HIS SPIRIT LIVES ON! ... BONER, THE PIANO DOG ... November 27, 1994 ... February 20, 2010
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TO: Virginia Tech and Blacksburg, Virginia ...
Check this out:
After a career of twenty years performing Ragtime and Boogie Woogie piano music from the back of a pickup truck with my best bud named Boner (my canine, he joined ten years ago and is now twelve), I decided to move on with my career and pursue my wildest of dreams. Last year we traveled with the Raggin' Piano Boogie piano truck for the first time and went to the Katrina affected areas where I met a terrific group of students from Virginia Tech. They were there volunteering to clean and fix up the place.
Along with that great experience behind me, this year I decided that before my career "bites the dust"... I want to share with the world everything I have to offer while enjoying life to the fullest and also I want the world to meet Boner before he retires. I decided to create a journey and left my home and the life that I knew. The journey began on February 09, 2007 (now calling my entertainment property the Traveling Piano,) with no specific route and as a free spirit. See; http://www.ragginpianoboogie.com
My goal is to nurture and empower musical creativity and to create friendship while giving respect to people everywhere, most specifically for people and communities that do not usually get to hear a piano man or who have never even seen a piano before. I want to give people the experience of playing on a piano outdoors from the back of a pickup truck with a dog sitting on top of the piano. After twenty years of doing it I can tell you that it is a lot of fun! I want to lift spirits with what Boner and I have to offer. In order to help keep my intent strong, the entire journey (named the Flight of Peregrinating Musical Exploration!) is a gift to the world free of charge. (I plan to sell my house and belongings when I return home if necessary)
During my first few days of travel, late one evening I fell into Blacksburg Virginia. I did not know where I was and as I drove through the streets I was thinking, "this is a hip little town for such a rural place". I then realized it was a college town and then I saw a sign saying Virginia Tech. I kept thinking, "ahh... a college town, where do I know this name from"? Then I realized my connection. I enthusiastically called a few friends and reconnected while visiting the student center plaza where I presented the Traveling Piano the next day for about thirty minutes. I experienced the joy of many first timers trying out the piano with their own brand of creative music. As Bo and I continued on our journey all I thought about was how wonderfully synchronistic the experience was for me.
On April 16th, I was in Phoenix Arizona after having recently arrived back in the United States from Mexico. I was in a UPS store shipping my piano to Mexico. I was donating it to a tribal village I had recently spent time in and had brought a new one for the next stage of my journey. The clerk said to me, "did you hear what just happened at Virginia Tech? As I processed the situation, I ran to my truck to call a friend while wishing that everyone was safe.
The next day I was performing in Sedona, Arizona on my way to Los Angeles and I decided to wear my Virginia Tech tea shirt. (it was given to me during my visit). I wanted to associate a positive energy with and for the school. I wanted for everyone who experienced the love that Boner and I have to give, all the friendship and respect we had to offer, our sensibility of fun and intellect... to associate that also with Virginia Tech.
The following day, from out of the blue, Kevin from the Virginia Tech student center phoned me asking if there was a possibility for my return to the school. They were exploring ways to cope... using positive energy through music. He said that I had such a positive affect with the students during my short visit that I would be helpful in this time of need. I was blown away to be considered... what an honor... a request such as this is what I am all about. I said that I was 2000 miles away and heading in the opposite direction that I would need some time to think... I would call later in the day. I spent the day reeling in my mind. I worked to clear myself of all emotional ego and drama. It was clear from the start... my gut told me that I had a calling... I was totally grateful for it. I could trust my intent and motives. I called Kevin back and he validated that the school still wanted my return. I said, "so be it... what's a little detour?"
I am sending this from Oklahoma and plan to arrive in Blacksburg in about two days. I will stay the week with Virginia Tech and its community. Here are a few ideas... maybe you have some of your own... Spread the word for me because there are a lot of students at Virginia Tech and I am sending this email to only about ten... The Traveling Piano truck is to be at everyone's disposal twenty-four hours a day. Give a call and I will tell you how to turn on the sound if I am doing something other than being with the truck. Lets take this piano and truck thing... to the edge without getting into too much trouble... not that I have a problem with getting into trouble. Life is to be about joy, lets create some. I feel incredibly good about this opportunity and am looking forward to connecting with everyone.
Call 215 499 6326 or email... email@example.com or get in touch with the student center to find us.
...can I have the piano for the day or night? (you can have it for a few hours and I do not need to be there with it, I will trust you to take care)
...I have a friend, family or group that I would like to gift with some music (I will drive anywhere even an hour or two away from the school)
... can I use the truck, I'd like some private time with no one around to create some music so how about three in the morning? (no problem)
... I play the Tuba... want to do some jammin'? (how cool that would be)
... Is the piano open so I can play some music for my girlfriend or create a jam with my buddies? (yep, anytime)
...let's go for a ride, you drive while I play Dan. (do it all the time)
... can we have a party with music while driving to different spots with about ten of us hanging out in the back of the truck? (yep, anytime of the day or night)
... I want to irritate a friend, they need a jolt to help them off their butt, can you do it for me? (I'll drive to their dorm or apartment and blast some Ragtime through the window)
... can you come to play some chill out music while I calm a bit and relax on the lawn or something? (my favorite)
... I would like to hug Boner for a while do you think heĠd be willing? (are you kidding!!!)
... I have six minutes between classes can you get here for five of them? (love it)
... more ideas please....
April 30, 2007
Virginia Tech, Virginia USA
Phil and Carol my present hosts had previous guests coming to their house today so Boner and I had to vamoose... to where I had no idea so all the packing and luggage stayed in the truck today. That did not stop the fun. I first started at the student center and played until the sun became too hot. Soon after, I moved to the shade of a nearby budding tree. We had good strong sun today. A sound guy stopped by so we played with trying to get the dog hair and other gunk out of my speaker tweeter without breaking it. Last time I tried this I broke the speaker. Adam the guy from a day or two ago came buy to practice some piano. He is a newbie at the piano as of his first experience the other day and said he tried practicing on a studio piano inside the music building with the concrete walls but could not get inspired... he needed the outside air to create his music. He did not get much opportunity because everyone was always jumping up onto the keys. My explaining Boner and myself and our presence at Virginia Tech moved from a 38rpm to a 78rpm today... I am dragging big time. I have not been this active for such a prolonged period of time ever. I want to make the most of any opportunity to share what I have to offer while I am here. Bo and I have been consistently wanted, appreciated and embraced with gratitude and I can never get enough of a good thing. That is aside from how deserving of friendship, love, music, respect and the ability to express in anyway possible... everyone I have come across at Virginia Tech is. I have had nothing but appreciation for these students, the diversity on every level and how they cohabitate so well with each other. I watched hundreds of students enter a building for a banquet function and was in awe at the beauty I kept commenting to guys... not only are the girls incredibly beautiful and individual, they all know how to dress to make themselves absolutely gorgeous. I don't write these things lightly, I really mean every word I say.
Later on in the afternoon about five students jumped into the truck to play some music while I drove them to their dorms. One girl wanted me to take the piano to her roommate so she could hear him play. While there, she called all the other roommates to join us. I was in the student square surrounded by large residential dorms. There were all kinds of games going on in the field and a few students came over to spend some time after their volleyball game. Everyone who plays the piano gets a Raggin' Piano Boogie poster. This is becoming a good incentive for anyone too shy to just jump on. I am ending up the night at Peer and Jen's place, the people who first hosted me when I found Blacksburg several months back. We had some pizza and watched a movie Peer had wanted for me to see called "The Legend of 1900" about a piano man on a ship at sea". It felt really good to spend some time with them and to just hang out without the Traveling Piano... period. The movie had a piano piece so haunting it pushed buttons to make me cry. That does not often happen. I will be crashing on the couch or their daughter's playroom floor for the night as they too already have another guest. On the floor? Oh, I feel a good nights sleep coming on... not!
April 29, 2007
Virginia Tech, Virginia USA
I rolled out of bed and onto a Virginia Tech campus park lawn. I went to an annual picnic for the schools of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering. It was a great day. Boner and I were a new experience for many of the students which was really cool. I would like to meet everyone at this school before we leave... that will not happen but the more the better. I have been enjoying a world diversity at this college and I am learning a lot because of that. Did you know that Singapore is a country? I did not. I am not afraid to admit the ignorance and glad I raised enough questions to find out about it. People from South Korea, Briton, China and Singapore played on the piano today as well as me... an American mutt. Boner... the piano mutt hung out on top of the piano as usual in his Virginia Tech tea shirt. As soon as I let him down he went and scoffed up hamburgers from the table and also made sure to mark the local hiking bags. I told him that was not nice.
I got some good improvising in and wished I had brought my computer so I could have recorded it. I am in a process of change with this Traveling Piano truck. It used to be called the Raggin' Piano Boogie truck with all Ragtime and Boogie Woogie piano music. Then my improvisation entered onto the picture and now other peoples music has entered. When I invite people onto the piano they almost always want to try it out. When I am in a convincing mode it rarely works. Now I am beginning to give music lessons from the truck. I have done it several times now. It makes sense since I am in a learning environment with people eager to learn. This is full circle for me as I started out as a piano teacher when I was fifteen years old. By twenty one years of age I had fifty four private students a week. I was a maniac. My success as a piano teacher was not so much that I was good at playing the piano. I was very good at motivating others to play. Once I turned twenty one and was free of the bonds of childhood... (my parents) I began to party hearty. Ha... enough of that. The rest of the day today was spent eating and writing this web stuff and doing emails. I almost forgot... one "dorko" who played today got so excited while on the piano... he dropped his drawers, silly boy... all in fun.
April 29, 2007
I have so many good pictures I just want to share them all. This turned out to be a Blacksburg community Traveling Piano day. I want this "gifting" to be for the Virginia Tech community at large not only for the campus itself. I started out at the downtown farm market and I enjoyed meeting the residents. This was another twelve hour day starting at 10AM. I spent the day popping chocolate covered coffee beans. I was hoped they would help but had no luck with that idea. It was lots of the usual fun with a diverse ethnic and age crowd which I always love. A young fiddler of about eight years old came up to join me for a while as well as many first time piano players solo and for duets. I don'd a farmer's hat for a bit to fit in and just be silly. A special treat for me came with the opportunity to hear some rhythm piano, fiddle playing, banjo pickin' home town local music from a few musicians who happened buy. They played with each other as well as for me... for the first time.
My food consumtion... well, I am in trouble... I ate much healthier in Mexico and the Southwest. Still, with as little guilt as possible I had a delicious cookout dinner with my hosts Carol and Phil and their neighbors who happened to be graduates from Neshaminy high school a town a few miles from my home, I pulled out into the street to play. My absolutely favoritest scenario duplicated itself once again. Neighbors began to appear out of their houses to gather around to talk and meet. Some met each other some for the first time and we all had some silly fun with piano music. Lawn chairs were pulled out, neighbors kept coming as they arrived home and I met another person original from Penndel another town right next to me home. Cheezzz.... This was the largest group neighborhood gathering yet for the Traveling Piano with twenty-five to thirty people.
