Farewell, Mr Loaf

Meat Loaf died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know. For some he was an acquired taste. But, there is no denying the raw power of his passion when he performed.

In the guise of Eddie—a 1950s era biker and greaser channeling Elvis and John Belushi—Mr Loaf burst out of a deep freeze, frenetically riding a motorcycle and chewing the scenery in The Rocky Horror Picture Show; an audacious cult movie from 1975 still playing in cinemas today.

He was loud and brash but he could also be surprisingly tender. And, hot patootie bless my soul, that loaf of meat could Rock n’ Roll!

And sweat. Profusely.

Known mostly for his rock ballads and duets, and for his rock masterpiece, Bat Out Of Hell, Mr Loaf’s loftiest moment arrived in 1999 with his vulnerable performance in Fight Club; which normalized man boobs, male tears, and men hugging other men. His name is Robert Paulson.

In 2020, the self-proclaimed sex god came out as a climate change denier and, worse, a critic of environmental activist Greta Thunberg. Meat Loaf turned rancid for some fans after the duo performed their disastrous rock ballad duet, You’re Brainwashed, Climate Change Isn’t Real / No, I’m Not, Yes, It Is.

But that expression of opposing worldviews shouldn’t prevent us from recognizing his humanity. We don’t all share the same palate. Now is the time to put aside the main course and focus on the mashed potatoes and other side dishes. And come together to eulogize and celebrate the positive aspects of his stage and screen personae.

Meat Loaf. At the end of the meal, all we can say is that he was a man like any other man in some ways and unlike other men in other ways.

Adieu, Monsieur Loaf.

I hope there’s a piece of you still out there. Somewhere. Back in deep freeze.

A piece that may come back again as leftovers.

May flights of bats sing thee to thy roast.

We await the second helping.

Ain’t No Time For Hate: Remembering Eagle Park Slim

Rain has come to my corner of Northern California, and rain usually evokes two things for me: It makes me want to listen to the blues, and it evokes feelings of nostalgia for Eugene, Oregon, where I lived from the age of twelve to twenty-three. Eugene is Bluesville in my memory, and not only because it’s where I fell in love with the blues but also because it’s there where I fully, deeply, and existentially, experienced the blues. Especially when it rained.

I was thirteen in the summer of 1977 when I started listening to Mississippi John Hurt and Lightning Hopkins. I was nearing the end of my five year obsession with The Beatles and ready for some new music. Some recent favorite albums at the time were Billy Joel’s The Stranger, which had recently been released, and a trippy electronic music album called Oxygène by Jean-Michel Jarre.

That same year, John Belushi was in Eugene filming National Lampoon’s Animal House and he met and befriended a local blues artist named Curtis Salgado, who was playing a gig with his band The Nighthawks. That meeting and friendship inspired the creation of The Blues Brothers on Saturday Night Live and a couple of years later in 1980 the movie came out and the soundtrack for it became hugely popular, reinvigorating the careers of James Brown, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, and Aretha Franklin, to name a few.

That was the year that Eagle Park Slim came to town. His motto was “ain’t no time to hate” and his mission was “peace through music.” He’s one of the many hard-working blues musicians in the country that never achieved fame and it’s a shame.

Eagle Park Slim was thirty-eight years old when he moved from Colorado to Oregon and he got to work immediately as a blues busker. With just his guitar and a kazoo, Slim was the kind of seasoned professional that could immediately make himself at home playing music on the street, in coffeehouses, and public markets, of any town or city.

Autry McNeace was born on January 11th, 1942, in Eagle Park, Illinois. He grew up with the blues and started playing at his mother’s club, The Village Tavern, in 1954. I don’t know when he took on the name Slim to go with the name of his city of birth but he was still in Eagle Park in the 1960s, working a regular gig on Sundays at Leo’s Tavern, playing guitar with Little Walter J. & His Hard Working Phantoms.

He expanded his territory to East St. Louis and across the river in St. Louis, playing with blues pianist, Johnnie Johnson. During his lifetime, Slim would also play along with Chuck Berry, James Brown, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Sonny Boy Williamson, Percy Mayfield, Ike Turner, Little Walter, Joe Cocker, Keb Mo, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. I’m sure I’ve left out many other famous and well-established artists.

In the 1970s, before he settled in Eugene, Slim moved to Colorado, and Eagle Park Slim & The Mile High Blues Band were the house band at an after hours club in Denver, with a regular gig Thursday to Saturday from 11pm to 3am.

I was fourteen or fifteen when I first met Slim and heard him play the blues and I got to know him better after I graduated from high school, when I was working at Prince Pückler’s, an ice cream parlor with one shop at 8th & Willamette downtown and another on 13th Avenue, across the street from Poppi’s Greek Taverna and Lenny’s Nosh Bar. I worked at both locations and I always treated Slim to a cup of coffee whenever he came into the one of the shops.

