Austin Mass

(Those Trees — a preface poem about ambition)

The Westside Desert is on the west side of Fresno County —

an alluvial fan draining east, and then north from the coast range.

The soils are known as the Panoche Fan.

The Cheney Pump Station and Cheney Ranch were on its upper end,

mostly above the San Luis Canal and I-5, south of Manning Ave.

The west side lands are where four generations of my family farmed.

The poem moves south and then to the east

across the valley before climbing up into the Sierra.

Bob Mathias taught me how to high jump …


The Lutheran Yard

(Austin Mass narrative starts here)

Water Buffalos are stupid triple-piston, two-stroke,

water-cooled Suzukis with a big, ugly radiator ahead of the engine.

A smaller Colorado River drains through Austin to the Gulf of Mexico.

Night Train is wine, halogens are lights. Night- trains are winos.

Cool Papa Bell was a baseball legend

before Satchel Paige made it to the bigs.

The tilt-up construction technique means an industrial wall,

lifted into place with a crane or a forklift,

the way they do for prisons or warehouses.

Chingaso is street Spanish for asshole.

Skip loader is a mechanized tractor that loads dirt into trucks.

Sheep feet are heavy, rolling,

toothy cylinders that pack down road base.

Everyone should read Lincoln at Gettysburg by Garry Wills.

The Two-Guitar Rule means keep it simple and use every story,

literary device, sound or song twice.

Plessy vs. Ferguson, is an overturned segregation case.

Rita Number 8 represents a Texas oil field

that endowed the University of Texas.

Eleanor, the Austin barista, told me Roof Sun, Spoken

worked better as verse than paragraphs, so there you go.

Modified Paper is the final layer

on a completely restored hot tar roof;

James could lift two rolls of modified.


Runway Coyote Cash I

The Water Buffalo’s chain drive was Single 80 Chain.

Rain Birds are rotating impact sprinklers

with a working radius of about thirty-five feet.

Rain Bird is a registered trademark of the Rain Bird Corporation.

A turn-row is the edge of the field

where you can turn around, usually a dirt road.

I never told Esther Watson what I did on that Jack Ruby movie.

My daughter’s dream happened inside her mother’s Quonset hut,

a half-cylindrical tent stretched over a frame,

like you see in the old war movies.

My children’s seedlings are young trees now.

Their great grandfather surveyed his land from a Beechcraft King Air.

Straw walkers are rotating crankshafts with attached fingers,

originally used for walking straw out the back of a combine;

the idea was adapted for walking

tomato vines out of tomato harvesters.

Straw walkers have fruit chains beneath them to catch the fruit.

Clifford was a nomadic Shoshone a native American

from the tribe known as Ute, in the upper Colorado basin.

He drove an International Harvester wheel tractor,

a Farmall with badly designed shifting linkage;

even brand new they didn’t shift well.

Rolling wheel lines are aluminum three-inch pipes

in thirty-foot sections, with a wheel around the middle of every pipe;

forty-two attached joints make up a quarter-mile line

that is latched to the valve for a twelve-hour water set;

then the entire line is rolled to the next valve

by a small lawn-mower engine:

a way to irrigate alfalfa on undulating land.

Sous chef is the second chef (salads and stuff.)

Four Corners is the intersection

of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado;

and also, the name of the four-state region;

Clifford spoke under the southeast quadrant,

as the sky susaned (made up ad hocism) slowly, like a lazy Susan.

The grapevines in Marilyn’s Vineyard struggled at first,

because the initial plantings were overwatered

till they died from root rot; then her third planting

was borrowed by the grasshoppers and never returned;

her vineyard prospered after her fourth planting.

Rainfall Hazel was the smartest woman my father ever knew

and retired on a winning keno ticket.

Dr. Wills is still a fugitive from justice and has never been found.

Lawyers’, Guns & Money is a brilliant story song by Warren Zevon.

Soldier Boy, a Luther Dixon/ Florence Green composition,

performed on Dick’s Bar’s Jukebox by The Shirelles.

