Welcome back, my friends, to the "Battle" that never ends.
We're so glad you could attend. Come inside! Come inside!
This is 'BATTLE OF THE BANDS' ('BOTB') where you listen to different recordings of the same song and vote for the one you like best. A new Battle gets posted on the 1st and 15th of each month and six days later, on the 7th and 21st, I place my own vote, tally 'em all up and announce the winner.
Friend? Foe? Stranger? No matter, ALL are welcome. So pull up a chair, pour yourself 24 oz. of DOG BITE High Gravity Lager (or the poison of your choice) and turn it up to Eleven!
[NOTE: Links to the first year of 'BOTB' (#1 - #24) can be found at the very bottom of this page.]

Sunday, September 20, 2015



It was today, in 1986, that the best friend a guy could ever have did what he did. So, I'm drinking beer and listening to songs that make me think of him.

You shouldn't have done that, "Andy". But then you already know that. I miss you, you stoopid, Coors-suckin' Redneck. Dogged if I don't miss you still, after all these beers.

Well, you lived and died "your way", and that's more than most can say.

'HOUSE AT POOH CORNER' - Kenny Loggins

'PANCHO & LEFTY' - Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard




The sun yawned and thought about calling it a day
Kelly and I sat at the entrance to his garage on gasoline cans
His old truck looked beautiful, parked with the last of the sun’s rays
Glinting brightly on the dings and dents
And the cavity where an engine belonged.

I loved Kelly and his truck and I loved myself
And the blood in my veins, the heart in my chest, pumping
The beer in our bottles dwindled, just liquid sand in an hourglass
A lovely moment
A short reprieve

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

I miss those moments, and I miss those friends.
Hope you’re OK.
Blue Skies
- Andy
Nov. 8, 1985

[My sincere thanks to Sheboyganbrother Six for the photo of the Disneyland Tribute Window, and for the 2-CD set 'The Greatest Country Drinking Songs'. I thank you, and Kelly thanks ya from... The Beyond.]

"You know what Merle Haggard says..."

~ Stephen T. McCarthy


  1. Al Bondigas here. That was a nice tribute to Kelly. That crazy ass fool could really get on your nerves sometimes, but you couldn't stay mad at him. And what a wonderful friend to have. You've been blessed with some really great friends in your life. Why, you're another George Bailey. Yeah, that's who you are, another George Bailey.

    1. Ha! You're right, I've been blessed with some really great friends. Too bad most of them are gone now.

      And they could be really annoying, too. Kelly and Marty could really be annoying... just like me. Ha! I think I've found the connection!!!

      Of course, in Kelly's case, the fact that he went through a windshield while in grade school and wound up with a metal plate in his head might have answered a few Q's about him. :-)

      After I posted this blog bit tribute, I went back and added the Merle Haggard song 'GOING WHERE THE LONELY GO'. I remembered that's the album I purchased right after he killed himself, and I played that LP's title track at the wake we had for him. I purchased the album at that record store on Lincoln Blvd. just a couple blocks South of our Bay Street house, across the street from Lucky Liquor.

      I'm George Bailey, eh?
      Well, you look about the kind of a Brother I'd get. Sort of a fallen Brother, aren't you?

      You don't happen to have 8,000 bucks on you? ...Well, it comes in pretty handy down here, bub!

      No gin tonight, Doug! Not a drop!

      ~ D-FensDogG
      'Loyal American Underground'

      You wanna tell 'em "what Merle Haggard says"?

      ~ D-FensDogG

  2. Hey, thanks for the shout-out, StMcC! It was really fun to track down your secret message permanently etched into the fabric of The Happiest Place on Earth, in an area that is now off limits to unaccompanied visitors. I sneaked in but was caught and asked what I was doing... so I told them. They thought your tribute was touching and cool.

    Kelly must have been a pretty great guy. Would have been nice to know him!

    I'm not a Willie Nelson fan, but you keep playin' all this country music and I'm starting to warm up to it.

      Kelly... no one could possibly have been a more loyal friend. Literally, as good a friend as a friend can be. A once-in-a-lifetime kind of friend (once-in-a-lifetime, if a person is really lucky).

      Yeah, that was fun having you track down that window, based solely on my directions and descriptions - no photographic he'p.

      But I didn't remember (or maybe never understood) that the area is now off-limits to the general public. Why is that?

      I remembered that some Disney character (Snow White, Cinderella, or some now macho female Disney character like Nala) caught you taking the picture, and thought the idea was great. But I didn't remember (or know) you were in a now-forbidden area.

      I can still vividly remember the moment when I scratched his initials into that window. I figured I had about 5-8 seconds before a Disney employee or a Disney security camera would catch me. So I did it super-hastily and the result shows that. But still - and even from your hastily taken photograph - I can make out the "KRA" letters.

