Getting a new album from Paul Simon at this time is like walking to the
mailbox and finding a letter from an old friend you had not forgotten,
just not heard from in a long time.If you are roughly
near my age [born in the mid-century], this man and his songs meant alot....
and still do. From The Sounds of Silence to hitchhiking and choking back a
tear as I shouted the words to Homeward Bound at passing cars; to America
[Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike]; to the whole Graduate
Soundtrack album with the whole damn country singing along to Mrs. Robinson;
and up to Bridge Over Troubled Water, an anthem, a hymn, a song as majestic
as anything ever written and recorded.....this man wrote songs that were the
background music, the soundtrack to our lives.....And that's before we get
to the solo albums; the quirky and the murky, the lyrics that just rolled
off the tongue and into the ear just oh,so smoothly that you didn't care if
they meant something or if he just did it cause it sounded good....And then
the Nineties where Paul brought in The World to be his arrangers and
sidemen....From South America to Africa, using rhythms and instruments that
America just didn't know yet....at least not on their car radios...
          And now; a new century, a new aching in our hearts; a different
world, caught up in the digital-no wars-no real Communist threat-no real
good central radio station where you could hear more than one genre at a
time kind of world; that's the world this bright , spanking new baby is
delivered into....
          "That's Where I Belong" opens with a haunting, lovely bamboo flute
and a little soft burst of thunder that leads to the first sound of
voice...."Somewhere in a burst of glory...Sound becomes a song....I'm bound
to tell a story....That's where I belong."Is how he starts it and right away
you get a little chill cause you're glad you're there and you know it's
gonna be good....Singing as good as ever, expressively, beautifully; going
up impossibly high at times....The strange rhythms are here, the squirrelly
lyrics...."A spiny little island man plays a jingling banjo. He's walking
down a dirt road carrying his radio, To a river where the water meets the
         "Darling Lorraine" is a couple's life story; a full-fledged movie
in six minutes; from first-glance romance to sick of you, to Christmas
morning as old marrieds, to painful disease and loss...But he does something
in the middle that is as different and unique as I've ever heard.....He
stops the song as it is and says, "WHAT-You don't love me anymore?" in a way
I've never heard anybody do before....It really takes you by surprise....and
then back to the movie....
       "Old" is another one that just takes normal song structure and
phrasing and "the way it's always been done" and throws it out the
window....It starts with a Not Fade Away riff and talks about hearing Peggy
Sue at twelve years old....Magical....
        "You're The One" is a boppin thing, moving and swaying like some of
his work from One Trick Pony.....Steve Gadd,the principal drummer is the
common thread here, in on both works....
         There are a string of songs with metaphysical ideas, in the
middle:not strange or anything, just extra- ordinary in some of the
themes...."Drop a stone in the abyss, then walk away and know that anything
can happen..." And a song with such a great title, "Senorita with a Necklace
of Tears..."that you already know it's gonna be good....
        Pigs,Sheep and Wolves is, again, like nothing you've ever heard
before....Like a Disney cartoon made for Court TV.....If you think that is a
strange description or I'm overstating it,wait till you hear the song....
        After an entire album of unique rhythms and intricate drumming, at
the end, we have a song with NO drums at all; in fact, NO rhythm at all,
just a pump organ and a few esoteric instruments....."Quiet" is like a
prayer,a Psalm of David, is just what it reminds me of...." I am heading for
a time of quiet, When my restlessness is past and I can lie down on my
blanket, and release my fists at last..." Wow,Psalm XXIV; biblical in feel,
if not in word....
      So, Rhymin Simon is back,and yet not....it's the guy we've always
known, he's just got some new tricks, some new ways to carry the wine to the
thirsty, some new languages to communicate with the deaf out there, to
irrigate this vast desert during the drought....You're gonna love this,
wherever you are and whatever you usually like, you're gonna love this....I
know you don't know me,but if you did: Have I ever lied to you before?


by Rev. J. Alfred Buckman
High Stool Graduate, with Honors for Refining Irreverencies
Old Hudson River School of Folk Music and Dance

          "Last night, my Bessie and me, we put Spike Jones on the box....."
Okay, not really; that's just The Band singing; Uncle Levon calling from the
passed (sic), from Cripple Creek.... But, what I did watch was my video of
"Sunday in the Park With George," the wonderful early Eighties play by Stephen
Sondheim starring Bernadette Peters and the magnificent Mandy Patinkin.... Why,
you may ask, does anybody reading this magazine, give a good yahoo about that?
Here's the deal, folkies...... About once a year, I trot out certain "Great
Videos of my Life" (trumpet blares, tadadadaaaaaa)....... Oh, "Local Hero,"
"West Side Story," "Ken Burn's Baseball" (all nine Innings), and maybe even "A
Hard Day's Night" if I'm feeling particularly sprightly.....

