Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Snippet

Sitting in a Mexican restaurant on the Pacific Coast Highway. First time in California and wondering and wishing why. Wanderlust is buried in my heart and gasping under a budget.
The setting sun bounces off the waves and glances the surface of my wine glass.
This simple meal is made exquisite, three thousand miles from home.

Dig This

"Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened."

Leave Josh Hamilton Alone

The sports world fascinates me. Listening to ESPN radio on the sweet ride home from work the other night. They were dissecting Josh Hamilton.
I have heard this guy described as a baseball player with more natural talent than Jesus Christ. Actually as I think about this it occurs to me that Jesus probably sucked at sports. I think he was a nerd. He looks nerdy.
It also occurs to me that the fact that he existed B.C. is so very hard to understand.
But I digress.
People talk about Josh Hamilton with reverence. He has turned in super human efforts.
He also has problems with booze and drugs. Overwhelming, debilitating problems. Problems that have taken years away from his career.
But when he is good, he is GOOD.
So these "experts" were talking about how just a month or two ago the topic was how huge would Hamilton's new contract be. And how huge would his numbers be this year.
But he has been slumping lately. So these "experts" were talking about the possibility of his being traded.
The sports world is a harsh microcosm of life played out in public. You watch these guys get their asses kissed and their asses kicked. The attention flips back and forth in a nano second.
I feel for Josh. I have addictions myself. I am addicted to The Sopranos, The Three Stooges, any Quentin Tarantino film, Tweety and lamb.
I have to tear myself away from these things to get at life. To do life. To battle back against life.
Nolan Ryan criticized Hamilton publicly. Saying he is giving away at bats. Not taking enough pitches, not focusing enough. People questioned the wisdom of that.
Take a look at Ryan. He is a stern looking guy. I would not want him to critique my life. My god, I would crawl away blubbering like a baby.
But he certainly has the right to criticize. Because of his stellar career. Because he is principal owner, president and CEO of the Rangers.
Anyway my point is that it must be disorienting for a player to bounce back and forth from being loved to being attacked. Especially for someone as fragile as Josh Hamilton.
By the way I don't think he is that much more fragile than the guys he plays with. Athletes are great at acting tough, talking about sucking it up. Its part of the job description.
True, you do have to be tough to beat the odds and make it to the majors.
But athletes are ultimately all about ego. And ego is a fragile thing.

And in a related story. I heard these same "experts" discussing the possibility of THE PATS going undefeated this year. Saying they have a soft schedule and could possibly run the table.
There is nothing I would love more than another undefeated season topped with the cherry of a Super Bowl exclamation point. And a return trip to Patriots Place for my next photo op.
But it is July. It would be more meaningful at this point for these guys to say absolutely nothing, to do an entire show of complete silence, than to talk about an undefeated season for THE PATS.

I dig sports, baby. No doubt. But I think we could do with a lot less analysis. Stats. Conjecture. Bloviating.
Sports are a natural thing when you dig down through the corporate sewerage that is trying to smother the beauty. When you drill past the fact that only the moneyed gentry get to actually attend games and sit in overpriced seats and luxury boxes.
I am rooting for Josh Hamilton. He is an intriguing mix of human and super human.
And you better goddamn believe I am rooting for THE PATS.

The Pressure I'm Under

I switched back to my Tweety Bird coffee mug.
I used to snort coffee out of the standard issue, earthen ware, predictable, craftsy looking cup. For years. Carol bought me Tweety Bird YEARS ago and I used it but got away from it.
Last week every time I put the glasses and cups away in the cupboard, the Tweety Bird mug was staring at me from the corner.
It is bright, bold and beautiful. A big mug with Tweety all over it on a purple background. Designed to not be ignored.
I love Tweety Bird. Always have. I have two tattoos and desire more. It has forever been in the back of my mind to add Tweety to the collection. Perhaps on my forehead. I'm sure this would be a plus at any job interview. Especially for the New Hampshire State Liquor Commission whose powered elite have shown themselves to be clear thinking and open minded.
Tweety Bird makes me laugh. He doesn't have to do anything at all. I don't need a story line. I only need to hear him talk. And I laugh. To this day.
If you hovered a Tweety Bird video over my coffin just prior to slinging the dirt, you would undoubtedly hear an unearthly laugh.
I don't even know if Tweety is till on TV. I'll have to investigate. I need him now.
Anyway I started using the mug. I have only one Tweety Bird mug. That means I have to wash it every goddamn day. The pressure is intense.
We have four hundred standard issue, earthen ware, craftsy looking mugs. I only have to wash them every 1.096 years.
But I have fallen back in love with Tweety and I'm making the daily commitment.
That also means I have to put away every day the mound of clean dishes, pots and pans sitting in the dish drainer on top of Tweety.
I have the mug in front of me right now, I looked at it and smiled. Tweety is all over it in all kinds of poses and facial expressions.
I can do this. I can suck it up and get it done.
For Tweety.
For my sanity.
For a smile, baby.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Dig this

"The only creatures who are evolved enough to convey pure love are dogs and infants."

