Isolation Report #14 – Down By The Green River

Isolation Report #14

Memorial Day Weekend

Everyone is sleeping. I have moved my base of operations into the forward second deck Captain’s Quarters. If this was a steamboat that is how I would describe where I am at. When I first came down here almost two months ago from being laid off from the Belle of Louisville, I was sleeping in the basement. In the bed that a friend of one of my Fathers used to sleep in. He died, but that will always be “his” place. Like on the Belle, we have the names of some of the previous engineers stenciled on the equipment. My Fathers friend “Ducky,” his spirit still lives here and that bed is his.

So, It got too spooky to sleep there. It was in the basement and sleeping in a basement is kinda already sort of depressing so I needed a change. When I first came down to the Rough River the weather permitted indoor fires. The wood-burning stove is in the basement and I love wood burning stoves so I was sleeping down there in the hull, to stay close to it. My father’s bed is also in the basement, you certainly won’t catch me sleeping there. After deciding to leave the darkness of the hull, I moved to a bed in the Aft of the second deck. In the great room with the French doors that lead out to the hurricane deck. And, well, it’s too bright and open there. Awesome views, big windows that allows for wide views of the tulip poplars that are blooming, however, I needed some darker more confined space. So, I moved to the room that eventually, I guess will be where I am supposed to sleep.

That room, the Captain’s Quarters is where my sister makes her base of operations when she comes down. Right next to the other Captain’s Quarters. I guess my next step should be to move up to the pilot house in the loft. That is where the kids are supposed to sleep, but my cousins sort of make that their place. And can you tell yet? What the hell is John Paul talking about? What are these names he is using, pilot house, captain’s quarters, Aft, Forward, Hurricane Deck? WTH eck.

Folks, I am missing the Steamer Belle of Louisville pretty bad. I got a serious case of the Steamboat Whistle Blues. That’s a John Hartford song, BTW. All those terms are Steam-boating marine language. I was doing a pretty good job hiding away as a midnight watchman on the Ohio River, mile post 604! I have been on a three year mission to sort of disappear from this day and age. This Corona Virus, all this Isolation and Social Distancing is making me want to take the final push. A push into the lost journey, the final stages of the Hero’s Journey, a somewhat Social Suicide into the hearts of darkness so to say. I am ready to just get the hell out of this world and become a metaphor. I chase them, work with them, live in them, I can’t seem to beat the metaphorical baseball team of life. If you can’t beat em’ – Join em! I digress, often, to say the least.

 

My deep isolation was broken this weekend. Both my Dad’s sisters came down and with them were my Uncle Bubba and two grandkids. It has been great to have company. I got a chance to wear my Uncle John hat all weekend. Part of my job on this boat of a sorts has been to give my grownup crew members a break. These folks have already raised half my family and now these grand kids wear them out pretty fast. My two nieces are a hoot. I was more than happy to get the kids out of their hair., We drove around, went fishing, hung around on the balcony. I took the two sisters down to the lake and watched them swim. And that brings back fond memories of when I used to swim in that cove with my brothers and sisters. We spent many a summer in that water. Sometimes so much time that our toe nails would turn orange from being painted by the sandstone muddy bottom. My family is huge and these fine folks represent the other side of the family that has been here every since my Father and his Sister decided that we all needed this place and bought the three acres back in 1979.

This Memorial Day weekend some of the social restrictions were lifted on what has been an interesting several months of confusing mixed messages from way too many sources. What had been a near total lock down of the State of Kentucky, has now turned into a basic free for all of opinion and re-opening of the economy. Restaurants and businesses are allowed to re-open as long as strict guidelines are adhered to. Folks are supposed to be wearing masks, staying six feet away from each other and washing their hands while maintaining the six foot rule. I guess the slogan should be stay six feet away or we will all be six feet in the ground. Folks in town are basically following the rules set by the dot Gov. Folks are growing weary of all this, though. I really do not see folks being able to handle this for very much longer. It is quite absurd, most of the time.

I think folks are growing tired of all the too many Indians part. Meaning, now that this country basically has been pushed into two very far corners, one side has made the other almost The Enemy. And in this so called southern state, pushing folks to one side or the other is a pretty easy thing to do. Kentucky never really took sides in the Great Civil War, so why would it take sides now? Apparently we are leading the country in compliance and recovery, so? Stick that in your pipe and smoke it. Too bad Covid 19 isn’t Duke University cause then we would always remember this time when something whooped our asses. This is U of K country and in some places at certain times, basketball is the religion. So, to Kentucky fans, Covid 19 will now be labeled the Duke19, Chinese, came from those people who eat bats disease. They will hate it and never forget it. Never.

