Category Archives: Music

An Homage to The Beard Guy

I’ve only been listening to Walk Off the Earth for the past couple of years. But they spark. I don’t know how else to describe it. R. E. V. O., the first album of theirs I listened to, was already two or three years old when I heard it for the first time. REVO is also the first cut, which starts out simple enough with the driving rhythmic progression of repeated notes halfway up the guitar neck. Then, voices you’ll never want to forget chant the lines, “Close your eyes and take my hand . . .” and if you are human and have a beating heart, you’re compelled to do it. I’m just a fiction and I’m compelled . . .

From there it’s a steady flow of positive endorphins sparking your spirit and flowing to every dancey cell in your body. One of those voices, sadly, did just walk off the earth last week. Mike, The Beard Guy, Taylor was a vocalist and keyboardist. He left this world in his sleep—of natural causes.

According to The Beard Guy in an interview with andPOP, “REVO stands for Realize Every Victory Outright. Shoot for the starts, stay positive, don’t let anything get in your way, and realize your goal. It’s how we live our life and we encourage anyone that listens to our music to try and do the same.”

Walk Off the Earth, from Burlington, Ontario, formed in 2006, but didn’t gain prominence until they covered the Gotye Song “Somebody that I Used to Know” on YouTube in 2012.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9mybTArlsk

The Beard Guy’s bandmates, Sarah Blackwood, Gianni Luminati, Ryan Marshall, Joel Cassady, and Peter Kirkwood made an outpouring of loving tributes to him on social media after his untimely passing on December 29, 2018. Walk Off the Earth and many friends will host a free concert Sunday, according to Billboard Magazine: “The free show is slated to take place at the Burlington, Ontario, Civic Square from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., with portions of the event live-streamed on Walk Off the Earth‘s Facebook page. “Mike loved our fans so much. We want to honor him and his legacy by continuing our world tour to bring the spirit of this memorial to our fans across the globe,” the band said in a statement in a message to fans who are not able to attend the memorial but who might be able to catch them on their 2019 tour.”

To you, Sarah, Gianni, Ryan, Joel, and Peter . . . I share your heartache and will ever cherish the music, fun, and outright love you shared with us WOTElings. But as I’m sure Mike did, we all look forward to what’s to come.

A little added treasure . . . here’s an interview with Mike Taylor just before the release of their R.E.V.O. album.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QyOVynX6Mo

Note: The photo of Mike Taylor was adapted from his andPOP YouTube interview.

One more note: Find out more about Space Larrabee at demunson.com

The End of Seven Years in Suspenders

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Erik Munson and Chan Chau. Erik designed the cover of D. E. Munson’s new novel, In Search of Space and Thyme

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The long-awaited sequel to D. E. Munson’s first novel, By the Time I Got to Woodstock: Or Space Meets Thyme in the Shadow of Atlantis, has finally been released! It is the second book in the Chronicles of Space and Thyme series.

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Titled In Search of Space and Thyme, this book is a tapestry of two interwoven love stories that unfurls into a compelling romp through time with Thyme and me. We’re tossed into a distant, mysterious past, then reemerge in the magical, mystical years of the 1960s and 70s. Our stories splinter in 1978 when the fiendish interloper, Atlantis Haden steals Thyme away to his underworld, like Hades of myth.

The fabric of our perfect world being rent, I’m flummoxed by the questions, What did I do to make her go? and Can I fix it? and most importantly, If I can fix it, will Thyme want to return? The search is on, a new quest begun. And it’s not only a quest for meaning and lost love. It reaches into the heart of everything. It is an essential, spiritual quest.

The Book Launch

The author kicked off the first event in his book launch tour at the Cup of Carver Coffee Shop on Saturday, Oct. 8. He read an excerpt from Thyme’s narrative where she’s trying to explain to me why we needed to go our separate ways.

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He then sang a song of my ranting at the opening of Chapter One of the new book. Looking back on it, I had a lot to learn. Maybe that’s why it took him seven years to finally finish this sequel. Hey, but it’s not my fault it took him so long to write the darn thing. I don’t know, maybe it is. But things have to happen in their own time, right? Anyway, if it’s true that anything good is worth waiting for, here’s the test.

