Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Christmas Story . . . .

I had sent demo tapes out . . . circa 1988 and got a couple immediate responses.  One, from a publisher in Minneapolis, home of Prince . . . the other, from Tallahassee.  The fellow, Charlie, in Tally . . . was a manager who owned a studio and was interested in having me come down to record and try to get a record deal.  We had two small boys at the time . . . Alexander and Skylar . . . and I had just bought a used Audi diesel car--white with blue interior and a sun roof.

We loaded up a U-haul trailer and hit the road--a long drive ahead.

Near the exit ramp to Rock Springs, Wyoming . . . out in the middle of nowhere . . . late fall . . . the car "threw a rod" and we rolled into town, coasting with the trailer. I found us a motel--got the car towed there with the trailer and went, "wow."

Undaunted, I called a t.v./video producer I knew, who I had done soundtrack work for and told him our situation.  On the phone, I offered him a stake in any forthcoming record deal, if he could help me out.  Amazingly, he was game and arranged so that we could get a U-Haul truck and keep . . . truckin'.

I sold the Audi to a local gas station/mechanic guy for $300.

We transferred all our belongings into the truck and I made a cool, little space, padded with blankets and pillows and sleeping bags . . . behind the cab, where the two boys could be.  There was a thru-door in the cab, so they were right there and it was all very exotic and exciting for them.

We spent one of the nights of the long drive, sleeping in the truck in the Ozarks, turning on the truck every hour or so for a few minutes to keep warm.

Somewhere, in southern Alabama, we started running out of money.  We were just a few hours away from Tallahassee and an apartment we'd reserved there . . . but getting low on gas and needing food.

I pawned an acoustic guitar and a microphone in small southern town . . . and we kept . . . truckin' . . . .

And made it to Tallahassee.  As we arrived late, we spent the night in the parking lot, sleeping in the truck again.

Charlie did indeed have a studio, but not much else and we were pretty much alone in a strange town, new culture (quite different from very white Salt Lake) . . . but pressing on with hope and a sense of adventure.

But didn't have a car.  Some sketchy days there for a while . . . but fairly soon I found paint work and we ended up  buying a piece of junk Volkswagen Rabbit for 500$.

Thanks to the Mormon church there, we were able soon to at least meet some people sort of like us . . . and we even went to church for a while.  My broad, sweeping generalizations about the Mormons . . . are here tamped down a bit, for, as I also experienced earlier in life, when I lived as a young man in California, that Mormons OUTSIDE of Utah ("Zion") . . . who tend to be converts, are much more sincere and earnest in there attempts to lead a Christian life.  They lack the materialistic, status-seeking, conniving traits more common here at the heart of "the church".

Because of our living in a totally alien culture and town . . . with no friends and few resources, the L.D.S. church there was a real blessing for a time.  Charlie basically ignored me once I got there, for whatever reason, oddly, and a couple of times I had to go the "bishop's storehouse" so that we would have ANY food, during those initial, scary months.

Christmas . . . was interesting . . . heh.  It was coming up to a little less than a week before Christmas . . . and I had no money . . . using what little I made painting to pay for our apartment and utilities and food . . . and I couldn't stand to see my little family so lacking . . . that, Lord forgive me? . . . I hopped in the beat up old Rabbit and tooled over to a nearby Albertson's grocery store.  Figuring that . . . they would be just thrown away in days anyhow . . . (so I justified it) . . . I just went and picked out a little, slightly shabby Christmas tree that was out front with the others . . . held it with one hand on the roof of the car . . . and took it back to the apartment.  Yeah . . . . I did . . . . A father in a tight spot, looking at his wondering wife and children . . . sometimes just does what he thinks he must . . . .

My wife was a little shocked and not so sure, but I promised to take the heat . . . and at least the boys would have a tree and it would be, for them, a somewhat normal Christmas.

