DIARY ENTRY 08/12/95 2:46:22 AM


Goldyn would take her shoes off when she got on the bus. I can't remember how we found out. Now she says she just took her shoes off so she could get her sox off. Now she says she would put her shoes back on and wore them all day without sox. She says, on the way home from school, she would take her shoes off and put her sox back on and then put her shoes back on.

We knew from the time we first put shoes on Goldyn that there was something strange with Goldyn and shoes. Goldyn would struggle to get her shoes off long before she had words to explain why she hated shoes. We thought this was one of her little idiosyncrasies. Every new child seems to have something in their head sideways.

But the power of pressure, parent and social, was enough to push whatever it was down, out of notice for years. In fact, until she was in high school and began complaining about her feet again, I gave no thought to her feet.

By the time she was a sophomore in high school, her complaints became so urgent that Barbara took her to a doctor who refered her to a foot specialist and he prescribed lifts, little plastic forms that went between her feet and the soles of her shoes. The foot doctor told her that she would need surgery if she was ever to escape the chronic pain.

Goldyn wore her lifts and got them changed as often as Barbara could afford to buy new ones and we discussed the possibility of finding a way to pay for the surgery to correct Goldyn's foot problem. Her big toes, both of them, bent back in on the rest of her toes and that big joint at the beginning of the big toe stuck way out. The foot doctor said he needed to take a wedge of bone out of the bones on either side of that big joint.


David Payne called to say that there would be a reunion of CELEBRITY TALENT at the Bennigans out on Restaurant Row in Dallas one day, a couple of years ago. It wasn't exactly like the sort of affair I would skip work to attend but I had nothing that night. I called Baskin and we decided to meet there and see what we could see.

CELEBRITY had been a caldron. I started to say, cesspool, but I didn't come to think of it that way until I had been there for a while. Things happened at CELEBRITY. There was probably no more bullshit there than at any... Wrong! I believe there was more bullshit at CELEBRITY than at any other agency in Dallas at the time.

It was a perpetual pep rally. Greedy, stupid, vain, no-talent never-to-be-anybodies flocked into the welcoming arms of CELEBRITY. That meant the arms of David and his mother, Mary Jo for the most part. Nobody was to bad to be offered acting lessons and a chance to do the extra work that could lead to "upgrades" if they would just get that contact sheet of pictures to David and let him pick the magic one.

It was a glorius ride for a kid from Preston, Oklahoma. David. It was his chance to "help" everybody who walked thru the door while making a name for himself and, hopefully, a lot of money. Walt, David's dad had been a shoe salesman or something like that and he was the financial advisor, I think.

I complained to David that there was some real talent there being ignored. I told him that I could understand the push to get people to take acting lessons and dancing lessons and cold auditioning lessons and hot auditioning lessons and walking lessons and talking lessons. That helped pay the bills.

Besides, you never knew when someone who didn't seem to have any talent might just catch on and turn into something special. The chance to do extra work a time or two was a real thrill for a lot of people and they could be assured of extra work if they were around all the time. Like, taking lessons.

I told David that he should nurture his talent. That he should treat them differently. I told them that they would be his bread and butter eventually if he didn't drive them all away.

I was cast as the chicken wrangler in a movie called BLOOD SUCKERS FROM OUTER SPACE. I wanted that title on my resume. One day I called to ask what day I was scheduled to shoot. I was told that David had called and insisted on so much money that they had decided to use someone else. That didn't make sense to me. That would have been a credit for someone who had no movie credits. That would have been a real beginning of a resume. Why had David done that. He didn't ask me about it. He just cost me a job and himself a commission. This was the Spring of 1984.

About a month later, it was a Sunday afternoon, I got a call. A director from The Netherlands was auditioning "John Wayne types" for a leading roll in a movie to be shot in west Texas. I wasn't a "John Wayne type" but David called me in and I got to read for George Sluizer. Nobody knew anything about George Sluizer.

I read a scene with George and we had fun and we parted. I didn't read for the lead part but I read for a screenwriter character and I thought that was cool because I am a writer.