On the way to a birthday party in Christiansburg tonight a deer ran into the side of my truck. As I looked back I saw it roll on the road. Thank God it got up and ran back into the woods. I am not going to want to look at the side of my truck in the morning. When I arrived, the party had been going on for a while so everyone was fairly looped... not really... they were totally messed up! Ha. I decided to have fun with it so I settled Boner up on the piano from down the block, found a fairly sane driver and we did a drive by swerving down the street right by the party and then did a turn around a block away to come back where we parked the truck under the car port and then continued to become as rowdy as possible. God, I am having so much fun and everyone I meet deserves as much of that fun as I can give to them. Boner I can tell has been picking up on my joy, he just becomes more and more accommodating by the day.
April 27, 2007
Virginia Tech, Virginia USA
I got a call this morning at 9AM. They told me to get out! Yikes, I only got to bed a few hours before. The people who had rented the place for the weekend had verified they were coming. Good thing... because the place was becoming very cozy, too cozy. I could feel myself trenching in. A local neighbor resident took me in. More clarity came today as I realize more how the students of Virginia Tech have taken control of there own needs. I am not here because of the administration I am here because of the students, Hookies United. They immediately got to work to find another place for me to stay. I am being taken care of with food by the students, when I go out to get something to eat everyone immediately says, "I got it". Someone will pass by the truck and say, "Hey Dan you want me to get you something to eat?" Kevin, a great bud... "Hey Dan I'll be working at the grill tonight from 6pm on... come over and get something to eat." The girls in the office... "I'm going to the food counter would you like some fruit?"
I gave a piano lesson to a guy named Adam from the truck today; we will do it again tomorrow. I went to join up with a bike ride in the afternoon. Unfortunately, once the group took off I got stuck in traffic while they all vamoosed out of sight so... Zach who was driving while I played... just meandered through the streets until rush hour traffic became too rushy. Back on the square, a sign was made for the hood of the truck to encourage people to use the piano when I'm not around. I don't know what I was thinking. No encouragement is needed, everyone "gets it" and is game to play. A need is starting to... remind people to share the piano chair. Students are beginning to use the piano to practice. Some guy was multi tasking by talking on his cell phone with one hand while he mindlessly created music with his other hand. Is that to be considered rude? I'm not sure. I am getting very little opportunity to play myself because people are always wanting to take the opportunity to play. That is a good thing tho. I had my first call tonight at 11PM for some late piano spontaneity but I have to get up at 7AM for the schools farm market. Damm. I hope I get another call in the next few days.
April 26, 2007
Virginia Tech, Virginia USA
I slept almost twelve hours today and I still need more but I will take what I can get. I went to the student center to play and it began to rain so that has not happened today. Good, I need the break. The day was spent doing errands, backing up data, and sending emails. I had dinner with my friend Zach. We seem to get into these incredibly deep religious conversations when we are together. The goal... to understand and accept. Boner and I played hide and seek for a time under the dinning room table. He's so funny.
All I ever wanted has been to contribute, be part of, accepted and wanted in diverse environments with a diversity of people. I have already found this and will be eternally grateful specifically concerning Virginia Tech... thankful to have found myself in and be part of such a great and amazing healing process. I have always wanted to be whole within a world family and I have been having that experience.
April 25, 2007
Virginia Tech, Virginia USA
I am completely whacked out. Forgetting from one moment to the next... forgetting what I am doing or where I put something... is the norm. I was out having fun for a full twelve hours today. I could not help myself. Everyone... pray for me to help keep a balance. I could not take time to eat, drink water, rest, clean the truck like I had planned to it was a day of constant interaction and creating music. This experience is so right. I am sleeping in tomorrow; I must do this for my body and mind... my heart wants to keep going. For everyone who has been supporting me in this journey I want to tell this... I say it confidently and with no ego involved. Someone came up to me today to say, "country singer Tug Mc Graw called and asked with we wanted him to come, Bon Jovi called and I think I heard that Dave Mathews called" they said, (I think there will be a major fundraising concert here) "but called the school called you, Danny".
I went over to the Norris building where the tragedy happened and where the memorial is. I was a bit nervous about being appropriate. I had nothing to be concerned about the music was perfect. It is unexplainable to me but as I played and was searching for the right sound, feeling, emotion... as I was trying to judge what I was creating I realized at exactly the same time there was no need, "just let it flow, it is happening perfectly", went through my mind. I could tell that but... I did not quite know why or how I was doing it. I think my spirit knew perfectly well what to do and it was overriding my over analyzing mind. I kept looking at the cordoned off building, I purposely positioned the truck in that direction but I felt nothing... I could only pick up energy from the people around me. When I got off the truck I started to talk to a guy who's best friend was killed he was showing me newspaper clippings he was collecting in an attempt to process his loss and I almost completely broke down in tears. I started to question if I should have come to this area of the campus. I started to walk around the memorials reading off the many names and started to choke up again. I was bringing my own past losses into it. So, I got ready to leave. People thanked me for playing. Robbie, a new friend I was hanging with played some while I walked around to get a grip. I will probably go back there again to give some music tomorrow leaving my own history out of the visit.
This guy Robbie's mom saw my website and phoned him to check me out. I drove him around the campus while he jammed on the piano. He is a good player and really had some great Boogie Woogie going. At dusk he drove me, he almost demanded making sure I had my turn through campus. I chilled out with my own improv. That was a treat for me. We went out for a bit to eat and had a great discussion about how life works and basic astronomy which he as studied. He brought me dinner. This guy made an impression on me as he first got on the piano. He did not want to play for himself as much as he wanted for us to improvise together which we did. I think that was the first time I was actually... mutually, musically engaged as a duo with someone in creating music together on the keys. He broke down any inhibitions I had and that felt really good.
Three times today the truck was on the move with music on the streets. Another guy, I think his name was Chris had his turn in Bringing the Beat to the Street while I drove. This truck music shtick works well in a campus environment. When everyone first hears about the piano man and dog on the truck it does not register but when they see and hear it... wow, on every level from everyone. I stopped at a group's fundraiser and played while they packed up. The timing was great as a came home with a Hokie (school mascot) bucket filled with homemade cookies of love. You can be sure I will eat all that love up and then express it back out through music, music, music. There was a point today when everyone kept getting on the truck they would do it one after another almost mindlessly but very naturally and I actually wanted to say at one point, "hey my turn... give me a chance to play"! Someone said, "wow, this is really liberating to play music out here like this".
I ran into an old friend to day, it was amazing. Jamie Turner and his wife Mary are here with their brand of music doing the same thing that I am doing. I have not seen Jamie in twenty years. Jamie is a world-renowned glass harp player. There are only a few dozen glass harp artists in the world and Jamie is the top. He has played for many top dignitaries, on many television shows and with the countries leading orchestras. He fills different size glass goblets with water to create different pitches and then the sound comes from his fingertips on the rims. There are over four hundred written pieces of music written over several centuries for this instrument. We jammed, he got "down" he is a hot glass harp player!
Man, I am going to sleep tonight, I am thankful I am being taken care of with the guesthouse I am in as it is quiet and spacious. Last night Bo got his exercise real good in this house we are staying in. There is a large dinning room table and Boner lovers for me to chase him around our table at home. This was a special table because it is very large and he can trick me buy running in and out of it at different angles. My dog is very creative and creates a dance out of our chases in and out of the table legs and chairs, rarely the same way twice in a row. We have fun together. Boner was great all day long while in the sun, he is a champ.
April 24 2007
Virginia Tech, Virginia USA
Let the fun begin... again. I am in Virginia Tech. God I am so happy to be here. Who knows why a connection happens... why I am having my third connection with this school in such a short time, I could try and analyze it to death but I don't want to waste anytime. I want to live in action more than think at this time in my life. When I woke up to leave this morning I had a ting of fear but that immediately dissipated into joy. I am so happy to be here. A guy came up to me remembering me from my last thirty minute stay two months ago. I am so thankful Kevin from the event department thought to call me immediately after the shootings. When I saw him once again an instant connect of like souls. This place is going to get... nope, let me rephrase that... has already begun to get the... "full danny and bo" and that's allot. It took six hours on this last day of my 2000 mile detour. Bo and I were doing out thing within fifteen minutes. I told Kevin I would have come for just him alone of he had asked me to. I am completely attracted to people who take action. Virginia Tech is not thinking about coping, they are not repressing, they are not milling details around in their heads... they are continuing to go on with life and work through adversity. They began immediately to take action steps reaching out for and using tools to help work through feelings of loss, confusion, fear and chaos. They get one hundred percent of my mind, body and soul for doing that, it only feeds me good stuff back in every way. Can't help myself from repeating, God I am so thankful to be here. What an amazing life journey I am on. I am so thankful to be able to enjoy it.
Bo happily wore his Virginia Tech shirt as did I... in fact, getting one to wear was the first priority for us. I started playing in front of the student center and then moved up a bit to get some pictures in front of a really cool building... went and got a sandwich... came back and played into the night as students sat on the steps to hang out and others jumped up onto the piano to play. It was just like last time, there is a lot of good spirit floating around on this campus. At least fifteen people played on the truck today in just a few hours, singing piano players too. I am still getting used to improvising while people just sit and listen. I asked everyone not to applaud when I was done because I am not comfortable enough yet. They respected that and then I felt bad because I could tell they really wanted to respond. I am being housed in a campus guest house for the night the only problem is that it takes forever to walk from the bedroom to the living room couch. Ha, such a problem. (just to give you an idea of the size) As I drove to it, groups of students were everywhere socializing, the sports fields were full of games happening... life is good. On the way here I kept telling myself, "remember to constantly engage, be up, smile". That all happened naturally! I had a great time and I love interacting with interested people. Everyone I met today was interesting and interested. I took time today to experience spring, the new green grass, budding trees... the butter cups, the warm sun and breeze... I am in a beautiful campus learning environment.
April 23, 2007
On The Road USA
I was stupid to think I could make it to Virginia Tech today. I have been driving to far and too strong for too many days and all it is doing is slowing me up. I want to be rested, focused, strong and alert so that I can support what I have to offer. When I travel too hard, I play the piano less and I have learned that my daily musical improvising along with enriching other people's lives is a therapeutically critical component for myself on this journey. Also, three days in hotel rooms alone... not good, as I am a people person. I need my space but not this much. I need two nights minimum in each location I visit and three if I am to perform, exercise and have any social interaction. I must restrict my driving to no more than four hours tops a day. That is a tuff one to do because I can only travel about 55 miles an hour so this may be a real long journey. My days consist of music, travel, social, business, exercise, grooming, writing and internet publishing along with some down time. When one of those links drop off energy slowly drains out into a wasteland.
