Archive for January, 2010

The past two weeks have kept me focused on writing and editing as though my many projects underway were a wet towel on my prone upturned face with regular dripping of marsupial effluent on it from above. I think I’d be enjoying the circumstance — foul though it may seem to non-writers (secret revealed: one gets used to the fragrance aspect) —  if I didn’t have the incessant demands of Rock Circus interrupting the literary rhythms. The most surprising change is circumstance from the soggus interruptus is that I’ve not cracked the cover of my renewed subscription to The New Yorker in a focus-skittering month. I’ve not read a home-delivered issue of the local State Journal Register two days in a row since Thanksgiving. (Sometimes I read the SJ-R at Rock Circus, but I worked there only five days in the last 6 days in the last eighteen.

A drafts of several poems slated for a small poetry book have sat on my desk for half a month. I promised to critique each one and recommend changes here and there. The best PAID writing coming my way is from the local business monthly. That’s always the gravy on my heapin’ heppin of commitments that seem to cycle over my desk more frequently. There’s also monthly flying club newsletter, Honey & Quinin and MOST imperious of all, the Arcadia Publishing book Tony White and I are writing about Reisch Brewery. I was an hour and a half into a promising, long-delayed re-immersion into that project when I HAD to drop everything Thursday because the flying club newsletter — which I had kissed off, so to speak, because contributors had not come through — was re-engaged. WHY? A little thing called “duty” which some suggest should be called “doodie” — as in what comes from a bull’s back end if you’re younger than 17 years. It is also Howdy’s last name. Also not to be confused with “dooda” — long associated with “De Camptown Races” (perhaps they mean horse dooda) and its musical Sancho Panza better known as “Zippity.”
I believe in Duty and loyalty to friends who are loyal to me.

I departed work at Rock Circus Saturday afternoon bitterly burned out from the freezing cold showroom with a space heater that might have burned the right half of my right sock off while warming almost nothing else. I considered visiting the grocer to grab some more Carlo Rossi after drinking the last in the house about 3 am Saturday, but there will be time enough for that next week if I allow myself to be straight-jacketed into more than two consecutive days at Rock Circus. There’s plenty of tea and coffee and enough Chlli Man Chilli, bread, tuna, noodles and peanut butter to last me until Friday though the Hellman’s Mayo is running on empty.

As I put the large pan on the stove to heat water for tuna and noodles Saturday night, the sound of little feet in motion caught my ears. It was the sound of a freeloading sub-leasee. A slow, silent turn in the direction of the open kitchen trash bin, with an empty Carlo Rossi glass jug taking up most of the room on top of the full bag, revealed a mouse struggling in one- or two-second spurts of flailing legs to get a foot-hold and traction on something that would allow him (or her) escape from the bin. How it got in there is anybody’s guess, but it was obvious it was trapped.

I didn’t approach further because I didn’t want to close the bag over the mouse, in the process giving it a chance to leap onto ME in the process, risking a nasty bite from an interloper who probably hasn’t brushed his teeth in days. I did the next best thing: put some Peter Pan crunchy peanut butter onto the bait pad of a mouse trap and set it down close to the trash bin. I finished making tuna and nood’s, prepared a glass of iced tea and watched “Cops” before repairing to the office to catch up on the rest of the world. There’s no way I’m going to do any serious literary work this late on a Saturday night.

Live long . . . . . . . and proper.

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The Big Bang and Moving On

We bade Terry Wilson a fond goodbye after making plans for him to visit us in Springfield later in the summer.

