Didjeridu Magic - Now There is Something to Write About!



It was love at first sight. Or first sound, really. The first time I heard the primal drone of a didjeridu, I was at Esalen in Big Sur. The Wednesday night jam was a weekly event amongst the tubs where the spa was enclosed.

The sacrifice in the view of the cliffs over the Pacific Ocean were more than compensated for with incredible acoustics.

Somehow a didjeridu, a saxophone, and a trumpet made an effective and peculiar trio. But it was the didjeridu that did it for me. The mysterious tones of the didjeridu played into the amplifier of a clawfoot tub soared through the chamber, and I was hooked.

InDidjInUs 2019 - Ondrej Smeykal

InDidjInUs 2019 - Ondrej Smeykal

That was before the didj player did his rounds for a sound healing up our chakras. I had never experienced music that could be felt, physically felt as the musician played it around me.

Then I was really hooked.

Every time a didjeridu was played, I got excited.

The best New Year’s Eve I ever had, a didj was played as we approached midnight. Even though the headlining band was playing on the top floor, I knew I was in the right place to call in the New Year.

InDidjInUs 2019 - Lewis Burns on didj with dancer Adam and singer Jamie

InDidjInUs 2019 - Lewis Burns on didj with dancer Adam and singer Jamie

I especially love to dance to the didj. That tone brings out something buried deep in me. I move in a more thorough, embodied way that gets to all my parts. It’s catharsis in its purest form.

Beloved is one of the more beloved music festivals around Oregon, focusing on sacred music and higher consciousness. It’s lush and decadent, and very Arabian Nights with its exotic trappings. I went one year and had tickets to go to the next.

Then I heard about InDidjInUs a few years ago.

I couldn’t believe there was a gathering centered around the didjeridu. The thought of 4 days of non-stop didjeridu music made my mouth water.

Everybody loves Mama Emma!

Everybody loves Mama Emma!

The website and Facebook page was so vague, yet so specific, I wondered if it was only for didjeridu players, not didjeridu listeners or didjeridu dancers.

It also seemed that there was some kind of struggle going on about the values of this gathering. One man made very clear that they were not about a typical “festival” party atmosphere, and they’d appreciate it if the festival partiers would go to Beloved instead.

Beloved was on the same weekend.

I asked on the Facebook page if dancing listeners were able to come, or if this was only for didjeridu musicians. Ycats (Stacy spelled backwards) answered that a dancing audience was most welcome.

I didn’t hesitate. I gave away my tickets to Beloved and went to InDidjInus. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.


That first InDidjInUs, I went to sleep and woke up to the vibrating drones of didj being played somewhere near. My energy field shifted during that time, and my time there was a profound experience in healing.

I knew I loved didjeridu in music. I had no idea how diverse didjeridu could be when it came to making music.

But one of the most surprising benefits to making such a sudden switch was the genuine sense of community that InDidjInUs provided.

A lot of festivals focus on “community” and “tribe” and “getting woke” and whatever else you can think of that sounds transcendent and cool.

But this group really embodies the essence of community - with the good and the bad, especially when it comes to figuring out conflicts and the fallout that entails. Most of these people I only see once a year in the community that gathers for InDidjInUs.

I just finished my 5th InDidjInUs, and this year was the best one yet. Again, I was in need of healing. Having space when I needed it, and community when I needed connection was crucial, and then there were the various jams going on as well as the stage performances.

Anyway, I included some short clips of the amazing and gorgeous music I enjoyed this past weekend.

And if that’s not something worth writing about, I don’t know what is.

Let Me Just Say One Thing...AAIIGGHH!!! - On the Road #17

Angry New Yorker dude made this guy look mellow.

Angry New Yorker dude made this guy look mellow.

Hey y'all,

 I have seen the future I could have had and it just scared the shit out of me. 

I never, ever thought I would say this, but…I am - with great humility - profoundly grateful for the eight years I spent slinging booze, cussing out drunks, throwing grown men out of bars, and sighing helplessly while at the mercy of women in the throes of alcoholic switch-bitch psychosis.

