[Landline] Coming in for a landing
Pointing at quality rabbit holes since 2018
1. THEIR LIFE
The only tribute band that matters:
I wish Gene—and bandleader Paul Green—would bring this ingenious project to Tucson, but if not… Please somebody persuade Ween to reconvene and make a new album of false Billy Joel songs. They could do it!
2. AGAVES FOR THE WIN
I interviewed ethnobotanist/MacArthur fellow Gary Nabhan for the Patagonia Regional Times regarding his magisterial new book on agaves. Read: "A Heritage Plant for Our Time"
3. LET’S HELP NEIL HAGERTY (ROYAL TRUX, PUSSY GALORE, ETC.)
This song! Never included on an album.
All over the place across eight minutes: Super slow minimal gospel soul > knotty riff > heavy unison riffs > decidedly non-unison freedom center > fire > blues
Let me know where you’re at when you get to 5:00.
(A much shorter studio version, unreleased in the era of the recording, was added as a bonus track to the 2007 CD edition of "Dance to the Music." No one seemed to notice, other than The Seth Man.)
The Times investigated but couldn’t get an ID: read the article here
6. TUMBLEWEEDING TOWARDS 70
Zig Zag by J.D. O’Brien is a weed crime novel released earlier this year by Schaffner Press, an indie publisher in Tucson. I loved it from its opening page — an epigraph from David Berman that sorta gives the book its title:
J.D.— real first name “Joe,” or so he claims— was on tour last week across the Southwest doing reading-signings. I caught one, and chuckled nonstop. I asked Joe if he’d adapt his spiel/excerpt from that evening so I could share it with Landline folks. Here it is:
Zig Zag kicks off with a botched dispensary heist in the San Fernando Valley that sets into motion a kind of stony, roundabout chase through the Mojave Desert. Call it a lukewarm pursuit. This excerpt below is from section one, “Gettin’ By In Van Nuys.” It’s a short introduction to the lukewarm pursuer, a burnout bail bondsman and self-styled rhinestone cowboy named Harry Robatore…
Buckaroo Bail Bonds, established 1998, Van Nuys, California, is headquartered in an office above the Country General Store, a purveyor of time-tested western apparel. Harry Robatore, established 1954, Del Rio, Texas, is its founder, sole proprietor, and only original member.
BAIL BONDS blazes in nondescript neon from a second-story window over Van Nuys Boulevard. The office windows don’t catch the kind of California light that looks romantic flooding through dusty venetian blinds. The sign doesn’t even blink.
Late summer, everything sticky and slow, Harry doesn’t stray far from the window unit. His wardrobe isn’t conducive to the higher temperatures. He reaches for his Tareytons and isolates a loose thread over his breast pocket. Something is awry deep in the fabric of this shirt and he expects it’ll be a slow unraveling from here on out.
Eleven in the morning and his prevailing desire is to call it a day. Slip back into his house poncho and come in for a landing on the cradle curve of the sectional. Light up an enormo torpedo and pass a glacial afternoon with Hoss and Little Joe.
Lately he’s only been working when he needs to. Hitting the snooze. Listening to that lazy golden voice in his head. The take it slow voice, the fuck it voice. Most days it sounds like George Jones to him.
For stretches at a time, he’ll barely go into the office at all. A chunk of change will come in, five-ten grand, and he’ll soft-shoe around the apartment until he’s down to seeds and stems again. Like those guys you see at Arco putting a few bucks in the tank. Barely enough to get to the next station.
Harry has designs to move past the retirement-on-the-installment-plan model and set himself up permanent. He’s tired of a lot of things, but mostly he’s tired of waking up thinking, “How am I going to get fucked over today?” In the bail bonds business, you assume everybody is lying to you about everything. People will say anything to get out of jail.
Harry doesn’t believe he’s hit rock bottom in terms of what people will do to fuck him, but he doesn’t want to find out what that looks like.
The routine is getting old. It has been for a while.
His old man always said Harry had a loitering manner about him. That he was born with an ass dipped in flame retardant. It wasn’t untrue. For a time, Harry tried to dress it up in Buddhist thinking. It only made things worse. If we’re just grains of sand drifting across the beach, why bother getting out of the house poncho at all?
Harry resembles the old man physically, cast in the same mold as generations of male Robatores. Texas-tall and thin as a branding iron. And he shares his father’s distinctive taste in western couture. But the work ethic was lost somewhere along the line.
Tumbleweeding toward seventy, Harry’s starting to see himself as the kind of guy Tom T. Hall might’ve written a song about. An old pothead trying to turn over a new leaf.
Time to get to work.
More info: Zig Zag by Joe O’Brien
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