Wild Bill Comes Due

I heard Obama talking about Wild Bill Hickock being a distant cousin of his according to his family legend. The image I have of Wild Bill is residue from Pete Dexter's novel, "Deadwood," which opens with Wild Bill trying to piss through the misery of his venereal disease and follows him through the Chinese opium dens. There's always a Wild Bill coming due.

I'm listening to the "Chavez Ravine," by Ry Cooder. "My name is Frank. Don't turn me down. Don't call me red." He says "every church has its prophets and its elders." Ain't that the truth. When I first come back to San Francisco I'm keyed up from driving for twelve hours, and I'm focused on the vague place where my plans ought to be, but no plans are there. So I play some music and drink a glass of wine and begin to do something that might be thinking, I don't know. It has associations anyway, so it's at least pattern research and development.

Damn this is a good album. Ry Cooder is his own sound, and he sure sounds good in Spanish. He did the soundtrack for the Jack Nicholson film, "The Border," got all those old Cuban musicians back together for the Buena Vista Social Club; he did Talking Timbuktu with Ali Farka Toure, and he did the track for Paris, Texas. He's who I'm listening to a lot right now.

While I was driving I was listening to Science podcasts about the brain, on subjects such as the different kinds of memory, and the executive function of the pre-frontal lobes. It's sobering to begin to evaluate my brain as an organ which is beginning to lose capabilities. I'm only now beginning to appreciate how important it is to begin something requiring completely new brain connections about each decade of life. If you keep doing what you're good at, you get really good pattern recognition skills in your specialty. But you don't force new brain activity.

Brain science is fascinating. I learned that somebody who is born blind and learns to read brail has the visual cortex working, it's just working in the index finger that does the reading. That's why when somebody has been blind all their life and suddenly there is some kind of operation that allows them to see, it doesn't work out that well. The visual cortex hasn't been just waiting, unused, for a scientific breakthrough. It has connected to other functions.

There are all kinds of interesting things in current research, including that because a memory is vivid has nothing to do with it's accuracy. It's easy to alter somebody's memory of events if you know how. And there's different kinds of memory. For example, there's the memory in the body of a pattern or process, which is separate from a memory of what you know. So you have the memory that you play tennis, and your body has the memory of how to play tennis. You can lose the first and retain the second.

Wild Bill is playing cards at the Deadwood Saloon. He has aces and eights. He sits with his back to the door even though he knows better.

While I was driving I listened to Terry Gross interview Jill Bolte Taylor about her stroke, about the blood flooding the neurons, how it's toxic to them, shorts them out or just shuts them down. The whole damned trip was focused on podcasts about the brain and what can go right with it and what can go wrong. I got a headache and bought a couple of little packets of Bayer aspirin when I stopped for gasoline. The girl behind the register smiled. "Feel better," she said.

I've been watching my thought process, and knowing that I am shaking it up on purpose. Everything gets old. I remember the other night I had a dream that I was very lucky because I was beginning my life over again instead of giving up and sliding down the chute into the glue factory. Today I wrote an ad to find some people to practice guitar with, and last week I resigned from my spiritual group to free up some resources for delving into the transcendental nature of ducks. It is the right side of the brain that deals with new and novel situations, while the left brain deals with conformity to existing patterns.

There is no point to this blog as there is no pattern other than a possible relationship between Wild Bill and a transcendental duck which might have one. So to compensate your time I'll tell you about the duck which checked into a Hilton and asked room service to send up a condom, and put it on his bill. Maybe not.

Don't call me red, don't turn me down, I've got a plan.
Richard Neutra is my friend, and he's the man.
He's been to school and he can see what's best for all of you.
Please trust me, my name is Frank, don't turn me down.
Don't call me red.

Every church has its prophets and its elders.
God will love you if you just play ball, that's right.
Fritz Burns, Chief Parker, and J Edgar.
I outlived those bastards after all.

We survived those dark days full of danger.
In the end fate has been good to me.
If you're in the neighbourhood, stranger,
You're welcome to drop in and see.
My name is Frank, don't turn me down.

Don't call me red.

Posted: Sat - August 2, 2008 at 10:09 PM