The Apology

Munson apologizes, “I feel awful about keeping everyone in suspenders so long. When By the Time I Got to Woodstock was published on the 40th anniversary of the famed Woodstock Music & Art Fair, I ended it in a cliffhanger, fully intending to follow immediately with the sequel.

“Four years later I finished writing the manuscript, dubbing it A Brief History of the End of the World. It was slated by a publisher to be an eBook-only release. Then I had the opportunity to enter it in two contests. A number of you read the whole book, some read part of it. And to those of you who had insights and suggestions, I can’t thank you enough. I learned a great deal and incorporated many of the changes, including two title changes. I am now thrilled with the result. Especially since our son Erik, acclaimed graphic novelist, did the cover illustration and worked with me on the redesign.

“This story needs to be told, especially today,” he continues. “Too much has been trivialized about the awakening that took place in the 60s and 70s. The spiritual seeds planted in these times have blossomed into a consciousness we take mostly for granted today and often joke about. We can’t afford to lose perspective and forget.

“Though most of the characters are fictional, some are historical. The stories are based on what I experienced. I hope to help some of the essential truth of the times survive. We live in a time of magic realism, and Magical Realism has become my genre of choice.”

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Now the whole Chronicles of Space and Thyme series has taken on a new look. Erik Munson did the illustration and helped redesign the first book as well. It’s titled By the Time I Got There: or Space Meets Thyme, and this revision is available as an eBook right now. It’s kinda cool how each chapter opens with Erik’s illustration of little me on my trusty Rollfast 10-speed looping around the inside circumference of the circle like Evel Knievel or an ADHD hamster.

Once the current print version of the first book has sold out, it’ll be reprinted in its new format.

Keep your eyes open because in the coming few weeks you’ll be able to get the eBook for FREE. The next stop on D. E. Munson’s tour will be The Twin Cities Book Festival at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in Saint Paul.

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The Future

As more events are added to the book tour venue, I’ll be announcing them.  Again, thanks to so many of you for your phenomenal patience and support during this grueling birthing process. Both Munson and I’ll do our best to make it worth your kind attention.

So, until next time, enjoy your journey. Be spiritual, be happy, and keep reading!

Space.

More about Space Larrabee: I was made manifest in a book called By the Time I Got to Woodstock—or Space Meets Thyme in the Shadow of Atlantis. I am Space Larrabee, and in Lunch on the Moon I share tasty delicacies I’ve found in the experiential arts. Join me every week or so and share your experiences, too!

Find out more about the author at demunson.com

 

 

Anthology & Cleopatra

I’m sorry, this is an unabashed bait and switch. I couldn’t help myself.

First impression would be that this post is perhaps an historical collection of writings exploring ancient Egypt. Do not be deceived.

This, in reality, is an announcement about the publication of the new anthology from the Three Rivers Writers called Where Rivers Converge. It’s also an opportunity for me to give a shout out to the Lumineers for their incredible new album Cleopatra.

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Where Rivers Converge is a dazzling collection of the works of two dozen Minnesota writers and poets. Genres range from creative nonfiction to historical fiction and science fiction. Stories like Jim Kane’s “Pipestone,” Dan O’Brien’s “Sacred  Dance,” Dale A. Swanson’s “The Greatest Man I Ever Knew,” Mona Gstafson Affinito’s “Alone in the North Carolina Woods—1840,” and D. E. Munson’s “Avuncularities” explore the magic of the past. S. Collin Ellsworth’s “Coward,” Ann Jackson’s “Contacts,” Brian Busch’s “Cry Uncle,” Virginia Sievers’s “Waiting,” and Wen Lu’s “A Knife in the Rice Paddies” dig for deeper truths in everyday life. As does the sometimes quirky, always stunning poetry of Angela Hunt, Becky Liestman, B. D. Smith, Sue Kunitz, and others. Heidi Skarie’s “Interrupted Honeymoon” tosses you into an as-yet unimagined future.

The whole collection is insightful and great fun. I get to make an appearance in “Avuncularites,” which is an excerpt from D. E. Munson’s new novel In Search of Space and Thyme. Due out by October 15, in time for the Twin Cities Book Festival at the Minnesota State Fairgounds in St. Paul. Stay tuned for more on this!