But goddamn! Tonight has shown me that my time spent as a bartender were not only years not wasted, but they saved me from possibly becoming one of the people I just met at a workshop on self-publishing. 

Cool mask. Never wore one while at work.

Cool mask. Never wore one while at work.

I’ve been holed up in an accidental cabin behind the Brown Bear Saloon in Indian, Alaska. This place is a spit away from Anchorage, with its own itty-bitty town vibe. The owner of the place said he learned everything about what not to do in constructing a cabin while he was building the one I’m staying in. 

I didn’t care. I had to have it for the loft and the windows, but what he said about the wiring made me a tad nervous. One of the disadvantages of being on the road, sleeping in the Brown Beast, in hostels, in my tent, etc. is that the creative juices really start to pump and there's no place to spill them. 

Since what I'm doing does qualify as a business trip - hee-hee, haw-haw - I could write it off on my taxes to give myself that precious writer's space while fulfilling my storytelling/bookpeddling commitments in the greater Anchorage area.

Well, last night’s storytelling event at the Oasis was especially demoralizing. It’s been a while since I've hit a low, and I know it's all part of the process. But it still sucks. 

So, tonight I decided to do something different. So I went to Border's to a workshop on self-publishing.

This photo is much more stunning than the group of people I sat with.

This photo is much more stunning than the group of people I sat with.

Incidentally, Border's here in Anchorage is pretty right-on. Jess French found a way around the corporate structure to give me a reading/signing. Since the critical mass was narrowed down to those who liked to read, I had no problem approaching the people my gut instinct told me would be open to what I had, and introducing myself and what I was doing. My gut was on the ball that night. Every person/couple I picked listened to a story. All of them, except the respite provider with her client, bought a book. One couple even bought two.

But back to my self-publishing workshop story…

Since the weather's been stunning and I was on a writing roll, I almost didn't go. But I managed to finish the rough draft of a new story and headed to the workshop. I was surprised to see several people at the table. They had already started even though it was not yet the start time of six o'clock.

I took my seat and sized up the characters around me.

The guy giving the talk had self-published his book as a Print-On-Demand project. He had eyes that seemed to swim inside his sockets. 

Then there was the 50+ New York-to-Anchorage transplant. His hair was dyed black and slicked-back in a ponytail. He also had eyebrows Anton LaVey would have envied. When he introduced himself, I could just hear the tension in his voice. He was angry. Angry and frustrated that he had never been published. 

Looking around at the others as the workshop dude did his talk, I had the sense that everybody there was on the New Yorker's page. 

This was one serious, tight-assed group of people. It seemed as if this was a core writer's group that had workshops at Border's on a regular basis. 

Oh, Chicks with Bics – this night made me miss you so. We actually have fun when we get together. We laugh every time. I don't think any of these people have had a good chuckle in years.

Chicks with Bics enjoyed strawberry chocolate pizza and wine, but these ladies give off a joyful vibe.

Chicks with Bics enjoyed strawberry chocolate pizza and wine, but these ladies give off a joyful vibe.

 This was the most joyless group of intellectual idiots I've met in years. These are the kind of people who give intelligence a bad name.  

Most of the people there were in their 50’s and 60’s. I had the impression that they had lived mostly inside their minds, and hadn’t lived nearly enough in their bodies, much less the world beyond. 

Chances are, they probably wouldn't understand the value of living for the sake of enjoying yourself. 

The pursed lips, the fidgets, the jerks, and the insistence on sticking with the program – I guess they wrote and shared at these workshop? Even the workshop dude felt the need to get on with it and wrap things up with his particular talk, so the others could get going with what they wanted.

On the upside, this only took a half an hour of my life because I left as soon as workshop dude was done. No way was I going to write with these folks.

Every single one of them - male and female, young and old, plain and pretty, gay and straight – reminded me of the maxim: “You need to get laid.” Every single one of them probably needed to get laid really, really badly.

Have sex. You’ll feel better.