The next day I got a call to read with a girl at the Stonely P. George handed me the script and asked me to read a scene with the action between the lead, Danny McMann, and a girl, Myrna Greenbaum. That was fun too. David was there with another girl he wanted George to take a look at. George spoke to her for a moment and as we left told me he would never cast her. She didn't listen.

Days passed and I heard nothing. Finally I got a call from George, personally. He told me that David was insisting to make a deal with him and until they could make a deal David would not involve me. In other words, David wanted to control the situation and in effect he was doing what he had done with BLOOD SUCKERS: losing me the job. I had one acting credit to my name: I played a bad guy in a CRIME STOPPER piece on channel 5. I didn't regard that as a whole lot of leverage.

George was able to find out my phone number and called me personally because he saw "something " in me that sparked him. There was something in David that irked him.

George was willing to offer me several thousand dollars for doing the part at that time and if David had brought me in we would have been able to make a deal that would have been acceptable to all. David would have gotten to deal with George and I would have gotten the part.

So George called me at home and made an appointment to read with another lady for a screen test. We met and we did a scene and George called me later and said he had a problem. At the taping I had lost the freshness he had liked from the start. Oops. He needed to determine why things had changed and decide if the problem was fixable. He came to see Peggy and me sing that night with Will Barnes at the Texas Tea House and we talked.

I told him that I had realized I had better get serious about the part if I was really going to get cast. He told me that the opposite was true. The movie was a very heavy piece and that my character had to be played lightly for it to work. I said, "Cool. Then we have no problem." We taped again and indeed, it was cool.

Meanwhile David is out of the loop. My concern is getting the job. Talk about starting a resume! The lead roll in a feature. Four months earlier I hadn't even dreamed of acting in movies. I would have paid to do the part.

Besides, this guy, George was one of the most interesting, intelligent, dynamic people I had ever met. He seemed to see me as more than someone to sell lessons and headshots to. He seemed confident that I could carry a film.



To colaberate with a man like Geroge. What a thought.

So David is pissed. He won't have anything to do with this deal. He's not going to get any money. 15% of nothing is still nothing, you know.

(But, David, doesn't this sort of gig pay off many times over in the long run? You see, at this point I didn't know that George had been willing to offer me $8000 up front to play the roll. So I made a deal with George to get four points on the film. That adds up to 2% of the movie because George is doing it half and half with the Sweetwater Little Theater.

Eventually I got an additional four points for writing the score. I got a trip to The Netherlands 1984 to work with George and the editor on the music and another trip in 1985 to attend the presentation of the film at the Netherlands Film Festival and do publicity.

Eventually I took the movie to Tom Moore of Reel Films in Dallas and he made a deal with George to distribute the film in the US. The movie was picked up by Continental or something like that and they hired someone to make a jacket for the tape that totally misrepresented its contents. So, people looking for a rough and tumble flick that rented Red Desert Penitentiary were disappointed and those looking for the kind of oddball thought piece it really was would never have known that Red Desert Penitentiary might be their cup of tea.

In fact, there is this guy in New York that calls himself the Phantom or something like that and he has this little movie newsletter in which he wrote a piece asking what ever happened to the fine little film called Red Desert Penitentiary. He went on to say that he hoped that it wouild be reissued with liner notes by someone who had actually seen the film. He thought it was a good film. He thought it deserved a chance.

Tom Moore says Continental or whoever it was has gone bankrupt and that he never got any money from them. I know they sold a few copies before they closed up shop because I have heard from people all over the country that have seen the movie for rent. I have seen it for rent under "Action" in a few rental places, myself. Peggy bought an unopened copy in Dallas for $7. I bought a used copy from a rental place here in Fort Worth.

Tom Moore has never paid a dime to George. Tom Moore has a different story to tell every time I have asked him about RED DESERT PENITENTIARY. When the time of the contract had lapsed and I went to Tom Moore to get the masters and related stuff, Tom Moore put me off, telling me that the masters were in a vault in Los Angeles. I got no action until I went to his office and sat myself down in his waiting room determined to stay until I got some attention.

What I got was a pile of crappy posters that someone had done and nobody in the business would have shown anybody and a few of Georges posters and about half the master tapes George remembers giving Reel T Reel. I sent the one inch PAL masters to Amsterdam where it was discovered that one of the two reels was blank. Enough said about my love affair with Tom Moore.)