Several of the Three Rivers Writers was launched at the Waconia Library on September 10th and at Shepherd of the Hill Church,  Chaska, MN last weekend. Future readings are planned for upcoming months. Watch for postings.

 

I became aware of the Lumineers one night when they appeared at the end of Colbert last spring performing Ophelia. They stuck.

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Cleopatra is has already become one of those classic recordings that you suddenly either find spinning in your mind and moving your lips or strikes you with a sudden urge to listen to it again. I went out to Mill City Sound in Hopkins and bought the vinyl. I could go on, but see for yourself. Here’s a sample.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aN5s9N_pTUs

Sorry to have been away for so long. Been meaning to write, but I’ve been in the throes of the redo of the By the Time book and sequel. Have to go now, but I’ve got some big fun announcements coming up soon soon.

More on Space Larrabee:

By the Time I Got There

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@demunson1

 

Steve Tilston, the Real Danny Collins, Being His Own Chosen One–The Surprisingest Twist of All

Steve TilstonIn my most recent blog post I promised not to be a spoiler for the surprise twist in the movie Danny Collins starring Al Pacino. That was then. I’ve given you a little more time to check out the movie, but I just can’t hold out any longer.

The opening frames of Danny Collins proclaim that the production was based on a true story–sort of. As the movie progressed, it was a heartbreak to watch Danny’s creativity suffer for his entire career. The music and persona foisted on him stifled creativity and drove him to drink and substance abuse. On the surface, he led the ideal life of the rock star. Inside, the real Danny was buried until a letter from a sympathetic admirer changed everything.

The letter was written at the onset of his career in 1971 in response to a fear he expressed in an underground rock magazine interview. He feared that wealth and fame would affect his creativity. The author of the letter reassuringly wrote to Danny, “Fame doesn’t need to stifle creativity. Just stay true to yourself.” Then he said, “Give me a call and we can talk about it.”  And he gave him his home phone. The writer knew of what he spoke. The writer of the letter was John Lennon.

Danny did not see the letter until 30 years later. The letter’s impact was life-changing and made for a great screenplay.

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Now comes the surprisingest twist of all, for me in real life (sort of–since I am a fiction). The real-life Danny Collins is an Englishman, a Liverpudlian named Steve Tilston. The truth is that he had followed John Lennon’s advice, even though he wouldn’t see it for 34 years.

Here is what practically made me weep with joy. Steve was a superb songwriter in the folk/folkrock genre who stayed true to his music and never ventured into superficiality or drug abuse. Out of curiosity, I listened to samples of his music online from Amazon and his website. I sampled his whole career from 1971 to present, and found it to be true, clear, pure, and beautiful. His guitar work is outstanding. He has a stirring, Celtic voice reminiscent of Bert Jansch, Eric Bogle, or John Renbourn. Why did we never hear of him on this side of the pond?

Let us remedy that this very moment! This is a video clip from his latest CD, Truth to Tell. Have a listen. Hear the truth.

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More about Space Larrabee: I was made manifest in a book called By the Time I Got to Woodstock—or Space Meets Thyme in the Shadow of Atlantis. I am Space Larrabee, and in Lunch on the Moon I share tasty delicacies I’ve found in the experiential arts. Join me every week or so and share your experiences, too!

I think I Just Experienced My Favorite Al Pacino Flick

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Although it’s a departure from the characters of power Al Pacino portrayed in the Godfather and Devil’s Advocate, Danny Collins had more depth than either of the demons portrayed in those two disparate worlds of absolute power and absolute corruption.

In his latest role, Pacino as Danny had to face his demons arising from a life of wealth and fame. He sang them away, or attempted to, at any rate. If you can imagine Al Pacino singing, you’ve got a better imagination than mine. That was a big reason I was compelled to see this production in the first place.

At the onset of the movie I nearly cried—with desperation. I hadn’t wanted to step into the movie with any preconceptions, so I’d avoided trailers like the plague. The opening scene has Danny approaching the stage bursting with power and charisma. The crowd is on fire. Sporting a complicated pompadour with a hint of poodle and mullet touched up at the makeup table moments before, Danny flings the striped silk scarf around his neck and grabs the mic from the stand.

The ghosts of Tin Pan Alley possess Danny, issuing flamboyant strains of his most popular song, appealing to that superfluous pop mentality that floats on the surface of consciousness.

