The Depot—a Short-Lived Club and Music Venue

More Concerts—or at least where I caught the tunes.

The Depot in Minneapolis once was a Greyhound Bus station, reincarnated as a club in early 1970. I’m unsure where the buses went, but a bar and a dance floor with live music replaced them. [Interestingly, a man who became a father-in-law two and a half-years later, worked at the place as the steam engineer before it’s renovation.] Joe Cocker opened the place in April (I didn’t see him). Many more stars followed during its two-year existence. Early in the Depot’s brief musical days, I caught Mitch Ryder there in May 1970. The memories of the set are dim, but I remember the hits included “Devil in a Blue Dress.” 

Fall became a time for music and dance, following the summer of lust and adventure with Jill. Much to my surprise, I recovered quickly from her abrupt sayonara in early October. The resilience of youth is a fantastic thing.

Tickets for the performances I saw there were cheap by today’s standards. Just $4.50 for Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. Happily, “Call Any Vegetable” and “Duke of Prunes” were part of the Mothers’ 35-minute session. Quite an ensemble: George Duke, Aynsley Dunbar, and happily—Flo and Eddie! The last two were founders of the group known as the Turtles. They sang Bubblegum hits like “Happy Together.” Hard to imagine them pumping out the very different “Tell Me You Love Me” with Frank not much later.

Side note: I saw the 200 Motels movie soon after. The cast includes most of the group at the Depot—plus Theodore Bikel, Keith Moon, Ringo Starr, and more. I have the LP; delightful memories.

I heard one more group in November ‘70, Exuma, led by a Bahamian man professionally known as Tony McKay. Unknown to me before, but I liked the sound enough to buy an LP of theirs with “Obeah Man” and “Junkanoo” among the tunes played at the Depot. It sounded like voodoo stuff. A recent Wikipedia article on him and his group says no—a spiritual healing thing.

Meanwhile, I went to the Depot and hit the dance floor between the shows I paid to see. Platform shoes, elephant bells, and a polyester shirt covered by a pullover sleeveless sweater; that was me, then. One night, a fine young lady mirrored my every move on the dance floor. It was as if we had known each other in another lifetime. I don’t remember what she wore, but it fit the scene. The encounter ended with a one-night event. A result seldom repeated in my life.

I caught one more show at the club, March 1971, not long before its closure. A good one: Eric Burdon and War. Probably his last appearance with them. I didn’t spill any wine, but I liked the song. There were other bits by War mixed in, of course.

A New Review of The Fountain

The Fountain: and six more fantasy and sci-fi stories came out in 2017. We recently did a discount for a week. This result came of it–a review by a fellow writer friend.

D. W. Peach

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on June 14, 2023

I like speculative fiction, and every once in a while, a collection of short stories is a nice break from longer novels. “The Fountain” is the lead story in this collection of seven fantasy/sci-fi tales. I read the book in one sitting of about 90 minutes.

The stories offer a lot of variety from an ancient curse to a confused vampire, alien reconnaissance and alternate reality, a love spell gone wrong, and inspiration for a struggling writer. The alternate reality story, “The Closet Door” was my favorite with some surprising twists at the end.

The final tale in the collection, “The Fribble,” is novelette length, taking up the second half of the book. It’s a tease for a longer story and doesn’t come to a wrapped-up conclusion. Fans of Star Trek’s “The Trouble with Tribbles” will see a few similarities, but this story goes in a far different direction, retaining plenty of cuteness, but adding lots of danger too. I would have enjoyed seeing what happened at the end.

This is an engaging speculative fiction collection that I recommend to fantasy and sci-fi readers looking to fill some free time with enjoyable short stories.

D. Wallace Peach is a well-regarded writer of many award-winning fantasy novels, anthologies and more. 

Living Lint

Something she said or did inspired this. Dry humor, in old styling.

With good reason, she calls me the spider whisperer. I always try collecting a spider gently in a tissue before letting them loose outside. It can be a challenge, with the fast ones or those simply trying to escape. They must suppose I am a predator. Yet some relax and accept the transport. Occasionally, some will fearlessly crawl on my hand. Probably it’s too much to credit them with high intellect. But then, I am not an arachnologist.

