Although I am not a native of the Lone Star State, I would like to share with you the eccentric side of Texas that I have come to appreciate and love.
Since 1976, the Rhode Island–born and Tennessee-bred McCarthy has lived in El Paso, where he completed his fourth and fifth novels, Suttree and Blood Meridian—both critically heralded (“invites comparisons with Faulkner’s best,” “without parallel in American writing today”), both commercial flops. Now and again, a visitor from some distant city would show up at the El Paso office of attorney Bobby Perel, McCarthy’s friend and conduit to the outside world, and ask for a chance to meet the author.
KATHERINE ANNE PORTER
Born in India Creek, Texas, in 1890, Katherine Anne Porter lost her mother at the age of two. Raised primarily by her paternal grandmother, Porter became strong and self-reliant at an early age. Both the loss of her mother and her father’s subsequent neglect had a lasting effect on Porter—making her incredibly attentive to the harsh realities of human endeavor.
Living in Austin, Texas, the so-called Live Music Capital of the World, I have heard the name ‘John Prine’ mentioned but never really knew who he was until I heard Keith Sykes share his memories of John and how after John died from COVID––they scattered his ashes in the river.
But I need to backtrack a bit to let you know who Keith Sykes is. Keith got the lead in a movie that I auditioned for in Japan. I had just gotten out of the army and was back in Japan for university and working part-time to help pay my way. The movie “Summer Soldiers” needed a lead that could sing and play the guitar––which I couldn’t––even though the director of the film wanted me for the lead. So Keith was brought in from New York, and I was assigned the role of the film’ s ‘heavy’. So anyway, that is how Keith and I met. When I found Keith on YouTube talking about his friendship with John Prine, I discovered a kindred spirit.
John Prine was born in 1948 (as was Keith). I was born in 1947. John served in the army in Germany. I served in the army in Japan and Turkey. Though he didn’t see action in Viet Nam, John was tuned into vets returning from war and what later came to be known as PTSD. Vets with PTSD often turn to drugs for relief and get hooked. John’s first album, released in 1971, featured Sam Stone, and Vets have strongly identified with the song ever since. Another anti-war song on his first album was Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You into Heaven Anymore.
John died of the CORNONA virus in April 2020 at the age of 73 and is fondly remembered by those in music.
His last song was I Remember Everything.
One of my favorite songs by John was featured on Austin City Limits- Jesus: The Missing Years.
Finally, for anyone of advanced years, John wrote Hello in There.
Rarely have I encountered a film that has shaken me to the core! Capernaum by Nadine Labaki is one of a very few. It is truly mind-blowing in its content and impact. A MUST-SEE!!!
Capernaum won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and follows Zain, a gutsy streetwise child, as he flees his negligent parents. He survives on the streets through his wits while taking care of Ethiopian refugee Rahil and her baby son, Yonas. After being arrested and put in jail, Zain finally seeks justice against his parents in court for the “crime” of giving him life. The actors were all recruited from the streets & slums of Beirut. The twelve-year-old Syrian refugee who plays the main character, Zain, is superb and his performance reaches deep down into your heart. On a scale of one (1) to ten (10), I give CAPERNAUM a solid twelve (12) because it goes beyond cinema and impacts social change. Inshallah!