So, I go off to the desert and work for six weeks in front of an award winning cameraman and an international crew and don't have to pay them a cent. I get fed. I get a room in a nice hotel and every day I learn more about acting, really acting in front of a real camera, film making, the days I'm not acting I'm being a grip or something and nearly every day I have done scenes that will actually be in a real film.

I return filled with excitement and sure that the experience and the credit will serve me and David well and David calls me in and tells me he doesn't want me I'm fired. I go to KD and they offer to let me join their extra pool. I don't get to speak to KD. I go to several agents and they don't need someone like me.

I do a play in Bedford and get a very good review but nobody goes to see the play. I take a scene from the play to the NOON THING in Dallas and get a new agent. Tony Cobb. I tell Tony that I am not interested in pitching products and she says that is fine. We seem to have a good understanding. Tony works for Montage and one night Montage has a little get together with Rody Kent. We discuss acting stuff and I realize that nobody there seems to have any idea of their own. It's all about finding out where the sweet spot is on the casting persons dear rear and kissing it until the relationship is consumated.

I ask Rody why she keeps calling me for auditions. It doesn't seem she is serious about casting me. Every Tom Dick and Harriett I know has done something on DALLAS. She smiles.

Then Tony joins the new and improved DAVID PAYNE AGENCY. I wish Tony the best.

I attend lessons at Adam's school and realize doing a movie for free is a lot better than paying $50 an hour to make little videos that get erased before anyone can take a second look.

So, here I am sitting with Baskin at Bennigins and the memories are getting all stirred up. All these x hopeful stars telling what they have been up to. David bragging in the corner with a couple of the hunks about all the girls they had had. In common. It was interesting.

As I left David told me he wanted to talk to me so the next day I picked him up in Dallas and we drove around and talked for a long time. I brought him over here to the house. Peggy made it clear that kissing up to David Payne was the last thing she thought I would do.

David was down. David had pretty much been run out of Dallas. And then he had pretty much been run out of Tulsa. David was living in his grandma's old frame house, drinking a Dr. Pepper and smoking a cigerette for breakfast and breathing dog hair all day. David umpired high school baseball games for spending money.

David told me he had learned a lot since we last met. That he hoped our friendship could continue. That he had a screenplay idea. He told me about his idea and I packed up my 286 PC with a monitor and printer and said, "Take it for six months and write your screenplay."

David wrote most of his screenplay but it took more than six months. He said the computer was broke. Maybe I could fix it. I drove up to Preston. I couldn't. David told me he was going to L.A. to make his fortune as an agent or a manager. It was his destiny. I asked David how he was going to finance the trip.

We took a little tour of David's shed and his mothers store room. David showed me stuff he would sell. His piano, a monitor, his couch, a refrigerator, a tripod or two, an old cassette machine, some odds and ends. I went to the bank and got a cash advance. $900, I think. Peggy threw the couch away. Too much dog hair, I guess. The refrigerator didn't work. Peggy asked me why I would haul crap like that three hundred miles.

I took my camera, film and some lights to David's and insisted that David shoot a roll of me so he could take a headshot that he liked with him to L.A. I also wanted to make it clear to him that one of his conceptions of me was a misconception. I could take direction.

Meanwhile I go to pyro camp and get my PYRO liscense so I can do pyro on shows like TOMMY and CATS. I get a job as sound man on a movie called STRIKING POINT in Dallas and begin what is now a string of five features and a couple of shorts with another, BIOTECH WARRIOR starting September 1. I got together with a friend and made a 16mm black and white feature. He directs and I play the lead. Bret MacCormick, who hired me to do sound in the first place casts me in a small part in one of his films and Glen Coburn, who directed BLOODSUCKERS uses my music in one of his films and gives me a small part in his next one.

I work as a stage hand to make a living and buy an old house down the street that they were about to bull doze and I work on it. George Sluizer makes another movie in Holland and France called Spoorlose. Same writer. Same photographer. Same editor. Same producer. It gets nominated for BEST FOREIGN FILM by the Academy and that leads to rediong it in English with Jeff Briges and Keefer Southerland and Sandra Bullok and Nancy Travis. In English it was called THE VANISHING. George uses one of my songs from Red Desert Penitentiary in that film. I get my $8000. Plus.

