And Gutenberg Lived Here: Pickin’ and Grinnin’


My first thought, when trying to explain this phrase to someone

who speaks English well,

but is not from the American South,


of course: A banjo battle between the greats: Roy Clark and Buck Trent,

Showing all the incredible skill and talent of a real artisan,

And all the joy,

and creative silliness,

that just bubbles up when you can do something like this,

be it music,

or fine carpentry,

or fine-tuning a car,

or Big Bang style rocket science.

Today, we have just forgotten how to put the time, and energy, and skill,

into being silly-

a gift that cleans the soul, and the body, and makes it easier to get along.

Instead, we’re too busy studying laugh yoga,

or pulling the rug out from under someone,

to understand what joy is.

A joy that is a natural birthright.

If you take the time.

As a child I spent a lot of time in the cornfields.


And helping in the harvests.

And trying to find my way to school through them.

And on Sunday night,

we would come home from a long day in our church,

turn on the tv, and revel in the corn.

Real corn pone humour.

Of the best.

So silly you just HAD to laugh.

Can-can dancing chickens.

My dad, head of p.r. for a large city, used to die laughing at that.

I loved the music.

Incredibly talented guitarists, banjo players, fiddlers.

My brother liked the dumb jokes.

Always with a  throw back-

what’s black and white and red all over-

a zebra with a sunburn.

(And you thought you knew the answer, right?)


What? Did I hear you say it’s not like that in my home in Britain,

Or Ireland?

Or Germany?

Or California for that matter?

Of course it is.


A night in a pub.

With open mike, or just a bunch of friends getting together.

A church get  together.

(The best jokes are often told by five year-olds)

A seaside camping resort.

The slew of recent German dialect comics appearing everywhere here.

Jokes about country life,

Jokes about city life.

Jokes so bad the boy scouts would hang their heads in shame.

And yet we laugh and laugh.

And exactly that is the point.

Today we can find anything on the internet.

A mutual consensus of what everyone thinks is the answer.

But is it?

So where do you get the truth?


No scientist takes his facts from Wikipedia

No md consults an internet page.

They go to conferences.

They read scientific articles.

They discuss.

(And they hate wasting their time talking to people who don’t trust them, even if most of

them do have big hearts, and understand that their patients are desperate, and have read

an article on using mango to cure cancer.)

So what do WE read?

The average American doesn’t read a book after he leaves high school or college.

How sad.

Reading…slow reading…used too be the basis of our education system.

Now we live in a world so complex we are daily confronted by instant controversy.

And instant answers.

In multiple discussions.

We don’t trust experts.

And what is fun?

According to the internet,

A cat in a washing machine,

A racoon riding a bicycle,

Sharks leaping into boats.

Part of the world?

Not really.

Now a picture of two men siting on a porch,

playing guitar.

Telling old stories.

Kids playing in the background,

dog leaning against their legs listening,

the wives singing.

Or reading a book.

Chiming in with a story someone has forgotten.

A full day’s work  done,

A good meal together where no one has a phone on,

An the only two important questions are

How was your day?


Anything big in the news today?

(we’ll handle tomorrow tomorrow)

Now that’s real.

I’m a-pickin’

hope you’re a-grinnin’

copyright 2015  All rights reserved.

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