Monthly Archives: October 2015

Blog #102

The following is an excerpt from my memoire, “The Kid Who Got Away.”

The Bangkok of the late 60s/early 70s was a wild and very corrupt place. You could get ANYTHING for the right price. Immigration was no different.

Things were getting pretty hairy by 1973.  I had a family to think of.  My concern grew as I watched planes fly low over my house, strafing students as they peacefully marched in protest against the leaders of a coupe that never delivered a promised constitution. “Protestors shot” Viet Nam was a wreck and threatened to spill over into Thailand. Laos and Cambodia were no better. It was time to leave.

The only way you could stay in Thailand without a permanent visa was to pay someone with connections to send your passport up to Laos, pay a bribe and have the passport stamped with a new visa. This was costly but the only way to do it. My guy was Anand a slippery, swarthy  character seldom seen without his armed security guys. He reminded me a lot of Sidney Greenstreet’s portrayal of “The Fat Man” in Casablanca.

I needed an exit visa. I climbed on my nephew Chong’s motorcycle and we headed for the Dept. of Immigration. As we entered the parking lot, the corruption became only too obvious. The average salary was maybe $500 a month. The lot was filled with expensive, late model American cars. Hmmm…

I presented my passport to the official and requested an exit visa. He checked the records and said he couldn’t find any record of my getting ANY extensions and told me to “…sit right there.” He went inside a bigger office and had a heated discussion with what seemed to be his boss. Visions of Thai prison began to dance menacingly in my head. Overstaying you visa was a serious offence. I whispered to Chong, “Let’s get the fuck out of here,”

We slipped out the back, and took off on his motorcycle. We promptly proceeded to pop a wheely and crash in the parking lot, We righted the vehicle and headed back. I had no exit visa and knew that Immigration would be hot on my tail. Those menacing prison dancers began whipping themselves into a frenzy inside my head. I knew what I had to do.

(To be continued in Blog #103)


nolatravelinman

One of my songs, “Better Alone” is a self-assessment in which I sing, “I’m a complicated man with a short attention span.” It’s true. I am a very unpredictable, restless soul in constant need of a challenge. Like most Capricornian goats, I just can’t stop climbing.

Over the years, this has caused friends, lovers and family a lot of pain and frustration. I’ve given up long ago trying to predict my own actions. It’s almost as if they are dictated to me by my angels and I try my best to follow through. I simply trust myself and put one foot in front of the next, keeping my eyes open for the signposts. They are often too small to see. Sometimes they are disguised as something that barely stands out from its surroundings; or someone whispering directions or simply pointing the way. Often, I am too busy, too distracted, or simply just too dumb to decipher  my next marching orders. Luckily, my angels are patient. The  wanderlust has hit me. I’m feelin’ mighty antsy.

So, I’m writing more. I’m trying to move my band, SpyBoyZ, up the food chain to bigger and better venues. I’m gonna hang in Mexico City (or D.F., as it’s known as here) for a bit. As a former New Yorker, I think I may just need a respite from this beautiful, sleepy little pueblito called San Miguel de Allende. I need to get me a little sensory overload. I’ll meet some cool people, eat some great food and listen to some good music. I may even make some of my own. D.F. is one of the great cities of the world. So much art, so many museums, so much stimuli. Yep, Mexico City here I come!

I’m also planning my trip to Motherland Cuba. Looks like sometime in December and January. Yeah, Christmas in Havana sounds pretty interesting to me. After that, a week or so in Walnut Creek, CA with my three year old granddaughter…

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Be excellent to each other and remember: Think twice before hitting “Send.

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Meow

Blog #101

The following is an excerpt from my memoire, “The Kid Who Got Away.”

While Washington and Baton Rouge politicians were plotting her demise; and Ray Ray Nagin was coming up with one wild and crazy idea after another, all the while lining his pockets with gold dipped in the sweat and tears of Katrina survivors, I rolled up my sleeves and dug in. I knew we would rebuild and renew but SHE, our beloved New Orleans as I knew she would never be the same. The wind was out of the sails and the Ghost Ship New Orleans would float out on the tide towards the sunset. A new and different iteration would rise from the ashes.

