Jonesey Paid it Forward

Facebook can be a time-dump but it is powerful. I received a message a couple of months back from a woman named Jonesey in Los Angeles. She asked me to call her about some stuff of mine that she had found. Jonesy had been hired to remove an enormous collection of belongings hoarded in a house near Crescent Heights Boulevard. Then she told me the house had belonged to my ex wife. Hmmm. I was apprehensively intrigued. I’d split up with her almost 30 years ago, just before my move from the so-called City of Angels to the soon-to-be-touted “Live Music Capital of the World.” The house had fallen into disrepair, was recently sold and was about to undergo renovation. Tasked with sorting through everything, Jonesy came across a box with my name on it and she wanted to know if she could send it my way. Having no memory of said box of stuff, I readily agreed and offered to pay the postage. She declined saying “I’m getting paid quite a bit and consider this part of the job. I like to pay it forward.”

Weeks flew by. I forgot about it. A parcel arrived via UPS. “Oh yeah.”

Kate & I sat together and I opened it. We decided that I’d toss anything way too personal onto a “confidential” pile. The plan was to make categorized stacks to sort through later. Upon opening the box I was hit with a kind of old grandma house odor, the stale air molecules released from what was really a time capsule. I worriedly wondered what kind of re-discovery was in store.

Disappointment. The first things I sifted through turned out to be utility bills, canceled checks, and a matchbook with obligatory phone number scrawled on it from Club Lingerie circa 1981. The stand out item was a hand written receipt from my first car purchase, a 1974 Ford Mustang from that period when Mustangs were more like souped-up Ford Pinto’s. I also found the repair bills to keep it running; serial replacements of a problematic fuel pump that made me smile now that all this time had gone by. The trash pile was getting taller while the other stacks were barely stacks at all. I skimmed the first few lines of a love letter and immediately chunked it. Better where it was, stored in the way back “lessons learned” folder of my brain.

A yellowed envelope full of photos appeared. The mother-load of early eighties rock & roll pictures of me playing The Starwood, The Troubadour, The Lighthouse and The Roxy. What is it with Los Angeles and all of the “The” clubs? And of course there had to be the “oh I remember her” pictures with old girlfriends. Kate was thrilled. Old Harvey Family photos were stashed between some black & white 8x10s taken at Madam Wong’s East. Some were of my Mom in the 30’s and others of Dad in his Navy whites. And then there was this photo of Mom & Dad standing on a dock beside a tall, regal sailing ship. This one grabbed my attention; I had no recollection of it and no idea where it was taken. They looked so happy and in love. I’m guessing it was taken by the time David, Rebecca and I had grown up, well, maybe me not so much, but that’s another story. Out of the box I had one precious photo accompanied by the realization that Kate and I are in a similar phase of our lives now and very much in love. I was feeling very thankful.

The next day I gave the picture to Mom. I anticipated she might get teary-eyed since Dad passed away back in 2006. As the tears welled-up she said they were tears of joy. Her expression revealed myriad layers of emotion. It felt good to give Mom that picture, and it was liberating to deep six almost everything else from that box.

So Jonesey, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Room 306

Memphis wasn’t on my list of vacation destinations but the soul music coming out of there always intrigued me. So, Kate & I recently drove up there to check it out for a couple days. We hit the three main places we wanted to go; The National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, Sun Studio and The Stax Museum. We learned a whole lot and I felt a whole lot too. I was reminded of where I was & what I was doing in the late 60’s around the time Martin Luther King was assassinated. Something clicked and I understood why I was so curious about Memphis in the first place. That took me back almost 50 years.

 On the evening of April 4th 1968 I was watching TV. Not sure what was on, probably McHale's Navy, Gilligan’s Island or Lost in Space. Or maybe it was Gomer Pyle. Anyway, I was startled and scared when this bulletin hit hard “We interrupt this broadcast, Martin Luther King has been shot in Memphis, Tennessee.” I was 11 years old and I knew something really bad had happened on out there in the world somewhere. I had no idea where Memphis was and only a vague notion about the civil rights movement from our Rabbi’s sermons about his experiences in the march on Washington. I didn’t pay much attention to our Rabbi and in 1968, on the south shore of Long Island my friends weren’t talking about Memphis or Martin Luther King. During this same period of time I was gravitating toward the soul music I heard on the radio. I distinctly remember the moment at summer camp up in Maine when I heard Otis Redding’s “The Dock of the Bay” for the first time. Hard to describe how it made me feel other than to say it felt like home. The melody and that backbeat changed everything for the better. Sam & Dave’s “Soul Man,” Eddie Floyd’s “Knock on Wood” & Booker T’s “Hip Hugger” rocked my world in the best possible way. I didn’t know Stax from Motown, Memphis from Detroit. Only thing I knew about the Motor City was I loved GM’s “Cars of the Future” exhibit at the 1964 World’s Fair. Memphis might as well have been on the moon. I didn’t known their names but Stax’s Al Jackson Jr. & Howard Grimes and Motown’s Richard Pistol Allen & Benny Benjamin were turning me on to a groove that transcended all the TV-watching an 11-year-old could possibly stand.

