Raggin' Piano Boogie


HIS SPIRIT LIVES ON! ... BONER, THE PIANO DOG ... November 27, 1994 ... February 20, 2010

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May 31, 2011

Joplin, Missouri

I got it together and drove to Joplin, Missouri. They had a devastating tornado here. I couldn't believe how wide the storm was and what resulted in its path. I am to meet a guy named Gerald to stay overnight with but everything was very sketchy. He's busy and hesitant about bringing a stranger into his home. About so many details about today I would like to write but it would take forever. I had very little interest in seeing the destruction. I was more interested in scoping the place out for Traveling Piano possibilities in order to create fun, friendship and respect. The first thing I came across was a huge mega church with a parking lot full of huge tractor trailers from some relief organization... tents, people eating etc... I parked, got myself a hotdog and struck up a conversation with a guy playing guitar who freaked out because I was a musician trying to move in on his territory. I tried to assure him that I had no interest whatsoever because well... first off, I had just arrived and knew absolutely nothing about anything. When I left the area I thought I'd get the spot over with and find out if anyone would want us to come back after we got settled. I went to ask the church pastor if he would be interested in a Traveling Piano visit. The interaction was ugly. I was talking to the second in command who was full of skepticism, mistrust, an obvious self serving agenda and who had fear of conflict. Knowing nothing about me and obviously having little interest in learning... I was a guy who was trying to bring secular music onto his property, (I don't play secular music) looking for attention (no need for attention here) and any potential to make money... (ha,ha,ha... not!) He hurt my feelings directing false motives on me that were ever so graciously disrespectful. The bottom line, I was not welcome and he could not respond in a responsible manor. He could only imply the fact and therefore to me it was not clear. I wanted to hear him say no... or we are not interested... or thank you but no thank you... all he could say was "leave." That was not appreciated, I moved on.

Having pushed through all negativity, I drove down the street and stopped at the first house I came across with people cleaning out. I asked if they wanted any help. They said sure and then the journey here began. They were a great family, they understood what I am about. They told me their story as they were in the storm when it happened. The story of running to hide and then seeing everything etc... I realized then and there that what people in Joplin want more than bottled water, hot dogs and media coverage is someone to talk to, anyone. I helped them clean up some and then they joined me on the piano and I simply felt everything this journey has to offer. They did too. After that I continued to explore the area a little until I found an intersection where many people died. As soon as I began to create music, people working the nearby relief tent came over and we all had a great time until it got dark and a city curfew started. Gerald came through, the guy I am staying with, I'm at his place for the night. He has no internet. He is a major character which I'll need to write about later. The landscape is as intense as it can get.

May 30, 2011

St. Louis, St Clair and Springfield Missouri

Let me start with last night. A woman who manages the movie theater in town invited me to see a movie. I love movies and rarely get to go to anymore. It was in an old historic theater where she sells the tickets from a front center booth outside, a very cool booth just like a fortune tellers booth you would see in old carnivals. I decided to walk Mo around the neighborhood first and came across this guy outside his house. He was with the largest meat smoker I ever saw. It was on the back of a big trailer and must have had ten tiers of meat on the inside. Some people spend their Memorial weekend money on fireworks, others in a motel down the shore, this guy spends it all on meat and smokes it. All his friends come with their own meat and smoke that too. It goes on all weekend long. Even though it was after nine at night I could not resist bringing out the Traveling Piano to them. Neighbors came out and joined in the fun. I had some ribs and chicken. Bo had his treats. While I was playing a huge cat jumped up on top of the piano with Mo. I cannot tell you how strange that was. They just sat looking at each other and then the cat left. I couldn't get a picture in time. Mo was completely bewildered by the whole experience. The big black smoking stove freaked him out. When he got out of the truck he ran away from it and I had a hard time catching him. He would not come back. Once he was on top of the piano he felt a little safer. Then again there were the rich smells of all kinds of different meats to contend with. Also, it was dark and all of a sudden there's a strange cat sitting right in front of him, on his piano? Along with the commotion of people jumping in and out of the truck bed... my dog is a major champ! I never got to see the movie it was too late.

I left my friends Stephen and Joyce in St. Louis. I was offered breakfast but could not get the where-with-all to followthrough with a yes. As I was driving away in the ninety degree weather knowing it would be a five hour drive I thought I'd better eat. Mc Donald's, Burger King, White House Burgers... resist, resist, resist! Then I remembered that I am not a traveling man in the 1930's. In todays world there is a supermarket in every town. I stopped and brought some fresh strawberries, oranges and seeing as it is Memorial Day some fried chicken. Once back on the road the chicken did me in. Now I needed deviled eggs for my Memorial day picnic of sorts. I became fixated on deviled eggs and then told myself I'd settle for egg salad. I pulled off the road in St. Clair, Missouri and asked the first person I saw where the supermarket was. It was a mom and her seventeen year old son Dillon and with a big smile they told me to follow them. That led to some piano playing. Turns out that Dillon has been wanted to learn how to play the piano. I gave him his first lesson outside the front doors of the supermarket.

