November 2008

November 26, 2008

Is it safe?


That's all I kept thinking about at the dentist. I kept thinking about the movie Marathon Man. Did you ever see it? Dustin Hoffman getting his teeth drilled by a former Nazi torture specialist. All because his brother, played by Roy Scheider is in the C.I.A. If you haven't seen it I don't suggest seeing it until after you go to the dentist. The Nazi keeps drilling into Dustin's teeth and asking him if it's safe.
"Is it safe? Is it safe?"
Poor Dustin doesn't know what the guy is talking about and he keeps answering yes and then no. Anything to get the guy to stop drilling in his mouth. Every once in awhile the torture expert played by Laurence Olivier will put clove oil into Dustin's mouth to soothe the pain.
One of the other things I like about this film is how Dustin Hoffman's character Thomas "Babe" Levy is obsessed with Abebe Bikila, the Ethiopian marathon champion who won 2 gold medals in the Olympics. He won in 1960 running barefoot. A full marathon in bare feet! He then won it again in 1964 after having his appendix removed only 40 days earlier. He wore shoes this time.
The theme of the marathon, the torture and the fact that it takes place in New York and that it came out in 1976 make this movie one of my favorite thrillers.

Let's rent it together tonight.
It's not exactly a Thanksgiving movie, but now that my ordeal at the dentist is over I'll be able to watch it and relive my pain. Yay for pain!

Congrats to to Troy Lee Wells and soon to be Devon Lee Wells! Theys a gonna get married. Theys a gonna have a weddin'. Idiots. I love 'em. I had dinner with them last night and I got to hang with his future mother in law as well. She rocks. She's an english teacher and english teachers make the world go round. So he's getting a way cool wife and an even cooler mother in law. I took their wedding picture here. They're just the cutest things I ever did see.
Paz y amor,

Posted by steve at 6:19 AM | Comments (2785)
November 19, 2008

Something I didn't think about


I left my show in Oakville at 1 in the morning. I figured I needed to hightail it out of town to avoid Toronto sunrise traffic and make it to Buffalo on time for my morning flight. The weather report called for quite a bit of snow so I maneuvered my rental car through the Canadian roads towards the United States of America. With a hot cup of tea between my legs and a song in my head, I drove and watched the snowflakes float like graceful drunkards from beyond my windshield. By the time I got to the border, the Immigration man gave me the third degree and checked and rechecked my passport and kept asking me what I did for a living.
"Why are you playing shows in Canada?" he asked in an accusatory tone. "Why don't you just play in San Diego where you live?"
"Why are you such an asshole?" I didn't say. "Because that's how I make my living" I really said.
"What kind of music do you play?" he retorted. "How come I've never heard of you?"
"Because my records have only gone tinfoil" I chortled.
"Whaddya mean tinfoil?" he asked with no sense of humor whatsoever.
"It means I'm not that well known. I just drive for hours and play to a few people everywhere in different cities."
"I don't know how you can make any money doing doing that" he added with disdain.
"Well, I sell guns and heroin on the side" I didn't say. "Ummm I don't know. Jeez Mister I'm trying my best. I really play my heart out every night. People sometimes buy my cds at the shows and the club owners usually pay me and feed me" I said defensively. "I also play in people's houses and they feed me great meals. Why just the other night I played a house concert in Meaford, Ontario and they cooked a huge roast beef dinner with Yorkshire pudding and mashed potatoes and veggies and a great dessert to boot!"
I felt like I was defending my life to the life defining authorities. I thought that if he decided what I was doing wasn't up to par with the life defining standards of the immigration life act #2242 that I would be sent to a re-education camp to find a new life's purpose. I waited in my car for his answer as the snow flakes fluttered toward my windshield like ticker tape rejects until he finally looked up from his computer screen.
"Yorkshire pudding?" he asked. "Mmmm, I love Yorkshire pudding. Did they make gravy that you could use for dipping?"
"Oh hell yes!" I shouted back.
"Ok, you can go now. Drive real careful, it's really starting to come down."
"Yorkshire pudding" I thought to myself as I drove off. "Who woulda thunk? I should have mentioned that first."