I cried when I stood next to room 306 at The Lorraine Motel looking out on the spot where Martin Luther King was gunned down. I understood that I was here on this planet when it was all going down. I learned a ton about the musicians cross-pollinating the blues and gospel, country and rock & roll. Booker T Jones, David Porter, Isaac Hayes, Steve Cropper, Al Jackson Jr, Donald Duck Dunn & others with the singers they backed at STAX were the epicenter of soul. 48 years later, we listened to sweet soul music all the way home. But when the news came on the radio it became painfully clear, we still have a long way to go. 

On Turning 60

Bring it on. That’s my new mantra. A new chapter’s here. My Chapter Six on this strange, challenging, wonderful trip. Ronnie Lane called it “a short movie.” It is short but I think it’s equally long. My chapters were ... Growing up, Hitting the Road (more growing up), Moving About the Globe (more growing), Finding Austin (still growing), Marrying Kate (yes!) and Raising Our Boys (whoa!). Adam’s in the Navy, Ian’s in College, our nest is empty and our hearts are full. I’m one lucky mo-fo. I landed two great gigs, each a privilege; connecting people to their homes and laying down a groove they can dance to. To quote Steve Martin from ‘The Jerk,’ I’ve found my special purpose(s)!

Drumming’s something I’ve done pretty much as long as I can remember, so 13 years back while cranking up the real estate biz, I had a hard time shaking the feeing I’d strayed from the path. I’ve learned better (still growing). Negotiating contracts, watching out for client’s interests, advising and analyzing are integral parts of my job as an agent, but my central role comes down to helping people navigate some of life’s big transitions, which, it appears, is what I’m in the midst of myself.

A TIMELESS ZONE

I fell in love with Austin, Texas Back in 1986, and Barton Springs sealed the deal.  I was on Charlie Sexton’s “Pictures for Pleasure” tour, here for a show at The Austin Opera House, a hometown gig for Charlie & tour manager Wayne Nagel. We had a few days off and Wayne was kind enough to show me around. One of the places we visited was Barton Springs. It struck me as a magical place and along with friendly people, a cool music scene & exceptionally beautiful women I was smitten. A move here was definitely in the cards.

Three years later in ‘89 I was here for good. Wayne & I were working on opening ‘the ARC,’ the Austin Rehearsal Complex, a 10 studio 22 storage locker pre-production facility that became a club house for Austin musicians. Anyway, our goal was to get The ARC open in time for SXSW 1990. It was an exciting, hard driving period and I took time off daily to cool down at the Springs. The heat was intense and the cold emerald spring water woke me up in more ways than one.

I don’t want to get overly melodramatic, but here I go; the place touched my soul. I’d found my home. Other than the terrific basket system they used to have for clothes & valuables, it’s just the same now. A timeless zone. Nothing’s perfect. There are long lines, it’s tough to park and you gotta fight traffic. The first few minutes in the water are a shock no matter how many times you get in. But on the 100° days, like just about every day this time of year, there’s nothing like diving into 68° emerald spring water. I’m thankful to be alive and at home in Austin, Texas.

Home is Where the Critters Are

In my house, we joke that my husband Mark is an “animal liker” and I am an “animal lover”.  He actually does love animals, but I guess the way I look at non-human creatures goes a just a little beyond.  In my mind, my furry friends are just that – friends. This can be a little disconcerting to a spouse who comes home unexpectedly in the middle of the workday to find 4 miniature horses playing in our backyard with our dog – true story.  Or a neighborhood cat or three having a snack on our back fence.  Or any number of friends’ dogs over for a quick playdate with our dog.  Or even a mini-pig come to visit.

If we had more space, I’d have quite the menagerie, but a small Tarrytown house & lot is somewhat limiting, so we only have one Cardigan Welsh Corgi; the World’s Best Cat; and Vader, the Curious Corn Snake. Not technically a pet, but a critter we have grown fond of, is Armey the Armadillo, who lives in a little hole under the west side of our house.

Why do so many of us choose to share our homes with other species?  For me, I think it’s a combination of a need to nurture and a curiosity into their quiet minds.

Study after study has shown that pets are actually good for our health.  They help lower our blood pressure and reduce stress. All those “therapy” dogs we see nowadays in airports? I have some good friends who swear that having their dog on the plane with them greatly reduces their anxiety.  Children who are exposed early to animals tend to have fewer allergies. I have a photo of my 2-week old son meeting a donkey nose-to-nose – no allergies!  As for your social life, if you have a dog, I guarantee you’ll make more friends.

Of course, not everyone should be a pet owner. If having a pet is for you, it is important to know the responsibilities involved.  I call it a 15-year commitment. You have to feed, bathe, walk, play with, provide veterinary care, etc.  It can get expensive, but in the long run, having a loving dog or cat or bird or any of a number of other critters in your home can be one of the most rewarding relationships of your life.