Archive for the ‘writer’s corner’ category

Kindred Spirits/Country Docs

November 27, 2008

        Hey guys, remember how I told y’all about Dr. Zink’s Country Doctor Compilation?  I heard from a fellow contributor today, and linked him up on my blogroll.  We both have an article in Dr. Zink’s 2009 publication. 
        I only have one request.  Just because he’s younger and better looking don’t ditch me.  Read us both.  If you have interest in the reality of the Doctor world, his perspective is worth your time.

Dr. B

Country Doc Says:

November 27, 2008 at 9:32 am e

Dr. Bibey–

I am that fellow country doctor that wrote for Dr. Tzink’s books with his office right next to the liquor store in Elma, WA! Wonderful to see a kindred spirit here. Would love it you would consider reading my blog, The Country Doc Report (http://thecountrydocreport.wordpress.com) , and even posting from time to time as I try to expand the number of contributors. At any rate, look forward to seeing our work in print some time next year.

Country Doc Says:

November 27, 2008 at 9:32 am e

Y’all make him welcome.  His link is:

 http://thecountrydocreport.wordpress.com

Harvey Billiard and Bowl

November 22, 2008

        If you guys are gonna read “The Mandolin Case,” I want you to be on the inside of local culture.  Now that y’all are my friends, you need to know where to find people in town you can count on in case you were to get in a jam. 

        So, here’s how to get to Harvey Billiard and Bowl, or the B and B as we call it.  From downtown Croatan, the County seat for Harvey County, go east on Main St.  When you get to Bibey Drive (named for my grandfather) hang a right.  That will take you by the old Hospital.  It has been renovated as office space for most of the Docs is town. 

        Follow that to the outskirts of town. You’ll pass a huge old pin oak that lightening splintered last year.  Just past it is Lee Highway.  Take a left there, and the B and B is a mile on the right.

        You can’t miss it.  There is a gravel parking lot and a front end loader sits there most days.  There will be a few used cars for sale, and there is a trailer park out back, where Lou manages thirty units.  We play music there one Saturday night a month.  A sign out front says “Triditional Bluegrass Music.”  Lou realized it was misspelled, but he’d already paid for it.  He said he’d change it next time.

        Lou Bedford is the owner.  He has the best cheeseburgers in town.  A Mina bird named Minne is at the cash register.  Minnie can mimic anything so don’t say anything you don’t want folks to know.  That bird can do the best ambulance siren imitation you’ve ever heard.  The paramedics taught it to her.  By the way, if you want to know where to eat in the South always look for law enforcement or EMS vehicles- they know the local landscape better than anyone.

        In the back Lou has a pool hall and a couple of duck pin bowling lanes.  There is a regular card game there every Friday night.  Indie played every week, but after Blinky died, he didn’t go for a month.  After that he played, but not as regular.

        It’s a dry county, but folks know they can get a Pabst Blue Ribbon at the B and B.  All you have to do is put in a few extra coins in the Coke machine, and press the Tab button.  It’ll spit out a PBR- just don’t tell anyone.

        The B and B is a regular hangout for bluegrass boys, golf hustlers, card sharks, and assorted ne’re do wells.  Most society folks wouldn’t be seen there.  You could count on a fair deal at the B and B.

          From time to time I go to the B and B to conduct important business.  Just don’t tell my mama- it would worry her.

Dr. B

Maria Diosas (Colombian Green Card)

November 19, 2008

        Back at the time of the Mandolin Case, there was a girl who worked at Harvey Memorial named Maria Diaoas.  She came here when they started the green card visas.   Nowadays the term ‘Green Card’ is one you hear a lot, but back then it was unusual.  And I want you to know I am not making fun of anyone just because they weren’t born in this country.  Indie always said if your people weren’t Native American you came here from somewhere else.   Indie got along with most everybody, and I agreed with his views on treating people fair.