The odd event came the other day. What looked like a tiny spider moving along the floor. Larger than microscopic, but smaller than any I’d seen. The camera on my phone helped not at all—other than enlarging the lint. Lint that continued it’s slow crawl, without the least breeze or other obvious sign of propulsion.

No legs, no wings, no means of motion became apparent, no matter how much I studied it. Left with no other alternative, I picked it up with a tissue for closer examination. Within the mix of dust, hair and other typical detritus, I could see no insect or arachnid. That’s when the lint began moving again—in the palm of my hand. OK—must be microscopic after all.

That worried me. Could it be dangerous? If it could move with nearly no mass, it seemed a peculiar phenomenon. Tempted to ball up the tissue and dispose of it, I hesitated with the thoughts running through my head. It was then that it fell or perhaps jumped from my hand, linty tissue and whatever else.

The lint quickly left the tissue for another excursion on the floor. That’s when I realized the possible discovery I had made: Living lint! Few people would accept the notion. Yet, imagine how many specimens of living lint have been swept or vacuumed up across America or round the world. Worse, consider the potential biological harms. Harms to humans, from allergies or infections that might have come from this hitherto unknown rare species, .

Ah well, it may make for an interesting story. I think I’ll pass on it for now. Maybe some other time.

DGKaye’s 5 Star Review of Jumped by a Deadly Cholla

We have the honor of reposting this review by DG Kaye.

My Sunday book review is for John Maberry’s new release – Jumped by a Deadly Cholla. This is just one of eleven stories with twisted endings in this collection of speculative and science fiction. As many of you will know, I am not a sci-fi reader, but my friend John has recently released this collection of short stories and asked if I’d read and review. He is a wonderful storyteller.

Buy on Amazon or look at a preview

Blurb:

CACTUS ROOTS DRAW MICROBES FROM A METEORITE—LOIS NEARLY DIES. ONE OF ELEVEN STORIES IN A DIVERSE COLLECTION OF SPECULATIVE FICTION. A POTPOURRI OF FANTASY AND SF. HUMOR AND HORROR. SUPERNATURAL AND TIME-TRAVEL. QUICK READS FROM FLASH FICTION THROUGH SHORT WORKS, BUT A NOVELETTE TOOLIKE TWISTS? FIND THEM HERE.

JACK HEARS THE DOG STAR’S BARK; AN INVITE FROM THE SUN GODDESS OF SIRIUS—A FUNNY STORY. THE WISHING BELLEVILREMINISCENT OF THE MONKEY’S PAW. A SENTIENT (ALIEN) SHRUB OFFERS GENE MODIFICATION TOOLS IN CLIMATE CRISIS CHANGES HUMANSWEREWOLVES—GOOD ONES AND BAD, IN DOG IS MY COPILOT.

My 5 Star Review:

Maberry is known for his speculative and science fiction short stories. In this new collection of stories, he takes us in to some strange environments with his stories, a mixed bag of funny to scary to things that leave you thinking. You will find stories about a deadly Cholla plant, werewolves, vampires, time travel, and a trip into the future after climate change has reached its capacity, if you enjoy futuristic and sci-fi stories, you will enjoy this book.

A few notable stories: A Climate Crisis Changes Humans – In the 22nd century devastation left from the previous century, Grelm says, “The humanoids will listen now.” Melanie and Josh discover a scentient plant. Fencing in The Sky – Big Sky county Montana, nobody needed fences. But a cyber scammer finds a way to sell his “BS Fencing” to the builder to include in the sale of land parcels complete with a digital fence.The Wishing Bell – Smitty is given a wishing bell and told he can make three wishes and must ring the bell after each one and must then pass the bell on to someone else and if not, there will be consequences. But after what happens after the first wish, Smitty decides he doesn’t want anymore wishes and doesn’t want to pass it on to anyone else.

Continue reading the review by DG Kaye here.

