Stage 4Have you ever told yourself that the thing you wish most for in life is too far fetched to ever become reality? Have you wondered if you are sitting still, getting older, just watching life go by without you being an active participant? Have you ever struggled to silence that very loud voice in your head that is doing its best to convince you that dreams coming true only happen to others, and not to you?

This story is about my landlord Fred. He’s 62 years old and like most of us, he likely thought all of those things at one point or another…until everything changed overnight. This is a story that seems like it should have been crafted by a Hollywood screenwriter. But it wasn’t. It’s real life.

Fred is a talented musician. But like most artists, he hasn’t been successful at consistently earning a living with his craft. In his heart, his real life’s work is his music. But his day job, the one that pays the bills, is working for a courier service.

Fred’s all-time favorite band is The 13th Floor Elevators. The Elevators are often credited with coining the term “psychedelic rock.” Formed in 1965 by vocalist Roky Erickson, electric jug player Tommy Hall, guitarist Stacy Sutherland and drummer John Ike Walton, they played together until 1969. They made a short, but lasting impression on the music world. When the band broke up Roky Erickson was admitted to a mental hospital, and years later Stacy Sutherland was shot and killed by his wife.

BalloonsIt seemed the world would never again hear from The 13th Floor Elevators. Fred wanted to ensure that would never happen because, as I mentioned, The 13th Floor Elevators are his all-time favorite band. So to keep the legacy alive, Fred formed a popular 13th Floor Elevator tribute band called The Tommy Hall Schedule. Google them and you’ll find a couple videos out there of Fred fronting the band.

A few months ago I ran into Fred, who was basically jumping out of his skin with shock and excitement. The 13th Floor Elevators were reuniting and headlining the Austin Psych Fest, which in honor of the unexpected reunion, was even changing the musical festival’s name this year to Levitation, a track from the Elevators’ second album.

Even better, not only were the Elevators reuniting, but they had just asked Fred to join the band to replace deceased guitarist Stacy Sutherland.

“Things like this don’t happen in real life!” said Fred.
“They just did and I’m so happy for you,” I exclaimed with complete joy for him.

Stage 2 The next couple of months involved a flurry of rehearsals leading up to last Sunday’s performance. Fred’s wife Jill and I attended, joking that we were his first real groupies. We stood backstage before the performance looking out in awe at the crowd of ten thousand people (yes TEN THOUSAND people) who cheered in expectation of the band taking the main stage.

When The 13th Floor Elevators started playing, the crowd completely lost its mind for the next 50 minutes. Jill & Kee Kee Jill and I danced while I simultaneously tried without much success to get some good behind-the-scenes photos on my iPhone. Eventually I gave up trying and instead watched Fred jam on his guitar as I shook my head in wonder about how life really can sometimes sneak up on you and make your wildest dreams come true.

Fred and JillAfter the show Fred emerged from the stage sweaty and happy as he hugged Jill. In the days that followed his photo has appeared in countless magazines and websites, including the granddaddy of all music magazines, Rolling Stone.

It’s still up in the air about when and if the Elevators will ever play again. But for now, on one incredible night last week, I watched Fred become a piece of music history. That’s enough to convince me to keep striving, wishing and believing, because dreams really can come true.

 

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Yoda’s Sugar Dust Has Earned Him a New Bed

by Kee Kee on April 6, 2015

in Yoda

IMG_3863Yoda has sugar dust. At least that’s what a sweet southern woman down the street told us in her lazy drawl last year when we were talking with her in her driveway during a pause in our afternoon walk. Not wanting to admit that Yoda’s muzzle has been getting more and more gray, I immediately embraced the term. Sugar dust sounds so endearing and playful – almost like Yoda has been caught sneaking a bite out of a powdered donut.

IMG_0028Yoda’s sugar dust has brought with it other things. Our walks are slower these days and involve more leisurely sniffing than distance. His hearing isn’t as good as it used to be, which is actually kinda nice because he often doesn’t react with a flurry of barking and lunging when noisy motorcycles go by. I’ve added Glucosamine and other supplements to his diet to help ward off any stiffness that inevitably comes with age. Every once in awhile when it is time to jump into the car, he’ll pause and shoot me a look that I know means “Will you please lift me today? I’m a little stiff and could use the boost.”