By the time I got to Buffalo it was 3 in the morning and the roads were in bad shape. I figured I'd drive as close as I could to the airport and find a hotel. There was no room at the inn. Anywhere. I started frantically calling every hotel in the book. Zip, nada, zilch, nothing, zero. Then that slow sinking sad feeling hit me at 3:30 in the morning as I slid through the parking lot of another no vacancy hotel. The clerk said to me "you're not going to find anything for miles. It was Monday Night Football here in Buffalo. A home game versus The Cleveland Browns. A shit load of folks from Cleveland came up to the game and football here is religion."
I trudged back out to my rental car in the icy snow and left the motor running and cranked up the heat as I laid down my seat. I finally fell asleep and had bad dreams that someone was going to see my lights on in the car with it running and try to rob me. Or that somehow the exhaust was going to leak in and I'd wake up dead. Instead I woke up at 7 am with my leg sound asleep up to my hip. The gas tank was on empty and there was snow all over like it was Christmas morning. I stepped out of the car and peed in the parking lot like a hobo and then slipped and fell in my own pee. I thought about all the people in Guelph who could have used that wasted liquid. (see blog entry about Guelph- below- to follow that thought) I started laughing and shivering at the same time and got in the car and went to the airport. I guess I should have tried to book a room from Canada. That's something i didn't think about.
Am I any smarter from this little incident?
No- but I did sleep in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn Express.

Yours in Yorkshire,

Posted by steve at 7:35 PM | Comments (16731)
November 17, 2008

Watching the elephants try to dance


Yesterday I drove through the snow in Algonquin Park in Canada and everything was dusted with powdered sugar. As I drove, I forgot I was in the snow and I started smiling because I was picturing elephants trying to dance in a field in Africa. It was so hard for me to keep my eyes on the road because the pachyderms were wearing golden tutus and red slippers with golden bells. There was a pretty fast song developing in my head and every chance I could get I would pull my car over to the side of the road and try to finger the song on my fretboard. The elephants were laughing too and then for one second the sun shot through the clouds like a giant flashlight and it washed over me and warmed my soul. I tried to stop talking to the elephants but they were fluent in an east Indian dialect that I happened to write my doctoral thesis on in back in 1929 right before the market crashed. It felt so good to speak in my native tongue. It had been almost 60 years since I last had a real conversation and I felt complete. So I bought the mask of an elephant at a thrift store that specialized in wooly mammoth tusks. The old man that worked there smelled of gin and had the blossom on his nose to match and he just happened to be the world's largest collector of animal masks. We danced in the snow together until I was out of breath and he almost had a heart attack and we ended up laughing hysterically for what seemed like hours. I got back on the road and stopped at a Tim Hortons for some donuts and made it to my show in Wakefield, Quebec just on time to take the stage. I love life. Love it, love it, love it. How lucky are we to be alive in this exact time and space? Let's count our blessings and listen to song of the elephants dancing.

Listen here listen here!

Dance on you crazy elephants,
Reno Macgillicuddy

Posted by steve at 9:14 AM | Comments (12483)
November 15, 2008

Listen to what it sounds like in my head


The Doctors pulled a wattmeter out of an old factory
They gussied it up a bit with greasy French fry oil
It was protected with wattle and daub
Even a clumsy fool could drop it from a table
And it could still read the sounds coming from brains

They lured me in by offering chocolates and tea
I said a prayer and off I went
There were wires and charts and white jackets
There were name badges and goggles and needles and gloves
“Where’s my candy?” I asked, in my best adult voice

“tsk tsk tsk”, said the nurse in the overcoat
“your tea is on the stove but first I must measure your head”
her assistant put me in a steel tube and I shivered a shivery shiv
my eyes were blinded by sparkling lights as brilliant as the sun
they inserted a wire through my ears
it only hurt a little

a mouse scurried across the floor
I heard the wails of a woman from a bordering room
I wanted to cry but I bit my lip
My skull felt as numb as my tongue
After a kiss I once had in the snow

I tried to break free but they were already rolling tape
They were able to record earlier thoughts
Thoughts I had while driving
The things I thought whilst eating alone
They HEARD what was in my brain!
They gave me my tea
My chocolate and
Of course


click here to listen to the sounds in Steve's head!