. . . .With July 4 approaching, mom and dad arrived to spend some time before the four of us headed south for Georgia. I was having fun with firecrackers in a meadow-like area behind the houses on Bob and Dot’s street. I had discovered how, by wrapping a coke bottle in aluminum foil dropping a firecracker with a burning fuse into the open bottle, and then running to a safe distance away, the racket made by the detonation was impressive. Since the bottle was wrapped in aluminum, it didn’t scatter broken glass in the blast like shrapnel from a bomb. Brother Bill didn’t appreciate my noise making, and we got into a wrestling match  near a recently detonated foiled bottle as he tried to convince me to stop setting them off. As I tried to pin him to the ground, he lunged up, and I fell back. When I lunged forward again, my left hand came down on a big shard of dirty Coke bottle. It cut the base of the palm of my hand at the wrist  pretty severely and put an end to our “discussion.”
. . . . . . It was a mad dash back to the house to wash the wound and my registered-nurse-sister gave 100% of her attention to the task.  After the cleansing, she wrapped an ice-packed towel around my hand, and the blood came through as though it was a Kleenex. A fast drive to the emergency ward at Wheeling H0spital ensued. The doctor was an older woman, probably in her 60s, cleaned it with serious disinfectant, then  shot some local anesthetic into the area before starting to sew it up. I was pretty calm up to the fourth stitch. Trying to show some humor, I commented that she sure knew her way with a needle and asked, tongue in cheek, if she was planning a second career as a seamstress after she retired. The woman with the needle showed no evidence of a smile, but when I glanced at Dot, it was clear she was stifling a grin. That made the remark worthwhile. At this point, the needle went in with the fourth suture and I knew instantly, the local anesthetic had not reached that part of the wound.  It took major effort for me to keep calm, but I knew it was the last one, and there was no outburst . . . . and no more effort at humerous banter.
. . . . . . From that point on, during the rest of the vacation trip, I was “the evil one” of the family because of my stupidity with firecrackers and Coke bottles. Even so, I was allowed to accompany the entire family to a threater in downtown Wheeling where we watched It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and we enjoyed every minute of it.
. . . . . . . Another day or two later, mom, dad, Bill and I piled into our silver-grey 1959 Buick Electra at the crack of dawn and headed south to visit Aunt Stelle and Uncle Turner, now retired from his medical practice in Leavenworth and living on a 40-acre piece of land, much of it devoted to vegetable gardening,  in Elberton, rural north Georgia, the same “neighborhood” where he had grown up.
. . . . . . Almost all the drive was on two-lane Appalachian highway through countless small towns and villages.  The year was 1961. The terrain was misty in early afternoon as though we had just missed a light shower somewhere in South Carolina. Bill was napping close to the centerline side of the car, and I sat curbside,  idly watching the detritus of civilization (junk cars, houses falling down,  abandoned farm buildings) we passed by at probably 45 miles per hour. As we approached a rural mailbox at the bottom of a driveway that disappeared into the overgrowth up the side of the hill, I noticed a girl about my age who had walked down from her home to retrieve the family mail. She was a regular girl, not wearing anything skimpy; just a plain dress, not a splendiferous face; just a nice-looking girl. Maybe 70 feet from us as we approached, she looked up, directly into my eyes, and locked onto them as mine did on hers as we passed by. Neither of us looked away. And so it continued until we were about half a block away. Then she turned to the mailbox and that’s the last I saw as we went around a bend. The memory of her face — not smiling or grinning, but not frowning either — is part of who I am today. I have since wondered, countless times, who she was and what happened to her. In a dream not long after, I asked dad to stop the car so I could walk back to her at the mailbox and introduce myself. In the dream, I calmly  told dad to continue on with mom and Bill, that I’d make my way to Aunt Stelle’s house later. It was only a dream, but it was a gooooood dream.
. . . . . . . Stelle and Turner’s farm was just a few miles south of the Caroline border, an idyllic setting:  on a a narrow two-lane deep-rural blacktop in hte middle of nowhere, probably 10 minutes from Elberton. a village not quite a town, with a granite museum. Their home was a five minute walk from Turner’s brothers Preach and Cran Anderson who farmed far more than 40 acres as they had since they were teenagers.
. . . . . . . Preach and Cran had a barn, a corral, pigs, horses and dust. Crushed rock had never touched  the dirt drive that ran up to their house and elsewhere on their land. Bill and I were the perfect ages for “big city kids”  to be introduced to be introduced to farm life, and they were storybook-perfect tutors, gentle and patient knights of red clay rural north Geo’gia. It didn’t take long to understand how Turner Anderson learned to laugh. It also didn’t take long to understand why he departed that part of the world to learn how to make a better life for himself.
. . . . . . . . . . Bill and I were introduced to pigs by being allowed to chase 15 piglets around the corral while grownups sat on the fence rails and shouted encouragement. We learned how to ride horses bareback with bridles and reins. Bill took to the large steeds like a duck to water, but though I learned how to control a horse while riding one, I felt on the verge of sliding off with nothing to hold onto but the reins. I did not learn how to enjoy it.  Their trotting gait was especially exasperating: I was told that a gallop was smoother, but I didn’t have the nerve to find out. One afternoon my new farm-converted kindred came back to Stelle and Turner’s with a young goat on a rope to her great dismay. I had never smelled a scent like that goat wore like a Calvin Klein suit, and in the decades since. I have not inhale a scent that came close. Stelle and Turner laid down the LAW that goats were VERBOTEN closer than 300 feet from the house down wind and never upwind. She later said she had to burn his clothes, but I believe she was kidding. She was KIDDING (no pun intended) . . . . . I do believe.  Bill became an almost-adopted son at Preach and Cran’s, but I found a desk in aunt and uncle’s house more welcoming than red dust and livestock.