Then David meets Sheri Rhodes, a casting director he and I knew from the 80's in Dallas who is now casting in Los Angeles. She owes David a favor. She says, "Show me who you got." David shows my head shot to Sheri and she casts me in WILD BILL. No audition.

So, I worked 10 days on WILD BILL. Made enough on that film to qualify myself and my family for medical insurence. Goldyn got her operations. Her bills have now exceeded $20,000.



At the neighborhood meeting last Wednesday evening, we all stood up and everyone but Peggy and I saluted the flag. Bobby New said we should all be grateful to all the dead soldiers for the freedom to gather like this and eat home-made casseroles and store-bought cake.

Later that evening, I threw my guitar over my shoulder and headed for MacHenry's Fort Worth Songwriter's Association showcase. These four guys line up across the stage and take turns singing songs they wrote. It happens every other Wednesday at MacHenry's.

So they get their songs all sung and this guy that runs the show, Don McRay gets up to sing his patriotic song. He says that we owe it to dead soldiers, the fact that we can come together like this.

Well, on account of earlier in the evening the subject is already on my mind. I'm wondering what dead soldiers have to do with us getting together to sing some songs and eat some dinner.

I ask myself if this is the only place on earth people get together and play songs or get to meet at a neighborhood center and eat together.

I haven't been to a lot of foreign countries but I've seen some movies and I watch a lot of news and so far I get the impression that people can do these things in other countries too.

Maybe they have dead soldiers too.




Lost in a tangle of words
Her life is in shambles
Her dreams are in tatters

Her thoughts are garland of thorns
Her wounds are internal
Her smile for survival

Her breasts are so large
She holds them when she runs

She's reading a book about her people
The guns and tanks and explanations
Do Not convince her
She says, "Love is bigger."

In the confusion and rush
Of changing faces
The back stage maneuvers

"Last call."
"Actors take your places."
"Have a good one."

"Be sure to take that last look into the mirror."
"Please check your faces."

There in that nowhere/no place
Between the stage and the wings

Doggie slippers and tight t-shirt
Stretching the colors of the flag across her chest.



6:15 PM 102704

Sign outside was broken and flat on the ground. I pushed the PVC pipes back together and stood it up. Aside from a few signs out by the street there was no indication that this is a poling place.

Voters have lined up in a dark hallway. About 50 people are waiting to vote. No one is voting when I arrive. As far as I can see there are no helpers. One white lady is accepting the IDs and printing out the signature stickers. A black lady is affixing the stickers to the "24 CARD" and witnessing the signatures.
Everyone seems relaxed
A lady at the door is passing out instruction sheets.
A Muslim couple vote without any problem.
The main judge had to stop what she was doing to check the rule book to see if I am being introduced into this situation correctly. Everything stops for about 3 minutes.
On the instruction page - HOW TO USE THE VOTING MACHINES - my suggestion is that the information in OTHER FEATURES should preceed the #4 CAST BALLOT.
There is information there about how to cast a write-in and other things that really need to be known before someone thinks they have finished their voting.
Two women enter, look at the line and say they will return later.
My impression is that the poll workers are too busy to be breaking any rules. There is so much pressure to move the line.
"Anyone who is inside the building at 7 o'clock can vote. Anyone outside the building can not vote.
It's not apparent that there is any way for a helper to take a break without closing down the line. But I've just been here a short time.
? Is it OK that someone just hand the Voter Registration card without also showing a driver's license?
7:00 Doors close.
Black dude is told he must fill out a yellow information card. He is allowed to go out to his car to get some information. He is not happy. Girl at door is Barbara.
Man returns. Very upset.
Judge returns his license to him. He grabs it.
He completes filling out the yellow card and says, "I just want to know why I am not on the list."
Judge says, "I don't know."
(Later, she explains to me that this has happened several times during the day. Some people fill out the card willingly and some don't.)
"Do you want to vote first?"
He is given his code # and sticker and he puts his glasses back on and signs the yellow card. He goes to booth and votes.
? Why is no ID required with voter registration card?
As far as I have been able to determine, there has been no question about how to vote with these machines the whole hour I have been here.

