Saturday, June 30, 2012

Ode To Old Orchard Beach

Lonely chairs sit in the sun on a porch, waiting
We are on the beach laughing, at ease
Another spectacular weekend we are creating
Doing any goddamn thing we please
After dinner and drinks we're back at our location
Talking too much and laughing out loud
Three days in freedom, much needed vacation
A tradition we started, of which we are proud
Old Orchard Beach like religious retreat
A gentle getaway that exists without fear
Precious relaxation, family love can't be beat
Sweet anticipation, fulfilled, year after year

Friday, June 29, 2012

WWMWD? (What would Marcus Welby do?)

I'm hippity hopping and bippity bopping my way to work yesterday on a gorgeous, sunny, warm day and listening to a discussion on NPR regarding end of life care.

Strange contrast, but then again that's what makes life interesting; it's what keeps you alert.

Palliative care was the term that kept popping up. Palliative care is the dignified, holistic treatment for terminally ill patients that balances comfort giving with realistic understanding of the situation at hand. As opposed to shoving tubes down peoples' throats, injecting IV's into their arms, administering boatloads of drugs and talking to them as children while they linger on in pain, hopelesness, and bewilderment.

Whenever this topic comes up, the aging baby boomers become a major part of the discussion. This disturbs me because I am an aging baby boomer.

The point of view is that there are a hell of a lot of us slipping into old age and quality of health care is going to become a major issue.

The fact that interested me was that doctors tend to avoid all this medical intrusiveness when the end approaches for them. Most doctors choose to "die well", a euphemism for dying peacefully at home surrounded by family. Euphemisms abound regarding this topic. "Heroic measures" - all the dramatic life saving, life extending procedures that are performed to extend the life of someone who is on the short list on the road to hell. Or heaven as the case may be. "Futile care" - applying cutting edge technology to keep a person "alive" as long as possible no matter what the prognosis.

Doctors have access to any medical care they want but they choose to turn their back on it and die naturally. This fascinates me.

If that is a doctor's point of view, why are the rest of us used as pincushions?

Part of the problem is our culture. We do not accept death in this country, so family members think they are being loyal by doing whatever it takes to fight it.

Part of the problem is doctors. They are in a delicate situation. Even if they despise administering futile care, if the family wants it, advising against it makes the doctor look like he is trying to save time, money or effort; makes him look cold hearted.

The biggest evil is the medical system itself. The worst case scenario is doctors who use the fee-for-service model to do everything they can, no matter how pointless, to make money. I prefer to believe this is a small per centage of the problem.

More commonly, doctors are fearful of litigation and do whatever they are asked to avoid getting into trouble.

I listened to this doctor on NPR and read an article online written by another doctor They both said that doctors wonder why people put family members through this agony; the doctors see the consequences all the time, the suffering and indignity and they know there is a better way. One doctor pointed out the excessive cost of life extending procedures and said "what it buys is misery we would not inflict on a terrorist." Pretty much sums it up by someone who has been in the trenches.

Pain can be managed better than ever and people can find a way to die in peace at home. Hospice care provides people with much more dignified and better final days. There are studies out there that have found that people placed in hospice care often live longer than people with the same disease who are seeking active cures.

I was in the hospital last week with an IV jammed into the back of my hand, which is nothing compared to what other people I know have been through, and still I felt helpless and imagined myself back there, older and sick, with lots of other stuff jammed into my body, being wheeled around like a rag doll.

No thanks, baby.

This country has a lot of growing up to do and our systems need to be uncorrupted.

Gonna be a slow process.

I keep a kit in my bed table. In it are a gun, heroin, a machete, sleeping pills, and 1.75 liters of Crown Royal. I have a travel kit with the same supplies.

When the Grim Reaper comes knockin' ain't nobody gonna strap me to a table and talk to me like a three year old.

I'm going out with guns blazing, baby. And a pretty good buzz, to boot.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Drunken Mortician

I am determined to flex my muscles in the fiction arena. I think this presents the best opportunity to make money.
Anyone who has read my stabs at fiction in this blog know I suck at it. But I am one determined motherf***er.

Here is the beginning of a story I just cooked up tonight.

You do not have a right to judge me as a drunken mortician. How would you handle dealing with this job day in and day out?

Don’t lie to me; you could not handle it. You find corpses eerie, kind of spooky, even though you yourself are destined to become one.  For me the corpses are not the problem. For me it’s the living; those left behind. Crying, sobbing, and choking on their grief as they try to negotiate the price of my services down. I despise their weakness and I despise their frugality.

Come on, we are all going to die. We don’t want to, we live as if we are immortal, but we are all prancing towards the eternal dirt nap whether we like to admit it or not. Doesn’t it make you feel even just a little bit better when a family member precedes you? Things are as they should be. Uncle Ernesto is in the box and you are still here, still fighting, still plotting and planning, still living, if that is what you choose to call it.

You don’t necessarily have to feel bad for the dead either. You have no idea how many dead parents settle into rigor mortis sporting smiles.  Smiles of eternal liberation from responsibility to their kids.

I enjoy the ability to prey on the grief of family members, which is why I get pissed off when they haggle over the price. I am no different than a veterinarian. Vets overcharge you exorbitantly because they know you will do anything for your pets. Don’t your loved ones deserve the same consideration?

You don’t negotiate with the vet, don’t negotiate with me.

So I drink. The dead are my friends and confidants, but they are devilishly hard to have a conversation with. Generally I appreciate the one way chats because living people never listen anyway; they are opinionated, driven to seek sympathy and to market themselves shamelessly even though they have nothing to offer.

Corpses are cool. Especially the pretty young girls.

NO I do not swing that way, for Christ sake give me a break. It’s just that their beauty is frozen in time and they never say anything stupid. The perfect date.

That's it for now; I have no idea where this is going or if I will even finish it. But I thought you deserved a taste.
Ciao, baby.

Dig This

"As our eyes grow accustomed to sight they armour themselves against wonder."

Leonard Cohen

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dancing Crazy

Dancing crazy like a drunk but not drunk, with abandon.
Singing softly under your breath.
Thinking with wonder, and wondering thoughfully.
Seeing with your eyes, intensifying with your mind.
Walking boldly and delicately forward.
Taking in what you can, storing the rest for future contemplation.
Hearing what is instead of what you want.
Opening up to learn, crouching carefully for defense.
Fiercely you, never the other.
No surrender.

Two Goals

I have two short term goals.
One is to make a lot more money before December 31, 2012. Assuming we get past December 21. I despise poverty and I despise wallowing in it.
The second is to own a gun. Craig is going to give me a tutorial on the weapons he has amassed, and I look forward to it eagerly.
If President Obama is defeated in November, I need to arm myself against the right wing bigots and mindless racists who will be running around looting and plundering and raping in celebration of the election of a spineless moron whose policies will destroy this country before you can even utter the words "Who the hell is Mitt Romney?"

Look At That Stupid Girl

Great song written by the Rolling Stones.
"The way she powders her nose, her vanity shows and it shows, she's the worst thing in this world, well look at that stupid girl."
"The way she talks about someone else, that she doesn't even know herself, she's the sickest thing in this world, well, look at that stupid girl."
1966. The Stones had balls. They still have balls. Under My Thumb is another one. At first I thought the feminists would go crazy over Stupid Girl at the time, but then I thought maybe this is exactly the kind of woman they are rebelling against. I get the Stones point of view and it must have been amped up by being Rock Gods - I can just imagine the brainless women who groupied around them.
Women love money, women love power, women love fame, women love bad boys. It is a tried and true formula.
The song popped up randomly on my blessed iPod machine and I wondered if a song like that could even be written today. Female activists would probably be all over it, burning Stones records in the streets and frantically lazer removing their "I Love Keith" tattoos from unmentionable areas of their bodies.
Then I thought about Rehab. Amy Winehouse.
I love that song, it is so un-politically correct in a time when rehab is a goddamn movement. If you have consumed only one drink a day for your entire life and, randomly, one day you reach for a second, BOOM the Rehab police are there with tasers and a straight jacket dragging you off to The Sunny Acres Holistic Cleansing facility to dry you out.
Once you get there you find it's not so bad because they have an awesome bar with unbelievably cheap top shelf prices because the admission cost for the rehab program is $1,500/day.
AND the irony is that Charlie Sheen is perched on the limb of a tree right outside the facility with four bottles of Patron Anejo and three joints welcoming you to your new temporary home.
"They tried to make me go to rehab, I said no, no, no."
I love that lyric. Love it. It exposes the hypocrisy of rehab for the rich. And the futility of rehab for the common man. Jesus, life requires painkilliers and escape. How the hell else do you survive?
Take This Job and Shove It. Written by David Allen Coe, immortalized by Johnnie Paycheck ( you know that ain't his real name). If you don't know who David Allen Coe is, Google the man and you will undertsand why he was the perfect guy to write this song.
"Well I been working in this factory for now on fifteen years, all this time I watched my woman drowning in a pool of tears, and I've seen a lot of good folks die who had a lot of bills to pay, I'd give the shirt right off of my back if I had the guts to say........"
"The foreman, he's a regular dog, the line boss he's a fool, got a brand new flat top haircut Lord, he thinks he's cool, one of these days I'm gonna blow my top and that sucker, he's gonna pay, I can't wait to see their faces when I get the nerve to say.......
Take this job and shove it, I ain't working here no more, my woman done left and took all the reason I was working for, ya better not try and stand in my way, 'cause I'm walking out the door, take this job and shove it I ain't working here no more."
Magnificent. I have longed to say this my entire life and so have you. I have been working for 40 years and many of you have worked longer than that. In forty years I have had only one job that I liked - tending bar - and that lasted five years. I still long to say those words and I will. I will orchestrate my escape from the mundane and when I do, a lifetme of anger will bubble up and drown whoever I am working for at the time.
Thank god for music. Thank god for The Stones and Amy Winehouse and David Allen Coe and hundreds of other rebels.
They have the guts to say what we cannot because we are forced to protect whatever little patch of ground we have staked our lives on.
Music is  meaningful on so many different levels and in so many different ways.
Consume it like you would an expensive wine or a designer steak.
It fuels your body in a much more satisfying way.