        This child stood out in the crowd as different.  Well, she wasn’t exactly a child, but more of a child in a woman’s body.  Back then most of us in Harvey County were either black or white, but her skin tones was some kinda nutmeg complexion.  She looked like one of those women on the cover of a travel magazines where Docs go to study about high blood pressure.  I never did understand why a fellow’d have to go to some faraway beach to study high blood- I bet we had a thousand folks with hypertension right here in Harvey County.

        Maria made an L.P.N while she was here, but worked as a secretary for Jim Olden, our hospital administrator.  She didn’t like to work nights and he got her a day job.

        I didn’t know the girl, but Snookers went out with her a few times.  He said she liked vodka and fancy cars and was too high maintenance for him to get along with.  Jim Olden said Snookers wasn’t kind enough to Maria, and saw to it she had a better apartment.  She bought Mr. Olden a music box that played the Dr. Zhivago theme.  One time Indie said Mr. Olden’s office was like a magical music box.  To demonstrate, he opened and closed the door a couple times over a few minutes.  Each time he cracked it open “Somewhere My Love” would come to abrupt halt.  It made Olden mad.  Indie just laughed.

        The girl was beyond mysterious, as exotic as an Italian pizza would have been in Harvey County back in the 60′s.  We were sure she came from Colombia, and her jet black hair and dark eyes fit the background.  But she also has some kinda Russian connection.  Snookers said her grandparents still lived there.  They’re gone now, I guess, that was about two decades ago.  She said her middle name was Kay.  I thought that was quite Americanized, but she would sign her name as Maria K. Diosas, instead of Kay.  Snookers said it stood for Katalina, but the cold war was winding down and she didn’t want to make that fact public.

        I think Snookers was right- she must have had some sort of Russian ancestry.  Not only did she like Dr. Zhivago (she pronounced it Doctor ‘Shee-KA- GO”- sort of like Chicago with a Spanish accent) and vodka, but she dug James Bond and “From Russia with Love.”  She liked “Goldfinger” too.  She said she preferred American men.  Snookers tried to tell her Bond was British.  She didn’t like that.  It was part of why they split after a few dates.

        I’ve got some age on me, but I ain’t so old I can’t pick a pretty girl out of a line-up, and Maria was a pretty girl.  In fact, she looked dangerous.  I could spot that in a line up too.  My ladies at the office have excellent intuition and they understood it on first glance.  Her skin was somewhere in between nutmeg and honey colored.  She was 5’6″ and 113 pounds.  Dark eyed, black haired, she was a long legged lanky Latino who looked like an SI girl.  Striking would not do her justice.  I guess she might perspire but she didn’t sweat- made a lot of men sweat though.  I kept my distance from her, but Snook said she smelled like a tropical flower, and Olden wrote lousy poetry on the subject for a decade after she left Harvey County.         

        I’m not sure if I spelled her last name right, or what it meant.  Mr. Olden lives just outside of Atlanta now.  Snookers went down there to try and find out more about her, but Olden sent word he didn’t feel up to visitors that day.  If any of y’all know what it means, let me in on it.  I’m still finishing up some last minute research for the Mandolin Case, and it would help me out.

Dr. B

Blog Power

November 16, 2008

        I am always surprised to see where my blog takes me.  The Internet is so powerful.  I found out the other day I had a Power Rating of 31.  My agent said it put me in the top 205,000 and that was very good for for a fiction blog.

        It set me to thinking.  How in the world did so many people come to read about a country doctor in a little town?  After all, my life style isn’t exactly of the rich and famous.  

        As I pondered it, I began to realize how many folks were involved in making that happen.  I read all kinda other blogs and find them most helpful.  There were folks like chili, who’d gently correct me when I fractured my syntax.  I’ve read folks like Ms. Kim who is a writing instructor.  I got a lot of good ideas from her.  I learned so much over there that when she wrote her golf game had gone south I felt I should send her some advice professional courtesy.  I can’t leave off Ms. Amber, either- she sent some cool pictures of country Docs I plan to use on the website.  I need to get back to work on it.

        And the English Professor- he was from way up North and knew more about bluegrass than I did.  Any sterotypes of “Yankee pickers” that might linger in my subconscious were put to rest by Ted and Irene forever.  