I told this to a few friends, all in denial. They said I was dead wrong. I was not in denial. I’d heard the survivors tails of loss and pain. I had read the writings on the water lines, heard the whispers of the ghosts, heard thousands of forgotten ones begging for a little hope and fresh water to drink, heard mother’s and babies cry out as they drowned in attics. It was over. It would never be the same.

New Orleans was a good though tire old whore; and she was OUR whore. She was the kind of whore that you could take your problems too and get an honest answer from. One you could almost trust to keep your secrets, then get a reliably good roll in the sack. She was the kind of whore that a dad would take his virgin son to for the kid’s first rodeo. She was a mirror of who we really are. Sadly, all whores die eventually. New ones take their place and life goes on. I miss her, still.


Nolatravelinman

So I’m setting up my gear for a gig here in San Miguel de Allende at a cub called Paprika. Folks walk by. Many of them know that I’ve been feeling little under the weather so they hug and kiss me and tell me they’re happy to see me, hoping I’m feeling better. I’m happy to see every one of them show up to my gig, whether I remember them by name or not. I lie and tell each I’m feeling fine. Why sadden or concern them? In truth, am totally out of it.

I have to take my HepC medicine daily and it alternately makes me feel exhausted, nauseous, light-headed, sometimes even depressed. Frequently, all at the same time. Then, Tuesday I get hit with a case of Montezuma’s revenge like I’ve never experienced. In bed, weak, not wanting to eat, just feeling like crap, I just want to sleep. My girlfriend calls the doctor and he makes a home visit (they still do that here).

Our keyboard player Doug Robinson told me that some friends might stop by to jam and that I should be there. I am determined show up. I feel like El Cid, dead but strapped to his horse, leading the charge while wooden planks hold his carcass upright. Like Woody Allen says: 90% of life is just showing up. So here I am at the gig.

While I’m setting up, another woman walks in with a kind of frumpy hat on and kisses me and says that it’s so nice to see me. It’s been a while. I had canceled a gig a few weeks back and then the following week, the band was at another club.

The woman walks away a few steps and something strikes me as familiar about her. I look closer and she smiling at me. It’s Bonnie Raitt! Sweet Baby Cheesum! I haven’t seen her in 20 years. I grab her again and hold her, exclaiming how wonderful it is to see her. She seemed much more at peace then I’ve ever seen her.

We begin to play and in walks Marsha Ball. I get the feeling that this is going to be quite a night. After the first set, I take a break and talk with Bonnie, reminiscing about all kinds of stuff. it becomes clear that Marsha wants to play. She gets up, comes over and sits down (we had to create a makeshift seat for those legs of hers). I say, “What do you feel like doin’, dahlin’?” She comes up with Muddy’s “Got My Mojo Workin” and we are off to the races.

She did a couple more tunes than indicated that she was done. What’s to be done once you’ve brought down the house? The joy coming off that woman while she was playing was palpable.

Doug and Marcia

I finished the gig, said my goodbyes and the van came to pick up my stuff. I headed back to my Hacienda in the Hood then went up the hill to my girlfriend’s house to spend the night. She’s definitely earned her stripes this week, cleaning up after me, cooking for me and generally helping me to heal during this arduous medication process. What I forgot was that it is the beginning of the San Miguel Festival. Living in San Miguel means it’s about to get real. Party time it is in San Miguel de Allende.

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My girlfriend owns a boutique hotel in a 300-year-old building just above the Jardin. The Jardin, which is just outside the Perogia, just so happens to be party central. The fireworks went on quite loudly right there outside the cathedral till about 1 AM. Then, silence. Great! I’m going to get a chance to get some sleep.

At 4 AM all out hell breaks loose. Every church in the valley begins ringing it’s bells. I was witness to the loudest and most extended display of fireworks I’ve ever been around anywhere in my life. The bells and fireworks went on continuously until after 6 AM. Sometimes it sounded like it was coming from the courtyard outside of the bedroom.

Let’s just say I didn’t get any sleep on the opening night of the San Miguel Festival.

Be excellent to each other and remember: Think twice before hitting “Send.

photos by Jim Knoch and Christian Diaz

Happy Birthday Beautiful Little Girl             IMG_0184 photo by Arlan Smith