. . . . . . . . At the desk, I designed flying model airplanes on large, yellow ledger pages that someone found somewhere. In the course of a week, I made detailed construction drawings using a ruler and a right angle I had made by folding a sheet of paper a few times. The activity turned me into a recluses of sorts during a lot of our visit. Three perfect designs came from the desk, and I kept them for years, intending to build at least one or two eventually, after we returned to Springfield, but I didn’t.  Since my left hand was still significantly bandaged thanks to my mis-deeds in Wheeling, real physical activity was unthinkable, especially in north Georgia. It was almost two weeks there before Turner (who still practiced medicine when he chose, but without an office or hospital privileges) could remove the five sutures, though he did change the dressing a few times before.
. . . . . . . It was outside their wonderful home where we had the most memorable family reunion of my life, and I wish to blazes I had taken pictures. Mom’s brother Johnny was a Buick dealer in Jonesboro, Georgia just outside Atlanta, and he had married a woman I fell “in love with”  (I was in 8th grade) on sight. Today I don’t even remember her name.  She was blonde, had a southern accent — down there they ALL had southern accents! — as soft as mom’s but sweeter somehow, and for all I know, she had been a model. Their kids were my cousins — Brock and Scott if I remember right — nice guys, a little older than me. None of my war regard for Brock & Scott’s mother was apparent  during the reunion picnic on long granite slabs of tables mounted on mortared brick pedistals,  in aunt and uncle’s back yard.
. . . . . . . I hope the entire Jones family could know how much I loved them and how I wish I had known them better. Johnny Jones was a great fellow. The whole family were great people!
. . . . . . During our stay, we visited world’s largest granite mine, a big quarry with water God only knows how deep in the bottom. The afore-mentioned granite museum was part of a giant plant covered with corrugated galvanized steel,  processed granite for shipping to suppliers all over the world. cutting, polishing and sometimes engraving it for cemetery head stone wholesalers . We purchased small souvenir pieces of phished granite with stickers on them that read “Souvenir of World’s Largest Granite Mine, Elberton, Georgia. I kept mine for many years after in dresser drawers and junk boxes. Today I work for a granite fabricator. Small world.
. . . . . . . .l  Dad gave me my first driving lessons along Georgia blacktop during the visit. I was permitted to practice in the long driveway that lead from the blacktop into Stelle and Turner’s house.  It was good fun and made me pretty confident about learning how to drive in Springfield when I became old enough.
. . . . . Near Elberton was a stream that wasn’t deep enough to navigate by boat, but was a natural theme park ride with its fast-moving water and gentle rapids that flowed over algae- (or some green plant) covered rocks. there were places where locals could  park, picnic and swim in the calm parts of the stream and ride sitting down, pushed along by the stream, dow the rapids, descending probably 20 feet in a quarter-mile part of the stream and then walking back along the bank. In some places the water was deep enough we’d fully submerge but quickly surface as we were pushed along mid-stream. On the three occasions when Bill and I did this, my recently-stitched and bandaged hand was protected by a big reen dishwashing glove with a rubber band almost at the elbow sealing the arm and keeping the water out mostly. Even when my hand got wet, there were no complications.
. . . . . . . About half-way through our stay with aunt and uncle, Turner removed my stitches and pronounced me fit to continue living. He also prdicted that based on the size of my head, I would grow to 6 feet, 4 inches in height. I was pretty proud, considering I was years away from the age where, according to Turner, I would reach that lofty altitude. As things turned out, I reached about 6 feet one inch and felt fine at that height. I will always remember and respect Uncle Turner’s cool confidence and competence and rock-solid composure. He was so much like the actor who played Paladin in the TV show “Have Gun; Will Travel — Richard Boone, I believe —  with the same eyes and pencil-thin mustache.  The voice was sparkling gravel: arresting and music to the ears, as much as Stelle’s  was whipped sweet cream to the ears.
. . . . . . . Aunt, uncle, mom and Bill loved to fish. Dad and I were part of the process because we enjoyed being outdoors. Even dad fished. I did not.  A dam was being built by the US Army Corps of Engineers near the border of Georgia and South Carolina, an hour away from home base. We journeyed there once to fish in an area that was gradually filling with water held by the new dam. It would become a new, large lake. There was a crushed white rock road off a two-lane road that descended gently to a gravel-covered parking area, and we walked from there, probably 3/4 of a mile, though waist-high reeds into water deep enough for fishing. After an hour of this, I returned to the car and watched the dusk arrive. It was a beautiful part of the country, and the sky was incredible.
. . . . . . When my family departed Elberton  for home by way of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, I didn’t know, but it was the last time I’d see Uncle Turner. I had not had a particularly wonderful time during that visit, but I look back on it as the vacation trip I would most like to do again as an adult with the same wonderful people.