        I’ve heard from mandolin players all over the country, and have a place to play almost anywhere I go nowadays.

        When Ms. Pande writes of her office, it makes me want to pull my own hair out for her- you have a job, ma’am.  There were mystery writers like Meg, and Romance specialists like Ms. Susan.  Men can get a lot of good pointers over there.  Ms. Cindy wrote country stories I could identify with.  She made me wish my dog was as cool as Ranger.

        I’ve heard from Docs in Scotland (Dr. Bob) who invited me to visit when I get that way.  And when Ms. Karen writes of Australia, you know someday you’ll have to go there, too.

        And then there’s Smitty.  I went to visit him, and they made feel like I was a native.  His school kids made me an honorary Mississippian.  It was my proudest day as a writer, and even ranked above that first paycheck from the Laurel.  (Bless your heart Paul for taking a chance on me.)

        As I thought it over I realized the blog has shown me what I set out to do with my book- it proves we are all in it together.

        I appreciate every one of the 23K+ folks who have taken the time to read what I have to say.  I’ve enjoy your comments, too.

          I read other folks blogs for the insight into ways of life that are different than my own.  But in spite of that fact we are all from different places, and have different problems, I find us more alike than not.  Perhaps some of it is all of us are book worms, and on a constant search for like minded human beings. 

       I am on track to finish my final MS revision in January.  My agent says a couple of publishers have shown some interest.  If they have it is because of you guys.  If you hadn’t come over here for a look see, they would have never given me consideration, and I know it.  It’s like a Doc.  If you aren’t good to your patients what good are you?  If I don’t dig deep for some insight into the worlds of medicine and music that might make your day better, then I should quit.  You inspire to type another day, and I thank you for it. 

        Tell me, what is it you look for in a blog?  What is it about mine you read, and what others do you frequent on a regular basis and why?

        Hey good luck to all of y’all in NaNoWriMo.  I would have tried but I type way to slow to do a novel in a month. 

Dr. B

The 1980s

November 9, 2008

        The other day I tried to remember back to the 1980s, when the Mandolin Case went on.  I realized outside of medicine and bluegrass music I knew little else of what went on in the rest of the world.

         It wasn’t like what they say about the 60s.  (“If you remember it, you weren’t there”)  We were so engrossed in our work and music we seldom sat down to take in much else.

        I’ll never forget one daylight savings spring day.  I got home before dark, and admired some trees in the yard.  When I went in the house I asked my wife how long we’d had them.

        She smiled and said, “Honey, I put those out five years ago.”

        I realized I was working too hard.  But I am proud of the fact that I didn’t neglect my wife and kids over it.  When my wife’s people were sick, I was the point man, and we nursed them along through many a crisis.  I took my children to breakfast ever Wednesday morning, though at times it was on a couple hours sleep and my face was about to nod off in my plate.  We’d ride down the road with grade school word lists to memorize.  Every time I came to a red light we’d learn a couple.  The lists and homework sheets littered my Scout which served as a mobile classroom.

        I looked up T.V. shows and movies from the 80s, and realized I missed that era.   Childhood favorites like Captain Kangaroo were winding down, and new ones like Charlie’s Angels had just cranked up.  I’d heard of a number of them from reading Newsweek, but never seen a single episode of any of them all the way through.  If there are some I missed from that time you find to be classics let me know.  When I retire I might rent a few of them and catch up.

        We weren’t against everything new, though, and took to computers right away.  We were information freaks and it didn’t take much foresight to see where that revolution was headed.  Our first one was a Commodore 64, and we upgraded on a regular basis, although to save money we would always wait till one had been out a year or two.  We were like the Army motto:  “Don’t be first in line, but don’t be last either.”  What we couldn’t figure out our kids taught us.

        Gas just crossed the dollar a gallon mark, and I’m sure we thought it outrageous, but we hardly ever left the County.  Our muscle car favorites of the 60s were on the brink of extinction.