Money and Time

I'm digging this living in the now concept. My buddy Eckhart is big on that. He says there is no time, there is only now. I like that. Of course there is chronological time, you gotta know what time it is so you don't piss off your boss, but he's talking about psychological time.
Regret and worry, past and future - the hell with them.
I live in a constant state of anxiety. My guts churn, my synapses burn, I mull over my mistakes and worry about what I will do and how much time I have to do it.
When I am disciplined enough to jolt myself back to the now, BOOM, anxiety evaporates. It is a pyshical release triggered by a thought process, an awareness.
It works and it blows my mind. It blows my mind when I consider how much of my life I have wasted living in the past and fearing the future. It blows my mind to feel how peaceful I can be when I keep my mind present.
There really is only now. I can grab NOW by the cojones and squeeze every drop of potential out of it. I can make it mine.
Of course with me it's a constant battle. I can experience a blissful NOW moment and in less than a minute become crippled with regret. How crazy is that?
The NOW moments are becoming more frequent and it's a good place to live.
Money is insidious. I gotta have it. Bags of it, piles of it. Do what you love and the rest comes. I dig that saying and I think it ties into the NOW concept in the sense that if you are doing what you love regardless of the consequences, you are living in the now.
I love to write. I believe I can at least make money on the side from writing. I try to do what I love every day but my time is limited because my life demands money.
I have tried not eating and paying the mortgage late; neither of these things resulted in fruitful outcomes.
I need money to free me. So I can write. And make more money.
This is me at my best and at my worst. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Dickens. Read him. He rocks.
The NOW stuff is cerebral, almost religious; the money hunger is crass.
But I'm 58, baby. I don't have decades to build a writing career, to develop a writing reputation. It has to happen in a milli second.
"We want the world and we want it now." The Doors. Listen to them. They rock.
Money-wise, all I really want is dignity. No fear. The no fear that comes from having enough of a savings account that no crisis can sink me.
Dinner once a week with my amazing wife. Nice cars. Money to spend on my kids and my extemded kids.
I woke up with these two concepts floating around my whiskey addled brain this morning.
Time. Money.
I am really getting somewhere with the NOW thing. I dig it, I believe in it; it provides me with the clarity I need to LIVE my life.
The money thing, I don't know. I am fixated on it. Read an articel on homeless people in Rolling Stone. Homeless people you would never expect to be homeless.
I am one step away from that. Because of my financial situation, the economy and the brutal ruthlessness of the financial community.
This worries me. I like living indoors.
So there you have it. In an ideal world, the discipline I am trying to achieve in my mind would lead to financial security in some serpentine, unpredictable way.
But this ain't no ideal world, baby.
At the very least, I am in an interesting place. At least in my head.
Time and Money.
Like dueling banjos in my mind.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hersheys Golden Almond Bars

My god these things are delicious. I haven't had one in years, probably ten years or more. Time becomes evasive as you age.
I don't remember how we were introduced to them but Carol and I discovered them somehow somewhere and I became addicted. It was one of those things where she would give them to me as presents on special occasions. She could get them locally. Gold box, gold wrappers on the bars, thick Hershey's chocolate and tons of almonds.
Each bar was calculated to feed 310 people, but I would down a bar at a time on my own. 50,000 calories, 49,000 of them from fat. Def***inglicious.
They disappeared and I haven't had one for a gazillion years. You can order them online from Hershey's and I plan on doing so as soon as I get a good factory job.
Apparently they have a history.
It was introduced in 1921 as the 50-50 or Fifty-Fifty bar, bursting with almonds. It was considered a fancy good along with Bon Bons and 1/2 and 1 pound boxed Kisses. In 1925 a half pound 50-50 bar was created. In 1931 Hershey added a 2 pound Baked Almond Milk Chocolate bar. Sweet Jesus.
The candy has been marketed as Hershey's Baked Almond Milk Chocolate, Hershey's Toasted Almond Milk Chocolate, and Hershey's Almond Milk Chocolate. It became The Golden Almond Bar in 1977, a 14 ounce bar.
I don't give a damn about the history, I care about my taste buds. I suddenly developed an urge for them tonight and I am twitching like a heroin addict. As far as I know you can no longer buy them locally, gotta order them from Hershey's.
They are now marketed as a package of five 2.8 ounce bars, totalling 14 ounces. I would have to eat the whole goddamn box, which would not be a problem.
I am jonesing and I will acquire them.
Facts and figures: Serving size is one bar, calories are 420, 260 from fat. So if I ate all five in one sitting (which is unavoidable) I would consume 2,100 calories.
Isn't that cool?
Do yourself a favor. Order up some of these bad boys. I'll get mine and we will meet in an alley somewhere after dark.
Passersby will hear snarking, snuffling, gobbling, drooling, ravenous sounds as we pound this delicacy into our guts.
And they will double over in jealous rage as we smile a demented chocolate smile.

A Scribe and a Pharisee Walk Into a Bar......................

Since I read God Is Not Great, I have been experiencing great discomfort. Hitchens' arguments were persuasive, his logic impeccable, his knowledge complete.
His point of view - atheism - may not be the definitive answer, but there is powerful logic behind it.
I have been squirming intellectually ever since. It hit me that I had allowed myself to believe passively in an afterlife, some sort of afterlife, any kind of afterlife and that it comforted me. I wasn't out there preaching about it, my point of view was that I don't believe in this heaven and hell stuff but I wanted to believe in life after death.
Because I am afraid. I don't want to live 75 years and disappear. I want to live on.
Hitchens forced me to question that approach and now I am on shaky ground.
So I went back to The Sermon On The Mount to see what kind of inspiration I could find there.
It's hard to read, a lot of it is general and the specific stuff is difficult to understand.
What the hell are beatitudes? Had to look that up. "A state of utmost bliss." Apparently if you follow the twelve teachings in this section, bliss can be yours.
I got some issues.
"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." The meek might inherit heaven, but on earth they will get run over by the Koch brothers and what they stand for. (If you don't know who the Koch brothers are look it up - they own you).
11 and 12 are a combo deal, saying that if you take a beating like the prophets did, "for my sake", you are blessed. This ego thing pops up continuously and I think it is un-godlike.
In the Light section, Jesus tells you to let your light shine to illuminate your good works and to
glorify your Father. Ego again.
Under the Law section, we are told we must surpass the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees to enter heaven. Scribes had knowledge of the law and could draft legal documents; Pharisees believed in resurrection and in following legal traditions. If all we have to do is surpass the righteousness of lawyers, we got it made.
Under Anger, 22 ends in "but whosoever shall say Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." I've said worse, I'm already on my way to hell.
Under Adultery Jesus says just to think about committing adultery is to commit adultery. If we are condemned for our thoughts there must be a waiting line in hell. Do you think they serve hot coffee in line as a joke?
Under Oaths Jesus says not to swear by heaven, for it is God's throne, nor by earth, for it is his footstool. Earth is God's footstool? That is not exactly a ringing endorsement.
I want to believe that Jesus in his humble way was doing his best to interpret his Dad's words and maybe got confused. Except Jesus is his dad. And the Holy Ghost too. Sorry, Holy Spirit.
Never mind.
I'm being superficial, I am not equipped intellectually to understand this stuff. But then again, scholars, both religious and secular, cannot agree on a definitive interpretation of The Sermon On The Mount. And it is considered a powerful document within religious circles.
It bothers me that Hitchens can knock me off balance so easily and religious dogma cannot bring me back.
I am comfortable with eastern religions based on the limited reading I have done, but there are similarities throughout all religions that require a suspension of disbelief.
I have a bible. I am going to read through The Book Of Revelation. I hear it is one hellacious read.
My intellectual curiosity has been sparked by Hitchens, goddamn him, and is being fueled by my advanced age.
The most frustrating fact is knowing that even if I make the effort, all I will arrive at is an opinion. Not an answer.
The answer won't come until the Devil dances on my grave. And if I'm hearing rhythmic footsteps six feet above me I'll know I should have made better choices.
Maybe that's what hell is. When the knowing comes too late.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The I Love You Conundrum

