The Hunter and the Quails: A Bob Moore Story


By Bob Moore Aka Spacedog

Bufalito Gonzito and I had spent a week hunting quail in the sandy shinnery south of Big Springs Texas. Now we were in a Dallas cochina sampling tequilas and waiting to devour the worlds best quail enchilada dinner. The eatery’s reputation was so pronounced that we were willing to endure a substandard open mike. Gonzito commented that most of the human race had gone deaf. I backed him up with some tripe about karaoke lowering the bar on performance and the ineptness of the audience to distinguish good from evil. The food and drink came and we buried our conversation in that file where things that cannot be fixed are stored. It is amazing how many harmonicas, political careers, single socks and relationships are in that tomb.

The deafness of humanity haunted me for some time after that encounter, and the more I observed the herd the less they heard. People, or should I say sheeple, are so wound up in their personal quagmires. They become oblivious to life’s multitude of benefits, like free sunsets, sex on diving boards and really good music. When I was young I had witnessed entire rooms stand in rapture, enchanted by a great vocalist or an amazing solo. How did this get replaced by a drunk female drooling “Survive.”

I was determined to find an audience that could not only hear but listen and appreciate the untapped universal sound. My frustration only grew after observing the local scene and finding the flock eagerly dancing to slop forty clones doing robotic imitations of standards. Monkey see. Monkey do do. Don't get me wrong intimation is the sincerest form of flattery, but it is only art when its perfect down to the micron of deepest soul and even then falls short of the original intent.

In my randomness, I read of a research project in Norman Oklahoma that taught monkeys to use sign language, and it occurred to me that that has to be harder than teaching a flock of sheeple to listen. This could be an omen. A sign from my subconscious mindscape.

Now Norman is the home of the Sooners, sometimes a great ball team, but historically the Sooners were those who started the land run early and ended up with the best real estate. That’s not quite right. I had lived there years before as a sports writer, and the thought of a rerun was intoxicating, or maybe it was the booze. Vivid memories of my delightful stay in Norman fulfilled the heavens, I was on a quest. A mission from Bacchus.

On the way to my land yacht I saw two scruffy blond skater boys putting cherry bombs in a mail box. “That’s a federal offense” I said. “ Stand off old bald man” the tall one shouted as he flicked his pompadour and fired a roman candle at my feet. I went postal, pulled my Weatherby Mark V .300 Magnum and blew the mail box off its pillar. That spooked them. “Skate boarding isn’t a crime,” I shouted as I holstered my piece, “but it should be you insolent scumbags.” They ran down the street firing the candle at a UPS truck and taunting the driver. I contemplated my gun problem and mounted my vessel.

Heading north to Oklahoma, I decided to skip the interstate in case some observant citizen reported the postal incident. I took to the back roads like a fish pie to a water park, like a cougar to a Cadillac . The back woods drive through the Arbuckles put me in a festive humor. I heard the sacred music of the road as I twisted through the edge of the ancient range. I stopped only to savor the local mores.

In Davis Oklahoma I had an enthralling conversation with a midget, his legs dangling from a bench at the crossroads. He was very articulate and had evidently claimed this spot and held it for some years. He reaffirmed my hope that the answer to my solution to the listening problem lay with the psycholinguistic primate scientist at the University of Oklahoma.

I cruised north, past the Christians in Action church (CIA), green winter wheat, endless bullet splattered speed limit signs and the giant black widow spider built from and old Volkswagen. I was vigilant to all possibilities when I passed through Slaughterville. This route was true okie. I visualized a caravan of smoking vintage cars laden down with people and possessions, a mattress strapped on top. It was Tom Joads road.

Time eventually changes everything. I wondered how Norman had evolved in my years away. Entering the south gate on 77 I passed the strip bar where I spent so many exotic nights as a DJ. “And now direct from a stunning engagement in the finest clubs in Las Vegas, the enchanting Ms Strawberry,” or some such drivel intended to get me laid or a least stoned. There it sat, now a private Christian school. The lord's work is mystifying and gratifying. I steered toward campus.

I went to Norman hoping I could find the scientist who taught chimps to sign, and we could collaborate on an experiment to make sheeple listen. Upon my arrival I discovered the linguistic primate project had played out, and the monkeys consigned to converse among themselves in the minute township of Obscurity Oklahoma. My heart fell to the tarmac and shattered. I needed a drink so I stumbled into a small bar, The Deli.

It was a pleasant enough place just this side of a dive, and I ordered a shot and a beer which came in a giant red cup. I sat down ready to give up my pursuit of an audio responsive, intelligent audience. I languished in disappointment, too depressed to even get drunk. There was only two ways to go, straight up or sideways and I was on a lateral vector. Two nuvo¬hippie girls chattering endlessly were the only up side to my despair so I asked to join their lovely tea party. The ebb and flow of the conversation eventually led to psycadelia and the new three letter hallucinogenic HST. When they offered I indulged. Any port in a storm.

The room started to fill with smoke and folks and musicians, folk musicians. Everything was pulsing with a blissful vibration, elves moving amps and guitars, gnomes stringing wires, making preparations for a momentous event. The energy level was contagious and infected me with a optimistic vigor. 

The seemingly chaotic activity began to merge into a the form of a concert, but who would do a concert in such a intimate venue. Sound checks and tuning continued, like the preparation of some epic orchestra about to perform filled the atmosphere. My depression dissolved. My anticipation amplified. I felt like I was in the presence of greatness. This was going to be a lot better than talking monkeys.

