Wednesday, August 29, 2012


  The Osterhouts and Jennings have lived in the small Hudson Valley town of Montgomery, NY for generations. The world at large knows Montgomery as the home of the battling Teutals of reality TV Orange County Chopper fame. To us the Teutals are newcomers. Talk to me when Mikey has great grandchildren playing Little League down by the senior center and maybe we'll consider him a local. In our family proper the only ones left in Montgomery are Mupp and BaNanna. By coincidence they live down the road from Big Paul.
    On Saturday we laid mom to rest in the Riverside Cemetery. There's a spot in the back of the graves that border the river where mom learned to swim in the 1930's. It was where we scattered the Old Man's ashes a couple of years ago. Since then a giant maple had fallen in the river, trapping some Wallkill detritus and churning river scum. At first there was talk of mom's ashes being trapped by the tree. Up until the last moment we were uncertain wether we would scatter mom here or over by the trimmed up, graveled, public boat ramp. Family vote. Luckily there's five of us. To my relief the spot with the fallen maple prevailed. Mom would join dad in the same waters.
   Typical of this small town the man mowing the lawn was a judge and just happened to be a cousin on the Osterhout side. I asked if he could wait until we finished our goodbyes before continuing his noisy mowing? He shook my hand with his condolences and graciously shut down the machine. We dug a small hole near all the Jennings and Osterhout family plots. Placing a small amount of her ashes in a beautiful box crafted by brother Duke, we lowered the box in the hole and passed the shovel amongst all those gathered, covering her up. Beautiful words were spoken by friend and family.....then to the river.

I'm way too emotional to keep it together to eulogize my mother. In these times I can choke up reading the phone book. But for some reason I am able to sing and play guitar. Years ago I had vowed never to play around my family. I've busked in NYC Subways. They have nothing on the noise and inattention thrown at you at an Osterhout gathering. Mom's funeral could be the only time I could shut them up long enough to get through a song. It worked. Duke, Smokey and Mrs. B. waded into brown river with mom and dozens of flowers as i struggled through my song. Then all went back to a great spread of food and drink at Mupp's and BaNanna's. They put on a helluva funeral. Not to be maudlin, but being the eldest of this clan I hope I'm the next to go. (Not any time soon.) This being the case, the next one's on me. Scatter my ashes in the CLGM cemetery at sunset. Then go back to the church and eat, drink and rock the place until dawn. I just wish i could be there to keep your glasses filled.    

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


  I don't think anyone would deny that we live in a youth-centric age.  And I'll be the first to admit I like it that way. It's not so much I'm drawn to youth culture, as much as I'm drawn to acting immature. I remember CLGM founding member R. Kennedy consoling me when i was in my 40's, unable to get a gig, a gallery show or even get laid. "Look, Daddy-O, at our age we just remind everyone of the horrible failure that they have to look forward to. Wait until we're in our 60's. If we survive that long we'll be fucking heroes." Well, damned if RK wasn't right on the money.
   When I was about 45 I started to grow out my grey beard and hair. It put ten years on me and instead of bucking the trend, I embraced it. I began lying about my age. Whenever I could i listed my birth date as 1942 instead of 1952. If I was gonna be a hero in my 60's i wanted to hurry the process along.
   My 50th (60th) birthday ten years ago was a depressing, sad event. I was a miserable, recently divorced, broke, has-been with no prospects. Depression had taken over. Each day was bleaker than the next. Even with the help of meds., stopping booze and pot, therapy, and family love I wasn't able to pull myself out of it. I wallowed in self-pity. But then in total frustration my old man told me to run. I hate running, but it was that or the 9mm. I bought some sneakers, tossed the meds., bought some eye medicine and a six pack and started down the road to recovery. It worked. In a matter of weeks I felt better. In months I was my old self. I work. I hunt. I live it up. The last ten years have been some of my best.
    With the help of the youth, church has started up again, my productivity of art works has soared, my personal life is more stable and satisfying than it has ever been, and I have to say a day after my 60th (70th) birthday I am one lucky, happy camper. Yeah, I'm still broke. Sure, my career doesn't amount to much. OK, I don't have too many prospects. But, am I miserable? NO FUCKING WAY! I am surrounded by love. From the newest member of the CLGM- Walker "Wheels" Budde, to the elders in their 70's and even 80's, the church is thriving. No one cares how old you are. Just keep acting as immature as you can possibly get away with. That's my advice. I can only hope when I'm long gone you have the youth chiding you and pushing you forward. Thanks for such a great 70th birthday!    