Posted by steve at 6:35 AM | Comments (60)
November 14, 2008

The grilled cheese sandwich


My beamish friends attract like flies on salty skin
freshly dripping from the ocean waters
my obdurate heart melts into forgiveness
melts like a grilled cheese sandwich
with the face of Jesus

People line up around my block
snapping pictures that beatify
snapping like angry turtles
snap snappity snap snap
the flashes fade the toasted bread
from golden brown to pale

News trucks look for a fresh scoop
deadlines approach like speeding bullets
The hordes of Christians fight for their claims
of the loving face of their Saviour
with melted cheese obfuscating the facial lines
yet the sandwich is sacrosanct

I just wanted a midnight snack
I wasn't looking for trouble
to be a pain or a pest
just a pickle
some sea salt
a sandwich
and a fly swatter

Posted by steve at 9:13 AM | Comments (6615)
November 13, 2008

Guelph is a state of mind


Tonight I'm playing in a city called Guelph. I wonder who came up with the name Guelph and what the inhabitants are like? It's known as "The Royal City" and its residents are called Guelphites. It's 100 kilometers west of Toronto at the intersection of Highway 6 and Highway 7. But never mind the facts- here's what I think straight from my jejune grey matter.

I think Guelph is a half panicked state of mind not unlike that of the feeling of just waking up after a restless night's sleep. Someone last night night told me that to them Guelph sounded like the noise a cat makes when choking on a hair ball. At first that made sense to me but then I got here. Upon arriving I realized that everyone in Guelph has the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion. That's why their athletic teams at the University of Guelph are known as The Gryphons. Personally, I would have spelled it Griffins but I'm less inclined to be traditional than most. The funny thing is, everyone here runs their cars on urine. I mean, talk about recycling and making the most of your waste products. They used to have an abattoir in the center of town but the stench was debilitating and the forefathers and foremothers burned the building down one fateful night in the early 1900's. Needless to say, there is still an almost funereal gloom that's palpable when strolling down Main Street. I went into a washroom to relieve myself and at least 3 different people handed me jars for my pee. I couldn't even find a regular gas station for my rental car with its alien Georgia license plates. As the sepulchral darkness of the night begins creeping in, I'm going to get off the streets and hide in my car. I've become nothing more than a refugee on the lam from the future cops looking to propel their flying cars with more of my pale yellowish fluid I have stored in my bladder. Good God, I'm frightened but I will not- I repeat- I will not cancel my show tonight because of the jar carrying droogs that seem to accost me at every wrong turn I happen to make. My catheter holding enemies are nothing more than street urchins looking for any opportunity make me micturate on demand so that they may time travel to other planets and get the hell out of Guelph. I will not give in to their urinary collecting neediness. I am not just some unworthy interloper from the nether regions. I am not an animal. I am a man who gets to keep his own pee for himself for his own use.
Send in life flight.

