Debt Basement



This here’s Stretch Coyote talkin’ at ya.

There’s been a steamin’ heap a palaverin’ lately about that dad-gummed debt ceiling what’s got everybody so jumpy.

I do intimately understand what it feels like to run out of the do-re-me, with assorted service providers threatnin’ to cut off my essentials in no uncertain terms as described by letters delivered in those pretty pink envelopes, stuffed into my armadillo mailbox.

Now if I was the guy or gal who had to pay the bills for the U.S. Government, I can only imagine what it must be like to get a phone call from some angry Chinese guy who will not take “” (no!) for an answer. I reckon it might be kinda hard to explain to this Oriental knee-cap breaker why you’re late on the payments when, on the other hand, you spent about $250,000 on some ivy league geek who’s tryin’ to figure out how Americans use the Internet to find love.

Speakin' of bills, may I note that the upwardly mobile cost of water and power has come as quite a shock for me since my uprootin’ and transplantation to Southern California a bunch of years ago from my home in Paint Rock, Texas. The way things are a-goin’, any day now I expect to get a bill for breathin’ air, along with some handy hints on how to cut down on my body’s need for oxygen.

But despite my low wages from lawn care and the big balance on my Sears credit card, I’ve never thought of my debt as a ceiling. I think of it more as a basement, cause that’s where I arm wrestle with my bills on an old teacher’s desk that once belonged to my grandmother by the name of Bessie Lou Allison. She taught me that when the weather turns especially ornery I should beeline it to the root cellar. So my basement seems like the appropriate place to preside over the redistribution of my wealth.

I don’t know why these here boys in D.C. can’t just get along long enough to raise that ceiling. In the good old days all us neighbors would just naturally pitch in to help build a barn. But here we’ve got a big storm a comin’ and these politicians can’t even agree on what kind of barn they need! They’d better get their gal dern hammers out and start nailin’ the gosh dang thing together pretty gal dang dern soon I tell ya.

As for me, I’m gonna follow my granny Bessie Lou’s advice and run for cover. I'll be in the basement, at least ‘til the storm blows over.



~ Stretch Illustration by John Sherffius
~ © All Rights Reserved

Roots




This here’s Stretch Coyote talkin’ at ya.

I was born in the little bitty town of Paint Rock, Texas, and later moved to Waco where I was trained for a promising career at the local asbestos factory. But then a bunch of guys in iron lungs got together with some government researchers and lowered the ceiling on asbestos (The Fiber Of The Future) so I decided to hightail it to Southern California.

You might just be wonderin’ about my high-tone moniker and how I come by it. It ain’t exactly my real name and I suppose you figured that out pretty near the end of the second paragraph. It’s my stage name. I use it when I perform with my band, Stretch Coyote and the Palaverin’ Polecats. Our particular style of music is my own personal invention, the world’s first country-western rap group. The Polecats and I sound kinda like inner-city square dance callers.

In-between gigs, I am mostly involved in lawn care — a great source of gigs for the Polecats. We play mostly weddings and bar mitzvahs for people who share a keen respect for the way I can handle an edger. You ain’t really explored the outer dimensions of your thought processes ‘til you’ve heard the Polecats play “Hava Nagila,” the “Beer Barrel Polka” and “Turkey In The Straw,” all mixed up together. It’s kind of like my girlfriend Petuda’s meat loaf surprise: It don’t go down too easy, but it satisfies somethin’ mysterious in the pit of my soul.




~ Stretch Illustration by John Sherffius
~ © All Rights Reserved

Goin' To Extremes




This here’s Stretch Coyote talkin’ at ya.

Seems like the whole wide world is at war with them extreme suicide bomber-type folks, or should I say it seems like they’re at war with the whole wide world.

I kinda understand religious fanaticism, seein’ as how I grew up with a few Holy Rollers in the neighborhood. Some of these Type A Christians would have prayer meetin’s in this old barn on the edge of town what no one could remember who it belonged to.

(Note to my English teacher, Miss Templeton: Yes, I remember what you said about endin’ a sentence with a preposition, but dang it, you’re dead and grammar has moved on!)

Anyway, these here Holy Roller folk would get so worked up over the Bible and the Holy Spirit and whatever else was in the air that some of them would roll around on the floor like gravity was suddenly too dang strong for them to resist, while others started makin’ weird sounds like a raccoon caught in a trap. More than once did I peek through a knothole in back of the barn, tryin’ to determine if these highly animated parishioners were possessed by the Holy Spirit or the devil.

But then my folks explained to me how plain, ordinary folks just have to go nuts once in a while. At least they were goin’ nuts for the Lord. Now as scary as these folks were to my eight-year-old brain, I knew on Monday they would go back to their regular lives at the tire plant and other employments.

