Get Off The Main Trail

Fallen trees in woods near Durand Eastman Park, early Spring
Fallen trees in woods near Durand Eastman Park, early Spring

So scientists aren’t sure whether this will be a good or bad year for ticks. The constant snow cover could have insulated them for a bumper crop or the fact that the white mice population was down last year may mean relatively few ticks. The article in the paper said you can pick them up in your lawn so I don’t know if we’re asking for more trouble by scouring the woods for deer racks or “sheds” as the local rackaholics call them. We have found ten or so since moving up here and only on a few occasions have we wandered off trails just for that purpose. They are just there like golf balls and 22 ounce Budweiser cans. We did find two in the last few days by leaving the trail.

Gap Mangione emailed about helping with a new album and I thought he was asking us to put a link to the new album on his website so I said “yes.” But he was asking if we would do the artwork for the cd so we had a project. He’s getting inducted in the local Music Hall of Fame this weekend and he wants to have product for the ceremony. The cd was recorded live in Toronto with a quintet and it sounds really good. Peggi did most of the work and the cd should be out by the weekend.

Speaking of piano. The grand piano at the Little Theatre is worth a hundred and fifty thousand. It needs about twenty thousand dollars of work though if they want to sell it for the 150. They are considering it but meanwhile Pete LaBonne will be here on Wednesday night to sit in with Margaret Explosion on piano. Pete was an original member and he takes the band to uncharted territory.

Personal Effects album "This Is It" on Earring Records 1984 EAR 1
Personal Effects album “This Is It” on Earring Records 1984 EAR 1
Personal Effects – “Main Trail” outtake from Personal Effects “This Is It”
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We Live like Kings Again

Red berries mixed with a brown weed vine
Red berries mixed with a brown weed vine

The glorious color of Fall has peaked. Most of the leaves are brown and under snow now but the late Autumn palette is still in full display. The quantity has been reduced but the appreciation level for what remains has risen. The advance of Winter is a welcome refresher course in minimalism. But first we feast.

We shared Thanksgiving with our friends, Matthew and Louise, in their new home and took turns around the table giving thanks for a few things. Mine were just off the top of my head but I suspect we could have spent the entire meal itemizing our bounty but then we wouldn’t have had time to discuss misogyny in New Zealand or who it was that actually wrote Shakespeare. We were honored to be invited and had no idea Matthew was a gourmet chef so the evening was both a delight and a surprise. The turkey was there but only a minor player in the parade of red pepper soup, roasted brussels sprouts, lemony greens, stuffing with apples, cranberry with ginger, sweet potatoes with melted cheese and tawny port. You know how a drummer sometimes does a quick roll at the conclusion of a song? Well, a bowl of imported English licorice punctuated last night’s performance.

Listen to We Live Like Kings by Pete LaBonne
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Slag Heap

Twenty years ago Chris Schepp organized the first Infest, an all day concert with ten bands in the Olmstead designed Genesee Valley Park. Pete LaBonne put a band together for the affair and called it “Pete’s Rock Band.” Buffalo’s Bruce Eaton played bass and I played drums. I can’t remember who the other bands were but SLT must have been one of them because Matt Sabo, Pat Lowery and Marathon Mark can all be seen in the video footage we have. I used to have an “Infest” t-shirt and an “Infest” cassette but they’ve slipped away. We came across this vhs tape and Peggi edited a clip for YouTube.

Pete joins Margaret Explosion on piano Wednesday night at the Little Theater Café.


Better Than France

Amy Rigby and Wreckless Eric at the Lovin' Cup in Rochester, New York
Amy Rigby and Wreckless Eric at the Lovin’ Cup in Rochester, New York

Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby have taken a liking to Rochester. They’ve been here four times in the last few years and came up tonight to play a benefit for Tom Kohn and the Bop Shop. Amy told the crowd that when they decided to move from France they considered considered moving to Rochester but Eric interjected “it would have been a good choice if it wasn’t for the weather and it’s proximity to Canada and the the fact that it is so far away from everything else.” “It’s better than France” Amy insisted.

They played a fantastic set. They are perfect as a duo, with piano, guitars, bass and harmonies. Thoroughly seasoned performers they somehow manage to sound like the first band your friends put together. If only they would fire that drummer, the drum machine on Eric’s laptop that flattens the songs they use it on. They finished with a beautiful version of Johnny Cash’s “I Still Miss Someone.