Have sex. You’ll feel better.

 The men needed to cut loose and be so obnoxious they might get 86ed from a bar. The women need to get so shnockered to end up sobbing hysterically in the ladies room of the local karaoke bar, struggling to get into their painfully tight shorts while their string bikini panties get tangled around their crotch. All the while testing the patience of the female bartender who had to babysit this embarrassment to womanhood who couldn’t remember her name, much less her address. 

It is impossible to recreate an image of that hot mess, but i was grateful and surprised to find this on pexels and pixabay.

It is impossible to recreate an image of that hot mess, but i was grateful and surprised to find this on pexels and pixabay.

For the record, I was the bartender in that sordid little scene, not the drunk bitch. 

But that's not the point. The point is that the people at that dismal self-publishing workshop really needed to actually have some life experiences that would inspire stories other people might actually want to read.

For instance, the workshop dude told his tale of self-publishing through a small POD publisher that charged him for their services, but got him distribution on Amazon and his one year contract. It cost him more than he made, and in one year he sold 300 copies.

“I didn't have to lift a finger to do it," he smirked.

Anyway, workshop dude with the swimming eyeballs moved on to greener pastures. He got some reviews from total strangers on the Barnes and Noble site; and a bigger small publisher (at least I believe that’s how it was) that had formerly rejected his work, has now picked up his book. He felt successful and good for him.

It all comes down to perspective. 

I received my books in early July and it's now late September. I've probably given away about 80 books, and mailed 20 (my mother said she can sell them). But I've sold just under 200 books in less than three months. I have spent way more money this way. I've also lifted many fingers, some in obscene gestures.

But the experiences I've had doing my little grass-roots book tour have been the stuff of dreams during the best of times, and the content of nightmares at their worst. Most, if not all of these vivid experiences, became the subject of my emails to you.

I don't know if I'll sell or give away all 1100 copies, but I'm sure I'll outsell 300 books in 9 more months. I'll also have more fun doing it.

Maybe I’m an optimist. Maybe I'm out of my mind. If nothing else, this DIY booktour/roadtrip has given me plenty to write home about. 

Don't forget to check out www.juneaumusic.com for all your social butterfly needs.  And while I'm plugging Jason's site, I'll plug myself. "Ella Bandita and other stories," is sold at Rainy Day Books and Hearthside Books for 10 bucks. I'll be in town for a few days in October. Call me and I'll sign it for you. 

By the way, would anybody like to review my book for the local paper? 



PS My oh my! How self-publishing has changed since 2005. Much of this story is now outdated to the point of unrecognizable. But it’s fascinating to see how Amazon was a player in the Self-Publishing World even then. And Border’s has been out of business for years. I’m still sad about that.

PPS I have less than 150 copies of the original 1100 left. So, in all I did pretty well.

PPPS If you’d like to read the blog post about my times at the Brown Bear Saloon, click here.

Serendipity and a Squatter's Treehouse - On the Road # 9


Hey y’all,

This letter is written long after that wondrous DIYBTRT (do-it-yourself-book-tour-road-trip) of 2005-2006 was over. At the time, one friend told me to take copious notes so I would not forget ANYTHING. Well, I didn’t and fortunately, the emails I wrote during that time were enough of a push that I could much remember the gaps much later. I realize the perspective of looking back does not carry the excitement and immediacy of the present moment as I was living through it; but I hope to fill in those gaps and be more honest about the downs of an experience where I only drew attention to the ups. The downside of the original emails was that I was showing off.

So before the Blackburn Music Festival near the Kennicott glacier that I wrote about in these blogs here and here, Joe and I crossed paths with our mutual friend Ela while I was in Seward. Anybody who has ever lived in Alaska knows that this a small town in a huge state. Since there are a lot of seasonal nomads who go to various parts of the state to where the work is, I ran into a lot of people I knew from Juneau. Joe had been fishing out of the Alaska peninsula; Ela was working in Girdwood for the summer. Later, I would run into friends in Fairbanks, and then I would meet their friends who then became my friends.

