This morning I was driving my car down a road in Upstate New York and a squirrel, a chipmunk, a bird and a rabbit all ran/flew across the road, from right to left at the same time. The bird a dash in front of the chipmunk and squirrel. The squirrel and chipmunk side by side and the rabbit directly behind them. A very strange moment for me. I found this to be very unlikely. I cannot stop thinking about it. If anyone would care to offer a possible explanation in the comments section or to me personally It would be much appreciated.
I’ve been back east for two weeks since I finished my Back To The Other Side Tour. Twelve shows from Oakland to NY in 12 days. It was a challenging tour for me. The hosts were superb, the audiences attractive and the refreshments varied, but my drive times were too long. Many 9 hour drives with a show at the end. Wasn’t too good for my carbon footprint or my spirit, but good news is I can just….. not do it that way again!
At the top of this blog is a video of a famous snail in a famous shower in an unknown town brought me a great deal of joy. When people ask me why I do this I speak of my potato sorters and horse surgeons and now I will speak of Sammy The Snail. I was so thrilled when, after my show, Karen invited me to her shower to meet Sammy. Apparently life expectancy for this type of snail is 3 years and Sammy has been climbing all over Karen’s shower for 4 years strong. He goes on field trips to the kitchen and guest bathroom. Here is a view from the backyard of my hosts in Joseph OR, just next to where Sammy lives.
While passing through Portland I was able to stop at Stumptown Printers the old school new groove printing worker collective that produced my last album cover and has provided the blank covers for the 1,000 people CD project. It was really special to meet the humans I had asked all kinds of dumb questions to on the phone. They showed me their beautiful print monsters, we took a couple pictures, I did a few magic tricks and hit the road. I could have watched them pull levers and set type all day long.
They are the real deal. Just look at this thing that does stuff!
In Minneapolis my host Joe gifted me his accordion he’s had since he was 10. He even won some awards with it in his tweens playing polkas. Joe is an actor and director who lived in Chicago for many years and then moved with his family to Minneapolis where he’s been a mailman for 10 years. Growing up on the Upper West Side there was a mailman named Dennis who would rhyme to his deliveries. I learned some of his rhymes passing him by in middle school. Eventually he would see me coming down the street and say, “Hey hey hey it’s the mailman today.” I would finish his line with a big 7th grade grin, “And I soytenly do have a package for you!” We would hi-five as we passed. I was very surprised to learn that not all mailmen rhyme.
Joe, his wife Nancy, a radio journalist, and their daughter Coco were wonderful hosts. After 10 years as a mailman Joe is returning to acting and directing in Chicago in the coming year. I hope some day to get cast in a show of his playing his accordion. I find most of my hosts through referals and audiences putting contacts on my maps, but Joe found me. He reads the New York Times to blind people on the radio each Saturday and always picks a feature. He picked my feature! He was intrigued and invited me to come play at his house or join his family for Thanksgiving. Now that I’ve tasted his risotto and also his lemon trifle I’ve decided to spend the rest of my Thanksgivings with Joe, Nancy and Coco.
My first two hosts of the tour both appeared in the film Eraserhead. My host third in from the right played in this band. Other hosts’ jobs this time included private investigator, agave waste product fertilizer specialist, a childrens theater director, a costume designer, a knitting store owner, a Shakespeare to prisons bringer and director, a career facilitator and coach, a grant writer / bookstoreist, and of course a male sexuality discussion group leader. I also played for the summer theater players of Minot, ND and in a home filled with monkeys in Chicago.
My second show in Minneapolis was at the home of the lovely Dave and Amy and Lucy and Zoey. Dave had asked if the show was cool for kids and I said sure as I have had lots of kids at my shows. Lots of kids spread out among my shows. When all 50 guests had arrived about half of them were under the age of 11. I did some heavy breathing. I sometimes have found that when there are a ton of kids they can get excited and kind of ….. well…. just completely lose their minds, gnaw through each others’ limbs and light the curtains on fire. I warned my hosts this might happen and let them know that I welcomed whatever came my way. I thought about how to keep these kids’ attention. I changed the show a bit, added a few more magic tricks, some extra flash, some sparkle, some poof, sped things up and I was able to hold the room, kids included. I was stunned and delighted.
The family had a dog. Let’s call him…. Marzipan, as I can’t remember his name and that feels right. When we woke up the next morning the dog was acting a bit funny. He just looked odd as if he’d just eaten a pot brownie for the first time and was trying to sort out the experience. Eventually we noticed he was kind of walking like a very old man and gazing mysteriously into regular objects as if he could see bejeweled elvin kingdoms inside. I looked around the room and found a small clump of saran wrap. Oh no! Sure enough Marzipan had eaten a rather potent pot brownie my other host had given me. Luckily Marzipan had built up an immunity to chocolate over his years of mischief and did not die (chocolate being dog poison), but he did stumble around enough to warrant a visit to the vet. Thankfully Marzipan is doing well. The doc sent him home with a prescription for 5 hours of Xbox and a pepperoni pizza.
The 1,000 CD Cover Project has been going strong. With 200 covers out so far, 40 have already been returned. This project has taken a great deal of organization and maintenance, but it’s all well worth it. It has been such a joy to see how folks have been interpreting their chosen design prompts. The challenge from my end is to always find a better way to invite people into the project, make sure they understand the details and then stay on top of them and make sure they don’t forget. Sometimes folks see it as just a piece of paper in an envelope, but I try to remind them when they take one and sign up that it’s really a tile in a large massive piece they are designing. Out of 200 released unto the world only 2 have been lost so far which is pretty good. Thank you, cover friends! Here are just a few examples of covers folks have sent in. Click below to see bigger.
I am currently planning my Back Again To The Other Side Tour beginning August 10th NY to Oakland. Once in Oakland me and my debonair accomplice Hubcap have a month and a half to finish up our show which will shortly be named and announced. We’ve had a blast working on it so far and are very excited to tour it through western homes the second half of October. USA tour tea towels are still in the works. As always if you would like to sign up for the 1,000 People CD Cover Project from afar just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get you squared away.