Onward to Dana and Gary in Springfield, Missouri. This is where piano dog Bo died. He died in their house. Today was beautiful, warm and green. Missouri is billowing with greenery! Even with the wind while driving down the road, strong and loud through the truck windows, the cicadas in the trees with their buzzy trills were louder. It was amazing to hear. I saw billboards on the road promoting the worlds first tribute for "Dogs Onboard the Titanic" in Branson Missouri. Thats going a little overboard me thinks. The road kill I've been seeing while driving through Missouri has changed from deer to armadillo. There are lots of carcasses of dead armadillo laying on their backs showing their ribbed shells. Once at Dana and Gary's place (I love this couple) I met Annie, originally from Scotland now living in England, a pretty fifty-five year old woman riding around America and soon down to Brazil for fun on her Harley. She is couchsurfing with Dana and Gary. We all had left overs from yesterdays barbecue and of course... deviled eggs.

May 29, 2011

Saint Louis, Missouri

My friends Stephen, 84 years old and his wife Joyce a few years younger, welcomed me into their home at the last minute once again. Boner and I passed through here a few weeks before he died. I woke up to Maple Pecan Cluster cereal and real milk from a real dairy, in a real glass container just like when I was a kid... fresh apricots and peaches were waiting for me. I took a shower and had big, strong and thick clean white towel to use. Originally, I woke up at nine but went back to bed until 11:30am. Stephen and Joyce had gone to their Sunday Ethical Society meeting so I had time all to myself to get my head together. I went to my emails and found that my friend Patty sent me a hundred bucks. So there it goes... it will have cost three hundred bucks to get to Joplin and three friends contributed the money. Just a few ...key... people, all that is needed.

I came to deeper than ever realization yesterday, more clarity... gotta love that clarity. My passion for life is and has always been to manifest gratitude. This is huge clarity. I love to express gratitude. I love to create physically weather it be through words or action... gratitude. I most enjoy connecting and contributing to the world through gratitude. It is in fact the only way that I can contribute and connect with the world. Now don't get the idea that I do not live with extreme dislikes or anger, resentment, poor me syndrome, jealousy, etc... but I do know my basic intent and want in life and that is to manifest gratitude.

Mo and I began to drive around. The first encounter was to run into a group of kids on a corner selling cookies for the Joplin tornado survivors. Of course I stopped and we all had some fun. Afterwards I began to drive around in order to find some shady trees. There was a local community festival in the park which I could not get away from fast enough. When I am in a park I want nature, not the smell of bubbling fried grease, the sight of metal tents with people selling stuff and music blaring from stages. I drove to the city park, large and over packed with people. As it was late in the afternoon I thought Delmar street in the University City area would be perfect. There is something about this street that I like. Last time we passed through here I remember wanting to create music on it. Today was my chance and also I wanted Mo to get used to the sun. It was about four in the afternoon and... HOT! Like... full, hot sun in the mid nineties hot. We lasted there about an hour and had our share of fun with people, and sun.

May 28, 2011

Cloverdale, Indiana

I am cranky, happy but cranky as I've been driving for ten hours. It is slow going with this twenty five year old going on 250,000 miles Traveling Piano with an out of shape 55 year old guy driving it. Plus, I'm sick of seeing warnings for up to $1000 concerning speeding ticket signs, eight years in prison if you are sited for reckless driving and $10,000 fine warnings if you hit a road worker! Right now I'm outside a Mc Donald's (for the wireless) with an hour and a half left to drive. It is raining, ugh. I will make it as far as St Louis, Missouri tonight. Friends of mine who I stayed with once before are going to host us. On the way today I meandered off road into Cloverdale, Indiana having no idea why. Kids there have nothing to do. They either go to the next town over and use recreational drugs or to another close town where they drive their cars up and down the street... so I was told. Guess where I ended up in Cloverdale? In the community grave yard. It was a very weird experience even for me but not so weird that Mo jumped onto the piano and so did I to create music for a spell... cows on one side of us, grave stones on the other. Everyone was born in the early 1800's.

May 27, 2011

Cambridge, Ohio

My, my, my! I just could not get out of my head in order to get out of Philadelphia... until this morning. Last night, as it was getting dark I headed to the river to create some music for about a half hour. It was needed, I had not done it for several days. Music has become therapy for me. I get real crazy if I don't play enough. That is play in every sense of the word... musically. There was a car accident on the road that created a detour and I ended up in the middle of a field up on a hill in Fairmont Park. A guy named Ryan found me and jumped on board to play the piano. As he was leaving he invited me to his cafe, the Rybread for some coffee and a breakfast sandwich before I left this morning. That gesture really helped me. This morning, even though it was nine am, I had to double park on the street. I could have been there for hours as people started to jump into the truck and onto the piano. After getting on the road I hit a traffic jam almost immediately. There was no way I was going to start a couple thousand mile journey in a traffic jam. I took the first exit and stopped at a gas station. I had my coffee and said to the guy, "damm I forgot to get the milk and sugar." He said he had some in a fridge in the garage to share. Onward, to a random spot along the road in Roxboro, Pennsylvania to let Mo go to the bathroom. I had forgotten to do it earlier. First thing, this guy comes running up to me. Hey Dan, hi great to see you, I started playing piano again because of you. He and his girlfriend had found us on a neighborhood street in Philly over a month ago. The two of us also have a coincidentally strong spiritual link so... I left that spot knowing that everything was good, right and solid. Here I am being taken care of, appreciated, validated, reassured out of nowhere? No coincidences going on here.