April 22, 2007
Wilderness, Tennessee USA
Ya'd think I could find a cheap motel way out here in Wilderness, Tennessee right? Nope. I drive into these hotels at one in the morning and they still charge a full days rate. It was a loooong... ride today. I spent my morning writing an email to send around Blacksburg Virginia. Surprisingly enough I played some today, just for a few minutes. As I was leaving Henryetta Oklahoma, I stopped to eat at the Pig Out Palace. The place is a buffet, a carb lover's paradise. They had deviled eggs and stuffed peppers and cheese casserole and mashed potatoes and different types of pork and... and... and... all the workers left serving their tables to run outside and hear some music. That was an unexpected treat for both them and me. Driving through Memphis I saw some strong religious statements like a huge billboard with a big picture of the statute of liberty and "Through Jesus Christ" in big letters next to it and something about American liberation, I could not quite get it but the feeling was disturbing to me. I saw freight trucks traveling on the highway in both directions with structural pieces of crosses that are to be both painted and assembled. I could not resist taking a picture of some of these assembled crosses today. They were so big! The church was even bigger. It was the richest, biggest I have ever seen. I thought, "these guys must have more money than George Bush". Words like, fear of the lord, dominance, glory, power, influence came to my mind. I wondered if opulence like this attracts poor people to God and if so how much money poor people contribute for the crosses... and if so does this contribute to the poor being poor? What does that have to do with the journey and me? Nothing... this is what happens from staying in hotels for two days and not having enough people interaction with.
I have been feeling an urge to get to Blacksburg as soon as possible. Now I know why. Tomorrow is my target date and it is also everyone's first day back to school. I did not know everything had shut down. I got the scoop on the school, classes, students, and media situation today. There is a lot going on and I do not need to know anymore bout it. I am going to keep my working base very general. I am going to create fun and joy when possible. Of course, I will be super sensitive and insert myself sort of there sort of not there. I am really good at that. I will appear available and be careful not to come on strong or pushy. Everyone will be dealing with a lot because of the lost week and the end of the semester and many students dropping out etc... there I go with the drama. I am up to this challenge. I have been working for many years to have empathy without adding unnecessary emotional baggage. I do not need to know details about anything unless someone wants to vent for themselves. I am going to be me and Boner is going to be Boner full of love, friendship, fun and musical possibilities.
April 21, 2007
Henryetta, Oklahoma USA
I am somewhere in a hotel off the highway... I think I am in Henryetta Oklahoma. I need to get to Virginia Tech as soon as possible but I cannot rush the truck, Boner and my health. I'm really excited about going back to the college. I would have stayed a week in Amarillo if I had the time. I met a fun group there. Tom the guy who hosted me gave up not only his bedroom for me and took to the couch, he did that with his honey... they both used the couch for me last night so I could get good sleep in the bed. I got up about 1PM, we got to bed late again and I went to the park to play some music before I left. I passed a dairy queen with about ten horses tied up to posts while the riders were getting ice cream. That being downtown looked kind of strange. There is a lot of oil money and other money floating around in this city but I have not seen it. Tom called some friends to join up at the park and to hang out for a while with some music. Josh Paulson (google him) is a top notch singer/songwriter and he sang and played some guitar, Jade and her boyfriend and pro wrestler Mike Dbiase (goggle him) played piano for the first time as did Brent, Brea and Cassi (the hottest bartender in Amarillo). Cassi twisted my brain by flirting with me about a hookup! Cheezzz... it was fun. She couldn't have been serious could she? Tom said, "maybe after a couple more beers." I said, "I've got no problem with that! I have been stating in the past how have been wanting to just sit and play and improvise for myself... well I was so relaxed with these people, it was a really nice day, and we were all hanging so lose... I improvised for myself and it was better than being alone with my music... we all just "be" together hanging out with each other, Boner too. it was a great chill out. I drove into Oklahoma while watching tumble weeds across the road and green pastures with cows grazing. There were some interesting windmills tall and white like large plane propellers. There were a lot of them, like over a hundred standing alone on flat fields.
April 20, 2007
Amarillo, Texas USA
I woke up at noon so I thought my day was shot especially since I had to catch up on my Oprah stuff and write and publish yesterday's blogs and find a place to stay for tomorrow etc... plus it was so stupid to drive as many hours as i did yesterday, I am in a fog. When am I going to learn? It is also too much for Boner. Anyway, about five in the afternoon I thought, "you are here... and it might be the only time ever, go out and play somewhere. My host Tom offered to set me up with the local television station but it seemed like too much effort for me and then there was a big opening of a new pool hall where they were going to "let me" pull in to play. While I was driving around and scouting the area I thought, "that pool hall thing is not going to work, when your not invited into a business space they never care that you are there and there is nothing to gain for yourself but lack of respect you know this from experience." I decided to drive down to the medical area of the city where there was a beautiful park and lake where I had hoped to create some music alone for myself which never seems to happen so who was I kidding and also I would probably find tons of healthy upscale joggers there.
As I was driving through the inner city boulevard I started to notice some real distressed people and housing blocks. I thought, "there are definitely people here who rarely if ever get the opportunity to see a piano man. This is the perfect environment you are always looking for Danny why are you driving down to play for the joggers.' I started to pull of onto the side streets and saw in the distance a row of small white barrack type buildings. I went to investigate. I was definitely in the project area. I am always more careful in these areas but rarely fearful. I drove real slow looking for trouble, good trouble and also a smile. I found it as three people hanging out in a doorway acknowledged me. I drove about a half a block more and then put the truck in reverse and slowly backed up to them while yelling out of the truck, "isn't there a small park around here where there's a bunch of kids hanging out?" They pointed across he street and said, "well there a five year olds birthday party across the street there." Bingo. I pulled the truck over and when kids began to appear I said, "where's the birthday boy, go tell him the birthday dog is here". While they all ran to get him I threw Boner onto of the piano and quick jumped into start. What started was mucho fun with all the neighborhood rallying around the truck, neighbors dancing with each other the kids jumping up and down, as usual everyone jumped into the truck to bang on the piano keys and then everyone jumped out so each could return take an individual turn. The boys mother was working, her cousin was running the show and came up to thank me saying, "I know this is not much but please take it", as she had me three dollars.
I in turn gave Peeper the birthday boy, a Raggin' Piano Boogie poster and everyone gasped as one of the adolescent boys said, "wow, that is as big as getting a new car". It was immediately treasured and taken to a safe place in the house. Then I got a treat. And old guy came up to the side of the truck and started to jam with my improvisation with his hands creating beats on the truck bed. He was creating wild African rhythms with me using his hands and arms expressively and it did not take me long to realize he was trying to connect to the point that I had to respond and become one musically with him. What joy this was for me. I told him that he was my treat for the day. We began to communicate musically back and forth to each other. This experience is still new for me. Afterwards he sang some amazing soul music to me giving his joy and gratitude to me. There was no ego neediness or trying to impress it was truly a sharing experience. It was very cool. Later on everyone I met was blown away that I went to the "other side" of the highway to play and that everyone there embraced what I had to offer. I don't get it as my experience of life is that love breeds love, fear breed fear and fun breeds fun. Guess which one fits me best these days.
I said my goodbyes and went off to meet Grayson another guy who had offered to host me. I met him in a local parking lot and we improvised some music together. Another guy joined and then a passing couple climbed on to the truck. They played music together for their first baby who will be born four months from now. Grayson is a real cool twenty two year old studying economics after changing from a vocal major as a student of opera. He is presently a real lady's man and just coming into his own. I told him to go out there and sample as many women as he can and enjoy every minute of it. He took me to a real funky and delicious Thai restaurant and paid for my thirty dollar meal. He didn't have the cash on him so I fronted it until we went to an ATM. He forgot to give me the money back and I didn't know what to think so I let it go. Later that night he made a point to bring it to me, he had just remembered. What a great guy. Tom the guy who is hosting me is also great and he is thirty one years old. I find it interesting to see how the single man 30's stage of life lives. I am meeting and creating friendships with single men of different ages and all peer material. This is new for me to have peer friendships. When I was young everyone had to be more advanced then my in some way. As I grew up everyone was being nurtured by me. Now I am finding people where we can respect and support each other equally. I am opening myself up to people totally and they are accepting me totally. Cool huh?
Did you ever see clouds moving sideways in the sky?
April 19, 2007
Flagstaff, Arizona USA
I am working to keep any unnecessary emotional drama out of my life. As I mentioned in yesterday's blog the students at Virginia Tech "called me" two days ago to ask me to come back and lift their sprits. I fell into the town of Blacksburg VA on the second day of the journey and played on the student center plaza for about thirty minutes. What an honer to have them think of me and to acknowledge the journey and its purpose, to want to include Bo and I in their life for this time of turmoil. I am backtracking the 2000 miles needed and feel incredibly good about that fact.
Before we left I took a drive back to the vortex mountain We visited last night. I do not want to rush in away and consciously do not want to create an urgent feeling from within for Virginia Tech. I felt a pull to the mountain. Of course someone there asked about the Traveling Piano and I played for them. I really love the spontaneity involved every time the opportunity arises. A couple came down from the mountain thanking me as it was their 10th wedding anniversary and they said the improvisational music was a beautiful treat for them as they listened from the top. I met a guy who's son lives a couple blocks from my house back home, it really is a small world! Bo reacted the same way on the mountain as last night he became alive and playful. My reaction was the same and more I felt a sense of euphoria. Bo is so cool with his expressions of energy. All of his positive emotional expressions in every way always turn to creative play.
As I drove to Flagstaff I thought about how I will head back to the Philadelphia area after Virginia Tech and will miss the Bryce and Zion canyons that I was so looking forward to spending time in but made my mind up that I am going to go there no matter what before this journey ends. This journey is not ending with my returning to Philadelphia it will be extended as a result of my return. I play to clean my house that was flooded form the storms of last week, sell my belongings, hopefully pay off the present debt from the journey so far, rent the house, figure out hoe to purchase a new truck and setup, big bucks, and then continue onward to Hollywood as originally planned and now also figure out how to get to China for the Olympics to truly introduce Boner to the world. He is the catalyst for this journey to begin with.
