Thursday, November 7, 2019

Letters To Steve, "Ode To A Meat Sack"

Dear Steve,

I felt compelled to brief you on my journey as we have become so connected recently through life and music. Through purpose.  

This photo is special to me because it reminds me of life before I knew tragedy.  I can't even remember what that naiveté was like, it must have been a soft, pillowy cloud.  I was reminded of this time when I got to your house and was throwing passes in your front yard to Rivers.  I remember the first cool nights when fall finally fell on Louisiana and we'd throw the brand new nerf ball and leave the plastic wrapper on.  

But this little path of innocence was not to be mine for long.  On this very street,  I heard a loud screech of a motorcycle trying to stop and then it hit my mamere's car and the little kid on the back went flying in the air and plunged to his death right before my eyes.  For years I thought of ways I could have saved him.  Maybe if I were faster or bigger or stronger.  

My cousin Joey used to teach me how to throw passes in the front yard.  I could drop a ball in the smallest crevices.  Float it real high and drop on a dime.  He saw me play one time in high school before he passed away tragically.  It was the most horrific thing I've ever been a part of when my Aunt Marie came barging into the house at 6:00 in the morning screaming.  I vowed to myself outside of the house on this same corner to live an interesting life and to push myself into the unknown and find meaning and purpose and when I got a better understanding of it all, give it away and express it somehow.  

In my high school years, sports played a huge roll for me.  It gave me an outlet to express all the things I had been feeling and a way to push myself and give my all.  Though I excelled in other sports, I was more drawn to football because I could continue to perfect the art form of passing and carry on in honor of my cousin Joey #11.  The rage in my heart allowed me to play much bigger than I was.  My coach told me I could throw further into the wind and tricked me into thinking I ran a 4.6 when it was more like 4.8.  When I showed up to McNeese State for an official visit, my recruiter was shocked at how small I was after watching my films.  Another coach saw me in the hallway and thought I was looking for the cheering squad.  I stayed on the team for a year until I had the guts to make a change and go into the unknown.  It was hard leaving sports behind, especially football because it was my form of expression and my identity.  

I once heard a guy play piano while in college and I was overcome with desire to learn music.  It quickly became a way for me to connect with some of the spiritual lessons I had been learning.  It didn't matter to me that I was only a beginner at 19.  I just thought nothing could be harder than stepping on a field where everyone was bigger and faster.  Of course music was going to be hard and my fingers hurt trying to learn guitar but if I could learn how to sit in the pocket, I could learn this over time.  I applied this "can do" attitude towards anything at this point because I was searching for my purpose.  I even got a few acting rolls in commercials and film and that led me to faking my way into acting school in New York after reading Marlon Brando's bio.  He was from a small town too, so I figured I could really do something with my life no matter if I was country or not.  

It was amazing to be in New York.  I learned so much in the school every day.  Mostly that I was indeed an artist and I shouldn't be afraid.  I bought some recording gear and made my first record "So Long".  The first song I ever wrote is the song "Art".  I was so scared in the vocal booth with all the engineers looking at me share my raw feelings.  It wasn't cool to be so naked but I had come from a different place and from different experiences and my main talent was vulnerability.  During this time my cousin Patti Ann, Joey's sister, came down with meningitis and lost all her limbs.  It was crazy how the same family had to go through another wild tragedy.  She gave me a lot of strength, especially when she learned to walk again and drive.  She was a badass.

Atlantic Records bought my little record from me and put me on a poster and threw me up high on the wall to see if I'd stick.  All the executives talked to my forehead and gave me the thumbs up and said "hip and cool" all the time because I came from the artist neighborhood of Brooklyn called Williamsburg.  It was a hard path for me because something didn't feel right and I was disconnecting from my life path.  It felt a little outside-in for me.  I didn't feel I had the weight yet to stand up in what I was creating and I was afraid of becoming famous, losing my privacy and spiritual path.  I was about to hit the road again, off into the unknown.  

The record label dropped me after I didn't show up to a few concerts.  I was left alone and most people in my life at that time disappeared.  One month, two months, a year passed and no one called to sign me.  It was a terrible feeling.  I was getting weak.  Thoughts of Joey and Patti Ann weren't giving me that courage anymore and was starting to doubt if I was a strong as I thought I was.  When you guys were playing the Falcons that night, I was sitting in a bar alone thinking and trying to stay positive and find resilience and then you soared high with your arms stretched to the heavens.  It was quite a moment.  It breathed air into my spirit and gave me some lightness.  