Musings from Long Ago–Hippies and Freaks

A repost from March, 2015 that no one noticed then.

I never fully embraced the hippie life. I had more essential things to do with my life–protesting the war and trying to get an education post-Vietnam. The nuance between freaks and hippies escapes me now. Which countercultural group did I identify with more? Hmm, can’t say that the issue presented itself forthrightly as a decision that needed making. Unlike my favorite Pres., Bill, I must confess to inhaling–frequently. So when it came to freak versus frat on campus, there could be no doubt in which camp I belonged. Boozers and dopers in Nam were analogous to the squares versus hippies. I didn’t drink there.

Did stick-on yellow flowers adorning my blue Chevy Malibu make me a hippie? I don’t know. I bought the car through the PX while still in Vietnam and drove it to and from Ft. Knox during my final year in the army. I kept it for a few more years until it became too trouble-prone. Those were not the best years for GM.

In 1970, I attended ‘Galena in Wadena’ (Iowa), a three-day rock festival. The event featured 30 bands. Like Woodstock, it happened on a farm. Unlike Yasgur’s place, there were only forty thousand people—according to later news reports. Galena had no rain or mud, either—thankfully. Some weed sold as Panama Red seared my throat with only a little buzz. My single day there included the Chambers Brothers, Poco, and the Flying Burrito Brothers, among others. Time Has Come Today and Love, Peace and Happiness alone were worth the trip–Chambers Brothers were one unto themselves. 

Elephant bells and platform shoes became my club apparel soon after. In ’71, Liz, my second wife, pierced my left ear. I wore the earring through the remaining years of college and most of law school, taking it out only when it came time to venture into the uptight legal world. Later, with just a few more years left before retirement from the Fairfax County job I had in Northern Virginia, the post returned to the ear. Why the hell not? No more need to dress for success. A ponytail came next, preparing for our move to New Mexico a few years hence.

Finally, all the guys who never had posts, studs, hoops or dangles in their youth began piercing their ears long after I did. Some even went with tats a few years later. Getting tattoos in your sixties is silly, in my opinion—the era passed you by on that front if you weren’t a sailor or a marine in the 1950s or 1960s. The times are always changing. Like the width of neckties, something I never wear now, except for funerals or weddings. You do risk other people snickering trying to be of another cultural age than your physiological one. But hey–it’s your life; do what you want to do or be. 🙂

Neil Diamond, June 1970, Minneapolis Auditorium

The next concert–way more to come in a long list.

Not a big fan of the guy—then or now. He definitely had a great voice then. But it wasn’t about the music. That was a warm-up, a reason to be out for the evening and part way into the night. Jill liked Neil; me occasionally. I heard the hits—including:

  • Cracklin’ Rosie
  • Sweet Caroline
  • Cherry Cherry
  • And more, of course

I did enjoy the concert–albeit quite different from the Beatles, Strawberry Alarm Clock and Steppenwolf. The packed house for the very popular Neil Diamond loved it.

Perhaps I should start at the beginning. I finally began college at the University of Minnesota six years after high school; money and the military intervened. I excerpted the text below from the memoir, Waiting for Westmoreland.

During the first week of classes, an attractive but married woman started hitting on me. . . . Over a few weeks, during between-class coffee-fueled dialogues, she explained, “Dave and I have an understanding. He doesn’t mind if I go out with other men.”

“Are you sure? It just doesn’t seem right to me to go out with a married woman.” 

“John, it’s OK. He doesn’t have time to do everything I want or care for all my needs. If it’s OK with him, why should it bother you?”

The attention was flattering, but I was trying to reclaim my ideals, not corrupt them further. I was hooked when she casually provided a peek at a model portfolio a photographer had created for her, including an array of classic nudes

____________

Jill and I went on our long-awaited first date, [the Neil Diamond concert] after my divorce. I picked her up at her home, still wondering whether I should be doing this and why she had picked me out of a university crowd. Despite my doubts, I couldn’t help being excited about it anyway. Nearly to the open car door, she turned back to wave goodbye to her husband Dave, an average-looking guy perhaps a few years older than she or I. He was standing in the doorway, leaning down a little to get a look at me, waiting behind the wheel. It would be 2:30 a.m. before I brought her home. While the agreement with Dave did not extend to sleepovers, apparently, it didn’t preclude wild sex. In the face of my earlier self-doubts, Jill assured me I had nothing to fear in future amorous adventures with women. How encouraging. 