I had lunch with a guy named Scotty and his dog Moon in Flagstaff. Scot was going to host me before the change in plans. I wanted to meet him before I left. What a great guy he is... intelligent, educated, fun, a very nurturing and supportive person... I asked him to stop at radio shack before I arrived to save me time as I needed to buy a new voice recorder, $30 bucks... he brought it along with lunch as a contribution to the journey. His dog Moon's spirit, looks and personality are as unique as Boner's. It is a wonderful dog. His positive energy stayed with me the entire day. I played a few minutes of piano music in the train station parking lot. More trains go through Flagstaff daily than anything else I am told. The town has a feel that was new to me in its laid back, easy going, quiet way. It was like something I would expect in rural Washington state. I liked it allot. It was cool to see mountain tops covered with snow as I drove into the town. As I was in the "I am not going to rush mode" I did not get out of Flagstaff until three in the afternoon. I paid the price for that. After thirteen hours I arrived in Amarillo, Texas for my overnight stay and I did not get to bed until 5:30AM because I was talking with my host Tom. The sunset was great from my rearview mirror. I had to turn on the heat while driving in the dark. This was my first drive through the night. Listening to music kept me going. Albuquerque, New Mexico at night was a treat to behold as I drove down into it from the mountains with it billions of twinkling lights.
April 18, 2007
Sedona, Arizona USA
Wow! I have felt carried in life through times of turmoil several times in the past. I am presently experiencing a feeling of being carried in joy for the first time. The highest honor I have ever received came to me today. I will be scattered in this writing I think but, "it is what it is".
Ok, so I got up and was going to have a day for myself hiking, creating and recording some music in the red rock canyons for myself, check out some art galleries. The red mountains here are amazing. I have had two distinct different experiences with Sedona. One is the money motivated, tourist-controlling yuk, yuk stuff, where people are all over the place in body and mind and where it costs eight bucks to park in the national park to see a mountain view. Storeowners are so afraid of spontaneity in any way that they freak when a piano player appears on the back of a truck. The police seem to enjoy life on the edge by looking to catch someone breaking a rule verses contributing to peace with a smile and acting in peaceful ways. The traffic is awful...the price of gas on the tourist strip is thirty five cents more a gallon then a half a mile down the road... can we talk gouging? And then... there are amazingly beautiful, spiritual people of many ilk's be it with religion or with crystals. There is amazing art and music with opened minded local people who embrace beauty in any form.
I drove down a rocky road reminding myself I can get anywhere I want with "The Little Truck That Could" after the mountains I went through in Mexico. I ran into a problem after about forty minutes into the high rocks. My gas tank was on empty. While driving out to get gas I enjoyed a forest of tall thin pine trees standing in the rocks on the mountains. It was good I got out of there anyway because the red rock dust from the road was covering the truck and equipment with the winds as strong as they were. I ran into a gas station attendant who has been a piano man for the last 40 years with his wife. Of course, they wanted to hear me play which I did but they were too afraid to come out of the cashiers box to play on the truck themselves because the boss might come by and yell at them. Then I went to the national park and the ranger wanted to hear me play but I needed permission from her boss who needed permission from his boss who needed... all that really irritated me. The wind was blowing so erratically and hard that I felt like I was going crazy. I just wanted to avoid chaos in any form.
What was really happening was that I got a call from the college student body in Blacksburg Virginia today! Anyone who has not read the two billion words already on this website might have missed the connection I had with a group of volunteers who went to the Katrina area last year from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. I fell a wonderfully synchronistic experience to fall into the school on the second night of this present journey. I had no idea where Virginia Tech was and had never before heard of Blacksburg VA. This has been a free spirited journey so far, I have no idea where I will be from one night to the next and that is where I ended up on my second night. Anyway, I reconnected with some of the guys from last year and I stopped by outside the student center to play for about a half hour that next day.
My main agenda for this journey is to have the world meet Boner before he retires. Next comes musical pianistic gifting to communities throughout America and Mexico, to create an uplifting of sprit, friendship and respect. I want to nurture and inspire fun and musical creativity. Fun is the operative word for everything. I had made the decision before I left to find and if possible visit communities that I could contribute to. I told friends, "if you hear of a disaster or anyone who can use an uplifting of spirit let me know and I will go and give them what I have to offer. I had thought about Virginia tech but going there did not seem realistic.
I use to be a grossly over emotional guy with stuff I am so thankful I can keep a grip on my emotions today. I have been in my own world with this journey, do not really know what is happening in the outside world... or want to... but... when I was shipping my piano the other day while in Phoenix to the kids in that Mexican village I stayed at... I heard about the tragedy at Virginia Tech. I immediately became concerned and called Zach the main guy I had a connection with and talked for about fifteen minutes saying that I cared for everyone and would stay in touch. Yesterday while playing around Sedona, I decided to wear a Virginia Tech tea shirt that was given to me by the student body. I wanted to establish an outward expression to the world, a positive connection of joy and fun with the school and with what I am presently doing.
So today, I get a call from Kevin in the student union center from out of the blue. They did not know I made contact the other day. He asked if there was any possibility of my coming back to the school considering what had happened to help lift the spirits there. My thirty minutes there had such a positive affect on the student body that I was strong in their minds in this tragedy. Do you know how this makes me feel? I thank God for this. I have so much gratitude. I said I wanted to help let us sit on the idea for a bit as I am on my way to Los Angeles and I am two thousand miles away from the school. I would be backtracking big time and need to consider the journey I am on.
Then my mind became very conflicted and I became angry. I got a headache for the first time in I cannot remember when. The journey... the agendas... the money... the time... my house at home that needs attention from the flooding back east a few days ago... the wear and tear on the truck and equipment for the future of the journey. I had to let go of all drama with the situation. I ate three extra crispy pieces of KFC chicken and then binged on two big chocolate fudge nut brownies... and then I went to bed. I needed to think not with my emotional feelings but more with my gut feelings. I became very conscious of ego, as I do not want it to interfere with my true intentions. I knew all along what the answer would be. I am to go back to Virginia tech. I said I would go to wherever I was called on this journey and here I have a calling, a big one and from an established connection. I will start the two thousand mile trek tomorrow. I called Kevin and left a message for him to contact me. I took a walk with Boner to get some clarity and I felt a clarity that this is what I am to do and that I am being carried in support with a power greater than myself on the decision. In that moment Kevin called me to validate that they would really appreciate if I gave them a return visit. I will go and play there for a week... then return home to clean the house up some and then continue with the journey. At least that is how it presently stands.
Before dinner tonight I went with my host Paul to watch the sunset on a mountain vortex which is a place with concentrated energy found at places of geological significance like mountain peaks, canons, mineral deposits, hot springs etc... I did not notice any feeling but Boner became noticeably energized on the mountain. He started running around wanting to play while barking and jumping everywhere. When I left, I felt noticeable euphoria. Before I went up, I met a woman from Israel who took an interest in the truck so I did some improvising for her. People began coming down from the mountain saying, "how amazing, and how perfect". There had just been a Wicken Wedding (witches) on the mountain and I coincidentally began supplying music for them just as it ended.
The present goal in the process of living my Wildest of Dreams is to have the world meet Boner before he retires. This desire is the catalyst for the Flight Of Peregrinating Musical Exploration. It has been said that now is the safest time in history to visit China as they are preparing for the 2008 Olympics. The country is working hard to give the best impression possible so everyone will attend the event. I myself have had many impressions over the years about performing in China with the feeling that my music is compatible and everyone would love to hear and see what I have to offer. An opportunity to have the world meet Boner in a big way... at the World Olympics? Let this be the official throw of the idea into the universe. Anyone have any leads for me? HA. I can see it!
April 17, 2007
Sedona, Arizona USA
I was playing all over the place today. This was my day to play for the town of Sedona, for the people. To be honest I think I was pulled to the affluence I had heard about... The red rock mountains are the main attraction here and they are truly beautiful. I went to the main drag and asked a restaurant by plaza area if I could pull up to play and they said sure. The local cop came by after about ten minutes and said get of the sidewalk it was city property. He was a dick. I was completely respectful about it even when he asked my driver's license to call it in. Oh boy was I ever scared of him... not. He communicated that I was supposed to become nervous and fearful about the trespass. When he did not feel fear from me, he let a derogatory comment fly my way something like, "stupid idiot blocking the sidewalk". I am a little to old to get nervous from an over egoistical cop and I did nothing intentionally against the law to become concerned about. I certainly was not blocking anything. My good energy overrode his behavior as a parking space on the end opened up ten feet from where I was and the guy could do nothing about it. I was there for a few hours and lots of people played some piano but still... this was a touristy crowd... not the environment for my agenda on this journey. A worker from a store nearby came over to ask me to turn down the sound, which was ridiculous because I know it barely reached the store. I was ready to leave anyway. I think it was a situation where I found people fearful of spontaneity. I also do not fit well into tourist traps unless I am getting paid good money.
We drove to a more local hangout business center and met many more people. Kay jumped onto the piano but I think she wanted to jump on me more. In case she reads this, just kidding Kay... half. Then Chaparral and Uncle Don B Fanning stopped by. Chaparral was a great musician and a real trouper so we all got into the truck and I drove around the streets a bit and on the highway while she played. That was fun. When we returned the health food market manager came out to tell us to stop. At the same time, the business next door came out to tell us they were enjoying us and brought a few dog biscuits for Boner. The food manager became insistent and threatened to call the police. I said please go call the police and leave us alone. She left and so did we because I was ready to and did not want to fight her energy. If I had wanted to stay, I would have. I was breaking no law and who am I to listen to... the business that was enjoying us or the business that was not enjoying us. I no longer respond to fearful people.
Afterwards I went back to my hosts Paul and Tanya's neighborhood to play some and about ten neighbors came out to rally around the truck, listen to some music, some babble from me about what I am doing and then to create some for themselves. That was a gratifying exchange. I find Paul and Tanya spiritually exceptional and evolving people. Paul is one of the few people that can grasp what I am doing on this journey for example he understood how I need to intuitively feel out where and when I present what I am offering.
Tanya is totally into the Unity School of Christianity with the New Thought denominations and it is clear the woman walks the walk. In other words, she backs up any talk about her faith with the action of it. We went to eat dinner at a vegetarian restaurant and a girl named Denise was walking around singing to tables. I used to become very uncomfortable with people singing to me at a close range. God, I have to look at them and have eye contact while they are singing to me? I have matured. I had no problem and was able to except her gift of spirit and music. It was a very special and intimate experience. Denise happens to be on a path similar to mine. She left her home two and a half months ago to pursue her calling in life and is totally grounded in her fluidity of life's process. She is going with the flow of her heart and is full of life and joyful as a result. She came outside after the restaurant closed so I could create some music for her.