Chandler Travis opened the show before driving to Trumansburg outside of Ithaca for another gig tonight. He brought the house down with a version of Pete LaBonne‘s “Turning The Page.” Amy told the the crowd she felt like she was tripping when Chandler and his bandmates came out into the crowd to perform this gem a cappella.

Here’s a live version of Pete LaBonne’s “Turning The Page”

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Trophy Bowler

Basketball trophies in the horseshoe pits
Basketball trophies in the horseshoe pits

I was headed out to pick up the paper but met Rick Simpson at the door this morning with our paper in hand. He said he had already grilled Bob Mahoney about the trophies that someone left in our yards over the weekend. Rick got bowling related ones and I got basketball trophies carefully arranged in the horseshoe pit. This is the second visit from the “midnight trophy prankster”. We found a bunch a few years ago and suspected Rick and Monica of planting them. I’m thinking Rick planted this new batch in both yards to throw us off the scent.

Rick is a bowler and a good one at that. I was not much of a basketball player. I’m still open to any new clues.

Watch Pete LaBonne’s “Trophy Bowler

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Model From Crime Page

"Model From Crime Page" 2010, watercolor by Paul Dodd currently on view in the Finger Lakes Show at Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York
“Model From Crime Page” 2010, watercolor by Paul Dodd currently on view in the Finger Lakes Show at Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York

There seems to be no limit to the supply of fresh faces to paint. This one and another are currently in the biennial Finger Lakes Show at the Memorial Art Gallery. They asked me to record a brief statement about my work and you can hear it by calling 585 627-4132 and then 8 when they ask for the “stop number.” Click the photo above to view the whole piece.

I just listened to it and I can’t believe how dry it sounds. Geez! And I can see myself reading the statement from my notebook. I hate those typewritten artist’s statements and don’t read them unless I’m totally taken by the piece. Somehow I thought these recorded notes would be different and they are but mine doesn’t add much to the work. For kicks you can call back and push random stop numbers for some disjointed artist’s statements.


Code Of The Great Outdoors

Dead squirrel in the snow in the woods
Dead squirrel in the snow in the woods

It seems miraculous that the chipmunks are out. We watched them pack their small caves with nuts in the Fall and now they’re out darting around on the piles of snow. We hadn’t seen any deer in weeks and we were speculating that they too were hunkered down in the cold but today we watched a group of eight up move across a hillside. There was a pileated woodpecker up in one of the trees too but we couldn’t spot it. Sounded like a jackhammer. We interrupted a hawk who was devouring this squirrel right in the middle of our path. On the way back the squirrel was gone.

Pete LaBonne has a song called “Code Of The Great Outdoors” with the refrain, “better out, better out, better out than in.” It’s on his “High Time” release, same album as “Punk Rock Dressing Room” and only seven bucks for the download!

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Entering The Kingdom

Pete and Shelley window, Winter 2011
Pete and Shelley window, Winter 2011

We approached Pete and Shelley’s mountain kingdom by sea on the Port Henry ferry that is temporarily replacing the Crown Point bridge which is currently being rebuilt. Lake Champlain separates the two states but there is a whole lot more at play. We spent some time looking at the New York mountains from the Vermont side and then the snow capped Vermont peaks from the New York side and we couldn’t quite put our finger on the difference in the two states. It is mostly perception but that is a lot.

There was so much snow up there we kept skiing into three feet of powder and getting so bogged down that we were tempted to take our skis off but we knew full well that would be the last anyone would see of us. We sat around the stove enough to learn what a condition called “Granny’s Tartan” is all about.

We came home without driving on the Northway or the New York State Thruway proving the adage that it is not the destination but the journey. We whizzed by a sign that read “Highway Hair Cuts”, hand painted in all caps. I pictured a brush cut with a flat top.

Rick Simpson played Pete LaBonne‘s “We Live Like Kings” on his radio show last week. I plan to request it this week.