      Ha! Each letter got shorter, and that "A" was really pinched together, but I can still make it out. I'm totally satisfied, and really appreciative that you took the time to record it for me forever. Until you done that, I had only my memory to go by.

      Yer great, Dude6.

      Don't let Donna find out you don't like Willie! That's maybe her #1 Boyfriend, and she'd "cut yer pimp's heart out!" Ha! (100 points if you can identify that quote without help from Google. I'm not even sure Nappy could get that one. But maybe. He's pretty damned good with the quotes.)

      ~ D-FensDogG

    2. Yeah, they made that little courtyard a special area where some sort of little personal show - like a puppet show, or kids dress up like pirates... something where only a few people were entertained at a time - happened a couple of times a day. They'd shut the iron gate, but I looked to see if the coast was clear, pushed open the gate and went in past the "Next Show at 3:00" sign, and was looking intently for the scribbling when two DL employees came and asked me what I was doing in there. I felt honesty was the best policy at that point.

      They may have changed it again by now (I've not been to Disneyland in several years) so maybe now it is not an off limits area.

      Sorry, Donna. Not a Willie fan. But then again I'm sure you'd dislike most of my favs also! And, I get zero points. Don't know the reference!

    3. I love (JW!-JW!) and appreciate your boldness on my behalf, Brother Sixgun.

      And here's the answer to the trivia Q:


      ~ D-FensDogG

  3. This sounds like this special friend of yours (and others) decided to take his own life but whatever happened, he obviously left beauty on this earth with this fond memory you shared here. At times like these one doesn't want to think fo what might have been or the why's but just the blessing one had to have known that person and feel enriched to have known him.

    1. Thanks, BIRGIT! ~
      Yeah, Kelly shot himself in California City, California. From what I heard, he left a suicide note but the cops confiscated it and no one ever got to see it. (Sounds just like cops to me. If I were king, cops would be the first ones on the bread line and begging for "honest" work.)

      Word through the grapevine was that he killed himself over some female mail-carrier who didn't share his feelings. I can't even imagine killing myself over any federal government employee, but... Kelly was Kelly... and there were a lot of ghosts in the machine.

      I never had a better friend than he was, though... and neither has anyone else... because he was as good as it can possibly get in the Friend Dept.

      I'll see him again someday and we'll crack open beers. Hopefully, where he is now, he realizes that Coors is crap. I'd buy him something brewed by Lagunitas, Deschutes or... whatever my next Brewmania turns out to be. Tee-Hee-Hee!

      ~ D-FensDogG

  4. ~D-FensDogG:

    Glad you had that kind of friend - they are indeed rare. My condolences.

    A very dear friend of mine passed away five years back. Diagnosed with cancer, and three months to live. We'd stand at my backyard fence and talk about Yesuha. He always kept a check on me when I first got sick. He had a stereo in his shop and would play Pancho and Lefty, every day, if I wanted to hear it.

    I got well in time to watch him die. The song is even more meaningful now. He'd give you the shirt off of his back.

    "There is one who sticks closer than a brother."


  5. A hell of a tribute for a hell of a friend - a guy so cool even his drinking of Coors couldn't taint his legacy (hey, at least it wasn't Coors Light).

    We don't talk about it much, but we had a friend, a part of our own 'gang' - the one that we've all been a part of since we were in elementary school. Well, he was the first of us to get married. To have a kid. He was a bit of a redneck, and you'd better believe he enjoyed the hell out of a Coors Banquet, and that was WITH us always drinking craft beer around him.

    About 7 years ago he laid down in his tub, put his shotgun in his mouth, and pulled the trigger. No one knows why. If there was a suicide note, the police took it. Otherwise, we have no idea why. He never seemed depressed. Whatever the cause, it's sad to think that he reached a point where he felt that was the only way out.

    In fact, there's a website dedicated to memorializing fallen classmates of our tiny podunk town. There's a staggering number of suicides from our school. Keeping in mind we had about 300 students at that high school when I went there, in all grades, there's well over 10 suicides of just people that I know and recognize. Sad.

    I'll raise my next beer (an Oktoberfest) to Kelly.


  6. Oh, dear buddy, this is a weeper even to those who never knew dear Kelly. Friends are priceless and ultimately irreplaceable. But you can make new ones and share your memories. Then we all toast with you to the dearest of the departed!

    Off to the hospital. Hugs to you.

  7. Some great tunes and a nice tribute. Sorry for your loss.

  8. The loss of a good friend is another hole in our hearts that can't be filled. I've been seeing my friends go over the years. It's hard to replace them. Actually it's impossible to replace them. New friends just take us to new places.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

  9. I read this last night.

    Maybe the beauty of this thing we call living is that when someone dies they leave a hole. No one else can fill that hole. Most of the time we walk around that hole and pretend it isn't there. Or we give it a salute as we move along. But then there are days when we just fall into that hole. And drink beer. And play songs that make us sad. And happy. And then sad again. And drink some beers and wish we had a time machine so we could do some things different. And then be glad we don't have said time machine.