I'm driving into the state of Ohio and I start to slip with my thinking with the realization that I was going to have to "put out" for a hotel room. I found a Days Inn. They charged me ten bucks extra for Mo. Once I got in the room I thought, "could have snuck him in." The truck was right outside the window, I just stepped out of the window to bring my bags in from the truck. It cost like eighty bucks for the night and I was thinking... damm, this would bother me even if someone else was paying. Sat on the bed, opened my computer to see if I had any emails to find a woman named Maggie who had been on the truck last month had sent me a hundred bucks. All of a sudden I didn't feel so bothered about the cost of the room, ha. Am I being taken care of or what???!!! Mo... this is his first night in a motel. He is quiet, behaved and as awesome as it can get. What a gift he is for me. I have the best company in the world, I'm being taken care of, appreciated, validated and reassured by other people.

May 26, 2011

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Heading to Joplin, MO. The original plan was to be in Miami right now enjoying the sun and palm trees. Every time I do something like I am about to embark on I go through a period of frustration and anger. When it happens... like right now... I could care less why. Hahaha... not. So... its warm and humid out, I may have to drive through rain, the truck is making loud funny noises (after almost five thousand bucks in repair and taking it back several times to get them to do the job right) I just went through crap trying to pay my truck insurance, no one has responded with a positive, to help out with a place to stay on the way, but... my dog loves me, I have no obligations or expectations to deal with, there is still some money to pay for a motel room (send me some anyway please) and I am doing what I enjoy (even with the hassles). I don't have to leave until I'm ready there is no rush. Maybe I will take a nap and see if I can drive all night. That way I can get a motel room tomorrow and have it for the whole day verses getting one in the middle of the night and having to pay a full day and stay for just a few hours. Maybe I can find one with a swimming pool. So... Motel 6 and gas station energy shots here we come. So... with gas $5 bucks a gallon and Joplin, Missouri 1,250 miles away, motels at least $60 per night after taxes and fees, food for Mo and Me, soon to be more truck repairs... Send Money so we can continue with the fun... even if your not having any fun for yourself, you can have it through us,Ha!!! I am having fun, right?

May 25, 2011

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Gettin' Ready! I realized first thing this morning that I am about to live out once again one of the original agendas with the Traveling Piano. To visit rural areas where musicians rarely visit or get to see a piano player play. Since that original agenda the idea of people who rarely get to play on a piano, have never had the opportunity to play on a piano or who would normally be hesitant to play on a piano as a result of being psychologically damaged from music lessons as a kid... sharing the piano with other people has been added to the agenda. Also, bringing people together for fun and different, interesting and pleasing, safe and short periods of distraction from a days routine or difficulty... this has now also been added to the agenda list of the Traveling Piano. I am once again trying to be organized in order to know where things are stored in the truck. A simple example... in the lower bottom part of the piano... spare blue dog food bowls... area bug spray and insect repellants... brake fluid... bear spray... yep, you know those rural mountains... jumper cables... a power inverter for if my cell phone battery runs out... tomorrow we will begin driving to Joplin, Missouri.

May 24, 2011

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Oh, my life! It is a personal and individual process for sure. As someone said last night... I live in a trust and faith and that takes a lot of planning. Planning for trust and faith... it is what it is! Hahaha... I was supposed to leave for Florida today and really thought deep about why I changed my mind. I have been analyzing it... ugh. The condo place I was to stay in for the first week I found out does not allow pets. I contacted about fifteen people who offer to host different travelers... the first seven responses were no. That is not a problem but a point to be noted for myself. I was finding communities that not only restrict pets they restrict the kind of vehicles allowed to park in the community... a piano on a truck would be too different to allow. The idea of living in an environment such as that disgusts me, it really does and not just because I have a piano in the back of a truck. Crazy people!!!

I learned about the tornado disaster in Joplin, Missouri. Disasters happen everywhere everyday so why did this one catch my attention? Maybe because Bo died in Missouri, people were kind to me in Missouri, I played Scott Joplin music for most of my life (the two Joplin's have nothing in common)... In any case, I have been feeling a personal "tug" to give more intensely of myself to the world. I am very, very, intensely, vigilant of my motives with this journey. Do I do things strictly for myself? Yes, all inertia and motivation comes from myself first but... is it all through another source? How do I differentiate between the two?

Have I set my life up so that I am in total control? Is that a bad thing? Because of trust issues... do I need for people or situations to "give" to me first so that I can give to them in return? Have I become so fearful of "takers" that I have been emphasizing the giving to "givers'" only? What about the fact that I have set myself up to have these short Traveling Piano interludes so I don't have to find out if I am "giving" to a taker. Hahaha...

So... where I am today is that as far as anything that has to do with human thinking and action and material stuff... yes, I want and need total control over my decisions, what I do, how, why, what, where and when and... It all comes through a source other than myself, a spiritual source. Call it God, Jesus, the Universe... whatever. The process, the challenge for my life has been to balance the two sources... me and "other than" me... while knowing that everything comes through "other."