Mercifully, the next scene grabs us, throwing us into a flashback where a much younger Danny’s being interviewed by a fan mag. The interviewer raves about the lyrical depths of Collins’s debut album, likening him to Dylan and Lennon. The album collected accolades and rave reviews. Danny was getting notice, but not sales. The star-making machinery caught up Collins and molded him into what he would become for the next three decades—a star. In other words, wildly popular and desperately unhappy.

He hated every minute he had to spend onstage exploiting himself, striving for unconsciousness and achieving vapidity. I stopped crying. Even as I bled for him, Danny made me happy. This joy continued to fill my heart as the surprise plot twist took center stage to take Danny back to his depth.

This is not a spoiler. I’m taking pains to ensure this, because I sincerely want you to have the opportunity to experience what I did–or what you need to. — Now, take some time over the next week to see the movie. Ponder what you discover about Danny and yourself and let me know what you think.

My next post will include a surprise twist that happened for me after seeing the movie and digging a little deeper.

If you dare, following is a Danny Collins trailer

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More on Danny Collins and Bleecker Street Films

More on Director Dan Fogelman

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CAROLYN WALSH RISING

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As you step into the cafe, a voice beyond angelic carries you heavenward, but it’s a bumpy ride. Not because of the music, but because you can see your reflection in her lyrics . . .

It’s dark inside. The standing -room-only crowd forces you up against the wall. The angel, Carolyn Walsh, is spotlighted center stage. She commands your heart. She spins magic at her keyboard, surrounded by a stream of brilliant musicians.

A short progression of notes kicks in on the keyboard followed by a quick wail of Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner’s pedal steel. Carolyn’s voice has led you Somewhere in the middle, trudging like a buddha down the middle path:

Somewhere in the middle, in the middle of nowhere,  Pulling up roots, breaking my back for the cause, Somewhere in the middle, in the middle of nowhere,

I’m not lost . . .

So, you’re not lost, but you still don’t have a table. Don’t get cozy, you’re about to get All I Can Take. Rob Walsh’s drums, Jeff Waldeland’s pedal steel this time, and Carolyn’s keyboard and voice give you a lesson in deception, love, indecision.

You say I’m the one, and that you’ll never leave, then the next thing I see is your back facing me.

 Drums keep the beat with soft slaps. But the heavenly chorus sweeps away the pain . . .

Soon a pounding minor chord followed by Doug Lakes’s drums and Marc Lloyd’s guitar licks plunge you into the next song. All is not lost, but you’re prompted to plea.

 Give Me a Minute

You’ve got to give me a minute, You know I’m still in it. You’re not a choice I’ve got to make.

As you try to make your way to the other side of the room, the next song unfolds, simply, with Carolyn and her piano. You ponder her words:

 Bars on the windows, doors you can’t get through, and dust on the table  Pictures are faded, hanging on walls that we painted red. Garden needs weeding and somebody’s meeting under the streetlamp. Floors just keep creaking and glasses are speaking of their shattered friend.

 Am I doing this right? Am I making things right as I make my way to the other side?

 All in its Place . . . but me.

You begin to sense that all may well be in its place, but it’s a little short of perfect.

But now Carolyn surprises you and lifts you with an anthem of love, warming your heart a little more with Stephen Hobert’s accordion.

This may not be the greatest story told. It’s not the language Dante wrote, but it’s the promise Burned on My Soul. You make me better than I am. You champion all my plans and I love your eyes. They never forget to meet mine.

Suddenly you discover an empty seat as Da Da kicks in. This time the words don’t matter as much. You want to celebrate and sing how groovy life is. Lilting piano accompanied by what sounds at first like a subtle horn section turns out to actually be Rich Miller on the 12-string.

Your adventure in Carolyn’s world of song now carries you on the Rise, the title cut from her new CD. Her words, beautiful strains on the keyboard, and the masterful work by renowned guitarist Rodney Jones leave you wiser, more experienced, and totally uplifted once again.

If I let go and reach for you, and you reach for me . . . Would we fall to oblivion, or be set free?  and would we rise up to meet the sun?

What you’ve just experienced is my feeble attempt to fill your imagination with the power, grace and love radiating from Rise, Carolyn’s new CD as well as all her music.