        Medicine and bluegrass music were a different matter.  We lived and breathed both.  I still read Twain, but I bet Indie and I were the only cats around who tried to memorize both ‘The New England Journal of Medicine’ and ‘Bluegrass Unlimited.’  I wasn’t number one in the class, but I remember a lot, and always did well on Boards.  I can close my eyes and think of certain medical eras and re-create them in great detail. 

        I won’t bore you with it all, because you would never read my blog again, but back then it was Phenergan and Haldol, and Demerol was way over-used.  Medicines like Capoten were brand new.  We thought it was dangerous until we realized the initial dose recommendations were five times why we now use.  The indication for a heart cath in those days was to only send the patient when ALL measures had failed.  I remember I convinced a cardiologist it was time on one case because a new orange colored football shaped pill called Procardia failed to control my patient’s angina.

       In bluegrass, we were more players and participants than observers, and had regular jam sessions at places like Indie’s Cabin, and the Bomb Shelter.  But we did take in groups who played in the area, at least when we didn’t have a gig.  Darrell was just a kid.  We’d wait to pick up my children at school on my day off and listen to tapes of Vince Gill (‘Here Today’) who was a bluegrasser back then.  I’m sure I’m the only Doc around who learned to sing bluegrass harmony in a Middle School car line.  

        Doyle Lawson and iii Tyme Out were popular.  I got home from the hospital many a night on Wayne  Benson’s mandolin breaks.  Tony Rice redefined bluegrass guitar.  Folks still study albums like ‘Manzanita.’  Tony was a genius, and way ahead of his time.  Many a young student of bluegrass history believes the genre was created by ‘The Bluegrass Album Band.’

        A band called ‘New Grass Revival’ was revolutionary.  The mandolinist for the band, Sam Bush, still goes strong today.  His amalgam of rock, reggae and bluegrass is still one my favorite mandolin grooves in the world.

        I saw them way back then in a little dive called ‘Green Acres.’  They played a Halloween masquerade party.  Sam was a pirate, complete with a peg leg and a black patch over his right eye.  Bela Fleck went as Bela Fleck.  (He was a very serious banjo man)  I recall someone was dressed up as the Bhagwan.  The crowd hoisted him overhead and shouted “Bhagwan, Bhagwan…!”  over and over in time with the music.  We stood in the back in case the place caught on fire.  Even then we knew Sam Bush was great.

        When I learned to play, we’d put on an LP and play it over and over till the grooves wore out.  After hundreds of times of dropping the needle on a spot we’d try to memorize, the record was scratched and worn.  I’ve ruined many a classic album in my quest. 

        The eighties changed all that, and publications with instructional material such as ‘Mandolin World News’ and ‘Banjo Newsletter’ gained momentum.  Soon the computer would put all sorts of things at out fingertips- material we had gathered at flea markets and festivals for years.  It took some of the charm out of the chase, but I am still glad it came along.

        Well, I didn’t tell you anything about Dr. Bibey you didn’t know, huh?  I love my family.  I know medicine and bluegrass, and precious little else.  Tell me your memories of the 80s.  They almost certainly would be news to me, ’cause except for my little world I wasn’t there.  But as far as mine, I lived eight days a week, and wouldn’t trade the memories.

Dr. B

More On Indie Jenkins

October 13, 2008

        I got an e-mail today from Citi Bank.  They requested I update the account information for Henry “Indie” Jenkins.

        I hope that rascal ain’t overdrawn again.

        When I looked at it close, though, I thought it was one of those scams.  It was the Ethiopian branch. That makes no sense, ’cause Indie ain’t never been out of town except for the Galax Fiddler’s Convention and to the beach the week of the 4th. 

        Of course maybe there’s another Indie Jenkins in Ethiopia, and we received the communication in error.  But, I think we’re safe to ignore the request.  Indie had a bad week at the Nursing home, and I don’t want to worry him.  I’ll check with the bank tomorrow.  If he’s bounced a check I’ll cover it.  But I think it’s a fake, and I doubt they’d come from Ethiopia to get him anyway.

Dr. B

Agent Backstory

October 12, 2008

        Just to catch y’all up on my agent saga, I want you to know I’ve been through three, but I believe the third one is the charm.

