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I do not belong to the hallowed roster of cosmic cowboys, their daylight hours spent ingesting the humor of Kinky Friedman, their nights haunted by the melodies or Willie Nelson and Ray Wylie Hubbard, and the dreams a black sky twinkling with the ghost stars of Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings.But I know their souls and can commune. But damn, I took some strange side-trips to get here.
Q: Is it true you are a cowboy?
A: Well, was a cowboy would be accurate, though that might seem indulgent to working cowboys. My father lost his mind one year and started a family cattle ranch – Angus, of course. So my weekends and odd holidays were spent stringing barbed wire, shoving sickly green worming medicines down the throats of bovine, and castrating yearlings (the latter being a talent I have had little use for since, though there are a few politicians to whom I would volunteer my services).
Q: But I heard you were a surfer too?
A: True enough. I grew up in the tiny beach-side community of Indialantic, Florida, which is known for nothing. I was riding waves by age ten, punching cows by age eleven, and chasing girls shortly thereafter. I occasionally caught all three.
Q: So what is this stuff I hear about you working at NASA?
A: True too, though the five year stint at Kennedy Space Center with McDonald Douglas was unremarkable, aside from my time on the military side of the complex, and a tactical slip-up there that almost got a co-worker shot. We won’t speak of that.
Q: So, how long have you been a writer?
A: Since birth as best as I can tell. My mother still holds some yellowing lined pages of chicken scratches that was a fictional short story I wrote while holding a single digit age. My folks made the horrible mistake of buying me a typewriter one Christmas, and I have been annoying good people with prose ever since.
Q: Let me guess, you have been writing songs from the cradle as well!
A: No, but not far off. The oldest and sorriest tune I can find in my archives was first croaked out when I was 13 or there abouts. I took 20 years off after that to gather enough life to have something worthwhile to sing about.
Q: I’ve heard you sing. It ain’t pretty.
A: Ain’t that pretty at all. That’s why I stick to writing songs and letting other folks perform them.
Q: How would you describe your writing style?
A: I wouldn’t as criminal confessions are unwise. However, a friend of mine once described my writing style as the unsightly collision between P.J. O’Rourke and Kinky Friedman, with Joseph Heller giving the eulogy.
Q: Where did you pick up that nickname “skeebo”?
A: I have been given a thousand nicknames by a thousand different people. You may have known me as Phritz, Blue, Wizard, Cowman, P.E.C., and a few names unfit for public print. I could never get two or more people to agree on any one nickname, so I adopted the one I liked best … one of the only things an unfaithful woman I once knew gave me.
Q: “Political provocateur”? What are your politics?
A: I am the most dangerous of political animals, a free thinker. This allows me to harangue all political parties with impunity, which they greatly deserve. If you had to classify me, I would be a libertarian, and I help the Libertarian Party along as best as I can while avoiding any role that resembles leadership.
Q: That sounds a little cynical?
A: Maybe. There are two types of cynics: the angry, bitter variety for whom I have no time nor patience, and the playful variety of cynics who merely see the absurdities in life and afterlife. If you cannot find at least one absurd moment in every day, then you are not looking hard enough.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Yes, but that would remove the element of surprise.