Coming next  — Ninth Grade

Live long . . . . . . and proper.

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Springfield Classical Guitar Society welcomes Angelo Favis to Springfield’s First Presbyterian Church, 321 S. Seventh at 8:00 tonight for the second of the season’s four concerts. Tickets are $12 for adults and less for students and young people. The internationally known artist has enjoyed a storybook career as a solo guitarist, has performed in concert all over the US and judged several solo competitions. Of Filipino ancestry and a specialist in the music of his homeland, he is also a major supporter of contemporary compositions for classical guitar. That said, most of the music slated for tonight’s concert is familiar to fans of traditional baroque and classical music. His concluding selection will be “Variations on a Philipine Folkksong Lulay,” and will be well worth the listen. He currently teaches at Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois and has recorded two CDs of his homeland’s music which will be offered for sale after the concert.

Angelo played at an SCGS concert during the early years of the organization, and it’s great to welcome him back to our town.

I will be in the front row with camera, and I will be looking for YOU during intermission. For more information about Springfield Classical Guitar Society and pictures from recent concerts, visit http://www.aeroknow.com/arts/classical6images.htm
To be sure of getting a better seat, arrive no later than 7:45.

Live long . . . . .  and proper.

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Those who consort with wanton marsupials might say it was “the one-yeer anniversary” January 19, 2010 when “Springfield’s Ambassador of Salsa” engaged about 30 members of Springfield, Illinois Sangamon Club in a festive fast-moving (literally) Latin-American dance workshop that concluded with gusto and smiles on every face, even the blogger/photographer’s! The year before, to hour and the day, I had taken pictures at a packed Theater 3 at Hoogland Center for the Arts, site of Julio Barranzuela’s first big-time downtown salsafest.

Julio had asked me to attend because he knows — as so many do — Job Conger is “Springfield’s Photographer of Salsa.” There was a minor misunderstanding regarding the time so I missed the dinner but arrived in time to share Julio’s concluding introductory remarks in the second floor ballroom, replete with the rug typically occupying the center of the ballroom on occasions when there is a gathering sans dancing, rolled to the side like a giant infield tarpaulin at Wrigley Field when rain threatens. The elegant polished wood dance floor thus revealed was an elegant touch and absolutely perfect for the gradual crescendo of delight that would follow.
Mi llamo es Julio and I have come to teach you to have fun.

