Thursday, December 31, 2009


Happy New Year, and it looks pretty promising:

a.) I enter the new year employed
b.) there's music on the horizon from The dB's, Radio Free Music Club, Luego, the Jakeleg and the kids' shows.
c.) everyone's healthy
d.) nine years sans alcohol
e.) old debts have been squared
f.) my writer's block seems to have abated

Thank you for visiting here. I'm not the most consistent correspondent, but I'm certainly the least dependable and that should count for something. May your own new years be eventful only in good ways and full of love, friendship and great music.


Friday, December 25, 2009


We had a nice one in Durham. The children came away from it satisfied and exhausted. Smart Wife made a devastating French onion soup and a small roast beef sandwich which I had when I got home from the airport.

I got to experience "I Wish It Could Be a Wombling Merry Christmas Everyday" by Roy Wood and the Wombles, and I hope you do too.

I got everything I wanted, including hi-hat cymbals, and it was all very chill, with one exception: in the first half hour I was at work, I heard a father loudly berating his daughter for forgetting her book. His voice carried throughout the store, and the sound was harsh and unnerving. They came around the corner and the father announced that his daughter "needed a book." The girl looked like she was in shock but not unused to this. I addressed her, not Dad, and I showed her A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'engle. They bought it and left, and I hope she lost herself in that book when they were on the plane to wherever. Merry Christmas to them both.

The day was tempered with the bad news about the death of Vic Chesnutt. His friend Kristin Hersh has set up a fund for donations to help Vic's family with costs from his recent hospitalization and death.

Now we can not hear "Wonderful Christmastime" again for another eleven months, or "Santa Baby". My Christmas song this year was Darlene Love, and no, I didn't see her on Letterman for the twenty-third year but I wish I had.

Merry Christmas everyone, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The sky

Yesterday, I got to work at 7am, as usual, driving through the dark from Durham where I live to the Employee Parking Lot. I worked at Terminal 1 which is on the older side of RDU airport.

There, to meet me, was a beautiful morning sunrise sky, all salmon pink and red and yellow. The east windows are across the hall from the store, a long line of glass panes that let you see a little take off and landing action, but mostly sky. And what a sky to enjoy, a living moving sunburst like on a 1959 Les Paul. For about ten minutes, I went about my business restocking shelves and helping customers, with the morning streaming in at me and a quiet satisfied smile on my face.

I left work at 3:30pm. The sky was already starting to move toward the evening, darkening slightly, a rich deep blue with scant clouds and mostly visible clarity. It took about twenty minutes to drive home from RDU. All through the ride, I was treated to a spectacular batch of broadening colors, culminating in a near sunset as I got off at my exit.

Last night, I took out the garbage in the cold night air. Looking up, I saw my third beautiful sky, with a big bright moon illuminating our porch from a rich blue cosmos. Speckled with a few stars, I admired the night for a couple moments until my lungs couldn't take the cold any more. Then I went inside, satisfied with the free and expansive wonders I got to enjoy for a day.

I wish I'd had a camera for all three of my moments, to help share the beauty with you all, because, as we all know, 'this blog is useless without pictures'.

You'll just have to take my word for it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The View from the Airport

Working at my new job is a strange affair.

It's a bookstore in name only; in reality, it's a newsstand that has a larger-than-average selection of books and stuffed animals, magazines and travel games. And no bottles of water, although we do carry water bottles. The first couple of hours' worth of customers basically want newspapers and no conversation. The management wants their adept booksellers to ply them with questions about our coupon club and our book drive, but mostly, the early morning customers are disinterested, anxious for their coffee to kick in and to board their flights on time. I don't blame them.

This experience is completely different from my old bookstore job in New Orleans. The airport store is all about moving the hit titles; we sell a lot of Grisham, Patterson and Cussler mass-market (small) paperbacks, and the Sarah Palin 'autobiography' as I mentioned in an earlier post--we have some customers who like to hide Going Rouge, the rebuttal to the Palin book, from view by putting Going Rogue over it or flipping it around. To protect themselves? I'm starting to think every conservative with a laptop has written a book on how wronged they've been and how bad they've had it. And we carry them all. There's no place for customers to sit and read, although some of the more intrepid ones sit on our stepstools in the mystery and romance ares, sprawling with their baggage and making whole sections of the store impassable to others.

The old store had deep catalog. The new one carries a Raymond Carver biography and no Raymond Carver books themselves. We had a local interest section, but nobody was interested so the titles got remanded to their predestined homes in the fiction alphabet.

The old store had lots of cds and dvds; the new one has Susan Boyle's weepy new album, a couple Christmas titles (Neil D. but not Bob D.), and some popular new action dvd releases in a cardboard dumper bin.

Of the 'make' items we have to concentrate on selling this month, one is a decent novel (The Piano Teacher by Janice Lee, which I'm actually reading during my lunch breaks), one is a weird little guide to the myriad things you forgot after you left school (I Used to Know That) and one is a stuffed panda bear. They are, in that order, progressively harder to shove down the throats of customers. Especially the bear. His name is Beckett. I'm anxious to see if Kafka the Kockroach shows up at the store next year, assuming there's a store next year.

We sell a lot of Malcolm Gladwell's nearly identical looking business books. We don't sell a lot of Chesley Sullenberger's memoir of crashing into the Hudson--big surprise there. All of the Twilight series move a lot of copies. Dan Brown's new hardback sells in quantity, which is good considering how many boxes of them we have in the tiny storeroom.

The Starbuck's next door plays soul music. We have no music playing in our store. I'm constantly leaning out, trying to catch the strains of William DeVaughn or Jackie Wilson, just to keep myself sane.

There's a window in the back of the store, ceiling high, that looks out over a jetway. It's got stripes across it, so it's hard to look through, try as I do. The concept of being tied down to a place that everyone else is leaving or returning to is interesting and a little sad, considering all the travel I've done in my life. I get there and leave by bus and car, not plane. I wonder if I'll ever get to fly away again someday.

Sometimes, mostly Tuesdays, we see color guards marching their slow step through the terminal, soon to be escorting a coffin back from the war. We give the military a ten percent discount on their purchases for their effort.

All in all, I'm glad to have this job. I don't want to lose it. My coworkers are all great, and we're all in the same boat (plane?) It's just weird and lonely there. I get to meet some nice people, and I've gotten some very generous donors to our book drive. But I'm hoping 2010 offers something even better and more creative for me. It would be nice to be a working musician again. Can't say as that looks too promising. But I've got one eye out for the future and progress and hope. And I wish the same for you, my dear readers.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Attention Shoppers!

Attention shoppers!

I'd like to do my annual drum-beating for Nice Shirt, Kid which is my Smart Wife's printing concern.

Besides her kids' t-shirts and onesies (fiddles and ukes are new)

she has towels and new toddler skirts--very cool repurposed wearables.

Here is where you'll find her: Nice Shirt, Kid on Etsy

(I'd like this stuff even if I didn't love her so much.)