The Real Carolyn Walsh

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Carolyn Walsh says, “I popped out of the womb singing, and the passion to compose and perform has been an integral part of my life ever since. When I was a young girl in small town Georgia, I entertained the family in the living room with renditions of my favorite pop songs and show tunes.

“I began classical training in piano at ten, and by fourteen I felt my music so deeply I had to let it out. I started composing. While in college I honed my skills and performed cover tunes at a Gautreau’s Cajun Cafe in Athens, Georgia. I loved Gautreau’s, but my favorite diner to eat in Athens was the Five Star Day.

“I love to perform live and have been fortunate to have done so to audiences as large as 5,000 in the US as well as venues in Germany and Ireland. I put my all into my music, and I’m so grateful any time I have a chance to share it. I write from what Life is teaching me. I hope anyone listening will find insights to help them understand themselves better, too.”

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Find out more or purchase Rise.

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View Carolyn’s Push It Down music video. Hauntingly beautiful, undisguised, yet complex.

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Watch Carolyn’s Nothing music video

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Watch Carolyn’s Somewhere music video

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Visit Carolyn’s Web site

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Woodstock 46th Anniversary. It Was Spiritual, Man!

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This year marks the 46th anniversary of the famed Woodstock music festival at Yazgur’s farm in Bethel, New York. Nearly half a million bodies were in attendance that weekend. I and millions more were there in spirit. This is apropos, because strange as it sounds, this was a pivotal spiritual event in the lives of people around the world. I’d fully intended to attend since Bethel was just a few hours away, but it just wasn’t in the cards . . . until five years later. In the meantime I met Thyme, and by the time we got to Woodstock we were ready for it.

In honor of our 41st anniversary of Woodstock, here’s a peek at what happened when Thyme and I finally got there. It appears as chapters thirty-five and thirty-six in the novel By the Time I Got to Woodstock: or Space Meets Thyme in the Shadow of Atlantis by D. E. Munson.

Woodstock at Last   The dirt road to the campground was steep, rocky, and rutted. It was in the heart of the Catskill Mountains, which loomed above us. It was pitch black and pouring rain by the time we arrived at the campground. We checked in at the main building, which was also the kitchen. We had no idea how to find or even to see our site.

“Welcome.” A smiling, dark-haired woman in sweater and jeans approached us. “I’m Katherine. I don’t think we should send you out in this tonight. Why don’t you just spend the night in the loft. It’ll be much drier that way. You can find your site and set up tomorrow. Did you have a good trip? I bet you’re exhausted.”

We introduced ourselves and thanked our welcoming host. Following her advice, we dashed out into the rain again and grabbed our gear. We set ourselves up in a corner of the loft and crashed. A woodchuck outside the building mumbled and scratched. Trying to get out of the rain, no doubt. These were the last sounds we heard as we drifted off to sleep.

Thyme and I awoke next morning to clattering in the kitchen. On our return from dreamland, we discovered we were near the original intended location of the famed festival. It was an hour away from Yazgur’s Farm in Bethel.  The air—and everything we touched—was damp. Looking outside, we could see a mist still enshrouding the clearing in the trees. People started setting up tables, folding chairs, and a huge clear plastic dining fly.

We rolled up our bags, stowed our gear in the car, then Thyme found Katherine and asked, “Can we help with breakfast? We’re so grateful to you for letting us sleep in here last night.”

“Oh, sure,” Katherine replied, “there’s plenty to do. We’re still working on the duty roster. According to Sufi doctrine, for want of a better word, there’s a clear delineation between male and female roles in the chores at the camp.” She turned to me. “You can help with the eggs for the time being. But this will be the last time you do kitchen work here. This, as well as watching the children, will be the responsibility of the women.” I wasn’t too heartbroken.

After a tasty camp breakfast of oatmeal with nuts, scrambled eggs, and orange juice, Thyme and I set out to find our site. We met someone along the way who said they had wooden pallets available. We could use them as platforms to keep tents high and dry. I found the stash, got two of them, and set us up nice as can be.

