Cleveland, Jan 24: PAC to talk Paul Simon, “Homeward Bound” at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame

If you’re in Cleveland, Ohio or the continental United States you should BE THERE. Aight?

Here’s the goss, straight from the RRHoF:

Author Series with Peter Ames Carlin, author of Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon

When: Tuesday, January 24, 2016 – 7pm

Where: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Library and Archives, 2809 Woodland Ave, Cleveland OH

To RSVP: This event is FREE with a reservation. RSVP at or in-person at the Rock Hall Box Office.


Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues: Welcome to 2017

elvisThe new year arrived under threatening skies in Portland. Stark and wintry, wind-tossed wires slapping the living skeletons of the aged cruciform elms. I walked the dog and realized that 2017 marks the 100th birthday of the house our family has called home for sixteen years. The generations of folks in our neighborhood lived through a lot: World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, diseases, unexpected death, truly grim and awful shit. Surely we’ll live through the next four years, I told myself. The wheels of the republic never stop churning, we are Americans, we’ll soldier through Trump and his ridick fantasies of turning the greatest nation into a dangerous totalitarian kleptocracy. The nation will cough him up like an accidentally swallowed bug, wipe its mouth and get back to being the shining city on the hill. It always has, it always will.

Right? Right? C’mon people I need an amen here. Someone? Anyone? Aw man you gonna leave me hanging here? For reals? Shee-yit.

I’m listening to “Elvis at Stax” the great recordings from the late ’60s and early ’70s. Top of his game right then. An epic singer paired with a great band and a sheaf of great songs — rockers, ballads, mid-tempo confessions. Between-take chatter reveals the King in all his regal confidence and charm. “Damn these takes are going by fast,” he says at one point, then launches into Danny O’Keefe’s “Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues.” The words, sung by Elvis with great tenderness, summons both Elvis’s short future and now this moment of history with alarming clarity.

I got my pills to ease the pain
Can’t find a thing to ease the rain
I’d love to try and settle down
But everybody’s leavin’ town
Some gotta win, some gotta lose
Good time Charlie’s got the blues

I’ll be back tomorrow with news about speeches/presentations I’ll be making in Cleveland, OH, Sacramento, CA., Washington State University at Vancouver, Wa. and in St. Louis, MO. in the next few months. But first, here’s the news from Good Time Charlie, and Elvis.

WFUV-FM Interview

WFUV-FM, the public radio station out of Fordham University, was always my favorite stop on the FM dial, so it’s a real treat to be back on their air with this interview about Paul Simon and Homeward Bound. Listen up. Blutarsky: “It don’t cost nothin’.”

Carrie Fisher’s passionate connection with Paul Simon

Actress Carrie Fisher.

Actress Carrie Fisher.

They fell for each other at something close to first glance, and glommed together like two parts of the same baubled and brilliant whole. Fractious parts, to be sure. Carrie Fisher was 15 years younger than Paul Simon, and both were neurotic and willful to the extreme. When they fought, which was not rare, the rage — fueled as much by their own insecurities as by any real distaste for each other — hit their Central Park West penthouse like one of “Ghostbusters”‘s brick-smashing demons. Walls collapsed, crockery took wing, clouds of evil boiled over the skyline. Then just as quickly, she’d blurt out something, their eyes would meet and then…

“I not only don’t like you,” she screamed at him in the middle of one particularly explosive encounter. “I don’t like you personally.” The bizarre assertion ended the fight on the spot — they were both laughing too hard to snarl anymore — but the peace was, once again, short-lived.

Their love was just as combustible. Paul and Carrie were almost exactly the same size, and their bodies fit together so naturaly that if they weren’t holding hands or draping arms over each other’s shoulders, they were squished up together on the sofa, more or less on top of each other. Carrie added velocity to his life, a kind of wild energy that often set him alight and sometimes made him scream…

The married in the summer of 1983, only to divorce the next year. Reunited a few months later they continued their post-marital romance until 1989 after a joint trip to Brazil, where Paul was working on the music that would become his wonderful Rhythm Of the Saints album. Memories of Carrie hover over the album. Paul reveals his lost lover in all her ecstasy, her gloom and her puzzling mood swings. He ventures into her troubled soul and emerges scarred and anguished.

She says “maybe these emotions are
As near to love as love will ever be”
So I agree

Then the moon breaks
She takes the corner, that’s all she takes
She moves on.

For more about Carrie and Paul read People Online‘s encapsulation of the relevant sections from my book, Homeward Bound:The Life of Paul Simon.


The Ballad of Zephyr, Portland’s Most Legendary Dog

Captured live at the BackFencePDX storytelling main stage, it’s Leather Storrs, the owner/chef of Portland’s perpetually hot Noble Rot wine bar/restaurant and myself jointly telling the story of Leather’s childhood dog Zephyr, who I knew when I was a student at Lewis & Clark College in the early ’80s. Leather and I didn’t meet until twenty years later, but Zephyr changed both of our lives. Sort of. I mean, not really. But he was an amazing dog, that’s for sure.