Posted by steve at 1:52 PM | Comments (1618)
November 12, 2008

Greetings from Canadia


Looking to assuage my angst filled fingers I trekked out to Taylor Guitars in a hurry before catching the steel bird that flew across the bumpy skies toward the east. Freshly repaired guitar arrived safely in Buffalo at the bewitching hour of midnight and we were happily reunited like two long lost friends who found each other through a missing persons website. Me and Smokey Joe- Smokey Joe and Me. Two pods in a pea- looking for a bowl to rest our weary limbs and strings. Smokey puts up with my puerile jokes and incessant plucking and pulling and yammering on. We are ready to rock Canadia this week with our mullets and acid washed jeans and ersatz speed metal. I wish I could have rented an 80's Camaro with a cassette player. That would be a splendorific awe-inspiring sight. Instead here I am in a grass field waiting for the sun to poke its shy little face from behind the clouds that threaten to leak with a bark that's worse than its bite. Waiting for Godot or at least a man named Vladimir to tell me what time sound check is. Then I'll be whisked off to Hugh's Room to sing songs for the denizens of Toronto and most certainly I'll repeat this act in other cities for the rest of the week until Smokey tells me it's time to return to home plate.

Thanks for all of the comments and info regarding flu shots. I've decided to sit and wait and think. But until then, I'll wash my hands early and often.
Yours truly,

Posted by steve at 1:38 PM | Comments (5920)
November 9, 2008

Amor et melle et felle est fecundissmismus


Love is rich with both honey and venom. I guess that's what makes it so exciting. I should open a smoothie bar and sell honey and venom shakes. I have a feeling these drinks would sell like slices of pizza to a group of stoned freshman in their first semester of college. I could probably retire and not have to travel so much. But I'd miss the excitement of the shows and the seductive pull of the stage. All I know is that I leave for Toronto on Tuesday and it's one city that I'm always to happy to visit. This time I'm fixing to drive in from Buffalo. I just checked the weather and it should be a balmy 30 degrees when I land. That's not too bad except for the fact that it's 30 degrees. My Dad says I should get a flu shot but I have a theory that they're dangerous and I don't trust them. I wonder if I'm just paranoid and I would like your opinions.
1. Do you guys trust flu shots?
2. Is there any money backing our U.S. dollar?

New Years Eve is starting to look like a great show at The Casbah in San Diego
It starts with- Gregory Page
Then- Steve Poltz (me!) and The cynics
next up The Truckee Brothers (full 4 piece band action!)
Finally..... ring in the new year with......... The Rugburns!

That's quite a lineup.
Are there any questions?


Posted by steve at 9:25 PM | Comments (6243)
November 5, 2008

Looking at the world through leaf colored glasses (Congrats Obama!)

photo by Joshographry

I cried last night and I'm not ashamed to admit it. This is the first candidate I've ever given money to. The first candidate I've believed in. I was so proud to be a part of this election and what it means to be alive in such an exciting time. There's a lot of tough work ahead and I can't be deluded into thinking that it's going to be easy. We have a cultural divide in this country that I see everyday through all my travels. Yet for some reason I am still an optimist and I still see the world for what it can be as opposed to what it can't. Maybe I have a leaf over my eye but I see the good in people. I don't just hang out in blue states no sir no way. Why just last week I was in North Dakota and I met some some great people who were there to hear music and were willing to take a chance and buy some of my cds. I was in Kentucky, another red state and I went to a high school where my friend Tom Flannery teaches and I played for some of his students. We all shared our love of music and they had the wide eyed excitement of high schoolers just starting their own bands. They spoke of buying cool instruments and writing songs and performing with a passion that I still have and that I recognize in others. I zipped across the border to Ohio for a fun show in a state that finally voted blue! Then in a beautiful old theater with people huddled together listening to stories I was allowed to be a freak on stage and have a push up contest and read strange texts. I loved traveling through Mississippi and eating soul food and watching and listening and learning. And now today as I wake up and peruse the news and look at pictures of our 44th President of the United States of America, I see a beautiful face full of hope, intellectual curiosity and a willingness to listen to others and I can only feel joy, wonder and amazement. I would like to send my congratulations to President-elect Barack Obama fom all of us at We're proud of you and excited for the next 4 years. We're ready to go to work and do something to make this country and the world a better place.

Steve Poltz

Posted by steve at 9:12 AM | Comments (5960)

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