Leaf Blowers

The Season’s visage wears a scowl. 

Cold smoke moves on specter toes. 

Join the lonely wind in howl,

Chant the words in Winter’s prose.

It has been a long, cold winter but the worst has passed. February brings milder temperatures to South Texas. The only sign of the old frigid man is yellow grass, some bare tree branches and pruned crape myrtles. A sense of season is easily confused. Landscapes surrounding office buildings and cul de sacs alike are planted with invasive, perennials of implacable green. The display of chocolate hearts is replaced by chocolate rabbits beside a sale for sunscreen. The new line of patio furniture relaxes in cool umbrella shade, inviting a shopper to sit and consider the sale price on the laminated tag. Everyone should own a grill at least once in their life but no one really needs a leaf blower. Did Washington and Lincoln believe in one nation under God with liberty and justice and 30% off for all? Wait! Don’t buy that, put it back on the shelf. Save your money for a weekend getaway to Port Aransas. The seashore is enticing but beware the Ides of March and the college students who storm the beach in amphibious assaults like drunken Marines. Spring loves to tease but she is just around the corner. Open a bottle of wine and listen to Carmina Burana. You may have to turn the stereo up loud to be heard above the mating call of leaf blowers.

Galveston Winter

There are some people who look forward to winter. This type of cold weather folk can’t wait for  the first report of powdery snow on their favorite slope so they can dress in thermal finery and ascend a mountain where, once at the summit, strap 2x4s to there frozen feet and hurl themselves off risking broken bones and frostbite. The roaring fire and  a tankard of IPA in the lodge are the perfect end to a thrilling day of cheating death. In my past, ski resorts were a great gig for a cover band, good money and dinner show hours. But it was always cold and, since I consider anything below 60 F freezing, I never looked forward to Vermont in January. When I lived in New York, I could tolerate winter only because inclement weather was an excuse to stay inside and I could dry my towels on the radiator. 

Photo by Josh Amparan on Pexels.com

Now that I live within spitting distance of Mexico, I can’t complain about frigid weather too much or use it as justification for being lazy. Except when it is really, really frigid. When the mercury plummets to 18 F and icy precipitation creates a clear candy shell on sidewalks and statues in the Northeast people shrug it off as another nasty day. In the South, those conditions create a sort of surreal pandemonium. You may recall one such day in 2021 when an arctic blast shut Houston down for a week and Gulf beaches were polluted with the carcasses of sea life. It was almost Biblical. 

Here is one man’s account in verse form:

Galveston Winter
Twenty pelicans sail by in jagged formation. 
The beach is lead and mist. 
Wind whips the crispy, brown fronds of tropical transplants; victims of the big freeze. 

Just like the fish that washed ashore to ferment 
On the sand stinking surströmming. 
A feast for gulls who turn up their snobbish beaks 
Preferring purloined corn chips and french fries. 

The grackles laugh. 
They are amused by everything: 
Death
	Pelicans struggling against a squall 
		Broken glass in a hopping man’s bare foot

I get the joke, too. 
Fish don’t wear sweaters
Idiots don’t wear shoes 
And palms should not wander too far North of Bogotá. 

But laughing at a pelican is just plain cruel. 

The Year of the Tiger

Photo by Richard Verbeek on Pexels.com

It is the Lunar New Year. The Chinese New Year. The Year of the Tiger. The Bengals are in the Superbowl this year. My astrological sign in the Eastern horoscope is the Sheep or Goat or Ram. The Rams are in the Super Bowl this year. Everything seems to be coming together in the universe, at least in this small sector. Who knows how things are going around Proxima Centauri. I would write and ask but it would take light years for a letter to reach them and by the time an answer arrived back it would be old news as if an old girlfriend from high school wrote me a note during second period and slipped it through the gill slits of my locker on her way to biology, written on lined notebook paper with little hearts as dots over the “i”’s. But she made a mistake and the little missive went into locker 223, the locker beside mine, assigned to a geek with a terrible teenage complexion who entertained a fantasy that he had a secret admirer for years to come until one day when he forwarded the note to its rightful owner. By then it was too late. It was too late to tell my girlfriend how much I liked her and that I would come over to her house to watch a movie on the VCR. I should not dwell on the past, however. My Chinese horoscope advises me to live in the moment. And who would argue? The signs have already picked the teams in this year’s Super Bowl.