I love you. I love you too.
Empirical studies show that in 93% of situations where those three words are uttered, they are heartfelt. The same studies show that in 72% of situations where the response is uttered, they are heartfelt.
Actually I made that up. Although it wouldn't surprise me if a government funded study like that actually existed. It's important to continuously find ways to waste our tax dollars.
Waste our tax dollars. That's a phrase I never thought I would use. Sounds so adult. So responsible.
What's happening to me? Last year I started flossing, now this.
Years ago Howard Stern said that when he went to school gatherings for his kids, he felt like the other parents were adults and he was a kid. I feel the same way and I consider it a positive.
Anyway I heard that exchange spoken on a show on TV and for some reason it hit me like never before. I am willing to bet when someone says "I love you", they mean it more often than not. Because if you initiate that exchange you are putting yourself out there. You are taking a risk. You have placed yourself in that Seinfeldian limbo of the "I love you too" return.
Of course because we humans are manipulative weasels you cannot take an I love you at face value. There are agendas and love presents a great battlefield within which to wield those agendas.
And of course we puny humans have no understanding at all about what love is. Love of pets, love of kids, yeah. That is natural, it flows and it feels right.
Love of each other? Every time we get a vibration in our crotch we call it love. And there are a million other emotional states that can be confused as love.
This creates the possibility of another nightmare scenario, of a disingenuous I love you and a heartfelt I love you too.
But I am willing to bet more often than not it is the other way around.
But in those circumstances where it is genuine, I love you is heavy. It's deep.
I love you too is more complicated. Your brain has a nano second to decide upon the appropriate response.
Thanks is not going to do it.
If you are in love your response will come naturally. If you are not in love, or not as in love, you got a problem.
Since avoiding confrontation is our nature, I love you too is the easy way out. In the short term.
In the long term you have created a dire situation for yourself which will only get worse as time goes on.
My plan is to become the executive producer of the next slimy reality TV show. Involving one couple per show. One person says "I love you." The other responds "I love you too." The judges and the cretinous audience must decide who is being truthful and who is being misleading. Questions can be asked of the contestants, life situations can be revealed about each of them in film clips and sound bites, twitter addicts can tweet stupidities that will scroll across the bottom of the screen.
At the end of the show a vote is taken based on judges opinions and twitter opinions and a final judgement is rendered.
The dramatic climax of the show comes when each contestant admits to lying or being truthful.
"I said I love you so I could suck you in and break your heart as payback for running over my sister's smart phone."
"I said I love you too because I want to do the horizontal mambo with you and then cast you aside like an old shoe."
Stuff like that.
I love you. I love you too.
A three word phrase and a four word phrase that have the potential for more destruction than a nuclear explosion.
Or the potential for sublime happiness that can only be experienced through selfless love.
As a betting man, I'm betting on the meltdown.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Park and Ride On A Saturday

Took a walk yesterday. Passed the park and ride down the street and it was empty. The park and ride where people abandon their beloved cars, and car pool with someone they can't stand to get to a place they don't want to be.
I car pooled decades ago with a guy who was my mirror image opposite. A guy who told me he lectured his kids not to open the refrigerator door until they knew exactly what they wanted so they would not waste energy. A guy who kept his thermostat set low in the winter because there are such things as sweaters and blankets. A guy who obsessed about gas mileage. A guy who did not drink. A guy who did not swear.
This guy bored me to death as I rode to work with him. Every single goddamn day.
It was thirty years ago and I still remember his name. Paul Odierno.
As Scrooge said: "Yes that is my name and I fear it may not be pleasant to you."
Yeah I passed the park and ride yesterday, it was empty and I felt good about that.
It should be empty every single day.

Sandusky May You Rot In Hell

Why can't we get sex right.
I am so sick of sex scandals in this country. I don't know if they are as prevalent in other countries but I would have to guess no - only because the rest of the world is adults, we are children.
I am not condoning some of the twisted crap that goes on, I am just saying that we are so repressed in this country that we are fascinated by those who fall. And the repressive, infantile attitude contributes in some part to the perverts that roam amongst us.
The very definition of pervert is open to discussion. In this country, according to religious zealots and republicans, any sex involving non married people, and same sex people, and any sex that is not performed in the missionary position, is deeply repulsive, unnatural, offensive to God and punishable by death.
Pick up a copy of the Kama Sutra for Christ sake, experiment and have some fun. Sex is not dirty.
Celebrity sex scandals, political sex scandals, sex scandals in sports, in church, in the library, in the bathroom, in a Smart car. What the hell is our problem?
Yeah sex is great sport and a hell of a lot more fun than anything else you can do, except maybe watching a good football game, but we are supposed to be evolved beings, organisms who can control our impulses through thought.
Aye there's the rub. We are not evolved, we don't think, we don't control anything. We are all so lost that we're looking for any escape, any diversion to help us ignore our lives and the inexorable march to oblivion.
Back to other countries. There are plenty of sex scandals to go around. You can't even factor middle eastern countries into the equation because their religions are so repressive and regressive that it results in uncontrollable sexual eruptions. Same for Holy Mother the Church.
But infidelity, orgies, same sex, Don Juan inclinations are considered more natural in cultured, educated countries. Some of it may be immoral by strict definition, but mankinds' natural impulses are recognized as such and people don't lose their minds in feigned horror as readily as we Americans do.
Sandusky is another thing entirely. He represents the faction of offenders who are indefensible, who prey on the weak, force their personal perversions on those who are not part of the club. And there are plenty of them out there.
Every time I saw him walking into or out of the court house with that smug, confident look on his face, and his goddamn file folders under his arm, I wanted to knock his teeth out through my TV.
I am praying to Jesus that he is sentenced to 413 years and that he is placed in the general population at the ADX Florence facility in Colorado. This facility houses the prisoners who are deemed the most dangerous and in need of the tightest control of all the prisoners within the United States Federal Prison System.
I don't understand the pathology of this type of twisted sexual inclination or any sexual deviation that involves non consensual sex or violence or death.
I only understand that sex is a powerful urge and motivator that we weak willed humans cannot apparently control. There are the titillating transgressions that entertain us on the news, and there are monsters like Sandusky who are so twisted by the power of sex they use it as a weapon and then parade around as if their tastes are acceptable.
The sexual urge is the single most powerful and confusing attribute of humanity.
We'd be better off with asexual reproductive capabilities. We could continue the species, no fuss, no muss, no complications, and go on to enjoy a good football game.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Five Minute Friend

Running a cash register in a liquor store is a boring, repetitive job. You handle approximately 100,000,000 bottles of booze a shift. "You want a box or a couple of bags?" Ask the same question a million times. "Choose debit or credit, it's gonna ask you for your zip code, press yes, sign on the dotted line." Give the same directions a million times. Mindless. You have to walk people through this crap because apparently drinkers can't read. And people get it wrong, continuously, so you have to back track and get it right. As the line gets longer.
You have the same conversations over and over and over. I ask "How you doing?" They say "Living the dream." A lot of people say that. There are the mindless who say it because it is the thing to say. Sadly, there are a hell of a lot of people who say it with naked bitterness because the sarcasm defines their life.
By the way, my standard answer to that comment is "Aren't we all." Amazingly witty and creative.
I get the weather report 318 times a day. I hate weather.
I tell them to have a good weekend and they pat their bag and say "I will now."
They tell me to sell them the winning lottery ticket. 474 times a day.
But there are gems. I live for the gems.
Had a guy in his mid eighties come through yesterday. He said something about his wife, I asked him how long he had been married and he told me it was over sixty years. Couldn't tell me exactly how long and he dismissed that detail as if it weren't relevant. Not sarcastically, just matter of fact like the exact number was not important.
Which it is not. When you have been married that long, your marriage is a living, breathing organism. You are unique. Your marriage is a celebration of two people living their lives for each other and together; it doesn't need to be measured.
Some how we got to the subject of cars and he reminisced about a car he bought a long time ago. A Chevy convertible. He said when he bought it, he had them match the color of the roof to the color of the body. So from a distance, with the top up, you couldn't tell it was a convertible.
He said this with a gleam in his eye, he was proud of this detail, it was a fond memory for him. So cool. He told me they didn't put the top down much but they still enjoyed having a convertible.
Since he had three large bottles of booze in the bag (the secret to his longevity?) I asked if he needed help. He declined, saying his wife was waiting for him and he would be OK.
Then he told me about the car his wife is currently driving. A car he bought her a couple of years ago. He drives it too but she does most of the driving because it is her car. A Pontiac Grand Am. A Grand Am with power everything, which again he told me with great pride. I was humbled to see the pleasure he got from spoiling his wife, even after all these years.
I asked him one more time if he needed help. He said nope, all he had to do was make it to the car. Then he added "Of course it's a bit of a walk because she always parks half a mile away from the store."
Ever the husband.
Conversations like these happen a lot, and they make up for all the morons. It usually happens with old people, and you know my theory why.
Old people ain't got nothing to prove, baby. We waste our time acting tough and pretending to have all the answers, but we don't know a goddamn thing and we are definitely not tough.
Old people have lived a life, they know how it goes. You cannot surprise them, you can only disappoint them. Their conversations are honest; no false bravado, no games. Such a refreshing change.
And they are OK with their humanity. They are looking for a sympathetic ear or a little warmth or some brief company. They are not trying to outdo you, they don't have an agenda, they are not trying to manipulate you.
Humanity as honest as it gets.
After a conversation like that, I usually relax my grip on the Uzi I keep stashed under the counter.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Two Different Visions ?