___

Then it was on to a summer of sex. It was the best sex I had ever had, not that I had had so much sex by age 23. I sublet the attic apartment of another antiwar veteran that summer in a house on Clarence Avenue Southeast, near the campus. He had painted the entire apartment in monochrome black—the walls, the trim, the bathtub and sink, the pipes, everything. It was an unusual but not very inviting color scheme. So I livened up the wall with a life-size poster print of Jill in a two-piece swimsuit, posing on the grass at Lake of the Isles. We also went to other Minneapolis lakes that summer, Calhoun, Harriet and Cedar, where we could swim or sun. With Dave working during the day and Jill taking only a few summer classes, there were plenty of free days for hitting the beaches. There were also opportunities for afternoon delight before I went to my job at the Post Office. Other times we met between classes, making out in one or another of the lover-friendly alcoves of Coffman Union once the student occupation [Vietnam War protests] ended. 

___

In October, Jill gave me the news over coffee at Coffman Union. “It’s over,” she said.

“What do you mean, over?”

“I’m leaving Dave.”

“So,” I began optimistically, “Does that mean you’ll spend more time with me?”

“No. It means I need space to consider what I really want and need.”

“OK. So where does that leave us?”

“There is no us. There is you, and there is me. If I continued seeing you now, it would remind me of Dave. It just wouldn’t work.”

“So you’re leaving him and me?”

“Yes. We’ve had some great times together, which I will always treasure, but all good things must end. This is the end.”

“But—”

“Don’t worry, John, there will be other women after me,” she said as she stood to walk away.

I sat in shock at the table. I had put too much of myself into our relationship. Jill had left me bleeding raw, ripping away the tendrils of heart and soul I had foolishly attached to her. Jim Morrison’s voice ran through my head, singing the Doors’ slow dirge, “The End.” I felt sure that Jill was wrong.

REMINDERThe Fountain is on sale on Kindle at $1.99 from 4pm PDT today to midnight June 8th

Born to Be Wild, on Incense and Peppermint–Steppenwolf Live in Louisville

No, not exactly born to be wild.

Well, check the drive from Shively to Louisville, fourth paragraph below–maybe a bit wild. Never much for the spices either. I got started on Mary Jane in Vietnam. That ended with the return to the US–and my very straight-laced first wife, Gloria.

August 1969, Strawberry Alarm Clock opened for Steppenwolf at Freedom Hall, Louisville. The one-hit-wonders must have sung other songs; I recall only “Incense and Peppermint.” I remember many more Steppenwolf hits—ones they did that night, “Magic Carpet Ride,” “Pusher,” and “Born to Be Wild.” My first concert since the Beatles in 1965. See that story here. 

The hall was just a few minutes from our apartment off Dixie Highway in Shively, a suburb of Louisville. Low-ranking married soldiers weren’t eligible for base housing. Even if I were, it would not have made sense to live there because Gloria couldn’t drive and we needed her to get a job to help us make ends meet. She worked as a nurses aide in Louisville.  I repaired radios in the tank park at the Armor Training Center at Fort Knox. While that was just 25 miles away from Shively, I had to be in formation at six am. That meant being on the road at 4:30 to drop her off for work. she got a ride home with a coworker.

I had less than two months left in the US Army when we went to the concert. Despite the sound blasting from the speakers within the arena, Gloria had trouble staying awake. I didn’t have that problem, maybe because it was the weekend. Our usual bedtime was 7:30 pm. We had an early rise on weekdays. It was a dark and dangerous trip every day, taking Gloria to Louisville and driving on to Ft. Knox along Dixie Highway. A 75-mile total trip. The locals nicknamed the road “Dixie Dieway” for all the traffic deaths along its route. I stopped for coffee and a donut at a diner a couple miles south of our apartment every morning, to make sure I didn’t fall asleep at the wheel.