Back to Joplin, Missouri... this journey began in taking the Traveling Piano to the hurricane Katrina affected areas of the south. No one asked for my help, I did it because I wanted to help. It "felt" right. When the Virginia Tech massacre happened "they" asked me to help. I did it because they wanted me to help. It "felt" right. When the Trenton, New Jersey floods happened it was back to my wants. There has been countless requests I have honored through the people I have stayed with over the years. It all "felt" right.

I suppose the bottom line with everything I am writing has to do with what "feels" right and knowing what my true feelings are. Lately, I have been "feeling" a need to not focus so much on ...me... having fun so I can share that with others. It has been feeling like I have been losing the ability to have fun with the journey and it is because I have been focusing too much on me, my physical wants and needs. Although I want to continue to give to me, I have been wanting the experience of my giving more to the world at large on a larger scale.

Went I traveled down to the Katrina areas it was long after the main buzz was over. I have thought about that often. Virginia tech was specifically set up for my arrival after the buzz was over. With all the disastrous hurricanes presently happening... who ever hears about the many troubles and needs a week, even a few days afterwards? When the media drops the news and caring, all the viewers who were so intensely interested (not surprisingly to me) also drop the care and interest. This is the time when it "feels" right for me to move into a disaster type situation with the Traveling Piano.

I'm heading for Joplin, Missouri towards the end of the week. This feels right. I feel a need... to feel needed...in a different way from the usual. I need to mix things up a bit with the ways the Traveling Piano has presently been working and do it in the biggest possible way my spirit can provide. I hope to achieve my fulfillment through bringing to Joplin, Missouri the personal gift of myself that I have to offer... my dog (his basic love)... and the Traveling Piano's fun, friendship and respect with musical empowerment and inspiration... using synchronicity and spontaneity to create music for people to discover... at no cost and without commercial, organizational or political affiliation. Why... because I can! The best part is that I am not kidding myself that circumstances are creating the situation for me. I could use situations like I wrote at the beginning of this blog to justify why... but the truth is I am creating it for myself because I want to... and can. It feels good to be able to take responsibility for my life, creating my own life, for being aware of my truth, to recognize and accept what is really going on with me from the inside out. I still need more practice but I can see that I am improving.

May 23, 2011

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I am getting my head together. It feels good. The momentum is building. Fear is taking a back step. Yes I still feel fear every time I take a step forward... like I am not allowed... I will get yelled at or fail, I'm not going to do something right or good enough, get into trouble etc... This is my last day in Philadelphia once again. Not feeling rushed is critical. Mo and I along with the Traveling Piano... heading to Smithfield Virginia tomorrow to see friends for overnight and then to South Carolina the next day. The accommodations for the next month whether it be with friends I have yet to meet or whatever... I must keep my head screwed on right. My life is not to be oriented towards comfort, having someone take care of me, luxurious living conditions, privacy... not that there's anything wrong with all that :) ...but towards the goals of fun, friendship and respect with musical empowerment and inspiration... good relationship, meeting new friends, strangers becoming less afraid of each other, thats what I am all about.

May 22, 2011

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I woke up physically exhausted and I have the place where I am staying all to myself. The privacy is really appreciated, it felt like I am hiding from the world. Even though I was exhausted from yesterday I could not fall asleep until almost five in the morning. I guess there was a lot going on in my psyche. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed doing absolutely nothing. By nighttime I was feeling alone and wanting company. Ha, I am gearing myself up for a trip down south. I am constantly reevaluating what I am doing and why concerning my life, music and contribution.

May 21, 2011

Pennsville, New Jersey

Happiness is a dog named Mo. I tend to go on ad nauseum about this but my job is to say what is on my mind and Mo is on my mind all the time. Mo = Gradtitude. We did our first parade together today. Piano Dog Boner and I did parades for fifteen years. I could feel Bo with Mo today. They were working the ropes together. Mo stood up for most of the time. He was nervous during the line up in the beginning when the bands went buy with drums but kept an open mind as he saw they were just passing. After about five minutes into the parade I visualy saw him decide that he liked what was going on; he began to enjoy the entire situation. Nothing could be more joyful for me although as joyful today was to have my friend and old neighbor Larry travel an hour and a half from Pennsylvania to drive for us. Here is an eighty year old guy with tons of health issues in need of a pace maker, defibrillator, can gain four pounds of water on any given night, has battled cancer on and on but none of it stops him from living life to the fullest. Three years ago he went through everything needed to become a bus driver for young kids and now that is his full time job. Can you imagine what they put him through to make sure he could do the job? He did everything and passed all the tests with flying colors. He is a hero of mine as well as my niece and her family and my friend Cindy and her mom who I spent time with.

The town of Pennsville, in Salem County, New Jersey, today was their Memorial Day Parade. It felt like "I" was more the recipient of what the Traveling Piano usually delivers... you may know about the fun, friendship and respect. I played a bit before the parade, did the parade (and survived the energy level needed after not having performed for three years) and then I played afterwards at the VFW post. Other people as usual played music on the truck and one little girl during the parade jumped on board for a few moments. This town supports and has always supported what I have to offer for the world and I really appreciate that! Me, I have a major respect for what vets have gone through to do their jobs.