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Arouse The Thunder

Pete LaBonne with gun
Pete LaBonne with gun

‘We Live Like Kings,” “Somebody Must Praying For Me,” “Pajama Pants” (Baby, you know what I mean), “Let The Weeds Take Over,” “High Time” and “Supermarket Employee.” There so many Pete LaBonne songs stuck in my head. The songs are stored in a place where they are easily accessible and it doesn’t take much to trigger them. Pete has digitized twenty two cds worth and he’s giving away a track from each on his website.

I heard Rick Simpson tell a listener he’d play a Pete LaBonne tune next week on his Thursday afternoon radio WRUR show. Pretty soon you’ll be walking around with lines like “You’re the 5th line on the eye chart,” “What am I gonna do when they turn me into a verb?” and “You gotta treat your woman like a sack of potatoes” floating around your head. Lucky you!

Pete LaBonne "We Live Like Kings" cover
Pete LaBonne “We Live Like Kings” cover

Arouse The Thunder
They call her Miss Divisive on the street.
She put the spit in hospitality
Strandy hair parted around the ears
under her sweater’s a purple chiffon brassiere
She turns me on flips me off
E Am
she’s not a hag puts me in a vacuum cleaner bag
whips it out plugs it in
hits the switch and I hear the roar
C G G7
she could surely arouse the thunder
of the mighty Thor.

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Wednesday Night Ritual

Black birds in trees
Black birds in trees

Most of the birds are getting out but the smart ones are hanging around for this beautiful Fall weather. It’s not Indian Summer because we haven’t had a frost but that’s only a technicality because we live so close to the lake.

We were headed home from Peggi’s mom’s apartment with the last load of stuff to get rid of and we head this clanging under the car. I couldn’t even see out the back window because the big, green ,overstuffed, lift chair took up most of our cargo space. We stopped at the bank and I crawled under the car. Our tailpipe had broken off where it meets the muffler so I stopped in Jerome’s to have them take a look at it. They put the car up on the lift with the lift chair inside of the car and reattached the tailpipe. Further up the exhaust chain we noticed the heat shield on the catalytic convertor was falling off. I find these in the road all the time while on my bike but I’ve given up collecting them.

We don’t really have a piano player in our band unless Pete LaBonne is in town. Fred Marshall sat it a couple of weeks ago and he sounded great. Jaffe from the old Colorblind James Experience used to come all the time but we haven’t seen him in months. James Nichols threatened to come last week but didn’t. Maybe he’ll stop by tonight. He always sounds great. There’s no piano in the song below but the Little Theatre Café’s grand piano was sitting right next to us when we recorded the track so if you listen closely you’ll hear it vibrating sympathetically.

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Punk Rock Dressing Room

Sparky in his Caddy
Sparky in his Caddy

Peggi’s mom was using her fingers to name her five aunts. She was having trouble coming up with the sixth name and said, “I’m afraid the hereafter is going to be very confusing, trying to reconnect with everybody.” Her sole known cousin had called and it was his mom’s name that we trying to think of. I was thinking how I have about fifty first cousins and I could never name them all.

Sparky stopped by to check up on us. We keep talking about doing a repeat performance of Polish sausage lunch we did a few yeas back. The woman who made these magical sausages died and Sparky hasn’t found a substitute. It gives us something to talk about, sausage and Pete. We gave him a cassette of Pete LaBonnes’s music years ago and he always asks about him.

When Jeanne Perri was in town this summer (she moved to Nashville in the music boom days) we sat around calling out our favorite Pete songs and then playing them on our laptop. One that stuck with me is “Punk Rock Dressing Room” with the refrain, “We’re living in a punk rock dressing room”. I was thinking of that song last night when we got home from Peggi’s mom’s place. There was an unlabeled cd in a white envelope taped to our door with “4 U” written on it. I popped it in to my desktop computer and 19 untitled audio tracks popped up so I gave it a spin. It was a live Ramones’ recording from San Francisco from the “Road To Ruin” tour. We saw them many times and this brought it all back. They rescued rock and roll and were true performance artists. Rick Simpson stopped by this morning and asked if we got the cd. I never would have guessed it was from him.

Our NetFlix movie selection of the night was The Runaways movie. Even the extras were good except there was only still photos of Joan Jett and no current video of her.

