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For Autism Awareness Day, here is my song, Hello Out There, for those on the autism spectrum. When you meet someone on the spectrum, treat them with patience and grace. They’re living life the only way they know how.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Cyndy and I went to the St. Patrick’s Day party at Community Beer Company on Saturday, March 16. For $15/$20 at the door, you got a Kiss Me I’m Texan Irish glass and three beer tokens. We figured it would be a good party to go to and try craft beers. They also had brewed special Irish style beers and that beats green beer every day of the week.

I didn’t know until we got there that it was $20 at the door – if I had I would have pre-registered. But we figured all told we got our money’s worth.

I started with Hop O the Morning for obvious reasons. It was a full-bodied beer with nice flavor. If there hadn’t been so many choices, I would have stuck to it. Cyndy had the Public Ale, an English style ale that is full-bodied and rather smooth.

Next round, Cyndy had Razzy, a smooth beer with hints of raspberry as you would surmise from the name. I tried Michael J. Hops, which I got without a token because the keg blew before my glass was full. Which was just fine by me, but even more so when I discovered it was quite a bit more “hoppy” than I prefer.

The Texas Lager I chose next was as you might figure – a light bodied lager. It had a nice flavor. Cyndy just had to try the Snickerdoodle Ale. A spiced mild ale with cinnamon and vanilla, it actually tastes remarkably like snickerdoodle cookies.

With my final token I chose Wittbier, a Belgian style white ale. It blended well with the other ales we had tried while adding a little extra bite to the flavor.

Cyndy and I plan to go back to Community Beer Company when we get a chance. The staff was very friendly, courteous and efficient. There was a good vibe among the patrons. And there are more beers we want to try.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

[Read Part One] There was another time that I saw someone who became a celebrity at the Cellar. I could have seen others, but I was more focused on the girls at the time.

I woke up with rocks being thrown at my second floor bedroom window. My friends wanted me to sneak out and go with them. I don’t think they had anything in mind – just hanging out. I jumped out of the window. Then they decided they wanted to go to the Cellar – having never been there before. But, for reasons I don’t remember, I was not wearing any shoes. I didn’t know they were planning to go anywhere.

So we’re going into the Cellar and – surprise, surprise – I can’t get in barefooted. My friends were kind of pissed because they really wanted to go. But they couldn’t take it out on me, because they didn’t tell me we were going anywhere. We go back to the car, where we find some plastic wrap, a sack, and some other materials. I’m not exactly sure what all – I’ve slept since then. But my feet were wrapped in something resembling shoes. Undaunted, we walked back to the club.

It wouldn’t work today. Not only were they not shoes, we were underage. But the doorman just laughed with his buddy, shook his head, and waved us on in. We went and sat on the mats in front of the stage. The band came out and started to play. As I said in the previous post on the subject, the girls would come out and dance in front of the band on a stage that was actually four risers stuck together end to end. Like the ones you stood on in grade school to stand behind the tall kids in the class picture.

Then the red light would flash and the girls would scamper off stage as if the police had arrived and they needed to get dressed in a hurry. Which couldn’t have been hard – they didn’t take a lot off. The whole act would have been a lot more convincing if there hadn’t been an officer hanging out in the back talking to the bouncer.

I was drinking a Tom Collins – yea, yea, I know. I can’t stand either ingredient now. But I was underaged and it was a common drink at the time. I was watching the band. There was a kid about my age playing guitar. I was jealous that he was playing with a band. I wondered what it was like to play in strip club underage. Then after a while we left and went home.

But I would hear the guitar player again. It was Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

 

When I was finished setting up at Gilmer Brewing Company, I went to the men’s room. I’m used to seeing my poster in the bathroom. I’m not used to seeing them marked up. But I got such a kick out of it that I took it with me at the end of the evening.

I’m thinking about asking all the venues to specifically put a poster in the bathroom. It would be interesting to see what people come up with. But I have to be prepared for the not so funny comments.

What the hell. You’ve got to have something to look forward to, right?

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Last Saturday I had the good fortune to play at Gilmer Brewing Company in – you guessed it – Gilmer, Texas. It’s located on the town square, which is always a nice touch. And, after dealing with metroplex driving all the time, a drive in East Texas is rather pleasant.

My son, Cameron, and I arrived at the brewery about 6 p.m. I was to play from 7-9. Owners, Ruth and Drew Emory, were welcoming and gracious. We set up the sound and were ready in plenty of time. Then it was time to get a beer. Kyleen Hunter and Matt Collier were helpful with that.