Johnny Depp

The Sword of Damocles

Much can be learned from The Three Stooges.
I did a little reading to get at the real story.
"Judge no one happy until his life is over." Apparently this is a familiar theme in Greek and Roman philosophical writing.
That comment struck a chord with me. As much as I am trying to improve my life through my mind (an impossible task I hear you say), learning to live in the now, no regrets, no worries, deep breathing, taking it all step by step, tapping into the real vibe of life and shutting out the bulls**t distractions, I am also trying to avoid superficiality. It's in my nature.
I refuse to be one of these people who pretend to be happy, who tell you everything is great, who project an obviously phony sense of positivity.
They nauseate me.
Be positive but be real.
Judge no one happy until his life is over fits that philosophy.
The story is about Dionysus II, described as a "fourth century B.C. tyrant of Syracuse, a city in the Greek area of southern Italy."
Dionysus was rich and comfortable with all the luxuries money could buy, including court flatterers to inflate his ego.
I need court flatterers. I like that idea. People surrounding me who will pump me up when I am indecisive or too self- critical.
"Joe, you are the greatest human who ever lived. Everyone else around you is a bug, you were born to achieve, to live large and to be in charge. Your creativity and wit are limitless and your aura shines like a thousand suns."
I just added "acquire flatterers" to my list of short term goals.
Damocles was the court sycophant, otherwise defined in 21st century terms as the official ass kisser. Damocles was jealous of Dionysus' wealth and would comment about it all the time. Finally Dionysus asked him if he would like to experience it, see how it felt.
Dionysus set Damocles up on a rich and royal couch and gave him everything he wanted. Food, booze, servants. He had but to raise a finger and he was waited on.
Dionysus also hung a sharp sword over Damocles' head, suspended on a horse hair.
Damocles was partying up a storm and digging it, until he noticed the sword.
This, explained Dionysus, was what life as a ruler was really like.
Damocles revised his opinion, asked to be excused, and eagerly returned to his poorer but safer life.
There is a lesson to be learned there, and a good one. I'm not sure I would have made the same decision, though.
Maybe as a youngster the decision makes sense. You figure you got time, you can find less dangerous ways to make yourself happy.
But at my severely advanced age, knowing what I know, I think I would lay on that couch and eat every delicacy and drink every drop of wine. Command my flatterers to pump me up during every waking hour and to do it subliminally while I slept.
Until the sword pierced my skull.
The way I see it, there is very little chance I will ever experience the sweet liberation of obscene wealth. So if someone is just going to give it to me I'm going to grab it and gamble that my head is harder than the sword.
It is a calculated risk based on my father's lifelong estimation of the thickness of my skull.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dig This

Tough to follow my previous entry with these quotes, but I gotta go where my emotions lead me.

From "the child in time", a most disturbing book I am currently reading.
A character describing his parents:"It was the aging, the essential selves enduring while the bodies withered away."

Describing life in general:"It was not so easy to persist when you could not believe that you were entirely the thing that you did, when you thought you could find yourself, or find another part of yourself, expressed through some other endeavor."

A Moment In Time

Woke up at 8:00 this morning. A raining, summer, Sunday morning.
Carol was asleep to my right, Maka was stretched out between us sound asleep, Lakota was sleeping to my left using my arm as a pillow.
The rain was gentle and it was comfortably warm so I laid there for a while.
Listening to my wife breathe, listening to the cats breathe, marvelling at the simple beauty and peace of that moment.
I don't normally like to lie in bed because of course I am driven to make a life. Gotta get up, gotta do, gotta try, gotta make up for lost time.
In a way it is ironic because I used to be content with wasting time when I had time to waste. I used to view days off as a release from torture and rationalized that I was justified in sitting around doing absolutely nothing.
Now when I have time off I keep moving, keep doing, I am not happy unless I am doing things that convince me I am trying to improve my life. Even if, at times, I am being delusional.
This morning felt like a gift. Everything about it was in sync with how things are supposed to be. There was love in that room, even if it was asleep. There was trust, there was familiarity. There was safety. There was that five letter word that means everything - peace.
No matter how the rest of today goes, I doubt anything about it will approach the beauty of that moment.
That is life.
I am lucky to have this wife and those cats and that bed and this day. I have become smart enough to realize that, to appreciate it and to be grateful.
As I was writing this, Carol walked by the room and commented on how peaceful the morning is. How comfortable she was in bed and how she had taken some time to lie there and enjoy it. It is a warm feeling to share the same thought.
I have no doubt that the cats feel the same way.
In Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams is talking about his wife who has been dead for two years, talking about how its the little things he remembers about her, that those are the things that made her his wife. He specifically talks about her farting when she was nervous, farting in her sleep, which I always had a hard time imagining as romantic.
But what I got out of that is that life truly is made up of small moments. That those small moments make up a life.
This morning was a small moment that was really a huge moment. Because Carol and I and Maka and Lakota were all tuned into it, and Carol and I commented on the beauty of it to each other.
Today is a good day. Today is a great day.
Today is a day in my life for which I am grateful.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Let's Squirm

My nerves have been jangled three times in a little over a week.
That's some kind of record.
What interests me is the jangling was caused by disturbing things. Two movies and a book.
Buried, and Open Water were the movies. Two movies that make you squirm uncomfortably throughout, and DON'T HAVE HAPPY ENDINGS.
I love movies that don't have happy endings because happy endings have become so predictable that you expect them. So when a movie doesn't end that way, you get a jolt of reality electricity.
If you can handle unhappy endings check out a movie called Joe, from 1970. It will blow you away.
The book is titled The Child In Time. I just started the book; it involves a couple whose child has been abducted. The mood suggests to me there is not a happy ending in sight.
Anyway, it seems like feeling uncomfortable makes me feel alive. Feeling uncomfortable over negative things.
I like to squirm.
Maybe life has become so numbing that strangeness feels like life. I mean joyful situations are hard to come by, even a general sense of happiness and well being seems like fiction. We all walk around with the Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads. I'm proud to say I got the Sword of Damocles reference from The Three Stooges.
There is happiness in my life. The wife, kids, adopted kids, pets, friends, Crown Royal consumed in a civilized way, music, books, poetry, writing. But I think the all consuming struggle for security and, god forbid, freedom, tend to override all other positive aspects.
Because you can't get away from it. Every decision you make has to revolve around your financial situation; trying to make it more secure, trying not to jeopardize it, trying to develop a twice weekly appreciation for cat food.
You tip toe around and numb yourself from this fear that dominates your life.
So, in my case, I catch a movie or read a book that goes its own way and shakes me up and does not end happily, and I am caught off guard and made to feel alive in an interesting way. Maybe in part because that kind of story seems to be more true, more reflective of how life works, and that is something I am definitely not used to experiencing, thanks to the unquenchable demand for happy endings.
Maybe I am not an accurate representative of the human race in general. Maybe my desire to squirm is outside the norm.
I do think this need is present in more people than you might guess.
Dats da name of dat tune, folks. I gotta run.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Dig This