        My first one fired me for not being chick-litty enough.  I thought my second one was O.K. even though I was suspicious when I found out his day job was assistant manager at the Piggly-Wiggly.  When he send me a bill for a reading fee, I let him go.

       The Agent, though, is working out.  He is a writer’s agent and also an art dealer, so he spends a lot of time in New York.  He ain’t asked me for any money, and what commission checks he has gotten he’ll forget to cash for months at a time.  He reads the New Yorker and the Wall Street Journal and hob nobs around with all sorts of artsy folks, so I’m gonna try to hold onto him.

        I should have my first character back story out by Monday am.

Dr. B

The Agent Part II

October 11, 2008

        The phone rang in my Nashville hotel room.  “O.K., Bibey.  It’s time for serious discussion.”

        Dang, it was The Agent.  The voice, seasoned by years of whiskey and cigar smoke, sounded like a man who gargled hickory nuts as he spoke.  I’d recognize it anywhere.  I met him once before.  It was late at night at the Galax Old Time Fiddler’s Convention.  It had been over a year since he looked at my first rough draft and agreed to take me on if I followed certain guidelines.  Since then we had communicated by e-mail or a messenger at times.  He agreed to a second meeting- I saw it as a good sign.

        “Sure boss.  Where do we meet?”

        “Train Station, dark-thirty.”

        “Not the airport?  You ain’t gonna fly in?”

         “Good Lord son, ain’t no Agent ever represented any Southern writer and flew around on airplanes.  Don’t forget that.  If a man tells you he can sell a story about the South and travels by air he’s an impostor.  Think about it.  Didja ever hear any writer try to wax poetic about a tarmac?  Hell no.  Train whistles, now that’s different.  I can work with that.”

        “Hm, I hadn’t thought about it I guess.”

        “Well it’s true.  No hobo ever hopped a U.S. Air, either.  There ain’t one ounce of Southern literature about commercial aircraft so it you’ve got any of that in the Mandolin Case, better get it out.

        “Well, no sir.  Matter of fact we ain’t got an airport in Harvey County, so not to worry.”

        “Good.  Now listen here.  I’m gonna look different.  After you posted that picture I had women from all over the country chasing me, so I had to shave.”

       “That one that got after you with the tennis shoe find you, boss?”

        “Shut up Bibey.  No pictures, ya hear me?!”

        “Yes sir.”  I hung up and headed for the train station.

        Dark thirty.  I was right on time.  I went back to the Club Car as instructed.

        The Agent stood up to shake hands.  “Have a seat Bibey.”  He poured up an OBAN.  

        “So what did they say in New York?”  I asked.

        “They said you were so country they couldn’t understand some of what you said.  You have no credentials.  They couldn’t figure out how you wrote it.  It has it’s flaws, but at the same time they thought it was a hell of a story.”

        “You think it’ll sell?”

        “It has a chance, at least with me as your Agent.  You gotta know the big city, and I’ve got it wired.  Here are your instructions.”

        I opened the envelope and unfolded the notes.  “Back story?  I think I understand.”  A year ago back story was a herniated nucleus pulposis.  Man, had my life changed.  “Tell me about that.”

        “As you do your last revision, I want you to flesh out the characters on the blog.  Your readers may recognize some of them or know some of the Mandolin Case and remember a detail you forgot.  I want this story to stand the test of time.  You can’t get a single detail wrong.  You need to know what kinda smokes these people like, their shoe size, what movies they prefer- everything.

        “I know ‘em better than anyone, Boss.”

        “I’m sure you do, but you need to down-load brain to blog to where everyone else will too.  If you’re gonna immortalize ‘em then you better get it right.  The fiction history book demands no less.” 

        “The fiction history book?”

         “Yeah, I’m writing it.  And whatever you do, don’t give up my address.  I’m gonna winter in New York anyway, but I don’t need every nut in the country chasing me.”

        “I guess one of me is enough.”

        “Mercy, Bibey.  I think so.”