So I kinda understand religious fervor. But just cause you’ve been filled with the Holy Spirit doesn’t mean you gotta kill those folks who have a little different point of view. How about tryin' a good old-fashioned argument? We don’t need any kind of religion to turn us into killers. We can do that pretty well on our own. Mabye we should use religion to teach folks not to kill. How about killin' your enemies with kindness?

I just can’t figure how being a murderer qualifies you for heaven. It sure as hell ain’t the kind of heaven I wanna go to.

(Sorry again Miss Templeton, wherever you are.)



~ Stretch Illustration by John Sherffius
~ © All Rights Reserved

My Garage



This here’s Stretch Coyote talkin’ at ya.

Sooner or later, a guy has gotta do what a guy has gotta do.

Anyhow, that’s what my domestic partner in wedded bliss, Petuda, said to me last Sunday as I stood contemplatin’ the cavernous and multifaceted abyss that is my garage.

She thinks it’s about time for a garage overhaul, a suggestion that kinda’ makes me shiver all the way down to my thermal boot socks. Had it not been for her gettin’ clunked on the head by my stuffed mongoose and cobra tableau, I suppose I could have avoided the garage cleanin’ subject altogether.

The innards of my garage are kinda’ like the throbbing, pulsating mass of my subconscious — somethin’ I am fearful of tinkerin’ with, lest it upset the primal forces which so far have left me relatively free from global concerns.

Among the assorted petro-plastic paraphernalia I cannot bring myself to either use or discard are mementos of a life I left behind 29 years ago in Waco, Texas, where I was trained for a promising career at the local asbestos factory. But wouldn’t you know it, this bunch of guys in iron lungs got together with some government researchers in space suits and lowered the ceiling on asbestos — The Fiber of the Future! So I hightailed it down to Southern California in search of somethin’ deep at the heart of life’s mystery that I have yet to find at a price I can afford. I no longer have room for my beehives or much else in my stucco-covered, pre-war hovel, so my garage is as stuffed as a wild warthog in a chocolate shop.

What with America in a giant compost pile of economic uncertainty, the state of my garage makes me think we all could probably do with a lot less. Do I really need this electronic barking key finder anyhow? I can’t help but ponder that what these here yuppie-ti-yi-yo-yos need most is the simple life of shuckin’ cowpeas on the front porch in the hot summer sun. They need to swat bugs with a fly swatter. And such.

Anyhow, I have yet to embark on the quest of the tidy garage. I’m still kinda busy workin’ out the philosophical implications of it all, even though Petuda is a hankerin’ for me to get on with it. I am tryin’ to convince her that our garage is kind of like her meat loaf surprise: It ain’t too pretty, but it satisfies somethin’ mysterious, deep in the pit of my soul.




~ Stretch Illustration by John Sherffius
~ © All Rights Reserved

Global Barbecue




This here’s Stretch Coyote talkin’ at ya.

Feelin’ pretty bad for the folks back home what needs some gal dern rain pretty gal dern soon—gal dern it!

I got an uncle livin’ back at the old homestead what’s let his geraniums die just so his old hound dog Buster Brown can have a bowl of fresh water every day. He told me “global warming” is way too tame a description of what's french-fried his farm. He said this here heat wave seems more like a global barbecue.

Now I ain’t one to shy away from a little hot weather now and then, but my cousins here tell it’s not exactly the hot weather that bothers ‘em, it’s that whole end-of-the-world fiery apocalypse kind of feelin’ that is deeply unsettlin’. It’s the kinda thing that makes you think about all the bad stuff you’ve ever done, and all the bad stuff your family has ever done, and all the bad stuff your ancestors ever done all the way back to the Alamo and wonder if it’s all just piled up so high that God figures he might as well torch the whole damn state and start over.

But I just can’t see it Bible-wise. I mean, shoot, if God was a gonna burn down a place just to punish sin, you might reckon he’d start with Lost Wages Nevada.

So I suppose this time of the scorched earth is more akin to the story of Job, in that my kin are bein’ tested to see just how much they will take before they crack. Well, some of the more sophisticated big city folks may make fun of Texans, but if I know my folks back home, and I do know my folks back home, I do, they may dry up, but they ain’t gonna blow away. They’ll do what has to be done, as long as it takes, until at last the rain finally comes and floods their basements.

It’s always been kinda feast or famine back in my home town. I know they’ll make the best of it and pull through in the end. That’s what my kin always does. That’s what my kin will always do. Rain or shine.



~ Stretch Illustration by John Sherffius
~ © All Rights Reserved

Water On The Brain



This here’s Stretch Coyote talkin’ at ya.

This gal-derned California drought has gone done and impaired my lawn care business (Julio does the mowin’ and I do the blowin’.) what with people yankin’ out their grass and replacin’ it with rocks and dirt and other Death Valley style landscapin’. I have yet to figure out what kinda alternative service to offer my customers. I’d considered swimmin’ pool care, but folks are drainin’ them things too.