All weekend this place has turned into a destination liken an Easter Sunday packed church. Everybody and their grandma is down at the lake. All weekend echoing through the air has been gasoline engines; boats, ATVs, pontoons, gun shots, automatic gun a rootin’ and a tootin’, speed boats, houseboats, chain saws, cars, trucks, really big trucks pulling boats that cost as much as a small house in the town. Pontoon’s pass by on the river loaded down like a sunset cruise, blasting really cheesy country music. Boat loads of folks, having a good time, with a total disregard to anything with a peace and quiet agenda, have flocked to this Corps of Engineers marvel of a man made lake. To the natives of this place, I guess what we are witnessing is an American Dream colonial weekend occupation reenactment. People from foreign lands have arrived! They bring a lot of money, mind you, but their footprint is something to see. These folks could be bringing with them the dreaded “RONA!” Hmm, can anybody say blankets with smallpox? The blankets they are giving out this weekend are good ol’ American dollars and debit cards. The General is happy. The Dollar General that is.

The interesting part of all that is, how much the Mennonites out on the road have what is being sold in the lyrics of that country music propaganda that is blasting the seams out of the mountains of peace and quiet that normally is what can be found here.. They have the “good ol’ days” narrative thing down pat. What they don’t have, and could care less about, is the narrative of who may or may not be stealing a certain “way of life” away from them. Hell, they took John Prine’s Spanish Pipedream thing seriously a long time ago! The Mennonites that is. Of course, minus the topless lady with something up her sleeve part, mind you. Mennonite strippers, now that’s a thought! Blow up your T.V. Throw away your paper! Move to the country and build you a home! Plant a massive farm and run the thing with a windmill. They live the lyrics of that good ol’ John’s song for sure.

John Prine … bless his heart!

I was called into service this weekend and I gladly came out of hiding for that call, let me tell you. My friend Ron Whitehead called the other day and asked if I would come over to Hartford, KY to sing at his Mother’s 88th birthday party. Hell Yes! I told him. I am a folk musician, griot, storyteller and all that jazz. When I am called into service, I have to go! Responding to the call found me saddling up the painted pony and heading out further west basically walking right into John Prine’s Paradise song. “Daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County, down by the green river.” That place.

Ron’s father was that Daddy. One of many, but seriously, his father worked the drag-line coal machines at Mr. Peabody’s Coal Company. The highlight, well, I can say that there were many highlights at the party! The whole experience of that special day was a highlight, shit! From the second I left Ft. Wright here in Breckenridge County, I was in service of something that is as authentic as any folk musician could ever want to experience. I left and traveled some of the most beautiful back country roads in this part of the State! The name of the road from Leitchfield over to Hartford is called, “The Blue Moon of Kentucky Highway!” My journey to the party took me past Bill Monroe’s ol’ Home place, up and around Jerusalem Ridge, and then all about the fondest parts of Big Mon’s memories. You know the place where he used to sit and listen to the fox hounds, with his Dad in those ol’ Kentucky hills. I am on my way back to the old home, the road winds on up the hill, and there’s no light in the window. You know, that place.

There were certainly lights in Mrs. Whitehead’s eyes as we sat and she shared family pictures of her late husband working Peabody Coal. That was one of the highlights. The strawberry pie and BBQ she sent me home with was another. Hearing her sing my song was another. Watching my buddy Ron out of the corner of my eye was another. I think he is the oldest brother, he certainly had that vibe. I have know Ron Whitehead, “The Outlaw Kentucky Poet” for a long time, we go way back, however, what I was seeing at the party was not at all the Outlaw Poet, I was seeing Ronnie. Ron the older brother with that look in his eye of happiness, joy, and somewhat sadness at who or what was not at that party. Us older boys get that way. A tear in the eye and a lump to swallow. I guess I am an honorary Whitehead now? Fuckin’ A right! You bet your ass I am! You know it?

whitehead

Listen, seriously. I was for an afternoon, in that Paradise song. I was there! And I knew where I was going when I l got out of the boat and saddled my raging black stallion and headed west in folk music service. I was in a hot garage singing Bluegrass music with a family that lived that song to the fullest and were celebrating the birthday of the Queen, I was in heaven! Singing with the Angel Band. I was again, like when I was on the Joe Hill Tour, not just singing some folk music, I was part of the story. Part of how this heritage is passed on, passed down. Griot work. When Ron called and asked me to drive over he assured me I would get fed out of the deal. Ha! The fucking BBQ came from a food truck from over in Rosine, KY. Rosine, Kentucky, the home-place of Bill “Big Mon” Monroe! Amen.

