May 22, 1999
Lajitas, Texas, USA
11:05am. Its 105 degrees F.
Leon Redbone (the voice of the frog in the Warner Brothers cartoons) is on the ghetto singn... "And when you go fishing... I bet you be wishn... the fish dont bite on the line. Lazy bones.... loafn through the day.... youll never make a dime that way!"
"Ive been an admirer of his for a long time," Randy shares, sipping on a Millwaukees Best behind the wheel. "Through some friends in the business... I hooked up with Leon after a show and rode with him to San Antone. He is an interesting guy. He tells lots of stories."
11:55am. "Ill tell ya something Willie told me," said Randy.
I snickered with disbelief, "You know Willie Nelson?"
"Yeah, pretty well." Randy nodded. "This song, The Very First Day was written by Willies drummer, who is his best friend, the day after his wife killed herself. Its on Willies Red Headed Stranger album - which I listen to after each time I lose a woman. With help from a bottle of whiskey, I get over it, then wake up the next morning and start after my next victim. My shortest turn-over was 30 minutes. I was dumped at a party, then walked out with the prettiest woman there. She was moving in the next day. My ex found out and started stalking us. She was following us in her car-- I stopped quick and she rear-ended me. It messed up my back -- costing me $65,000. Ive only got $20,000 from her insurance."
"What do you think about the women around here? Theyre a different breed, eh?" I commented, making small talk.
"Yeah, theyre a little brash," Randy returned
"What do you mean by that?"
"Rough around the edges-- like a wild horse. There is something you just love aboutem and you want to breakem."
12:58pm. Im at a pool-side picnic table, chilln in the shade. A warm dry breeze is rustling the leaves of poplar trees.
"MAX, you want to join us for a safety meeting?" called Anne.
"Im feeling safe here."
"Back to work eh?!"
"Ahhh... maybe I should. Ya can never feel too safe."
1:02pm. Junior Brown is singing "My wife thinks youre dead." Richard and Anne have gone to buy lunch. Randy is laughing, reading A prayer for Owen Meaning - a book about a kid whose mother is killed by a foul ball off the bat of Owen Meaning.
3:10pm. The woman in the lounge chair in front of me says she gets only 3 weeks of vacation per year, yet she sounds happy about it. Sounds to me like a 49 week prison sentence with 3 weeks parole.
5pm. Im in Randys trailer. Through the window, Im watching lightning flash from dark gray clouds marching in this direction. Randy is preparing a pasta sauce for dinner.
5:30pm. A hail storm is rockn and thrashn the trailer. I am afraid the windows might shatter.
A rainbow appeared following the storm. The earth turned gold. The line between fantasy and reality became blurred.
8pm. Randy is ordering a Lone Star. Anne is working. Cowboy Doug is playing his guitar and singing about the RV life. Im at the bar a few feet from Doug, listening with pleasure. Hes good . . . real-cowboy-like. He just warned the Starlight customers that the highway patrol are in town and it is best if they stay off the roads. There are no local police, so many locals dont have their vehicles inspected or insured.
9:30pm. "My father never wanted fame..." Randy tells me, "but he ended up a legend. Jubel, Randys father, wrote a song called Gypsy Cowboy which inspired the movie Shady Grove. He played the main supporting actor. Ive seen it about 20 times. You want to see it later?"
"Yeah, bro, for sure. Why do you call your father "Jubel" instead of Dad?"
"He was more of a friend than anything. I didn't discover he was my dad until a while after we began hang'n out. I sometimes call him dad, but mostly-- Jubel. We didnt advertise it. He had eight kids. We didnt tell people, but they found out after awhile."
10:30pm. Im watching Junior Brown puck, pick and yodel on the tube. Randy is on the computer with Suzy-Q, a cyber-lover in Georgia. Randy showed me a picture she sent of a womans crotch, with panties pulled down just enough to show the top of her bush being cut by a tattoo of a stick man with a lawn mower. The hair where the stick man had mowed is shaved. It is the most original tattoo Ive seen. Contrary to what Randy thought, Suzy-Q assured me it was not her crotch.
12:20am. Randy and I are snacking on Reese peanut butter cups. Shady Grove is almost finished.
2:54am. Toni, tending the bar tonight at the Starlight, said, "Howard kinda adopted the woman I married."
For 22 years, Howard was Rambo and James Bond put together, then he retired to the Big Bend, and over ten-year span, his life story was recorded on 100 audio tapes by dick, who, in Mazatlan, told me "Howard stories" everyday for a week straight. Howard is Americas 6th most decorated Soldier-- "the mad" Colonel Kurtz, in Francais Ford Coppilas film Apocalypse Now. In Mazatlan, I wrote the frame of a screen play of Howards life-- which Dick says is in Coppila"s hands. I am heir to the tapes.
"Do you think Howards stories were mostly the truth?" I inquired.
"I dont doubt that they are all true. I spent many a late night with Howard. I think its great you are doing something with his story."
Toni told me about two high school guidance counselors-- one that had a high success rate for keeping kids off drugs . . . and another that didnt have much success. The school district supervisor wanted to know what each counselor was doing to get their results, so interviews were set up and the counselor with the least success was asked first, "What do you tell the students?"
The counselor drew a large circle on a piece of paper, then said, "I tell the students... This is your brain." Then he drew a much smaller circle and said, "...and this is your brain on drugs."
The second counselor had a similar method, except he drew a little circle first, and said, "I tell the students, "This is your butt hole." Then he drew a much large circle and said, "And this is your butt hole in prison!"
Toni also told me that Dick is legendary for his appetite. La Kiva, the other local hang-out, had an "all-you-can-eat" hot dog deal. After Dick had eaten 12 hot dogs, the owner told him not to eat anymore. "You said it was all-you-can-eat," Dick defended the right to fill his appetite. "Dick..." said the man, "that is all you can eat!"