During the introductory remarks, Julio explained the theme of most of his presentations: “Salsa Is a Metaphor For Life,” and from his practiced delivery it made good sense. I’d say more about it, but to really appreciate his message, you should “jear it from Julio.”
If you can count from 2 to 4 consistently . . .
Couples were instructed to line up facing their partners on opposite sides of the polished floor, and from the center, facing the men on his right and the ladies on his left, he began teaching the salsa, which is the most basic of the three he would present. Even taking his time to be sure everyone understood and could move the basic moves, time moved fast. It was a sharp group, most everyone had previous time on a dance floor from what my untrained eyes could tell. At first it was mastering simply counting and placing feet where appropriate for each number in the move. During this time he directed the couples closer together, building some tension and anticipation which kept everyone interested and smiling as though opening presents on Christmas morning. The three-step, initially mastered was then engaged with music. Then Julio introduced the complete six steps to the salsa, first counting without music; then with music. There was time given to enjoy the dance, to get into the groove of the moment.
salsa to the 2-3-4
They took a break; replenished their wine at the bar ably tended at the back of the ballroom. Sat and chatted with each other. After probably 10 minutes, the teacher called his eager students back to action and taught the Merengue and the Bachata. Assisting throughout the presentation was his fine lady friend. I was too busy behind the camera to remember her name, but she deserves half the credit for the dances well demonstrated. It was as smooth as single-malt whiskey sipped to a melody by Julian Bream. Did Bream write salsa music. I don’t think so, but I’m sure you get my point. The crescendo of growing delight reached its zenith in the final 20 minutes. It was after 8:00 by then, and some of the participants had departed the ballroom, little knowing what they would miss.
Conga - short for Latin-American dancing snake
The final session was what I call “the Jello-wrestling close to earth part.” Julio is too smart and too nice to call it that, but this is my blog, not his, and I’m calling it as I see it — or seen it, if you consort with wanton marsupials. Dancers were given some instruction about the  finer points of Latin American dancing and invited to let their hair down, so to speak, so to dance . . . to just have fun. Julio also had a Latin-American friend sing some ballads in Spanish, karaoke-style to recorded accompaniment. The fellow was good. To come close, you’d have to pay a $10 cover charge at a Chicago or Miami bistro! After a few songs, things really began to roll with a conga line and incredible energy and delight on the dance floor. Friends and family of Julio’s who had been watching from tables on the side even joined in. It was a musical fireworks display for the ears and eyes from where I stood, and the dancers had the real fun!

They could have danced all night.

It was clear the rest of the evening was in wind down mode as participants began to depart, thanking Julio for a great evening. As a photographer who loves the music and the energy, I feel like a fisherman who loves to fish, but who doesn’t eat fish. I know I’m not dance floor material, but I had great fun behind the camera. But there are many places to have fun behind a camera; only one way to share a night as much fun as the one I witnessed January 19 at the Sangamo Club on the first anniversary of Julio’s first major presentation in Barranzuela-seasoned heart of Springfield, Illinois. I had a great time, and when you attend Julio’s next dance presentation, you will too!

Live long . . . . and proper.

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Let’s Just Sit Around
by Job Conger

Long years ago, somebody said,
“There’s too much fighting and people dead,
And though the concept may seem crude,
You can’t make warefare when you’re nude.”
Today in these uncertain times —
A rainbow conspiracy of crimes —
It leads me, where I’m comin’ from,
To conclude that concept’s time has come.

So lets not study war anymore–
It leads to pointless killing.
And let’s not study philosophy —
The quest is unfulfilling.
Just lock the door and dim the lights
and close the draperies tight.
I want to be with only you —
Hey, let’s just sit around naked.

