A STRONGER VOICE by Todd Smith – Mud Toe Sasquatch

Todd Smith ~ Mud Toe Sasquatch http://www.mudtoesasquatch.com

Todd Smith ~ Mud Toe Sasquatch http://www.mudtoesasquatch.com

A STRONGER VOICE by Mud Toe Sasquatch

Easter Sunday, one year ago, I stood next to my mother.  She likes me
to accompany her to Easter services, so my eternal soul does not fall
into damnation.  For my part, I enjoy the Eucharist service, sharing
the body and blood of Jesus Christ.  It takes me back to my roots, and
makes me feel part of something larger.  Mostly, though, I enjoy the
music, and Easter music is the best of the church year.  Many people
prefer Christmas music – with its lilting beauty, it is much more
accessible.  Easter music, on the other hand, smashes and crashes.
Jesus is back, and he’s kicking ass and taking names.  The music is
big and loud, but also requires precision.  You have to be a good
singer to do Easter music well.

I was a good singer, when I was young.  I’d toast the Easter music,
and people in nearby pews would look over at me in wonder and
jealousy.  It was one of the few things that got me attention, and I
played it for all it was worth.  But that was many years ago, and at
Easter Sunday, one year ago, I struggled.  Couldn’t hit the high
notes, wavered on the medium notes, kept running  out of breath.  I
got so frustrated, I didn’t even attempt the final hymn, “Now All the
Vault of Heaven Resounds,” because I knew I couldn’t do it justice.  I
was pissed off all day – time and change and robbed me of yet another
thing I loved.

It might have ended there, but as it happened, there was a music store
next to the office where I was working, and one morning a sign
appeared, advertising music lessons, First Lesson Free!  It took me a
few weeks to work up the nerve, but I showed up one day, and a tall,
youngish guy named Neil put me through my musical paces.  I told him I
wanted to be able to hit the high notes at church, and he said he
could help me with that.  $99 for 4 weekly lessons, and we went to

We sang scales, church music, Elvis, and The Beatles.  I could feel my
voice getting stronger right away, and the stronger it got, the more I
wanted to work.  At the end of every month, there was a “jam session,”
where all the music students were encouraged to show what they could
do.  I skipped the first few months, but when I finally went, I found
the guitarists and bassists and drummers to be very talented and
supportive.  It was amazing how quickly they picked up music – I threw
out “I Saw Her Standing There,” they started speaking in their guitar
code —, D, C, D, 6 beats, key change — and we were performing the
song in five minutes.

As I left that night, feeling better about myself than I had in
months, the bass player handed me a card.  “There’s a jam session on
Wednesday nights at the Blue Pickle Bar,” he informed me.  “Why don’t
you come out and sing with us sometime?”

And so I did.  Often, the guitarist, the bass player, and I were the
only ones there, and I got to sing for two hours solid.  Other times,
other musicians would show up, and we would share the wealth.  It’s
become the high point of my week.  Often, I think of how I might bring
that energy into the rest of my life.  I wonder if it isn’t about
positive reinforcement, having others recognize what I do, but isn’t
it also true that I never would have found that feedback if I’d never
gone to that music lesson and put myself out there in the first place?

But even with the jam sessions, I hadn’t met my goal, which was to
reconquer Easter.  This year, I went back, with my mother at my side
as always.  Most of the hymns were rather pedestrian, but the closer
was “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.”  I freakin’ nailed it.

Mud Toe’s voice is risen.  It is risen indeed.

*** Copyright 2016 by Mud Toe Sasquatch —- all rights reserved


ORIGINS OF MUD TOE by Mud Toe Sasquatch

Todd Smith ~ Mud Toe Sasquatch http://www.mudtoesasquatch.com

Todd Smith ~ Mud Toe Sasquatch http://www.mudtoesasquatch.com

Mud Toe Sasquatch is not the name I was born with.  The name was
gifted to me by Spirit on the day I set forth on my journey as a
purveyor of written and spoken words, and a healer of society.  Most
people still know me by the Christian name my parents gave me, and
that’s just fine with me.  I honor my original name and heritage, and
I also affirm that the name “Mud Toe Sasquatch” identifies me more

Where did the name originate?  I’ll start with “Sasquatch.”  Most
people recognize this as the name of a legendary gigantic primate who
lives in California and sells beef jerky.  More accurately, the name
refers to a spirit or god recognized by the First Peoples living in
the Pacific Northwest region of what is now called North America.
Similar legends with different names exist all over the continent (and
South America as well, I presume), as well as in northern and central
Asia, where the First Peoples originated.   I believe the name
“Sasquatch” was originally introduced into pop culture on an episode
of the TV series “The Bionic Woman,” but whatever the pathway, the
name is now firmly associated with a mysterious, tall, hairy beast
with a shy disposition.

The name found its way to me via Chief Iggy at Itsipi, or sweat lodge,
on our old sacred grounds in the heart of our great City in the
Midwest.  The grounds was enclosed by trees on three sides.  The Chief
observed me walking along the treeline, and my loping stride reminded
him of the famous film of Sasquatch, taken in the 1960’s.  The brown
sweat suit I was wearing added to the look.  I resonate with the name
because Sasquatch is something just about everyone knows of, but not
about.  He pops out every once in a while for all to see, then
disappears into the trees, and no one knows where or why.  I think of
myself as someone who’s not afraid to be visible, but at the same time
is reluctant to reveal much of my inner self.  The written and spoken
word have become my tools to do that.

“Mud Toe” landed on me at the same sweat lodge.  I had a certain
prissy manner in the lodge.  I didn’t want to get dirty, but getting
dirty is kind of the point.  The lodge is a place to release the
trappings of society and simply be.  So, on that particular day,
Spirit decided to teach me a little lesson.  Crouched down and trying
to make my way to my place in the circle, I lost my balance and sunk
my foot deep into a magnificent mud hole.  As a pulled my foot out, I
found the big toe on my right foot was encased in mud, and I decided
to leave it that way, to remind me that I’m not as clever as I
sometimes think.

As the sweat got underway, I underwent a highly-emotionally-charged
experience.  I saw myself standing on a path that was broken, and the
only way I could continue was to build the path ahead of me myself.
As I struggled to build, my body unequal to the tast, the Ancestors
and Heavenly Beings and Spirits appeared around me to help.  As I came
back to the world, I was lying on my side in the mud, gasping for air,
body drained of sweat.  I could feel each beat of my heart forcing
thickened blood through my veins.  Another person in the lodge, to
this day I don’t know who, called out, “Hey, Mud Toe, are you okay?”

At the feast afterwards, Chief Iggy suggested a number of lyrical
names I might try on.  “Swift Sloth” is one a remember, and “Green
Bear.”  However, I just couldn’t shake “Mud Toe Sasquatch” from my
mind.  When I hear it, I feel the way a dog must feel when his name
was changed by a new owner, and he hears the old name, filtering
through the mists of time.

I am Mud Toe Sasquatch, and so it is.  I have spoken – all my relations!

**** Copyright 2016 by Mud Toe Sasquatch – all rights reserved

The Sad Brick House (2/18/16) Posted on February 18, 2016 by mudtoe

Todd Smith ~ Mud Toe Sasquatch http://www.mudtoesasquatch.com

Todd Smith ~ Mud Toe Sasquatch http://www.mudtoesasquatch.com

I stood as closely as I could to the old brick wall, then looked straight up.  Two stories of solid history, as full of past as the wall of a cave.  Fire engine red blocks sandwiching gray mortar, too much mortar, squirting out from between the bricks like rock-hard mayonnaise.  The owner told me the place was 160 years old.  How red must those bricks have been on the day the masons laid down too much mortar, built that wall, and left it here for me to find?

I look over my shoulder at the car, parked at the curb just behind me.  The girl inside, still struggling to put her shoes on.  I turn my attention back to the bricks.  I worked at a brickyard for seven years after I got out of college.  Bricks are old friends to me.  Red, brown, yellow, tan, and black.  I even saw some purple ones once.  Rectangles, squares, trapezoids, wedges, keys, wavy ones, ones with holes through them to make them lighter to carry.  I was at a class in upstate New York, and a few of my fellow brickmeisters and I saw I fellow laying down some pink ordinance for a sidewalk, and we walked over and helped out for a few minutes.  I was young, with money in my pocket, and most of the flaws that have dogged me through my life had not manifested yet.  That fair time is inextricable tied to memories of piles of clay, sieves ten feet wide, and ancient impact presses creating thousands upon thousands of bricks,to be used by the world.

And these that I admired as my lady friend finally fit her shoes over the thick, red socks I had given her, red as the bricks in that old building, bricks made with equipment even more primitive than we had used in our broken-down factory, all those years ago.  Sometimes, technology stops — there is nothing new to do, no faster you can go, no cheaper or lighter or easier to use that you can make it.  Then, the industry turns to something harder.

160 years.  If true, then the wall had held up remarkably well.  It was bowed from side to side, and probably from top to bottom as well, but by no more than a foot or so.  Given that it had passed through 160 Ohio winters, that was quite an accomplishment.  There was some spalling on the west corner, and a few bricks had fallen out of place.  I wondered if people with the expertise to fix the wall still existed, and I hoped the owner would find them.  One head shake from the building inspector, and the bulldozers would roll, just as they were doing in old neighborhoods all over the city, and just as the will here one day, no doubt.

For now, though, we still have half a dozen convenience stores like this one.  Imagine!  My date was a bit short on groceries, so I gave her my last twenty and told her to get what she wanted  I followed her up and down the aisles, aisles that sloped sharply to the south in some places — the building wasn’t in such good shape on the inside as out.  She picked up a 12-pack of soda, some lunch meat, and a frozen pizza, and we checked out.  I dropped her off on the corner, near where she was squatting with two other girls in a vacant house.  The house was brick, and you could tell it had once been beautiful.  It could be again, if someone spent a little time and effort on it.  But to all but me (it seems), the time has passed.  The sad brick house is a nest for urban blight, and the only cure is let condos roll over it.

I thought, “I wish I could save you.”  Was I was thinking of the girl or the house?


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*** Copyright 2016 by Mud Toe Sasquatch — all rights reserved ***