Keep in mind this was before Facebook and other forms of social media.

So anyway, I knew Joe and Ela from Outdoor Studies - a program where we would learn about how to navigate the Alaskan outdoors – kayaking, rafting, glacier travel and crevasse rescue, ice climbing, rock climbing, as well as hiking, backpacking, and navigation. I broke my experience down to two years and Joe was in my first year, and Ela in my second. After we ran into Ela, we headed up to Girdwood with her and stayed the night in a squatter’s tree house where Ela had lived all winter – even with a broken back. She peed when she had to in a plastic milk gallon jug with the top half cut off, whereas able-bodied me and Joe went down the ladder to pee outside. She said we had to be careful going in and out because the town of Girdwood was tearing down the tree houses, so more people would have to pay rent, and this one was particularly vulnerable because it was close to Alyeska resort. So she always dressed as if she was coming out of a hike, and passed on the treehouse to us, as she was about to leave Girdwood.

I wish I could have taken her up on it. Later, Joe and I would stay the night with Pando in the treehouse (blog about Pando here). He may have claimed it because this was right up his alley. But I remember that night as being a challenge to my patience, because Pando and Joe were wasted, loud, and obnoxious. Perhaps if I had been drunk too, I would have been fine, but I wasn’t. So it was less than ideal to be in tiny treehouse in a loft with two drunks laughing at nothing on the floor below you.

I hope that treehouse is still there, but I doubt it. Girdwood has changed a lot.

Anyway, after the treehouse adventure – or maybe we stayed in the treehouse after this camping trip, I’m not sure – we met up with another friend from outdoor studies, Winter. She was staying with her father in Sterling, and her sister Brita was there as well. The five of us went on an overnight hiking and camping trip on what is now known as the Primrose and Lost Lakes trail – about 15 miles of hiking through beautiful rainforest and a stunning alpine ridge trail with stunning views.

Of course, it was a total blast and Joe loved nothing more than being the only guy in a group of girls. Even if he didn’t hook up, he loved being in the circle of how crazy and off-color women can be with each other with no men around.

Of course, I don’t remember the particular conversations from a camping trip I made more than 14 years ago. But I do remember how good it felt to be in such good shape that I could backpack at the last minute, and do a 15 mile trail with no problem. I also remember the beauty of Alaska and how much it hurt when it was time to leave that state. I also remember that I heard about Blackburn that would take place the following weekend from Ela on that camping trip. Once we arrived at how chosen place to camp, we sunbathed on the ridge, and chilled out in a warm sun while Ela told us about this really cool party. She was bummed out she couldn’t make it because of work, but Joe and I decided at the last minute to go.

The spontaneity and serendipity of that road trip were the headiest miracles about it. I was constantly amazed how a chance meeting led to an adventure, which led to another escapade and so on. I realize it’s not sustainable for most people to live like that all the time because I did this trip long enough to experience the exhaustion of it.

But it sure was incredible while it lasted. I still miss the freedom I had on that trip. 



Hippie Belly Dancers in Shangri-la - On the Road #8


Hey y'all,

Yesterday I promised other random snippets - you know, impressions and stories that don't fit anywhere, but are good in and of themselves, but after the Pando story, it just didn't seem to fit. If you’d like to read letter before this one, click here.

Anyway here goes:

Hippie Belly Dancers in Shangri-la. 

As I said, when I arrived at the Girdwood party in Kennicott, there was a drumming band playing and belly dancers gyrating. They seemed discombobulated though. Not all their troupe showed up and they were crowded amongst the ruins of a copper mine, and had difficultygetting it together, you know? It was cool and all that, but they were not in sync, within themselves or with each other. 

Of course, I didn't know that until later, I just thought it was an amateur group having fun with their friends...

Later as the sun went down, and the "official" festival was over, the late-night band – Smooth Money Gesture - was setting up their stage down on the moraine - yes, as in glacier - because they agreed to be good neighbors and move the party away from the lodge - a drum circle started at one of the tents. 