The modern po li ti ci an
Reveals himself most in the can
Where nature’s forces do prevail,
No matter how loud tongues may wail.
They’ve nothing, more or less, to say
They didn’t tell us yesterday.
Yes, I admit, I tend to scoff,
So turn the television off.

No, let’s not study Pat Quin more;
He makes my stomach do wierd tricks.
And lets not watch the Fox anymore
With its Simpson style of politics.
Unwrap some cheese, uncork some wine
And disconnect the phone.
My eyes desire only you.
Hey, let’s just sit around naked.

In summer heat and winter ice,
Folks say I’ll never find paradise,
But if I can believe my heart,
I think I’ve found a running start.
I’ll not see Paris in the spring,
But in the land where corn is king,
The “Promised Land” I want to know
Is found between your hat and toe.

So let’s not study maps anymore —
They only lead to travel.
And let’s not study roads anymore —
All turnpikes lead to gravel.
Forget the highway. Put McNally
On the old bookshelf.
We will not need the car tonight.
Hey, let’s just sit around naked.

written August 24, 1992
This was a romp in whimsy written with no one in mind. I included it in my first book of poetry and song lyrics, Minstrel’s Ramble: to Live and Die in Springfield, Illinois copies of which I offer for sale wherever I am invited to recite and sing. The verses are intended to be spoken in the same tone as the hit “Hot Rod Lincoln” as I accompany them on guitar, and the chori — okay, choruses — are sung to a melody I wrote.

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No No = Yah

No No = Yah
by Job Conger
(with apologies to Yo Yo Ma)

. . . . The words aren’t any easier to say,
. . . . and rubbing people’s ears in it does nothing positive.
. . . .Indeed, I truly wish there were a way
. . . . to untangle the contortions of this “lingo curiositive:”

I don’t want no hassles —
I mean
I don’t want hassles —
I mean
I want no hassles;
I just want to set the record straight.

Convoluted talk ain’t worth nothing —
I mean
Convoluted talk is worth nothing —
I mean
Convoluted talk is worthless,
and I want to set the record straight.

“There must be some way out of double negatives,”
the joker told the thief.
“They’ve lowered the pole to accommodate the lingo laggards!
I can’t get no relief —
I mean
I can’t get relief  —
I mean
I can NOT get . . . . sa tis FAC tion
and I want to set the record straight.”

Clear talk is not beyond nobody —
Clear talk is beyond WHOM?
Clear talk chimes with everybody
when you want to set the record straight.

You imitate no “white person’s tongue.”
You imitate no “poodle dung,”
You demonstrate what’s right from “wrung”
when you speak to set the record straight.

Just see now well it works for you.
In times with language is all askew,
the world will groove on your coolness, and I will too
when you set the record straight.

written September 4, 1994
I wrote this poem during my poetry renaissance, when I believed in the power of poetry and worked to make the community a better place to share poetry.

I still believe in it.

The poem was one of the first I wrote to be self-accompanied by my own guitar arrangement. No one particularly cared for the song during the #43 years since no one seemed to particularly understand what I was saying. SURPRISE! (not). But as the wise-cracking cowboy from Yale might say, The times, them is a changering.

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Nutty times, these. I am letting Rock Circus drive me nuts, and in the crescendo of my dismay, I am unable to find redemption in pursuits that once were my raison d’etre.  If I work on my tomorrow I must neglect my today. Without devotion to today, I forfeit my tomorrow. 

To escape the crescendo I wallow in solitude and silence.

This weekend I am committed to finishing a simple article about a fellow I gained tremendous respect for when I interviewed him for an article in a business monthly. I respect anyone who can hold a job more than five years.  I should be working on a book for a national publisher this weekend instead of working at Rock Circus.  When I return home from this charade of propriety, all I will desire is sleep, and not because I’m tired.