Truelove’s New Music Page

After a lengthy legal battle, I have won back the rights to all my intellectual property. Just kidding, there was no legal battle but I did add me a brand new page to this here website. The Music, Sweet Music page will feature tunes that I have written and recorded. You can access it in the Menu section (upper right, click on the hamburger) or you click this link. Crank it up!

Thursday

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Thursday dawns without inspiration or impulse. In my liminal state before coffee, I searched the dark for a sketch of the day to come. All I found was the base animal instinct to rise and begin prowling the earth for food and procreation. If I have a muse, he has taken Thursday off for personal reasons. Who can blame him, assigned to the likes of me by the force governing the universe, for needing a break? It must be frustrating: guiding my clumsy fingers along the fretboard or ivory keys, helping me choose words. Indeed, it must be exhausting. If only I could crack into my skull and reconfigure the dip switches to genius mode. I asked the neurosurgeon to do some tinkering around while he was in there removing a tumor but he couldn’t be bothered. He was too worried about saving my life. Besides, my insurance did not cover elective procedures like aptitude modification or synapse diversion. And so I am stuck with what I’ve got and a muse who takes Thursdays off.

Life’s Simple Pleasure

Nothing ruins a cup of joe like fugitive grounds who escaped the filter's tight weave. Sipping and spitting the tiny, soggy pebbles from the tip or your tongue like watermelon seeds across a summer lawn as the sweet juice trickles down your chin. Some say that is half the fun. 

I should sample more of life’s simple pleasures: marveling at birds, laughing at squirrels. But there is nothing simple about either, to be honest. It took eons to evolve from a T-Rex to a Robin. And the antics of a squirrel are really a pattern of convoluted signals used in competition for acorns. 
I might enjoy a slice of freshly baked bread if it weren’t for the fact that this simple pleasure is a complex carbohydrate probably involving the chemical diagram for methylbutanol. 

Coffee and bread. In France, that is all they want for breakfast, maybe a cigarette. In Texas, the line of cars in the drive through of Chick-fil-A is known for blocking traffic on the highway as morning diners wait for fried chicken on a biscuit. 

I typically skip breakfast just to spite those who claim it is the most important meal of the day. And as we all know, spiting know-it-alls is one of life’s simple pleasures.

T-Rex to Robin in only 65 million years. Do Not Feed Yourself to Wildlife.

Heroin

Jeffrey Lee Pierce

No one wants to have a medical procedure, unless you have a fetish for that sort of thing. I do not. However, even the best models breakdown every so often and have to go in for a tuneup.

The worst part is always the preparation leading up to the big day: endless paperwork, tests, restricted diets, fasting, choking down vile solutions, NO ALCOHOL. Perhaps the greatest torture is having nothing after the witching hour the night before which means no morning joe.

But all of these miseries are worth suffering through when you finally get your hit of Propofol. (is it a coincidence that it rhymes with alcohol?). I understand why the Prince of Pop used it for recreational purposes. I understand why people keep finding something wrong with them and keep going back for more outpatient surgery.

I have to admit, this time was good but not as good as the first time. That is a typical complaint of heroin addicts, incidentally.

And on the subject of heroin, the first time I heard “She’s Like Heroin to Me” by Gun Club I was hooked and, unlike junk, it delivers the same high every time. I am a Jeffrey Lee Pierce devotee. Not only because of his songs and his enigmatic poetry but because of his ability and relentless determination to make music using whatever raw materials he had despite the limitations he faced. Not everybody was born a McCartney or Prince or got to record in Studio A.

I could never match the raucous energy of the original so, in the spirit of JLP, I made it into something of my own. Below is a performance of my version from about 10 years ago before I got hooked on Propofol ;). Stay in school and don’t do drugs.

She’s Like Heroin to Me

Vive Le Pain

I bet you didn’t kneaux I spoke French, did you?

