Category Archives: America

The man who couldn’t cry

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Loudon Wainwright wrote and performed The Man Who Couldn’t Cry without making much of a splash.  Fairly typical of Loudon Wainwright, despite the fact he’s always had my vote for president or anything else he might want to do.

However, Johnny Cash is another man who has always had my vote and I’ll confess he does about as fine a job on the song as Wainwright.  As far as I know those two are the only people who’ve ever performed it.

Think about it.  We live in this amazing time.  The oldest, most musically astute of us probably couldn’t name more than a couple of 19th Century singers.  We know they sang and people loved their singing, Lola Montez, Lillian Langtry.  But we’ve never heard them do it.

For we 21st Century folks, though, Al Jolson’s still alive out there singing Mammy, Waiting on the Robert E Lee and Anniversary song.  In two part harmony with Lee Marvin singing I Was Born Under a Wandrin Star in Paint Your Wagon.  The Kingston Trio are their young selves being the Cumberland Three singing Civil War Songs, or as themselves rendering another South Coast and Seasons in the Sun.

It isn’t just the listening, either.  Incredibly, we can wander around on YouTube and watch young Lonnie Donnegan sing Jack of Diamonds and Chuck Berry perform Se La Vie Say the Old Folks.

A briefly popular song from 1961-62 used to run through my head, Dear One, by the Ravens.  I asked lots of people through the years if anyone remembered it with never a soul answering they did.  But there it is on YouTube.  Horrid song.  I can’t believe I loved it back when then was then.  But there you are.

But I’ve digressed.  I was listening to MP3 shuffling through songs, passing the time, and heard Johnny Cash singing The Man Who Couldn’t Cry.  I never recalled hearing it before.  Laughed and snorted, looked it up on YouTube to watch him sing it.  When Jeanne got home between jobs I played it for her to provide a laugh.

“Who’s that singing it?  That’s a Loudon Wainwright song!”

“Eh?  No, that’s Johnny Cash.”

“I know it’s a Loudon Wainwright song.  Look it up!”

Okay, spang robbed my macho.  Hell, until we met Jeanne had never heard of Loudon Wainwright.  [Nor a lot of her other favorite performers, I hasten to brag]  But here she is thanks to it being the 21st Century when all the singers of the 20th Century are still alive and young if they wanted to be, here’s Jeanne instructing me on whether that’s a Johnny Cash song, or a Loudon Wainwright song.

And the cool thing about that is the day is coming when nobody who loves Johnny Horton singing Miss Marcy will have been alive when Johnny Horton sang it.  People will probably dance to Al Jolson singing Anniversary Song and be as moved as they were in 1950.

At least as long as the Internet lasts.  Probably around December, this year.

Old Jules

Immigration reform

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Later this year when the petrodollar crashes and burns most of you will probably be hoping the Mexicans will revise their immigration laws.  Likely you’ll recall the last time the US economy fell on really hard times how US workers drifted to Mexico and further south looking for work.  It wasn’t a lot better there, but there was less English speaking competition for jobs.

Here’s an example from the Bogart movie, Treasure of Sierra Madre:

Things haven’t really changed much, have they.  Except the guy doing the hiring and cheating them out of their pay is a gringo in Mexico instead of a gringo in the US.

I’m betting those Mexicans will be tickled pea-green to have gringos coming down to work.

Old Jules

A damned old veteran to John Wayne: “Thank you for your service.”

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

I’ve been thinking a lot about us veterans lately, possibly because of the recent VA fiasco including my own healthy part of it.  Which put me into close proximity with a lot of other old model vets.

I’m going to start this off with what General Smedley Butler had to say to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in possibly the most honest address in history by a general-grade officer:

Old Confederates trying to recall the rebel yell:

Spanish American and Civil War veterans trying to remember how much fun it was.

Then there’s WWI:

I couldn’t find any veterans of the American Indian Wars being interviewed, though there were plenty of them still alive long after the movie camera and recording was invented.  I suppose John Wayne will have to do.  We veterans all owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude anyway.

Thank you for your service, John Wayne.

Old Jules


Musical archeology

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Hell, it’s already January.  Damned year is almost over and I’ve got a lot to do.  Jeanne had a box here with what’s left of my old hundreds of cassette tapes I converted during the 1980s from vinyl LPs.  I’ve tried to get as much as possible from the local library and InterLibrary loan, but some of it just isn’t out there.

I say it isn’t, but probably a lot is on YouTube and available from Amazon if a person pays for it.  But I donealready paid for this back in the day when music was music and everyone was glad of it.

Time was I believed my favorite bluegrass album was Jonathan Edwards and Seldom Scene, Blue Ridge.

However, I eventually found this one elsewhere digitized.  The library was also helpful finding old Louvin Brothers I didn’t expect to be available anywhere.

On the other hand, I once believed The Red Clay Ramblers were the best bluegrass ever and had a lot on cassette.  And today nobody’s ever heard of them for the most part.  The Johnson County Library doesn’t have any of their work.

So most of what I have by RCR on tape will be all I ever listen to in the future once I convert it to MP3.  Then there’s Ned Sublette’s early years, a guy I used to know named Jerry Sires, along with [not enough] other tapes Jeanne salvaged from my ruins after Y2K.

A new project for 2015 and the damned year’s almost gone already.  These things take time.

Old Jules

Post Christmas sunshine

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

There’s something new on the Universal Love front to begin pondering:  Hydrox and Shiva-the-cow-cat appear to be slouching into some sort of hanky panky.  They’ve been observed lying side-by-side on Jeanne’s bed.