Heard a republican idiot, Bobby Jindal, say that President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have two very different visions for the future of this country. Jindal is the governor of Louisiana, which is a horrible irony for such a soulful, mystical, magical state.
Anyway how can anyone say that Romney has a vision for the future of America when he so obviously has his head up his ass?

Ralph and Rich

As you stagger your way through life, certain people have a major impact on the course your life follows. Sometimes you are aware of it and thankful, sometimes you take it for granted and allow their influence to fade into forgotten memory.
The last six and a half years of my life have been the most important I have lived, from a professional standpoint. Because I grabbed my life by the cojones, shook it up and tried to do something with it. Still trying.
Got laid off from my last accounting job in December 2005 and decided I had had enough. I had suffered with that career for close to thirty years and my nerves were shot. It is a stupid and a boring profession.
Decided to become a bartender, took a one week course at Boston Bartending School, got my cute, little certificate and I was off and running. I was 52 at the time.
I forgot that I am not a twenty year old hot babe with endless cleavage and a flirty demeanor. I probably hit twenty or thirty bars and restaurants within a one hour radius. For some strange reason nobody wanted to hire an old man with grey hair, a beer belly and no bartending experience as their next performer.
As I worried my way through this process, it became clear to me in conversations with confidants and boozers that my best shot was with private clubs. So I made the rounds of legions and other veterans organizations.
I finally got a shot with an American legion close to home. The manager and I had a good talk, she set up an appointment for me to meet with the Commander. Ralph. If he approved, I had the job.
Got there early that night and when I saw Ralph walk in, I knew I was doomed. He is an old school guy about 17 years older than me. I have a ponytail and an ear ring.
This was a case of don't judge a book by it's cover working in two directions at once. He hired me. He is the only guy who gave me a shot at tending bar out of all the managers I had spoken to.
Our relationship was tumultuous in the beginning because I didn't know a goddamn thing about tending bar and Ralph is a micro manager with a no bullshit attitude. He was on my ass constantly. But I learned. And I got good at it. And I liked it.
Eventually we got to a place where we could work together and laugh from time to time.
Ultimately the job didn't work out because the money just wasn't there.
I will never forget that Ralph is the man who took a chance on me and gave me my first opportunity to tend bar. I loved tending bar and miss it terribly. It's easy to judge Ralph on the surface, but there is more to the man than meets the eye.
Enter Rich.
I was ready to leave the legion but there were no jobs out there and I didn't know what I was going to do.
Rich manages a state run liquor store and is a friend of mine. He got me a job. He got me a job when there were no jobs to be got.
Can't seem to get away from booze.
Rich took me under his wing. Taught me the mechanics of doing my job, taught me about the business, taught me about the responsibilities of a manager, taught me about the organization we work for. He trusted me and gave me as much responsibility as I wanted. And we have had a couple of drinks together, dinner and Barden Hill insanity from time to time.
Rich is confused because I rail against the NHSLC viciously. Justifiably so. It is the most condescending, disorganized, unfair, employee using and abusing organization that I have ever worked for. Rich thinks I regret my decision.
I do not. I hate the situation I am in but I am grateful for the opportunity. I would make the same decision in the same situation given a second chance.
These two guys have had a major influence in my life over the past six years. Six years that I consider the most critical of my life.
They couldn't be more different in background, education, life experience, or attitude. Which shows you that you never know who will be the person to give you a shot.
I am still cranking away at achieving true Joe-ness. If I am lucky, there are others out there to help me out.
Whatever happens, I will take my appreciation of Ralph and Rich to the grave with me.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dig This

"Humans are a dangerously insane and very sick species."

Eckhart Tolle - "The Power of Now"

Dig This

Carl Jung recalling a conversation he had with a Native American chief who pointed out to him that in his perception most white people have tense faces, staring eyes and a cruel demeanor. The chief said: "They are always seeking something. What are they seeking? The whites always want something. They are always uneasy and restless. We don't know what they want. We think they are mad."

Dig This

"I retreated quickly and began circulating through the crowd, smiling at a series of wrinkled faces, that baggy, exhausted, disappointed look that people get in middle age, and all the faces were like that."

Form "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn

There Is A Vibe

There is a vibe. It is inside me, it hovers around me, it's in my soul and in my mind. It moves with me and inspires me. It makes me feel strong and it makes me feel hopeful.
I need magic in my life. I need mystery. Life is boring. The majority of your life is spent working and the majority of you hate your jobs. So you know what I say is true. The un-boring part of your life is a tiny fraction.
You need hope. You need to dream. Barbecues are not the ultimate answer, although they will do in a pinch.
I had a physical, I endured a colonostomy. No bad news. I am always surprised by this because between booze and anxiety, my body is under constant attack.
In addition I had a strange moment yesterday when they were wheeling me into the Anal Entertainment Center. I was rolling through the corridors, lying on the bed with an IV jabbed into the back of my hand, wearing a silly garment, looking out from that perspective. I looked at the people walking by, I looked at the rooms, the antiseptic hallways, I was feeling helpless and I did not like it at all. I imagined myself as a heart attack victim, a cancer warrior, picturing myself with tubes in my arm, tubes down my throat. I f***ing hated it and realized I don't ever want to experience that feeling for real. Not for thirty more years, hopefully never.
The kicker here is that I recently had an epiphany that radically changed my approach to life. So you take an epiphany and add in a couple of unexpected thumbs up health wise and a hospital bed perspective, and I am buzzing.
As I said, I need magic. I need signs, I need inspiration. So forgive what I have to say next, please indulge my approach to life.
I feel like I have been given an opportunity. A sign. It feels like a number of things are coming together in my body and my mind that will allow me or encourage me to fight for change.
I have been given an ethereal mandate.
I am determined to make something of my life and especially to extricate myself from the life suffocating employment situation I find myself in.
I am more than a part timer; I know it and I will prove it.
I have received  surprising evaluations of health in the past and I was always amazed and jazzed. Then I would quickly move on to a repetition of stupidity and hope for the best.
Not this time. So far, anyway.
This time I have a soul deep shift in perspective and habit to go along with the fact that I am apparently healthy. I generally don't trust the medical community, but I just can't rain on my own parade today. I accept their judgement and hope for the best.
Something is going on. I believe that. I have to believe that. Because I feel it. It is not just a desperate mind trying to create false hope.
I feel this throughout my body and my mind.
Many of you will mock me and consider me a fool. Those of you who have given up on life; on hope.
Let me set the record straight - I have no patience, in fact I have only contempt, for jaded losers who feed on sarcasm and a faux "I know everything attitude."
You are a f***ing fool to think that way. It is a defense mechanism and one that shrinks your life down to nothing and converts death into a positive.
I will never give up hope and I will never give up  trying to make my life something I can be proud of.  A life unexamined...................
I feel perfectly armed with the right weapons this time around.
When you feel good, when you feel positive and strong, you gotta go with it. Life is always looking to beat you down. You gotta fake it out, give it a different look, force it to change it's game plan.
Dig it, baby.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mosquito Ruined My Ride

Mosquito buzzing me in my truck on the way to work.
Distracting me, annoying me, harassing me.
Laughing as I cross the rumble strip again, having to jerk the wheel back.
It's a beautiful day, how can one so tiny divert my attention from the sun.
Try to ignore the little bastard, but he buzzes my ears and across my line of sight.
Grab for him one handed and slam my palm on the console.
No dead mosquito.
Back hand him a couple of times, he reconnoiters and comes back.
The windshield does him in.
He explores the possibilities right in front of me and I crush him against the glass.
And cross the rumble strip again.
I am triumphant but ten minutes closer to work.
Ten minutes less of the beauty I need to combat the stupidity of booze consumers.
Goddamn mosquito ruined my ride.