When it comes to haute cuisine, or less than haute, Houston has plenty to offer. Yes, it is Texas so beef is king, and anything that can be, will be barbecued. It should also come as no surprise to anyone with access to a map of North America that Mexican food is plentiful as are daily catches of fresh fish from the Gulf.

It might be less than common knowledge, however, that Vietnamese food is popular here, especially the beef noodle soup and the Bánh Mì sandwich. And while I am on the subject of sandwiches, nothing ruins a Bánh Mì or a shrimp po’boy like terrible bread. You know the type: doughy, under cooked and made with sugar. I am no baker, but unless you are making a cinnamon bun and the like, sugar should not be in your recipe.

The French are proud of their bread and because of their influence on both Vietnamese and Cajun cultures you might assume that serving anything less than a quality baguette at Pappadeaux’s or the Saigon Cafe would be unacceptable. You would be wrong in that assumption, though, Houston has a real crisis.

My quest for a decent dinner roll was aided by my insatiable thirst for wine. Serendipity, I think they call it. I celebrated a birthday last week, and I decided to splurge on some fancy French labels you don’t see in the discount bin at Spec’s.

As the name implies, French Country Wines is actually operated by someone from France and, being sympathetic to my plight, he directed me to Magnol Bakery. I was not disappointed. Magnol not only has staples like croissants and baguettes, but also a few sweet surprises like Canneles de Bordeaux which is like creme brulee in petit four form.

I confess, I will never grow tired of BBQ, but my beef rib from Hitter’s will be served alongside an epi baguette. And wine, of course.

Music by the Lost, Words by the Found

No Guitars were harmed during the recording of this song.

I spent countless hours of my youth poring over the liner notes of every record I could get my hands on. No detail, from studio location to assistant engineer, went unappreciated. Lyrics were always a welcome bonus.

As a young, wannabe musician I was particularly interested in the songwriting credits to learn who did what in the band. It was usually: Music by Guitar Player X, Words by Singer Y. But sometimes there would be a wildcard.

The theme of being lost and found again is a popular one in both secular and non-secular music. It got me to thinking what would happen if Lost and Found wrote a song together. Press play and crank it up! Lyrics are included.

Music by the Lost, Words by the Found – John Truelove copyright 2021

The saved will ring the bell
The damned will beat the drum
As this day is lost
So shall tomorrow come

Join me in a song
There are verses for the weak and the strong
We all know the sound 
Of music by the Lost
And words by the Found

Let the Angels pluck the string
Let the Demons blow the horn
As we die today
So shall we be reborn

Join me in a song
There are verses for the right and for wrong
We all know the sound
Of music by the Lost

Words and Music by John Truelove copyright 2021

Houstoniansphere

Houston is the largest strip mall I have ever been lost in. I have been trying to find my way around this maze for nine months and I am still trying to comprehend why anyone needs half of the things available to them.

There is plenty of superfluous abundance in other large cities but no other U.S. metropolis epitomize’s urban sprawl better than Houston. I can’t help feeling depressed when I drive through it. Neither can I help feeling that as it continues to metastasize so will modern America’s inter connectivity of abject loneliness and isolation.

Houstoniansphere

Plastic salad sandwiches served on frontage road
Mufflers, brows, tattoos and taxes
Sprout from gardens of immediacy 
Planted on the macadam feeding insatiable times. 

What cannot be found here drops from the universe
Outside Sam Houston’s perpetual orbit of shining satellites 
Waiting to fall inward 
Or spin away to Conroe and Woodlands

A gale blows cellophane in from the Gulf 
Chaff of sprawl snags in the branches 
An arborist cleaves from live oak 
Bags once plump with Mexican limes

The heat spawns violent storms and violent people 
You can’t outdraw lightning
You can’t hit a raindrop in the heart
That is why gullies flood while bodies pile up

Generations with no patience track their baubles
While in tombs of nostalgia 6 to 8 weeks molder
Old things are discarded casually on the highway
Orange vested misdemeanors collect them for the landfill

A breeze combs a crape myrtle, pink snow in October
I brush a blossom from the page and sigh
The salutation is smeared
I miss writing more than text messages