Like everyone, I'm whipsawed between the good and the bad these days. What's going on in Washington is more than embarrassing, it's dangerous. But my personal life couldn't be better.
Here are some good and bad D's:
Donald Trump Jr. can't keep his story straight. Lies and evasions pour out of the White House like syrup. It will take time for the whole story to emerge, but the Trump campaign's collusion with the Russians will eventually take this president down. But it will be a long and ugly fight.
One of my favorite quotes in all this blizzard of information came from a friend of Trump's. He said that Donald Trump "would lie about what day of the week it is, just for practice." And that from was a friend.
Can you imagine the furor if any of Hillary's people met with the Russians?? Fox News and the right-wing hate-noise machine would have already built the gallows and be screaming "TREASON!!" It's still all hard to believe, and it's happening right in front of our eyes.
I finally delivered the manuscript of my new novel WHEN I GOT OUT to my publisher, The Story Plant.
I've never worked so hard on anything in my life. I worked hard on WHAT IT WAS LIKE, but I think I worked even harder on this one. People liked my first book, so the stakes and the bar are even higher on this one. And because it's the end of the story of the kid in WHAT IT WAS LIKE, it gives me a chance to "finish" the first book while making something special -- an individual's epic -- with my "bi-ology."
But this new novel stands alone. It's a sequel in the sense that the story is extended, but you don't have to have read the first book in order to enjoy the second. In fact, I can see where reading the second book first might be better. I'm just happy how it's all turning out. I'll have this one big book: WHAT IT WAS LIKE/WHEN I GOT OUT ... and I'll have had my say.
In these last few weeks, I felt like both the race horse and the jockey, whipping myself toward the "finish" line. Of course, there is no "finished" when it comes to a novel, especially a long, involved novel like WHEN I GOT OUT. I could potchke with it forever. (Is potchke an acceptable literary term?)
But I was late to my publisher, and I had to cut the cord. There will be lots more time for me to improve the manuscript. I hope to get great notes and ideas from my publisher and my copy editor. (They both helped the first book a great deal.) I can already think of some good riffs I left out.
I don't know yet what the actual publication date will be, but it's on the horizon. In any case, I am very happy that this big step has been taken.
Man does not live by symphony/opera alone, so it was great to get out to a new local club and see one of my favorite country artists DWIGHT YOAKAM.
I should have been him years ago. I've been a fan since he came on the scene in the 1980s. When my son -- Calder's Father -- was a child, he loved some of the Dwight songs I played for him such as "Little Sister" and "Little Ways."
But you can't see everything, so I was grateful to have this chance to catch Dwight locally and get him off my Bucket List. I have most but not all of his CDs, including his box set and a decent selection of bootleg concerts, so I'm pretty familiar with his repertoire. I lost track of his last few CDs, but when I went back recently to check them out on Deezer, my music service, I found really good songs.
His setlist was excellent: greatest hits plus. Dwight is a pro: he's 61 and knows exactly what he's doing. He started off with Chuck Berry ("Little Queenie," which also gives a nod to the Stones who covered it) and ended with Elvis (his extended "Suspicious Minds" closer). He played a long, heartfelt Merle Haggard tribute ("Silver Wings," "Swinging Doors," "Mama Tried," and "Okie from Muskogee"), complete with anecdotes about Hag and Willie. I liked everything he played, but I was especially glad he included one of my favorites -- "You're the One" – in the set.
I wish I had liked the venue more. It's only ten minutes away. The club – The Rose in Pasadena – is new. It's only been open a little over a year, and it's something that the San Gabriel Valley can use. There's a lot of live music in the Los Angeles area (duh!), but there was no good club near here. The Rose is built in the site of a closed supermarket (a Gelson's), so it's not a real theatre. The size is about right (capacity: 1,300), but there are pillars, the floor is flat, the ceiling is low, the sight lines are bad, and everything is painted black. The center of the space is given over to tables for dining, with rows of chairs on either side; and there are bars all around. To make up for the bad sight lines, there are large and medium-sized video screens everywhere. We were in fairly good seats on the side.
So I had a great view of the front line – Dwight, his bassist, and his lead guitarist – but I couldn't see the drummer at all and could only catch glimpses of the keyboard/fiddle/ accordionist/second guitarist. Occasionally I'd glance at the video screen at my left to watch the drummer. (Who doesn't like to watch the drummer, right?) But mainly I kept my eyes on Dwight and his killer lead guitarist Eugene Edwards. This kid played brilliantly all night, from fluid, imaginative fills to extended, snakey solos to a note-for-note recreation of James Burton's famous solo in "Mama Tried." He must not even be half Dwight's age, but he was a full partner in the music.
I'd like to see Dwight again in a better venue where he could do an acoustic set and more ballads. But I was very happy with what we saw Saturday night.
Johnny Cash was once asked which of the newer generation of country singers could measure up to the greats of the past, and Johnny Cash answered, "Dwight Yoakam."
Dwight's even a decent actor. Remember him as Doyle Hargraves, the mean boyfriend, in SLING BLADE?
Dwight Yoakam – "Suspicious Minds" – his killer closer
Young Dwight – singing "Honky Tonk Man," the Johnny Horton song he made his own
Dwight sings "Little Sister" – from Farm Aid, 1993
Dwight sings "You're the One" – from Country Gold in Japan, 1992
Dwight sings "Things Change" – from 2016
Dwight sings "Little Ways"
England's Lake District was finally named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Well-deserved and 'bout time! The TG and I had a few magical days there last year. I'd go back there tomorrow.
The Dodgers have been playing brilliantly. In the last thirty games, they are 26-4. We've been watching just about every game.
The team is great: from veterans like Clayton Kershaw (who is approaching Koufax Kountry) and Chase Utley to prime contributors like Justin Turner, Kenley Jansen, and Joc Pederson to new stars like Corey Seager and the sensational rookie Cody Bellinger. If you have Yasiel Puig hitting in the seventh or eighth position, you have a powerhouse line-up.
They could go all the way this year, but beating the Houston Astros in the World Series will not be easy.
I will be there watching – all summer and into the fall.
The Dodgers are going to help me survive Donald Trump.
You think it will work?