        “You know Boss, all I ever wanted was a chance to show what I believe to be true with my story.”

        “You’ve shown me that, Bibey.  I believe in you.  Now I want the rest of the world to see it too.  If you get the revision right, I’ll do my best.  No promises, though.”

         “I”ll do my best.”

        “See me in three months.  Atlanta.  I have to meet there there with Charles Thombley.  He’s a negotiator.  He’ll monitor your blog along with me for the next quarter.”

        “Hey I think I know him.  His people made a fortune down there in real estate futures right after Sherman came through.”

        “That’s the one, Bibey.  I only deal with the best.”

        “Hey boss, does that mean you think I’m the best?”

        “Hell no, Bibey.  You’re my project.  But, you have become a good writer.  And you have a great story.  I’d rather have a good writer with a great story than a great writer with a lousy story.  Write character back story on the blog.  Start with your next post and keep at it till the first of the year.  I think you’ll get there, but don’t give up your day job.”

         “Yes sir.”

         Heck I like being a Doc anyway, so I was sure I could follow his advice about the day job.  We don’t have an airport in the County, but if we did I wouldn’t fly when I went to Atlanta, either.  I never liked to fly anyway, and now I realized it qualified me to be a Southern Lit guy, I wasn’t about to start.

        Come next post, I’m gonna follow his advice and start to show y’all all about my people.  If you spot something I’ve missed let me know.  In a way my book reflects what I believe about life- we’re all in it together.  If I get published someday, my agent and you guys deserve a lot of the credit.  I’d a never gotten this far without you.

Dr. B

Atlanta and Outta Gas

October 9, 2008

        After I got home I realized I hadn’t reported on our stop in Atlanta, so I thought I’d tell you about that.  At the end of of trip, we met with The Agent, so that will be my next post- much to report on there.

        Atlanta was our first stop.  I arrived a weary dog tired doctor and about outta gas.  After no petrol at two stations, Marfar suggested we circle the wagon and regroup for the night.  Atlanta’s slogan for the month is ‘Too Busy to Hate,’ and we found it right on.  I had heard it was a tough city, but it was all hospitality for us.

        At the Holiday Inn South a young lady named Ayanna greeted us with all kinda Southern charm, and told us where a tanker was due in and we could get gas first thing in the morning.  We didn’t want to burn up fuel, plus we had no idea how to get around, but Ayanna gave us directions where to park and catch the MARTA to downtown.  When in Rome it pays to listen to the Romans.  In Atlanta, MARTA is the way to travel.

        My agent wanted me to make my tour and try not to write too much, but to draw, play music and try to take in events that might stimulate creativity.  He says there aren’t but a few human truths that have stood the test of time, and an artist should work with their medium to try and find them.

        The Agent has started to sound like my wife.  He says when I doctor too long it makes me boring.  Well, the Atlanta High Museum of Art was an inspiration.  When you look at the works of artists from Europe and the early days of the States, you can’t help but realize these folks dug in deep to try to find truth.  My guess is they were starving artists when starving wasn’t cool.  Those truths the Agent talks about have been around a long time before modern commercialism, for sure.

        Maybe I wasn’t starving, but by 2:00 this artist was hungry, and Eddie H. the Café Guy and Rebecca’s home made soup took care of me.  And in Atlanta, if you ask for Co-Cola no one asks if you want the competitor.  They might have been short of gas that weekend, but you can get all the Coca-Cola and sweet tea you want.  I knew I liked Atlanta.

        At lunch I thought some more about my agent’s words.  I wondered how I could ever be an artist. My guess is all those wonderful artists did some powerful suffering.  Me?  I’d never missed a meal, and didn’t want for a blessed thing.  We might not have grown up rich, but we were comfortable, and my Mom took me to the library every week.  Dad saw to it I could have all the education I wanted.  If I hadn’t amounted to something, I’d a had no one to blame but myself.