It’s as if we all woke up one mornin’ kinda like a bunch a’ Gregor Samsas, but rather than bein’ transformed into giant cockroaches, we’ve all turned into drought-tolerant, heat-seekin’ lizards.

Now I must confess the desert has a certain desolate beauty about it and I do have a bleached cow skull hangin’ in my guest bathroom, but galldangit we oughta be able to sport a bit of cool green grass for the grandkids to play on before global warmin’ makes everything charbroiled and crispy.

When I was a little bitty kid growin’ up in Texas we useta see pictures in magazines of Hollywood movie stars havin’ fancy cookouts on greener-than-green backyard lawns while playin’ croquet. Now that I am permanently relocated to California, livin’ within spittin’ distance of the Hollywoodlians, not far from the Pacific Ocean, which, dagnubit, is pretty damn big and holds more than a bucketful of water, I do feel kinda bad about whole neighborhoods plantin’ cactus and scrub.

Seems like my lawnmower may go the way of my typewriter, which is up in the attic collectin’ termites along with my taxidermied mongoose and cobra tableau. I just might hightail it back to Texas if it gets much drier here. I hear they’ve had plenty of rain there in some parts.




~ Stretch Illustration by John Sherffius
~ © All Rights Reserved

Alabama Bound



This here’s Stretch Coyote talkin’ at ya.

Looks like some of them Alabamian heterosexuals are gonna make a Custer’s Last Stand against lettin’ people in love tie the knot--people who just happen to be of the same sex.

I do believe it’s a kind of Custer’s Last Stand, cause despite their convictions that this world is only about 6,000 years old, Fred Flintstone had a pet dinosaur and the Apocalypse is right around the corner, I can’t see much future in it.

I don’t reckon it’ll take much more than a few years from now for the rights of guys and gals and gays to marry gays and gals and guys to be pretty much the law of the land. Hell, anybody semiconscious can see which way the wind’s blowin’.

I suspect them Alabamian probate judges know good and well they’re fightin’ a losin’ battle. But as long as they’re holdin’ elected office, elected by dinosaur-ridin’, science-denyin’ creationists, they will no doubt put up a fuss-and-feathers fight, cause after all, election time is always right around the corner.

Yup, those anti-gay-marriage Alabamians will likely hold their ground, just like their hero, the late Governor George Wallace did back in 1963 when he stood in front of the entrance to the University of Alabama tryin’ to keep out black kids. Yeah, they’ll hang on just long enough to get re-elected. Then they can always change their minds should the prevailing winds change direction.

Or maybe just like Custer, some will fight on no matter how doomed their cause. I suppose that’s what last stands are all about.




~ Stretch Illustration by John Sherffius
~ © All Rights Reserved

Road To Nowhere




This here’s Stretch Coyote talkin’ at ya.

Some of my pals reckon that since Rick Perry might be fixin' to re-launch his bid to be an official presidential contender I’d automatically climb on board the Rick Perry covered bandwagon train, especially since he was reared in Paint Creek and I was sprung from Paint Rock.

Now Paint Creek is just a couple a Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and Merle Haggard CDs (in my automobile CD player) north of Paint Rock on Route 83, though you might need to throw in a Tammy Wynette if you’re travelin’ with a big thermos a coffee the way I do. Like so many other things in life, it all comes down to bladder dependability.

When I was just a little critter, we used to take Highway 83 north on our way to visit kissin' cousins in Canada. You may or you may not know its nickname, which is: “The Road To Nowhere.” It was a pretty rough ride in the old days before improvements in pavement technology. Now ain’t it a peculiar kind of knee-slapper that Texas Rick took that “Road To Nowhere” all the way to the governor’s mansion in Austin, and now is settin’ his sights once again on the White House?

I’d be just as happy as a dead pig in the sunshine to see another Texan as commander in chief, but I’m kinda suspicious of all this evangelical stuff he’s bringin’ to the table. I don’t know if he’s said it yet, but it seems like he’s pretty close to confessin' that it was God Himself who suggested another run for the White House. It kinda gets my hackles up when I hear folks claim they’ve got a private line to God. (What in the heck is wrong with the party line the rest of us all use anyhow?) Next thing you know they’re either pickin’ your pocket or hooked up with some fancy gal of ill repute, or both.

If Texas Rick was on that long and lonely Route 83 when he spontaneously combusted and got instructions from God, I’d like to know if he was travelin’ with a big thermos of coffee. Cause if he was, there’s a distinct possibility it was not God tellin’ him to make another run for the White House. Could be, it was only his overactive bladder suggestin’ a run for the outhouse.

It'll be interestin' to see just how rough the road to the White House turns out to be for this good old Lone Star boy, considerin' that pesky indictment. Looks like that pavement is kinda sketchy.




~ Stretch Illustration by John Sherffius
~ © All Rights Reserved