Colonostomies "R" Us

It was a two polyp day.
Had the colonostomy, they snipped out two polyps and I am home with a spring to my step.
So bizarre. The joint is like an assembly line for colonostomies. I kept looking around for Henry Ford.
I stroll into the office and there are four or five couples waiting. How many of us knew when we took the vow that love would eventually be defined by partnering up in the colonostomy experience.
The waiting room was silent. No TV on, no piped in music. Quiet whispers. Not the atmosphere I desire before having my anal canal invaded.
The Fugs had a song called Wide, Wide River that begins: "River of shit, river of shit, flow on, flow on, river of shit, right from my toes, on up to my nose, flow on, flow on, river of shit."
At the very least, this place should play that song on an endless loop.
People kept coming in and registering, while others were called to the inner sanctum for fun and merriment.
I couldn't believe the traffic. They must perform 50 goddamn colonostomies a day. Felt like I was at Jiffy Lube. Oughtta be a discount.
Medical professionals talk to patients like they were children. I hate this. You know how it goes; way too cheery, every sentence ending on a high note, bubbly and annoying.
Talk to me like an adult. I can handle it. Even though I don't act like one.
The competent professionals also disturb me. When they get me in the prep room, the woman fires off 23,000 questions in a brisk, business-like manner. And gives me ten sentences of what to expect in a three second span.
Obviously she has done this 437,896 times. So I can chalk her brusqueness up to efficiency. Or I can worry that she is so bored she will check yes instead of no or "not allergic to" instead of "allergic to."
I don't like "procedures" because of the helpless feeling. Lying there in that ridiculous hospital gown with an IV jabbed into my hand, waiting to be wheeled into the main event. Looking out the window, listening to the people walking and talking by in the hall.
Got the picture in my head of my mom in the hospital, where she spent many, many days of her life. My dad at the end too. IV's, machines, an antiseptic atmosphere that does not inspire visions of happiness.
Really hit me when they wheeled me down the hall. I felt like a patient. I could imagine myself as a heart attack victim or cancer warrior and I did not like the feeling.
The past month has been an exceptionally healthy one for me. Mentally, physically, surprisingly. Gonna try to keep that up.
I do not want to be wheeled down a hospital corridor again until I am dead and they are preparing to remove my brain in an effort to understand just what the hell was going on in there all these years.
Anyway, it is done. A five year reprieve. Had a physical two weeks ago, all went well. Blood tests last week. No bad news.
I am always stunned to get positive news from the medical community. It's like driving a car 234,000 miles without ever changing the oil and your mechanic telling you "This baby runs like a top."
I was comparing colonoscopy notes with my brother yesterday and I said I didn't remember the day before the procedure being bad. Last one was eight years ago and my mind is fading.
Anyway, I was wrong. Trust me, I didn't see much of the Red Sox game last night and what I did see was spent in anticipation of jogging to the bathroom.
So another hurdle cleared. There must be some sort of destiny awaiting me.
I shall go now and seek it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dig This

"I decided that it was not wisdom that enabled poets to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean."


Dig This

"The once plentiful herds of magazine writers would continue to be culled - by the Internet, by the recession, by the American public, who would rather watch TV or play video games or electronically inform friends that, like, rain sucks. But there's no app for a bourbon buzz on a warm day in a cool, dark bar."

From Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

Burying Bodies, Celebrating Ambition

Just finished Brutal. A book written by Kevin Weeks, business partner in crime to Whitey Bulger.
I didn't find it brutal, but it takes a lot to turn my stomach. It was interesting, though. Always interesting to read a criminal talking about murder, extortion, gambling, intimidation, robberies and beatings like you and I talk about a three day weekend. They killed a lot of people, buried them in basements just like on The Sopranos, and had to dig them up and move them from time to time, just like on The Sopranos.
Bulger was a pretty smart guy. He took great pains to not get caught. Didn't drink, smoke or gamble so he reduced his vulnerability. Plotted everything carefully, didn't act unless he felt the conditions were close to perfect and didn't act out of anger. Most of the people he killed didn't see it coming because he let the air cool before disposing of them. Revenge is a dish best served cold.
He established multiple identities and stashed money all over the place because he knew eventually he would be forced to run.
He and Weeks used to talk about how if they put as much effort into a straight life as they did into being criminals, they would still be rich but they'd be able to enjoy it more.
I have read that comment from other criminals as well.
Interesting perspective.
One I can identify with. Because I work for the miserly, amoral and immoral new Hampshire State Liquor Commission, I am forced to seek additional income.
I started stealing social security checks from old ladies.  The first one I approached, a seventy two year old, knocked me to the ground with a roundhouse kick and then proceeded to stomp me. I forgot that seventy is the new sixty. I did manage to stick my tongue out at her as I limped away.
Graduated to eighty year olds and found out that mace works. And while I'm standing there tearing up, the old broad snagged my wallet and kicked me in the gonads. I was pretty pissed off and a little feisty so I flipped her off. Then I had to stagger down the street as she chased me swinging her cane like nunchucks.
Ninety year olds are a little easier; they are brittle and move slower. But they have James Bond-like equipment. Ran into a nonagenarian with a walker that shoots fire out of the handles like a flame thrower. As I rolled on the ground trying to extinguish my hair, she pressed a button that extended knives from the legs, which she used to carve her initials into my belly. I begged her to back off and crawled away in humiliation.
So you can see that I have put a lot of time and effort into my criminal career with absolutely no results. Which mirrors my experience with the NHSLC.
You read a book like Brutal and it makes you wonder about a life of crime. Yeah you're gonna get caught eventually, but until then you live a very good life. Fancy cars, nice jewelry and suits, impressive houses, cool vacations, premium booze.
Crime is alluring. Good payoff and you make your own hours.
I'm gonna have to think bigger, though. I can't even walk past the Blue Heaven and Hair Senior Home any more without fearing for my life. They got a wanted poster of me on the wall right next to one advertising Little Billy's walker repair service.
The notoriety 's kind of cool, though.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Corporate Sponsorship

Carol and I were watching a special on the beauty and majesty of Fenway Park. The history, the quirkiness, the fact that it has survived one hundred years while other ballparks have been destroyed and replaced with soul-less stadiums. The fact that it is a part of the neighborhood. The fact that just being in Fenway is just as cool as catching a Sox game.
Inevitably other parks were referenced during the show and here comes the parade of corporate sponsorships and cold, business like names.
Coors Field, Safeco Field, Busch Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, AT&T Park, Minute Maid Park. I hate these names as I hate corporations. The names are self serving, unoriginal, and impossible to make an emotional connection with. I particularly hate the parks named after major banks. These seem especially cruel and cold.
Here's the irony. Here's the inspiration.
I want a major corporation to sponsor my home. I am paying for my home for the second goddamn time and I will be 103 years old before I actually own it. It's a $100,000 house that is costing me upwards of $15 million dollars.
I am tired of mortgage payments resulting in ragged underwear.
If a major corporation will pay off my mortgage, they can do anything they want with my house. Paint their name in impossibly huge letters right on the side or on the roof or both. Put a sign up at the end of the driveway with one of those phony pictures that makes the corp. look like your best friend. Rig the doors so that every time anyone walks into and out of  the house a computerized voice repeats the name of the corp.
Slap the corporate logo on every cabinet in the kitchen, provide me with special shower curtains, put see through stickers on every window. Emboss my toilet seats with corporate identity.
I don't give a good goddamn. Just pay off the loan.
You can take pictures of me standing with my arms around evil corporate execs extolling their virtues to the heavens. "Yes sir, Blood Suckers Bank cares about the little man, our survival is foremost in every decision they make, and they even opened up starter bank accounts for our Little Leaguers after an appropriate credit check."
I live in the woods, in a quiet, beautiful area that is private, peaceful, comfortable and inspiring.
This is exactly the kind of image a thieving corporation needs to make themselves look neighborly.
If I could get Crown Royal to sponsor the house, it would be nirvana. I always wanted to live in a purple house. Of course I don't see Seagram's as an evil entity so our mutually beneficial relationship would be sweet synchronicity.
People get paid to drive around with Budweiser on the side of their cars. I am taking the concept to a whole new level.
I will be entertaining offers over the next four weeks, negotiating the maximum amount of perks a corporation will allow (given the current corporate climate I imagine I will be driving a Ferrari, piloting a cigarette boat and wearing $5,000 custom made Italian silk suits).
Once I sign on the dotted line you will all be invited over for a barbecue and maximum  commercial exposure.
Enjoy a beer from my specially fitted Blue Moon cooler that rocket ejects ice cold bottles at the touch of a button. Chow down a buttery Delmonico steak fresh from my TallGrass Beef Company grill. Wipe the grease of your face with beautifully decorated Kimberly-Clark re-usable napkins.
Step out on the lawn with the Scotts Turf Builder Logo mowed into it and admire the exquisite Crown Royal bottle sculpted into the side of my house, 150 times scale.
A little slice of heaven, a personal dream come true.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Being A Dad