May 20, 2011

Bucks County, Pennsylvania

Oh, God! I really dislike when my life becomes all about managing and coping. When that is happening I am definitely not living in reality. Today, the truck... I was trying to clean it and super compact the storage needs. The rain... into the garage, the sun... out to the driveway... the rain... into the garage, the sun... out to the driveway... the rain... into the garage... flat tire... out to the repair shop... the rain... into the garage, the sun... out to the driveway... drive to center city philly where I am sleeping tonight... all truck contents... eight floors up into the condo... truck, into the garage. While in the garage I tried to play a few old Boogie Woogie parade tunes I used in parades many years ago because... tomorrow I am doing a Memorial Day parade for old friends and for the first time in years. I'm working to not be crazy with nervousness. When I went to play the songs all I felt was... good and secure!

May 19, 2011

Bucks County, Pennsylvania

After finishing up with cleaning and packing in the West Virginia cabin... Mo and I finally got on the road after six at night. I wanted the place where we had been staying to be better looking than when we found it. It rained along the way back east but for some reason the truck bed did not get soaked like it did a few nights ago. Tomorrow I shall see if the piano works! I was heading for center city Philadelphia but en-route decided to go to my nieces house up north. I need to lay everything out tomorrow and find space to store away things like my winter coat and bring out the summer stuff. Everything I travel with is in bags that stay in the truck bed as well as inside the piano. I can store a few things behind the seats inside the cab. Not much storage room to be had... traveling with all weather, all season clothes along with other necessities... ugh. I tried to boil some water for coffee from my cigarette lighter. The Traveling Piano truck, now twenty-five years old just does not have the power. We got into Bucks County late at night and first thing... Mo ran into the wet bushes and I hear some screaming. My hound dog found his first rabbits nest, he did not know what he found but his instincts told him it was a gold mine. I hope the mother moves them before daybreak!!

May 18, 2011

West Virginia

Between rain storms we drove into Berkeley Springs to get some errands done and visit with a few friends. I need to wrap up lose ends here in West Virginia and then drive back east as soon as possible to do a parade. It has been years since I've done a parade. I've been dealing with a house here in West Virginia that has been flooding. The drive back from town today was beautiful with the late afternoon sun shining down on everything. I told a friend how my funds are being drained fast. They said don't worry Judgement Day is to come in a few days with the Great Rapture. (there are a group of fundamental religious doomsday people who have choosen the world to end I think on the 21st, all the good people are supposed to disappear) I said to my friend the world can't end yet because Oprah's last show will not air on television until the 25th.

May 17, 2011

West Virginia

While dealing with my computer crash and backups and the fact that the Traveling Piano tarp will not be completed, the truck needs more work... when I will get around to getting it into the shop, who knows... while needing to prepare to go back east again... the full moon... letting go of computer data lost and still trying to get the damm thing working... I'm am loving my dog and missing the piano out on the road just a little.

May 16, 2011

West Virginia

I had written a wonderful blog for the world today. It was full of entertainment and worldly wisdom but alas my computer crashed and hours of thought and creativity went somewhere into the cosmos... so... now I'll just keep it simple... Mo and I came across a really cool orange eastern box turtle in the park today.

May 15, 2011

West Virginia

It is amazing the opportunities that fall into my path to upload this blog as I have no internet service of my own. I'll be driving down the street and find a business that shares, be over a friends house that will share, end up at a park lodge that shares... sharing is good. I am sitting inside watching outside... hearing, smelling, feeling the wetness in the air as a steady light spring rain falls on the leaves with the sun shining. Still, I am super aware of life's uncertainty. Today, I tested out a new battery operated blender for on the road to have liquid meal drinks when I have no other choice but fast food joints or junk food. The thing is bigger than a regular blender! Where I am going to be storing it in the truck is a mystery. I talked to my friend Bonnie today who I stayed with several years ago in Maryland with her husband Dave. They invite travelers into their home as a way of staying connected with the world and people. She told me she has a family of eight from France arriving for a few days to stay in their house! Eight plus two people who have never met before from different cultures staying in a modest sized house!

May 14, 2011

West Virginia

It is another rainy day and different being deep in the woods under greenery verses in a downtown city high rise with the sun beaming through a big viewing window. I was reminded that the answer for fear, indecision and uncertainty is gratitude and woke up this morning putting extra thought into my fun, friendship and respect mantra. I presently have a bed, a place to work and to hang out (a beautiful place) food, friends, privacy, ability to move around with a working vehicle and a way to express life through the Traveling Piano. There in exists everything I need. When I am thinking about what I have it is impossible to be thinking about what I may need, want or do not have.

I have been trying to have what for me is always a difficult talk with God, the Universe, Myself... pick your choice. "God, I am so grateful but... what do I do now? The answer is always... just be. "But God, be what? Busier or less busier... should I be more actively pursuing my dreams, is it ok to stop pursuing them, what about my commitment to life, do I need to show that... how? Can I die, should I live... how... what about money? Should I prepare for the future like I was indoctrinated to do? Not by you but... what, who, how do I be responsible in life? The good thing about all this self analysis is that it is directed inward and not outward... understand?