I tried the Peacemaker – a 6.2% Pilsner, and Buckeye – a 6.0% blonde lager. The NE IPA, “Pritchett Fog”, Shrapnel IPA, and the Big Woods stout all looked really inviting, but we still had to drive back to Dallas. Maybe next time…

The Saturday crowd at the Gilmer Brewing Company is a friendly, charming, and accepting bunch. Which is why I like to play breweries. It was a small but enthusiastic crowd as they say. They clapped, laughed, and even danced at one point (albeit slowly). And they were appreciative, I must say.

I certainly hope to return to Gilmer – town and brewery – but in the meantime, if you happen to be driving out 20 headed east: turn left just past Tyler and take a side trip to Gilmer and visit the brewery. You will be wholly welcomed and the brewery food is the perfect compliment to their five beers. Tell ’em I said hi!

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

 

First of all, in my life time, I haven’t spent much time in strip clubs – you can call them gentlemen’s clubs if you want to, but I didn’t see a lot of gentlemen when I was inside the clubs. My visits were in a couple of time periods.The first time period was when I was in high school. I would sneak my parent’s car out after they went to bed, meet my friends, and go downtown to the Cavern – before and after I had a driver’s license. There was a Cavern in Ft. Worth as well, but I don’t know if they were connected.

The Cavern in downtown Dallas was like a cave, particularly when you went inside, past the “ticket booth” and the bouncer. They didn’t check IDs. If you acted like you were supposed to be there, they didn’t argue. There were also rumors that the Cellar was “protected.” It was dark, obviously, and there were sayings written on the walls around the club. “Evil spelled backwards is live.” “You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.” And so on.

The customers laid on mats in front of the stage. Waitresses (the dancers with clothes) took your drink orders and brought the drinks. I’m not sure the drinks had a lot of liquor in them. Liquor was not all we consumed, and being an inexperienced drinker, the issue was confused.

The stage was not really a stage. It was more like a riser for the choir from the elementary school. If there were two or more girls on the stage, when the red light went on, they had to follow each other off. The red light supposedly meant the cops were there. But I found it strange when there was an officer talking to the bouncer long before the light went on. Besides, it wasn’t like they took a lot off.

Crammed behind the stage was the band. I heard the dirtiest version of Rocky Racoon I have ever heard at the Cellar. Just a side fact in case you were interested. The band got to play their good stuff when the girls were off the stage. And there were often guest performers.

There weren’t comedy clubs back then like there are now. And popular strip joints often had comedians do shows. I saw a comedian at the Cellar one night that I thought was funny as hell. Turns out it was George Carlin with short hair. He had hired a new management company, and they had him play smaller venues around the country. I believe he played the Cellar in Ft. Worth as well. It was just before he grew his hair long. I didn’t know all that then. I just knew I laughed my ass off. There were others that night, but he stood out – as you can understand.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Cyndy and I took granddaughter Kelley to Holiday in the Park on the final Sunday, thanks to comp tickets and parking pass courtesy of Suzanne Mason. When our son, Cameron, and I took Kelley and a friend last year, the only roller coaster we got to ride was the Runaway Mine Train (she was shorter then). And that was not “intense enough” for her. My objective this year was to ride a more intense ride.

We had planned to get there before the park opened at 2 p.m. We got there just as they were opening so we came close. We made our way to the parking lot and settled in line. We started to pass an aisle when I stopped to let the truck waiting come on out. He came out and motioned behind.

“There’s a parking spot down there is what he’s saying,” Cyndy said.

So I turned and, sure enough, there was an empty space. Things were starting on a good note. We knew we had limited time because we planned to be gone before dark, so we headed for the Texas Giant. As we waited in line we listened to televisions with the sound system turned up louder than necessary, playing things no one was paying attention to. You just couldn’t get away from the sound.                                                                                                          

While we talked and joked, I was thinking about the ride we were about to go on. I have never ridden a roller coaster bigger than the Runaway Mine Train, and there is a reason for that. I don’t have a fear of heights, but I do have a healthy respect for the distance to the ground. I have also never found it comfortable to feel as if I might be thrown through the air at any given moment.

Kelley, being young and fearless, had none of my misgivings. She was ready to ride an “intense ride.” I could have just sat it out and waited for them at the end of the ride. I had that choice all the way up to the time we got in the seats. Kelley probably wouldn’t have cared. But I was not about to take anything away from her “intense” experience on the largest roller coaster she had ridden.

I believe Cyndy and Kelley got in the last seat of the last car in the chain. I got into the seat in front of them. No one got in beside me. Which was just as well. We headed out, going up the first upward incline. I looked out over the park and the surrounding area.

As we crept higher, I looked at the tracks and the people in front of me. At the top of the incline, and just before we began our descent, I heard Cyndy say “okay Kelley,” letting her know it was time to throw her arms up and scream – which they did a lot. After the ride, when we got out of the seats and headed for the exit, Cyndy said she thought it was fun, and Kelley said it was “awesome.” I was glad to be back on solid ground.

