Standin’ On The Corner Festival

We just got back from the Standin’ On The Corner Festival in Winslow, Arizona. I wrote about it here. Friday at noon there was supposed to be a dedication for a new life-size bronze statue in the likeness of Glenn Frey with classic rock station KSLX broadcasting from the corner.

But the statue didn’t arrive on time.

The artist hadn’t finished it. And, it was still in Provo, Utah. So, the whole event happened the next morning. Take two. Have you ever watched the Gilmore Girls? It felt like something straight out of Stars Hollow. A dusty Stars Hollow. It was awesome, really, the way everyone – tourists and townspeople – just reconvened the next day. Everyone gathering around the corner waiting. A big suburban type of vehicle drove up to the park with the statue in the back. People cheered! A group of guys maneuvered the statue (wrapped in a moving blanket) to the designated spot and stood it up on its feet. Folks gave speeches on the history of the park, and the history of the Eagles. The DJ from KSLX cried as someone mentioned that the statue would be here long after we’re all gone. Then, “Take It Easy” began to play and the entire crowd sang along.

This isn't "the statue." This is Easy the old statue. The statue in the likeness of Glenn Frey didn't show up in time for the dedication ceremony. It happened the next morning.

This isn’t “the statue.” This is Easy the old statue. The statue in the likeness of Glenn Frey didn’t show up in time for the dedication ceremony. It happened the next morning.

That night an Eagles tribute band was the main event. This year’s Standin’ On The Corner Festival was dedicated to Frey so the band played a selection of Glenn Frey solo-artist songs including “Smuggler’s Blues”, “You Belong to the City”, and “The Heat Is On.”

My friend Jon and I went bananas to "The Heat Is On," played by the Eagles tribute band, One of These Nights.

My friend Jon and I went bananas to “The Heat Is On,” played by the Eagles tribute band, One of These Nights.

Could a song make a town?

winslow_andrew_pielage-27 [Photo by Andrew Pielage]

I grew up in Winslow, Arizona mentioned in the song “Take It Easy” by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey.

Well I was standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona
Such a fine sight to see

You could walk into a bar literally anywhere in the country and say you’re from Winslow, Arizona and someone’s going to remember that lyric. I wrote this story about the song’s influence on my hometown.

Talking walking

If you missed the Bar Flies event at the Crescent Ballroom last week, not to worry! At the end of the night, the readers’ sweaty, beer-stained stories were collected and are now part of the Talking Walking exhibition at the Museum of Walking in Tempe. Opening reception tonight! October 6, 6-9pm.

Past due

“I think mom had a shopping problem,” I say to my brother and dad. They laugh because even though I’m exaggerating a little bit, my mom did love to shop. My brother and I are in Winslow with our dad. Our mission: go through the massive amounts of holiday decorations collected by my mom through the years, and divide stuff up amongst us.

My mom had tubs and tubs of Christmas decorations and looking through them all, and sorting them, took us into the late afternoon. We are enjoying ourselves. “Judy, really?” I say, when I come across something particularly schmaltzy. Plus when’s the last time I hung with my dad and brother for a weekend, just us?

My dad observes that if we wanted to, we could decorate each room in the house with a different Christmas theme. Like, a Snowman room, say, or a Classic Santa room, or a Playful Winter Penguins room.

Later that night after going out for tacos, we gathered at the kitchen table to play some cards. I said, “Hey dad, do you have any Tequila Rose?” Because he usually does have the sweet strawberry flavored tequila. It’s something I like to drink at my parents’ house. I think I’ve only ever had it at their house. My dad said, “No, but I’ve probably got something else.” He stood on the kitchen step stool and rooted around in the high cabinet until he found a bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream. “Hey, I’ve got this!” he said triumphantly. It was a jumbo bottle, and looked almost full.
“Sure, that’ll do,” I said.
We all three poured a glass while I shuffled the deck of cards.

A half hour later, my dad was examining the bottle while he waited for his turn. Our glasses sat nearly empty “Listen to this,” he said. “For optimal consumption of this product please use by date on bottle . . .” he paused dramatically.
“Well, what is it?” we said.
“November, 2008!”
We crack up. We’re four years too late for optimal consumption.”