          One of these is "Sunday ITPWG" (see, even I can be hip and use
computerspeak, too, HAH !) This play is about Georges (funny thing, here, in
that his Name is GEORGES, but in the title he is just GEORGE) Seurat, a French
painter from the 1880's, who, even though he seems to have merged science and
art and invented a whole new class of Art called Pointillism, was reputed to
have Never sold a painting while alive.... And I'm quite sure that HE didn't
sell any Himself After he died....... A truly sad, and tragic basis for a
Musical, but from that framework they weave a fictional story filled with song
and brilliant set design and all the foofaw (what, Buckman?) that goes along
with a modern Broadway production....

          Here's where you come in, Buckwheat, IF you're still reading......
There are probably two, maybe three times, during musical passages, that I am so
overcome with emotion, that, to look at me you would think that my Beloved New
York Football Giants had just lost a playoff game, (which by the time you read
this, they may well have....) I mean, tears just running down my Santa-looking
cheeks and into my gray-beard and on down into the Mighty Hudson River and out
to sea..... I DO NOT control this Municipal Waterworks; and that's what bothers
and at the same time intrigues me..... I'm not one to cry at the end of "Ol'
Yeller," or to grab a Hanky when Shane won't come back or Lassie won't come
home..... Yet, when there is music, and/or singing involved along with that
tragic situation...... OHBOYO, let the water-sports begin.......

          SO, for this ONE-TIME only, there will be a homework assignment with
this column...... Does this happen to you? Talk amongst yourselves.....
Explain...... Just like those essays you had to do in college..... Oh, that's
right this is a TEXAS Magazine..... OK, Elementary School..... HEY, BACK UP,
PLEEZE....... Just one request, OK? Don't hit me in the face....... C'mon,
what's a little joke among, um, Internet-acquaintances....... But, I am serious
about knowing if this happens to you, too...... So, write me...... WRITE ME, not
the magazine..... Lord knows Marq has enough to do just editing my grammar and
Sin-tax..... Write to me at beukema@optonline.net and let me know that you are a
Wilting-Violet, too...... Thanks, Campers...... Hopefully I will see you further
on down the trail.....

THE POLAR BEAR AND ME                                                                       

Occasionally, I'll look out of my window at the Mighty Hudson River
and see a Polar Bear floating by on a large piece of ice.... It's always the
same one; the Polar Bear, not the ice, and I've come to know him quite well
(It is a "he", and a Little TOO friendly for a "he"; he winks at me...)
Sometimes I'll ask him where he's been since the last time I saw him, and
sometimes he'll ask me how my BJ is, and if I've heard any good music
lately.... Well, if you know me AT ALL, Campers, then you'll know that I
have Always heard some good music lately, and am always willing to bore
anybody within earshot to tears talking about it.... So, after a couple of
times asking that question, he's wised up and just asks about my Honey, and
leaves it at that.... Sometimes he just floats on by, and I look down at him
and he looks up at me, and neither of us say a word (of course, he winks),
and that's okay, because that's just the kind of relationship we have
developed; one of relaxed friendship; I know he's there, and he knows I'm
here, and nothing really needs to be said; we're comfortable in our
friendship and secure enough as beings that a little quiet now and then can
surely only help the situation in the world....
     I haven't really tracked it, but I think it's usually a Friday when he
floats by, and it seems like it is almost every week, and my theory is that
he works all week up North somewhere, and then heads back to The City for
the weekend with The Family or whatever he's got that gets him through the
night.... That's funny (strange, not haha), though, because it is usually
the other way around, at least for humans; they work all week in The City,
and then on Friday, They head North to be with The Family..... I hate to
pry, and upset what we have; I figure that if he wants me to know, he'll
just have to tell me some day, because I don't really want to ask him....
     What's also funny (strange, still), is that he's towards the middle of
the river, and the river, at Nyack, is about three miles across, so he's
probably a good mile and a half away; and add to that the eight floors up
that I am and you have a good piece of change sitting between us, all blue
and sunshiny and cold..... And yet we never seem to have a problem
communicating...... I don't see all that well, in fact even with my glasses
I'm blind as a bat, and he has complained for as long as I've known him that
he doesn't hear well.... So, I'm mystified how we do it, but we do.... My
theory is that since most times when he comes by, it is very early in the
morning, and there is no one else around, that the lines of communication
tend to be a little clearer than at other times of the day when there is so
much hustle and bustle going on.... And also, since he is only a figment of
my fertile imagination, that the only communicating that has to really go on
is all inside my own little peabrain itself....
     Now, you might think that this would mean that Mister Polar Bear is
then not real; but, oh no, that is certainly NOT the case, as he is as real
to me as you are, and YOU certainly know that YOU are real, aren't you?
Well? Aren't you? Okay, so I don't want to hear another word from you about
him being real or not.... If you're good and just leave it alone, I'll say
hi to him for you next time he comes by..... Okay? Would you like that?
Good, I thought that you looked like the kind of person that would enjoy
knowing a nice Polar Bear, even if it is through somebody else's
friendship.... Okay, it's settled then; I'll say hi for you if you say hello
to your sheep for me.... Thanks, that is very kind of you..... See ya later,


