Daily Archives: October 22, 2011

Fiddle-Footed Naggings and Songs of the Highway

The human mind is a strange place to find ourselves living if we ever get enough distance from the background noise to notice.  I tend to notice it a lot.

This morning seemed destined to be just another day.  Gale and Kay were doing the Austin Gem and Mineral Show, so I’d figured to walk up to his house to get the truck mid-day so’s to take care of putting their chickens to bed tonight.  Startled me a bit when I looked up and there he sat in Little Red a few feet away, having brought it down to me.  My hearing must be further gone than I’d realized.

Seemed they’d no sooner gone than I got an email from Jeanne saying my old friend from childhood and later lost-gold-mine chasing days was in Fredericksburg trying to get hold of me hoping I could get over there for lunch.  Heck, it must be 15 years or more since I’ve seen Keith, though recently he’s been reading this blog.  Naturally him being 40 miles away and me with a truck sitting there available, I headed over there.

Really nice visit, but in the course of bringing one another up-to-date he asked me a number of questions about my situation here that forced me to take a hard look and organize my thoughts about it all.  That kicked off a series of trails of thinking to organize clearer, more concrete priorities for myself within a realistic examination of my options.

There aren’t a lot of them, but they’re all stacked atop a single one:  having the means of leaving this place in a relatively short time if the need arises.  It’s time I decided on a single course of action and begin leading events in a direction that allows it to congeal in a way that accomodates the needs of the cats. 

But the process of thinking about it in an organized way had a parallel thinking-path over whispering somewhere else in my brain wiggling out a sort of excitement, anticipation about it.  Here’s something that will be pure trauma and agony for the cats I do everything possible to spare such things, and my ticker’s beating a little faster in a pleasurable way just considering it.

That, combined with the certainty the process of getting things together to execute the plan I come with is going to involve some unpleasantness, excruciating work and fingernail chewing as it goes along.

Seems I’ve somehow contrived to be two different places at the same time inside my mind.  One being pushed by probabilities to do what makes sense rather than what I’d prefer, the cats would prefer.  And one reaching somewhere into fond memories of pinon trees, high mountains and an entirely different sort of solitude than I have here.

Keith confided to me today, “Everyone thinks you’re crazy.”  I can’t find any good argument that everyone’s wrong.  It’s nice being crazy and still being as happy as I manage to be all the time, though.

Anyway, to satisfy that fiddle-footed nagging, here are some songs of the highway and the road.

Old Jules

The Cheers – “Black Denim Trousers”


Roger Miller “Me And Bobby McGee”

Merle Haggard – White Line Fever


John Denver – Live in Japan 81 – Take Me Home, Country Roads

Roger Miller – I’ve Been A Long Time Leavin’ (But I’ll Be A Long Time Gone)

Hank Snow – I’ve Been Everywhere

Charley Pride-Is Anybody Goin’ To San antone

Playmates – Beep Beep (The Little Nash Rambler)


Robert Mitchum sings The Ballad of Thunder Road

Roy Orbison – Ride Away

C. W. McCall “Wolf Creek Pass”

Hot Rod Lincoln – Charlie Ryan and the Timberline Riders 1960


MAC DAVIS Texas in My Rear View Mirror


Guy Clark LA Freeway


Willie Nelson On the Road Again


Easy Rider – Born To Be Wild (HQ)


LOST HIGHWAY by Hank Williams


Leonard Cohen – I Can’t Forget (live 1988)


Beach Boys – (It’s The) Little Old Lady From Pasadena


Beach Boys live ’64 Little Deuce Coupe


Neil Young – Hitchhiker






Fats Domino – Walking to New Orleans


Hats You Can’t Wear Sideways or Backwards

For a number of years I’ve watched people wearing ball caps turned backward and sideways, nobody raising an eyebrow.  I’m not sure why they do it because the purpose of the visor on a ball cap is to protect the nose from Old Sol’s battering.  But I gradually began to wonder if people just didn’t know which piece of a hat is the front, which is the side, and which is the back.

Eventually I decided to perform an experiment.  I carefully selected a hat for my next trip to town, determined to wear it backward all day, seemingly oblivious to that.  I wanted particularly to corner-of-my-eye observe the reactions of people wearing their ball caps backward and sideways.

My findings weren’t ambiguous.  From my first stops of the day I saw that people of every age and gender did double-takes, then attempted to surreptitiously call the attention of someone else to the fact I was wearing my hat backward.  If they had no companion they’d nudge a stranger to share it.  Not once did anyone sidle up to me and whisper, “You’ve got your hat on backward,” as they’d have done if my fly was unzipped.

If I’m wearing a hat when I eat in town I usually take it off a moment while I briefly acknowledge gratitude.  On this occasion the hat was on backward when I entered and took my seat, ordered my food and waited to be served.  The café was well populated and though I pretended to be reading I observed the hat was a subject of notice and concealed, smiling discussion at almost every table.

When the food arrived, after the waitress left, I removed the hat and bowed my head a moment, then replaced it, facing forward.  But, pretending to notice I’d put it on forward, I took it off, looked at it, then turned it backward again on my head, and began eating while still occupied with my book, watching the other patrons.

This brought giggles and laughter, even among those wearing ball caps turned backward and sideways.

My conclusion from this study is that people don’t know what is the front and what is the back of a ball cap, but they do know the front from the back of western-style headgear.  I believe the findings are important enough to justify more in-depth study by PHD candidates in anthropology, sociology and fashion.

This is Jack Swilling, founder of Phoenix, Arizona, who died in prison awaiting trial for homicide.  He was posthumously acquitted.  However, Swilling’s hat is the issue here.  There’s a bullet hole in it, and it’s been ripped almost in half and sewn back together.  Swilling’s hat could be worn backward, forward or sideways and nobody at all would allow himself to notice.

Here are some other examples of non-ball caps that might be worn backward without concern:

Manny Gammage of Texas Hatters made this hat for me in 1971, or 1972.  The style was dubbed The High-Roller.

Here it is today with the original Mystic Weave band Manny put on it when he made it.  I’ll leave it to your judgement and the judgement of the PHD candidates whether it ‘works’ backward.

Other possible backward hats:

This pic was taken around 1976 worn conventionally.

Here’s the same hat today, backward.  Your call.

Straw John B. Stetson backward.

Felt John B. Stetson backward.  These last two and the next one are hats I inherited from dead men sent me through thrift stores and flea markets and arranged by the Coincidence Coordinators.

This one is Guatamala palm leaf bought for a dollar in a thrift store.  Maybe the best straw hat ever made.

Backward’s not much different.

This is a Tilley, the best canvas hat made anywhere.  It can be worn backward or forward without fear.

This is a Tilley knockoff.  Can’t be worn backward or forward with pride.

Gale gave me this dead man hat he picked up somewhere.  Here it’s worn backward.  You can just never tell.

Old Jules

Carl Sandburg, Hats:

HATS, where do you belong?
what is under you?

On the rim of a skyscraper’s forehead
I looked down and saw: hats: fifty thousand hats:
Swarming with a noise of bees and sheep, cattle and waterfalls,
Stopping with a silence of sea grass, a silence of prairie corn.
Hats: tell me your high hopes.

Carl Sandburg, Hats are Sky Pieces:

Proudly the fedoras march on the heads of the some-
what careless men.
Proudly the slouches march on the heads of the still
more careless men.
Proudly the panamas perch on the noggins of dapper
debonair men.
Comically somber the derbies gloom on the earnest solemn noodles.
And the sombrero, most proud, most careless, most dapper and debonair of all, somberly the sombrero marches on the heads of important men who know
what they want.
Hats are sky-pieces; hats have a destiny; wish your hat
slowly; your hat is you.

Joe Cocker–You Can Leave Your Hat On


Lyle Lovett– Don’t Touch my Hat