iTexas Tour: Mission Windows

We’re back on the San Antonio Mission Trail, piecing together the convergence of Christ and conquest these beautiful, ruined churches represent. Most of them are still working parish churches with a resident priest. In fact, there was a christening at the Espada mission when we came to see it. But these missions were not all about the things of God, as their soaring spires and intricate carvings might suggest. These were also forts with military garrisons on the frontier of what was then a new world. Just look at the windows. Always shuttered. Sometimes barred. Many mere holes in the stone walls, more for pointing a rifle out than letting light in. Such is the conflict of our souls – at war with the world, seeking a place of peace.

DIR : The Jayhawks

I made some compromises here – all my Jayhawks favorites wouldn’t fit on one disk. So, I’ve included songs from all their albums to give a comprehensive picture of their music. But that means I’ve left off some of their great live songs in lieu of selecting my favorites. Anyway, this is a great list of songs from one of the bands everyone should get to know.

Song Time Artist Album
Two Angels 4:07 The Jayhawks Blue Earth
Ain’t No End 3:45 The Jayhawks Blue Earth
Blue 3:10 The Jayhawks Tomorrow the Green Grass
Two Hearts 3:22 The Jayhawks Tomorrow the Green Grass
It’s Up To You 3:38 The Jayhawks Sound of Lies
Haywire 5:21 The Jayhawks Sound of Lies
Waiting for the Sun 4:21 The Jayhawks Hollywood Town Hall
Crowded in the Wings 4:53 The Jayhawks Hollywood Town Hall
Sister Cry 4:08 The Jayhawks Hollywood Town Hall
Settled Down Like Rain 3:01 The Jayhawks Hollywood Town Hall
Baby, Baby, Baby 5:20 The Jayhawks Smile
What Led Me to This Town 4:11 The Jayhawks Smile
I’m Gonna Make You Love Me 3:41 The Jayhawks Smile
Better Days 4:36 The Jayhawks Smile
Stumbling Through the Dark 2:26 The Jayhawks Rainy Day Music
Save It for a Rainy Day 3:09 The Jayhawks Rainy Day Music
The Eyes of SarahJane 3:48 The Jayhawks Rainy Day Music
Cone to the River 4:29 The Jayhawks Rainy Day Music
Tiny Arrows 5:52 The Jayhawks Mockingbird Time
She Walks in So Many Ways 2:36 The Jayhawks Mockingbird Time
20 Songs/1.3 Hours

That Hurry Home Look In Your Eyes

Many of you don’t know who The Jayhawks are. But you should.

I was introduced to The Jayhawks in 2000 on my local public radio station. Back then, National Public Radio was on during drive times, but the rest of the programming was mostly local DJs playing local and independent music. Sad to say, most of the programming is political in nature now, and music shows are relegated to the wee hours. I’ve quit listening.

But in the early 2000s, I was introduced to a number of bands I would never have heard on mainstream FM radio. Kim Richey, Allison Moorer, Uncle Tupelo, and The Jayhawks. I actually heard Lucinda Williams for the first time on public radio, before her Car Wheels on a Gravel Road album became a success. Uncle Tupelo went on to become two bands you probably have heard of, Jeff Tweety formed Wilco and Son Volt became Jay Farrar’s band. But The Jayhawks, Kim Richey, Cross Canadian Ragweed and many others were lost in a genre that is fast disappearing and is often relegated to “Country” stations. In fact, this rock music is called “alt-country” now and it doesn’t feel comfortable in today’s country or rock radio formats.

It seems any modern rock bands with a folk or southern influence are tagged “country” today. There’s something not right about that, mainly because I don’t listen to Country music. Country means George Jones or Merle Haggard or Loretta Lynn to me and with few exceptions that doesn’t hold much interest. Country is big, though, and getting bigger. And it is swallowing up bands like The Jayhawks. Heck, the only place you can hear The Eagles today is on country radio – The Eagles’ latest album even won some “Best Country Album” awards. Thirty years ago, these alt-country bands would have been the heirs of The Byrds and The Eagles, The Mamas & The Papas and Carole King. Today they are lost in a musical in-between land where they can not find the mass audience they deserve.