I should be working on the book I’m co-authoring for a national publisher, but the easier option is to continue with a magazine indexing project for AeroKnow because it needs to be done sooner than later. I don’t even like doing the indexing because it’s tedious work toward an end that is not in sight. Will it matter — when I post the completed project in a month if I’m lucky — that  a review of the Choroszy model company’s 1/72 kit of the Focke-Achgelis Fa-223 appeared in the December 1998 issue of Scale Aviation Modeller (Don’t finger me; that’s how they spell “modeler” in England and that’s where it’s published) and that it has color pictures of the details of the airplane and a five-view drawing with cross section templates? Today, it matters to me, more than anything else on my mind,  that aviation enthusiasts will learn this when I upload the index. And in the interest of not despising the countenance in my mirror when I trim my beard tomorrow, in the interest of self-respect, I will work on the index because the sooner it is done, the sooner I will devote more-focused attention on the book.  After I index probably five magazines on arrival home, I will spend some time with the business monthly article. I’ll finish the article Sunday and send it to the editor becore sundown. THAT is a piece of cake really, a task I would enjoy more if I were done with the indexing. The easiest activity in my life is journalism.

So I won’t attend the art gallery receptions tonight, with or without my camera.  I have “planted” far more lofty expectations there than I have been able to nurture to happy harvest.  The best I can do is say no more than that. There’s no gain from ranting a litany of regrets. Better to stay a neutral stranger than a disappointment in the eyes of people who barely know me. Another thing I won’t do is drink myself to an un-natural nap with my friend Carlo Rossi. In the final analysis, no matter how much I desire escape in sleep, the only way out of the valley is by spending more time conscious and productive.  There’s no alcohol in the house, and thing will remain that way for another two and a half days until Tuesday.

I have to come back to work on Tuesday.

Maybe I’ll  just buy more ice cream bars instead of another gallon of Burgundy. Better to be reallyreally overweight and lucid than under the influence of Rossi and almost as overweight.

Live long  . . . . . . and proper.

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You May Be

You May Be
by Job Conger

Saturday I crashed my Chevy.
Had my arm around you I was breathin’ heavy.
Sunday, they released me from the ward.
Though they said my body healed
Your disdain was not concealed.
Now I have to drive a beat-up, rusty Ford.
I was stranded on the far east side.
Made it past the barrio with my hide.
Heck, I even gave the fingeer to some “jack.”
You had warned me not to flick.
Now our chemistry won’t click,
And you say it’s all because of things I lack.

You may be right. I may be flaky.
But it might just be a brick load short you’re looking for.
My heart ain’t right. It’s achy breaky.
You may be wrong. For all I know you may be right.

I love to sing at open mic. I never owned a motor bike,
But I could watch “The Simpsons” all night long.
The Chicago Bears are “rad” which I think means “better than ‘bad'”
And to my mind, Sarah Palin does no wrong.
The world seems to have run amuck.
I love to say “sh_t,” “fart” and “fu_k”
And I do them every chance that I can get.
I can pick my hairy nose.
I can pee upon a rose,
And you dare to say you wish we’d never met?

You may be right, I may be flaky,
But it may be a frong with a dream you’re looking for.
I’m not up tight. Everythings jaky.”
You may be wrong for all I know, but you may be right.

My sense of humor makes folks wince.
They say it reeks of im pu dince.
My songs have all the rhythm of a snail.
I am easily pissed off, and I’m not inclined to laugh
When my friends tell me my gut could sink a whale.
Look back on all those times you tried to
Fomd a man to satisfy you.
I may be as flaky as you say.
But if I’m flaky and it’s true,
Then it’s all because a few
Whacked out music fans like me to act this way.

You may be right. I may be flaky.
But it may just be a pie with a crust you’re looking for.
I’m near the edge. Don’t try to save me.
You may be wrong for all I care. You may be right.

written September 12, 1992
The line with Sarah Pailin is updated from the same line that mentioned Danny Quayle. I had started playing and singing at open mics at Jimmy’s Sub Shoppe on the corner of Sixth at Monroe in lyrical downtown Springfield. It was hosted by two great guys, one of whom found fame and fortune as a news director at a great radio station in Florida. He’s now a valued Facebook friend. His unique version of the Billy Joel hit inspired my parody. The line about peeing on a rose was lifted from one of his songs that said in part, “Last night, I peed on your roses.” Rather than snicker at the lyric and performance — Did I mention I considered him a FIRST CLASS NEWS DIRECTOR? — I decided to take my irritation and carry it to a comedy goal line, and I did.

