VACAY-SHUN (All I Ever Wanted?) – Clark Griswold Edition

I’m a tad late in writing the latest installment of what I have been working to make a monthly blog/gig-schedule/reminder-of-my-existence. I usually wait until around the 1st of the month, see what thought seems foremost in my head at the time, and try to write something interesting about it. But most of what has been occupying the parks and streets of my so-called-mind lately has been family stuff. I won’t bore you with too many details here, nor expose any embarrassing family secrets – well, truth be told, for my two teenagers, I’M the embarrassing family secret: Just having their Dad anywhere visible when they’re talking with their friends is mortifying. I remember a story about when Billy Idol – once the cool, sneering, spiky-haired pop-punk – had pre-teen kids, who bluntly informed him that they thought he was the exact opposite of cool: “Yeah, Dad, more like ‘Eyes Without a CLUE.’”

But some of my best memories of when I was a kid are the family vacations. Yes, I’m sure I spent a good deal of the car-travel time whining, “Are we there yet?” Nice to hear it again, coming from the other side. But I remember each one, and the places we went have special meaning to me now that most all the old folks are gone (irony noted).

Last summer, with my wife and my two teenagers, I set off for a road trip that took us from L. A. to Nashville, back down to New Orleans, through Texas and back home again. We did it in a little under three weeks. The drives were sometimes long, but I tried to stay over at least one night in a lot of the interesting places along the way.

A few of the highlights: Passenger boredom complaints instantly silenced as they walked up to the rim of the Grand Canyon at sunset. Watching someone (not us) eat a steak the size of Gregor Samsa’s thorax in Amarillo. My girls getting front-row seats to a Decembrists concert at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville just because we happened to wind up having dinner at Monell’s, family-style, with some of the band members.

We’re about to go on another of those this summer. This won’t be as much driving, as there’ll be less land to cover. But Dad will be in the driver’s seat again once we get there. We will be in the lower Mid-Atlantic States. We have friends in D.C., and plan to see all of that, plus many of the historic places, and maybe pay the Amish a little neighborly visit.

I do like to be on the road. Of course, there’s no more flipping through local AM radio stations to hear what kind of crazy stuff people are thinking in, like, Muskogee. These days, everybody’s pretty much listening to the same kind of crazy all over the country. Sirius or Spotify now.

But, to my kids, I know it’s like a bad remake of “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” I’m Clark Griswold, in baggy khaki shorts and embarrassing sandals, alternating between trying not to fall asleep at the wheel, and excitedly communicating to my daughters my enthusiasm for some of the great sites and sights of the lower half of the United States. You know they’re listening, and you know they’re learning, but at times they couldn’t look more bored nor less interested in doing it. Except – for those moments when they get to see the donkeys in the streets in Oatman, AZ; or Meteor Crater; or the ducks in the lobby of the Peabody Hotel in Memphis; or the indescribable majesty of Carlsbad Caverns.

It’ll all come back to them someday. I wonder what kind of radio they’ll have then?


 There are a few more gigs coming up in June before we leave, and after we get back, I will be performing at The Amazing Meeting, starting July 13, in Las Vegas. More about that in a future blog.

June 14th, Thursday night, 8pm, I’m doing another “Songwriter Back-‘n’-Forth” with the always cool and eclectic Skip Heller at The Other Door, near Cahuenga and Burbank Blvd. in Noho. Come hear some new tunes and a couple of covers, and some good drinks.

June 20th, Wednesday, will be the “First Day of Summer” show at the Cinema Bar. Starting at 8pm with Heather Donavan, then Captain Danger at 9pm, and then me, Skip Heller, and the Captain doing a Round-Robin at 10.

JUNE 22ndEVE BRANDSTEIN’S “POETRY IN MOTION” at Beyond Baroque. This is Eve’s acclaimed spoken-word/poetry series that has featured some of the best writers in town. I get to appear with Michael Des Barres, Terry Kirkman (of The Association! – I used to hear them at the Glendale Ice House a million years ago), and Mason Summit, among other notables.


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