What a May!

It's hard to believe that May is nearly over! It began with Steve Rushingwind and The Native Groove performing here in southern California, without me,Steve Brown, on drums because I was back visiting grandchildren in New Jersey (which was a complete delight). While we were just back visiting for a week, we fit in trips to the Liberty Science Center, Turtle Back Zoo, a heavy equipment day (for kids to climb on the machinery), and pizza night out at Ralph's in Nutley. Simone gave the carousel a spin with YiaYia's help (I'm Papou, when I'm back there - YiaYia and Papou are grandma and grandpa in Greek), while Rhys showed off his ballet moves.

Our fantastic son-in-law, Ward, was down south performing with his band, Jump Little Children, and returned home to a hectic schedule on Broadway, performing in Tootsie, Pretty Woman, The Cher Show, Waitress, Oklahoma, and Beetlejuice. Annelise had to work at her job as lead photographer for Intermix quite a bit while we were visiting, so we got the grandkids to spoil as we saw fit. They wanted ice cream so we took them there just as it was starting to rain and get cold. There's only outdoor seating at Rita's, but the kids were determined not to let one spoonful of deliciousness be wasted. They both were cold, but it was interesting watching Simone try to eat her strawberry ice while she was shivering so much! We wrapped that up as quickly as we could and got them back to a nice warm home.

And of course, Frankie was a bad dog.

None of this has much to do with the TV show, of course, except for the underlying sentiment that we intend to use the show to support preservation of historic and cultural sites and resources, public lands, and the natural beauty of our country for future generations. Ultimately, I want to give our grandchildren the invaluable things of this country that cannot be replaced once gone.

The wonderful grandchildren photo album

Our Patreon Patrons made it possible to pay for the URL for www.southweststories.us, and two months hosting, along with printing some promotional materials to get us started. We cannot thank our Patrons enough! If we can build up our support on Patreon, that will help fund our ROKU channel as well (ROKU lets you build a channel for free, but it costs around $600 a year to host the videos for the channel).

Steve Rushingwind has been painting a lot, preparing for another gallery show in July, while I have been building the Southwest Stories ROKU channel and creating the materials necessary for sponsorship and underwriting recruitment, as well as staying on top of desert issues for Mojave Watch. The ROKU channel is exciting because we can host all of our content there - full episodes, segments, extended interviews, full musical performances, artist/musician/personality profiles, and features on destinations, attractions, travel tips, lodging, dining, shopping, tours, guides, experiences, etc. Plus, we can host content from other folks as well, which means we can create a real travel and cultural hub for the Southwest where ROKU's 24+ million monthly viewers can find all things Southwestern.

I still have an occasional coughing spell that follows a battle to save our home from a fast moving wildfire out in the desert. High winds on May 19, lifted a neighbor's giant trampoline and a swingset off the ground and blew them into power lines. The resulting fire took off quickly in the 25 mph winds with 50-60 mph gusts that were blowing directly toward our home.

I grabbed a hose and Delphine grabbed Juliett, the Mojave Sand Leopard, and luckily, the fire department had noticed the smoke even before the 911 calls began coming in. With the neighbors pitching in, the fire burned about three acres of open desert and people's yards, but no homes were damaged. It was a close call that could have been a disaster.

This past weekend, Delphine and I went to San Juan Capistrano to attend the memorial concert for Dick Dale, the legendary king of surf guitar, and a longtime desert resident (I have written several stories about Dick, and have been lucky enough to enjoy living room concerts at their home). Dick and Lana Dale have been strong supporters of my journalism and this television show. In fact, the show would have included some of Dick's music, but the contractual issues became too complicated for it to happen. Lawyers always make things better.

Lana had invited us to the memorial concert, which turned out to be a Who's Who of Surf Music - a whopping three-hour concert that had it all, from the Surfaris playing "Wipeout," to a crazy surf guitar rendition of "Brazil," which was incredible. Lana was, understandably, devastated by not only the loss of Dick, but the loss of her mother shortly afterwards, and then the loss of Doris Day, who had been a friend for nearly all of Lana's life. We stayed around after the concert to visit with Lana, who is planning on writing a biography of Dick (a great idea - he was involved in so many things that it would be fascinating), and told me she was thinking of asking me for assistance on the book. I'd be honored.

While I usually suck at raising money, my efforts to help Lana cover Dick's final healthcare bills and funeral expenses (Dick toured for the past decade to just pay for their healthcare) proved a success. After reaching out to Fender (Dick had worked with Leo Fender on development of his amplifiers and the Stratocaster guitar), they donated $10,000. Guitar Center added another $5,000, and put Lana in touch with a personal representative at the GRAMMY's MusicCares program, which helps with these kind of expenses.

This past Sunday, Delphine and I spent some time at Mission San Juan Capistrano before heading to Claremont to meet up with other Steve (Rushingwind), his wonderful (and patient) wife, Susan, and his talented daughter Sienna. The mission is always stunningly beautiful, which I love, but I also wanted to take a look at how they portrayed Padre Junipero Serra and his relationship with the Native American tribes of California, who suffered immensely at the hands of those running the missions. It's safe to say there's room for improvement. Of course it's difficult to acknowledge that in their zeal for conversion and spiritual enlightenment, many horrific punishments were inflicted upon the Native peoples through enslavement, corporal punishment, disease, and more.

Again, this is something we're hoping to delve into and address - from numerous perspectives - in Southwest Stories with the Two Steves. We want to introduce viewers to the real Native American stories and history, which includes the unpleasant truth of a genocide not quite yet ended, along with stories from the rich contemporary cultures of the Native nations of the Southwest. We don't want to, and can't, focus on just the bad and tragic. We need to balance it with the inspiring personalities and stories that I know are out there, and have been wanting to include since this TV series was born.

We shot some promotional video for the show with the kind assistance of Eddie Gonzalez, and we'll have that up for you soon. The signed CDs and thank you cards go out this week, along with an mp3 song for our Patrons, and other tier level benefits.

As we head toward my birthday (May 31), and June, we just want to thank you so much for your support for Southwest Stories with the Two Steves. It means so much to us that you have joined us for this journey! Thank you!

- The Two Steves

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