Well, the kids are waking up. I hear the bang bang bang of my little barefoot nieces running all about the house. Soon my Aunts and Uncle will be leaving and total isolation will return. I will take off my Uncle John hat and go back to John Paul the guy who is kinda like Harland Hubbard, mixed with a little bit of Wendell Berry, add a ½ cup of Fela Kuti and ¼ cup of John Hartford. Mix the wet and dry ingredients and bake at 400 degrees turning until golden brown. Serve with a side of Hummus and African Djembe.

This isolation life is wild! Too thin to navigate and too thick to plow! I am steam-boating again, but, my God I am having a time! Oh, I forgot. Add ½ cup of Anne and Carl Braden a pinch of Woody Guthrie to taste and serve in a big Dust Bowl. Feeds many. Leftovers never spoil. One man gathers what another man spills. I digress, Often. I got the U.S. Blues! I am Catfish John signing off! You have been listening to, clear channel 650 WSM brought to you by the L&N don’t stop here anymore! Happy Memorial Day, Fellow Workers!

John Paul Wright

Madrid, Kentucky

05/25/2020

THINGS ARE NEVER GOING TO BE THE SAME

THINGS ARE NEVER
GOING TO BE THE SAME

for https://unavoidabledisaster.com/

Bullshit!

Trillions of dollars changes hands in the shadows of panic –
and what was so good about before?
Will the poor not freeze in winter?
Will the churches finally throw open their doors?

Will CEOs stop taking millions just for being the top guy?
And will we stop being used to fight
Operation whatever the fuck they call it
when a corporate war interest needs us to die?

Will Black and Brown people finally be safe?
They are killing them now in their sleep!
When things are never going to be the same
will Wall Street education hacks finally learn how to spell thief?

Will workers be called essential with bodies and minds broken,
while Labor and Bosses make shady back room deals?
Will people act rationally or hoard toilet paper with a
protect their own ass mentality squeal!

Will we finally not fear getting sick?
Or lose everything when we do?
Who are things never going to be the same for?
You can bet not for me and you!

They say that bull shit every time and
corporate media plays the game!
NPR Microsoftin’ a global windfall and
robbin’ We The People by name!

And even on the so called public air waves
we listen to corporate spies.
They want us to trust scientists who are employees
of industry and we all know that they lie!

Bullshit is not a conspiracy!
I know there is something going on!
But keep those eyes and ears open while you
fight each other with those masks on!

And when you go and get all up in somebody’s business
pissed off at how they do or don’t react,
you best believe two steps behind you is
Big Brother waiting to put a knife in your back.

Your sweet talkin’ Andy Beshear is a corporate lawyer politician
how easy you fall in love with his business man speech!
You swoon and coo like a southern belle
eating a poisoned Georgia peach!

So Bullshit! I am calling it !
I’ll do what I have to do!
And as long as they keep paying me this hush money,
i’ll do what anyone else would do!

But remember fellow workers! These slogans and
chants these corporate fuckers make,
we will get through this together is just be on my team
bullshit and y’all took the bait!

BOUL SHIT!

Fellow Worker

John Paul Wright

 

Pyramid-of-Capitalist-System-688x1024

Time Capsule – (A guide to Faith in the modern world)

Support my work here

Time Capsule –

(A guide to Faith in the modern world.)

Introduction

First and foremost, I guess this is my Autobiography. I am sort of killing two birds with one stone. I want to leave my Son a good idea of who his Pop is/was. I have wanted to write a book about faith, God, religion, politics and all the things you are not supposed to talk about at the Thanksgiving dinner table, for some time now. I want to tell some tall tales, maybe, help you make heads of tails out of this that and the other. I want to lay down some Myth, spit it on the mic! One, Two, One Two, mic check, testing testing, Houston, we have a problem. I digress often.

To write about what I believe, I think it would be important to state what I do not believe first. Then, write about certain events throughout this life ( of a half century ) that have fortified what I have come to believe as of now. Today. This year. I also think that it would be important to give a bit of a historical context to the make up of the unreasonable reality from where this rendering of a life experience is coming from.