April 16, 2007
Blackrock Canyon, Arizona USA
I am in the hills of Sedona. I rode down, down, down to get here. I rode in at twilight and just in time to see the red rock. It is really red! The sights of the mountains made me stop breathing they are so awesome. I thought, "this is almost too beautiful of a place to live in." I wonder what that thinking is about. There is allot of art and galleries here, really good art. After meeting Paul and Tanya, I got out my winter coat, scarf and ski cap for a walk with Boner. It was so dark I could barely see but the houses I could make out were amazing. Every house seems to be a different work of art in of itself. I think I will be walking around tomorrow taking pictures of houses. These wonderful hosts, I know I blow them away every time we meet I just cannot help myself. My energy level is off the wall with excitement. I enjoy going to new places and meeting new people and I am so excited about what I am doing and the fact that people are offering to put Boner and I up and let us use their garages and that everyone is interested and I enjoy telling everyone what has happened so far and, and, and, and....Paul and Tanya have been the most patient hosts so far. I must have called them four times to reschedule my arrival but I finally got here and they welcomed me with a delicious dinner. They are allowing Bo in the house at the expense of their cat.
On the way, here I stopped at a gas station and some guy sends me real positive vibes, "traveling piano eh"? Five minutes later, I am at his RV ranch. Jerry is a musician of 39 years himself, a terrific guy, has a daughter who plays piano, he really loves her and her music, I can tell, and he's incredibly personable with his guests, he enjoys them. He had brought a pizza for himself and gave it to me and got his friends to come over to play on the truck. The time was a great little stop over. It was said that my music was amazingly fluid and the whole situation was like magic.
When I am playing on the new piano, I am finding I must approach the keys physically in a different way. I cannot hit them as hard and that is a good thing. When I hit them lighter I find an immense dynamic range. I can be about fifty percent more musical than with the other keyboard in fact it demands that of me and feels like what heaven must feel like. There is a speaker in the front of the piano so where as I used to hear only from the back speaker, the music is more present and in front as well as in back. I just need to adjust the equalization tomorrow.
As I traveled from Phoenix to Sedona, I saw many shades of brown. Sometimes the mountains seemed to be covered with a soft brown furry rug at other times they reminded me of rolling ocean waves. The dessert is so beautiful. The sunset was a sharp contrasting silver blue gray. I enjoy driving up mountains where I know the down is going to be a beautiful sight and I will never be disappointed. There were humongous housing development sprawl happening in the dessert and all of the houses were not only the same... but brown, different shades of brown, all the same height, no trees, it looks strange, very strange. It made me think," there is major potential for business here. I wondered if people would support small business if they were here. It would create such potential for better relationships between people if there were more businesses. All I ever see in places like this are Walmarts and Home Depots. Not that there is anything wrong with Walmarts and Home Depots.
I am glad that I am not home as my house is flooded and I do not want to deal with it. I will do that in the future. In addition, I am glad I have no access to television with what happened at Virginia Tech today. Someone went on a very sad shooting rampage. If you have read this daily log way back... I made friends with a group from Virginia Tech last year when they were down volunteering to help with Katrina victims. I accidentally reunited with them when I fell into the college town in the dark on the second day of this journey. I called Zach the guy whose picture is on this daily log and in the Katrina archives. I thank God he is safe and will pray that he stays safe when what happened starts to come to the surface of is reality. He was in the building next to the disaster. His friends were jumping out the windows high up on the second floors. I found out what had happened while engaged in a joyful exchange today. I found a way to send my old piano to the village I stayed at in Roblito, Mexico. I sent it there as a gift to a family with three children who showed an exceptional interest in playing on the piano while I was there. Boy are they going to be surprised! The village has no mail or UPS service there but I found a guy in Mazatlan who is willing to help so I sent it there and he said he would deliver it... I handed the guy $300 bucks to send it!!! It felt like the thing to do from my gut feeling. I am glad that I could. I hand wrote an inspirational note and some ideas on how to use the piano and stopped at a nearby radio shack to include a set of headphones in the box. It was a real deja vu from when I gave a piano away during Katrina last year. You can read all about that in the Tour of Synchronistic Wonder log.
Lucy saved me about $600 this morning before I left. My speaker had fallen apart a few days ago. This 71 year old woman took it apart and put it back together for me. What do you think about that?! As I was testing it out in the back lot, a neighbor came over to ask about the Traveling Piano. Ten minutes later she was tapping at the back door, "I only have a little but I would like to contribute something here is a twenty dollar check but would you please not cash it until Friday when I get paid. Ya gotta love that! Support is a great thing. Jerry also pitched in twenty bucks. It is not so much the money that is important but the joining in the journey that pleases me.
April 15, 2007
Tempe Arizona, USA
I was reminded once again today, "you know you don't have to play the piano everyday". I know that. I want to... although it is good to be reminded, as this journey is not like anyone is paying me and I am all about fun. I do need to keep a balance between work, play, socialization, errands etc... no matter what. If there is one thing that I must do is to remember to take life slow and easy and be mindful. I know the fast track... I was shoved onto it as a child many times. Fast track translates into rushing for me, which turns, into being overwhelmed, sloppy, mistake ridden etc... It does not work for me. Just look at what I have accomplished over the last two years. It all came slow and easy. I decided to take my first walk in the dessert today. My priority is to enjoy life. Boner needs the exercise. We both have a tendency to slack off with the exercise these days. Of course Bo has a better excuse than I with his age. The heat did not bother me because the wind was so strong but I need to get a backpack to carry water. As I was walking I reminded myself how my whole makeup... the way my mind was taught to work is that if I asked for anything I will not get it. It had to be offered to me or given to me form an outside source like my parents, the church, god... I have been taught literally that if I think something it will not happen. That reality was what I created for many years of my life. If I think the worst good will happen if I think good I will not get it. This is not an exaggeration. This new way of life and thinking has not come easy for me and is a continual progressive exercise to stay with it.
Slow and easy was the word of the day when it came to doing anything. I reorganized the storage areas of the truck and all the contents in the bags and took the music speaker apart but did not get to the problem so it is still dead. I took out the piano from its casing and replaced it with the new one and rewired the whole thing. I stopped in a small Mexican neighborhood of town and met a wonderfully joyful girl named Maria. She turned me onto the coconut water/juice she was drinking and started talking to me about how much she was in constant wonder and joy over fresh food. She spent her lunch half hour with me while we waited for our coconuts to be chopped up and dowsed with lemon juice and chili powder. What a treat that was. The coconut chopper cut his finger with the knife and she treated him with two dollars onto of the cost of the coconut and happily, as she has tried in the past but he never accepted it. This time he was vulnerable and needy so she was able to slip it in. Maria has been living here in Arizona on her own since she was seventeen and she is now eighteen. She is a message therapy student working full time at a local farm mart and is a raw foodist. She is working towards a business where she goes into people's houses for two weeks at a time and created meals of healthy food for the families while teaching them about nutrition and how to prepare healthy meals for themselves. I decided she deserved a treat herself and arranged to get together with her later for some dinner and music on the piano. Luckily, my new piano has a small speaker built into it so even though the sound is little it s still good enough to hear up close. I called Matt the guy who sold me the piano to come join us and the guy I brought some electrical pugs from at the nearby Radio Shack today. Maria needs some new friends and this was fun for me because it is the first time I created a small gathering for some social time with music. Matt and Maria showed up and we went to the local park. All three of us did some jamin' at the same time as well as individually and a small guy came by to try some also.
On another note... I called home today to find that my basement is flooding. My life long neighbor of forty years says the rain in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area is the worse he has seen in his entire life not only that is it coming down so hard but that it is unending. Apparently, the little mouse hole by the cellar door that I plugged up last year is unplugged. I am so very glad I am not home to deal with this issue. I know I will deal with it in the future but I also know that I am thankfully far removed form it all. I am in a different life and in the moment.
April 14, 2007
Phoenix Arizona, USA
I am only two thirds through the day as I write this. I am hoping that the days events are over because I have had enough fun. Ok... so here is what happened. I called this guy on the boarder of Utah and Arizona to ask if he can host us for a night and he said, "of course". He said he was going away but that would not be a problem he would leave his door open for me to use his house. Isn't that great? We never even met. I told him my arrival would be delayed as I needed to back tract to Phoenix to get a new keyboard and that trip was being delayed with truck trouble.
Ok, now everybody reading this... before you go projecting your thoughts out the butt.. just give me a break here... ok? The guy Willy says, "oh, I'm going to Phoenix also for the Phoenix Gay Pride Festival Parade. Beat - 2 - 3 - 4.... I thought, "really?" Then I said, "in my twenty years I never did a gay parade and parades are what I do best, I'll bet it would be fun, its about time I did one... will you drive me if I do it? Willy said, "sure!" Wily has the distinction of having had being Utah's first openly gay mayor for the town of Big Water. He is also a helicopter ambulance dispatcher and when he was younger hitchhiked 30,000 miles around the world. There are some interesting people around eh? So I found the parade online and sent some emails to the committee offering my services.
9AM I am in the parade lineup, putting on my suntan lotion, cleaning the truck, getting ready etc... Most everyone is busy with their own stuff so I did not get that much opportunity to socialize. The first thing I notice is that the black end piece of my rear right bumper was gone. Kids are always jumping on it so it must have finally broken off. It looked really bad so I tried to paint the end black so it did not look so bad. That didn't help much.... I was doing the parade and about a third of the way through my speaker fell apart. I lost two thirds of my sound. So the performance went into becoming more physical than musical. Do you know how difficult it is to create the illusion of hearing music physically? My real talents as a pro went into full swing it was not easy i can tell you. They all loved Boner on top the piano and that was all that mattered, right? I kept thinking, "if they really knew what I sounded like they would be blown away". I was constantly trying to figure out who was straight in the crowd. Ha! There were ten's of thousands of people there. it was way huge, much bigger than I had expected. A guy came up to me in the beginning and was listening to my improvisation and said my music was making him hot. He was serious!!!
A guy came up to me and asked if I would go to the local hospital to play for the kids and i said of course so after the parade I drove right to the Children's Hospital of Phoenix before my energy level began to crash. I am really glad i did that. If the hospital had asked me... business would have entered the picture but as it stood... I just pulled up to the lobby and said hello to people and patients coming and going. I played music for them, told them about what I was doing and asked questions about their situations. Nine kids, some with their parents got on the truck to create music of their own. Some people live at the hospital with their kids. One set of parents had not left yet with their newborn of three months. They came down to meet us and I sent some love to their child with music from the truck as they stood next to Boner for his brand of friendship and to listen. Others came down from their rooms just to get a jolt of something different for their day of sitting with the same four walls. The energy as you can imagine was quite different from the parade but it was still upbeat like the parade. I could just feel concern attached to the up-beat-ed-ness whereas the parade was about being upbeat in a celebration of worth.