Thursday, August 16, 2012


  It started before mom died. I was already forgetting shit. Between the house and the church, many times, I would forget why I was leaving one for the other, stop, wander around, then backtrack only to remember....oh yeah a beer, a pick, a piece of paper, my guitar, some eye medicine. I ran this by my sister-in-law Nurse Ginger with concern and she assured me as long as I didn't try to start the car with a pen, I was OK. It was just the stress of mom going through what she was going through causing my forgetfulness. I wasn't totally reassured. It seemed to be getting worse.
   One of the last things my mother told me was "Take your medicine." I have no idea whether it was her doped up confusion that was directing me or the sincere intuitive knowledge that only a mother knows her son is NOT taking his medicine. In either case it guilted me into going to the pharmacist and purchasing my $100 ti-i-i-i-innnnnnny bottle of eye medicine. Three days of tearing my house apart later, I realized I must've pocketed the empty bottle and thrown out the re-fill. This, compounded with the fact I had none of the "other" kind of eye medicine, and I was not only forgetful, I was a raging, angry old (don't forget got a birthday coming up), medicated by only booze, man. Then I left my wallet in the bank. Something had to be done.
   Shewho, in all her wisdom, suggested that trying to stop smoking eye-medicine so close to my mom's dying, a church service, the gallery thing, and a birthday/memorial my sister dreamed up, combining my 60th birthday party with our mother's sendoff (cake and crying), was maybe not a good idea. So just before I was to drive to the city I copped. Phew! I don't think I could've lasted another day.

The gallery opening was fun and I made it back with Chuck and the Cardinal in tow. After some extreme back seat driving ala Chuck, I dropped them off at WSSP II and made it home in between thunder storms. Pulling in the driveway I heard a horrible grinding. The brakes were shot. Two days before the starter had acted up. I took it in stride and switched to the truck. That lasted about a day. Then the truck brakes seized up. I could go on, but I've already forgotten most of the other shit thats been happening. Last night I relented to my sister's birthday/memorial weekend idea and started telling people to come to the lake Sunday for my birthday party. Then I realized it was not this Sunday, but next Sunday. You know at this point I think it may take a couple of weekends to celebrate. Come to church this Sat. 8pm for DOGGIN' DAZE PUPPY LOVE TEMPLE and we'll talk about it. I just hope I don't show up in dog costume for my mom's funeral.  

Monday, August 13, 2012

MO DAVID NORTH- Sept. show

Monday, August 6, 2012


This was a favorite saying of my father's. He hated funerals and would take any opportunity to avoid them. I swear he'd choose having a cyst lanced, before going to the DMV, just to get out of attending a memorial. But as we all know some of these soirees can't be missed. Mom passed peacefully Saturday morning, Sue B.O., Ginger and Mrs. B. at her side. She'd had cancer for over 10 years. Before that she'd barely been sick a day in her life. Like her mother, she was strong and fearless when it came to life. She rarely bitched about anything and if she didn't like someone you knew damn well you didn't want to give that person the time of day. She faced cancer with typical pragmatism. She'd fight it as long as she could. When the old man died, a little fight went out of her. In the end the fight ate her up.