When "y" is a vowel - mylz…also "my."
Vowels…a, e, I, o, u and sometimes y, and w. What is an example of "W" as a vowel?

About 1PM Wednesday, October 27, 2004
James Michael Taylor - notes

After a call that there is a report that a church across the street from the polling place has women out grabbing people by the arm telling them that voting for Kerry is a vote for killing babies, from Mary Holland at the Tarrant County Democratic Committee I grab a couple of left-over burritos and a bottle of water and head for Arlington.

I find the recreation center out in the middle of a huge park. No church anywhere nearby.
First impression - Three females, one middle aged, two young girls passing out VOTE YES - A win for Arlington (The measure to use tax money to help fund a new Cowboy stadium in Arlington.) pamphlets. When I don't get out of the van, just sit watching, the "Yes" girls seem to share their notice that they are being watched.

I park facing the Center just about four cars west of the sidewalk that leads to the voting place. I turn off the engine and roll down both front windows and sit and watch. Two older men with VOTE NO STADIUM TAX t-shirts arrive and exchange greetings with the girls who say, "Yes" No animosity here.

Then, like a rerun of the tape of Fedel Castro's fall recently, on the sidewalk to my left, a man, maybe 250 pounds, plus or minus 70 years reenacts the fall. The girls run to him. "Are you ok?" "Yeah," as he struggles to get back up.

He returns, with one of the "Yes" girls to the spot where he tripped and they both seem to be satisfied that the reason for his fall is clear.

Now, a tall snowy-haired man, 70ish, passes the same spot with his little two wheeled walker and I watch as he slowly, deliberately lifts his walker wheels over the "crack" in the sidewalk. His face is pink and his eyes are black slits. On the two legs of the walker that don't have wheels there are two fluorescent yellow/green tennis balls.

Meanwhile, an old gray-headed woman, as she passes thru the "Yes" and "No" people, trips and as she is falling one of the "Yes" girls catches her.

As the old man with the walker trudges up the incline one of the "Yes" girls asks if he would like to have someone bring his ballot out to him so he doesn't have to climb the hill. "Is that possible?" "Yes."

The lady with a table set up on the sidewalk and a sign that says...

STOP please!
Petition for

...offers her chair to the old man and he sits down at her table.

Groundsmen in fluorescent polo shirts fit bricks into a landscaped area around an empty flag pole between the EARLY VOTING HERE sign and the polling place.

A woman in a motorized scooter is pushed up the sidewalk to the line of waiting voters.

The old man with the walker waits for his "ballot" to be brought out.

The line up outside the doors to the polling place is moving slowly. A steady stream of senior and middle aged men and women trickle back out and down the sidewalk to the parking lot. Few younger people. Mostly white.

I step out of my van and walk over to inspect the sidewalk where the old man tripped and fell. There is a break in the sidewalk where the levels are about an inch and a half different. I head for the groundsmen as they seem to be breaking for lunch and when I finally catch up with them in a parking lot on the other side of the Center I describe the problem and they indicate that they understand and know who to report the problem to.

When I return, the man with the walker is still waiting for his "ballot".

It's probably in the mid 80's today. Very humid. A washboard sky floats slowly toward the north. Prop engine aircraft groans somewhere above. I unbutton my shirt.

Asian couple with child, 30ish. Two young boys, one with parents. First time voters?

"Yes" girls exclaim, "Oh. here he comes!" A big man, gray hair, yellow polo shirt and khaki pants is coming down the sidewalk with what looks like a laptop computer. Then I recognize it as a portable voting machine. The man in the yellow shirt sets the machine up on the TAX FREEZE table and be explains how to use it to the man with the walker.

One of the "yes" girls returns from the Center minus her "Yes" t-shirt. She pulls her t-shirt back over her tan t-shirt, picks up her hand-full of leaflets and again stations herself in the in path of approaching voters.

Everyone must walk thru the "Yes" and "No" people.

Monday morning, at the Cliff Nelson Recreation Center I had noticed that all the "issue pushers" stood beside the driveway, out of the path of the voters. It suggested to me that there was a rule about getting in the path of the approaching voters.