The festival was on a hill below an old lodge, which probably used to be part of the copper mine that was in operation in the area for a short time, and above the terminal moraine of a glacier. It's embarrassing, but I can't remember the name of it, but as this glacier cut through a few different valley, it carved so much silt, that it sat on top of it - three feet of it, so it looked like the surface of the moon. You could see rolling hills lines in reddish, yellowish, and grayish hues indicating that this soil came from different valleys. So that was the view.

The tent where this drum circle started up, was right on the edge of this moraine that looked like the end of the world - unless somebody told you, you'd never know there was an ancient glacier underneath. As two or three people started drumming, I left my dilapidated tent (I'd forgotten one pole - kind of a crisis when the tent requires two) to hang out there and sat on the ground, with everybody else. Before long one of the belly dancers came out of the tent.  Instead of her skimpy top, she was wearing a lightweight white sweater with a hood, her long reddish brown hair flowing to her waist. As the music continued, she slowly started to dance, moving her shoulders and upper back in a wave as she spread her arms out and her hips joined in. A couple more people joined the drum circle, beating on plastic buckets, but strangely enough it worked. After a few more minutes, another dancer joined the first, and they synchronized beautifully as they shook their hips when the tempo was fast and circling their hands and fingers slowly above their heads when the tempo was slow. Then a third joined them, and those of us sitting down moved back as they danced in a circle, kicking up their legs and moving in concert. The fourth that joined them didn't have the space to dance, so she added to the beat of the music by shaking bells. The night was cloudy, but every so often the moon peaked through, illuminating the scene that was lit between twilight and darkness...Sitting on the ground, we were at the level of the music, while the dancers celebrated the life in their bodies above us - backlit by the night sky and whatever lamps were coming from the heart of camp. From the ground, they looked like goddesses, once I stood up to move around, they were ordinary women dancing with their friends. The spell was broken and I moved on.  

It was only twenty minutes, but the magic of that time is forever etched in my mind. 

Something tells me this is a good time to stop...

Feel free to drop me a line, y'all know I love to hear from you even when I am on my happy trails...


PS: This was from the DIY booktour/roadtrip I took in 2005/2006. Fortunately or unfortunately, my email journal to my friends was the record I kept of that time. I took NO PICTURES. So this image I used, although striking, has nothing to do with that night.

The God Pan as Box Man - On the Road #7


Hey y'all,

Since I don't have a common theme to play with today and there are lots of images I haven't found space to include, consider this the start of a rummage sale of moments, stories, and such that I've seen and heard while on the road.  

But let's start with the god Pan, the avatar of drunken debauchery and profligate fucking from the pagan days when the worship of many gods for various purposes made sense and everybody was okay with that. Anyway, centuries later when the Word of the Lord was spreading far and wide and probably because Pan was the rock ‘n roll party god, he had the dubious distinction of his image becoming that of the Devil by over-zealous Christians who believed that the flavors of life should be only colored by shades of gray. In case you haven't figured it out, I am a blithering Tom Robbins fan, and “Jitterbug Perfume” gave the god Pan the respect he deserved, with a major, if not starring role, and the favorable impression stuck.  

Why do I mention this now?

Because perhaps it’s possible that the god Pan had to go underground and reincarnate as various human beings to survive the attacks against him; and although he has lost a lot of power, his spirit still lives. And for some crazy damn reason, I'm convinced his current incarnation is in the form of Michael Pando, aka Pando to his friends. For those of you who know Pando, this statement makes total sense because he adores booze to the point of alcoholism and young girls barely into the phase of adulthood. Since he's lost god-status and invincibility, he is weakened by his passions for the party that doesn't stop and often winds up in jail. Everybody who knows Pando has a half dozen outrageous Pando stories to tell, which will become legend.

It is inevitable.

Love him or hate him, he is a character, but a character challenged by finding his good space in this world. He was chased out of Juneau due to a shoot out
with a psycho bum who had taken over the cabin Pando had built.