But it wasn’t Dixie Highway that almost got me. It was the interstate near the nursing home. As I sped along in the right lane in the pre-dawn hours one morning, another car suddenly appeared half a car length in front of me. He had entered the road from a ramp beside me, hidden by the darkness and apparently without looking. At 60 miles per hour, there was no time or point in honking. Instinctively, without having had any training in the maneuver, I executed a four-wheel drift—letting off the gas and cutting the wheel sharply to the left, then cutting the wheel back to the right and stepping back on the gas. The car slid to the left lane and kept going forward, saving us from almost certain death. 

The ladies at the diner where I stopped every morning, baked me a cake for my last day. It wasn’t the first close encounter; it wouldn’t be the last. I had more to do in this life. Click on the link  to find out about my path from Vietnam to Enlightenment. Waiting for Westmoreland,  

REMINDER–The Fountain is on sale on Kindle for $.99 starting tomorrow

The Fountain–Discounted in June 2023 on Kindle

The Fountain: and six more fantasy and sci-fi stories

eBook Cover of The Fountain short story collection

The Fountain came out in June 2017–it’s about time we did some temporary price cuts; for seven days.

Here’s the deals:

The countdowns are all at PDT time

  • Just $.99–from June 2nd, at 8am to 4pm on the 5th.
  • From 4pm on the 5th to 12am on the 9th it’s $1.99.
  • Regular price of $2.99 returns on the rest of the day.

Four and Five star ratings–here’s three of eleven reviews:

Nicholas C. Rossis had these crisp remarks:

5.0 out of 5 stars The Twilight Zone meets Philip K. Dick

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on August 16, 2017

Verified Purchase

I wonder if The Fountain’s stories should be labeled speculative or science fiction, as they remind me more of Twilight Zone and less of Philip K. Dick. Maybe that’s the best definition of them; the common ground between these works. Whichever it is, I enjoyed them and their twists. Maberry writes in a clear way that immerses the reader into the story. He has a gift for creating easily identifiable characters who feel familiar after just a few lines. All in all, a fine collection for those who enjoy their short stories with a twist.

 

Wesley H. Higaki said:

4.0 out of 5 stars Clever set of short stories

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on July 14, 2017

Verified Purchase

The Fountain is a collection of six science fiction and fantasy short stories by John Maberry. I like the simple, whimsical style of these stories. Each is a clever story that ends with abrupt, but clever, plot twists. The characters are realistic and interesting; their interactions are believable. [the rest of the review was omitted; it describes each story]

June gave these short zingers:
5.0 out of 5 stars Stories with surprises

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on July 11, 2017

If you love stories with a surprise at the end, you will love these. Some are ironic, some cautionary, and some funny. A delight for the gray matter. Perhaps my favorite was Alfred’s Strange Blood Disorder. I laughed the hardest at that one. I received an advance review copy at no cost or obligation.

Here’s the author’s description: Among Humor, twists and more in this collection of seven fantasy and sci-fi short stories. Karma can be painful in “The Fountain”–when a plunderer meets a long-dead shaman. A family adopts a retriever with special talents in “Lily, an Amazing Dog.” A vampire has a strange problem, in “Alfred’s Strange Blood Disorder.” A perennial favorite, dimensional travel, with a strange twist in “The Closet Door.” What could that column of fire be, rising from the Atlantic off the Outer Banks, read “The Flame” to find out what it meant to troubled writer Carson. A wizard casts a spell that works well for a princess, but will it be as good for him? Check out “The Wizard.” Finally, “The Fribble” offers an alien encounter of an odd sort, to a pharmaceutical company rep searching for new drugs in the Amazon Rain forest.

 

When You’re Strange

When You’re Strange, A repost

Don’t you love the Doors? But this isn’t about music, except for one more passing reference. Ray Stevens would be aghast. The song lyrics might as well be, “Everyone is strange in their own way.”