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

Friedrich Nietzsche

An Amazing Lack of Energy

A few years ago we sat down to watch camcorder videos of our kids as kids. The justification was to embarrass my son Keith in front of his most lovely and exceptional wife Emily.
This was back in the day when camcorders weighed 400 pounds and cut grooves in your shoulder. But that is a story for another place and time.
Being the selfish curmudgeon that I am, I focused on myself instead of my kids. I couldn't believe how much energy I had, how happy I was, how much I joked around in a playful, unselfconscious and goofy and delightful way.
My kids got selfish, grew up and moved out of the house.
The reason I bring that up is that the wife and I just had one of "those" conversations. A conversation where you are more honest about your disappointments and more pointed about what you perceive to be the reasons.
Life sucks energy out of you relentlessly. It is steady, crushing and inevitable.
Few people are happy, few people have what they want, most people are blown away by what their life has become.
Kids supply a supernatural energy. When they are gone life stands right up in your face and you begin to sag.
As Carol and I talked I realized that I just don't have the energy for life's crap any more. The only thing I have energy for is my dream, and any streetwise betting man would bet against it with zero chance of being criticized for doing so.
There is irony in the fact that as your kids leave the house, their energy is high precisely at the point where your energy begins to leak away. But then again, that's how life works.
What I find interesting is that I have been more positive in 2011 and 2012 than I have for decades. And that energy is probably 30% of what it was when my kids were in the house.
Interesting because I have been dazzled by my own attitude over the past two years and really it is nothing compared to the man I was back then.
Life is a vampire, baby. The longer that road stretches out, the less you got to give.
The kids leaving is not really the issue. It is natural, and honestly as a parent you enjoy watching your kids make a life.
I think it is the inexorable battering of time that shrinks you down and makes everything less significant. The kids have been gone for around ten years now. That's ten years of fighting and struggling and sacrificing and aging. As you age, life requires more fight, and your body and mind have less reserves to dip into to give you a fighting chance.
I am tired of fighting, I am tired of justifying myself. Hunter S. Thompson said "Never apologize, never explain." That makes perfect sense to me at age 58.
I am aware that I have an amazing lack of energy for anything that does not feed directly into my soul and my psyche.
Given the fact that my perspective is warped by most peoples' standards, I am rapidly running out of energy to engage in any activity that most people would consider normal. Expected. The right thing to do.
All of these things waste my time and suck life and energy out of my presence here on earth.
You get to that point in your life where you are compelled to fight for the things that mean the most to you, and you have less energy than you have ever had before.
A conversation. Another conversation.
A delicate balance between accomplishing something and sucking a little more energy out of your embattled soul.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Concept #1:

Reading Eckhart. Talking about love and why so much of it is painful.
His theory is that most of us use love to make up for holes in our own psyches. To fill gaps. Like Rocky Balboa. It worked for Rocky but it doesn't for us.
You are feeling inadequate, someone comes along that dazzles you and you feel complete in their company. You fall in love and make some sort of commitment.
But because you are not whole and the only thing that can make you whole is you, the love becomes inadequate. And when feelings of inadequacy return, you blame your partner. You get mean and attack them with words and attitudes and moods. And, if you are a real a**hole, with fists.
They react to protect themselves and the whole thing spirals out of control. The classic love/hate relationship.
This makes sense to me and it comes down to the cliche "You have to love yourself before you can love someone else."
Loving yourself being defined as living for the moment, forgetting about the past, not worrying about the future, dealing with this moment and revelling in the peace that that brings.
Step by step, baby.
But it is harder than it sounds because all of us are so damaged. Some are good at hiding it but I believe we are all damaged. And a lot of us are more damaged than we realize or are so caught up in the playacting that we don't even realize or won't admit that we are damaged.
So you can't love.

Listening to NPR yesterday, a discussion on presidential campaign speeches and whether or not we really want to know the truth. The focus was on how both campaigns take snippets of speeches or comments out of context and use them to make the opponent look bad. Then they each argue about the truth.
A study was done suggesting that we are not looking for truth. We are looking for something to support our own opinions.
In other words, if the snippet supports your belief that President Obama is a communist, that's all you care about. You will accept it and don't care to get at the truth.
This is what is dangerous about the juvenile American campaign process. And about our laziness as Americans and as humans.
I believe this concept. It makes sense to me. Truth is hard. Truth can hurt.
It is easier to keep believing what you believe.

Too much to deal with here. Gotta take a walk.

Dig This

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."

Anais Nin

A Future In Mirrors

Sitting here in this most uncomfortable chair taking a trip in my mind. A trip to a place where the mirrors are different.
As I look into those mirrors, I see a different man. Easy smiling and confident, at peace and content, satisfied with the results of positive changes made.
Having accomplished what was his to accomplish, there from the start, realized before it was too late.
Spirituality projected from within, unaffected by outside influences.
Pride. A sense of balance, no longer at war with life.
If I can write about those mirrors, I can make that trip.
There is peace in the writing alone.
A good place to start.

King of All Notes

I am the King of All Notes.
I write notes to myself all the time. Most of that comes from my compulsion to write. I see things, hear them, experience them and my mind swirls creatively and perceives an angle or a point of interest for me and that becomes a note.  An idea written on a piece of paper or napkin or ripped chunk of a bag and stuffed into my pocket. Hopefully to be turned into words. Many words.
I lose a lot of notes. I wonder how many great ideas I have lost. I dream ideas, I get them as I awaken, they hit me randomly at times when I can't write anything down. And I forget them. How many Michelle's and Can't Get No Satisfactions have I missed?
One aspect of this that really drives me crazy is when I have an idea that makes me smile and I forget it. In real time. I'm watching TV, something sparks my diseased mind, I tell myself I will write it down at the next commercial and I forget. This happens all the time.
What was I thinking? What made me smile? What was it that I so burned to write about?
I can't remember.
I write notes because I am rapidly approaching senility. Shopping notes, to do notes, stuff I have to write down so we don't run out of toilet paper.
I have pieces of paper next to my recliner, on the kitchen counter, in the drawer where I keep my wallet, on the desk upstairs where I write, in the bedroom.
The reason I bring this up is I sat down looking for inspiration this morning. I also keep a notebook of ideas and this is the main source of inspiration. The notebook represents the closest I get to being organized. I keep it next to my recliner and furiously scribble ideas down as they form.
I have a ton of ideas in there that I have not written about yet and sometimes that overwhelms me.
As I was flipping through, I came a cross a note. I had stuffed a note in the notebook. I don't even know how to interpret that. Is it even legal?
The note said four things. Hot dog rolls, fireworks last night, City of Refuge, Lapis Lazuli-Yeats.
The note even escalates in intensity. From bread to Yeats. I wrote about the first two, I referenced the book a number of times, but I have done nothing - yet - with the Yeats poem.
However I just read the poem online. It is heavy duty and bears repeated readings. I got the tone but not the intellectual/creative thread. I am the kind of guy who enjoys heavy poetry. Hell I love reading Shakespeare.
But you have to be committed. You cannot read Lapis Lazuli once and say "Yeah, I get it." If you do you are full of crap.
AND while I'm checking out the poem, the ADD inducing internet steers me to an Edgar Allen Poe poem, A Dream Within A Dream. A little less heavy but still requires work.
I have to admit that I like not being organized. You will never see me carrying around a three ring binder, neatly divided into writing topics and website references and promising magazines and lists of rejection slips complete with plans for revenge.
I like the fact that I use scraps of paper. I especially enjoy ripping pieces of booze bags at work to write down ideas. Somehow that seems to pit the dream of a more fulfilling future against the dreary present that I endure.
I once wrote Carol a Valentines note on a cocktail napkin at The Rynborn. Just to prove I could do it. Pretty cool.
Anyway I wouldn't mind writing a few less notes. If I wrote something on every note I have in the house I would be sitting at this computer with my great grandchildrens' grandchildren on my knee. And cursing them for getting grape jelly on the goddamn keyboard.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Thinking About Sarge

I am thinking about Sarge today.
Sarge is my brother-in-law and he is having a cancerous growth removed from his brain this morning.
I love Sarge, I respect Sarge, if I could alter my personality and pick up someone else's positive traits I would choose Sarge as my inspiration.
He had a lung removed a couple of years ago and came back strong. Sarge and his fantastic wife Cori own a fabulous restaurant in Saco, ME. Sarges Tailgate Grille. When he had the lung removed they threw a fund raiser in the parking lot. Bands, FOOD, giveaways. It was a blast. And they raised a tremendous amount of money in a very short time because A TON of people showed up. And the crowd included preppy types, bikers, moms and dads, kids, long hairs, short hairs, college educated folks, high school drop outs, crazy people and mild mannered individuals.
Because that's the kind of man Sarge is. He appeals to everybody because he treats people right and they know he is real.
And now this.
He doesn't deserve this. He has the Nora Ephron gene. Everybody loves Sarge. They love him because he is genuine and sensitive and funny and tough and unique. He is his own man and has always been his own man.
When I first started dating Carol I was intimidated by Sarge. Felt like a boy compared to him. Over the years I have grown to love him deeply. I have partied with him a lot and enjoyed every goddamn minute of it.
We have stories. Lots of stories. We are the senior derelicts in the family and proud of it.
None of my petty little concerns matter today.
Because I am thinking about Sarge.
In fact if I complain about one thing today I am going to punch myself in the face.
I am thinking about the next time we get together for a beer. Looking forward to it.
He will get through this and bounce back again. Because he is a positive spirit and tough physically and mentally.
And he will get right back to making people laugh and making them feel important and giving them a little something special that most people do not have the capacity to do.
I have to warn you. If Sarge ever walks up to you and asks "Want to know how to sell a deaf man a chicken?"
Take a step back.

If Jesus Preached Football

If Jesus preached football he would own me.
Went to Patriots Place yesterday for the first time. As we walked from the parking lot towards the facility I stared up at Gillette Stadium looming before us. I was in awe.
Being old and complacent I have settled for watching football on TV in my recliner with a cold one in my hand and a bathroom close by. I do not like crowds, I do not like hassles, I do not like inconvenience.
Gillette spangled my nerves and got me thinking about siting in those stands. I am hungry to do that now.
Couldn't get near the field but we stood at the gates. I had my hands on the bars like a prisoner and stared through them at the twenty yards of field that I could see. We were standing right under one of those catwalks that the standing room only crowd populates.
I was visualizing a game and imagining a fanatically roaring crowd.
Inject it into my veins, baby.
Strolled into Patriots Place and watched a movie of PATS history that worked it's way up through the tough years and stopped short of the last two Super Bowl appearances. As the movie ended I said "I'm glad they didn't show any of that Giants crap." Got a few laughs.
Then we did the deal. I always think I'm too cool for touristy stuff so I never participate.
I am an ass.
Yesterday I decided to dive in and do it all and I had a blast.
It's a three story experience and there is all kinds of memorabilia and interactive videos and stuff to look at and listen to and play with. You are literally immersed in Patriots. There are huge projections on the wall that change, there is all kinds of sounds and commentary.
But it is not overwhelming or confusing.
I stuck my finger in an imitation Super Bowl ring perched on a Richard Seymour likeness, I came off the line and hit Tedy Bruschi a solid one (after being called offsides on the first attempt). I kicked three field goals, two of which sucked, but the last one was a definite Super Bowl game winner. I huddled with PATS players and overrode Brady's call, I sat on the bench with a couple and had a conversation. I had my picture taken in a Duck Boat and created my own video explaining that I owed my PATS fanaticism to my son Keith who forced me to watch THE PATS when they sucked.
I wore  a real PATS helmet, which weighs a ton. I put my feet in the footprints of players, making me look like a child by way of comparison.
Carol did all this as well, we took a lot of pictures and we had a blast.
My favorite picture is of me standing in the middle of THE PATS THREE SUPER BOWL TROPHIES. It was a religious experience.
You start on the third floor and work your way down to the first, where the memorabilia store is located. Next time I am bringing $436,788 to purchase PATS gear. I was drooling.
We ate outside in a restaurant facing Gillette Stadium. I kept glancing over and picturing myself in the stands.
Had a cool conversation with one of the guides, up on the third floor. This guy is 90 years old. What a blast. He gets two tickets to every PATS game and has all three genuine Super Bowl rings, one of which he was wearing. XXXVI.
He let me wear his ring.
It is huge and it weighs a ton and I wore a genuine PATS Super Bowl ring. Words cannot express.
A great, fun day, another great summer of 2012 experience.
We went with Paula and Bill, which is always a joy. They are fun people and PATS fanatics. Bill wears magic glasses and Paula has infinite patience.
I will go back. I have to.
Just as soon as I save up $436,788.

