Hawks News

In the Nest and On the Road

THE GIANT ARTICHOKE

June 17, 2008

I can’t believe we stopped at the Giant Artichoke but it looks like it’s going to be that kind of day. Artichoke Soup! We Hawks Must have Artichoke Soup! And so we did. Tasty, chunky (Yes Chunky!) artichoke soup. This writer (nay, blogger) was looking for and expecting creamy artichoke soup. When the bowl appeared he was just the slightest bit disappointed, at first. But then he got into it. Carrots, celery, the hearts. This was a hearty, road-side, peasant soup. Artichoke! ARTICHOKE!!

The Giant Artichoke is in Castroville, Artichoke Center Of The World, as the sign spanning its old school main street (aka Highway 183)points out. We are driving from Paul L’s mom’s house in Capitola, heading for the 101, thence 46, thence 5. Home.Yesterday was a bit of a grind, but a good day. We did indeed rise at 7:30 at the Tysons, and saintly Katherine did indeed make us breakfast on only four hours sleep, looking fresh as a daisy, we Hawks looking and feeling not so fresh.

The Tysons are mysterious. We’ve spent many hours with sisters Doran and Stadler. They produced our Motorcycle Mama video and Doran stars as the Beautiful Girl. We’ve stayed many times at the Tyson home in the fields of Yolo and written a song about it on our new CD. We’ve hung, drank, partied. But they remain a mystery. They have inexplicably broad influences and life experiences, from endangered poor white folks situations to deep intellectual explorations. Their bookshelves and hanging art are sophisticated and bold. We will learn more, in time, at the Tysons’ magisterial pace.And at 8:30 on the morning Sunday 15th of June with climbing sun and promises of heat for still sweet smelling summer grass fields, we climb in the Yukon, circle past the ponds and down the gravel road, another gravel road, two lane asphalt through sunflower and alfalfa, County Road 31, farewell fair Winters, to Highway 505, to the 80 west.

The gods of Northern California traffic were kind. No one does traffic jams like the two and four lane main highways radiating outward from the Bay Area. But we slide around San Jose and over the 17 and down the 1 through Santa Cruz adjacent with all the speed our loaded down Yukon can muster, arrive at KPIG studios in Watsonville with 5 minutes to spare.

It’s a serious party in the converted motel upstairs veranda, bagels, coffee tea and a gathering KPIG DJs and engineers, bandannas and tie dye and it feels like home. KPIG FM radio is a tough nut to crack. It’s the most web streamed Americana station in the world, and they’re bombarded with CDs. But we’ve broken through. We’re live on KPIG, and it’s a low key organic stone ground thrill. DJs Arden and Martin are witty and with it, the young engineers get a great sound, and we fly through 4 songs. We hang out a bit with great singer songwriter Sherry Austin, and head north on the 1 for Paul L’s mom’s house.

Teresa Lacques has high quality pizza from Pizza My Heart waiting, and we dig in, pizza at noon on four hours sleep. It’s somehow exactly the right thing. A great time and much politically charged chatting with Mother Teresa, then we all crash hard on the floor, wake up in time to head out to Felton, up in the woods off Highway 17.There have been many fires in the Santa Cruz mountains this year, and one came fairly close to Felton, but we see no signs as we pull into the little town. We set up on the Don Quixote stage. Don Quixote’s prevails through a fatally flawed concept: a mawkish faux Scandinavian Alpine chalet design that’s been brutally mashed into a Mexican restaurant. The cavernous interior is divided arbitrarily into sub-chambers. It’s not a feel good space. But the sound man is good, and sound check is promising.

The sun drops over the firs and pines and we loiter on the Felton sidewalks, cell talks with our fathers on this Father’s Day afternoon, good but kind of heavy conversations. They’re old. It’s still light out and the Lakers are locked in mortal combat with the Celts on two big screen TVs in the front bar separated by glass windows from the music room. Our compatriots Mars Arizona take the stage and rock it acoustically, solidly San Francisco 1968 fiddle and dobro and harmonies filling the room.

The Laker game was hitting its fourth quarter climax as we hit the stage. A thin but enthusiastic crowd, Santa Cruz hippie girls did twist and twirl, the two steps hit a best of tour groove, and magic steeler Dave Zirbel plays especially sweet on our ballad Highway Down. And that’s it. We’re done. Tourette over. We pack up, Shawn and Paul M drive to Shawn’s brother in law’s mountain lair, Rob and Paul L to Paul’s mom’s, late night further political discussions, we fade and fall asleep.

Breakfast, rendezvous, south on the 1, artichoke soup, and now, southward 101:SN is at the wheel. PM is zoning out. PL is expertly coaxing SN into a conversation about computer software. Then our conversation drifts from the nature of racism to a meditation on the real meaning of Father’s Day. It is a heavy day for each of us in our own independent, deeply personal and painful ways. But it’s always groovy to chat with the brothers about the heavy issues, dig. That’s one of the secret joys of being a Hawk.

We pull off the 101 beside an irrigated Central Coast field. We all jog off to pee in our own ways: PL pees IN the Porta Potty. PM pees NEXT to the potable toilet. SN pees 50 yards away, at the edge of a deep pit. RW hikes down and pees all by himself in bottom of the pit. What, if anything, is significant about these individual choices? What is revealed? Politically, it seems clear enough. PL is a Socialist. PM is a Libertarian. SN is an Independent. And RW wishes to be an assassinated political leader. Thee days of this tour have been rich, and poor. This writer (nay, blogger) has been meditating recently on the different types of poverty one can endure in this life.
(aside: two Hawks circle off to the left)

There is the poverty that comes from having no money. That is the poverty we think of in this age when one says poverty. And of course that is an accurate meaning. But there is also the poverty that comes from being disconnected from culture. Disconnected from the foods, the music, the dances, and the rituals associated with your and other’s ancestors. My life these days feels very culturally rich. I play music with friends all the time. My wife is a fantastic, soulful cook, my daughter loves to dance, my son brings the sunshine with him into every room he enters just by being quietly himself. I don’t have much money, of course. And that’s probably as it should be at the moment. But it’d be cool to get some sometime. Read a poem this morning by Jim Harrison called “Theories and Practices of Rivers.” Life and rivers. Water pushed along by the slope of the earth. Kind of takes the pressure off when you think about life that way.

Previous post:

Next post: