Author: Cornish, Rick

Top Ten Things I Don’t Like About J.D. Rhynes

Good Tuesday morning from Whiskey Creek, where the battle between our property, which insists it will go back to nature and its owner, who demands it conform to his wife’s vision of what a country estate should look like, intensifies as the days get longer; where our dog pack, usually three but this week four because of visiting Emily, will, thank you God, return to its almost-manageable size today when our neighbors return from the Strawberry Music Festival; and where in its closest town, Columbia, loud talking, laughter and rock and roll after ten p.m. was reported last night to the Sheriff’s Department, obviously from a Memorial Day celebration gone terribly wrong.

Now, I don’t want you all to get the wrong opinion of my column today. There is absolutely not a single drip of vitriol in the top ten listing, not an ounce of rancor or a centimeter of ill will. J.D. and I are good friends, close friends, and we’ve been through a lot with each other; we’ve seen ‘each other’s spots’ you might say. In true friendships, we take the sweet with the bitter, the good with the bad, the intensely annoying with the heartwarming, the monstrous with the angelic. It’s precisely because we are such good friends that I feel eminently qualified to list off the bad, bitter, intensely annoying, monstrous qualities of J.D. Rhynes…in order of importance.

Reason ten—his cowboy hat.
Let me hasten to say that I generally do like cowboy hats, almost all kinds of them. But with J.D.’s there are just obvious problems. The style is clichéd, superficial and not at all representative of what a real cowboy would wear, (which, I guess is appropriate seeing as how J.D. is certainly no cowboy, though to the terror and disdain of the poor horse, he did ride on one once.) And there’s also the fact that J.D. head is simply too big to wear anything on it. The only good thing I can say about his cowboy hat is that it’s less visual insulting than the silly welder’s cap he sometimes wears.

Reason nine—his sense of humor.
J.D. Rhynes has sent me well over three hundred jokes and cartoons since he first started using the Internet. Not one has caused me to laugh, chuckle or even crack a faint smile. Well, that’s not true; there was one, about a chicken and clothes dryer, that caused a laugh, but the laugh was about the way he spelled cheekun and drar. In other words, I was laughing at J.D., not with him. To say that the old man’s brand of humor lacks sophistication and a sense of irony would be like saying that Mussolini’s approach to getting the Italian train system to run on time was a little heavy handed.

Reason eight—his cabin home.
Rhyne’s lives in a small wood frame house on several acres in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It’s surprisingly warm and cozy and tidy for an abode occupied by a confirmed bachelor. Most of the time it smells quite wonderful because something seems always to be bubbling on or in the stove. Its walls are hung with photos of old and new friends, nearly all of whom are either hugging the old man or making music with him. The living room is also cluttered with metal sculpture created by the long-time pipe fitter, all of it lovely and surprisingly delicate. Next to the house is a carport and next to that is J.D.’s welding shop and afternoon nap spot. The property on which the improvements are located is a forest of mature pine trees mainly. Very beautiful. So what don’t I like about his cabin home? Two things: he doesn’t deserve it and I don’t own it.

Reason seven—the way he writes.
‘Nuff said.

Reason six--his size.
I don’t necessarily mean his physical size, though our pal is clearly a big guy. I’m referring to the size of J.D.’s personality…his persona. All of us have experienced one or two of those rare individuals said to be ‘larger than life’. To be a true LTL one must possess the entire package—big voice, big laugh, big grin and, most important, an extraordinarily dense mass that forms its own magnetic field and draws people in. Not a dense mass in the physical sense but rather in the metaphysical sense. I don’t like this about J.D. His magnetic field completely louses up mine.

Reason five—his stories.
I must confess that I used to enjoy his stories. In fact, I can remember many, many times, especially on long drives, when I could sit and listen to one tale after another and be quite entertained. Of course I, like everyone, always assumed J.D.’s stories were either entirely or mostly made up. It was during a long trip down to Bakersfield that he told me a real whopper and I just had to call him on it, which is to say I challenged its veracity. I picked and probed and questioned and, in the end, my friend proved to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that the story was true, right down to the last detail. From that point on I knew that the stories he told were true, and worse, that he didn’t HAVE to make stories up. What he’s lived is actually worth telling about. Now, how incredibly maddening is that?

Reason four—his recipes.
Many of you do not know this—I used to have a terrific body. Very athletic, majorly flat abs, hard, rippled upper body. My wife’s nickname for me was Adonis…I’m not kidding. Then I began following and eventually experimenting with J.D.’s recipes in the Bluegrass Breakdown. An occasional flirtation with a rich cream sauce became a regular dalliance with cobblers and slow cooked, inventively seasoned meats until finally I found myself compulsively enslaved to the ‘Rhyne’s Regime’. So long youth; goodbye sculpted torso.

Reason three—all of his famous friends.
For more than twenty years I sat in the audience at Grass Valley on Saturday nights as one big-time band after another cooed sweet nothings to J.D. from the stage. ‘This one’s for you, good buddy’, from early pioneers to up and coming new acts. Didn’t bother me a bit. The guy in the big (ugly) cowboy hat and tux with tails was the M.C., not to mention the backstage manager; of course they’re all going to kiss up to him. Then, eleven or twelve years ago, I became friends with J.D., became a CBA board member, began spending time back stage and, much to my surprise and dismay, learned that he actually knew these people, was actually close friends, some for a long time, talked to many regularly and not just when they came to the Fathers Day Festival. Again, dammit, why him and not me. I’m just as likable as J.D., as interesting, and I don’t wear a lame cowboy hat.

Reason two—his politics.
I am adamantly, 180-degrees opposed to J.D. Rhyne’s political positions, beliefs and stances. Or, at least I assume I am. Since I don’t know what his politics are, (we’re both crazy as hell, but not so crazy as to talk politics with one another), I have to just sort of extrapolate based on: the size of his gun vault; the style of his cowboy hat; the stupid jokes he sends me at least once a week; the vast fortune he made in hedge fund trading; and, most significantly, the bumper stickers I keep putting on his truck and he keeps peeling off.

Reason one—his outlook on life.
And above all else, what I dislike most about J.D. Rhynes is the stupid, unrealistic, naïve, childish, Pollyanna, shortsighted and utterly unsophisticated way he looks at life. Good old things-will-work-out, look-on-the-bright-side, we’ll-find-a-way Rhynes can drive a guy absolutely nuts; just unspeakably, unrelentingly positive. Some years back, by sheer coincidence, J.D. and I had knee replacement surgery on the same day, me in Stockton, he in Sacramento. That night he called my hospital room from his hospital room. ‘So, how ya doin’ old pal?’ ‘How do you THINK I’m doin’? My knee hurts like hell.’ “I mean besides that.’ ‘J.D., you idiot, there is no besides that.’ We just had a major part of our legs hacked out.’ ‘Well…’ he paused, ‘describe your nurse to me.’ No response. ‘Okay, then, let me tell you about mine old pal.

Posted:  5/29/2012

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