I tell you all these things because all these moments and life lessons are in my music.  Today you asked me to send lyrics to you and it's almost like I'm singing your story.  I'm glad we met and to call you friend.  I'm feeling a sense of purpose these days.  All the trials and experiences and meditations are giving me much clarity.  

When I got home from New Orleans, I did some yoga and meditation and I thought of you and purpose and resilience was swimming in my mind and I began to happy cry and this ancient voice sang a song through my meat sack and I felt my unborn child and felt in touch with my ancient ancestors all at once.  It was like I cut off a limb and was made new again.  I had never had such a profound experience.  

I know we're only scratching the surface here.  I needed you to know I'm up for the challenge of the work we're doing.  In college, I put our huge free safety on his ass.  I'm not scared.  

Kind Regards,


Thursday, September 12, 2019

Rolling On The River in 1987

Every year when the fall starts to peek in and the pigskin is getting tossed around, I can't help but think of my childhood days and Lutcher football.  I remember going to lift weights in their summer program when I was a wee kid.  The weight room was under the stadium and the bar weighed 45 lbs. and I could barely lift it.  There was a jumping machine too. I did it with passion because I wanted to jump high like Ta Ta Jones.  

We would always go to the summer camp where NFL local stand out, Lionel Washington, would be there.  The program was in its prime and about to go 14-0 in the 1983 season.  Things felt great around there and I couldn't wait til I was old enough to run out of the Dogs Den to play.  

I was always drawn to one of the assistant coaches there named Coach Tim.  He was young and full of energy and really paid attention to details even if you were only a kid.  There was just something about him that I connected with.  He coached my brother in baseball and seemed to be the heir to the throne on campus.  I couldn't wait to pitch in a Dogs uniform in that baseball stadium but I was about to get my first lesson in letting go and going off into the unknown.

Coach Tim was hired at St. Charles Catholic as it's next head coach.  I couldn't believe he left.  St. Charles had no tradition going but he went anyway.  I played my freshmen year at Lutcher and had the nerve to wear Terrence Jones' #10.  We didn't win a game and no one seemed to care much.  I guess we were just the Freshmen team.  Wilburt Ursin was my age and he started at QB as a freshmen, so my dream of playing QB on that field was coming to an end.  

I went to see Coach Tim in his office in Laplace.  His little yellow Toyota truck was parked outside and there was no locker room and his office was a 10 x10 building.  This was no Dogs Den.  We talked about his plans to build a locker room and he was going to call it The Cometplex.  None of it mattered though, I believed in him and his ability to build something paying close attention to the details.  He looked at me as if I could do it if I worked hard enough.  He said I'd be treated like everyone else and I'd have to work for the job.  

My mom dropped me off in front of the school the first day of class after Christmas break with tears in her eyes.   There were Corvettes and other nice cars in the parking lot and I was excited to be going to school closer to the city.  My dad would have to work a lot of overtime to afford sending me there but he was very supportive of my move.  Leaving Lutcher was like leaving Jesus.  People looked at me like I was Judas or something.  But I had curiosities starting to pull at me and I knew despite all the names I was being called that this was the right decision for me.  

My first year starting we lost the first game to Peyton Manning's Newman. We were underdogs every game but then we went on a tear.  We beat Riverside 14-0 in the first inaugural game.  I scrambled for two touchdowns weighing in at about 145 lbs.  It was the only game my late cousin Joey Poirrier would see me play and I floated passes all over the field just like he taught me as a kid.  Coach Tim would have me over every Sunday night for ice cream and film.  We would make a plan for the week before Monday's practice.  In our blue and gold uniforms that looked exactly like Lutcher, we went 10-3 and almost made it to the dome.  

It wasn't long before each years team was expected to go undefeated but none would win the championship in Coach Tim's tenure at SCC.  But that didn't stop "Carrot" Shexnayder in his big diesel truck from coming to seduce Coach back to Lutcher.  They had seen enough and wanted their brand of football back.  

So I didn't play football at Lutcher but I was fortunate enough to get infected by its fever and play under someone from the system I loved.  Coach Tim started under Frank Monica who started under the man who told me "I Can I Can I Can", Mr. Norman Buckner.  When I hear the SCC chant, "hey hey hey SCC", I think of Coach Tim in his little yellow Toyota truck and his wild visions and how we rolled in 1987.  Miss Fuselier's voice in the stands was pure joy.  We were pioneers.