These cats have known one another for more than a decade and never a kind word has passed between them.  Hydrox surprised me last year when he began licking the face and inside the ears of Tabby whenever she got aggressive, but Tabby was an entirely different matter.  What Shiva’s always wanted was to be left strictly alone by other cats.

Until now.  She’s the one jumping on the bed as the party of the second part, not the first.

Also, sometime around 2 am Christmas Eve I heard cat racing noises, sat up in bed and saw Hydrox run from Jeanne’s bedroom into the kitchen.  With Shiva in hot pursuit.  I shook my head and wiped my eyes in time to see Shiva race out of the kitchen closely pursued by Hydrox, back past Jeanne’s Christmas tree into her bedroom.

I’m convinced they’re teetering on the brink of a Christian Era.

And meanwhile Wavy Gravy Duff, managing editor over at Veterans Today did a wordy Christmas post bragging of his past life without being too obviously obnoxious nor untruthful.  For that matter, aside from Jonas Alexis there were no Jew baiting/hating articles during the Christmas truce.

g duff 2

wavy gravy

g duff

Soooooooo if we’re not teetering on the brink of a Christian era I think we’d better all start digging bomb shelters.

Old Jules

Miss World 1967 visits the troops

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Bob Hope used to do those USO shows every year.  In fact Al Jolson died in the aftermath of returning from a USO show in Korea.  Fact is, any Christmas entertainment that includes John Wayne jokes and nasty jibes at draft dodgers burning their draft cards is probably worth a rerun anytime anyone is singing songs about Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men.

Ms. Welch, at least, is about reality, which every USO show should include a taste of.

As an aside, a lot of you probably didn’t know Clint Eastwood’s real identity was Andy Williams.  Here he is singing something I thought of as a favorite in 1963.

No Christmas is complete without Clint Eastwood singing Old Bilbao Moon.

Here’s wishing everyone a merry little war.

Old Jules





Don’t Give Me No Plastic Saddle! Let Me Feel That Leather When I Ride

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Some few, some happy few, some band of brothers of you mightn’t have thought about this song in a while.  Which seems a shame.

But that’s not what I wanted to write about this morning.  I actually wanted to tell you about the time I spent half a day poking around the town lots along the highway in Canyon City, Colorado looking for evidence of a long-burned out diner.  Ian Tyson recorded the song in the 1960s and when I found myself in southwestern Colorado I couldn’t resist.

But I didn’t find the ruins of that diner and Jeanne, midway through writing this, advised me I wrote about searching for those ruins on here sometime before.

So there I was, riding a plastic saddle of a blog entry as a consequence of having a mind that functions too much it its own image when it comes to thinking up anecdotes to reflect on.

Hells bells.  I could tell you about the young man who lives next door to Jeanne and his difficulties finding a job, but nevermind that.  He’s a fine young man with a lot of experience as an automotive mechanic, but he has some brain disorder causing him to need an extremely expensive medication so he can think in straight lines.  When he doesn’t get it his thoughts go everywhere.

$300-$400 per month the damned stuff costs and he doesn’t have medical insurance.  So he quit taking it January and by March Mazda was deciding they didn’t need him anymore going to get the same wrench fifteen times and forgetting what he was after.

So from then until now he’s been looking for another job without measurable success, though he does a little security work filling in, and  the night it snowed he drove a bobcat around clearing a parking lot.

But for any job of a regular nature nobody’s calling him back.  Even though he worked eleven years for Mazda never a hitch.

So, when he’s not filling in applications for jobs he turns on this giant TV screen and loads up a game the likes of which I’ve never seen nor imagined.  I is an authentic appearing urban environment with a lot of authentic appearing men in combat gear stalking one another around shooting one another and otherwise dealing misery.  I’m guessing it’s a lot more seductive than working down at AutoZone selling auto parts.

Brent’s the man’s name and he’s taken to visiting me some, killing time.  He told me about two documentary movies about Afghanistan he’s seen recently:

Restrepo 2010 R 93 minutes.  Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington embed themselves with the Second Platoon in Afghanistan, chronicling the men’s work, fear and brotherhood

Korengal 2014 R 84 minutes.  This follow-up to the Oscar-nominated documentary “Restrepo” delves into the experience of war and how it impacts those on the front lines.

I don’t have much interest in the US military adventures anywhere but he sparked my interest and I watched them.  Glad I did because it revealed something I hadn’t thought seriously about.

Those honest-to-goodness US soldiers stationed in the hottest combat zone in Afghanistan being followed constantly with cameras and recorders throughout their tour loved war!  During firefights they whooped and cheered when they thought they killed someone.  And between firefights they pined for someone to shoot at.

When they’d almost served out their tour the cameraman asked them, “What are you going to miss most about Afghanistan?”

A surprising number answered, “Shooting people.”

Under questioning it was clear none of those troops thought they were doing anything patriotic.  They’d been filtered from the US population to find people who’d hooha their way out into the killing fields and love every minute of it.

So when the young guy neighbor said he regretted he couldn’t join because of his daughters and his medical condition it went a long way to explain that game he loves playing on his television.  A plastic saddle.

One of the GIs gave an interesting reply though, on one of those documentaries.

“I’m going to have to go home and live with what I’ve done.  I think God hates me.  God didn’t intend people to do what we do here.

“I hate it when people say ‘you did what you had to do.  I didn’t have to do anything.  I didn’t have to kill anyone.  I didn’t have to join the Army.  I chose all that and now I have to live with it.”

With vets offing themselves at a rate of one per hour the guy might be a worthy object for study by the people who worry about such matters.  It ain’t a plastic saddle he’s riding back to the Home of the Brave.

Old Jules