Being a dad is not biological.
Playing your part in creating children does not make you a dad.
Being a mother is intensely biological. Skip the scientific explanation of how pregnancy occurs, just think about the concept of one human being growing another human being inside of her. It is god-like.
What an amazing, mysterious, magical, mystical, overwhelming thing. This tiny, developing life, slowly maturing over nine months entirely dependent on the host body. Knowing nothing but the body that encases and protects and nourishes it. Communicating internally with mom as mom communicates internally with the baby. Silently. Wordlessly. Communicating in the most intense way humans can communicate.
No matter what the relationship is after birth and thirty years down the road, there always has to be that intuitive understanding and connection that mom gave birth to you. Whether you think about it or not, whether you acknowledge it or not, it is there - the spiritual connection that cannot be denied. The spiritual connection that is majestic and amazing.
Mom still has to be a good mom after giving birth, she still has to do her thing, but she has a huge leg up on dad right out of the gate.
And that is as it should be.
A dad is a different thing. His relationship is not as intimate. It is intimate in a different way, if he cherishes his role enough. His kids know he loves them because he gets home from work, tired and worn down by the reality of vanishing dreams, vanishing because of reality, and gets enormous energy from playing with his kids. Feeling fatigued on the ride home, suddenly he is outside playing whiffle ball, or wrestling in the house, or playing catch or basketball and pure joy radiates from his face.
His kids can just feel what a treasure they are to him, what magic medicine they are for his soul.
They joke, they laugh, they get goofy and they talk.
Maybe dad reads to them before they go to bed. They watch goofy shows on TV.
They are together and it feels natural.
I don't think a dad has to overcome the spiritual connection that exists between the kids and mom; I think he needs to complement it.
A real dad can recognize the beauty of the relationship between mom and the kids and do whatever comes naturally to him to add to that.
Early on, kids should look to mom and dad as amazing people. They should never be afraid of them. They should look to them for learning and for love and for inspiration and for safety. And it should not be strained; these things should flow from the parents to the kids effortlessly.
Later, when the kids are older and recognize their parents as human beings, they can revise their opinions downward.
That's called learning.
Dad's connection to his kids can never approximate mom's in the spiritual realm. But the relationship between dad and the kids can be powerful and magical and mind blowing and spiritual in it's own way.
It's all about love. It's all about uncompromised commitment between human beings.
It's about honesty and trust.
There are lots of biological dads out there who shatter the meaning of the word dad.
And there are lots of dads out there who create their own spiritual connection, fueled by intense love, between themselves and their kids.
Celebrate the real dads.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Not So Supreme Court

I despise what is going on in this country.
Just read an article in Time magazine about Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. The fate of this nation, as far as interpretation of law and making decisions on landmark cases goes, is in his hands. That's because there are nine Supreme Court justices - four are conservative, four are liberal and Kennedy, at heart a conservative, bounces back and forth.
This is because past Presidents have stacked the court with justices who suit their needs, justices who share the same political leanings. They have made the highest court in the land partisan. I am not astute enough to know if it has always been this way, but I do believe it is worse now than ever.
The criteria for choosing a Supreme Court justice should be objectivity. They are tasked with interpreting law in a way that has far reaching impact morally, legally, politically and financially.
Kennedy scares me. His decisions have fallen on both sides of the fence, so you don't really know where he stands. In the past twenty five years he has cast the deciding vote in cases dealing with abortion, the death penalty, gay rights, the war on terrorism, campaign finance and school prayer.
How's that for power?
By the end of this month we will know the court's decision on President Obama's health care reforms. Kennedy's comments so far indicate that he has not decided where he sides on this issue. There are major points to be made on both sides of this argument but in general I believe the President's health care reforms are a good thing. Whether or not Congress has the right to force people to buy private insurance, I don't know. I do know if the reforms are defeated by this court, it will be a major blow to President Obama's campaign. Review of this case should have been delayed until after the election, and don't tell me they could not do that; they can do anything they want. So the timing of this case makes it a political decision.
Kennedy cast the deciding vote on Citizens United; the decision that opened the floodgates for unlimited campaign donations by individuals and corporations. His ruling in part stated: "independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption."
Are you serious? That sounds like a decision made by a guy whose month long all expense paid vacation on Maui was clandestinely financed by Halliburton.
He has voted in favor of allowing abortion and then in subsequent decisions made it harder to get abortions.
My point is that he has too much power. Every Supreme Court vote should be a situation of evaluating the facts with respect to our Constitution and the laws of the land. On the part of all nine justices.
Those days are obviously gone, if they ever even existed.
You have the country moving backwards on gay rights, womens' rights, civil rights,  workers' rights and preserving the environment.
You have a republican House and Congress that will block anything President Obama tries to do.
You have voter suppression laws being passed all around the country to make it harder for people to vote.
Racism is uglier than ever and out in the open.
Wall Street and Big Banking are openly corrupt, gleefully destroying the economy and laughing at any attempt to reign them in.
The future of any American other than the wealthy is being willfully flushed down the toilet.
And you have one man on the Supreme Court making the most critical, the most influential decisions that can be made.
I wish George Washington and Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson and the rest of those dudes could come back from the grave and straighten things out.
After taking a look around and projectile vomiting for fifteen minutes, they would grab republicans and the wealthy by the throat and say: "You have perverted our principles, our rights and privileges; you have taken a precious idea, that of democracy, and turned it into a vile and corrupt system."
Come on, America - we are slipping into darkness and most of the voters in this country are watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians instead of keeping up with the activities of those who will destroy this country.
Excuse me, I have to go kneel in front of the toilet.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Another Great Lyric

"Take the only tree that's left
and stuff it up the hole in your culture."

The Future - Leonard Cohen

Manic Eccentric

I am manic eccentric.
But I keep it well hidden.
Outwardly I am a fine fellow. Relatively upbeat and polite, doing my best to make you feel good. Acting the responsible role and not displaying my true tastes too flamboyantly. The Nazis, I mean, NHSLC frowns upon individual expression.
But deep down I am Liberace and Elton John cross pollinated with Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Depp.
Certain items of apparel were meant to viciously augment individual expression.
Like socks. I have one pair of pink socks, three or four socks with skulls and crossbones on them and that's it. I believe socks should reflect every color in the rainbow. Especially the fluorescent ones.
My collection will soon expand to include cherry red, purple, yellow and lime green. I just have to find a place to buy them.
I'm finding as I metamorphasize, my flamboyance is leaking out, rising to the surface unchecked.
A healthy thing.
Man I love funky, two tone shoes. I am ordering a pair tomorrow from DSW. Black and white, kind of wing tip style shoes. Beautiful. I have a $20 off coupon - how can I go wrong?
I was legendary at the legion for the red sneakers I wore behind the bar. I had an urge, Carol indulged it on Father's day and next thing you know I was wearing these bright red absolutely gorgeous sneakers.
The legion is not the place to wear red sneakers but I didn't give a good goddamn. I loved them, I wore them. Took a lot of verbal abuse along racist lines like "Did you steal those sneakers off a..................". Unoriginal and boring.
The best line I got was "Where did you get those sneakers, Clown College?" I loved that line and repeated it often.
Ear rings. I eventually want one ear ring for every day of the year. I typically wear conservative ones to work, a little more flamboyant in public, but I have ear rings I wear at home that I wear no where else.
Kind of silly, no? I like these ear rings but feel the world is not ready for them.
Better get ready.
I dig color. I notice all the big money bling guys wear big diamond ear rings, but never ruby stones or garnet stones or emerald stones. I get me more money, I get me more color.
Hats. I love hats. I have two Fedoras I inherited from my father that I rarely wear. Gorgeous hats. Just bought a white hat with a black hat band over the Memorial Day Weekend that suits me perfectly. In fact Carol made me stop wearing it because eighteen year old girls were coming up to me on the beach telling me they wanted to marry me, and that if I was already married they would marry me and my lovely wife.
Carol is close minded that way.
I will be wearing hats more often.
Ties. I don't wear ties much anymore because I am a member of the ultra poor and I don't go anywhere where a dress code is enforced.
Soon I will be rich and my tie collection will explode. They must be colorful and 100% silk. Don't give me those ugly polyester ties or the blends. If a tie ain't silk, a tie ain't nuthin'.
Suits. I used to wear beautiful suits. I'm partial to pin stripe of course but BOLD pin stripe. I am losing weight again and when I get down to 75 pounds I am going to go to Men's Wearhouse and buy me 15 suits. Bold, beautiful, one of a kind suits. 100% wool, or linen, seersucker or wool/silk blends. No cheap blends please. Take a look a David Letterman's suits and you will learn to drool over suits. They are exquisite.
Rings. I love rings, man. Like the way they feel, like the way they look. Wristbands, bracelets, necklaces, neck chains. The more the merrier.
Gotta be distinct. Gotta be unique.
None of that cheap Mafia looking stuff.
Vests. Love vests. Got about four or five. One leather, the rest fabric. Don't wear them much, gonna wear them more often. Vests are cool, man.
Shirts. I veer from black to explosive. Sometimes you need cool, sometimes you need flamboyant. You never need to wear a shirt that every other guy is wearing.
"Spress Yourself."
Manic eccentric, man.
Been that way all my life.
Time to let it shine.