That afternoon they called all the guys together to erect a huge geodesic dome. We bolted two-by-fours together at each end. In teams, we created large pentagons, triangle by triangle, on the 1600-square-foot wooden platform. We erected scaffolding to handle the height. Within a few hours, we had a twenty-foot-high dome to keep us dry as we danced when it rained outside. Two deja vu-like thoughts passed through my mind at the time, too. I’d admired Michael at the UNH commune for his ability to help build a geodesic dome, then, there I was, able to do the same. Also, as I’d walked the trails to the platform that morning, I noticed there were yurts! In fact, I’m quite sure Pir Vilayat Khan stayed in one of them. Cool.

 

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Dancing with the Sufis   We discovered, once we’d assembled the dome, that it was not centered on the platform. Teamwork, again was the answer. We all spaced ourselves out, grabbing hold of the two-by-fours forming the great circular base of the dome.  On cue, we lifted then repositioned it where it belonged. Two things happened during the procedure. First, it blew me away that together we could raise and move that gargantuan structure. Second, while we still held the dome suspended, across from me in the circle, I saw Atlantis . . . and he saw me.   I was so stunned, I didn’t know what to think.

We all cheered once we set it down, then we bolted it to the platform. I shot him the peace sign. He smiled and waved back. Neither of us approached each other. I let it go with a sense of relief. That evening, I finally got to be with Thyme again after she’d finished kitchen duty. We relished our well-earned rice and beans, salad, and watermelon. Vegetables never tasted so good. Pir Vilayat welcomed us that evening, then we broke into dance and song. Music, dance, and body movement are integral to the Sufis in helping to make a connection with divine spirit. It was a beautiful experience.

Next morning, and every morning thereafter for the rest of week, rain or shine, we rose at first light to do yoga. We started the hour with the greeting-the-sun asana. This we followed with a mixture of other asanas and eye exercises. The instructor said he used to wear glasses, but after practicing the eye exercises, he wore them no more.  After breakfast, the men gathered at the dome for work detail. Ahmed, a bearded Sufi who looked a couple years older than me, spoke to the assembled. “I need a volunteer who is not afraid of heights.” My hand shot up without a thought.  We reassembled scaffolding in the center of the dome, from the platform, rising to the apex. Ahmed walked to the scaffold and started climbing.

“Follow me,” he instructed. I followed. I’d noticed a little old man who’d been hanging around, staying in a little old trailer. I could see him far below us as Ahmed and I set to work. “The rain last night rotted the joint in the crown of the dome,” he explained. “We need to replace these six two-by-fours, bolt them back together, and cover them so this doesn’t happen again.”

We each used a wrench and screwdriver to undo the bolts on the ruined lumber. I then held each new replacement board in position for Ahmed to bolt and fasten. As we sat there working, I looked down below, “Who is that old guy who’s been hanging out in the trailer down there?” I asked.  From the look on Ahmed’s face, I knew I’d goofed up.

“That’s my dad,” he said. Through the embarrassment I learned a lesson about judging others that I’d never forget. Ahmed was gracious and didn’t hold it against me. I’m sure my profuse apologies didn’t hurt.  At lunchtime, they’d announced that showers were available. There were specific hours for male-only and female-only showers. And this surprised the heck out of me—there were also coed hours, should anyone so choose.

“Hey,” I said, “If we go during coed hours, we can shower together.” Thyme smiled, seeing right through me.

“Okay, we can go then.” And so we did, and it was fun. There were a couple other pretty girls in the shower, too, but of course I didn’t peek.  Then, while we were toweling off, Thyme said with a wry smile, “I didn’t know you needed to wear your glasses in the shower.”

We left, and as we descended on the trail back to the main encampment, Atlantis approached us. He wore a black T-shirt with an inverted silver pentangle on the chest, black jeans. Black silk cape and hair flowing behind him, he smiled through his signature pointy Vandyke beard. He greeted me like an old friend. I could feel Saturn rising. I didn’t trust it, but I tried to be as gracious as I could. He entranced Thyme. I could tell.

“Hello Space,” he said, giving me a quick, slick New Age man hug. “And who have we here?”

I grimaced and forced a smile. “Atlantis, this is Thyme.”

“Powerful magic, Thyme,” he said. “You look familiar. Haven’t we met somewhere before.” Then he kissed her hand.

Damn! I muttered deep inside, Why did he have to go and do that?


 

What was your Woodstock or Woodstock/Not Experience? 


 

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