That kind of thing, you know.

This past summer, Pando had a touristic rafting job with an anal company - which seems to be the case with many touristic companies in Alaska, you know. Anyway, being himself, Pando got drunk one night and stole a golf cart - buck nekkid - and had security chasing him. To disguise himself, he put a box over his head and hightailed it to safety. 

Thus he became known throughout this camp as "Box Man." Every so often, during the summer, Box Man would make a naked public appearance streaking through at the most random moments and it wasn't long before he became legend, and the best part was that nobody knew it was him. One day, he was talking to some dude from some other country and the guy said with a thick
accent, "Box Man, I think he like Zorro. Box man, he come for de peeple."  

Can you imagine hearing something like that about yourself?

Eventually, Pando got booted out due to failing a surprise piss test – he also liked to smoke weed. Well, he had to make a spectacular exit, didn't he? His people would expect it of Box Man.

So one night, when everybody was at dinner, including all the bosses, Box Man makes his final appearance, nakedly running in with a box over him. He stops, strips the box away and stands there with his bare ass and cock, unmasked for all to see before streaking away and packing up his shit to go.   

Pando may have even been sober.  

Since I've only heard about this through the grapevine, I may not have all the details straight. But what the hell, it makes a good story. And when I showed this to Pando, he seemed more than a little flattered.

The god Pan keeping the spirit alive - what do y'all think?


PS This is from the DIY booktour/roadtrip I did in 2005-2006 when marijuana was still illegal everywhere. This is one of my favorite stories from that road trip. Although I did not experience it directly, I knew Pando, and Joe told me this story at the Blackburn Music Festival in Kennicott/McCarthy. I would later have a challenging night crashing in a squatters treehouse in Girdword with both Pando and Joe, while they were drunk and I was sober. Good times.

Hippie Paradise - On the Road #6

Imagine a DIY music festival in front of this!!

Imagine a DIY music festival in front of this!!

Hey y'all, 

In Anchorage with a lull in my book tour schedule - next round of dates not until September 12th and way out of cashola, thank god for the credit card.

Joe was lured by the promise of a fishing job in Valdez and he stayed while I drove on to McCarthy, and by some miracle, did not get flattened by the road leading to Hippie Shangri-la, the same road that just happens to be hell on tires since it's rocky dirt road built over old train tracks - nice! Just before the end of the road, I was tempted by the lure of full-service cabins with VACANCY sign.  Pulled in and charged two nights for a yuppie cabin in the middle of nowhere - I mean, laminate floors in McCarthy! Andy, the keeper of the cabins, was very friendly and gave me three eggs, freshly laid, with some bread and butter for breakfast the next day, along with coffee. I figured what the hell?  This is a business trip, I can write the whole thing off, treat myself to a comfortable bed, a big tub and lots of privacy after three weeks of camping, crashing on couches, and sleeping in the Brown Beast, which is hanging in there I'm happy to say.

The next day, I went across the bridge and walked to McCarthy, where I found out that the festival was in Kennicott - five miles away.  There was irregular bus service, but the “contents were changing the world.” In other words, this bus in remote Alaska ran on peanut oil.  

Layton and Sharmon, a couple from Soldotna, were on the bus with me.  They were stocking up on beer and camping equipment, and when I said I was in work mode, Layton asked if I was a writer. I said yes, how did you know? And he said, you gotta be. He was a writer for the Clarion, a local paper on Kenai, and after telling him my story, he bought a book and assured me that of course I would sell all 20 as the bus running on peanut oil deposited us at the festival grounds in Kennicott.

I got off the bus and looked around; then I went into shock as the weight of 20 books in my pack settled on my back.

There were about sixty tents set up in a gravel parking lot with the ruins of the Kennicott copper mine and the Kennicott Lodge perched on the hill above us. Abandoned mining gear was laying everywhere in its rusting glory and a homemade stage was set up practically in the bushes. There were belly dancers undulating wherever they could find space amongst the rusting forgotten equipment, and people hanging out wherever they could find space.    