The Jayhawks are a prime example of this unfortunate state of affairs. They have produced six records, including Mockingbird Time, released in 2011 – eight years after their previous studio album, Rainy Day Music. They are not a household name even though albums like 1992’s Hollywood Town Hall and 2000’s Smile are classics comparable to anything from The Eagles or Jackson Browne. Certainly better than anything the more poplar Wilco or Drive-by Truckers have produced.

But most of you don’t know who The Jayhawks are. Maybe you should.

[ A list of Jayhawks songs is in the My Playlist section. The selections include songs from all 6 of their studio albums. These are simply my favorites across The Jayhawks’ career. Many of their more popular songs and/or songs they tend to do live are not here – songs like A Break in the Clouds (that includes the line that is the headline for this commentary) from Smile or Wichita and Martin’s Song from Hollywood Town Hall or Miss Williams’ Guitar from Tomorrow the Green Grass. Those are all great songs, too, and you should listen to them all. ]

My High School Musical

The songs on this list are from bands I saw live when I was in high school. And I can tell you, this ain’t no Glee list. I just laugh when my daughter gets so excited about the High School Musical movies on Disney Channel. I think the soundtrack of my high school experience is just a little better than anything Disney has to offer, and the memories of being there are infinitely better than some teenager singing on TV.

Song Time Artist Album
Hells Bells 5:12 AC/DC Back in Black
Even the Losers 4:01 Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Damn the Torpedoes
More Than a Feeling 4:45 Boston Boston
Natural Science 9:18 Rush Permanent Waves
The Chain 4:31 Fleetwood Mac Rumours
Just What I Needed 3:43 The Cars The Cars
Rehumanize Yourself 3:10 The Police Ghost in the Machine
Walks Like a Lady 3:16 Journey Departure
Bloody Well Right 4:33 Supertramp Crime of the Century
Tunnel of Love 8:12 Dire Straits Making Movies
Cross-Eyed Mary 4:09 Jethro Tull Aqualung
Crazy Little Thing Called Love 2:44 Queen The Game
Owner of a Lonely Heart 4:29 Yes 90125
Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love 3:50 Van Halen Van Halen
Great White Buffalo 6:21 Ted Nugent Double Live Gonzo
Cinnamon Girl 3:00 Neil Young Everybody Know This is Nowhere
Pearl Necklace 4:07 ZZ Top El Loco
17 Songs/1.3 Hours

iTexas Tour: Mission Doors

There are a group of Spanish missions, including the Alamo, from the late 17th and early 18th centuries that run along an old trade route, south from San Antonio. I remembered them from a field trip I took when I was a boy, colored with adventure the way so many childhood memories are. And still they speak a tale of adventure, these monuments to religion and fortresses of war. I did not notice the city that had grown up around them or their sometimes desolate condition. I chose instead to see the Spanish friars and Spanish soldiers sequestered there. The great oaken doors and shuttered windows and great stone battlements and soaring cathedrals. And ultimately the great commission they represent, in what was (and still is) a real and dangerous world.


[Pieces is the third and final in this series of stories. Together they are a discussion of how lust tries to crowd out love. Ultimately it is the attempt to replace the eternal with the temporary, never a good idea for us mere mortals. Great, momentary pleasures can not replace what God is – love. And love between a man and woman here on earth should be a mirror of God’s love for us. Great, momentary pleasures are part of that love, but the bonds of love surpass those pleasures. They are an eternal bond.]

…there was given to me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
– 2 Corinthians 12:7b

Scene I : Take 1

Get a clear picture of this. A woman’s butt, exposed. Black lace panties pulled up between the cheeks. The firm, round curve of her ass. A hand slapping her ass, feeling the give of the flesh and the excitement of the tightness. Pan up to a face that looks a little used. The body is probably a little used, too, but tight. Tight as a spiral. Tight. Tight. Tight.

Scene XII

Milton really did love her, he supposed, that diva of his dreams, that Phoebe of his daytime lust, that Helen of his reality. He masturbated at night when she danced topless in her black panties. He grew hard when she grabbed him by the crotch at the Glass Slipper during the gentleman’s lunch. He wept at the soft swell of her belly when he asked how it had gone at the doctor’s.

“Three girls,” Helen said with anxiety in her voice and almost bitterness behind it.