Then... I went to deal with the broken piano and speaker. I could not find the piano I wanted so I opted for a discontinued model that I could get for $1000. It is better than what I am presently dealing with so I will deal with it... for now. The speaker for $700 I will try fix on my own tonight or tomorrow, cough, cough, cough. This is a major undertaking for me. Some people tell me that they have not an ounce of musical ability or talent in their soul. Well that is how I feel about fixing things but I will try mostly because none of the stores here sell my speaker and I will need to buy one made for indoor use if this cannot be repaired. God i hope i don't have to do that. This is the way it is constantly traveling, I have to take what i can get. I would have to wait until Monday to even beg someone to repair the stuff on the spot and the chances that they would take pity on my situation are slim from my past experiences. Every day is an added expense and I am still in Arizona! I need to get up north some and then to San Diego, LA and San Francisco before my meandering back to Philly. That is, unless I take a detour to China. The music store guys were difficult to deal with at first with their hard sell attitudes but when all was said and done we were buddies. I'll take a hard sell attitude over the I don't care attitude I got from yesterdays store.
April 13, 2007
Payson, Phoenix Arizona, USA
I went to pickup my truck from the hospital at twelve noon. I did not want to get out of bed. I also would need to back track to Phoenix and purchase a new piano. Ugh. The garage guy said the problem was not the ignition, he thought it might be the isolator... all he knows for sure is that he moved a wire around and everything worked so why question any farther? Hmm... $135 for diagnostics and a moved wire and I am on my way. I played a song for everyone first. They were busy. Back at the house I packed the truck between rain spurts and improvised some constantly asking myself if I could deal with a defective instrument. The answer is that I should not even try. After saying goodbye to Devin and Laurel who befriended me with open arms during my four day stay, fed and housed me, the most un-self conscious family I have ever come across, I vamoosed. I have been able to become quite intimate with my hosts and felt good that Devin was able to broach the fact that I mention death quite often, like I am going to die soon. He said it sounds morbid. I agree. Also, I have this thing about remembering names because I keep telling myself that I have this thing about remembering names. I am going to stop that... I hope. I was also able to give them some useful insight for which they were grateful. I am all about having peer relationships at this juncture of my life. The drive to Phoenix was a beautiful as ever with the sun setting on the rippling mountains covered in pine.
Once in Phoenix I drove to the Sam Ash music store the only place outside Vegas that carries an instrument that I can use. They would not take in my piano as a trade in unless it was in perfect condition. They were not interested in supporting my journey in any way nor were they interested in any promotion. They were all generally un-interested. Finally, I found a interested Mexican and set up the possibility for him to send my present piano to the Roblito Mexican village I had stayed at as a gift to the village. Then he told me the piano I had to buy was the floor model and they would need to charge the regular price. I said, "you have got to be kidding, I don't know how much this keyboard has been banged on and there is no way I am going to plop down $1400 for a floor model keyboard. Adios! Bummer. Big time bummer. I am staying open minded concerning the back tracking and time elements of the journey. Free spirited, remember? At least a cool couple got some strokes playing a few keys on the truck piano before I left
So I hooked up with Lucy for the night. She is a 71 year old hippie but you would never know it by her house and manor. She reminds me more of a school teacher. Her friend Pam is shacking up with here (no they are not partners). Pam has been floating around for a few years now staying here and there. She is the creative type and is building her own house out of sticks and bales of hay or something like that somewhere in Colorado. Phoenix recycles their trash to the point of separating the grade of plastics. Each plastic piece of trash has a number on it to say wether it goes in this bin or that bin. Cheezzzzzz....
April 12, 2007
Payson Arizona, USA
Today I am nurturing my sanity. I was planning a backtrack to Phoneix as I must purchase a new piano. The one I have been using is getting worse by the play. It is clicking and when the notes are pushed down they do not come back up. We cannot have that. It will be an over $1000 expense but is to be expected considering the pounding that the piano takes and the different changing environments it is constantly subject to. I can tell you this, people will not be pounding music out of the new piano... at least not at first. Do you know how that line of thinking works? So I go to start my drive to Phoenix and the clock on the dashboard does not work. Neither does my roadmate or the radio. La morte. I smell electricity. The other night all the electrical stuff stayed on after I pulled the key out. On we run to the local garages. "I'm a drive through piano guy can you look into this problem for me pronto"?
The first shop couldn't be bothered the next one diagnosed a bad ignition switch but had no time to fix it, the third garage has ordered the part overnight and will work on it first thing in the morning. He suggested I not drive to Phoenix because there is a real good chance the truck will catch on fire especially since I am smelling the electricity. It is presently thundering with lightening outside and there are big plopping rain and snow drops hitting the canvas cover; I parked it as much as I could under the garages overhang. I stopped at the local WalMart to buy some underwear and socks. I do that every seven years or so. Tonight I am tending to journey details and I am going to sit in a super huge tub just to, "be". Boner is a little under the weather so the rest will be good for him also. On a great note! Along with hosting us four nights, sharing friend and family time and supplying me with breakfast, lunch and dinner, Devin and Laurel contributed $100 to the journey today. Their best friends Charlie and Amy made a special trip to bring over a check for $600! All is good. I feel weird sometimes but still, all is good.
April 11, 2007
In And Around Payson Arizona, USA
I started off today with a visit to the Frontier Elementary School. I had to upload the short video someone took... it says it all. (CLICK on the FIRST picture to DOWNLOAD, it may take a minute, you may need PATIENCE but it will be worth it). A very fun funny musical experience for all. I laugh every time I see it. Later in the afternoon I went to a park to practice and record some but of course I ended up making connections. When I arrived no one was there but after about fifteen minutes skateboarders began to arrive, about fifteen of them. They were a bit wary of me but as soon as I began to play their energy tripled and I saw they liked me even if they didn't want me to know it. There was a whole alfa thing going on... all the younger ones were over by me to start but somehow the older guys took the space and the young kids were pushed to the other side of the park. A few guys tried to let me know I was cool and they did it with major subtly, like a wink or head nod every once in a while. One buddy caught a picture for me of his friend doing a flip to the music.
For dinner, Devin and Laurel invited some close friends over... their neighbors Charlie and Amy along with their daughters Mollie and Maddy. This whole family takes piano lessons from John who's partner Al stayed home sick. Al is a retired LA music industry guy who is now teaching here in Payson strictly to extend his love of music to others. He was once the president of the California Music Teachers Association and I could easily tell he is a master coach. This town is mighty lucky to have him and he charges less than most music stores for lessons so everyone can afford them. I really feel part of the family experience in this household. I watched television last night for a short time with everyone and to sit down with everyone at dinner tonight was just so nice and chatty and relaxed. No false airs or uncomfortably whatsoever. We all went outside to take turns on the piano, young Lindsey, Devin and Laurel's daughter also studies piano and Ryland their son takes drum lessons. This is the first night I will get very little sleep because of socializing. I have been meeting very interesting people because they are people who are interested in life itself. I feel fortunate.
April 10, 2007
Green Valley Park Payson, Arizona USA
I accomplished a lot of work today with a mass mailing to people I know for whom I have no email address. I'm trying to tell myself I am not getting many contributions for this journey is because people don't know about it. "Dream On Danny." Devin and Laurel my present hosts treated me to a deliciously healthy lunch and then I went to play, no... really to practice... at Green Valley park. I feel very even keeled today and peaceful. I parked in the lot in front of a beautiful lake. The park is used by a variety of people and they arriving in rusted broken down jalopies and Mercedes Benzes. I was playing through my repertoire. Through time, my repertoire is slipping out of my hands. Use it or lose it they say. Yep, this seems to be the fact for me. I never get much time to practice because when people pass by I feel a drive to engage them. This is very new to me. I know that may seem strange for people when they think of me as a performer but I have never before actively or consciously engaged my audiences during my life as a musician. Now I am engaging them to meet Boner and to explain what is happening and why I am visiting them.
A guy came by to tell me he could hear me from his house in the hills and it was wonderful. Another guy rode up to me on his bicycle and asked me to turn down the volume. I did and he circled around to tell me again to turn it down more. I did. He rode back five minutes later to tell me to turn it down again and I said no. He said he was going to call the police and I told him to do what he needed to do. The music was not loud. He came back yet again and demanded I turn it down more. Then he said I have an ego problem and asked if this is the way assholes from Philadelphia act. I said, "oh now you're called me names", and then just stared at him as he continued to bait me. After a while, I asked him to please go call the police and he finally left. I was unfazed by him more than any other heckler in the past.
I facilitate gatherings of people around the truck to play and have conversation often. For example, yesterday neighbors who had never met before did so because of the truck and music making. A really even more cool thing happened today. For the first time around the truck I had a gathering of complete strangers who connected through their making of their own music together. They got in the truck and stood along the side of the piano outside the truck and improvised together all at the same time. This was a kid with a Mohawk hairdo, a girl in her thirties, a woman in here sixties and an older guy. They were lost in what they were doing just tinkling and exploring on the piano together at the same time. They were complete strangers to each other. I told them I was going to go take some pictures of the ducks that were gathering nearby and they could have cared less as they were engrossed in musically experimenting together with each other. That make me laugh and gave me a feeling that was just so good, a higher feeling of empowerment and purpose, there was no ego involved whatsoever... just this almost indescribable feeling of gratitude that people were accepting what I have to offer and really "getting it"... I got a lot of joy from their freedom of experiencing musical expression without judgment, fear or repression with each other. This was bliss for me. Also, the spontaneity and experience of playing the piano outdoors in such a unique situation... I just love sharing it with others. I have always dreamt of creating a virtual reality of my experience for others to share and to feel what I have been experiencing for the last twenty years and now here I am now providing it in reality for them to create it for themselves. These troopers were connecting and taking part in my Wildest of Dreams. Anymore, when the opportunity for someone to play on the piano or to hear me play on the truck comes up, everything in life seems to disappear and life becomes about the moment. Nothing else is important. I do not know whether that is good or bad I just know that "it is what it is".
April 09, 2007
Payson, Arizona USA
My host Bob said this morning that after I leave he could go back to being the pig that he is. I laughed as I could relate. I have been making my bed everyday wherever I am and being very conscious to be perfectly neat. Everyone wants to make our times together as nice as possible in everyway. I was about to leave today for the five-hour journey up North and a neighbor came out to ask me about the Traveling Piano truck. She plays the piano. All my immediate plans stopped and the journeys agenda took center stage. "I can't believe I am playing a piano outside," she says as she improvises beautiful piano music on the truck. Within minutes, more neighbors appeared to enjoy the experience. All in all, six neighbors who have never met before including two new one's all made introductions to each other with piano music as the catalyst. Boner contributed his brand of friendship. Nenah who I had met the other day shared sheet music with Bob. I really enjoy these synchronistic neighbor tete-a-tetes and being able to seize the moment to create them.
The drive North up Arizona route 87 was amazing. I was thinking what a beautiful planet this is and how wonderful that we possess the technology to enjoy all of it. The vast mountains and hills with every shade of green and brown and patches of striking grey rocks filled with red and lavender blue flowers along with cactus proliferating the landscape... I just want to take it all home with me. I knew I was at a high altitude when the truck would not go over forty miles an hour downhill. The view and feeling driving down the mountains felt like coming into a landing on a plane. I kept trying to take pictures with one hand out the window while driving. I have a need to constantly remind myself that I am in reality, that I am in the picture I am experiencing.
