another sign of my impending demise

1. Mo makes granola from scratch. Says I must try.

2. Declines to eat any herself.

3. Waits patiently.

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thrown for a loop

I’m out walking the Chaparral Park loop with Mo. It’s a glorious day, the sort of day the rest of the country would be enjoying if they weren’t so preoccupied with freezing to death. Walkers, runners, dogs, geese. We stroll along and talk about life and latte. It’s a good day.

And then.

As we finish the second loop, Mo utters the unthinkable:

“What if we do the next loop in the other direction?”

I’m aghast.

You’re around someone for 20 years and think you know them. And then you find out they’re a chainsaw murderer or a “Jackass: The Movie” fan or a Republican. The other direction? Seriously? The other direction?

We’re going counter-clockwise, the universal direction for loops. I ponder for a moment whether I’m being irrational. Would it be that big of a deal to go clockwise for a loop? Sort of a rebel movement in the face of conformity. The answer: Yes.

And then it hits me. I ALWAYS used to run clockwise, the universal direction for loops.

As a lad, ALL my runs were clockwise. I hated going to the track because you were forced to run the wrong direction. Maybe because I’m left handed or didn’t want to doubt the wisdom of clocks. I truly hated running right to left. I even hated races that ran loops that direction. It had to be clockwise. Had to be.

So why am I now thinking the same thing but the opposite direction? Maybe it’s true that as you get older you move to the right. Maybe because clocks are no longer that wise, having given up their hands in favor of little numbers on a black screen. Maybe I just forgot.

Will I start running clockwise again now that I’ve been guilted? Will it bug me as I’m running counter-clockwise that I’m thumbing my nose at the most intractable rule of my younger running self?

There’s only one solution.

I will only run out and back courses from now on.

Unless I remember between now and tomorrow that I used to insist on running back and out instead.

Running is complicated …

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mo sheppo’s guide to christmas

  1. Stick a few ornaments on the bush outside.
  2. Buy a bunch of chocolate in case we have trick-or-treaters.
  3. Done.

Christmas isn’t nearly as hard as people make it out to be.

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once upon a lawn jockey

We’re wandering around the downtown art district.  It’s sad how many of the galleries have become bridal boutiques since we were last here. But I guess that’s because I’m not a bride.

As we get to the end and prepare to turn around, there he is. Outside a cigar store stands a  wooden Native American caricature,  the traditional cigar store symbol. People still do this?

I realize it started because American Indians introduced tobacco to the Europeans. Shops then used the statues as an advertisement in the same vein as a barber pole as a way to work around illiteracy. But that was in the 17th and 18th centuries. Haven’t we progressed past that point now? Imagine if an NFL team tried to use the image of a Native American with a disparaging nickname. Not a chance.

I look inside the cigar store. Three guys in overstuffed leather chairs, a bit overstuffed themselves, smoke cigars in some sort of frat boy ritual for the 60-year-old set. Why don’t I get these memos? They stare at me with a smug entitlement as I stand outside shooting a photo of their mascot.

I wag my bottom at them as I walk away, secretly celebrating the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s pipeline victory. Sometimes the good guys win after all.

And then I read that the incoming administration supports completion of the pipeline. They’re likely smoking cigars while they do it.

Maybe we SHOULD kick out the immigrants. Us.

I wish Native Americans would put statues of pudgy cigar-smoking white guys at the entrances of casinos …

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the quotable mo sheppo, part 17

“If you were writing in your blog now, you’d say we’re driving around Phoenix trying to find Corpus Christi.”

But we knew where it was — Guadalupe. The little town that time forgot, and it doesn’t seem to bother them much at all. We always loved this town. Now it’s like going home.

Mo bought an angel for the door, and we paid our respects at the beautiful old church in the middle of the town. It has everything Corpus has — that sense of community, the simple but beautiful architecture, the homemade signs — that we find distressingly gone in the big city.

Next time I need a paleta, I know where to go.

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you can trust me not to think

The past is gone
but something might be found
to take its place
— the prophet hopkins

Mo is standing in the perfect spot for the show. It’s about 20 feet back from the stage, the little elevated area next to the guard rail. A clear view over the crowd and a quick swivel to get to the bar. It’s far enough from the speakers that it’s not overwhelming, but close enough that it feels like you’re in the band’s living room. With the bands that play here, it probably IS their living room.

She’s patiently waiting for the show to start. Except they tore the bar down in 2004.

Long Wong’s was the perfect dive bar. It was a little place on a corner of Mill Avenue in downtown Tempe. You could stand outside and look in the big picture window behind the band. Or you could pay the five bucks and battle the crowd. It’s where the Gin Blossoms started out, and we spent countless nights there watching them, the Refreshments, Dead Hot and the other bands part of the “Tempe Sound” that became a thing for a few years.

Robin, the Blossoms singer, played acoustic on Wednesdays. Elvis the Cat sold his little collages. The buffalo wings were unspeakably hot and the beer was cheap. We loved that place. Stiflingly hot in the summer, freezing in the winter. The way music should be. It was home.

And then.

The company they were leasing from decided to close it to build a Fancy Building there. The last show was April 3, 2004. The building was razed soon thereafter.

And then. Nothing.

A gravel lot stood as a symbolic graveyard of live music in Tempe.

We went back today, not quite 13 years later. And it’s still a gravel lot.

I don’t know business, but I know music. And standing there in our usual spot, waiting for the show to start, I lament that commerce always wins over art. Artists move into downtown Phoenix because it’s a blighted ghost town. The art brings in visitors, which causes stores and cafes to pop up, and causes condos to be built. So they kick out the artists to build new businesses, and we’re left with a shiny hipster heaven with no heart. The artists move elsewhere and the cycle repeats itself.

I guess there’s nothing much to be done about it. Artists and musicians have passion, not money. You just seek them out while they’re there, cling to that guard rail with your Rolling Rock in hand, and know that nothing lasts forever.

And then you savor the memory, standing in a gravel lot, watching the imaginary stage and waiting for “Hey Jealousy” to break out one more time.

Progress sucks.

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life is funny, part 369

We’re living in a new place, full of adventures. Mountains, deserts, cities, stuff. They’re all here, waiting to be explored. And we’re off today. What to do?

Mo is painting. I’m reading a book. We’re listening to Guy Clark’s first album. And we couldn’t be happier. 

Maybe that’s the point of exploring. Find out where you want to be. And then be there. Here we are. 

Life is funny …

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