A kid with black spiked hair dressed in black exits. I remember him from his arrival so that would suggest it takes about 45 minutes to get thru the line. A black mother/daughter(first time voter?) arrive.

As I back out, the "yes" girls look at each other knowingly.



Me and My Buckskin Mare

She was the friend I needed. She asked no questions and did not judge. She carried me with ease. She never said "Thank you." or "I love you." Running with the wind, she never said, "Hello" or "Good-bye." And I don't even know where she went. She is dead now. I'm sure of that. It's been so long ago. She never complained. I rode back on her hips because it was soft and smoothe. We would run. I never knew what she was thinking and I assumed she read my mind. My friend Steve said , "It's crazy how teenagers can take a blow and stand back up as though nothing ever happened."

For a while I had a horse. She was a golden horse and she was my friend. I wasn't getting along real smoothly with my parents and she would just be there when I was lonely and lost. I called her Babe.

It was the senior year of high school. 1960/61. Woodlake, California. The fog would blur the street lamps along the olive-lined lane back into town. Valencia. Seven blocks from the center of town, we were out in the country.

I would wait for the air conditioner to pump on. Then I'd sneak out of the house, grab the reins and Babe and I would take the back roads around town and head for the olive groves the other side of the lake. The other side of town.

The main roads thru Woodlake were like a big cross. Valencia ran North and South and the road from Visalia to the Sequoias ran East and West. The town part of the town was right there where it all came together. The olive plant was out about a mile South on a road that ran east off Valencia. Keren lived in a white house set back in the olive trees across the road from the olive processing plant. That's where Keren's dad worked.

I'd hop up on Babe and we'd run until I figured she was getting tired and then I'd hop off and run beside her. I'd sit back on her broad hips and imagine she was enjoying the night air as much as I. Once we left Valencia and the soft focus of the streetlights and headed back thru the roads at the edge civilization we were out of danger. No cars. No cops.

It was our world. Just us and the night and the excitement in anticipating what we were about to do.



And I was lead to the mountaintop and I beheld the valley beneath me. And the angels were below me and the sky above and I was shining. The lightning was in my blood and the thunder was in my fists.

"This can be yours. These can be yours. There is no taste you can not taste and there is no feeling that you can not feel."

And the elements of my life all gathered around me :
The music and the words
The thoughts, the aspirations
The talk and the actions
The people and the places
The hopes and the fears
The instruments and the tools
The books and the movies
The friends and the strangers
The schools and the prisons
The churches and the ghettos
The friends and the neighbors
The jobs and the recreation
And they listened with me

"There is nothing that your heart desires that can not be yours.
Money, gold, the young and the supple, the smart and the discerning will call your name. Every word that comes from your mouth will weaken the knees of those in your hearing. Every song in your heart will be understood by those who listen. Every care of your heart will be shown to echo the cares of the multitude. You will bow your head and the congregation will pray. You will raise your arms and the crowd will cheer. You will cry and the assembled will cry with you. You will sing and the choir will sing.

"The things you have dreamed will come to pass. And the suspicions you have harbored will prove true. You must only claim authorship of the things that you have spoken. The songs that you have sung.
The words that you have written. Acknowledge the genius of your utterances and the wisdom of your ways. Reject not the title, Genius. Refuse not the cry of, 'Author! Author!' Relinquish modesty and harvest the bounty of your crop.

And I raise my voice and said, "Is that all you have to offer? These things I have already…"

And I said, "What then would I have to live for and where would be my refuge?"

To the tunes of ABBA




So Phil called to say he and Rick Burkley are playing at the Cigar Emporium/POP'S SAFARI ROOM. This is the Phil with emphysema, the Phil that can't sing harmony on the choruses of RING OF FIRE without getting winded. The Phil that just a week ago was drowning in his own high blood pressure and reluctant lungs. To the emergency room and right on past all the others. Straight into x-rays and cat scan. Intensive care and suspected clot on his lung and then TB? So, they take his Primatine Mister, "That's blue collar," and give him some real medicine and send him home.

And that's the Rick Burkley that forgets to put his clothes on before he heads past the Museum of Natural History and Omni on his way to who knows, least of all him. The Rick that has made mediocrity a trademark. The Rick that is sitting there with no clue why his guitar can't be heard thru the PA. And the Phil that has tossed the mic stand holding his vocal mic under the piano because he has no idea what's wrong with it.

