Dear wanna-be tough guy outside my window in the street just now, trying to be all badass, yelling "shut the fuck up" and getting in the face of some bemused truckdriver. The reason he doesn't fear you is that tough guys don't use umbrellas. And your "shut the fuck up" lacked any conviction or true vitriol, and came off as disingenuous and perfunctory, like you had rehearsed it in front of the mirror in your mommy's basement. And dude - khakis and loafers? Seriously? Go the fuck home now, before somebody here shows you where you are. I'd come out and do that myself, but...it's raining. And I left my umbrella out in my van.
A few years ago my folks were visiting me, and my Dad and I went for a walk around my neighborhood with a couple of cigars. He told me that he’d been in Nashville quite a bit before I was born, and on his last trip a big-name country star (name dropping is not essential to the story) had taken him under his wing and given him a place to stay at this big flophouse the star rented for aspiring musicians and songwriters.
“This was gonna be it. But after a few days, I looked around at all these guys, leaving their wives and kids, most of them not going back ‘cause this was their big shot, and just said to myself, ‘I’m better than this.' I missed your mother, and I went home.”
Integrity. I think about that, on some level, every night.
I once went up to visit my folks and they said "Hey, we gotta go see Leon Redbone...he's doing an outdoor show." There was a nice little crowd, over a thousand, on a beautiful late summer day, until the skies opened up and (almost) everyone ran for cover. Leon, on a tiny arch-top acoustic guitar and his "band" (a trumpet player and a clarinet player) were on a covered stage and continued playing, while my folks and I and about a dozen other hardcore sociopaths stood there getting drenched, happily and fearlessly soaking in (literally) Leon's ersatz brand of post-neo-vaudeville-ragtime. It is truly one of my top ten memories of all time