The deep wells in Cheney Spoken were drilled four feet wide

and two-thousand feet deep,

with twenty-four-inch-wide cylindrical steel casings;

the drillers poured pea gravel between the well wall and casing

to filter water seeping into the perforations.

One in five wells failed for various reasons. The Peerless Pump Co.

manufactured the pumps from column pipe, tubes, and shafts,

screwed together in forty-foot sections

with the pumping bowls hanging on the bottom

usually in five or six stages; the bowls have impellers inside;

the pumps are seven hundred feet down

and are turned by an electric or diesel engine.

A swedge is a hydraulic expansion tool

designed to work down inside a deep well.

Red Earl is talking about the old days of flat planting, where cotton

was planted down in the furrow, instead of on the crown.

Cart planters came in pairs; they weren’t much different

than horse drawn one-row planters;

ours had six pairs to a tool bar and were pulled

with a crawler, usually a Caterpillar.

A disk (Disk Harrow) is a rolling plow on an axle,

organized in two gangs, where the front gang throws dirt to the left

and the back gang throws it right.

Power poles ran beside the fields to the wells and into the lexicon,

where Woodrow’s got six poles left to disk.

Noah’s trailer was a battered Imperial Mansion from the fifties.

The Rain Machine had Go-Devil blades welded to it:

they’re the adjustable, rolling, slicing blades

of a seedbed tool set for rows.

Murphy switches automatically

shut down badly running engines.


Runway Coyote Cash II

Montana de Oro is a little coastal place with a few stores.

The car with a block-long motor in Noah’s Disconnect is a 48 Packard.

Crusty Flakes and Zoom are cereal brands.

6th and Main intersect in downtown Los Angeles.

Soon there’ll be forty million people

on the other side in the L.A. basin;

The Canyon Hotel collapsed on the rats and raccoons;

Crazy Momma by Mr. J.J. Cale is a hypnotic wind sound.

Bulls into steers means a terrible day. Sabiknas’ Vineyard

was cedar staked across four Texas acres. He’s in Federal Prison now.

One of Daniel Boorstin books is called The Creators.

The 98th Meridian roughly corresponds to I-35

and is also the east-west boundary

between sufficient and insufficient rainfall for crops.

Charles Lindbergh wrote Autobiography of Values

while dying — a very conflicted guy.

Angel’s siphon hoses lifted water over ditch banks to the field below.

The green bike was an old Moto Guzzi.

Airstreams are aluminum aerodynamic travel trailers.

Gila Bend is where Arizona’s Gila River bends near that fortress house

built a long time ago when Mr. Gillespie

owned considerable water rights on the river.

A lot of conservatives benefited

from Franklin Roosevelt’s political base.

Farmers got crop-diversion programs;

Fresno got the sidewalk that Sara smoked on

made by a Roosevelt agency,

the WPA (Works Progress Administration.)

The soil in Noah’s backyard was Hanford Loam.

Luthor Rollins reminds me of Chuck Moulton.


Premium Sun in the Redwoods

The old bar is closed down. Oscar’s car was a 1984 Rabbit.

The Pygmy Forest is an oddity, paralleling the Northern California coast

with a kind of iron hardpan layer preventing root development,

leading to dwarf trees of many kinds.

The experts say the Pygmy Forest is full of rodents and lizards.

I seem to remember the Banana Slugs most.

Lonely Bob, survived as a forest kitty who lived into old age.


Nightman in a Winter Valley

The Yosemite pot room

used a Hobart industrial pot washing machine.

I probably did half of the finished writing in Yosemite.

The Yosemite pieces served to provide

more distance and perspective in editing the earlier writing.

My official roommate was Jessie Lyn Huff

who lived with her boyfriend.

Meaning I had the tent to myself

as an office by the ice rink near Curry Village.

Years later, it was Winston’s idea

to do the ‘Nightman in a Winter Valley’

so I rented a room above the Saigon Liquor Store in Oakland.

There I wrote and assembled

the Yosemite pieces into ’The Saigon Toss Offs’.

Those became the foundation

for the Nightman in a Winter Valley.

The Legionnaire Bar is across the street.

The 25th Street Studio just around the corner.