Have you ever heard the term, TRUST KIDS? These are two guys that gave that phrase meaning to me. Why work and be responsible and honest and creative when you have the guarantee of a big fat check every month. Why not do drugs and hang out with the other guys that get those checks? I have my answer but it's not their answer. Trust kids don't stay kids. Not to others. Gigs at posh places, The Cigar Emporium for example, don't hide the gray hair and the pot bellies.

So, Peggy kneels behind Phil at the amp and begins to unravel the mic chords and guitar chords and make the system work. Now we hear Rick's guitar and after she puts Phil's mic stand back up and tweaks the controls on the PA amplifier we can actually hear Phil when he wheezes some comment. We can't tell what he is saying but there is volume to the sounds.

We always expect to be asked to get up and sing. Phil and Rick don't have enough material to make it thru the evening so they depend on other musicians dropping in to help fill the void. Did I mention that they aren't much to look at? Besides, Peggy is the only person on earth that can reach right thru Phil's self-degrading songs and make them touch people.

Phil always wants us to play the old Dolly Parton/Porter Waggoner song, FOREVER IS THE LOVE. So when we got up to sing, Phil stayed at his seat and Rick said he was headed to the back to see how we sounded in the room.

Rick never returned. He called from somewhere and told the manager that he was gone. She was pissed. It seemed like a personal betrayal. Phil kept wanting to take a break. He'd waddle outside and light up a cigarette. Then he would stand at the bottom of the three steps back up into the place and save up enough breath to make it back to the stage.

After Peggy and I started singing, several people lined up chairs and actually faced the music. Made requests. Once, when Phil was getting up the energy to ascend the stairs one of the ladies asked me if Phil was ok. I told her that he had emphysema. "And he's playing in this place?" Yeah!

The one place in town people go especially to make a lot of smoke they have a guitar playing songwriter with more hair on his head than space in his lungs. Did I mention…?

You probably have seen places like this. They have that cedar lined room where they keep the cigars all humidified. It's a lot like what the symphony fiddle players do for their expensive fiddles. There are boxes with 99 cent cigars and tubes with cigars that must be somewhere in the range of a Stradivarius.

Phil asks me if we will stay so he can have a ride home. Now it's obvious that we will be there a lot longer than we had planned. "Of course." I watch Phil gasp for breath between songs and make faces and contort his upper body and wonder why someone doesn't get distracted from their smoky pleasure and ask what kind of act this is. He mutters things into the mic and makes gestures that would have a deaf person confused.

Peggy and I sit six feet from him on the front row so when he needs us it's easy. There was no competition for these seats. In fact, they were the only two seats vacant when we got there except the two over behind them under the bushes.

Finally, I say to Phil, "Why don't you let Peggy and me finish out the night?" The getting up and down routine made no sense unless it was important to Phil that it look like it was "his gig." Peggy informed me that they were to play until midnight and I gasped when she told me that it was five 'til eleven.

Eventually, Phil relinquished his place at his mic and Peggy and I sang some Everly brothers and Buddy Holly songs. I was thinking how much I'd have to be paid to sit in this place and sing for an evening. I was thinking at least $200. Phil had told Peggy that he and Rick were getting $100. But that question was mute. If we were doing anything that made the management consider hiring us no noise to that effect was in this room. The very fact that Phil and Rick were getting paid to set up there probably had something to do with history: Phil and Rick being here in the first place.

Everything with them has something to do with history.

There's a big white piano in the corner and a speaker on a stand behind the piano bench. It looks like the normal entertainment in this place is keyboard related. Did I mention the fact that the place was full of smoke and people sitting in circles talking a blue streak. Grown people celebrating the fact that they could go into a public place and breath everyone's exhaust. It seemed sort of adolescent to me. The music wasn't the draw.

So, it's 15 'til 12 and Phil asserts himself. He says, "Lets do BLUE BAYOU and ANYMORE (one of his songs) and call it a night." As he played the last chords to ANYMORE the lights all came up and we broke the PA system down. Piled it all neatly so Carl, what a nice guy Carl must be, would be able to get it out of there easily whenever he returned to reclaim it.