We reassure ourselves that it’s liquor so it can’t go bad, right? And it tasted perfectly fine besides. More importantly it’s possible that my mom bought this bottle of Irish Cream, and since she’s been gone since 2008, that seems remarkable in itself.

Cold feet

I was on my way to Winslow by myself, which let’s face it, is pretty rare these days. Wearing blue jeans, shirtsleeves rolled up, and sandals. You can still wear sandals here in late October. I’m headed to my mom and dad’s house, to go through some of my mom’s things. My brother and sister-in-law will arrive late in the day with two dogs in tow.

My mom’s been dead for four years so this is a trip long in the making. If you know me at all, you know it hasn’t been easy. My relationship with my dad has hit a lot of potholes since my mom passed away. And, at least part of the tension has been over the fact that (I think) we’re long overdue for getting together as a family to make some decisions.

And I don’t know if I even believe in such a thing as closure. It sounds suspect to me. Undesirable even. How can I close what I want to remain open? But I do think there is a process for moving forward, and I’d prefer making active choices rather than avoiding any choice at all. One thing’s for sure she’s not coming back.

I just want us to be all together when we decide.

So through sheer force of will on my part, and stubborn refusal to let it go, this moment now presents itself. But now that it’s here I’m feeling tentative. For one thing, I’m not sure how I’ll feel on the other side. I mull all of this over in the car.

I decide I’ll make a stop in Flagstaff to get a coffee and focus myself before the final leg of the trip. Also I’d better change out of my sandals, and into boots, because the temperature in flagstaff will only be in the 50’s.

I find parking just down the street from an old coffee shop and hop out in the chilly air to walk around to the trunk to retrieve my boots, but I can’t find them. Crap. I’ve accidentally left my boots back in Phoenix!

“Girl you need boots if you are in Flag! It’s cold there!” says a friend via Instagram where I’ve already opened the moment up to the public.
“I know. I’m wearing sandals and a jacket.”
“Left my boots back in Phoenix’ was on Winslow’s KINO country yesterday mornin’n” says another friend. Referencing my old high school job as a disc-jockey for the AM country radio station in my hometown.

And it’s not lost on me that I literally have cold feet! I’ve managed to make this trip with sandals as my only form of footwear.

My mom never would have made an error like this. She took multiple pairs of shoes with her for even the shortest of trips.

Later, once I get to Winslow, I dig up an old pair of white sneakers abandoned in the bedroom where I sleep when I am visiting home. So it will be ok. I will get by. Much like how we handle the rest of the weekend. We’re ok. We are getting by. Still got a long way to go.

I think of a song Emerson came up with one time, bored, in the backseat of the car.

It’s a sad road to Winslow
Driving on highway 40,
Eating hot tamales in the car…

Still standing

The Sheagles

We spent the weekend in Winslow.

Every September my hometown hosts the “Standin’ On The Corner Festival” to honor the song that put it on the map, Take It Easy.

Well I was standing on a corner in Winslow, AZ
Such a fine sight to see
It’s a girl my lord on a flatbed Ford,
Slowing down to take a look at me.

Written by Jackson Browne, but made popular by the Eagles, it is my town’s claim to fame. This two-day music festival always culminates on Saturday night with an Eagles cover band. This year’s performance was by the all-girl Eagles tribute band the Sheagles. Their set is made up entirely of Eagles songs, building to the one song that is the cornerstone for the whole event.

I sat on a patch of grass with Liam, and Emerson, and my sister-in-law, Ryan, thinking Winslow sure is a funny place. We watched an odd assortment of cowboys, Native Americans, Mexican Americans, and railroaders dance around to a Mexican band. Kids running around with marshmallow shooters some enterprising vendor has made out of PVC pipe, scattering marshmallows across the dusty pavilion. One particularly exuberant man, who we nicknamed the Scarecrow because he was so tall and skinny, kept raising his arms, outstretched and flapping, to draw more people out to the dance floor. Looking for any willing female.

What unites everyone is a mix of music, Navajo tacos, dust, and beer.

When the Sheagles came on, my fellow townspeople gathered round the front of the stage and stared at the eight female musicians from Nashville, seeming unsure about the band. But they warmed up after a couple of songs, after one of the Sheagles challenged into her mic, “Let’s hear it, Winslow!”