IMG_0020He also naps a lot. He breaks up the day by often switching napping locations: on the sofa, on his bed, on the deck, on my bed, on the guest bedroom bed, and on the landing half way down the stairs where he can lay in the sun and stare out of a giant picture window to watch the squirrels playing in the trees. Don’t get me wrong, he also still has many bursts of puppy-like playfulness. He’ll awake from his naps with a spurt of energy and want to play tug with his rope or will madly shake one of his stuffed toys around.

IMG_0017I’m hopeful he has many years ahead of him, and with that thought I want to make his sugar dust years as comfortable as possible. He’s earned it after all the miles he’s logged napping without complaint somewhat uncomfortably in the back of Princess Leia the Prius. One idea lodged in my head about a year ago that I haven’t been able to shake. I wanted to buy Yoda the crowned jewel of dog beds: a TempurPedic dog bed. But with its hefty price tag (including shipping) of $377.79, I kept putting it off. After all, that’s about $20 more than I paid for my generic king-sized memory foam mattress, and it took awhile to process that Yoda’s bed would be more expensive than mine. Finally, on Valentine’s Day, I bit the bullet and ordered one. It took a long time to receive (sidenote, if you order one, order directly from Orvis, as you’ll get it a lot faster than if you order from Tempurpedic, as they have to wait to receive it from Orvis before they ship it out). From the minute it arrived, I’ve been hard pressed to get Yoda out of it.

IMG_0024He still moves from place to place during the day to nap, but he spends more quality napping time in the new bed than in any other place in the house. It’s a nice feeling to have absolutely zero regrets about my big splurge on Yoda. In fact, he’s laying in his new bed right now. He just opened one eye to look at me over his sugar-dusted snout before he let out a loud happy sigh and fell contentedly into the latest nap of the day.

 

 

 

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The Pie Lady in Pie Town Fed my Soul

February 8, 2015

It’s only when we allow ourselves to be lost that we can really truly find ourselves. I figured that basic truth out by accident. When Yoda and I first left on our five month road trip, hitting the open road was an act of desperation. I was running away from my broken life. I was […]

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An Open Letter to the New Year

January 6, 2015

Dear 2015, I’m writing this from seat 32D. In 2014 airports were my second home, so I suppose it is quite fitting that I’m crammed in the back of the plane in coach class on a cross-country flight as I write this letter to you. 2014 was both an exhausting and an exhilarating year, and […]

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The Huffington Post – A Road Trip Around Kauai

January 5, 2015

The quintessential American vacation is a road trip. There is no better way to explore the country’s dramatic and varied landscapes, breathtaking vistas, quaint small towns, and regional subcultures than by loading up the car and hitting the open road. However, the unpredictability of weather in the winter months often puts a crimp in road […]

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Authenticity in the Workplace

December 27, 2014

Way back when, when I had a boss (let’s call him “Former Boss”), his wife and I were talking at the premiere of one of my company’s movies about how Former Boss and I would probably be great friends if he weren’t my boss.  She laughed and said if circumstances were different, they would be […]

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Waving at Strangers

September 8, 2014

I’m working on a couple work projects that are taking up all my mental bandwidth. I’m not complaining because they are insanely fun film projects and I’m having a blast. However the deadlines are such that I find myself working pretty much every waking moment in my home office. When I’m not on the phone, […]

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Behind The Smile

August 26, 2014

Robin Williams has died. Those four words still ring in my head. Yoda and I are spending August at my parents’ lake house in Wisconsin. My parents were watching the CBS Evening News and I was curled up on the sofa deeply engrossed in a book. I wasn’t at all listening to the TV, consciously […]

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The Huffington Post – An Enchanting Road Trip to New Mexico’s Hot Springs

July 11, 2014

I love road trips and I love hot springs. That means my recent road trip to explore New Mexico hot springs was pretty much a win/win.  This was one of my favorite road trips to date. If you are wanting an off the beaten path summer getaway, this one is calling your name! Read about […]

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Caged Birds

June 8, 2014

 “V,” a lovely former co-worker whom I worked with for over a decade, recently sent me a private message on Facebook.  Both of us have since moved on from our previously employer.  In V’s case, she saw an opportunity and embraced change by quitting her job for a better one. In my case, I was […]

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