The Critical Mass

The height of automotive design: 1957 Chevy Bel Air.

I’ve started writing my autobiography. Here’s the outline.

Layers of infrastructure fascinate me. Whenever I come across a work crew that’s digging into a street or sidewalk, I always stop and peer into the hole.

I love the diesel-engine smell and the comforting mechanical rumble of heavy equipment.

One of my favorite sights is a baseball stadium lit up at night.

Buying a copy of Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits from a small record store while walking home from baseball practice changed the direction of my life, although not right away.

One of my unusual talents used to be catching fly balls behind my back. Not anymore, though.

I sang with Tina Turner for a few seconds.

In college, I wrote a poem about Rondo Hatton. Google him.

I have eaten haggis. Twice.

I watched a man drown in a river. There was nothing I could do.

I am not on a first-name basis with Bruce Springsteen but it’s not my fault, because I really have seen him 52 or 54 times.

I was looking out of a bus window in Reykjavík, the capitol of Iceland, when a dump truck stopped next to us. It was loaded with fish heads. I thought: Where is that going?

Landscapes of the Hudson River School are beautiful. It’s the light.

One of my favorite art forms is mechanical drawing. I never see them in museums.

When the guitars come out at night during parties and my friends start singing, I always sit in the darkness in the back of the room, in case I start crying, because it’s so beautiful.

One of my favorite quotes: “Some people get nervous about that word. Art. They think it’s a pretentious word from the giddyap. To me, words are only symbols, and the word art has never lost its vitality. It still has meaning to me. Love lost its meaning to me. God lost its meaning to me. But art never lost its meaning.” That’s Joni Mitchell.

My favorite book is George Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty Four.

Another one of my favorite quotes: “Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.” That’s Miles Davis.

Following a dog on a path through the woods is a beautiful feeling. And then the two of you find the crumbling, overgrown foundation of an old building and you both think: What’s that doing here?

Dogs are awesome.

Goat tastes OK.

I’ve never read a Stephen King novel.

The best concert I’ve seen was at the Continental Club in Austin, Texas, with Dave Alvin and Tom Russell together onstage performing their song “Blue Wing.”

I shot a gun, once. At an empty beer can. I hit it. I quit while I was ahead.

If I could invite any four living people to dinner, it would be Anthony Bourdain, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Tom Waits and Patti Smith.

Another favorite quote: “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” That’s Neil deGrasse Tyson.

If I could invite any four dead people to dinner, it would be William Burroughs, Ben Franklin, Flannery O’Connor and Amelia Earhart, if only to ask her, “What the hell happened?”

Yet another favorite quote: “I’ve always believed in having a sense of balance and stealth.” That’s Patti Smith, she’s amazing.

All of the great cars were made in the 1950s. No. 1 on the list is the 1957 Chevy Bel Air convertible.

Yes I’m a writer, but I also know how to operate a forklift.

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