The Lone Wolf
I find myself alone in life at the moment. I am in a self-imposed solitary confinement--usually to an imaginary room like Virginia Woolf's "room." "In a wee little room/I sit alone and think of you...," Chuck Berry sang, but I'm not thinking of anybody but myself. My ego is being interviewed by my ego and that, to me, is solitary confinement.
I wrote a song, "A Loner's Life." It was a beautiful song but it haunted me when I played it because it had so many self-evident truths in it.
Loners have it easier these days than loner's did back in the days of those great loners like Stephen Foster, who we've already gossipped about in a previous post discussing Charles Ives's father having pulled near-death Steve from a Harlem gutter as a youth.
Another great loner was Nietzsche. He moved up into the Alps and climbed to the top of a mountain behind his town and there he found total solitude. Nietzsche had no luck with women. I've read it might have had something to do with his having had incestuous relations with his sister. Who the hell knows. He was an ugly man. He made himself uglier by continuing to wear a horribly gross moustache that was said to scare women away from him. Alone, he wrote his philosophy of having to endure pain in order to find perfection. Poor old bastard never made any money. The only money he ever made was when he won a suit against one of his publishers and he blew that on putting a nice tombstone on his father's grave.
I think my brother put a nice tombstone on our parents's grave. My mother and father died together so they got buried together. I have no thoughts concerning where I'm going to be buried and certainly I'll have no tombstone at all unless I get filthy rich before I die, then, hell yeah, I'll leave a nice marble monument to myself; maybe on the order of the Washington Monument. I love obelisks. Yep, that would be fantastic; a Washington Monument-size obelisk to my memory, standing like a upturned middle finger against the old hometown. Jesus, that's a great thought, my towering monument looming over my little West Texas hometown. "Jesus, what the hell is that?" the tourists would ponder as they ploughed around the beltways that loop past that lonely little city on the lone prairie of the Great Plains of collected lone prairies. I'll leave them a tourist attraction; otherwise, there is no reason to stop in my hometown anymore unless you want to live there. I can see being born there, but I can't see living there.
Refinement arose in my thoughts this morning when I was pondering this loner situation I'm suddenly in. A woman was in my life for 31 years and she was with me everyday for the past year and a half but now she's gone, to her own place, and I haven't seen her in over a week. It's strange. At one time I thought she hung the damn moon, that perpetual moon that hangs over my life. But now I know; she never hung that moon up there; I hung that damn loner moon up there back in my days of refinement.
Is refinement true development? Is evolution a process of refinement? Do accidents lead to care; do they lead to planning, refinement?
Tonight I found a drumhead--yes, I'm serious, a damn drumhead--signed by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. "Best wishes, Roy Rogers," and "Happy Trails, Dale Evans." Dale invented that "Happy Trails" bullshit old Roy plied to success and finally to the founding of Arbie's sandwich joints. Remember Roy Rogers's Fried Chicken, with the "Fixin's" bar? Roy was from Cincinnati; named Leonard Slye originally; he and his worthless dad went to California during the Depression and Leonard and his brother went into L.A. and damned if they didn't start making it as phony hick singers; from a drugstore cowboy, after Gene Autrey walked off a job, the studios turned Leonard Slye into Roy Rogers and in 1938, Roy and the gang began their rise in float up to hillbilly heavenly success. Then Roy created the "Sons of the Pioneers," really made pure by the great writing of Texan Bob Nolan. My brother, and he tells this story in his next-to-last book, was Roy's official photographer for one day in Philadelphia in 1943. I have sitting here by me two photos my brother took that day, one's of Roy and the Sons of the Pioneers and the other's of Roy sitting on Trigger. Jeez, there he is, the King of the Cowboys himself looking straight and honest right into the eye of my brother's camera, a Leica he'd bought when he was in basic training at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center north of Chicago.
Roy was married 3 times. Dale Evans was married 4 times. Dale became a big Christian and boohooed "Littliest Angels" for years--those are kids born to whores and such, abandoned babies, and drug addicts's kids, etc. Roy and Dale had a huge tribe of adopted kids, including all ethnic groups. Roy found heaven in Hollywood. Dale found heaven in Jesus. I always thought Roy loved Trigger more than he did Dale, though she was a pretty hot little potato being passed around the Hollywood cowboy world when Roy roped her.
The drumhead sold for $32.
Also, I found several "Jerry Witte" autographs--on 5 x 6 cards-- on eBay tonight too; they autographed them at baseball card shows. Jerry was a minor league phenom who only made it to the majors during WWII when he went up and played for the Saint Louis Browns, a worthless ballteam in the American League who did zip until all the great major leaguers had to join the army and left the majors to the amateurs, of which the Saint Louis Browns turned out to be the best team of amateurs, winning the American League pennant in 1944 and playing the hometown Cardinals in the World Series that year, losing to the Cardinals on an error by the Browns's shortstop Vern Stephens, a great shortstop really. This was the Browns only trip to the World Series. Before they had had some of the worst teams in baseball history, losing over 100 games three seasons in a row back in the early 1900s, losing 107 games two seasons in a row and then having a better year losing only 101 games the next year.
I knew Jerry Witte from his Texas League days, and Jerry was a powerhouse king in the Texas League during the late forties and early fifties. After being at Houston for a couple of years, in 1949, the Dallas Eagles hired him. It was Dallas's first year as the Eagles under their new owner, Dick Burnett, who bought the Dallas Rebels the year before and changed their name and the name of Rebel Stadium in the Oak Cliff suburb of Dallas to Burnett Field, with Miss Inez playing the organ. Witte came to Dallas and played first base and he and Lefty Altizer, a pitcher, became my favorite players on that Dallas team. The summer of 1950, Jerry hit 50 homeruns for the Eagles. That's the year, I was 11, I found out Jerry worked for Blankenship Ford in Dallas during the off season, and in the fall of 1950, I called Blankenship Ford and got Jerry on the phone and I interviewed him; a 11-year-old kid interviewing his hero. And Jerry was the nicest guy in the world and thrilled me to death by talking to me just like I was a big-time sports reporter. Man, was I a happy camper for years after that. I would say, "I interviewed Jerry Witte...." "Who?" everyone would slam me back. It didn't matter; I knew who he was; he was in my Hall of Fame; and that's all that mattered to me within me, alone with myself; alone with my heroes.
So, I think I'm gonna buy the two Jerry Witte autographs on eBay right now.
I passed up a harmonica used on stage by Jimmy Reed. It didn't sell at $850.
A Charles Bukowski-signed poem manuscript (I own three of them; from the same book dealer in San Francisco) sold for an amazing $460.
A Carl Van Vechten photo of Langston Hughes sold for $350. Makes my Van Vechten Billie Holiday look good to me.
I wallow like a pig in its own shit on eBay. Just this week I bought three Golfcraft golf clubs--Lloyd Mangrum autographed models from the late 50s/early sixties--a combo, glass shaft putter; a #1 wood; and a sand wedge. I have the putter already and I'm starting to putt like a champ again. I learned a lot of my golf from Lloyd Mangrum--one of his books taught me a secret to good putting I've never forgotten.
for The Daily Growler