Monday, July 23, 2012

It's All Good

You think Bob Dylan has no sense of humor, don't you? You think he is a curmudgeonly old rocker who has been shriveled up by his own creative genius and fame.
You are wrong. You need to pay more attention.
He has a song on his last album called It's All Good. Here's a sample of the lyrics:

"Brick by brick, they tear you down, a teacup of water is enough to drown, you ought to know, if they could, they would, whatever going down.
It's All Good"

"People in the country, people on the land, some of them so sick, they can hardly stand, everybody would move away if they could, its hard to believe but
It's All Good"

"The widow's cry, the orphans's plea, everywhere you look, more misery, come along with me, babe, I wish you would, you know what I'm sayin'
It's All Good"

"Cold-blooded killer, stalking the town, cop cars blinking, something bad going down, buildings are crumbling in the neighborhood, but there's nothing to worry about, 'cause
It's All Good."

I love this man. Worship him. Many members of my generation consider themselves purists. Consider themselves experts. They'll say stuff like "the last great Rolling Stones album was Exile On Main Street." Or "Dylan hasn't recorded a good album since 1972."
I consider them idiots. You can pick them out from a crowd because they have pinched faces, permanent scowls like constipation is their lot in life. Which reminds me of a great Aerosmith line from Same Old Song And Dance - "with the judge, constipation will go to his head."

In the last 15 years Mr. Zimmerman has released four albums that I consider stunning. On a par with any of his great work. Time Out Of Mind, Love And Theft, Modern Times, and Together Through Life. The faux purists will say that none of the songs on those albums can compare to the political and revolutionary songs that made him famous.
Evolve, for Christ sake, will you? He sings from a different place now. He has seen it all and is 71 years old. His current lyrics are just as wickedly sharp and original and the music is tasty, covering all flavors.
I did not include Christmas In The heart, a Christmas album he released in 2009. It may not be a masterpiece but its an album you gotta have. Come on, Bob Dylan singing Christmas Songs?
He has a new album coming out in September. Tempest.
Acquire it.
And for the purists in my generation, get yourself some Dulcolax and start digging Bob again. Your small minded, smug, faux expertise makes you look foolish.

Maybe Its A Good Thing

Maybe its a good thing that we humans cannot figure out how to love one another.

Maybe if we did it would eliminate the need for pets.

I'd rather have pets.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Two Pleasant Evenings

Pleasant is such a wimpy word. Got no bite. Like nice. I hear these words and even though they are meant as compliments they conjure negative images in my diseased mind.
Until recently. Nice can be nice. Pleasant can be pleasant. They might even be antidotes to acid and anger and jaded sarcasm.
Carol has a friend who puts on a fireworks display every summer around July 4 and he is quite proud of it. We went for the first time this year and his pride is justified. This ain't just some guy setting off cherry bombs in beer cans.
He had two tables set up with all kinds of explosives interconnected. Wires running around, strange looking projectile columns, it looked like a mad bombers delight. The show started around 9:00 and lasted for half an hour. Spectacular. All kinds of explosions and sky designs and noises one after the other.
The crowd was a cool crowd, not the typical derelicts I hang around with. Sipping beers, laughing, enjoying conversation before and after the show. No staggering drunks, no loud vulgarity, no fat people desperately grabbing some group sex in the woods.
In keeping with changes I have recently made, I only brought four beers and no whiskey. Whiskey can be evil.
I only drank two beers. It was a laid back, a very enjoyable evening, that I really dug. I felt comfortable and relaxed. Is this how normal people do it?
Last night Carol and I hooked up with Keith and we strolled around Market Days in "the city" after I escaped the madness that is The Booze Emporium.
It was a perfect summer night. We checked out craft booths, talked to merchants, checked out a couple of stores, listened to outdoor music and had a beer in the beer tent.
Again it was a perfectly comfortable, easily relaxed night that just felt so damn good, so damn right. My nerves were calm, my mind was engaged. I was not driven to run up and down the streets drunkenly screaming "Where's the madness? Where are the circus freaks? When do the beheadings begin?"
I still believe there is a time and place for pure madness. I need it like the fat man needs his next quadruple bacon cheeseburger smothered in buffalo chicken slabs.
I just don't need it every single time for every single thing I do.
I am discovering that quiet contentment can be more powerful than three fingers whiskey.
This summer is flowing quite beautifully, and those two nights, among others, will stand out in my mind when I am shivering like a frightened kitten in 8 degree death cold this rapidly approaching winter.
And the extra special bonus is that I will actually be able to remember them.