Just beyond this scene looked like the other side of the moon, terminal moraine that's too cold to progress to the beginnings of forest because glacier ice is 3 feet underneath it - but just thick enough to cover the glacier, in uniform lines of silt in earthy tones of grey, beige, red, depending on which valley the glacier was carving through.  

I looked at the homegrown festival - that was free, of course - and my vision of a big field with a variety of vendors was dashed. I muttered to the bus driver that this was not what I expected.  

"Well, what did you expect?" he quipped. I’m sure he was as amused as he looked.

"I don't know, but it wasn't this."

Recognizing faces of people that I didn't know very well, I had the feeling I was at a Girdwood party in Kennicott and that this was not the right venue to be selling books.  A gal named Valerie confirmed that suspicion a few hours later when she told me that she and her boyfriend were also promoting a book, "Wild Animus," written by an eccentric gazillionaire from Colorado, that wanted people to read his book so much, he was hiring promoters in every state to give his book away.  Last year, they had given away over 2000 books and this year they were handing out CD's with him reading enticing segments of the book, so people would actually read it.  

"Is it any good?" I asked her.

"It's a piece of shit," she said.  "It totally sucks."

This was definitely not the venue for what I had in mind.  

If you can't fight em, join them. I decided to just enjoy the party and hitched a ride by motorcycle back to the bridge and got my stuff out of the yuppie cabin I wouldn't be sleeping in that night, and got my camping gear for the party that went on until the wee hours of the morning...

That's all for now. Thanks for reading.



PS This experience was one of my most cherished experiences from that year on the road. It was proof that one does not take a journey. A journey takes you!

PS This was one of the most epic experiences I had from the DIY booktour roadtrip I did in 2005-2006.

On the Road #5


Hey y'all,

In Anchorage to give the Brown Beast the medical care he deserves.  Apparently, the BB has many leaking wounds, but according to the doctors, if I keep giving him transfusions on a regular basis, the BB should be good to go, for a long time...how about that? 

Joe has joined the tour for the rest of the summer and he's set a goal to sell all the books in my truck. It is definitely more empowering to be a team of plural than a mission of singular, and the books are definitely selling.  At Chair Five in Girdwood, I had people following me to the bathroom to buy a book - yippee!!!  It is so much easier to have somebody else promoting me as a dreamer who is trying to manifest fantasy into reality.  When I do it, I sound like a geek.  At least for the next month, I don't have to endure the surface polite nods of those who can smell blood, while underneath the kitty sharpens its claws...okay, so I'm blowing things out of proportion.

Done with the Kenai Peninsula, and manana we're heading to McCarthy for the Blackburn Music Festival where we'll lay out a blanket and sell books.  Heard good things about this festival, so it should be good, and then we'll be heading up north - we may even go to Prudhoe Bay just so we can say we did because I doubt a bunch of republican oil-drillers will be into fairy tales featuring my heart-eating seductress, but you never know.  Then we'll be meandering on down to Fairbanks, and then...who knows.

Joe asked the I Ching a couple of questions...about chicks of course.  And one said the great departs and the small approaches - after he made the decision to not spread himself thin to go see a gal on the other side of the world  and the other was "The Marrying Maiden" with "The Arousing, Thunder" as the upper trigram, and "The Joyous, Lake" as the lower.  Since that girl already compared him to a flower, because he's "sweet," that made Joe's day.  He's been referring to himself as "I am the Arousing Thunder" ever since.  And he's totally sold on the I Ching. 

It's like traveling with my kid brother. 

Anyway, my journal list is starting to get bloated, so I have a request of everybody...if you would like to keep hearing of what's going on, drop me a line and let me know one way or the other.  If I hear nothing by the end of the month, I'll assume the answer is not and you're too considerate or too chicken to say so.

Anyway, hope all is well... 


PS This is the 5th email I sent to my friends of what are now some cherished memories of my DIY booktour/roadtrip in Alaska in the summer and fall of 2005. It was literally called “I don’t know what to call this one; this is the fifth email.”