    I believe you'll see your Good Friend again. In fact, I bet he'll be one of the first to meet and greet you when the day comes. God is really good at finding all of the lost things. And people.

  10. Did I miss it in your text? What is the significance of the street photo?

    While we're at the age where we've all lost some good friends, I can only imagine that losing him this way must be harder-too many questions unanswered.

    And I want to take back that statement-we have not lost anyone-we know exactly where they are.

    But I guess until we meet them again, all we can do is raise a glass...

    I'm sorry about the loss of your friend, too. Quite a coincidence about the song 'PANCHO AND LEFTY'.

    Kelly was a HUGE fan of Merle Haggard. Probably the biggest fan Hagg had. I always say that Kelly is Pancho and I'm Lefty because Pancho died and Lefty got left behind.

    Also, my favorite Mexican restaurant in Reno is called Pancho And Willie's. Another peculiar coincidence. (Nice Bible verse!)

    6-B ~
    That is very odd! Every class I had in high school probably had 25-40 kids in it. Big school, so it's not surprising that some didn't make it to today. But that's a strange percentage from a school with just 300 students.

    Thanks for the Oktober toast.
    Kelly was a die-hard Coors fan... except for the short time when he went with Lone Star beer... before returning to Coors.

    Thanks for the kind words. I trust everything is going well with "The Angel's" surgery.

    FAE ~

    MIKE ~
    Thanks, man. I appreciate the words. Kelly was a Country-Western music fan through and through. He definitely wouldn't like "Today's Country" though.

    LEE ~
    Yeah, I hear ya, my friend. I have lost SO MANY people that I have more friends "over there" than I have "over here". It's getting lonely.

    Very nicely said. Yep, I'm sure I'll see Kelly again someday. Later today wouldn't be too soon, as far as I'm concerned.

    LC ~
    Yes, the photo is in reference to the line "Kelly and I sat at the entrance to his garage on gasoline cans..."

    That's a photo of the alley behind Kelly's house. His garage wasn't the one that's open, but it was the 2nd or 3rd one from the left. We spent a lot of time in that alley, drinking beer (even Ouzo a few times), while Kelly worked on his truck's engine. He even took some public relations photos of me in that alley. (He was a really good photographer. He could do just about anything. Was also a professional animator for Don Bluth's production company.)

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

  12. Gosh... I was already depressed before I read this. And it's another one of those cosmic things, I guess, because I haven't looked at any blogs for days... and yours is the first one I chose to peek at today. I'm so sorry about your friend, Stephen T......

    1. BECKY-O! ~
      Not to be depressed. EGBOK! - "Everything's Gonna Be OK!".

      I'm honored that you chose me to read first. Really, I am. (I only wish you chose me first... EARLIER... as you could have voted on my last BOTB and broken up that shutout. Maybe next time?)

      ~ D-FensDogG

    2. Thank you, Stephen T. You made me smile with your "EGBOK!" And I'm touched that you are honored....but I'm also sorry I missed out on the voting. Yes, maybe next time!

    3. I'll remind you. ;o)

      Although I'm not sure my next BOTB will really be your cup of "Lagunitas Imperial Pilsener".

      ~ D-FensDogG

    4. Hey, you never know. I can be surprising. Or I can be predictable. Or I can be just plain wacky... Door #1, 2, or 3?

  13. How sad to lose anyone like that. "Andy" sounds like a great friend and you must miss him terribly. Sincere condolences!

  14. Stephen, I passed California City on my way home from the Bodie Workshop. I thought of Kelly and his life force and remembered what he'd tell me when I left Bay Street a little buzzed, drive fast and take chances . . .but get gas first. I didn't know him as long as you did but he was kind to me and I felt he was a good person. My heart did break a little when I heard the news in 86 and it cracked a little when I passed California City on 09/10/15. You were a good friend to him my brother.

  15. On another note, I missed the vote AGAIN! Nancy Wilson was my vote. It was a very close call. Duke is soooooo cool.

    1. ...AND GENERAL POOHREGARD, That's Not All...


      >>... I thought of Kelly and his life force and remembered what he'd tell me when I left Bay Street a little buzzed: drive fast and take chances... but get gas first.

      And thanks for that laugh, too!

      Yeah, that was one of his three favorite sayings (all 3 originals).

      "Drive fast and take chances!" (I used to tack on the "get gas first part" and he liked it so much that he adopted it over the years.)

      "Blue skies, black death."

      And the most famous of all...

      "You know what Merle Haggard says: FUCK 'EM!"

      Ha!-Ha! He was truly a one-of-a-kind. We can't afford to lose originals like that, as there just aren't enough of them in "this world".

      ~ D-FensDogG


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