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Fictional Summer Reading List

Art books and Paul Dodd paintings
Art books and Paul Dodd paintings

Steve Hoy posted a comment to this blog a few weeks back asking if anyone had recommendations for some good fiction. Pete replied:

STEVE: “i just finished reading john irving’s last night in twisted river, and while it was good i kinda got antsy to finish it, unlike thomas bergers ‘ (my main man) 2nd little big man book, which i was sorry to come to the end. can anybody recommend some good american fiction?”

I’m the wrong one to ask because my favorite books are all picture books. I did, however, know who to ask. Pete LaBonne sent back a list that should get you through the summer.

PETE: “Sorry for not responding sooner, but I picked up a few Donald Westlake books and didn’t get around to it. Let me make it clear though, I don’t advocate the buying of books. Except maybe for Alaska Bear Tales by Larry something.

If you have to read anything other than William T. Vollmann:
From the old school there’s The Wild Palms by Faulkner, East Of Eden by Stienbeck, & The American Claimant by Twain.

I don’t know if you can consider Conrad & Nabokov american, Hugo was sure french though. While, and you can quote me on this, Flannery O’Connor left the nastiest and most beautiful legacy in the Catholic language, you know, except for the Petticoat Junction theme song.

Tristan Egolf (Lord Of The Barnyard) killed himself, as did David Foster Wallace (Infinite Jest). Saul Bellow died on his own. I haven’t seen anything new by D. Keith Mano (Take Five) in a long time or come to think about it or by Pete Hautman (The Mortal Nuts) but you never know unless you go to the trouble to find out. Thomas Pynchon is still alive and getting better. Mason & Dixon is great and so is Inherent Vice.

We do know all about Richard Bachman (of The Regulators fame).

Paul Theroux has written several great books, O Zone, Picture Palace, The Family Arsenal & probably something else I’m forgetting. While Theodore Rozak wrote only one masterpiece which would be titled Flicker.

Then there’s Robert Coover’s wonderful novel Gerald’s Party which I read three times. In fact I read most of these three times. While you’re in “C”, You might want to check out Cormac McCarthy if your library sometimes throws first names into it’s alphabetization scheme.

Then the shit starts getting nasty with Chuck Pahlaniuk which might have a misplaced “H”. Then it gets downright EVIL with Nykanen’s The Bone Parade.

But. There are two books which scared the HELL out of me; L.A. Rex by Will Beall and Alaska Bear Tales by Larry something.”


With Good Reason

Three deer in Spring Valley
Three deer in Spring Valley

I remember going to the zoo at the top of Zoo Road in Durand Eastman and looking out over the hillside full of deer. That zoo is long gone but the deer are still here. Rochester didn’t need two zoos anyway. This set up with them wandering freely around the whole town seems much more civilized.

Peggi and I seem to have been buried in an endless amount of tweaks to sites we thought were done. A lot of this is mission creep and a good bit of it extras. That line however is pretty fuzzy.

When we do get caught up the first recreational project on our to do list is creating a shopping cart for Pete LaBonne’s “Gigunda” digital box set. Pete has been remastering the tracks in his Adirondack studio and the last of the reworked tracks arrived in today’s mail. Pete has added the original cover art for the full blown download experience and he selected tracks from each album to giveaway as teasers. The full albums will be available as downloads for chump change. I noticed that “Antique Revolt”, a project I played on along with Bruce Eaton, was not included in this set. With good reason.

Title song from Godiva Records cassette, “Antique Revolt” Recorded by Arpad Sekeres in 1992

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Like Flies On Sherbert

Dead mole in woods

Our friend Rich used to write the obit column for The Herald Telephone in Indiana. It was about that time that I put it together that people actually died.

Friday’s obits really got us going. I didn’t realize I had been so manipulated back when I wanted to sleep with my Davy Crockett coonskin cap on. Turns out, with over 3000 Disney/Crockett toys on the market, most kids in America had the same desire. I don’t remember having any of the other products though.