We made popcorn strands . . . and colored paper strings and ornaments . . . and got some cheapo lights for it . . . and patched together a festive scene.

Besides the tree pilfering . . . another scene I recall, still with emotion.

A day or two before Christmas . . . we got a baby sitter and my wife and I went to the mall to shop for each other.  We each had 20$.  We split up . . . I went to Ruby Tuesday's . . . and sat there thinking, bewildered and had a drink.  In my mind, alone there at the bar, I wrote half a song, the first line I still remember, a country-style song, oddly for me.  "Make that a Margarita, sitting here . . . at Christmas time . . . . " it twanged with a melancholy melody . . . .

Then I ventured into the mall . . . and found a steak knife set I could afford on sale at nic-nac store.  I had a few dollars left and was wandering the concourse . . . when I ran into my wife . . . . She was empty handed . . . . and just looked at me with tears in her eyes and fell into my arms.  "I can't find anything . . . . " She cried softly . . . clutching the measly 20$ . . . . "No worries," I comforted her, "lets just be together."  I found some magazines for her to get me and that was that . . . .

Some people had sent some packages for the boys from back home and a few things for us . . . so there were presents under the tree and a few things showed up from Santa.

Anyway . . . there is not really a point to the story . . . just a story, one we recall from time to time, heh, especially this year, which bears some similarities, though I shant be lifting a tree this time . . . lol . . . . Christmas is a complicated affair . . . the expectations . . . the fond childhood memories . . . the stressed out folk racing around . . . the conflicts of who to visit, who's expecting what . . . then, the whole subtext of it not really being Jesus' birthday and the pagan elements fused throughout . . . . I dare say it seems to have come way too fast this year and has a strange dissociative quality to it like never before . . . . Time has got to be sped up these days . . . as it is flying so quickly, it's going to be over before you know it . . . and then spring and summer again . . . . I suspect as tribulation ensues, this quickening of time is what is meant by the encouragement of "unless those days were shortened" . . . so that, the worst parts WILL relatively zoom by . . . . . . .
Musical note . . . . I wrote the song "Taste Of Things" during that time and recorded it in Tallahassee in a fellow's front room.  Not too long thereafter I was recording at the Allman Brother's new studio, such songs as I Smoke A Pipe, Captain Action, Love + Politics, Supernatural Fire, The Metropolis, Violence In The Suburbs, Lost In A Trance (we had a raft of "abduction"-like experiences there in Tally), Loser, . . . and a couple others . . . .

God bless you all, take care,
bro t


AL said...

I've always loved Christmas and even in my "it's pagan" phase I secretly missed it LOL. This year i'll be doing the hermit thing but dont' mind too much.
By the way I don't blame you at all for snagging that tree(thought it was funny actually) and I think sharing those experiences will touch people who may be going through similar things this year.
You might be interested in an interview Zeph did with Jonathan Kleckt. He was shown that there is an actual imprint that the world detects (subconsciously) on people. One from Yahweh and the other from Satan and it actually manifests in works of art etc. If a worlder doesn't detect Satans' imprint on something they will eventually reject it no matter the content. I mention it because I think this is what was going on with Charlie.

Merry Christ mas

C said...

Sometimes I still wonder why life here is such a struggle...and then I remember that this isn't life. Not really. Life is what is coming for those who persevere and remain strong to the end.

But what an adventure, and I am sure it brought you closer as a family and showed you that you could rely on each other. The Lord is faithful, you know, even when we are not. I'm sure He put that tree there for you, and you would have had it either way. Maybe it was a lack of faith that you stole it, but it was the faithfulness of God to meet your needs that it was there for you in the first place, and as it and all things belong to Father, it was His to give it to you regardless of what human was running the store.

We all might need to remember that in the near future, you know? That the Lord is faithful and will meet our needs, and so we do not have to steal. We can find another way and have faith about it.

smalls said...

Thanks for sharing :)

Brother Thomas ©2015

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