Moscow Salad

Roy, New Mexico is a little place just north of Albuquerque.

The Robert Caro series on LBJ covers a vast political expanse.

My grandfather’s house was seven or eight miles downstream

from Pine Flat Dam on the west bank of the Kings River.

The Edison cylinder player is an early recording device.

If you listen carefully, it’s the background sound in The Deep Wax.

The Cheney Ranch Shack is still there.

My current Airstream is a 1974 Sovereign. The White Bike is a BMW.

I read the Seth Gibbs Letter at his memorial.

Capridae is my granddaughter. Hector’s doing fine.

I gave a copy of the letter and sound to the Judge involved.

Jack died peacefully last year.

Baseball Hamster came out of a babysitting gig.

The ‘Signmaker Said So’ started off as an essay on sandwiches.

I might also mention that the Moscow Salad

was financed by my sister Amanda’s ownership

of the N.E quarter of section 28 on our old Cantua Ranch.


Dearest Mechanical God Above

Originally the music was written

for something called the Female Longhorn

which sat around for a few years —

till we used it for Dearest Mechanical God Above.

So, the lesson learned is most work can go somewhere

or it tends to bother souls with the waste of it all.

There’s been quite a bit of help provided over the years

as you’ll see in the credits —

and I’m grateful to everyone involved —

while this entire work is dedicated to my father …





Produced by Roy Ruth,

Mark Hallman (Congress House Studio)

Stuart Sullivan (Wire Recording)

and Winston Goertz-Giffen (Pulp Arts)

In the composition credits

the first names are the music

and the last is the lyricist. So, in ‘Those Trees’,

Steve wrote the music and Roy Ruth wrote the lyrics.


Austin Mass

1)  Those Trees: Steve Giffen / Roy Ruth

2)  Austin Mass Title File: Mark Hallman / Roy Ruth

3)  The Lutheran Yard: Landis Armstrong / Peter Stafford / Roy Ruth

4)  The Voluntary Jail: Landis Armstrong / Roy Ruth

5)  Hot Tar Life: Potwashers / Roy Ruth

6)  Maybe an Anne: Peter Stafford / Roy Ruth

7)  Rain Prayer: Peter Stafford / Seth Gibbs / Roy Ruth

8)  Piano Storm: Steve Giffen

9)  Austin Close: Joe Thompson / Roy Ruth

10) Roof Sun, Spoken: Joe Thompson/Roy Ruth


Runway Coyote Cash I

1)  Runway Coyote Cash I (title file)

2)  Should I Sleep with Esther Watson: Seth Gibbs

Peter Stafford / Roy Ruth

3)  Camped in the Pasture: Spencer Goertz-Giffen / Roy Ruth

4)  Farm Dream: Joe Thompson / Roy Ruth

5)  Runway Coyote Cash (chapter): Seth Gibbs / Roy Ruth

6)  Ball Bounces Funny Sometimes: Winston Goertz-Giffen / Roy Ruth

7)  The Fresno Poet: Steve Giffen / Roy Ruth

8)  Nurse from the Woman’s Prison in Chowchilla:

Joe Thompson / Roy Ruth

9)  Cheney Spoken: Landis Armstrong / Roy Ruth

10) Strange Undulating Body of Land:

Winston Goertz-Giffen / Roy Ruth

11) Rain Machine: Peter Stafford / Seth Gibbs / Roy Ruth


Runway Coyote Cash II

1)  Runway Coyote Cash II (title file)

2)  Raye: Seth Gibbs / Roy Ruth

3)  Not so Damn Bad: Seth Gibbs / Roy Ruth

4)  Noah’s Disconnect: Potwashers / Roy Ruth

5)  Silvermetal: Landis Armstrong / Peter Stafford / Roy Ruth

6)  Jesus, God: Winston Goertz Giffen / Roy Ruth

7)  Buffalo Thoughts: Winston Goertz-Giffen / Roy Ruth

8)  Luthor’s Proposal Poem: Seth Gibbs / Peter Stafford / Roy Ruth

9)  Russell’s Flow: Landis Armstrong / Peter Stafford

10) Dust on the Garden Hose: Seth Gibbs / Roy Ruth

11) RCC: Winston Goertz-Giffen / Roy Ruth


Premium Sun in the Redwoods

1)  Premium Sun in the Redwoods:

Ryan Parks / Winston Goertz-Giffen Mark Hallman / Roy Ruth

Nightman in a Winter Valley

1)  Intro: Andrew Macy / Roy Ruth

2)  Rearranging My Pile: Ryan Parks / Winston Goertz-Giffen / Roy Ruth

3)  I Took the Job: Ryan Parks / Roy Ruth

4)  Kitchen Song: Winston Goertz-Giffen / Roy Ruth

5)  Yeah, Dad: Steve Giffen / Roy Ruth

6)  The Pot Room: Ryan Parks / Roy Ruth

7)  Surrounding Abstract: Ryan Parks / Roy Ruth

8)  To a Yosemite Friend in Georgia: Steve Giffen / Roy Ruth

9)  A Day Off: Ryan Parks / Roy Ruth

10) Dear Beautiful Woman in New York City: Steve Giffen / Roy Ruth

11) Maybe an Anne: Peter Stafford / Roy Ruth

12) Potwasher Hour: Ryan Parks / Roy Ruth

13) Biker Graveyards: Winston Goertz-Giffen / Roy Ruth

14) My Cook Friend Glenn: Winston Goertz-Giffen / Roy Ruth

15) Cheetoh Poem: Winston Goertz-Giffen / Ryan Parks / Roy Ruth

16) Rainbow Llama Poem: Steve Giffen / Lucia Rose Laz / Roy Ruth

17) Angel Hicks: Ryan Parks / Roy Ruth

18) Nightman in a Winter Valley: Ryan Parks / Roy Ruth

19) Confused and Shutdown: Ryan Parks / Roy Ruth

20) Departure: Winston Goertz-Giffen / Roy Ruth


Moscow Salad

1)  Moscow Salad: Mark Hallman / Roy Ruth

2)  Roy, New Mexico: Taylor Hallman / Roy Ruth

3)  Mrs. Holmes: Steve Giffen / Roy Ruth

4)  The Deep Wax: Mark Hallman / Roy Ruth

5)  Can’t Lay Lands to the Woman Anymore: Steve Giffen / Roy Ruth

6)  Airstream: Winston Goertz-Giffen / Seth Gibbs / Roy Ruth

7)  Seth Gibbs Letter: Winston Goertz-Giffen / Seth Gibbs / Roy Ruth

8)  Not So Damn Bad: Winston Goertz-Giffen / Seth Gibbs / Roy Ruth

9)  Peaceful Bones: Steve Giffen / Roy Ruth

10) Capridae: Mark Hallman / Roy Ruth

11) Hat Poem: Mark Hallman / Roy Ruth

12) Panorama: Winston Goertz-Giffen / Seth Gibbs.

(Formula by Roy Ruth / Justin Morgan)

13) The Judge: Taylor Hallman / Roy Ruth

14) Bloodlines: Andre Moran / Roy Ruth

15) Baseball Hamster: Mark Hallman / Roy Ruth

16) Rain Prayer Demo: Peter Stafford / Roy Ruth

17) I’m Not Quite a Poet this Morning: Andre Moran / Roy Ruth

18) The Signmaker Said So: Winston Goertz-Giffen / Roy Ruth


Dearest Mechanical God Above

1) Dearest Mechanical God Above: Seth Gibbs / Roy Ruth





Winston Goertz-Giffen: drums, guitar, trumpet

Seth Gibbs: bass, harmonica, vocals

Joe Thompson: guitar, harmonica, drums, mandolin, vocals

Landis Armstrong: guitar, vocals

Spencer Goertz-Giffen: mandolin, guitar, trumpet, vocals

Peter Stafford: lap steel, guitar, piano, vocals

Steve Giffen: piano, keyboards

Roy Ruth: vocals



Winston Goertz-Giffen: guitar, harmonica, vocals

Andrew Macy: bass

Raj Oja: drums

Joel Robinow: keyboards, piano, vocals

Ryan Parks: guitar, vocals

Steve Giffen: piano solos

Roy Ruth: vocals



Mark Hallman: dobro, bass, guitars, cello,

drums, Hammond, harmonica, accordion

Seth Gibbs, bass, harmonica

Peter Stafford, acoustic guitar, slide

Landis Armstrong: Stratocaster, Martin

Taylor Hallman, piano

Steve Giffen: piano

Andre Moran: Weisenborn, clarinet, vocals (the bailiff)

