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Rod preparing for his Riverton flight. Photo courtesy Linda Becker.

A Thought for Today

None of us is so rich or influential that we cannot be further enriched by love.


ROD LIVE! Follow this link for Santa Fe ticket information.

OK, so Rod finally got to Riverton and from all accounts the whole weekend has been a spectacular success.

Rita, Larry and Linda Becker (one of the organizers) share some of their thoughts.

Dear Ken,

I promise to write more tomorrow. I am too full of emotion at the moment to think straight, but the concert was wonderful. I thought it was even better than Aurora and that was Melinda's reaction too.

Rod had such a full day and I do not know where he found the energy to do the concert. The schedule he has had the last three days would have exhausted most men half his age. But the emotion and control that he expressed left me awestruck.

Linda's plans for a computer lab ran into a glitch and I have just a few moments to get this off to you using Linda's office computer.

There are no words to describe this weekend, wonderful, awesome, emotion filled, don't begin to cover it. I will try more tomorrow after I have had time to collect my thoughts. I will tell you that Rod came on stage in a Black Suit and Tie. Yep, you got that right. I never saw him in a suit before and it didn't stay on long. At least not the jacket and tie. But Rod looked good in it. However, I think Rod looks good in anything.

More later,

Send my love to all,

Rita Bartlow 

Rod sent me his schedule for yesterday, Rita, and I was exhausted just reading it! 

Rod on stage in a suit? A dress suit? Hope someone got a pic of that!

Dear Ken,

Well my friend, Rod has done me in once again. God! seeing and listening to the guy I've loved and grown old with, brought me to tears several times during the performance.

The concert was wonderful Ken, and Rod was magnificent, as I knew he would be; as he always has been: The consummate performer.

I'll write again soon, once the emotional impact of the concert lessens enough for me to be able to form the words I need to.

Thought hugs,


I can imagine the feeling, Larry, but I'm so pleased you managed to file at least this one report. Thanks.

In spite of what must have been the most hectic week of her life, Linda still found time to give us her take on the proceedings.

Hi Ken,

It is now 12:30PM in Riverton, Wyoming. I've just gotten home from the most marvelous concert. My feet were in three inch heels for 8 hours.....they might not feel so marvelous tomorrow.

Rod was absolutely top notch tonight after very little sleep in the last week. He did announce from the stage that I had let him have a two hour nap today, and he should have appreciated it....it was 2 hours more than I had.

There were over 600 very appreciative fans in the audience, the stage and lighting were gorgeous. Rod changed clothes 5 times between sound check at 5PM and the autograph party, plus he brought out a tall bottle of vodka, a large martini class, a bag of ice and asked if anyone in the audience had a lemon. Some gorgeous young lady from New Jersey just happened to have a lemon and took it to him on stage, where he mixed a martini and shared it with his band. Did we ever know this man could be such a comedian? He had the audience in stitches several times throughout the evening.

After the concert, he spent two hours in the audience with his fans and took his time with each and everyone. No one felt rushed or hurried.

The new t-shirt for the Rendezvous is a sketch of Rod with a martini glass with wording below saying Rendezvous with Rod, July 21, 2001, Riverton, Wyoming. The back read "If you drink, don't drive a balloon".

Guess what I'll be doing in a very few hours. It will be Up Up and Away in our beautiful balloons again at 6AM, flying high in the sky over our gorgeous Wyoming countryside. Then it is packing time, Book Signing at Books & Briar from 12 Noon to 1:30PM and then off to the airport again for the departure flight, which .... Kyletta will be on with Rod, Richard and the Band. Jerry is leaving earlier in the day.

I have had the privilege to spend a great deal of time with a very gentle man. From the time of his arrival to the time of his departure, he won't have gone anywhere without me. I hadn't planned it this way, but have been blessed with opportunity that was requested of me. What a great team I have worked with this week-end in Jerry, Richard and Rod, along with my marvelous, and talented technicians and support crew at Central Wyoming College.

Never in the history of our Rendezvous, which is the 21st year this year, have all three flights gone up, and the glow being able to take place (it is usually windy here in the evenings). I asked that everything go perfectly with the balloon launches, the glow and a fantastic concert, and I got my wish!!!

I'm attaching a picture of Rod and myself taken at 11PM after both of us having been up since 4 AM. May I say he certainly looks better than I do after I've had sleep.

Linda Becker

Rod & Linda Becker, Riverton 2001

Thanks for this, Linda. I know how hard you've worked to bring all this together and I'm thrilled it turned out the way you'd planned. I'm sure those lucky enough to attend the event join me in thanking you for making it a weekend to remember.

I'm pretty sure more reports will filter through over the next few days so make sure you check back later to hear more about the goings on at the 2001 Riverton Rendezvous.

Ken, Johannesburg, July 22


Frank Sinatra Jr & The Wood Herman Orchestra have only three concerts on their European Tour left and they are all in Spain. On the 24th they’ll be in San Sebastian at Plaza de la Trinadad. On Thursday the 26th they move on to Marbella for a show at the Puente Romano Tennis Club and the European Tour comes to an end in Calello on Friday the 27th at Jardins de Cap Roig.


Next Sunday afternoon, July 29th Rod joins Sally Kellerman, Bruce Vilanche and an all star cast in Santa Fe, NM in “Live at the Lensic.” For ticket information click on the link at the top of this page.

Rod McKuen concert and appearance details can be obtained via the link below.

Concert & Appearance Details

notable birthdays Licia Albanese o Orson Bean o Stephen Vincent Benet o Albert Brooks o Alexander Calder o Peter Carruthers o George Clinton o William Dafoe o Bob Dole o Rob Estes o Louise Fletcher o Bryan Forbes o Danny Glover o Don Henley o Chuck Jackson o Rose Kennedy o Emma Lazarus o John Leguizamo o Alan Menken o Karl Menninger o Alan Moorehead o Oscar de la Renta o Bobby Sherman o David Spade o Terence Stamp o Alex Trebek o Amy Vanderbilt o Margaret Whiting
Rod's random thoughts There are no limits on your life but those barricades you build yourself. 

Our differences will always give us sameness, continuation through the decades.

You must approach a decade as gingerly as you would a wolf. Both are up to no good. Agitating them will only make each bare its fangs a little sooner than expected.



Find me friendly beasts
and I’ll lie down
between their legs
easy and with ease.

Show me quiet shores
and I’ll run down them
endlessly and without end
till my feet have blisters
from the polished sand.

Give me time enough
and I’ll unwind, unset
all the clocks and watches
in the worldly world
so that I’ll have time
               as needed
to hike down all the quiet shores
with all the friendly beasts.

Should I be sought out
I’d go forward eagerly
with the wildest of the animals,
the friendliest of all the beasts,
              the mind itself.

I often fear
that certain kindnesses
I discern as love
           and caring
are somehow limited,
but even when I feel
        an end approaching
I still hold nothing back.

My greatest guilt in loving
has been the harbouring
           of dark suspicions.
When they are clarified
as nothing more than
gentle ghosts of my imagination
I am still unwilling
to let go of them
or set them in perspective.

I go on believing
space and time are coming,
enough to give me every hour
the new math needs
for adding, multiplying
and dividing emptiness
and dust and ceiling cracks.

No sundial sitting in the shade
is powerful enough
                       to rob from me
or hold back even twenty minutes
I feel I have justly been allotted.

Those friends I knew
in Santa Monica,
San Francisco or wherever
all those many years ago
had in common a sense of time.

Time and timing’s everything.
Alas, a single minute lost
                 is not made up.

But what the hell.
                 let go of it.
Crying over minutes wasted
leaves you fewer minutes
left to live and waste.

Had I waited
but a moment longer
I would still be
on the beach and running
living days of sun
and shell-collecting,
nights of stars that fall
into a metal bucket
and are kept forever
             on the mantel,
if only as reminder that the dreamer
can still pull out packages of light
                           as needed
to help him with his dreams’ extension..


I lie here in a quandary.
           Which way now ?
Back toward that sea-beach
no longer quite the same,
or hike a higher hill ?
                          But where ?
Surely there are places
                    where both meet.

The beach in Santa Monica
is now some lunar landscape.
Lenny’s gone and Aggie too.
Where black sand sloped
and slouched toward the sea
concrete spreads, and cement ends
are tucked in like a blanket.

Perhaps the sun has set
             on Santa Monica
Certainly the suns and sons
I knew there are nevermore.

I go there
only out of idleness
or desperation now
or to fill my pockets
full of peanuts at Chez Jay
and talk for hours with him.
Why is it balloons make sense,
                   bi-planes too,
while silver-bellied jets
are nothing more than vehicles
taking time travelers
backwards and forwards
into the future, back to the past ?

Wilma’s called to say
that she might write a book.
I hope she does, to clarify it all
to tell us where mistakes were made
and how we might have used
not only time the runner
but the sun and stars
to aid in simplifying not just life
but the living of it
in a jaunty and more joyous way.

Wilma too
has left the oceanside,
moved back up north
and brags of children
growing up and getting tall.
Grandchildren soon, she says.
I listen and I think,
                    but not aloud
that even now
I would like to take her half around
the wide Australian coastline -
just to show her beaches still exist
where no footprints mar the sand.
And scavengers go only
to their familiar places.

We do not speak about Australia
or trouble over California’s past.
We talk about our children
and she complains of new aches
and impending operations
I tell her I’m more tired
                      from this latest tour
than any I’ve yet taken. Once again
as if to make myself believe it
I say I’m planning to go easier,
slow my gait, close my gate
and stay at home.

Those resolves and good intentions
still find their way by mystery
to the bottom of new lists of words
unfinished or as yet unstarted.

No calls come from San Francisco
where buildings go on sprouting
as if in imitation of Superman’s
while in the shadow of grey monoliths
                     that pierce the sky,
those seven hundred thousand citizens
now crowding past a million
wander in confusion, bewildered
forgotten as the forest fauns
while hunters strap does and stags
to running boards of nineteen-forties
                  pickup trucks
and rusting four door Buick tops.


Some new cracks
now stretch across the ceiling.
They were not there last week
                 or yesterday
and no new earthquake
rattled at the window
or was reported on the news.

It may be this old house
still finds room and reasons
to go on settling
or is attempting like a friend
to keep my promises intact for me.
In some way I do not yet understand
I think the house now holds
title, trust and ownership of me.

The wind now does its work
within the eaves
more often than it did before.
And even new-tacked shingles
fly into the courtyard
at the slightest breeze.

These are only observations.
No melancholy pulls at me.
I set down only what I notice,
                        and I know
that much escapes my eye.

Wind, do your work
and set the weather vane
                   to whirling.
We are friends, not adversaries
and I trust your judgement.
Had I learned that lesson sooner
we might have wrestled time
and owned our islands
          and our inlets, too.

I will not give up
         on my belief
that we will yet share life
with one perhaps not known
                           as yet
but coming toward us all the same.

Look up! Look outward!
                  Look around!
Can you not see
something / someone in the distance?

My head is turning slowly, now unhurried
like this imagined April day.

I expect that in the year yet coming
I will somewhere, if not here,
            once again sleep warm.
I believe there's time enough for that. 

- Intended for "Distant Bugles, Different Drums" (unpublished), first published in Watch for the Wind, 1983.

© 1984, 1988, 1999  by Stanyan Music Group & Rod McKuen. All Rights Reserved
Birthday research by Wade Alexander o Poetry from the collection of Jay Hagan o Coordinated by Melinda Smith
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