Ladies and Gentlemen There Is Hope

Gregg Allman was on The Colbert Report last night promoting his new autobiography..
When I first heard about this I was paralyzed with fear. Gregg has not been real alert lately, and if you know anything about Stephen Colbert you know that he has a razor sharp, laser fast, intelligent sense of humor.
I wasn't sure if Colbert views Gregg as a washed up rock casualty, or if he views him as the Rock God that he is.
If washed up was his point of view, I knew he would skewer Gregg and Gregg would be helpless. If Rock God  was his point of view I figured Gregg at least had a chance.
I needn't have worried. Gregg was sharper than I have seen him lately, which is to say he was about 60% there. But I am OK with that; he looked to be a few more steps further away from death and that's what I need to see.
Colbert was respectful of Gregg, making it clear that he understands The Allman Brothers' significant roll in music history. I should have expected this. Anyone smart enough to cleverly satirize republican stupidity as he does, is smart enough to appreciate ABB.
The Allman Brothers have not been a main stream band for decades. In fact they were not a main stream band even when they were a main stream band. ABB fans are intelligent consumers; they understand music. They get the supreme musicianship this band has demonstrated for 43 years. They get the legacy, the deep love the band members have always had for the music that inspires them, the unbreakable bond between band members that says "We are The Allman Brothers Band, baby - there may be other bands out there as good as us but there ain't no band in the world better than us."
Anyway I was happy. Gregg even made me laugh a couple of times, as opposed to recent appearances before that, that made me want to cry.
And Gregg had his hair down, baby. It is rare you see him wear it down; it is almost always in a ponytail. He looked great.
In fact Gregg with his hair down looks almost as good as me with my hair down.
Check out the interview peoples; it is humorous and the man is a legend.

Eight Majestic Words

"I Don't Have To Go To Work Today."

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dig This

"I drink to make other people more interesting."

                                          Ernest Hemingway

The Love I Have For You

The love I have for you is stronger than it was 34 years ago,

stronger than it was half a million tears ago.

The love I have for you has learned from its mistakes,

this love wants to give before it takes.

It would like to make amends, but the past is history.

Instead it has learned to bend and to appreciate the mystery.

This love is unique to us; we have crafted it like fine art,

it is powerful in its beauty because it comes from the heart.

The love I have for you is inspired by you and my ability to learn,

it’s a love so very precious, a love that we have earned.

Here's What Bothers Me

My mind does not believe that I am aging. Despite the gray hair, the beer belly, the aching back and knees, the wrinkles, the colonoscopies, the omnipresent fatigue and a general slowing down, my mind still believes that I am a kid.
But the people who have inspired me are aging and I can't get away from it.  It jolts me back to reality and I don't like reality.
Reading about the current Beach Boys tour in the latest issue of Rolling Stone and the article contained the following sentence: "The logistics of transporting five senior-citizen rock stars, plus a 10 member band, 25 crew members, and assorted wives and families, on a tour with as many as five shows a week, is a feat in itself." FIVE SENIOR-CITIZEN ROCK STARS? You are talking about the goddamn Beach Boys here.
There is another age related reference here as well. Instead of printing each day's itinerary for the band, everything on the tour is communicated via an app accessible with their iPhones. "The only problem is, most of the guys don't really know how to use their iPhones." I can identify.
I remember cruising around as a kid singing their songs gleefully with the windows down and self consciousness erased, worshipping rock 'n roll like a religion. So many of their songs are so damn singable.
Brian Wilson is 69, Mike Love is 71. Dennis Wilson is dead, Carl Wilson is dead.
WTF? How can this be?
In five days Paul McCartney will be 70. Ringo will be 72 in July. John is dead. George is dead.
Keith Richards is 68. Mick is 68. Charlie Watts is 71.
I read about them, I see them in concert footage and in interviews, as a music junkie I am always plugged in. So I cannot escape the fact that fifty years have gone by since they first electro-jolted my soul.
Which means that fifty years have gone by in my life too. NFW.
I take comfort in knowing they can still bring it. Music is the eternal rejuvenator. I hear the Beach Boys are harmonizing beautifully on this tour. I saw Crosby, Stills and Nash on a summer night a few years ago and their voices were angelic.
And The Stones still rock. People who mock what they do at their age are uninformed, at best. At worst, they are sniveling wimp asses who couldn't keep up with The Stones even thought they are ten years younger.
McCartney still inspires crowds to sing along word for word and he still can rock and belt out some bluesy magic. Ringo continues to tour every other year with respected musicians, spreading his good time rock and positive attitude around the world.
At the age of 58 I stagger and stumble, one step forward, two steps back, STILL trying to make sense of my life. Still trying to weave the magic through my life story that was originally inspired by BeatlesStonesDoorsAllmanBrothersCSN&Y and many, many others.
They are in their seventies, I am in my late fifties, and they can still get me to dance around my kitchen in joyful abandon at the drop of a riff.
I still get goosebumps, I still sing along.
No matter what the future holds for me or for them, they have given me the most precious gift of my life, other than my amazing wife and magnificent sons.
They have given me the gift of happiness, freedom and abandon that I can dial up whenever I want to.
If you refer to them as senior-citizen rock stars, you best do it with reverence. Or I am coming after you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dig this

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."


What I Dig About Soccer

Passion, baby.
I powered up the television device while I enjoyed my Genoa salami, mild provolone and horseradish mustard on Canadian white bread sandwich today and randomly caught part of a first round match between Greece and the Czech republic.
These guys are hooligans and I mean that in the best sense of the word. A few guys with shoulder length hair, quite a few unshaven, projecting an animalistic aura, wild eyed, fist pumping, hand gesticulating passion. Yelling at each other, heads bumping, bodies flying, balancing violence with precision.
The fans are the same way. Screaming intensely in support of their teams. Bug eyed, drunk and lost in the supreme feeling of cheer leading abandon.
I don't know if American players are like this, I don't know if American fans are like this. I will have to do some research. But I doubt it.
Europeans are much more passionate than we are, more open with their feelings.
Yeah there are long periods of seeming nothingness during soccer games but I think boredom might result from lack of knowledge about the game. There are sometimes long stretches of boredom during NASCAR races to uneducated fans, but if you understand the sport you know what to look for and you understand that it is much less boring than the uneducated opine.
I don't get golf. I don't get tennis. The fans, not the sports. I dig tennis. I played tennis a lot as a kid and was damn good at it. I should have pursued a professional career but I decided that a career in accounting would be much more exciting.
I can dig golf. Amazingly precise. Exciting at times in it's own unique way.
But the fans having to be quiet blows me away. Fans need to scream, they need to cheer. It is a genetic requirement. Silence results in health problems. High blood pressure, strokes, exploding eyeballs. It is quite dangerous. It is unnatural.
With soccer you have passionate players and passionate fans. There are times during soccer matches where the passion flows around the stadium, from the field to the stands and back again, like shock waves from a nuclear explosion.
I dig it, baby. Wild abandon.
Try it out. Sit in front of your TV, pick a team to root for, pretend you're in the stands and scream your lungs out.
When your wife tells you to calm down, tell her she should shut up and grab you another beer.
And be ready to duck.

Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen is bouncing back, baby. Got a new show oozing up on FX called Anger Management, loosely based on the very excellent movie of the same name starring Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler. If you haven't seen the movie dial it up right now. You can read this later.
Sheen had a major melt down. Blew everything. Trouble with the cops with women with the network. He claims he was not using at the time. I don't believe him but I would be willing to have a civilized whiskey with him to discuss it. He pissed off Hollywood years ago and has not starred in a movie for a while. He toured with a one man show that sucked and got cancelled.
Interestingly enough he sued Warner Brothers for $100 million for breach-of-contract for Two And A Half Men and WON a settlement from Warner Brothers for $25 million.
My initial reaction to him bouncing back would be resentment. Resentment because he is rich and famous and gets all the breaks. If I did what he did I would be broke, and incarcerated with my new best friend for life, Mongo.
The rules of the game are different for him. The way I look at it, he put himself in the position of privilege with his talent. The man can act. Although I never liked Two And A Half Men, never thought it was that funny and never understood why everybody else raved about it. I hope he does better with Anger Management. And I will check it out, out of sheer curiosity.
People like the Kardashians, Paris Hilton and other useless phonies like that are not even useful as fertilizer. These people contribute nothing, they have no talent, they are the embarrassing cross result of inherited wealth and the preoccupation in this country with celebrity.
They are not celebrities. They are lumps of flesh taking up valuable space on this planet that they don't deserve.
Charlie Sheen is a celebrity. He has talent. The rules of the game say that if you have talent and you find a way to succeed, you get perks. Same with athletes, musicians, writers, composers, poets, artists. Even amoral corporate execs.
I have not and never will be able to put myself in a situation of celebrity perks. Neither will you. I pay a heavy price for my mistakes, my stupidities and so do you. And yeah it is unfair. There are two sets of rules.
But it is what it is, baby.
Sheen had an advantage coming from an acting family, but he still had to deliver to succeed as he did. And he did deliver and I hope he does again. I'd like to see him make it back to the silver screen.
I like the guy.
He is insane. This world needs more of that kind of insanity.
People ask me why I love Keith Richards so much. My answer, in part, is that he is a multi-millionaire derelict. That is my ultimate goal.
Charlie Sheen fits the same mold.
The article I just read in Rolling Stone makes it clear that he has not mended his ways, downing shots of tequila in the restaurant where he is being interviewed.
His father talks about what a sweet kid he is when he ain't boozing and holds out hope for The Ultimate Epiphany.
Leave the man be.
Maybe he is the answer to this wimpy society we have bred and maybe he is a warrior against the hypocrisy of the entertainment world, nay, the entire employment world.
Question everything, fight back, don't take shit from anybody.
These rules make sense to me.
And if you have an occasional melt down involving porn stars, drugs, alcohol, law suits, getting canned, tiger blood and winning; so be it.
This world has become sanitized and we are all under someone else's thumb.
Charlie Sheen is doing it his own way, baby and the established order can't handle it.
Me, I celebrate the ripples in the pond.

Three Days

Got me three days of peace, love and understanding. Just survived six days of gut twisting torture. Blood pressure inflating, heart pounding, back breaking, energy sapping, no reward forthcoming, attitude deflating, pounding my head against the wall futility. Mental and physical stress like no man has ever experienced before. Unless that man works for the New Hampshire State Liquor Commission as a part timer.
But I got three days. Gonna fill myself with knowledge and inspiration. With brio. Gonna chart out a course for the future like an intricately planned chess initiative. Gonna kill frustration and maybe a beer or two. Gonna exercise my brain and body, gonna eat good, spend precious R&R with my lovely wife, gonna grab whatever sun there is and flip the bird at any rain that comes my way.
Gonna meditate and study and ruminate and plant the seeds of escape from this hopeless employment situation I find myself in.
Gonna celebrate flamboyance, get loud and  be proud.
Yeah I have bent but I have not broken. And I see three days ahead giving me an opportunity to revitalize my soul and lay the groundwork for introducing dignity into my life.
Pretty cool deal, wouldn't you say?
Ciao, baby.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Weighing The Evidence

Limped home last night, recliner-ized myself and watched 60 minutes. Carol and I are devotees - great show, you learn a lot and it challenges your brain. It might be hard to believe but I do occasionally enjoy thinking.
Had a piece about importing exotic animals from Africa to Texas. Endangered animals on the brink of extinction.
They showed them scampering around the wide open in Texas, looking so cool, so proud, so amazing. Initially they were talking about the people who breed these animals as saviours. If they didn't import them and breed them, they would eventually, and soon, be extinct.
But this is Texas. There is more to the story. They are bred to be hunted. Hunters want a chance at hunting these exotic animals and they pay dearly to do it. The land owner/breeders do quite well.
Of course, there is a huge argument about this. The Texas dudes say they are preserving the species because they breed them, which increases the population, and they only allow a small per centage to be hunted. There is some logic there.
Animal lovers abhor the situation, arguing that you don't breed exotic animals just to kill them, and that they are better off in their own habitat no matter what the outcome. There is some logic there.
I am an animal lover. I hate hunting, even though I understand it has it's function. Up to a point. But I also do not want to see beautiful animals go extinct because of human stupidity and greed.
The only species on this planet that should be allowed to go extinct is humans. And I am perfectly fine with that after I am dead. And after my kids are gone and all my friends and relatives. Unless my kids have kids. Then we'll have to wait and see what they are up to.
But generally, the human species is the only one that deserves extinction.
So how is a guy like me, with a tiny, much abused brain, going to pick a side in this fight?
Nothing is black and white in this world and I am consistently amused at people who try to paint everything that way.
Life is complicated.
Maybe the answer is to not take extreme positions, to weigh the evidence, allow for truth on both sides and then go with your soul and your heart.
I am a man of extreme positions. My initial reaction was how the hell can you kill these beautiful animals when they are so much more intelligent, so much more intuitive, so much more graceful and majestic than you?
Then I listened to the breeders and realized that I don't want these animals to disappear.
Of course there are lies and fanaticism wrapped up in this as well.
The breeders are businessmen so they are going to sugar coat the picture and not reveal the total truth. The animal lovers are fanatics, so they are going to overreact and exaggerate their side of the equation.
This is just too much for me. I am already disoriented today because I can't decide which socks to wear to work.
All I know is I ran a chipmunk over on my way to work yesterday and it upset me for a few minutes. I see the guy come out from the side of the road and hesitate, and I am rooting for him, coaching him, so he will avoid The Peace Mobile. 90% of the time they go the right way. This guy made the wrong decision and I heard the double thump.
Ultimately I don't know which way to go. But I do know that it would be a kick if aliens came down to earth one day with superior weaponry and hunted hunters.
We could have a reality show with hunters fleeing through the woods, ripping their clothes on branches, exposing their jiggling beer bellies and revolting ass cracks, as aliens polished off a couple of PBR's before lining the hunted up in their sites and blowing them away.
All in the name of promoting the survival of the human race.
I would watch a show like that.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Price You Pay For Cool

Sitting at a red light yesterday on my way to work. Glance at the rear view mirror and see a young kid siting in a truck behind me. Hat on backwards, no shirt on, insolently smoking a cigarette, bobbing his head to the music that was cranked on his radio.
The first image I had was of fifty years from now when that kid has an enormous beer belly and the first symptoms of lung cancer. The price you pay for cool.
Then I thought about myself. Sitting there in silence because I hate classic rock radio, because my sound system sucks and because I am so wimpy when it comes to my beloved iPod.
Carol gave me a hookup that I can plug into my truck so I can listen to my iPod. TWO YEARS AGO. I have never used it.
I haven't used it because I won't leave the iPod in the truck when it is cold or hot for fear damage will occur, which leaves only three opportunities a year to do so. I won't bring it into work because I am afraid I will drop it or someone else will knock it off the shelf or I will forget it.
Methinks I worship this machine too much.
What made this scenario more meaningful, more bizarre, was that this kid was sitting in my truck. He was sitting in a Dodge Dakota pickup around the same year as mine and the exact same color as mine. For all intents and purposes it was the same truck.
I was looking at myself.
I worship music with a deep, abiding love. I worship warm weather with a deep, abiding love. When I was a kid, in the summer time, I cruised, baby, and I cruised with the radio blasting.
Yet here I was on a brilliantly sunny, reasonable warm day (it didn't rain until later), sitting in silence because of my neuroses and psychoses and generally snobby attitude towards inferior music systems. Mark Parenteau, on WBCN many years ago, had a taped bit that he played at 5:00 p.m. on weekdays announcing the lighting of the smoking lamp. In it he included a reference to morons, psychopaths and mental defectives. These are the people I identify with and now you know why.
The kid sitting behind me in my truck had it right.
I immediately switched on my radio and hit pay dirt. Aerosmith. I started rocking to the tune and the static. The next song sucked so I changed stations and got Phil Collins. Magnificent.
I rocked my way to work, feeling good, feeling like a kid, feeling like myself. Even with the static, even with the limited selection of songs. I was even so bold at the next red light to sing along with the song (I already forgot who it was) with my window down. Haven't done that in a long time.
Christ man, what the hell am I doing? I hate rules, and yet I create all kinds of rules for myself that limit my happiness, the unfettered expression of my soul.
Methinks sometimes I am the fool.
But I keep learning. My eyes are always open. Socrates said "The unexamined life is not worth living." I am a firm believer in that philosophy. I am continuously examining my life (as if you didn't know this).
I am truly blessed today - I am taking The Peace Mobile to work. That means I have a CD player at my disposal.
I have been listening to Leonard Cohen pretty exclusively for a while. Today I need something with more balls.
Haven't decided who yet but it will rock and I will play it loud. With the window down and my head bobbing.
So if you pull up next to a long haired guy sitting in a VW bug, with plastic flowers on the dashboard and kitty stickers in the window, wearing a silly NHSLC work shirt, rocking out oblivious to the stares of others, you can laugh if you want to.
But that guy will have an aura about him that is a reflection of the truth. True essence, true spirit, a soul gloriously exposed. He will be a 58 year old teenager.
That, my friends, is a glorious state of being.