Winston Goertz-Giffen: drums, guitar, Moog

Christine Smith: vocals

Joe Thompsen, guitar

Roy Ruth: vocals



The Austin Potwashers started live recording

at the Michel Crowe Studio in Austin.

Steve Giffen’s early piano solos and rhythm tracks

were recorded at Maximus Studio in Fresno

Then I made a rough sound draft at the Hit Shack with Jay Hudson

to find what music we still had to write.

The next live sessions were at Wire Recording.

The Austin Mass, Runway Coyote Cash I & II.

were built at Stuart Sullivan’s Wire Recording in Austin, Texas.

Stuart and I produced the chapters.

Mark Hallman did all the early musical mixing

and Mark also played a lot of the instrumentation

in Should I Sleep With Esther Watson, Luthor’s Proposal Poem and RCC.

The Austin Potwashers were Joey Thompson,

Landis Armstrong, Seth Gibbs, Peter Stafford,

Spencer Goertz-Giffen, Steve Giffen and Roy Ruth.

The spoken vocals — Roy Ruth: narration and most characters,

Kelly Mickwee as Rena, Catherine Quinn as Helen

Vicente Aello as whistler and background Spanish.

The Austin Mass, Runway Coyote Cash I & II

Recorded and engineered by Stuart Sullivan.

Mixed and mastered by Mark Hallman. (five rounds of mastering)


The Oakland Potwashers recorded Nightman in a Winter Valley

at the 25th Street Recording Studio, in Oakland, California.

Winston Goertz-Giffen was the musical director.

Winston Goertz-Giffen: also, acoustic and electric guitar, harmonica, vocals

Andrew Macy: bass

Raj Oja: drums

Joel Robinow: keyboards, piano, vocals

Ryan Parks: guitar, vocals

Steve Giffen: piano solos

Roy Ruth: vocals

The violins: Anton Patzner.

Cello: Lewis Patzner.

Baritone: Benjamin Connelly

Trumpet: David Kimmberling

Whistling: Vicente Aello

Background vocals: Rosie Steffey, Chrissie Becker, Colleen Johnson

Engineered by Scott Bergstrom.

Mixed and Mastered by Mark Hallman.


The Oakland Potwashers recorded Premium Sun in the Redwoods

at the 25th Street Recording Studio in Oakland:

Winston Goertz-Giffen and Ryan Parks on guitars,

Joel Robinow on piano

Teddy Rankin-Parker on the cello.

Engineered by Scott Bergstrom

Mark Hallman played the Gurion guitar and Harmonica later on in Texas.

Mixed and Mastered by Mark Hallman.


The Ruth / Hallman Potwashers

recorded some of the roughs for the Moscow Salad

at the 25th Street Recording Studio in Oakland

before completing most of the work

at the Congress House Studio in Austin, Texas

Song vocals, Mark Hallman, Seth Gibbs, Peter Stafford

Spoken vocals: Roy Ruth, Andre Moran as the Bailiff

and Christine Smith as the unknown woman at the river party.

Background vocals — Mark Hallman, Christine Smith,

Roy Ruth, Jacquez McClenon

Panorama Math Formula by Justin Morgan (thank you Justin)

Engineered by John Schimpf in Oakland.

Engineered by Andre Moran in Austin.

Mixed, mastered by Mark Hallman.


Viral Ride I & II

Sense of Time —
Roy Ruth/Winston Goertz-Giffen

Wrong End of the Burrito
Roy Ruth/Spencer Goertz-Giffen

Everything else —
Roy Ruth/ Mark Hallman

Musicians — Mark Hallman, Landis Armstrong, Andre Moran,
Winston Goertz-Giffen,
Steve Giffen, Spencer Goertz Giffen and the Austin Potwashers

Mixed and mastered
by Mark Hallman at the
Congress House Studio.