Scene X

“She’s pregnant!” Harry said when Helen came out of the bedroom.

“Can you really tell?” Helen asked self consciously, fussing with her blouse.

“That’s it Harry, make that good first impression,” Milton called out from the kitchen, over the refrigerator door. It was the first time Harry and Helen had met. Leave it to Harry to hone his game of foot in mouth disease when Helen was growing unsure about how she looked anyway.

“No, I just didn’t know,” Harry tried to recover. “Milton never told me, that’s all. You look great, really.”

“Thanks,” Helen accepted the compliment, still self consciously. She walked through the living room and into the kitchen where Milton was.

“Are you ashamed to tell anybody about me?” she whispered to Milton.

Definitely a no win situation. Milton shook his head pathetically, but said, loud enough for Harry to hear, “Where do you want to go?”

“What about the Glass Slipper?” Harry said, getting up from his place on the couch in the living room. He had that sly, sleazy look in his eye that Milton hated, feared a little even. Guess Harry figured he already had his foot in his mouth, might as well leave it there.

“No,” Milton said flatly.

“What’s the Glass Slipper?” Helen asked.

“A titty bar we go to at lunch,” Harry answered.

Scene VII

He couldn’t take it. He wanted to be with Helen all the time. Seeing her after work on the outside terrace of the restaurant where they liked to eat was only a taste of what he wanted. Kissing her moistened lips and feeling her body only increased the ache of sleeping alone. Each ring heightened the anguish when he called her from the phone in his office and she didn’t answer.

And with love was the growing lust and the humiliation of wanting so bad you can’t, both in and out of the bedchamber.

“Time for lunch,” Harry told him.

Why did Milton let Harry lead him around by the balls every afternoon? “In a minute,” Milton said.

“She’s waiting,” Harry teased. And she was.

Scene VIII

“How bad do you want it? Not bad enough,” Don Henley’s voice sang.

There she was on the runway, dancing to the voice. Her face was in shadow, her body in stark light. Milton had a hard-on before he sat down.

She saw him, too. She finished her dance and came to the table where Milton and Harry were sitting. She sat down right on Milton’s lap. “What are you having today?” she asked.

“Whatever the special is,” Milton mumbled.

“But you’d rather have me, I can tell,” the woman said. She raised up from her spot and stuck her hand through her legs and grabbed Milton’s hard-on through his pants. “See,” she looked back over her shoulder and smiled. “How about a table dance before your food gets here? That’s all I can do here,” she added tauntingly.

“Sure,” Harry grinned. Milton nodded and his butt muscles tightened, lifting him slightly from his seat as she slid her hand slowly off his crotch.

Scene VI

Milton had been meeting Helen for more than a month. He saw her every day after work. He squirmed in his chair with desire when he thought of her. He even started leaving the office at lunch on the off chance he might see her. He wandered aimlessly around downtown for an hour and came back to the office, still hoping to see her for an extra second.

Five or six blocks east of the high rise office building where he worked was the erotica district. Massage parlors and topless clubs, and trashy hookers everywhere. On one of his lunchtime strolls he strayed too far. Hungry for the tangible results of what the dream promised, he stepped into one of the topless bars.

The Glass Slipper
Gentlemen’s Lunch
Specials Daily

Inside, a busty blonde was dancing on the little stage and naked women moved freely among the tables. Milton found a booth along the wall by the door and sat down.

“Milton Jahnsan?” a voice questioned out of the dark.

Milton looked up and out of the darkness came the face and body of a man he had seen around work. The guy stuck out his hand for Milton to shake and sat down across from him at the booth. “I’m Harry Fontenot,” the guy said. “I work on the same floor as you do.”

Milton nodded without knowing how to respond. He was a little embarrassed to see anybody who knew him, although he had never actually met this guy. He had only seen him in the elevator or walking in the corridors of the office. But the guy sat down like he was right at home, like nothing could be more natural than going to a topless bar for lunch.

Harry was a regular at The Glass Slipper. He was telling Milton he knew all the girls as Milton’s eyes kept wandering back to the blonde dancing on the stage.

“Who’s that?” Milton finally asked, if this Harry guy really did know all the girls.