I am so sick of turning on my TV to see coverage of another mass shooting.
The concept is so mind boggling that I should not even be able to write a sentence like that. That kind of tragedy is something that should happen every hundred years, if at all. Not every couple of years or couple of months.
I have numbed myself through the last few, which is a sad statement in itself. But this one got through and stirred outrageous emotion.
Maybe I have had enough.
I'm sure in every case there are different motives in the killer's mind and various life experiences or brain deviations that motivate to pull the trigger on innocent people.
I think the whole thing goes much deeper than that.
I think we are a sick society. We are so unhappy and so unfulfilled and so helpless to try and correct the situation. Our lives are frustrating to the max. You cannot get ahead, you cannot get fair treatment and opportunity, you are disrespected at every turn and the people in power openly laugh at you. They ridicule you and your lifestyle to your face.
Politicians play games with your future, the people with money lie, cheat and steal to get rich and you go to work, if you are lucky enough to have a job, and you cannot even afford to buy a pizza.
The country is becoming more soul-less, less human, at an accelerating pace.
Our work ethic in this country is ridiculous. Two weeks vacation is a joke. Other countries celebrate leisure time and the enjoyment of life. Here we are trained to work our asses off and we brag about how industrious and hard working we are. We should be proud of the fact that we also excel at heart attacks and suicides.
And mass murder.
This guy is twenty four. What could be so bad in the life of someone so young that would drive him to kill? Maybe the question should be how does it happen so fast?
Is our society so sick that even people who are born in the midst of the sickness recognize it as so?
I have been around for almost six decades and I have witnessed the steady decline of individual dignity in this country and I understand why so many people are so angry.
But you would think somebody born to it would be impervious to it, at least for a while.
There was plenty of evil around when I was a kid. But it seemed like there were more people making it, and if you hung on long enough you could count on a solid retirement and a home that was paid for acting as a rock of financial security.
Those things are gone, everything is loose and unpredictable and information is available at lightening-like speed 24/7 to make you aware of that.
There is a basic war between the "life" we have built in this country and human nature.
Human nature requires peace, a balanced equation, a sense of fairness. Without that you have insanity.
We are experiencing insanity on a national level. Considering the mind boggling number of lost, angry, unemployed and underemployed people out there, millions of people whose spirit of life can get no nourishment, people who stagger through life feeling nothing because to feel something is too painful, we are lucky we don't have mass shootings every day.
Maybe someday we will.
A friend of one of the victims said his friend had moved to Denver to pursue her dream. She got killed in a movie theater by a stranger.
Maybe the American Dream today is to not be killed by someone who has been crushed by the lack of a real American Dream.

What I Meant To Say Was..............

That blurb on Nora Ephron came out so dry. I was trying to express wonderment and respect but what I got was stats.
Look, here's the deal. Life is this vibrant, pulsating, magical, mystical thing that nobody understands. Nobody knows how it happened, nobody knows where it is going, nobody knows what the hell it means to be alive and what you are supposed to do with it.
Some people defy the unknowing and just go ahead and live life. They plug into the buzz and experience life on their own terms and they shower out positive repercussions upon the heads of all who come into contact with them.
The heads that are the lucky recipients know they are in touch with a life force, a person who is just dancing through their term on this planet with glee. These lucky people know that they are not on the same level as this person and they hope to elevate their joy of live by rubbing shoulders.
Sounds to me like Nora Ehron was one of these people. People like this are rare and that's why they shine and that's why when they die there is a huge outpouring of grief and an overwhelming sense of loss.
Replacements don't come easily. Right now the world is in negative balance until someone comes along or someone is recognized as the next Nora Ephron.
That's what I was trying to say.

Friday, July 20, 2012

All You People

Ann Romney and the "all you people" quote. Talking about her husband's tax returns. There is controversy about whether she actually said "all you people". Isn't anything ever black and white? Actually I just watched the clip three times and could not determine definitively that that is what she said. Although it sounded pretty clear to me last night on TV.
But it sounds like it to me. And it is not hard to believe given her prissy, entitled, rich girl demeanor. You could argue that the "you people" was directed at the media, and that would make sense. You could just as easily argue that it was directed at us wee folk because that is how the rich look down upon us.
You people.
What I find amusing about this is that as I read Last Call, a great book about Prohibition, it is mentioned over and over how the wealthy considered themselves above the law. They had the money, they had the space for extravagant wine cellars, and they had the aura of entitlement. They felt the law was directed towards the working class for their own good. There are many quotes in the book from the wealthy, and they were big names back then; Carnegie, Mellon, Ford, J.P.Morgan - titans of the business world and rich beyond imaginability for those times.
And the consistent theme was that prohibition would keep alcohol out of the hands of the working class resulting in more productivity on the job, obviously benefiting the rich business owners. It was also thought that the working class was too stupid to look after themselves and that it was the responsibility of the rich to do so.
These types of comments were made openly by the wealthy. Of course this was a different class of rich pigs; they saw themselves as invincible and felt justified in being open with their opinions, however insulting.
This is how the rich see us, it is how they have always seen us and how they always will see us. Romney would never come out and call the working class stupid; he doesn't have the guts and it would not favorably impact his campaign.
But if, God forbid, he does get elected, you better believe we will instantaneously become "you people" as he slaps the backs of and laughs derisively with the ultra rich pigs who bought him the presidency.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dig This

"There are only two kinds of freedom in the world; the freedom of the rich and powerful, and the freedom of the artist and the monk who renounces possessions."

Anais Nin

Nora Ephron

When Nora Ephron died there was a huge reaction all across the creative horizon. TV personalities, news people, movie stars, writers. The reactions cut across all forms of entertainment and information sources.
I had heard the name but knew nothing about the woman, so I was blown away by the passion and enormity of the reaction to her death.
Somehow another one that passed beneath my radar.
I went online to read her biography and got the facts. She started out as a reporter for The New York Post. She went on to become one of the country's best known journalists, writing for Esquire, New York Times Magazine and New York Magazine. She published collections of her essays which were best sellers and also a novel called Heartburn, based on the breakup of her marriage.
From there she went on to writing screenplays for movies you might recognize: Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless In Seattle, You've Got Mail, Julie and Julia.
The woman was obviously tremendously talented and respected as such but it still didn't explain for me the intensity of grief her death caused.
Until I looked into what her peers and friends and admirers had to say about her.
First of all she kept her illness private. Only her family and closest friends knew that she had cancer so it was a shock to the rest of the world and you could see that in peoples' faces, hear it in their words. Although she left clues. She wrote her last book in 2010, I Remember Nothing, and it ended with a list of "What I Will Miss" and a thank you "to my doctors."
Mary Pols who reviews movies and books for Time, described her writing as feeling like "aged Lucinda Williams songs, the rawness sanded down, the comedy born of wisdom that softened the angst, but the voice still frank and strong."
She points out that Ephron's films were not artsy fartsy movies but they were movies that people absolutely love and watch over and over again.
Tom Hanks said that Nora made her world your world "she gave you books to read and took you to cafes you never heard of that became legends. She would give your kids small, goofy parts in movies with the caveat that they might not make the final cut but you'd get a tape of the scene. For a wrap gift she would send you a note saying something like "A man is going to come to your house to plant an orange tree and you will eat its fruit for the rest of your days."
There are many more testimonials out there but I am sure I am boring you already so I won't quote them.
What I got out of this is that Nora Ephron was amazing as a human being. She was intelligent, eccentric, cultured, talented, caring, sensitive and loving. Seems like everyone who knew her loved her.
What a special thing to be able to touch people in that way.
Of course all her books are now on my Amazon Wish List.
Nora loved spending summers at her home in Long Island, NY with her third husband and her kids, describing it like this: "We were always there for the end of June, my favorite time of the year, when the sun doesn't set until nine-thirty at night and you feel as if you will live forever."
According to Mary Pols "later she interpreted nature's messages differently, saw them as a reminder of the end of all things, and stopped spending her summers there."
Nora Ephron was a complex and a talented woman who managed to be loving as well.
She lived her life and shared it with her friends and family.
That, to me, is the ultimate definition of what it means to be human.