Viral Ride I & II produced by Roy Ruth/Mark Hallman


The Austin Potwashers recorded Female Longhorn at Michael Crowe’s

as a musical version of a cow painting by Cathy J. Ricks.

We never used it. Then I rewrote an epilogue over that music

as the Dearest Mechanical God Above

and recorded my vocal at the Congress House Studio.

Took about twenty minutes. Easy is good.

Mixed and mastered by Mark Hallman.

I should also say that Mark and I

amended several of the early chapters and songs

while enlarging the sound to conform with the Oakland recordings.

Mark has been involved in every second of production.



Buckner Cooke — Kevin Schneider — Eric Loftis — Brad Bell — Roy Ruth



Stuart Sullivan at Wire Recording.

Mark Hallman at the Congress House Studio.

Andre Moran at Congress House Studio.

Seth Gibbs & Peter Stafford at Superpop.

Michael Crowe at Michael Crowe. Ray Settle at Maximus Media.

Jay Hudson at the Hit Shack. Joey Benjamin at Wire Recording.

Winston Goertz-Giffen at Santos Studio & Pulp Arts.

Scott Bergstrom and John Schimf at Oakland’s 25th Street Recording.


ART & GRAPHICS Paintings & Drawings:

Vicente Aello — All of Austin Mass, Runway Coyote Cash I and II,

Premium Sun in the Redwoods, Nightman in a Winter Valley

and Dearest Mechanical God Above except for Heather Jovanelli —

who did the Angel Hicks & Maybe an Anne paintings

Cary Gries — All of Moscow Salad

Photography — Winston Goertz-Giffen, Luke Judd, Roy Ruth

Sketches — Roy Ruth, Tony Smith .

Graphic Production — Tony Romano / Lisa Herbert

Crystal Bell / Cathy Ricks



Netty Kahan — most of the project (very patient)

Jennifer Steedly — Moscow Salad (even more so)

Cary Gries — Lexicon & Credits



Cathy J. Ricks, Kevin Russell, Mark Hallman, Stuart Sullivan,

Landis Armstrong, Jessie Lynn Huff, Handsome Johnny, Seth Gibbs,

Chris Todd, Chris Green, Winston Goertz-Giffen, Jenny Walker Mattot,

Spencer Goertz-Giffen, Vicente Aello, Jennifer Steedly, Michael R. Garcia,

Steve & Leslie Giffen, Stuart Woolf, Scott Macmichael. Craig Fourchy,

Scott Coppersmith, Lance & Jules Lambert, Josh Ganshorn, Joe Ertle,

John Alan Lee, Ralph Macmichael, Giff Randall, Dustin Sparks,

Dennis Nickerson, Big Chris, Dave Tillman, Cary Gries, Justin Morgan,

Dave Green, Seth Gibbs, Waldo Reed, Marcello Murphy, Paul Quibe,

Nick Linder, Justin Pheley, Buddy & Oscar, Peter Stafford,

Sergio Garcia, Jane Minton, Ike Minton, David M. Smith,

Buddy Campbell, Isidro Gonzales, Christine Smith, Steve Calkins,

Andrew Leranthe, Daniel Kuehm, Joe Mitchell, Ryan Morris, Ginger Morris,

Larry Alby, Marco Balderas, Krystal Bell, Dave Brodie, Dave Gallahue,

Jim Huebner, Michael Erard, Ron Naggar, Bud Oslin, (7 holes in one),

Stefnie Moreno, Allison Dynamite, Dr. Manuel G. Gonzales, Tony Romano,

Barbara Bailey, Victor Camozzi, Mark Arax, Justin Pheley, Jenna Bonet, May Giffen …



Royruth.com Website: Dustin Sparks. dcommerce@gmail.com

Engineer: Ryan Chadek – Digital Visions, LLC

Graphics: Lisa Herbert


If there be errors, they be mine …