“The one on stage?” Harry asked. Milton looked at Harry and nodded and looked back up at the girl. “Do you like her?” Harry asked, a sleazy grin oozing like saliva at the corners of his mouth. “That’s Phoebe, she’s great.” He stopped one of the waitresses as she walked by and told her something in her ear that Milton couldn’t hear over the music. Then Harry turned to Milton and asked, “What do you want to drink?”

Milton ordered a beer and Harry convinced him to get the special. Phoebe had finished dancing and she was the one who brought the drinks. She slid into the booth beside Milton with a brief, knowing smile at Harry. “Do you like the way I dance?” she asked Milton with a smile for him. Her hair was straight and blonde and black at the roots. She wasn’t very old, but her face had a weathered look, like she had been out in the sun too long. Her body was tan, her whole body. Milton just nodded agreement to her question without saying a word.

“Would you like me to dance just for you?” she asked. Milton shot a glance over at Harry who was grinning stupidly at him.

“Go ahead,” Harry said. “It’s on me,” pulling a twenty dollar bill out of his pants pockets.

The girl got up and faced Milton. “Come,” she whispered slowly, “closer,” and pulled Milton by his thighs to the edge of the booth. She straddled his legs and rubbed her naked breasts up his chest and left them for a forever second in his face. He wanted to reach out and grab her, but he couldn’t move. She swayed languidly away from him and turned and grinded to the rhythm of the music.

“In your eyes, the light, the heat.”

Scene III

Milton met her at the bar and grill where he had first seen her. They sat on the terrace, out in the sun, as the sun set. He ordered a pitcher of margaritas. They weren’t good margaritas, but they were strong. She talked to him while they drank and drew him out of his shy shell. Milton couldn’t believe his luck. He thought Helen was more beautiful every time he saw her. There was a hunger in his eyes, behind the fumbling words he tried to articulate, that Helen saw straight away. He looked smart, too, in his business suit and dark frame glasses, not the sophomoric type he saw himself as at all.

They ordered more margaritas. Helen said she wanted boiled shrimp. “I love seafood,” she said. “I come here to get shrimp because it’s close, but there’s a restaurant near where I live that has really great seafood.”

“We’ll have to go check it out sometime,” Milton said. That was almost what Helen wanted.

“Where do you live?” she asked.

“I live inside the loop, about twenty minutes away from work,” Milton answered.

“I live outside the loop,” Helen said, “way outside the loop. It takes me forever to get to work with all the traffic. Maybe I should just start staying with you,” she added.

Scene IV

Milton walked out of the bar with his arm around Helen. They walked close together, steadying each other, up the street to the downtown parking garage by their offices.

Milton stood by her and she fished in her purse for her keys. “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow,” he said.

Helen looked up at him with a slight frown on her face. Her eyes sparkled a little drunkenly. She reached her hand up, car keys jangling loosely between her fingers, and brought him down to her by the back of his neck. She kissed him, a long slow kiss.

“Can I follow you?” she asked.

Scene V

Milton waited for Helen in the parking lot of the apartments where he lived. She was right behind him. She got out her car and came straight over to him and wrapped her arms around his neck again for another kiss.

They learned each other slowly and Helen grew tired. She got up from the couch and said, “Where’s the bedroom?” Her skirt was pushed up over her hips and Milton could see the black lace panties she wore.

Milton got up off the couch, too, his tie loosened and his shirttail pulled up out of his pants. “You’ve got to go home pretty soon,” he said. “You don’t have any clothes here to wear tomorrow.”

Helen grabbed his hand and drew it to the soft, firm flesh of her ass as she kissed him hungrily on the neck. She kept hold of his hand and led him by it to the bedroom.

That was the first night he had the dream. It startled him awake in the middle of the night, and he could see the dream’s subtlety lying next to him on the bed. He still had his clothes on and so did Helen, her panties were just pulled up high over her hips like her skirt. He roused her gently with kisses. The alcohol had left them and Helen smiled faintly, remembering. She left in the early morning hours, after a shower in Milton’s shower, for home.