Wrecks [Rex] Bell has that thing that David Bromberg and Mose
Allison always had...I call it "cool" but you may call it something else... It
doesn't really matter what You call it; he's still got it and you and I probably
never will...It's the kind of thing that if you try to look directly at
it,or try to hold on to it, it slips away, gone down the highway with that
last girlfriend and all your money...And don't get me wrong here; it's not a
"detached" kind of cool; no no Nanette, he's not detached at all, he's hot
and cold and emotional as all hell....You just get the idea as you listen to
him, that he knows something that the rest of us are only getting a glimpse
On a wonderful Townes Van Zandt [if you don't know, Rex's dear friend,
bandmate and running buddy] song, "Be Here To Love Me", that old, elusive
prize of singers,phrasing, is too light a word for what Rex does here...He
sings it,yeah, and with a warm, wonderfully melodic voice, but you'd swear
by the end of the song that he had just had a conversation with you...In
other words, he makes it sound easy, not easy like Sunday Morning
[man,whoever wrote that Never had a hangover from Saturday night,did they?],
but easy like that crossword puzzle in the back of the TV Guide...and there
is a terrific Blood on the Tracks-like rhythm guitar goin on back there
somewhere, besides the tasty little solo in the middle...On "Somebody To
Impress", there's a bouncy,little sashay goin on that made me want to run
around the house with just a shirt and socks on doin Kareoke right along
with our hero.....
"Sinkin" leads us into serious territory, for awhile, as
we sit in on a gambler's chat with himself...He's looking in the mirror and
we're sittin right there on his shoulder....Musically,this is a wonderful
duet between Rex's mello-cello voice and a lovely violin that is right on
the edge of bein a fiddle....When Rex says,I been looosin,with a little "who
goosed me" voice, I dare you not to smile and get a little chill...."Tower
of Song" by that wonderful court-jester- of - the - apocalypse, Leonard
Cohen, gives us a chance to hear Rex deal with the subtle nuances of his
voice [can you believe I said something like that in a Rex Bell article?; I
bet Rex can't either.] On "Dog's Life", Rex plays with words like Tiger
Woods plays with that little ball....Outstanding slide guitar goin on
"Rex's Blues", with the squeezebox and violin interplay, is even
better than you already know it's gonna be...I mean, can you imagine being
the guy that these words were written and sung for originally? "Ride the
Blue wind high and free...." "There ain't no dark till somethin shines..." I
know people that have these words on their walls, for God's sake...people
that have tattoos of this song on their chest [over top of the classic
crossed - out- exes names] Folks, sometimes there is just nothing left to
say,but that you gotta get it, cause if you don't get it, you're missing out
on one of the musical treats of this or any other year.... "Dollar Blues" is
clever,witty,funny and pithy [you look it up,I'm not gonna tell you]... A
real taste of what Rex must be like live...A full adult dose,I am
"One Lousy Song" opens with a terrific life- is- a- carnival sound,
that accordion and violin combo again, and goes on to become a wonderful
Bandlike delicacy, that I find myself going back to often...Blaze Foley's
"Oval Room" is flat out terrific; a dramatic background by-play goin
down,circling round, taking off, finally like something from Townes's Rear
View Mirror album [a moment of silence and a bowed head for That album]..."I
Hate Love" is a love song to hate...Hey,YOU figure it out,I can only try and
tell you what's here, I can't hold your hand the whole time,though....I know
I've gone on a little long here, it must be my preachers training coming
back,but, HEY,if you're still with me,campers, wake up for this one...Rex
wraps up the show with the wonderful Diane Craig singing her song, "The
Ghost of Townes Van Zandt"....I'll just say this; it's every thing you would
want it to be, and more...
So, listen, campers.....tell your friends at
school tomorrow that you learned a little bit tonight....you learned about
pithy, and subtle nuance, and the court-jester-of-the-apocalypse [I don't
know what's wrong with me,really,I've tried to see a doctor,but.....], but
the one thing I want you to walk away from your Cheerios remembering is that
Rex Bell is a giant....a cool giant, but a giant nonetheless....and that due
to the state of American radio in the year 2000, giants aren't exactly what
they're playing.... and That's a shame,cause they might just be missing out
on one of the best kept secrets in the great state of Texas....Rex Bell's
Dog's Life....It is a piece of work that would make any man proud....It is a
statement of blazing artistry and chilling vitality....Rex Bell, cool as he
is, has taken a lifetime of experience and put it out there for the world to
hear.....As a good friend of mine often says, Don't let the Rapture Pass you

