Arts + Entertainment

Three pickup trucks. One stretch of highway.

Since 2005, I’ve routinely traversed a never-ending stretch of Interstate 81 from north-central Pennsylvania into Eastern Tennessee. Some of the trips were for business, others for pleasure, with every single trek one of personal reflection amid a wide-spectrum of the beauty — physical and spiritual — that is singular to the identity of America.

I’ve never shot a gun.

Nope. Not once. I come from a family of gun owners. I’ve held plenty of guns. I’ve even attended a handful of gun shows. And I enjoyed learning about each one, the feeling of history and power within my fingers. But, I’ve never shot one. No interest, really. Honestly.

Tom Petty.

I can’t remember a time without him and his band’s music in my life. It’s always been there, just like Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson have always been there for my parents’ generation. I grew up on the sounds of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. We all did. Every single one of us, whether we realize it or not.

It’s the internal struggle.

Do you participate in life and soak it in like a sponge being dropped into a bucket of water, or do you simply walk to the side and stay out of the way of the trials and tribulations hurled at those who aim to find and achieve some semblance of success?

He suggested two. I bought three.

Standing in the small main office of the Woodsmoke Campground in Unicoi, Tennessee, I grabbed the three bundles of firewood and tossed them into my rusty, musty pickup truck and tracked down campsite #4.

Ugh.

The moment my girlfriend handed over my soaking wet smart phone, a shiver of isolation ran up my spine. That’s the last time I try to sneak a water bottle of cheap domestic beer in her purse into a bluegrass show, let alone have my phone also in said purse for “safe keeping.”

I ain’t perfect.

And the older I get, the more I realize just how true that statement is. Along with the new wrinkles and ever-present grey hairs I notice in the mirror, I also am noticing more of what is behind the eyes staring right back at me.

I can still feel the cold air, the sense of hopelessness.

Watching the clips of the massive rainfall and flooding in Houston and greater Texas this week, I can’t help but simply direct my eyes towards the confused, helpless faces, the scenes of utter destruction at the hands of Hurricane Harvey. It conjured a slew of images in my own memory of the “North American Ice Storm of 1998.”

The trifecta.

By this past Monday morning, I was running on fumes heading back to my humble abode in downtown Waynesville in preparation for the solar eclipse. Three nights. Three bands. Three genres of music — and also attitudes — that shaped who I ultimately am today.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the 1980 cult classic film “The Blues Brothers,” Jake and Elwood are stuck in traffic as a Nazi rally blocks the bridge they need to cross. When they ask a nearby police officer about what’s going on, the officer shrugs, “Ah, those bums won their court case, so they’re marching today.” Jake replies, “What bums?” The officer shoots back, “The f**ckin’ Nazi party.”

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Reading Room

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    A strange mix of books crosses my desk The first weeks of 2018 have seen some offbeat books shamble across my desk and into my fingers. First up is John Buchan’s Mr. Standfast, also known as Mr. Steadfast. Buchan, a Scottish novelist and politician who served as Governor General of Canada from 1935…
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