We dropped Phil off at 504 Blevins (which we rent to him for $200 a month and a childhood lawyer friend and some other rich guys pay out of a fund they call THE STARVING ARTIST FUND) and as we are headed north on Riverside, the last mile before we get home, I carefully voiced my thoughts to Peggy: "Tonight you were the very meaning of loveliness. I can imagine no more lovely human female than the one I saw up there singing Phil's songs tonight. Makeup would have only covered the beauty that radiated from you tonight. Others may not understand it but I am your number one fan."

Peggy's not the type to bound across the seat and kiss and squeal her thanks for complements like that. She gets told stuff like that all the time. We turned on Goldenrod and pulled into our driveway.

It was late and we were tired but we had plans: This last month, we have taken advantage of that FLIX.Com (something like that) deal where they send you the DVDs of movies you choose on their web site and the first month is free. We have watched about six movies that way and had one left. It was due to be mailed today. Our last free movie, and Peggy didn't intend to continue the deal.

The movie is SEX AND LUCIA. We had no idea what we were in for. But it sounded good to me and we dropped our smoky clothes in the bathroom and headed for bed. It takes three remotes to make the system work on a DVD and we lined up the equipment. Right off I was pleased that the girl, Lucia, was really pretty without a bit of "glamerous". Just solid, healthy, pretty. And before long she was naked with this guy that looked a lot like me at times. I said, "That guy sure looks like me sometimes." Peggy said, "Yeah."

After, maybe 45 minutes of some real pretty nakedness and smooching and very physical interaction on the screen we clicked the DVD to pause and clicked off the TV and ventured down into that very personal place lovers know how to share.

Later, when Peggy asked if I wanted to turn the movie back on and I said, "I think it served its purpose."

She said, "Oh, I had planned that ever since you said what you said to me on the way home from the gig."



I'm just a fly on your wall
A bird at your window
A dog at your heel
A earthworm on your driveway
A lizard on your bedroom wall
An aphid on your rose
A gutted fly in your webb
A deer in your head lights

I'm out of love with you...



SCENE _ Camera shot of the back of a man's head. Enough room around the head to see that someone is putting makeup on the man's face. Several voices off screen take turns addressing the person whose head we see.
BISCUIT: "Two minutes."
VOICE 1 to SUBJECT:If you can't hear us pause and look thoughtful. Can you look thoughtful?
VOICE 2 to Makeup :Do you have a mirror we could use for a second, please?
V 1:Thoughtful.
V 2:Sit up
V1:You don't have to try to look thoughtful. You just listen and don't worry about how you look. That will be thoughtful.
V 3:Carl, whisper something in his ear.
A mouth comes to Subjects ear and whispers something.
V 2: Right! Now just listen.
V 1: See that's good. Good.
A hand slaps the face of Subject
PA VOICE: One minute
V :Don't smirk.

V 2:No, don't slouch back down. Keep your shoulders back. Leaning on the pedestal isn't working.
SUBJECT sits up straight
And what was all the blinking. Did you realize you were blinking? At one point you just jerked. What was going on?
V 3: If you pick up the pencil write something. Write anything, but write something down. Deliberately. Then consider what you have written. Here! Try this: What is the North Korean president's name.
Yeah. See how you have to think to remember. That's the look. Pick up the pencil and write "sun jong slim, whatever his name is." Then read it back to yourself.

This timer trick makes it easy for us to figure out what you should say and get you fed in plenty of time. When we are talking just listen to what we are saying. Don't try to not look like you are listening to us. Listening is listening. And don't speak back to us. So far there is not much mention of the little slip last week. If you run out of something to say stop. Don't repeat yourself. Maybe someone will think, "Hey! This dude doesn't need two minutes to make his case.
I don't know why you aren't getting this, you seem to do it so well in person. The way to seem respectful and interested is to pay attention. The way to look like you are listening is to…..LISTEN.
Don't smirk!

I'm not smirking?
You look like you are smirking
Well, I'm not smirking.
If you look like you are smirking then you are smirking.

PA VOICE: Let's take it on out.
SUBJECT stands and leaves frame.

Camera stays where it is.


© 1990-2006 James Michael Taylor

Talk to me.