Eternal Novicehood and the Saving Grace of Good Friends - On the Road #4


Hey y’all,

This road trip was shaping up to be an exercise in humiliation until Joe showed up. For instance, in Homer, at my first open mike, I had right in front of my stage the Christian kiddie contingent. They were there to play cards, talk loud, and make smart-ass speeches after different musicians played just to show how cute they were, while the folks that were actually listening attentively were behind them.  

I was lucky though, they got even more obnoxious when the guy after me went up to play his guitar and sing.  

At the Land's End in Homer, my first night was the exact same time and date as the post-Memorial service for Drew Scalzi, a former state Representative, so everyone there was going to that. One couple tried to get me to go upstairs, have some food and drink and let people know I was there, but there's just something about going to somebody's funeral, especially someone that I'd never met, to hustle some business that is...distasteful to say the least. The same couple came down and bought a book - probably out of sympathy because nobody showed up that day, and the wife suggested that I should come in the winter when people are looking for things to do during that time.

The next day, a couple of acquaintances and a couple of total strangers showed up. I sold two books. All I could think was that it was a mighty fine thing that I did not pay a dime for that space and that my beginner's luck had run out. And I'm back in the time and space of being a novice...again.

I packed up the Brown Beast (that is burning through the oil, but other than that is running beautifully) and headed for Seward.

It seems like every year I decide to do something different that I know nothing about, just so I can be a novice all over again. Perhaps Zen Buddhists would applaud my embrace of Zen mind by constantly being a beginner; but given that I learn by making sooooo many mistakes, the novice/beginner period can be agony.    

In Seward, at the Resurrect Art Coffee House – an old church that was converted into this little gem, I had set up a tableside storytelling for the sake of promoting my book. The owners are every artist's dream come true as they support the arts and would let me do whatever I wanted. So I set up for three days, hoping positive word of mouth would help.

Day one: I told several stories and sold...nothing.

Granted, I'm sure it could have been worse, I could have been insulted on top of it. But to be in a place for four hours and have people nod politely at my efforts is...awful and humiliating.

Why would any sane person put herself through all this?

It didn't help that I had a Homer friend tempting me to go back to Homer, go charter fishing and party. It was so demoralizing, I almost went, but I made a commitment and as much as it hurt, that commitment must be kept. I gritted my teeth to bear it on Thursday, where at least the day would be mercifully short.

Day two: I told two stories to four people...sold two books.  I perked up a bit. I've survived painful learning curves before and it was always better. I even sold two more books to a waitress and one of her followers at the bar where I refreshed myself with a beer after hiking.  

And then came deliverance...

Friday brought the arrival of Joe, who has absolutely no boundaries, and therefore, no inhibitions. A born balls-to-the-wall salesman type. For those who know Joe, after fishing in Bristol Bay, his dreds got inflected with fish bits, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. He said every morning when he woke up his head smelled like fish and he couldn't take it anymore. What should surprise everyone was that he shaved them off, along with his beard. And damn! He now looks like a respectable young man. He’s not, of course. But at least, he now passes.

Joe listened to a couple of stories, and even stopped being a smart-ass half-way through the first one. A Colorado woman who calls herself "Soozie Creamcheese," bought a book, and the two over-friendly studs I'd met at the youth hostel bought none. Then Joe took it upon himself to take a few books and hit the bars. He took four books, and within 45 minutes, came back with forty bucks, and left with ten more books. By the time people were only caring about getting drunk he sold seven more books. While I stayed put at the Resurrect Art Coffe House, told more stories, and sold two books.

I couldn’t believe it.

Here I am, busting my butt telling stories and recommending myself to strangers and all Joe has to say is: "Dude, you should REALLY buy this book," and he’s usually chatting up a female.

And it works.

I just might have to pack up Joe in my luggage...

Thank God for good friends.



PS These were some great memories of my road trip book tour in the summer of 2005. FYI, the Resurrect Art Coffee House is still around. If you’re ever in Seward, go check it out!