I ended up in smack dab in the center of Arizona, Payson a small cowboy town. There are a lot of pine trees here. It is an older community and the weather feels like a delicious fall. It is going to take some getting used to... this temperature change. It is really nice but fall as spring weather? Devin and Laurel are hosting me along with their fun loving children Ryland and Lindsey. As I parked in their driveway another neighborhood get together began. After everyone dispersed, Devin drove while Ryland, Lindsey and I jammed together all at the same time throughout the neighborhood. Boy, that was fun. When we were done Laurel treated me to a great dinner and then Devin and I talked until midnight. Devin is setting up a really interesting tour business for traveling families to have culturally significant travel experiences and Laurel is a lawyer who warned me about the javilina that roam all around outside at night. Javilina? ...wild smelly pig like animals who often travel in packs. They have tusks and wonder onto properties to eat the flowers. Yikes! Devin and I are sitting at the table exchanging photos from the day and he looks at one of the photos from this morning with astonishment. "That's John, I know that guy, I just had dinner with him last week, he used to work for me"! John was one of the neighbors I met this morning in Tucson. We were all just amazed.
April 08, 2007
Santa Catalina Mountains, Arizona USA
Today was a spectacular day, a great day to end my stay in the Tucson area. The day was gratifying. I woke up earlier than normal... 8:30 am. (I have such difficulty getting up early in the morning even though I would love to get up early every morning) I drove to Mount Lemmon to play in the mountains today. I had no idea how beautiful it would be or that I would spend much of the time driving around peaks up in the mountains. There were scads of bicyclists and joggers going up and down the twenty some mile trek. I had to remind myself to breath deep and sit back in the drivers seat to enjoy the scenery. It was easy to get caught up in watching out for bicyclists or the curves or the fact that I was light headed from being in an elevation of 9000 feet on steep hills with no sides. I just took it easy and I was happy there was little traffic. We stopped for a short walk and Bo immediately ran up to everyone who was taking pictures to get in the shots. Having him with me is always such a wonder. The squirrels here have big pointed ears that stand straight up. I was listening to the local radio station while driving; Tucson creates excellent acoustic singer songwriter radio sessions.
I ended up having my usual desire to reach the top every mountain I come across so I headed to where the observation tower was. The ranger said I would not be able to get there, as I would need a four-wheeler. Very few people drive up because it is necessary to traverse over large rain washed rocks and gullies in the road. Before I knew it, I was in the rocks. I just started talking out loud, "come on baby I know you can do this, you drove through those mountains in Mexico, you did, I now you can do this." I drove about two miles an hour very carefully and sure enough, I made it to the top. I found two volunteer rangers a husband and wife team who were there for lunch. A few other people came up telling me the music could be heard throughout the canyons and it sounded great. Can you imagine all the people picnicking and trying to figure out what was up with the piano music they were hearing? I finally got to record some for myself today. It is a difficult balancing act to find space and create music for myself and then also for others. Two Stellar's Jays happened in a nearby tree and they were the most interested birds that have ever come my way. They stayed and listened to the music constantly cocking there heads from side to side trying to understand my musical language while they jumped from limb to limb beside me for a good ten minutes. Boner has sprung to life. Yesterday he jumped into the truck from the side and then up onto the piano on his own. Today he did it two more times. It has been almost a year since he did that. It is a definite sign of his becoming more interested in life. You will not find him lying on his seat when we are driving on roads like today. He just hangs his head out of the window soaking up the scenery.
I drove a good hour and a half looking for a spot to play that I could slip into and then finally said, "just park it and play.. cheeze..." so I did and then the fun began with the usual. I need to get it in my head that people care about the experience not where it is. I played at several overlooks. A record number of people played on the piano today and that is because I stayed the entire day. In fact, I stayed for the sunset. It was freezing but I was having so much fun I stayed until I could no longer take it anymore. There was snow and ice on the dirt roads but the temperature was about 83 degrees until the late afternoon. Two Mexican friends found the piano and improvised for like an hour. They really "got it" the idea of free spirited improvising having never played before. I stayed clear of them, as I did not want to interrupt their creative space they were dueting and creating wonderful environmental music having never before played the piano. They excited me bigtime. I watched them from a distance having the very experience I have everyday. It was wonderful. Then Shauna came by. She had driven by with her boyfriend and turned around to come back to check us out. I got a free meal out of our exchange from her parent's Irish restaurant back in Tucson. This was perfect because I wanted a special dinner today as it was Easter and I was feeling a bit needy. I was invited to a Swedenborgian Easter dinner from someone I met yesterday... a faith that happens to be based in Bryn Athen, Pennsylvania near my home, but I could not leave the moment I was in all day. I was looking to hook on to a good picnic but that did not happen. I ended up tonight at Sam O' Shaughnessy's Song Hall and Supper Club. The place was full of piano players and singers; everyone was like family to each other. I was treated to a HUGE prime rib dinner with potatoes, carrots and asparagus, a great salad and it was all topped off with a chocolate cake that had more chocolate icing than cake. The only reason I eat cake is for the icing. Sam keep the kitchen and entertainment going until I was finished eating as they were about to close when I arrived. We all went outside for some music and pictures on the truck and I ended up having a short trumpet and piano jam with a wonderful youngling'. The ride down from the mountain was for miles and miles in neutral, I just coasted. Someone said today that my music is delicious.
April 07, 2007
Tucson Neighborhoods, Arizona USA
Man oh man... my roadmate mapping system took me for a thirty mile ride into the big dark middle of no where dessert tonight. I was looking to go to a coffee shop to say hello to a woman who emailed me. I should have known after ten miles into the darkness that something was wrong but I thought I was just passing through an undeveloped area. Boy was that a wrong thought. The day before that was great. Bob and I went for a walk this morning and then I went to meet up with some SERVAS people I had communication with. On the way out, I heard some piano playing in one of the nearby condos and followed my ears to the front door. I rang the doorbell and introduced myself Nenah, to a fellow pianist in her late seventies and invited her outside to join me on the truck. She told me how happy her life was with music all around her. She sings in her church choir, practices all kinds of piano music for hours a day and spends the rest of her time listening to piano music.
As I played other neighbors came out to join us and to take a few pictures. I met new friends all day long. Sharon who owns Bed and Bagels, a dog friendly Tucson Bed & Breakfast had her friend Carol visiting who was originally from Elkins Park about thirty minutes from my home. Later in the day Arlene I found was from West Philly. When I came to her neighborhood she went knocking on her neighbor's doors to rally everyone around the musical spontaneity. Kids came out in their pajamas and the Traveling Piano became a focal point for a short neighborhood get together. God, I love when that happens... especially when everyone jumps onto the piano to play, we all do pictures, and then they just talk amongst themselves as I play a little longer.
April 06, 2007
Rio Vista, Tucson Arizona USA
I wanted to find a mountaintop where I could drive the truck onto and play for the sunset. I wanted to also record some music, which I have not yet had the opportunity to do. Last night I could only go as far as the parking lot. My new host, Bob (he's polytheistic, boy... am I meeting a variety of people or what) drove with me to "A" mountain but it was closed for Easter services and will be until Easter is over. That was a bummer because it is the only other ticket in town for what I was looking for. We proceeded to drive around the city for two hours looking for a spot with no luck. Everything is so spread out and I don't want to just setup just anywhere and look stupid playing the piano from the back of a truck like I am showing off or looking for attention. There were no spots where I would have felt comfortable enough to just slip into. Finally, we drove to a little park near Bob's house. It was now dark and where the parking ended it looked like right on the other side would have been a perfect area. I had to drive through the sand box to get to it and Bob thought it would be safe because the sand was not deep. He was wrong. The fact that my little truck that could is quite tired did not help. The poor thing "putt, putt's and can barley get up a hill let alone grind through soft sand.
I started to drive through it and we were in the middle when it got stuck. Hmmm... no lights, no people, no houses and I am stuck in a sandbox in Rio Vista park. There was a couple sitting on a bench some distance away and I asked if they would help to push the truck out. They tried and that was when the truck said, "I had enough". It just stopped working. It would not turn over or even click. I heard Bob start to freak out, "what happens when the police arrive". I was amazingly fine about it, "quick get the camera". Luckily, I have Triple AAA car insurance. I wondered if it worked here in Arizona. "Good thing I have that cell phone now", I was thinking. The card worked so we tried to give directions. We did not quit know where we were or any street names and it was pitch black. I figured I would play the piano so they could hear me when they got close. Bob was so not into taking pictures but took a couple for me anyway. I played while I thought about the idea that the engine might have blown. A huge tow truck came and barreled over the cement barriers and in ten minutes, I was out. I told the tow truck guy that the truck would not start but when I turned the key, it in fact did start. No more questions or thoughts... I drove it back to to its home for the night in a condo garage feeling a nurturing love for it the entire time. My playing continually becomes stronger with more conviction every time I play. Boner just flows along with the days...
April 05, 2007
Gates Pass, Arizona USA
My priority first thing today was to go around the neighborhood and take pictures of cactus. The lawns here are landscaped so that this place is like a cactus museum. So many are in bloom I can not imagine what it must look like here in full flowering season. Di you know that underneath the skin of cactus you will find wood? The woodpeckers here create holes in the cactus to get to the wood inside and then... other birds live in those holes when the woodpeckers are done.
I was supposed to play with a Tuba player today but he stood me up. I went to pick up my piano from the hospital and they charged me fifty bucks to say the keys were not responding because there was so much dog air in between them. Then as I went to play, later I found the problem still exists. I do not have the time to take it back and argue. So now... decisions... decisions once again... I need to buy a new keyboard there is no way around it. When, where... Do I trade in my present piano for something, anything? I know I will not get its value... or do I donate it somewhere and just flat out go into debt deeper. Either way I will be going into debt deeper a couple thousand. I am working on getting used to the idea of selling my only sense of security, my house back at home. My inclination is to donate the piano; I wish I could get it to Roblito, the tribal village where I stayed in Mexico. I realized today that I had lost a folder, a big folder, the folder with all my papers, contacts information, receipts, and bills. I did not panic, my gut told me it still existed and that I would find it. It was difficult not to beat myself up throughout the day over it. Finally, I realized that I had to have had it when I entered the country so the only place I could have left it was at the public phone booth I used on the way to Tucson two days ago. I was exhausted and out of it at the time but I remembered there was a girl sitting nearby and it was at a grocery store so I made a dash back to the spot. Sure enough, the girl had turned it in to the store. This was a close call. I had lost my drivers license on my last day in Mexico so the lesson here... I need to put more care into my actions.