  As much as I'd like to lay in bed with the covers pulled over my head for the next month, I know mom would not approve. On Wed. I'm showing in a NYC gallery for the first time in 25 years. Up until now I've been so distracted with concern over my mother's well being, I haven't been able to hardly deal with it, let alone look forward to it. But now the world looks so different to me. The anger and rage is subsiding. I know I'll never be as chill as my mother (got too much of the old man in me), but with her now gone I feel a certain amount of responsibility to honor her memory. Getting back into the game could be a good thing. Then there's church.....
    You think having a rock band is difficult? Try having a church with a rock band. It takes a congregation to pull off each one of these services. And at the center of the congregation is THE BAND OF ALL FAITHS. This talented group of individuals are wrangled by musical director Yussel "Jewish Lightning" Druckman. This is how it goes- Soon after each service I dream up a string of themes for the next service. I add and subtract them, finally settling on a central theme, that I usually disregard as soon as the music starts. I start calling for rehearsals immediately. Then each rehearsal is postponed or canceled at the last minute, until my head feels like it will explode. Finally, about a week before church we have a flurry of practices and always pull it off. Have faith I tell myself. Christ it ain't easy.

This time is no different. Church is less than two weeks away and we got nothing. BAF members are MIA and it's time to call bullshit. Yes, I want to be more mellow. Yes, I want to honor mom with patience and understanding. Yes........FUCK THAT! I'm an angry man with time on my hands. My mother just died, you fucks! If you idiots can't step up and get your shit together to make this the best church ever, then I can easily padlock the doors and call it a day. As you can tell my elbows are in the air. We should lead by example. Don't you realize that the congregation looks to us for inspiration? I'm heading out to find THE BARBARA J. OSTERHOUT MEMORIAL BIRD BATH BAPTISMAL. I'll be back on Tues. at 7pm. If you are here you are still in the band. If you aren't, I wish you the best. OM.


Friday, August 3, 2012


A couple of days ago bro #3 Smokey asked why I wasn't posting in the blog? "Nothing to say." I answered honestly. As far fetched as that seems, it's true. For the past couple of months I've been in a holding pattern so severe that I only seem to get off the couch long enough to scream at the cats and crack another beer. Because of a severe infection that has me hacking up crud all day, I've stopped my eye medicine and as we all know that does not help anyone's mood. Poor Shewho has taken the brunt of my anger with her usual graciousness, but even she has her limits. Where does all this stem from? Well, let me tell you.
    Since doing THE BARn in May I've had no work......therefore no money coming in. But a lack of money is not anything new to me. No, it's not the lack of money that's getting to me. Next week my old friend Chuck has included me in a group show in a NYC gallery. A group show in the NY in Aug.- first gallery showing in 25 years. Seems like my career is right on track. So it's not my career (or lack thereof) that's bumming me. I got my health, the love of a good woman, good friends, I own my home, I come from a tight family and have no real reason to bitch. But then I think of mom. Bingo!
    No matter how great or fucked up one's family is, you know nothing else. I remember asking a teenager who was suspected of killing both his parents, what his childhood was like? He had grown up in Jim Jones' PEOPLE'S TEMPLE. "It was just life to me." he said "I knew nothing better or worse." In less than a month I turn 60. For the first 14 months of life (with the old man in Korea) it was just mom and I. I kid that I wish I had stayed an only child with a single mom. It's bullshit. The old man came home and ten years later I had 3 brothers and a sister. I love them all. But right now I have an especially warm spot for Smokey and my sister Mrs. B. They have taken care of our parents with such love and hard work that I can only sit back in grateful awe.
   I have had such a good life, no small part due to the love and support of my family. It started with my paternal grandfather and maternal grandmother. There's no plaques or statues recognizing these individuals. To the world at large they lived and died in obscurity. (As an artist, I'm the only member of the family concerned with posterity). But to a few they are legendary. They set the tone. My parents continued it. And now mom lays in a small bed, slipping in and out of consciousness, doped up on morphine, basically disappearing before our eyes. A couple of days ago Mupp, Ginger and I went over to the home to say our goodbyes. Mom smiled weakly and hugged and kissed us with all her might. Mrs. B. will not be pried away. She keeps the 24 hour vigil at her bedside. Ginger is heading back to Ct. to join her. I've said my goodbyes and can't bear to see her lay there, open mouthed, in a coma. It's a matter of hours now. It was just life to me. I knew nothing worse. But I think i can say with all confidence- they don't make them better than my mother. It's gonna take a while to get used to life without her.