May 13, 2011

West Virginia

Today is a rainy day. I am once again, full force and fully determined to lose some weight. This is a must if I am to continue the journey at an acceptable pace for me. I was sitting looking though the night, through the trees and over a lake and saw myself, I felt myself living two worlds at the same time. One was full of the awesomeness of nature, the other was full of indecision, fear and uncertainty. They were two distinct worlds. The first was living what is... reality. The second was living in illusion... projection.

May 12, 2011

West Virginia

I'm in environmental shock! Out of the high rise city view bustle and noise and into an umbrella of trees, birds and natural quietness. The weather is full of awesomeness. It has been a long time since being here in West Virginia in pure greenery. Most of my time visiting this house where I am now staying... over the last few years has been during the fall and winter. Being early in the season there are few bugs although last night a fly got inside. It sounded like a jack hammer bouncing off the walls. It flew so fast I couldn't see it to swat. The bugs and insects here in West Virginia are strong, fast and harsh! I woke up wondering why it was so dark. I'm under the trees and I have been used to getting hit with the sun through huge city windows first thing every morning. Today Mo and I practiced doing nothing. That lasted about ten minutes hanging outside on the deck then we moved to a chair, lalala... Its not easy for me to do nothing. I couldn't resist doing this blog and running to a friends house to post this blog through a long road of dirt, dust, stone, and potholes. My intent with the blog... to share. I'll be here for a week and now realize I will need it to rejuvenate for what is to come.

May 11, 2011

On the Road

Today is a travel day. We are heading to West Virginia. I'm scared. ha. What the hell... I am always afraid when I do not know what is going on for the future. One would think I would be used to all this. The beautiful day helps... my faith in the journey helps... my past experiences all help... knowing I have friends helps... my dog Mo helps. Will, the photographer who I hung out with the other day sent me the pics he took. I am posting a few today. Check out his website at Will Connelly Photography

May 10, 2011

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I am drained from the last few days, nervous about what is to come next, tried to lay low and relax, did not want to take the Traveling Piano out, resisted the urges until... I met once again Darryl the guy who hosted the party I attended a couple nights ago. Darryl happens to manage the building I am staying in so we got together with his management on the Traveling Piano. The building has a culdesac where I could have parked the truck but we choose to go out to the public street because there are a few ratty tenants with control issues who we knew would complain. We avoided the hassles and just went for the fun. Other people walking up the street joined in the fun. Later I took Mo to the dog park for one last romp with others of his kind. I hope to leave Philadelphia tomorrow.

May 09, 2011

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

A Major Friggin' Traveling Piano experience today, I could not have imagined better. First, I saw my eye surgeon to learn if I am going blind. I am not. He did not charge me a fee. Thanks, doctor George! I am about ready to leave Philadelphia once again. Now I must head to West Virginia to ready myself for a long time of constant travel with no home base for respite. Having traveled to Philly to get the truck rebuilt... after over four thousand dollars in repairs... and the truck still sounding, feeling and running the same as before... after taking it back to the guy three times... well, I had said earlier in the blog that I was disappointed... actually to be more honest the whole situation has been discouraging, especially considering the money but still... I continue forward. I was driving down a road trying to figure which direction I would go in when a sot began to honk on their horn which made me rush my decision. That landed me on West River drive by the Schuylkill river. I met a really nice couple there who took a few pictures for me.

After about a half hour I headed to the opposite side of the river. I knew of a metal railroad bridge overpass with a huge stone wall where I wanted to create music. The Traveling Piano sound when amplified while bouncing off metal and stone is crazy! Sometimes I like "crazy." A police officer pulled up in his car, an officer named Mike who is my age. He told me that he had began to improvise piano music for the first time just last year. He jumped onto the piano to try it out... one thing led to another and I ended up giving him my last Raggin' Piano Boogie poster because he inspired me with his ability to have fun and the guts to allow that for himself. The last poster... the end of an era! :) He returned the favor by giving me an escort to the top step of the Philadelphia Art Museum. (where Sylvester Stallone created the iconic Rocky Balboa scene in the Oscar winning film Rocky) Creating music on the Traveling Piano front and center, high on the top step of the Philadelphia Art Museum while over looking the Philadelphia Parkway, city hall and the city in general was a dream. I snuck up there to celebrate the first year of this journey at twelve midnight and I tried several times since in daylight but the tightening restrictions in our world made my attempts a no go. Today was a go, go, go!!! Police officer Mike took the pictures for me which kept the security guards at bay.

As we drove around the building to our destination we drove past the mayor who was coming out of the museum from an event. We acted like everything was just peachy keen, as normal as can be. For the rest of today I had to consciously resist telling everyone I saw whether I knew them or not... "I just finished playing piano on the back of a pickup truck on the top step of the art museum with my dog hanging out on top of the piano, I just finished playing piano on the back of a pickup truck on the top step of the art museum with my dog hanging out on top of the piano, I just finished playing piano on the back of a pickup truck on the top step of the art museum with my dog hanging out on top of the piano!!! I made sure several people also got on the piano to have the experience. The reason this happening was so significant... not only was it personally symbolic on many levels, I can honestly say I love the city of Philadelphia, I love its neighborhoods, the buildings, the history, the weather, even the sometimes the pain in the ass people. I call Phiily my home town. I was born here.