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It Only Hurts

It Only Hurts
by Job Conger

Life isn’t easy. There are no guarantees.
He seems most always on the verge of a sneeze.
Something’s inside that tries so hard to get out,
But heck, it’s hardly worth talking about —
It only hurts when you cry.

There are no answers in the places he looks:
Nothing in bottles, and there’s nothing in books.
His critics tell him that he “ain’t” got a chance.
He digs the music, but he “don’t” like to dance.
It only hurts when you cry.

Soldier of misfortune,  man of his own,
Wayfaring, outward-bound and mystical drone
With dreams-a-plenty that he cherishes so.
He will not lose them ’cause he will not let go.
It only hurts when you cry.

written sometime in 1982
The only thing I remember from 1982 is that I was involved with a group restoring a B-25 Mitchell (former bomber of World War II-vintage) and I wrote my first aviatin event souvenir program which would lead the next year to my writing the first (and most subsequent) programs for Springfield Air Rendezvous. I was treading water, my feet touched nothing that didn’t envelop the rest of  me below the neck. But I was writing poems and songs, three of which I would publish in my first book of poems. This is the only one I will share at Honey & Quine. To read the rest, buy my book Mistrel’s Ramble: to Live and Die in Springfield, Illinois available from Prairie Archives downtown and directly from me. I based the title and final line of each stanza refrain on the joke that describes a US Cavalry officer who was found leaning against a stump, fallen from his horse after a violent encounter with native northwestern hemispherians, three arrows in him and a broken leg.  A new recruit discovers him in a pool of blood and says, “Damn, Captain Jones! Doesn’t that hurt?” and the reply is “Only when I laugh.”  The connection and irony were evident when I wrote the poem/song. A better title would have been Self Portrait, but that didn’t occur to me until today. I’ll keep the original title juice de sem.

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All Over But the Shouting
by Job Conger

There’s a feeling growing stronger
In the passing of a few simple kisses
Between sighs of boredom.
It’s a feeling lasting longer
And the apathy to love I miss
Shows mistake so great I know we can’t afford ’em.

And it’s all over but the shouting,
Shouting epithets so strong our hearts will reel.
All over but the shouting
Of the things we once were so afraid to feel.

You may say my words are crazy,
But for you, it’s only natural to lose the fire
For flames are meant to die.
I can tell we’ve become lazy.
We’ve forgotten how to feel that warm desire,
And it’s pointless to ask why.

And it’s all over but the shouting,
And the words we use to hurt will do their thing.
All over but the shouting
Accusations dark disparity will bring.

So I’m taking back the ring I gave
When love was ours and we cared enough to care —
When “tomorrow” never came.
It’s so clear there isn’t much that’s left to save.
What there is we cannot share,
And yet, no one is to blame.

And it’s all over but the shouting —
Blazing gross obscenities that come to mind.
All over but the shouting,
And it’s time that I was leaving you . . . .

— written June 6, 1970

This was my first “I know we’re breaking up song.” As the walls of my first adult relationship continued to tremble, I arose from bed one night and came into my love’s cold, glass-topped diningg room table in a brick house on 2nd Street across from Sears. There I wrote the song with the melody coming to me as I wrote it. I drive by this house several times a week, and every time I do I think of her.

Reading the words now, it’s easy to tell I knew nothing about love on the wane. There were no “few simple kisses” though I created them for the song to set the tone. There was no ring. I crreated it for the song also. The descending minor melody was followed by a major chorus in the four lines as though the positive approach would show resolution even in that situation. In the version shared here, I’ve omitted the final word “behind” because I feel the song seems sadder without it. It’s obvious I’m going to leave her, we’re going to split, and “behind” is the only direction possible. The song worked, I sang it often in the 70s. She even heard it and liked it. I last saw her in Golden, Colorado in 1985 — long story; I’ll spare you.

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