We had to exit through the gift shop – what else is new? There were employees behind a counter to sell pictures. We told one of them we were in the back car and she pulled it up on the screen. Kelley didn’t want a picture, but the employee gave Cyndy a card so we could buy it online.

Part of me wanted to get the picture. Another part of me didn’t. In it, Cyndy and Kelley are throwing up their hands and screaming. I have my eyes closed as tight as I could get them.

I did it. I went on an “intense” ride with my granddaughter and came out unscathed (albeit with my eyes closed). Which is a good thing. Because I will never do it again.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

He walked through the streets in darkness,

Homeless but not alone,

A man on a mission of reverence

beyond the mundane chore of survival,

in a spirit of grace and mercy.

___

He stopped at Johnson’s Laundry

With it’s Closed for Christmas sign,

He knelt on the sidewalk outside the door,

Quietly saying the Lord’s Prayer,

the only prayer he knew.

___

Thanking “Papa” Johnson

For the clothes left unclaimed,

He left a small package – a crude, homemade cross

With a card on which was scrawled,

“Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

___

Next was Garcia’s Grocery

For the leftovers not yet spoiled

He knelt and prayed –

Another crude cross,

And the card, “Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

___

Ten blocks later, Miller’s Hardware,

For his sturdy, cardboard box dwelling,

and timber for his bed,

A kneel, a prayer, a larger crude cross,

And the card, “Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

___

Too far from home, the mission closed,

He found a bench in the park,

after a passerby bought coffee

and he walked – recalling forgotten memories –

without knowing what they meant.

___

Early the next morning on Christmas Day,

he fought the wind and rain,

through the cold streets to the mission,

where Christmas dinner was served, the soul sustained,

and life again had purpose.

___

The rain stopped, the wind died down,

as he trekked on home,

home – an alley behind the church

white and made of stone,

with a view of the cross on the wall.

___

He turned into the alley

and stopped in his tracks.

Where his cardboard box had stood,

was a sturdy lumber shack,

with a roof, a window, and a door.

___

He opened the door to a sturdy wooden cot,

An orange crate table, his few possessions inside,

with something new on top.

A suit of clothes hung on a hook,

with the laundry marker still on it.

___

He closed the door because he could,

he’d forgotten what it felt like.

Walking to the table he turned on the lamp,

it had been years since he had his own light,

but then his breath went away.

___

Also on the table sat a Bible, brand new,

inscribed with a name he hadn’t used in years,

next to a picture of a family he’d forgotten he had.

He stood staring at them, his mind racing,

memories bombarding his thoughts.

___

He sat on the cot and picked up the Bible,

after staring at the picture a while.

He ran his fingers over the only thing he owned

that wasn’t worn by wear or weather,

with emotions he couldn’t control.

___

Through tears, with shaking hands,

he opened the Bible and read

“Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

___________________________

© 2009  Daniel L. Roark

Merry Christmas!

Peace be with you.

Coming home from playing a show last week – back before the flu kicked my ass and I had to cancel a really good gig I was looking forward to – I turned left onto the access road for the entrance to Central Expressway. As I came around the turn, I noticed the cars in line at McDonalds. Behind the car at the window was a cop with all lights blazing. There were two cars waiting in line behind him.

I could not take a picture. I guess if I had acted quickly, I could have pulled over and taken a picture. But I did not want to chance drawing his attention away from the scenario that was unfolding at the McDonalds. And cops with lights blaring are bound to attract other cops. And I didn’t want to draw their attention either.

So I drove down Central, trying to avoid the people on their phone, and contemplated the mystery of the cop at McDonalds. The obvious scenario is that the cop was pulling over the guy in front of him and the guy pulled into line – briefly oblivious to his surrounding environment. Either that or they didn’t want to go to jail hungry.

The one final scenario would be that the cop was late getting where he/she was going and simply wanted the car at the window to hurry up and get out of their way so they could get their food.

Any other scenarios?

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

My son, J.D., playing college ball.

I’ve been watching the playoff games. For one thing it’s easy to have on in the background while I work on booking shows for next year. For another thing, at this point I have a love-hate relationship with the Astros. I go back and forth between wanting them to go all the way again, and wanting them to get their asses kicked. They are a Texas team, true, but they are still – the Astros.

Then again, watching the playoffs reminds me that it’s not freaking raining EVERYWHERE! More importantly, I overload on baseball to get me through the drought until spring training. The only other sport we watch is some golf on the weekends – the tournaments of which have also been having some good weather, by the way.

The playoffs are getting interesting now. The games from the wild card games to the current two series were decidedly one-sided. It’s a competition in both series now. I’m interested to see how it turns out. The announcers are freaking annoying, but that’s why the mute button was invented.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

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