Dig This

"So many of the conscious and unconscious ways men and women treat each other have to do with romantic and sexual fantasies that are deeply ingrained, not just in society but in literature. The women's movement may manage to clean up the mess in society, but I don't know whether it can ever clean up the mess in our minds."

Nora Ephron

More Slime

"I cannot recall any time in my memory when I have feared a president as much as I do our current president."

republican state rep from Ohio Cheryl Grossman

More intelligent critical analysis from the republican brain trust.

A Sense Of Wonder

I am one judgemental son of a bitch. I look at people and immediately form an opinion. I was driving to work earlier this week and saw a couple wandering the streets together. Fat downtrodden looking woman wearing shorts and her grizzled, weather beaten man.
I didn't consciously think the thought, but in retrospect I realize I immediately felt superior to them. They looked purposeless, like non contributing members of society.
Upon further reflection my brain asked me who the hell I think I am.
But I do this all the time.
Occasionally I shop at Wal-mart out of sheer desperation. And afterward I always feel like I should go to a professional delousing facility, followed by a two hour shower at home.
Before you get all critical on me and start calling me a no good, useless piece of flesh, admit to yourself that you do it too. You know you do. We all do.
It occurred to me that I need to look upon all humans with a sense of wonder. Or at least try to.
If I get solid evidence that someone is a useless loser, a person who scams the system, an individual who has never even tried to take a legitimate shot at life, a person who has been this way since birth, then I am justified in escorting them to the nearest Soylent Green facility.
If I see someone walking down the street who does not meet my esthetic qualifications I don't have the right to immediately judge them.
There are reasons why people get defeated. Reasons related to work to health to psychology to random life events to self inflicted life events to mistakes to trusting the deceitful to on and on and on.
I could be doing a lot more with my life than I am. That makes me a limited contributing member of society at best. In a way I am a drag on society because if I achieved more I would be contributing more.
In an interesting twist I am my own harshest critic. Maybe I need to look upon myself with a sense of wonder. But that is a story for another place and time.
It is a harsh and unforgiving ride, this journey through life. A little less negative judgement would create a fresh breeze to cut through the stench.
Meaningful thoughts inspired by a woman who should never wear shorts and a guy who has not recently seen a razor.
As I re-read that sentence I realize I need to work on this philosophy a little more.

Too Much Good Luck

You can have too much good luck. Like when you hit every green light on the way to work.Happened to me the other day. I couldn't believe it.
I want to hit all the red lights on my way to work and all the green on the way home.
The red on the way in give me time to think and be and breathe and delay the start of another twisted day.
The green on the way home speed me to sweet release.
Of course if you are running late, hitting all the greens on the way to work is good luck. I think.
And maybe all green on the way in, if you are not in a hurry, should just be called bad luck. Is it too much good luck or is it bad luck?
Is too much good luck automatically equivalent to bad luck?
Or does it exist as its own unique category?
This is an exceptionally confusing topic.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I WILL Live Forever

So I am still reading The Power of Now by my buddy Eckhart Tolle as inspiration. Reading it as if I were reading a religious text. Which unfortunately it occasionally comes across as. Lots of God and Jesus references in there. I can deal with that.
Because most of the text resonates with me. It is giving me the mind approach to life that I need.
This morning was disappointing, though.

"When you become identified more with the timeless inner body than with the outer body, when presence becomes your normal mode of consciousness and past and future no longer dominate your attention, you do not accumulate time anymore in your psyche and in the cells of the body. The accumulation of time as the psychological burden of past and future greatly impairs the cells' capacity for self renewal. So if you inhabit the inner body, the outer body will grow old, at a much slower rate, and even when it does, your timeless essence will shine through the outer form, and you will not give the appearance of an old person."

The book is set up in question and answer form. The next question is: "Is there any scientific evidence for this?"
The answer: "Try it out and you will be the evidence."

NO, no, no, no no. I need scientific evidence, empirical proof, I need to be convinced that I can slow down the aging process. I am 58 for Christ sake. Kenny Loggins recorded that song Danger Zone just for me. That is where I am at.

Oh well, nothing is perfect. The book gets a little edgy here and there, a little religious at times, but there is a lot of meat here for someone who needs to firm up their mind.

Dig it, baby.

You Are Voting For A Lizard

"I wish this president would learn how to be an American. ............he has no idea how the American system functions."Former (thank God) NH governor John Sununu.

"I think it can now be said, without equivocation, that this man hates this country. He is trying - Barack Obama is trying - brick by brick, to dismantle the American Dream." Rush Limbaugh

"The Muslim Brotherhood is infiltrating the American government." Michele Bachmann

"President Obama's course as President is extraordinarily foreign." Mitt Romney

In the past, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint has said that "this is the most anti-American administration in his lifetime."

Any of those comments resonate with you? Because if you agree with them, if you nod your head, if you get a satisfied feeling in your gut just reading those words, you should be stripped of your right to vote, stripped naked, smeared with red paint, branded with an r on your forehead and forced to stand in the town square.

