Up front, my apologies to friends and fans who have been receiving duplicate newsletters to the same e-mail address. I believe the problem is solved, but please let me know if I’m mistaken.
It was a month of duplications for me. Two trips to Cross Lake, Minnesota, two concerts, two long bike trails with lifelong friend Bruce Norvell from Idaho. Bruce and I biked, hiked, canoed and roller-skied for three days. We’ve both been lone wolves all our lives, both interactive with nature, so there is a silent bond between us as if we are secret witnesses to the same miracles in separate venues.
Have you ever witnessed something staggering or been privileged to experience something so fulfilling that your first impulse was to grab a camera or a telephone out of sheer desperation to share it with someone who can think like you? I feel like that almost every day. I have the ears and voice within me to share miracles first-hand but no audience. It’s ironic really. I’m kinda gender reversed (hey, no jokes -- mucho macho here). What I mean is that, unlike most men, I like to communicate. This should make me ideal for marriage, but I went through 23 years of it in a mute relationship with someone who was gender reversed the other way when it came to communication. It was like that ad for a book -- “I must scream, and I have no mouth!” I guess the frustration has mainly to do with my lifestyle. I just don’t do the things most people do, or think the way most people think, and I’m always off the beaten path.
Life is infinitely richer when you can verbalize it. Ditto intimacy. Ditto memories, hopes, dreams and relationships. There seem to be two phases to that, one being communicating while it’s happening, the other being whatever comes before or after those live & in-person moments, i.e., anticipation or aftermath (and I guess that covers past, present and future). Which explains why I’m either in front of a keyboard or out in nature soaking up primary research.
The second trip to the Cross Lake area in 10 days was to bike the Paul Bunyan Trail where pine needle carpets, earthy aromas, and tiers of evergreens are sharply etched against vaporous blue skies above lake after lake. Dragonflies stitch sunsets with their zigzag routes, and time is meaningless when you stand breathing crystal air and eating cheese and apples in the silence. Life becomes simple. A shower means pouring a gallon of water over yourself next to the car, and each town you pass through is like a whole new act in a play (pssst!...thank you to A&W’s Patrick for the freebies in Nisswa).
The first of the two concerts was Bluesfest 2008 with its eclectic mix of street people and upscale types toting Birkin bags and lapdogs as they took in a dozen bands over 10 hours on two stages. I savor the memory of eating a dish of Cherry Garcia ice cream while chewing four Chiclets and sitting next to a waterfall which generated a cool breeze as I listened to Big Jay McNeely honking on the T-sax 20 feet away. And the second concert...ah, that was something really special.
Special because it was more than the summer’s top concert. Glenn Frey, founder of the Eagles, has a whole wing in the castle of my life. We sorta came together 20 years ago like a couple of mavericks -- he with elegance and class, me with...uh, say, did I ever tell you about my chinchilla socks? Anyway, Glenn’s invitation to spend three days chilling out in Crosslake near where he was performing at Manhattan Beach Lodge was made even more special by the fact that his wife Cindy, two sons, and father-in-law were there. Deacon (15) and Otis Lincoln Douglas (6) are a couple of scene-stealers on any given night. Last month I said I’d write a column about the whole happening, but the many insights a writer of books can get looking over the shoulder of a legendary success in a neighboring art form have given me reason to turn it into a series. The first part is just now up on StorytellersUnplugged.com: http://www.storytellersunplugged.com/thomas-sullivan-cross-lake-glenn-frey-breathing-the-sky
With all the fish Deacon and Otis took out of Island Lake you might think the pre-concert meal was a fish Frey, but that was strictly catch-and-release and so we had an exquisite BBQ just before the big event. That languid hour or two leading up to the night’s excitement was what I’ll remember most. Terrific friends in a terrific setting, watching the lakes -- Island Lake, Lower Whitefish Lake, Loon Lake -- sparkle through a window wall of the house. We decided that Cross Lake’s irregular shape is the new Rorschach inkblot test. I got a cat vomiting a mouse out of it or a gnome yanking a carpet out from under a fat dragon in heat. In retrospect, Cross Lake was all about contrasts. Dynamic energy, slow raptures. All of it meaningful. Glenn leaves nothing to chance on concert day, but he was styled the King of Cool early in his career and that’s never changed. In fact, director Cameron Crowe has said that the movie Almost Famous is loosely about Glenn, which is why he was a consultant on “coolness” for it. Deacon seems to be in line for that crown. Couldn’t help but admire the young man’s concentration as he was about to make his vocal debut in front of a few thousand people. And Otis…yeesh. The kid is pure spontaneity. Other than a sound-check gig on the tambourine a few hours earlier, he had zero prep. I’m like Peter Pan whenever I’m around kids, and I put Cindy on notice that I was going to kidnap Otis and take him home with me. Maybe the fact that the next day was Father’s Day had something to do with it.
Much more over in the column, but I’m running long here. Apologies for the blurriness of the photo below taken on-stage of Glenn & Deacon. Besides the fact that I didn’t hold the cell phone camera steady, the stage was vibrating like you wouldn’t believe. There are some additional pictures from Crosslake in last month’s newsletter on my website www.thomassullivanauthor.com (click into News & Articles). The other concert photo below is of Big Jay McNeely at Bluesfest. The biker shots are Bruce Norvell and moi on the Paul Bunyan Trail near Cross Lake, and the notorious Dr. Foto (Mark Manrique) has weighed in as well.
T-shirts Jerry Born made for Glenn’s concert:
“I got Frey’d at Manhattan Beach Lodge”
“Making the call to his agent…Pennies”
“Finding a way to get him here...Thousands”
“Having Glenn Frey play in Cross Lake...Priceless”
“Standing on a corner in Crosslake, Minnesota”
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Thomas “Sully” Sullivan