May 08, 2011

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

It is almost three in the morning and I am half dead from having a great day. I met this guy named Will who I asked to take some pictures for me in some personally favorite locations around the city and I am waiting for the pictures to be downloaded so I can use them. I'm not sleeping because of that but also, leaving Philadelphia is on my mind bigtime. I hope the pictures arrive soon, I wanted to share them for today's blog. I think it is getting too late for today, sigh. Mo and I started out in West Philly on a street in a quiet neighborhood. An army of wheel chairs appeared. The nurses handling them all jumped on board to create a few musical notes for their patients. I hooked up with Will and we headed over to a skyline view of the city that I have had my eyes on for years. We got into a discussion about the pictures and ownership that became uncomfortable for me. There had obviously been a misunderstanding when I asked him to gift me. I was approaching the situation simply on a personal level only. Will was concerned from an artistic level of his own. Ahh... for the sake of clarity, boundaries and limits. I gave in with a spirit of letting go. I hope I am to be happy with that decision.

We explored different areas of the city and visited Wills friends on a very funky West Philadelphia Street. We drove the truck into a neighborhood park to get a few pictures. A what was probably an anal retentive tenant from one of the nearby high rises called the police within sixty seconds of our arrival. There was a truck on the walking path in the park! Oh my God, call the police!!! The cop was real nice, we got the pictures we wanted and even had time to share the Traveling Piano with a family celebrating Mother's Day. Finally, we crashed Penn Treaty park down by the Delaware which was full of people. The place had a fantastic view and the gate was open so we were able to drive right into the middle of the field. I let go of most of the control in getting pictures for the day. I trusted Will to get the shots I usually take and for which I draw a large portion fun concerning the journey. I hope his pictures come through soon... as I was excited to have the Traveling Piano in these spots where I have thought about for years! After dropping off Will, I couldn't end it all. As I will be leaving Philadelphia soon I had to have one more time creating music on East River Drive by the Schuylkill river. This was the first spot I played when I arrived in the city. I didn't leave until eight at night. Need to get to bed now.

May 07, 2011

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I have become proficient in not being affected by life situations but with people... damm, that demands constant patience and conscious practice. I got sucked into other peoples worry today and really got angry at myself for that. It started with a passenger in the back of the Traveling Piano truck riding down the street worrying that Mo was trying to jump off while we were moving which of course worried Mo which translated into someone walking down the street shouting a concern which resulted in a nasty nag pulling her big fat white SUV beside us to tell me, "what if you need to stop suddenly, I think what you are doing is wrong." That really pissed me off because I was too focused on being responsible to think of a quick witty reply. I could have said that there is not much that could happen with a truck moving slower than a person walks or even better I could have had fun with the situation. I could have taken a picture of her ridiculous big, ugly mouth to share with everyone. Ha, ok... enough of that. Onto the good stuff...

What a beautiful day today was. I met up with an eleven year old chap whose mother repeatedly told me that her son was musically gifted and would love a Traveling Piano experience. Also, my new friend Sophia in her late seventies or eighties (she won't tell me) ...she wanted for me to drive her around more while she played her music. We all started out on a street corner where everyone who passed by wanted to play. Sophia got so frustrated with the little kid who did not want to stop playing she surprisingly said, hahaha... "I'm a selfish bitch let me up on that piano to play." Hahahaha.... oh my God! The young guy named Jochi, his mom wasn't just bragging... he improvised music in a classical style that was unreal! It was stunning. Everyone was stunning. We drove through the streets and I never saw so many people walking around in Philadelphia. It was like New York City.

Later on Mo and I attended a party in town for a bunch of CouchSurfers. Over the years I have stayed with several people from CouchSurfing.org. This is a wonderful worldwide network for making connections between travelers and the local communities they visit. I have made many friends through this social network. We all had ultra fun, friendship, respect, music and food! Coincidentally the guy hosting the party manages the condominium where I have been staying while in Philadelphia! He has hosted over seventy travelers in his home from around the world since joining the network in 2010. Anyone who has read this blog knows how much respect I have for people like this. I am all about strangers becoming less afraid of each other.

May 06, 2011

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Today started out a little messy. It was a beautiful day. I drove to the Hamilton Village section of the city and parked outside a science building for the University of Pennsylvania. My camera card went bad. The back up card held three pictures. The double backup card, the same. All the people having fun and no pictures... ugh. Drove to a CVS on Chestnut street and picked up a new card. Having had put money in the parking meter I figured I might as well create music and use up my time. While meeting people, three friends jumped in the truck and one of them played while I drove them around the block. The guy was really nervous, what fun! I know what a trip it was for them. A blind guy walking by almost got up to play but was too fearful I would drive off with him. I drove to 52nd street in West Philadelphia up and down feeling my way into the situation. This area of the city is wild with street venders, Friday rush hour traffic, buses, people waiting for buses, boarded up buildings and all kinds of miscellaneous oddities.