The free coffee for Slim continued over the years and our conversations continued when I worked at the Coffee Corner kiosk at 5th Street Public Market in the mid-eighties. My jam on the boom box in the kiosk was usually blues (I was also obsessed with Joe Jackson’s Jumpin’ Jive) and I think he appreciated my musical taste when he sat at table in front of the kiosk. I thought of that table as the musician’s table because if it wasn’t Slim sitting there it was often Steve Ibach and Teddy Boy Roix and sometimes my good friend, Joe Lewis. They were all in a local band called The Soulsations that was very popular in town.

In those days you could go out almost any night and hear the blues played live for free or so cheap that it didn’t matter. There was a Monday night Blues Jam at Old Taylor’s on campus that you could see for fifty cents. From 1982-1986, if I wasn’t at Lenny’s Nosh Bar I was out somewhere else listening to blues.

And, you know what, Eagle Park Slim was always around. Like the patron saint of Bluesville. A warm presence that made everyone around him feel happy, which is damn strange when you consider that singing the blues is often a synonym for being sad. Hearing Slim play the blues was the antidote to sadness. And I always wondered why he wasn’t famous.

I spoke over the phone recently with Slim’s long-time friend, Jan Brown. She tells me that she met Slim in 2002 at a bus stop and he was boldly flirtatious, singing a Lou Rawls song to her while they were waiting for the bus. She complimented him on his singing voice, unaware of his profession, and he introduced himself and gave her a flyer advertising his next gig with one of the bands he played with called The Vipers.

Eagle Park Slim and Jan Brown

Jan tells me that she was a busy single mom at the time, and didn’t get out much to hear live music, but she recognized his talent immediately. They rode the bus together and before he got off at his stop he gave her his phone number and told her to give him a call sometime. Later that day, at the adult foster home where she was working as a caregiver, she showed the flyer to a couple of women and they both squealed with excitement. They were both Eagle Park Slim fans. So, at their urging. Jan called Slim and went out to see his show. It was the beginning a beautiful friendship, and a partnership that lasted for twelve years—until they parted amicably in 2014.

Eagle Park Slim & The Mile High Blues Band. Denver, CO. 1975.

I also talked with Slim’s friend, Randy Layton, who released Slim’s first professionally produced album, Northwest Blues, a 1998 CD that had the appearance of a vinyl record from the 1960s. Randy wanted to give Slim an album to sell when he was busking—one that looked professional, and it was an album that Slim owned outright after the first pressing. The album has 22 tracks that Randy says “was pretty much a compilation of cassettes he gave out in the streets in the early days of busking.”

Randy (also an accomplished writer) wrote the liner notes.

Mardi Gras Saturday at the Winter Blues Festival (2012)

A few random things about Slim:

He frequently wore a fedora, like any self-respecting blues man, and quite often a tie-dyed shirt with dress pants. Like a true Eugenean, he loved his tie-dyed shirts and he had a multitude in his closet.

He usually arrived to his evening gigs by taxi. Often a friend would drop him off at a street corner when he was busking. If he was playing at a bar and you offered to buy him a drink he might accept a snifter of brandy.

At home, he had a poster of Jimi Hendrix on his wall and another picture of Jimi in the window near the recliner where he always sat. Jan says that Slim revered Hendrix.

One last thing of interest I should mention. Eagle Park Slim is remembered by many in Eugene as the first person they met when they arrived. And most of those people will tell you how much they loved him, and talk about the impact he made on their experience in Eugene. And Slim loved them back. And, most of all, he loved Eugene.

Happy New Year!

Good news!

yOS 2.021, the obsolete year running in the chronometer of your biological operating system, was updated to yOS 2.022 at precisely midnight on 31 December and installed at 12:01 in the morning of the first day of January, replacing the old year with a new year.

But, is it really a new year?

Users should be aware that downloading and installing yOS 2.022 may not result in a better or more efficient operating system.

In fact, it’s possible the yOS 2.022 update will be incompatible with the chronological operating systems of many people, particularly individuals that frequently tell others to live in the present moment. These people may be resistant to the new update as they are running presentism software and they function in a world wherein neither the future nor the past exist.

Likewise, persons running eternalism software, which allows them to experience time simultaneously and operate in a reality wherein all points in time are equally real, will likely have issues with the update.

These potential issues have prompted some people to suggest that, if time is a construct humans invented to prevent everything from happening all at once, the words Happy New Year should come with a trigger warning, like the words, Merry Christmas and Make America Great Again.

Those critics claim that calling out Happy New Year to someone is a vocal form of chrono-harassment and adds insult to injury to all self-proclaimed slaves of time that have been subjected to cultural conditioning to perceive time in a linear fashion.

This update is not a restart, a reset, or a reboot.

And, if users believe they can change fundamental functionality?

Previous yearly updates have proven the premise that promises can be broken. Be prepared for possible glitches, crashes, energy drains, overheating, application instability, and problems connecting.

The “new” year will not contain any anthropomorphic features, despite reports of a decrepit man passing a figurative torch to a cherubic baby.

May you experience the continuance of a year.