I still bounce back and forth between finding a place to play for people and places to play for myself. So I was thinking... why would I insert myself into places to play for other people and crowds... it feels like I am trying to perform, get attention etc... That is not what I am about... sure I want to connect with people, share myself and what I have to offer, the music... etc... but what is more fun and important for me is to find a environmental ambience that is tasty to me... where possibilities exist so I can create music for people to discover... and then create a connection of friendship and respect where I can nurture and inspiration musical creation from myself and from others. I went to see the sun set and to play where all the locals go and it is called Gates Pass. There were about 100 people there scattered around. My music was most welcomed; the sunset was not that great... God I want one like on my ride into the city on the first day. I was out of practice with explaining the journey, while watching people with Boner, getting some photos and creating music while encouraging others to do the same. Major energy..wheew! It was fun tho... I played some obligatory Ragtime and Boogie, I think because I know people want to hear that... it gives them a sense of security in the situation... a reference to start from with this dog, truck, piano man thing. I must say the best part of today was when everyone left and it became dark. It was Bo and me with the dark silhouettes of the mountains, the light of the night sky and I was more extremely than ever before reaching for the clouds and starts with my music. I created whatever I wanted to create, I repeated patterns forever, I was acutely aware of the energy and that was all that mattered. I was in heaven here on earth through my music. What relieve in everyway that I get from creating music in the moment. I have never experienced any type of therapy and I have had many, many types of therapies over long periods of time throughout my life, I have never experienced such a complete healing every single time I play.
April 04, 2007
Tucson, Arizona USA
So here I am at Gerry and Carol's house in the Omni Tucson Golf Resort and Spa complex an impressive area to say the least. Is this what Tucson looks like? Nada, I went to do errands today and found all the usual lifestyles. I stopped for at a drive through Mexican food place for a burrito. The taste told me I was not in Mexico any longer. One place in all of Tucson changes pesos to dollars and they take four percent of the exchange. My piano... it went to the repair hospital today. God knows when they open it up what rocks and dirt they will find from the places it has been. Before I let it go, I played on the street for a few passerbies and did some piano duet jammin'. Gerry cooked the best pork loin I have ever had for dinner with peas and sweet potato, salad, lemon meringue pie and nachos with cheese. I got my cell phone working, did some business work, people are calling me to book performances at home. The only problem is I do not know when I will get home and when I do go home... if... to the same life as before doing the same old thing? One day at a time. Bo and I went for a walk and then to bed.
April 03, 2007
San Carlos Sonora, Mexico
Today has been a little blurry in my mind. I left the San Carlos, Mexico not quite knowing how far I would get towards America. I wanted to play in Santa Ana but there were no people around so I drove to Magdalena and there seemed to be no spot that I felt comfortable to settle into. I did find a tasty tostado stand and had a couple shrimp tostadas. They were yum, yum. When I realized that I was going to make it to the boarder today I felt a stronger than usual need to play one more time in Mexico and then "snap" I pulled over to the side of the road to play for the mountains. I have enjoyed Mexico's mountains and I just wanted to play for me and nature... one more time here. The trucks whizzing buy did not stop me nor did the trash all around the truck. Gratitude and the mountains kept the music moving. The boarder was an easy pass.
Home! I am happy to say Boner did not get chewed on by another dog in Mexico, neither of us got sick from the food or water, I was not bribed by one cop, no one stole from me and the military were down right friendly at every check point and I passed more than twenty of them during this trip. Every encounter Boner and I had during our time in Mexico was respectful and courteous and embracing. This leg of my journey has been... mission accomplished. Acclimating myself back into being in America was surprising. First of all... I can stop thinking about the water, ahh... cell phone, internet access, my roadmate, and no language barrier. The drive between the boarder and Tucson was... the cleanliness, the lack of dirt blowing around was a relief but... the sunset, the mountains, the open territory... I was in such awe of it I almost cried. There was this feeling, I cannot describe it but I sure would like to live in it.
Gerry and Carol have opened their house to me in Tucson. It is another little piece of heaven. I got in around 8:00pm and called them fifteen minutes before I arrived. I could not figure how to turn on my cell phone, so I had to go to a phone booth. I also had forgot to charge the phone. I forgot my cell phone number too, talk about short-term memory. I found the house with no problem. There was a time I thought there was no one else like me in the world. I have been meeting nothing but free thinkers on this journey, a whole world of free thinking successful people. Gerry's background is nuclear physics and Carol's background is interior decoration. These are wonderful new friends. They gave me their garage for my truck and welcomed Boner with open arms. I could not wait to play some music for them so we did it in the dark. Gerry is on the board for the Council of Secular Humanism. Atheists!!! Don't tell my mom.
April 02, 2007
Guaymas Sonora, Mexico
Everything has its time. Last night was providential for my truck and me. It was time for my left rear tire to die, it would not have lasted another fifty miles. I am glad I listened to my gut telling me to stop when I did. The hotel I picked had a tire store across the street from it so everything worked out well. The guy at the tire store showed me where the tire was actually missing chunks of rubber. The bare threads were ready to pop. Yikes... I had driven for hours yesterday between nothing and nothing. I remember thinking, "I love it that I am the only one on these roads." They fixed it for me within an hour, rotated the tires, balanced them and then checked the alignment. I met a nice guy Christian Alexander and we talked a bit. He tried the piano. I played for all the employees. We took pictures. I found out why this city, Los Mochis, looks so much like an American one. It was designed by two Americans. They made nice wide streets, new storefronts... I am watching the Mexican landscape turn more American looking as I travel up the West coast.
I made it to Guaymas, Mexico today and wanted to find a place on the beach, no luck. I found a cheap motel on the noisy highway with truck engines and police sirens. Everyone was nice so I paid the price. I played piano for them also. They have a pool maybe I will force myself to enjoy a dip. I drove to find the beach. The area is filling up with gated development communities, the first I have seen in Mexico. They seem kind of silly in amongst the poverty and it is apparent some people are resenting them... some people as in "graffiti artists". People are body conscious here with lots of people jogging in muscle shirts and spandex. Hotels are beginning to give me problems concerning Bo, no perdros allowed. I stopped at Mc Donald's... this is my first American fix... and a fast food store for nacho and potato chips. I will blame it on the full moon. I feel like I committed a mortal sin having ate that junk and it is Easter week even. Everyone has been telling me to either get out of the area by Wednesday or stay until Monday and play for the crowds because the coastline will be wall to wall with people at the beach. It is the biggest holiday of the year and everyone goes to the beach for it no matter how crowded it gets. If I stayed and played for the crowds, that would turn into work and performing for me. I like the intimacy of talking with and playing piano for say, the two neighborhood guys I asked directions from about an hour ago.
One of my piano keys died today. That will not do. Taking care of that will be the first thing I get done after I cross the boarder. I cannot play a piano that is broke. I wanted to stop and rest here in this city for two days... both Bo and I need to take it slow but I need a more comfortable place to stay in so I will wait. I lost my drivers license but found it after some major focus and visualizing. That was like a miracle. I lost all the pictures I took today in a memory card crash. It really bothers me to have lost the pictures. When people put forth effort to play on the piano I want to have a picture for them... when people partake in... and join me on this journey, I want to remember them, when those magic moments of spontaneity and discovery happen in the most unusual places and situations with people I want to share that.
Boner and I went hiking up the side of a steep mountain tonight. It is a full moon so I could see but Boner really did not want to do it. I pushed him as I wanted to reach a telephone pole near the top. I thought there might be a road to make it easier for the decent. We were climbing over rocks and through dessert like brush. I was not thinking. There are no telephone poles here. It was a huge cactus. I have never been so up close to a huge cactus like this was. I stood and looked over the entire city that winds through and sits in between mountains. Mountains sit in the ocean here. It is like a wonderland. I gave up trying to get Bo to climb to the very top. I'm not sure if it is because he is becoming blind and could not see... or if he was too tired from a cold he has... or maybe it was just too dangerous and he has more sense than me. I remember thinking, "no one will find us or know we are here if something bad happens." When I see the top of a mountain I just need to get to it for some reason.
April 01, 2007
Los Mochis, Sinaloa Mexico
I woke up, cleaned up, packed, had a bowl of cereal, cut up a huge pineapple for the days travel, (I ate it for hours) had three strong cups of coffee and headed for the boarder. I thought maybe two days but realistically three. I was dogging feelings of uncertainty and anticipation. I am on my own again, no English speaking people and... do I want to just head straight back or play some along the way... time issues, money issues, people issues, stamina issues, focus issues, I am just getting over my cold and now Boner is getting one in his left eye... yuk a lot of crap in my head. No villages that I can see for the first few hours. Beautiful open country, I could see the waves hitting a twenty mile coastline of beach a mile away from the road. Wow, was that cool. No houses, no utility poles, no planes... nothing but fields of low lying shrubs. There were a variety of mountain formations; I started to do the camera out the window shooting without knowing what I was getting.
I have ended up in Los Mochis, Sinaloa Mexico today. It was not a choice but a decision based on the fact that the Traveling Piano truck is having trouble, big time trouble. "Where do I stop, when do I stop?" I was driving along thinking the road is really giving us a ride. Then I realized as I went faster the harder the ride was. Then I realized the truck was bucking... like a wild horse... bigtime. As time wore on I needed to go slower and slower. It got so bad that I could not do over fifty miles an hour. Decision, decisions, "should I keep going to see how far I can get... should I shoot straight for the boarder (not realistic) should I stop wherever and hope there is a truck mechanic... and hope that they don't completely rip me off? The tolls and gas today were about one hundred dollars and that was my hotel room money. No banks are open it is Sunday. I started to feel a sense of panic but at the same time, I was passing these really poor villages and wanted to stop and play at each one. "How the hell am I supposed to have fun and present the piano for people when the truck is falling apart and I am out of pesos?" I figured it out... "Just stop, you don't have to do anything, get rid of the sense of urgency, you don't HAVE to go ANYWHERE or do ANYTHING. Why are you letting the money thing get to you now... it has not up to this point... you will be OK as you always have been. This is not a race to the end, take your time! I will go to the bank tomorrow, I will take care of the truck and do what I need to do. Right now, I need to relax and remember here I am in friggin' MEXICO with my dog and truck having a major journey.
So, I landed in Los Mochis Sinaloa. I drove into the first hotel I saw where there was internet and a guarded parking lot. The people were real nice, my room door is next to the truck and as always, everyone came outside to listen to and play some piano. Mexicans are more amazed with Boner than Americans, they cannot get over the fact that Bo is not a dog monster. "Why is he so cute and behaved?" That is the constant communication. I saw a colorful store, so I walked over to it and found they had food I never saw before so I pointed at people eating and went, "ugh,ugh,me,me,eat,eat" until they caught onto my desires. I had a Gorditas and a Flaustas with two cups of soup broth. I brought about four small Mexican chocolate bars for dessert. It all came to about $2.20. Now that is a deal!