With no fear (wow) I parked in the middle of the street, right smack dab in the middle of the street There were two guys sitting there selling incense so I asked then not to kill me and then felt safe. I began to play music! It... was... awesome!!! Several vendors jumped up onto the piano, one of the guys gave me a batch of incense. People driving by shouted how they appreciated what I brought to 52nd street for the day. When I was leaving one of the two guys said, "man that was so relaxing." The sounds of the city was deafening. The traffic, people, boom boxes, etc.... Mo was so fantastic to be able to deal with it all. He feels safe with me. He trusts me. I am so thankful for that. Buses one after another were passing on both sides of us at the same time, within a few feet of us. Hahaha... it was all really close. The cops parked a half block away and sat staring at us for a good fifteen minutes. I knew the drill. When they pulled out and passed by we both acted like we were not there! The most amazing thing, it was so symbolic but also real. Three of the boarded up windows on one side of the street came down. People appeared in wide open spaces behind them giving me thumbs up signs. That was a major surprise, it felt so good.

I decided Mo might need to release some built up angst from such a nerve racking experience so I took him to a dog park in the Northern Liberties section at the opposite end of town. This was a quieter progressive and newer neighborhood. He had his fun, I got a special treat from a really good piano playing improve man... neighborhood kids jumped on board and Mo shared the top of the piano with another dog for the first time. I am so grateful for this dog and his love for other dogs like himself. I told myself I would wait for one more person to stop by for the Traveling Piano and it had to be a pretty girl. I got what I wanted and then headed out to write this blog.

May 05, 2011

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The list... went to pickup the truck from the repair shop again and for the last time. I don't care if the seat falls out with me in it I'll be driving until... Then I stopped at a mall to get a pair of pants. I walked in through Bloomingdales and was almost knocked over from the smell of perfume and the chatter of ladies in black. (sales clerks) All the workers in the mall seemed sooo desperate and bored that I allowed a guy hawking tea on the outside of a store to rip me off twenty bucks for berry tea. Purchased some hot dogs and onions at a supermarket. Stopped at an auto parts store to get new tire caps and rubber lining for my door. I was so sure that I was not going to do the Traveling Piano stuff today I didn't even bring my camera with me. Damm! I need to bring everything all the time everywhere. Before I parked at the auto store I knew deep inside that someone would show interest at this juncture of the day. Sure enough, A guy coming outside smiling with interest, I heard in the distance guy walking in the store mentioning Mo in the truck... and then, I think it was the manager not too interested in his day (like me) helped me locate some tire caps and other stuff... one thing led to another... he showed interest... I offered to show him the truck and play for a second... then I tore the tarp off, Mo jumped up... I drove with him on the piano around to the service bay and... it was so amazing. I was watching myself. Having been in a daze all day, focused on floaters in my eyes, a sinus cold I've had, how tired I've been... immediately in a snap I became energized, awake, interested, inspired into full journey mode. It really was amazing to me. All it took was an interested person. They put the new stuff on the truck, I played and gave them posters, two guys got up and bravely tried out the piano... all is great! All that was needed was for me to recognize and accept desire in myself and a miniscule thought to be willing. Thank god for camera phones! Ugh, yes I did just write that. The guy named Jessie had a camera phone and emailed me the pictures in time to use for this blog. That in of itself... rare. Thanks buddy!

May 4, 2011

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Often, I pray that I don't learn anything in an undesirable way. I have easily sabotaged my life... wait that is different, ahh... let me not get analytical. I just want to enjoy and learn and create or should that be create and learn and enjoy... or should that be... anyway, I tend to feel really "confused" when I am in a transitional period but I'll take that any day over feeling my life spiraling downward in a "stuck" period. Where is my feeling of "clarity" in moving forward?

I am propelled forward constantly through other people. I got an email... "I happened to walk past you as you were playing in by the Spring Gardens in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia the other day. I was having a bad day, and randomly seeing your truck with a piano in the back really made my day. I hope you can continue to do what you are doing for many years to come!" I also get emails every once in a while from people I met several years ago telling me how they remember our interaction and care about it, which really helps, validation really supports me. Sometimes people tell me they miss me! Ha, that often surprises me big time.

May 03, 2011

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

It is impossible to walk down the street here in Philadelphia and ignore people... look away from them, give a dirty look, stay frowning, etc... as people are always smiling at me, nodding, saying hello... it as been this way since we arrived... its the dog! He is keeping me rightly relating to life. Mo inspires me. Fun, love, play, respect... this dog has it all and is a constant reminder of how grateful I am. I'm glad he is with me and keeps me grounded in reality and what is important. There are people wanting to see their pictures here on the website. I'm posting them on days like this when I have no Traveling Piano to work with.

May 02, 2011

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Everyday it takes effort to reevaluate what is going on. I saw my doctor today. To be back in this area where I grew up amazes me everyday. I have not totally let go yet. My doctor is the same doctor who delivered me over fifty five years ago. Isn't that wonderful? I think it is. I've had a good relationship with someone since the moment I was born and it continues today. I went to do a load of wash at my nieces. It was really an excuse to visit. At night I dropped the truck off to the repair shop to hopefully finish what was not done the first time around. That depresses me. Along with being tired and having a sinus infection I am seeing floaters in my eyes, very irritating. They make it difficult to work with my photographs.

May 01, 2011

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I have been feeling down. The home page for this website has been updated. I hope it is clearer to understand for everyone who reads it, a major step towards letting go of the past. The day was spent doing errands like getting sunglasses, a phone, needed computer software, I took Mo to the dog park for a spell. HOME PAGE