No less than eight artist took turns getting their settings, tweaking their tone and filling the stage to the brim with a casual demur. More this, less that, tuning and turning in the widening gyre, and it seemed that anarchy was loosed upon the world with a stage packed with this untailored troupe as its synonym. Then it started, a performance that would make the angels envious as chaos became eight became one.

I immediately felt a chill ascend my spine, like the thrill one feels in the presence of perfect harmony or the rush of that moment of clarity that puts the addictive personality on the road to recovery, again. The sound was full and fresh, up tempo and invigorating, and I felt like I knew the song but couldn't remember from where. I lost track of time and space and plopped down in the middle of the groove.

The first lyric,” Well you gotta keep on moving till you find a better place to stop,” lined up with my quest to help the sheeple learn to listen. This was the place to stop, back row in a bar full of joy. William Blake said an excess of joy brings tears, he's right. Through the wet blur of my vision I watched an already charged room come to focus on an immense sound. I had found an enclave of people who could easily listen and appreciate, and the feedback loop between the crowd and the band was amping everything up geometrically to an ecstatic high art.

Then I listened. I was the only one in the room not singing along. I was stunned, sweating like the whore in a church choir, an unprepared harlot among the faithful. I chose the only possible out, I called up a deep hum and moved my lips. The song ended, another began. Once again the covey sang along. They looked like devotees at camp Eden, all smiles and song. The music was moving me but the crowd reaction was moving the band as well, up and ever out into an atmospheric paradisio. I was perched on a sonic cloud.

The bald guy was singing about the sunny beaches of California in and voice so seductive I transmigrated to escaping from LA to Big Sur on the Pacific coast, kicking crabs in the silver sand, counting the waves. The harp brought me back into the celebration of sound and I collapsed into my chair, a flesh gargoyle blissful in my duty to stand guard on this sanctified assemblage. The initial shock of the environment was waning and I was able to observe my surroundings with some rationality. The music seemed to have been written for the room.

I rose up and started for the bar intent on refreshing my sacramental red cup when a lyric caught my ear. The one with the angelic name said “my love is like quick sand“. This crowd is like quicksand, I thought its a pack. I had no control over my destination as I drifted across the bar, shoulder to shoulder in this fluid mass of humanity orchestrated by the Quails.

After giving in to the current I ended up in the bathroom line. It was fortunate as it led me to the name of the band. There above a urinal filled with cakes and butts was a poster for the Damn Quails every Monday at the Deli. Beside it was a faded ad for the Nixons new album “Fuck The Doomed.” It was too late when realized the urinal was the sink.

As I relaxed and relieved myself my thoughts drifted to The Damn Quails. It reminded me of a former vice president who had trouble spelling and inhaling. I don't exhale. How DQ got to the Blair House is as mysterious as how I fell into this bar. Old King George put Quail in charge of The Light Metal Recycling and Reclamation Agency and he spent his term picking up aluminum cans around DC. He would diffuse the presidential drug use issue in preparation for the Bush dynasty of W and Jeb. But I digress.

As I wedged my way back through the crowd I overheard someone say that the music business was full of whores, pimps and scumbag agents. True I said but it also has a dark side. A gypsy violin endorsed this conclusion. The sax agreed.

I used the force to get to the forward edge of the bar jam by holding a twenty aloft. Using the currency as a lubricant I slipped to the bar with ease.

A Lyric crossed my space, “ When I was younger I had a hunger for cheap scotch and cross country drives.” I thought that was my line, my life, my intellectual property, but as I skimmed my index of amazing quotes I couldn’t find it ,so I ordered three doubles for me and the ladies and ambled back to my chair still mesmerized by the band and environment. “Take what you’ve got and do something with it” drifted through my grey matter and I started planning ways to get this energy out of this shack and into the main stream. What an earth it could be.

The hippie girls had given my seat to his royal dreadness and were engaged, so I slammed the scotches and motivated toward the stage. Overwhelmed by the festivities I was a floater in a mass of sacred humanity, over the edge and being drawn to the light, waiting for my parachute to open. I was marching to a distinctive drummer all power, yet as subtle as I have never was.

There I stood nose to beak with the Damn Quails. Up close the harmonica player was a Greek sculpture to indigence and as his flip flops turned to skis I knew I was approaching judgment, this was a moment of lucidity and decision rolled into a monumental eventuality, this was going to be a biggie.

Just as the thought was transforming to a solid idea profundo, I was swept into a medieval quadrangle in three quarter time. Nymphs of every caliber overwhelmed me and started me dervish whirling to some enchanted waltz about a terrible man who would rather gut me than let me pass by. It was like a bluegrass sound track to a slasher movie and I was giddy yet horrified, and dizziness seemed to be gaining on me and the whiskey. The groove was eloquent as the distant music from a saxophone traced slowly behind my eyes. The buzz roll on the snare led me to Mescalilto.

I swooned and sputtered and smashed my forehead on the edge of the stage at the base of the bass player's dog house, my thump on time with his. Everything drifted into the harmonious shadows of ultimate confusion and settled into a charming darkness, a feline madness. I had a fleeting vision of peering out a bathroom window and watching a jaguar eat garbage. When I came back to consciousness I was laying at the bottom of a tunnel of faces some concerned others amused. A giant porcupine and a sausage monster smiled from the edge. 

A round of Jaeger Bombs for the band on me I shouted and the music started again. A substantial black man propped me up in a chair near the stage and I was immediately surrounded by the adoration and the contentment of the covey. My faith in humanities hearing restored I felt a rush of gratification. I had bagged my limit and I drifted back to purgatory satisfied in my brief resurrection. All was right with the world tonight.