Your Own Back Yard – Michael Gillan Maxwell

Visual Art – Creative Writing – Social Commentary


December 2012

My story “Elegy for the Old Republic” is up on Red Fez.

My story “Elegy for the Old Republic” is up on Red Fez.

Thank you editor Andy Meisenheimer for including my work with pieces from so many wonderful writers!


It’s Not Too Late To Get Real!

My Story “Fly the Friendly Skies” is in “real” the anthology of nonfiction from “Pure Slush.” Thank you editor and publisher Matt Potter for including my work in this wonderful collection from so many terrific writers!

I Don’t Have a Leg to Stand On

I Don’t Have a Leg to Stand On

I’m busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest. Yup. That’s me. I’m the one legged man. And I’m getting my ass kicked.

You know how some families over-share with those embarrassing annual family letters?

I mean,  I’m looking at one now, staring at photos of absolutely unrecognizable people, asking “Who the HELL are these people?” (Although as I look at this closer I see that this letter DID go to the wrong address. ) Whoops. Sorry. My bad. I’ll just tape this up here, and here…..

Well, anyway, here’s my “over-sharing” holiday letter ~

“It was a dark and stormy night…” and I took a monster header down a steep muddy embankment in the pouring rain just after dark a week ago. I stepped on a patch of mud on the steep pitch in front of my next door neighbor’s house that was slicker than greased butter. (I know. That’s not a very good analogy)  Before I even had time to think “Whoa, I can’t believe it’s not butter!” I was off my feet and in the air. One second I’m walking through a deluge, just minding my own business, taking in the evening air and then BAM! next second I’m rocketing downhill at the speed of light, like an Olympic luge racer, except for my left leg, which I left behind. Long story short ~ I watched in amazement as my left leg twisted into impossible shapes like a balloon at a children’s birthday party.

Fast forward ~ one week later ~

My physician calls with my MRI results.  My ACL looks intact, (Which is wonderful.) He says I have an ACL like the steel cable that held the Hindenberg Zeppelin to the docking station ( No, wait ~ that’s not a good metaphor) but that my cartilage is toast ~ which makes me crave butter and honey.

My orthopedic consult was initially scheduled a month from now ~ A month?  C’mon ~ seriously?

You Want it When? Of course an injury like this at this point in my life gives rise to many concerns and questions. One of the things that concerns me is that after only a few days, I have stopped asking most questions. Always one to ask “why?” or “how? or “what if?”, sadly, now I just seem to bark “Where the fuck is my cane????

Another of my burning questions is “How will this impact my fun?”  I want to know whether or not I’ll be able to do a scheduled 5 day canoe trip down the Green River in Utah the first week in April. I’m one of the last of the hard core hopeless romantics and eternal optimists, but I’m looking for a shot of reality too. If the trip was tomorrow, the only way I could even get in any kind of boat would be for a Viking funeral ~ carried in a supine position by Viking maidens and set aflame on Seneca Lake while my cocker spaniels, Chauncy and Ollie stand at attention on the cliff and blow  “Ricolah” from those really giant alpine horns. The Green River and Canyonlands is the real deal. It’s one thing for me to try and go all Robert Mitchum but another thing to possibly put the other 3 in my party at risk just because I’m trying to use up my last gram of testosterone and we’re out in the friggin’ middle of the marmot infested Utah wilderness and I’m suddenly all Burt Reynolds in Deliverance with my broken femur lashed to a canoe paddle while some one toothed hillbilly named Festus takes potshots at us from the cliff dwellings and my compadres are trying to haul my sorry ass out of there day after day.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself….

To prove that thing about the squeaky wheel….I guess whining is a good negotiation tactic. I whimpered and moaned my way from a consult a month away to tomorrow at 9 AM. (I hope I can get up in time!) Actually I sent an e mail.  (I might have exaggerated just a teensy weensy bit.) I think I kinda described how I was using a rattlesnake as a tourniquet to staunch the bleeding from my femoral artery? (Too much?)

I guess my karma’s come back to haunt me.

“C’mon ya big baby, ya still got one good leg. Get back in there.” (Mike Maxwell – Legendary (in his mind) Youth Soccer Coach )

At least I have the internet to help me research this (and also scare the absolute bejeezus out of myself , overwhelmed by creeping paranoia as I self diagnose every other malady I come across in my scholarly Google research. For instance, I had no idea you could get those insidious brain eating amoeba from a knee injury. Who knew?

Sometimes ignorance is bliss. In the meantime, rehabilitation starts right at home in Big Skyy Country.

(and I don’t mean Montana.)

Big Skyy Country


Remembering “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac

I was in one of those warehouse sized discount stores the other day when I came across a table stacked with books. One of my old favorites jumped right out at me and I picked it up. I was surprised to see a brand new printing of the Jack Kerouac classic On the Road. That book had a major influence on me as a teenager and young man. I remember finding that and copies of Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer and Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged in a box of my Mom’s books that was stashed in our basement. These books had all been controversial for different reasons and I remember feeling like I had come across a secret cache of some kind of forbidden fruit.

Kerouac had the idea for On The Road in the late 40’s and finished his first draft on one continuous scroll in 1951, although it wasn’t published until 1957. As I held this new edition in my hand I couldn’t stifle my ironic amusement at seeing the latest edition of On The Road being marketed in a discount store with the phrase “NOW! A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE!” plastered all over the cover, along with glossy photos of the 20-something actors smiling with perfect teeth and stylishly coiffed hair who are presumably playing the roles of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassady who were, in fact, unwashed, speed addled, pot smoking, besotted, penniless, rag tag vagabonds and not Barbie and Ken Dolls.

I admit to feeling some consternation that one of my own most revered icons from my wayward youth was NOW! A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE! Sacrilege, I say! Not really, but it’s a little like the way I felt when I figured out there was no Santa Claus, or that my Davy Crockett toys had been sold in a garage sale. The death of the 60’s was hard enough to take back then, but do you have to keep rubbing it in in 2012 by making On The Road into Beverly Hills 90210?

So, they finally came out with a film version of On The Road. Well, it took ’em long enough. Kerouac wrote the thing 61 years ago. By the way, what kind of advertising genius still calls films “motion pictures”? The Golden Age of Hollywood is long gone, my friend. A friend of mine told me today that Allen Ginsberg bobbleheads are part of the marketing campaign. Seriously? Must you? That’s just like pouring salt in the wound. If you’re going to do that, then it seems like a Walt Whitman teddy bear would be huge. Or how about a Charles Bukowski doll that smokes, drinks and curses?

I must admit, I am kind of curious about this “major motion picture.” However, I know I’ll be watching this one at home on Movies on Demand, amongst the trappings of my bourgeois lifestyle as I lay draped in velvet and sipping an insouciant cabernet that doesn’t bite back.

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