Scene II

She walked up to where he was sitting. Milton’s eyes stayed on the sway of her hips from way across the restaurant. He had never seen her before. She was wearing a denim minidress and she was tall, taller, very tall like a model. Her legs reached forever toward the floor and the dress moved like it was alive over her hips, up her long, slim torso. Her soft, brown hair fell down in ringlets to the graceful curve of her neck and framed perfectly the dark features of her face.

“I know you,” she said when she got to his table. He was sitting alone on the terrace, enjoying the last of the sun and a hamburger and fries.

“You do?” Milton said, a little startled.

“Sure,” the girl answered as she sat down at the chair next to Milton. “You work at the same building I do,” taking a French fry out of Milton’s basket. “I hated to see you sitting out here all by yourself.”

“I don’t mind,” Milton said, embarrassed, looking down at his food.

“Don’t be embarrassed,” she said. “I just thought I’d say hi since we work so close to each other. I’m the receptionist on the third floor. What floor do you work on?”

“On the ninth floor,” Milton answered, drawn into the conversation.

“That’s the floor with the big accounting firm, isn’t it? Is that where you work?” she asked.

“Yes,” Milton answered.

“Are you an accountant?” Milton nodded. “You sure don’t look like an accountant,” she added.

“I don’t?” Milton laughed a little.

“You sure don’t,” the girl said matter-of-factly. “What are you drinking?” she asked, pulling the short brown bangles of hair away from her face and turning the bottle of Dos Equis so she could see the label. “I hate beer,” she said. “Order me a margarita when the waiter comes around again, won’t you?”

“I’m Helen, by the way,” the girl added as she put another French fry in her mouth. “What’s your name?”

“I’m Milton,” Milton answered.

“Maybe we can go out sometime after work, Milton.”

Scene IX

Helen had been living at Milton’s apartment for nearly six months, ever since the lease had run out on her old place. They had become lovers in time. Phoebe had made that much more possible for Milton. Somehow he felt familiar with Helen’s body before he had ever really known it. But in the months it took him to summon the will to expose the rawness of his love for Helen, he had time to become aware of her from the inside out.

There was a natural healthiness about Helen; it was almost a faint scent. There was her long, head turning body and brooding features. But most of all there was her fragile image of herself. Milton kidded her that when she looked in the mirror she didn’t see what everybody else saw.

“What do you see?” she would ask him.

“My incredible luck,” Milton would answer.

On the day he found out Helen was pregnant, it wasn’t Helen’s doubts about herself that told him something was wrong when he walked through the door. Helen was sitting on the couch staring at the TV, but the TV wasn’t on. Her eyes were red. She had been crying. Milton laid his jacket down on the arm of the sofa and sat beside her. She leaned her head silently on his shoulder.

But it was Milton’s understanding of Helen that helped him see the image staring back at her from the mirror when she told him she was pregnant.

“You’ll hate me when I’m fat and ugly,” she cried. “You’ll start looking at other girls and wanting to go out with them.”

“No,” Milton whispered, “no.” The joy he felt was beyond bounds, outside the fence of fear where Helen was stuck.

“Do you promise you’ll love me when I’m pregnant?” she said with her head still on his shoulder.

Scene XI

Harry stepped out of the sun and into the Glass Slipper. Phoebe was there. He didn’t see her, but she came to his table after he sat down.

“Miltie never comes with you anymore,” she said.

“Sorry, honey,” Harry said, pulling a ten out of his pocket. “Miltie’s got a girl.”

“I though I was his girl,” Phoebe said with a pout as she picked up the money off the table and stuck it half in and half out of the tiny triangle of her g-string.

“I met her the other day,” Harry said, looking at nothing but the loose end of the ten dollar bill moving up and down to the rhythm of U2. “She’s pregnant,” he laughed and looked up as the bill stopped moving.

“In the name of love,” Bono reminded them.

Scene I : Take 2

In the dream she presses up from a position crouched on her knees. She runs her hands up her legs, pulling the black lace panties up high above her hips and deep between the perfect curve of her ass. Follow her hands up, up past her tiny breasts with small pink nipples like a boy’s, up, up through her lank blonde hair moussed stiff. It’s like being in a titty bar, and then the face of a man, of Milton Jahnsan, his eyes a slit open and with a pillow behind his head. Follow his hand down, down under the crisp white sheet, down between his legs.

© 2011 Wasted Space Publishing