If there was one thing I would want to shine through this writing – that one thing would be a light of hope. I am dedicating this book to my Son, Jonah William Malik-Wright as well as dedicating this book to the youth. The new generation of seekers, poets, musicians and kids. Generation ?, whatever the hell THEY are going to call you to try and get you to buy some shit. THEY call me Generation X. With a big G.

I do not believe in God, Our Father, who art in heaven. I do not believe God is a person, place or thing. I do not believe that God lives in stone buildings, built hundreds of years ago or that God can be found in a book. However, I do think, Bob Dylan was on to something when he sang, “you don’t ask questions when God is on your side.” You will notice the word God will remain capitalized throughout this book.

That is because, although I do not believe in the traditional suggestions of God, I do believe in positive and negative. I do believe that at one time, there was a Buddha, a person named Muhammad, (pbuh). I think the Veda’s are interesting as well as Jedi, Hobbits, and the Ring of Power and the Force and all that jazz is … I have seen the H.H. The Dalai Lama twice ( bless his heart! ) and not to mention, no matter how you feel about Jesus, in most hotel rooms in the USA, there is a Bible. So, Jesus exists there for sure. I would not call myself an atheist or an agnostic. I am a serious fan of Sun Ra. Space is the Place and dig this as we kiss the sky together, in my opinion, when Jimmie Hendrix played the guitar, I think he was tapping into that place where God is located, I feel the same way about John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme and friends, dig this …

I was a deckhand at the largest riverboat casino in the world. The riverboat casino is an idea that is almost defunct. Defunct. When the Ohio River flooded, the company I worked for put us up in the casino hotel while we worked the boat. The company I worked for was Caesars. Get this, there is a Bible in the top drawer of the hotel, named Ceasers. WTF, LOL, SMHROTFL double plus good … go figure. Render unto Caesar the least as possible is my faith. Amen, and Womyn too. Good luck, you are going to need it.

Forward

The year is 2020. I started this book on March 22nd . There is a global pandemic that has spread across the globe and in a manner of weeks has shut down the economies of almost every country it has effected. Covid 19! A flu that attacks the victims respiratory system. The political fabric of the United States is split almost 50/50. There are only two political parties one can choose from and Corporate America has found favor in a President who infamously made his wealth by bankrupting the many businesses that he has owned. The POTUS rose to power from the fame and name recognition of being a media mogul, hotel / casino slash game show host. Go figure. LOL. SMH. Double minus good.

In the Commonwealth of Kentucky, where this book is being written, a Corporate Lawyer, son of a deeply entrenched Democratic Party political family is the Governor. The Kentucky Derby, a horse race built on the exploitation of horses and human vice has been postponed for the first time in it’s many year history. I have been furloughed from my job as Steamboat Fireman on the Str. Belle Of Louisville and am enjoying the hush money the government is giving out so as to keep people from hitting the streets in protest. Amazingly enough, there are pockets of people protesting. Some of the protesters are being paid to protest by right wing front groups, so I guess they are not employed? Who knows? The people who normally are accused of being paid protesters are accusing these folks of being paid protesters, so it is pretty confusing. If what they say about the Flu is true, Darwinian theory will tell the tale of the protesters assembling in groups to protest being paid to stay home. I am worried about small local business, however, I digress, often.

Except for the fact that Capitalism is still the economic policy of this country and most of the developing world economies, everything is going just fine. Past the normal levels of poverty and protection of the status-quo and unknown levels of violence and disaster from the results of various wars against people, small farmers and land . In the United States, War has been subcontracted out mostly to private mercenaries for the free trade use of the global oil and gas companies. Most of the population of the United States could not tell you where the United States Military is active or non active. The Internet is the main media source and Facebook ( a crowd sourced media platform built on human vanity ) is the mainstream media choice for many folks in their 30’s and older.

Christian Religions still find favor in the hearts and minds of a few pockets of American society. Science and Reason still exists, thank God, and folks are generally aware automation and technology is looming just around the corner to replace most repetitive jobs. The first self driving cars and trucks are being manufactured and tested. Freight trains are almost self driving and there are rovers on Mars still sending information back to a mostly privatized Space Program, Yet, we still do not have high speed rail. Many of the highest selling video games being marketed to the gamer populous are dystopian first person, doomsday, thematic, drone training exercises. Eastern religions and new age belief systems are on the rise, Yoga is a popular past time and there ya go, have at it … Let The Games Begin! Basically, everything has gone to pot. Weed is almost legal in every state in the nation. CBD oil and THC, USA and … GOD, guts and country.

John Paul Wright

Madrid, Kentucky

2020

20767755_10214375684610132_197468167127573766_n