For decades now, my wife has said I’m strange. I welcome the epithet as an amusing truth. “Why Be Normal?” the buttons and stickers ask. Just so. There is a time and place for eccentricity and normality. Earning a living may require a modicum of the latter—depending on the work one does. It certainly did for the day job from which I retired some time ago. But let’s get back to strange.

We had met before at one Buddhist activity or another. Attending that Halloween party quickly took us to a level of intimacy neither of us had expected. A familiarity that only a few years later led to marriage. The marriage faced a life-or-death challenge initially, but that’s another story. That story is a central part of the memoir, Waiting for Westmoreland. This post is a teensy weensy memory about our strange beginning.

We’re both into sci-fi. That inspired our costumes for the party. She came as an alien. Her hair had an unnatural shade, with face and exposed flesh covered in matching silver. An alternating black and silver diagonally striped lame knit covered her torso. I came as Gully Foyle, Alfred Bester’s protagonist from The Stars My Destination. I couldn’t quite master the tiger face tattoo, so I just lettered my forehead “Nomad” in black grease paint. You’ll have to read the book to understand. I added a long maroon caftan and a walking stick to complete the image.

We danced together, and we danced alone. I twirled around my head-high staff to the thrilled amusement of another partygoer. Thirty is a great time to indulge and flaunt one’s strangeness. It’s never left me. It manifests in many other ways these days. What’s life without loosening the strictures of normalcy? Lighten up. Have fun! She and I did, mixing our facial paint that Halloween night.

I miss those Halloween trick-or-treaters at our suburban home in Virginia. My faces were much scarier than those of the kids who came for candy. Alas, the seclusion of our dream home in New Mexico means we see no children on that October night. But there are other ways to bring out the strange. Perhaps a topic for another day.

Weather Station

Tired of forecasts, Harley bought a desktop weather station.

Like every morning, Harley checked the meteorological conditions on his phone app. Thirty degrees—with a chance of snow. His weather station on the counter disagreed on the temp. It said 40 degrees. His hilltop home was 15 miles from the airport that supplied the info on his phone. The display showed current wind speed, gusts, and direction. Plus rain—rate, total by day, week, month and year. Atmospheric pressure, sun/moon and a lot more.

What he didn’t get was a manual. Like most products these days, you gotta download it from a website. When he did, the site urged him to join the network of home weather station users. Upload his data for the benefit of the group. Despite the privacy issues (they said no names, etc.—but of course a GPS location had to be logged) he thought seriously about it. The plus was that he could press a button on the panel to get current weather all around the world. Nothing like a dose of envious reality that he could be somewhere much warmer and sunnier—if he could afford the ticket.

Actually, the company also had an affiliate link to a travel agency that could hook you up with a ticket to wherever. Supposedly at a discount. Sounded good. Go from the snow and cold to a sunny clime with temps in the 70s or 80s. Plus the prospect of short-term rental vacation housing. What’s not to like! He checked out the offers—all sorts of ways, without success. But they were new—very new. So, not much data out there. It was a trial offer—six months for free. Then a monthly fee of $10 or an annual charge of $99. Pricey if he didn’t use it. If he didn’t like it, he could cancel. He was in.

Places in the 80s. Beachfront in Dubai. Tahiti. Plettenberg Bay, South Africa. All seemed a little too rich for his blood. Profitable for the travel agency affiliate—with a kickback to the station supplier.

Soon, the temps dropped at his house, just like the desktop device said. The snow fell too. Ok, time to find a warm and sunny get away. He pressed the weather scan button. Instead of locations, it displayed the weather first. Find what you liked and then select it. That’s when it all began.

The Dubai site looked good. Harley clicked the link. But no booking air or a room popped up on the screen. Instead, he immediately found himself on a pink sand beach. Odd shells, like none he’d ever seen before. Waves of lavender water washed ashore, carrying fragrant flowers amidst unknown flotsam. What the hell! Where am I and how did I get here? This can’t be Dubai. 

Yes, this will  be continued in an upcoming story–a little later.