For those of you that are regular readers of this column, you know that
when I review something it is Always because it is something I like, or
love, and because of that feeling, want to pass that emotion on to others so
that they can experience the same pleasure I have had... When I told you
about Mickey Newbury's latest CD, "Stories From the Silver Moon Cafe," I
couldn't have been more glowing in my praise, because That is what the Man
and the Music deserved..... With Wrecks Bell's, "Dog's Life," it was a case
of the same thing; just magnificent music, lyrics and performance that Drove
me to tell you, my friends and neighbors, how great it was.... I have Always
felt that a critic or a reviewer should only review works that he or she
truly liked and I Always felt that those that had negative things to say
about a piece of music, a movie, or a book, were spiteful for some reason,
or because They didn't have the talent to produce the work themselves....
     Well, I stand before you today to say that I was wrong; OH, how I was
wrong, and I sincerely apologize for the errors of my past thinking.....
Here's the Deal: What has driven me to this point of life-changing,
light-bulb flashing, dawn-breaking revelation is "Boone's Lick" the newest
book by Texas's own Larry McMurtry..... Now, folks, I love Mr. McMurtry as
much as one man can love another without singing Showtunes.... I love him
like he was kinfolk, like we have known each other from the "old
neighborhood," and played stickball when we were kids.... He created two of
the greatest characters in literature, Augustus McRae and Woodrow F. Call,
of the tremendous "Lonesome Dove" series of books.... The four being:
"Lonesome Dove," "Streets of Laredo," "Deadman's Walk," and "Comanche Moon."
In my opinion, four of the finest books and characters Ever written into the
Western Lore of American Literature....
     I have said all that I have said so far so that you will know that I
come to the table today with a heavy heart.... A heart as Heavy as Lyndon
Baines Johnson's heart when he told us that he would not seek another term
as our President..... A heart as Heavy as Bill Clinton's when he had to Face
the Music and tell the truth that he lied..... A heart as Heavy as Tony
Orlando's when he told Dawn he was breaking up the act.....(Okay, Not THAT
heavy, but you get where I'm coming from.)
     "Boone's Lick" is a Major Disappointment; not only for someone that was
looking forward to another masterpiece, but even for someone that only
wanted a "good" read, with "good" characters and a "good" story.... I admit
that when I saw that the book was only 287 pages, hardcover, that I was
already wondering how Mr. McMurtry was going to tell a tale in his normal
"Michener-Like" style of telling so much background on each character that
you end up knowing what their Granddaddy liked for breakfast.... Well, I
wasn't wrong, although I had SO hoped to be....
     The Last thing I am, after all the things that I am Not, is a Book
Reviewer..... I am Not much of a Preacher; I am Not much of a Musician, and
I am Not a Book Critic or Reviewer.... But, I feel CALLED to tell My
Campers, My friends and neighbors, and anybody on a streetcorner that will
listen..... NOT to spend your hard-earned money on "Boone's Lick." The story
is barely believable, the characters are not even fairly likeable, and, what
is most amazing, he tries to wrap up the whole plot, that has been pretty
much growing mildew for 266 pages, in the last 21 pages.... In the book's
final short chapter, we see fortunes gained and lost; careers built and
ended, and half a dozen children born and raised, sometimes in a single
paragraph.... It is almost like a bell went off somewhere and Larry said,
"Well, I've been writing this long enough, now, I'd better wrap it up." And
so he did, with little thought or care for the characters or the poor
readers who by this time were trying SO hard to care a little bit about the
Cecil Family and what happened to them.... I almost got the idea that Even
Larry, liked his Own characters so little, that they didn't deserve enough
of his time to respectfully and coherently wrap up their lives.....
     As I have said before, the last thing I want to do is waste my time or
yours, dear reader, with even One minute of negativity when there are SO
many great pieces of music and great books out there for us all to read, to
listen to, and to enjoy.... BUT, when there are going to be SO many fans of
Larry McMurtry picking up this book, taking that "NewBook" experience of
looking at the book without the jacket on, of smelling the woodpulp, of
feeling the pleasure of holding this brand-new creation in your hands like
it's a bouncing baby full of life and hopes and dreams; I CANNOT in good
conscience let that happen without you at least being warned..... OK? Now, I
don't take myself too seriously, and neither should you.... If I were you,
I'd probably go ahead and buy the book anyway, and to tell you the truth, I
almost hope that you do..... Because then, about 287 pages from now, you'll
close the damn thing, sit back and yell to the mate....." You know, Hon,
that Rev Buckman is nuttier than a fruitcake, but he sure knows what he's
talking about....." You will, I know you will, and when you do, I want you
to write me, so my heart won't be SO heavy..... As always, Campers, thanks
for stoppin' by, and I'm hopin' to see you further on down the trail......