On the same page, right below the Fess Parker obit was Alex Chilton’s. I loved the songs he sang in the Box Tops and bought those singles but never caught on to Big Star. We absolutely loved the Cramps first singles and I knew Alex Chilton’s name was on those as producer. In fact, Peggi drove down with some friends to Max’s Kansas City to see the Cramps during that time period. I was in the studio that night with New Math recording our first single with Howard Thompson behind the boards so I missed the show. And I knew our friend Pete LaBonne played with Alex and would regularly send him his own releases. He and Shelley visited Alex backstage at one of the recent Box Top reunion shows. I played a few gigs with “Pete’s Rock Band” with Bruce Eaton on bass. Buffalo Bruce is a big Big Star fan and wrote the 33 1/3 book on “Radio City”, Big Star’s second album. Bruce wrote the Chilton obit for Salon Magazine.

So now that he is gone, just what was he all about. We downloaded about ten songs from various blogs and put them them in our iTunes library. The songs were pop and grungy and country and bluesy and all over the map. “September Gurls” is stuck in my head. And then I remembered Pete had given us a solo Chilton lp called “Like Sherbert on Flies”. Since he doesn’t have either electricity or a record player he asked us to keep it for him. We played both sides of this particularly odd record. It sounds sort of like Pete’s “Antique Revolt” and I know how that recording went. Pete bought some big cans of malt liquor and instructed Arpad to roll the tape.

On the editorial page of today’s paper Paul Westerberg wrote a piece on his mentor called “Beyond the Box Tops. He talked about Big Star and how Alex went on to record more challenging and artistic records “Like Flies On Sherbert.”

We spotted this dead mole in the woods and and Steve Hoy called us on Friday to tell us his mom had died. I feel especially lucky to be alive.

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Auto Tune This

You know that Pete LaBonne song where the guy fine tunes a radio station until it goes off the air? I spent a good bit of the day today in a dentist’s chair listening to an all Christmas satellite radio station. I don’t think I heard a single song with auto tune and yet it seems the entire top forty has been auto tuned.

And another thing. I made some hummus yesterday with a big can of Goya chick peas and a regular size can of Goya kidney beans. Peggi was working on these tables for a client and she called me into the other room while the hummus was pureeing.

The food processor started making a really loud grinding noise and we both looked at each other and at the same thinking “WTF?”. I went back out to the kitchen and it stopped. I pictured a frozen jalapéno from our garden temporarily stuck under one of the blades.

Tonight when we returned from our Margaret Explosion gig we both dove into the hummus and Peggi hit a hard nugget of something. She spit it out and it looked like wood. The hummus tasted funny too and I was thinking it was because I used too much garlic. We threw it away. I guess I could go back to Wegman’s with it but I wonder what Rich Stim would advise.

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Artist Statement

We sent our next Margaret Explosion cd off for duplication and I submitted the new tunes to CDDB through iTunes. I had to pick a category for the type of music it is before it would allow me to submit so I chose “Jazz” from the short list. In the iTunes application however you have a much longer list and you can even make up your own categories. I don’t usually think about describing our music until I’m in situations like this. I found a category in there called “Psychedelic Jazz” and pretty much works. I didn’t know there was such a thing.

There is a student show up over at the Creative Workshop and the director asked us to write a short blurb about what it is that inspired us to paint whatever it is we painted. Most art types balk at describing their work because the work is supposed to do the talking. Some people, though, love “Artist’s Statements” and long descriptions or histories of the artists. At many shows these days the placards next to the painting severely detract from the work.

That being said, I did spend some time thinking about why I paint what I do. And I came up with a succinct, two word statement of my inspiration. “Human Nature”. I am interested in exploring why I am drawn to the subject matter of my choice. I am interested in creating a dialog about this subject through the work and then I’m interested in how people around me react to what I put down.

They didn’t use my artist statement and that’s fine.

Here’s Pete LaBonne’s track “Artist Statement” from his Earring Records cd entitled “Glob”.


Doubled Float Margin Bug

The Marshing Band recording sessions in 2006
The Marshing Band recording sessions in 2006

Want to ruin your day? Try previewing the site you’ve been working on all day in Internet Explorer. We were fine until we had to duke it out with the “Doubled Float Margin Bug”. Then Radio Rick made our day when he played Margaret Explosion’s “Playground Tavern” on WRUR.

Last night we sat on the porch with the lights out. Peggi lit a few candles and we contemplated sleeping out there. It was a beautiful night. I started thinking about The Marshing Band sessions from 2006. We recorded without electricity up at Pete and Shelley’s on a battery operated M-Audio Microtech (as shown in the blow-up of the above photo) and we lit the session with candlelight. We sold that device and bought one made by Sony that records on the small SDHC cards. This unit takes has built in mics and ports for two external mics and it runs on batteries. We could do a killer recording when we meet up there this Fall.

Listen to the Marshing Band


Magic Carpet

Margaret Explosion watercolor by Leo Dodd
Margaret Explosion watercolor by Leo Dodd

I’m sitting over at Jerome’s Ignition while Igor looks at our car. It’s been making a clunking noise in the front end. This is already sounding like a Click and Clack episode. We are planning to drive to New York soon to see the Marlene Dumas show at the Modern and we are a little concerned about the thump. Igor didn’t see anything so he took it for a spin. When he got back he noticed that the lug nuts on our left front tire were loose. These guys are the best in the world. If only they had a wireless connection here.

I didn’t sleep very well last night and while I was awake I started worrying about my opening tomorrow night. Somebody was saying if I call it an “opening” that would not imply free food but if I call it an “opening reception” that would imply free food. I put “opening reception” on the post card so I stand to look like a cheapskate. I don’t really understand all the protocol of openings and what little I do understand I resist. For instance I can’t bring my own food or beverages in there because that’s their (not for profit) business. I could buy food from them and serve that for free but that’s part I don’t get.

Painting class started up again at the Creative Workshop and my father did some quick watercolor sketches from photos he took on Sunday night of Margaret Explosion on WXXI’s “OnStage”. I took this photo over his shoulder. I’m not sure that he spelled “Margaret ” right but I like the magic carpet under us.


Really Rather Trippy

Between The Buttons by the Rolling Stones
Between The Buttons by the Rolling Stones

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for “Between The Buttons”. I am thankful that it still sounds as good to me as did in 1967. Bob Mahoney and John Gilmore stopped over after Margaret Explosion’s gig last and we went for a ride with iTunes Party Shuffle while we ate olives and bread. I’ve got all my cds on a harddrive now and it is a gas hearing stuff come up that I know I love but I wouldn’t think to put it on. Of course iTunes doesn’t think at all and it shows me up all the time.

We heard a couple Pete LaBonne tunes that drew us closer to the stereo so we could hear the lyrics. Then there was something from Moondog and “The Wind Cries Mary” and a track from Bruce Anderson/Dale Sophiea’s “Strict” and then an amazing last number. It sounded so good I played it again as Bob and John were putting on their coats. “Something Happened To Me Yesterday” features Mick and Keith trading lead vocals, Ian Stewart on piano and Brian Jones on trombone, trumpet and violin. Peggi mimicked Kieth swinging a pint as she sang his lines. It’s barroom circus music and pop psychedelia like Colorblind James meeting the Squires of the Subterrain.

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I Mow The Lawn

Pete LaBonne, along with Bruce Eaton, released a 45 with their Buffalo group, “The Party Nuggets”. It was called “I Mow The Lawn” and it was pretty close to the Staple Singers’ tune “I’ll Take You There”. I start singing it every time I fire up the lawn mower. Yesterday was one of those days.

We were supposed to be at Peter Pappas’s for a pre Jazz Fest party at 7 and I got a late start and so I mowed while walking really fast which reminded me of the job I had in Bloomington mowing the lawns of University owned houses. There were about a hundred of these houses all over town. Caroline Peyton from the Screaming Gypsy Bandits who went on to do the voice for many of Disney’s animated cartoons (Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame) lived in one of the houses that I mowed. And I think her roommate at the time was Andrea from Angel Corpus Christi. I would stop and chat with Caroline but my main objective was mowing my lawns as fast as I could, hiding the mower in someone’s bushes and then riding my bike back to the trailer I lived in to hang out for the rest of the day. Then around four I would have to ride back into town to punch out.

My boss had mouth cancer but he continued to smoke Lucky Strikes. He had open sores on the side of his face. It was my first glimpse of cancer. I remember a woman opening a window and giving me six pairs of grey socks. She said her husband had recently died and I looked like I could use them. It was a little creepy the first time I put them on but I got over that. Near the end of the summer one of the other mowers told me that the boss was spending some time driving around looking for me. So I made a point to hang around and let him see me. I remember smiling and waving when he drove by.