of "surrender" that defines men as "losers" in love and war and desert fathers when they let go the masculine storyline that has always been determined by what women are not. Now there is a study in social power that contains a dissertation for some lucky candidate.
Heh. It's all about the bootstraps. What's a liver ever done for a hero anyway?
It was a time of Vietnam, of drugs, of "free sex" and of draft-dodging of the sort that defined my set as a bunch of "pinko, commie, fagot, cowards" and George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney as a future president and vice president. They are the patriots and we are not, no matter how involved they or their families were in the making and avoiding of war, the enabling of drug trafficking during the Iran-Contra Affair, as well as the heroin and nuclear technology pipeline through Afghanistan and Pakistan that the U. S. MSM still won't touch, the infamy of the Franklin Sex Scandal and Poppy's involvement in it, or the continuing secretive Bush family sexual legacy that recently resulted in the "elimination" of Jeane Palfrey, the "D.C. Madam" who threatened Cheney and the Bush Administration with a stink of sin so nauseous that Ralph Reed, Ted Haggard and James Dobson couldn't wash off with the right wing waters of baptism from Alaska if the Prince of Blackwater himself was saying the prayers of exorcism in the name of Gary Bauer.
If money and hypocrisy are among my blog themes tonight, it's because money and hypocrisy were the things that defined us into such radically dichotomous social categories of class and status both then and now.
By the way -- Of Bush, Cheney and me -- all three of us are still alcoholic and only one of us is in recovery. Plus, I've been broke a hell of a lot longer then they have, so if they need a sponsor for how to make it without money as their house collapses upon their own heads, I'd be glad to help out but they're going to have to want my help and ask for it. Certain steps will have to be taken as well. But then, that leads us right back to the ol' "powerless" thing that's got Laura's mind made up that there's gonna be a "d-i-v-o-r-c-e" come January, 2009. [More on that later for those inquiring minds who want to know. It seems the bootstraps broke off...again and again.]
And have you heard that John McCain was a POW during that war? That's right. A POW. Gosh, that makes him the most special kind of courageous hero, and having that level of PTSD with its accompanying paranoia, hypervigilenge, rage, history of sexual acting-out and infedelity on top of a generationally extant spirt of war mongering, suggests McCain as the most qualifid candidate in the field for the presidency.... unless you count moose hunting.
These days it still doesn't matter if you had the kind of Gandhian moral courage to just say no in the face of war mongers and their coup d'etat from the Shadows that killed the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Jr.; you have to have that "red badge" that demonstrates your "patriotism" -- that special kind of badge -- that defines you as worthy of the presidency so that you can hang with the likes of Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney (El Presidente de Facto de los Sombras).
Ahhhhh. Now those guys were real men. Oh, and you too, Sarah!
They say that somewhere out there -- it's probably being fought out of the same office in the Pentagon as the "War of Terrorism" *wink*wink* (you know, the one with the hot-lines to Halliburton, Exxon-Mobil and Blackwater) -- there is a "War on Drugs" *wink*wink* still going on. Well, this narrative was written by a veteran of that war. One who lost -- a loser with the infamous capital "L." Surrendered just like those Pinko Communist bastards who couldn't hold their liquor and faded away while Yeltsen continued on in a stupor until even he was dismissed to his very own place among the Ya Ya Sisterhood somewhere in the old Soviet Union or in the Mines of Mordor. Now I'm an insufferable pacifist but I don't mind it if you have an occasional battle as long as you let me know when you'll be driving the convoy through my neighborhood.
The Armadillo World Headquarters, in Austin, was an old quanset hut where some of the greatest concerts in Central Texas were held. A bank bought the land and shut us down. Culture be damned. Especially sub-culture. They went broke long before today's financial straights that are now closing down the demonic culture of Mammon that claimed the Armadillo as martyr. It was years before "Slackers" replaced us hippies as the voice of the underground in Austin (unless you count the Bohemian intelligentsia who work their way through UT at Whole Foods' headquarter store) .... except that we did it "counterculture" with energy and motivation, a thing that explains why we are still so cynical and Slackers are still just... slackers. But at least they have Michael Moore.
As for rednecks? Well they have now added home-manufactured crystal methamphetamine to their Saturday night communion services to the effect that turned the Reverend Ted Haggard himself into a truly get-down, newly revived brand of Evangelical Holy Roller who was having ecstatic visions of such earth shaking proportions in the color lavender that when he sang out "Oh my God! Oh my God!" it was coming in a such sweetly sopranoed pitch and timber that it must have raised Judge Roy Bean from the dead thinking Lilly Langtree and all the angels of heaven were heralding The Rapture and that every sentient being west of the Pecos had awakened to Glooooory.
Obama was right. These people are crazy as a shit bird in an Alaskan outhouse; they haven't gone away since the days of Gary P. Nunn's famously satirical isolationist lament; and they are still "turning to religion and guns in their despair." They are all turning out to vote McCain/Palin just as sure as a moose farts downwind in the register of high-C during a butthole puckering blizzard.
This narrative was cross-posted to
Southern Perspectives -- The Decline & Fall of the Southern Strategy
at Open Salon.com
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