        Joe DiMaggio once said a rich kid never made it to the majors.  My bet is none of these artists whose art made it to the Atlanta Museum were rich kids.  How was a guy like me gonna go deep and create any kinda art anyone would want to read?  It’s like the Moose once said, “You gotta suffer to play great bluegrass.  And Doc, you ain’t done no suffering.”

        I thought about that.  What are the truths I want to find?  After much reflection I have just now begun to understand why I am compelled to write.  I once went to a songwriter seminar, and someone asked a panelist Paul Craft how he created a good country song.  He said, (paraphrased) “You have to reach way down inside yourself and be sure you were honest and gave it your best.”  I like that.

        All I ever wanted to be was a country doc, and treat people with dignity.  And therein is the conflict in my story.  Those of you outside the doctor world might not understand at first, but you’re gonna get to see it up close.  A guy like me can do some suffering in the modern doctor world.  Like mrschili alluded to, when it became a business guys like me became dinosaurs.  The fact is there’s plenty of suffering that goes on for a modern doc who cares cause the system does it’s best to drive the compassion right outta you.

        But don’t feel sorry for me.  Indie is the one who took it on the chin bad.  They liked to have beat him to death.  And you know what?  It didn’t change Indie one bit.  He remained the same.  And that is what I like about ole Indie.  My guess is that’s what y’all are gonna like about him, too.  Cause Indie, flawed as he is, tells the truth.  An that, through Indie’s story, is what I wanted to find and hope to show.

        I’ll be back soon to tell you all about the agent and the direction of the blog for the next quarter.

Dr. B

Oxford, Mississippi, the Home of Ole Miss

October 2, 2008

        Oxford had come highly recommended twice, so we held off on going to Memphis for a day.  The change in our itinerary was 100% warranted.  The only mistake we made was not to allow enough time.

        When we drove in, we managed to land right on the square.  Right in the center is an old time Southern white courthouse with these big columns.  I think Sherman burned it all down, but they rebuilt it after the war.  The architecture on the Sqaure hasn’t changed much since then.  But like Mark said, the South has changed.  This is a medium sized town, but a cosmopolitan place, where everyone walks around in jeans and tweeds.  Full of artists, professors, musicians and books.  A cool town.

        My agent told me to be sure to take in Square Books and cited it as one of the top independent book stores in the world.  It was all that- books piled up all the way to the ceiling.  On the first table was Oliver Sacks, ‘Musicophilia’ one Ted Lehmann had recommended I pick up for some time.  I’ve just started it, but I think it is one Ms. Turner might want to recommend to her Bread Loaf students.  From what I understand, it explores how the regular exposure to music affects the brain (maybe I’ll figure my self out!) and should be a good one to study.

        I do know that rats who run mazes learn faster if they are exposed to classical music, and I believe the same theory would work for acoustic music such as bluegrass.  I hope so, ’cause I’ve studied medicine to Flatt and Scruggs for years and it has worked out fine so far.

        Upstairs at Square Books they had a fiction and Southern Lit section and the strawberry ice cream Sally serves up was right down my ally too.  I got out my mandolin to play and the first cat to come in the room was a Greg Johnson who heads up the Blues Archive at Ole Miss, and plays in a Celtic band, Celtic Crossroads.  We talked about tunes like ‘Whiskey Before Breakfast’ (The White Spire in Ireland) and ‘Red Haired Boy,’ (alias Beggar Boy)  Greg knew his business, no doubt, and invited me to jam. 

        Like I said, the only error I made was not allow enough time for Oxford.  If I ever get published, I’ll bring my book and my mandolin right after I leave Reed’s in Tupelo.  If I don’t get published I’ll be back anyway.  Between Mr. Johnson and that fellow from Denmark who was hanging out with him, I have a notion they know every jam session and player in that part of Mississippi.

        We left Oxford for a medical meeting with Dr. Larry McBride.  He was a consultant in the Mandolin Case, and I needed to review some text with him.  I’ll report to you soon on that visit.  But Greg, I want to tell you I’ll drive many a mile for a good session, so thanks for the invite.  I’ll be back.  I am confident there is much fine music played at Ole Miss, and I wanta come be a part of it one day.

Dr. B


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