Outrageous attacks are standard in presidential races, which says a lot about the mentality of this country. I swear that we Americans are determined to live as teenagers, intellectually stunted, emotionally unstable and full on proud of our immaturity.
Dukakis, Kerry and Gore endured insulting attacks to name a recent few.
The attacks this time are more pointed, more consistent and have one common thread - to capitalize on President Obama's blackness and paint him as a communist, pinko, socialist weirdo outsider.
Because the racist American public is looking for reasons. Reasons to hide their Romney vote from the stigma of racism and pretend there are valid reasons to vote for the man.
Sununu is a former elected official. Bachmann is a state rep, DeMint is a Senator. These people should know better. They are or were elected officials and this is how they choose to represent their constituents?
You can dismiss Limbaugh more easily because he is just a radio guy looking to entertain and expand his audience, his bank account and his prodigious gut.
But the frightening thing is that there is an audience out there lapping up his bulls**t as if it were Bud Light.
The comment you should be most concerned about is Romney's. This a**hole is running for president. President Obama made the point that anybody who succeeds in this country gets help from someone somewhere. An undeniable truth.
Yet Romney jumps on it and twists it to say that President Obama said that people like Steve Jobs, Ray Kroc, and Papa John are not self made men. That they did not build their own businesses. He's playing to the concept of the (phony baloney) American Dream. Trying to make it look like President Obama is undermining the success of fortunate men, trying to make a case against the American Dream.
Notice how he picks recognizable icons, by the way? People he knows will spark an immediate emotional response in small minded Americans.
"What? Papa John not a self made man? President Obama IS a communist, pinko, socialist, (black), un-American."
Think, people. Please think. I am not putting myself out there as a brilliant individual. Truthfully I just started thinking about two months ago and I am 58 years old. But it is an interesting concept and one I think I can eventually get the hang of.
You know when you take a walk in the country and something slithers into the woods to your left? You don't really see it, just catch a peripheral glimpse but you get a sense that it left behind it a trail of slime. And that if somehow you were able to touch it, you would recoil in horror and it would take repeated washings with industrial strength cleaners to get that noxious substance off your skin.
That slithering something is Mitt Romney.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dig This

"There are two ways to sleep well at night. Be ignorant or be prepared."

My Little Purple Shirt

I wear a purple shirt to work.
Its so damn cute and what a perk
Its free to me, a benefit
I only sold my soul for it
People comment all the time
"You look so cute while I'm here buying"
"Oh please f**k off", I often blurt
It makes me proud, this purple shirt

Reason # 444

Reason #444 why I despise and distrust Romney and the entire republican party.
Romney is complaining about being asked to reveal more tax returns. Complaining about being criticized for maintaining offshore bank accounts.
He says that President Obama's campaign is trying to distract voters from the real issue, which is job creation. WHICH ROMNEY AND rEPUBLICAN SCUM REFUSE TO EVEN ADDRESS. They use job creation as a catch phrase because they know the American public is afraid and unstable, and they go on to introduce legislation attempting to eliminate abortion, promote voter suppression, eliminate safeguards to protect the environment, anything but deal with this highly sensitive and deeply impactful issue.
But that is a story for another place and time.
Anyway I heard Romney sounding indignant about the focus on his personal finances. However it was completely OK to harass The President of the United States into providing his birth certificate. His goddamn birth certificate. Does any intelligent person on this planet believe that a man could get elected to the presidency without the proper documentation?
Question asked and answered.
The republicans have absolutely no sense of perspective, and they count on the all encompassing stupidity of the American public and their vile racist attitudes to overlook the obvious.
It is a hell of a lot more pertinent to expect a candidate for the presidency to reveal his personal financial statements than it is to insult the President of the United States by demanding that he produce his birth certificate.
I am no financial wizard, as evidenced by my rise to mediocrity within the accounting world. I'm sure there are complex reasons for maintaining offshore accounts. But I heard an analyst say the two biggest reasons are to minimize tax exposure and to hedge against the value of the dollar. Neither of which I consider to be patriotic.
Common wisdom condones the practice in the business world as a way to protect profits and wealth. I can no longer accept that argument. In a time when this country is faltering financially, American companies should be doing everything they can to bolster our economy. And a candidate for the presidency should be doing more than most.
Did a little research and was rewarded with the following logic: "Having an offshore bank account is a fundamental part of international diversification. It's especially important in times like these when currency controls and government regulations are getting stricter, "supposedly to battle money laundering and international terrorism." Offshore banking gives you a way of having part of your wealth outside of the country, so that you never risk having a government freeze or confiscate all your assets."
"You really want to consider jurisdictions with low taxes, a strong and stable financial sector, and one without a history of plundering the banks in bad times."
" A point worth mentioning is that offshore banking is not about hiding your money from the tax man, it is about diversifying your sovereign risk."
Are you serious? This sounds like preachifying, the kind of stuff you hear from televangelists trying to convince you that donating money to their "church" does not contradict Jesus' attitude towards poverty.
Romney won't release more tax returns because he pays a lower rate than you or me and he knows we will want to lynch him when we find out.
He won't discuss his offshore bank accounts because he is avoiding tax liabilities and funneling money out of this country at a time when we need every well off citizen to show some loyalty to this country by investing in the economy.
President Barack Obama revealed his birth certificate to shut up morons like Trump, who ultimately never shut up. It was a silly gesture the President was forced into by people who don't care about this country.
Romney better reveal more tax returns and explain his logic for maintaining offshore accounts so voters know exactly who they are dealing with. And the IRS better review those returns to make sure they are the ones he actually filed, and financial experts better dissect Romney's offshore logic to get to the truth.
Because he doesn't have the guts to be truthful to American voters.
Revealing this information is meaningful and pertinent to the election.
From Last Call - Senator Boies Penrose was a man who believed that government was a weapon to be wielded in the interests of the moneyed classes. He once said - "I'd rather dictate to damn fools than serve them."
Romney shares the same interests and the same opinion.

Monday, July 16, 2012

My Mind Is Taking A Walk

Talking about birds. Talking about a frame of reference. A mindset. Music. Lyrics.
Searching for simplicity. That's what I am doing. That is also the name of a Gregg Allman solo album that rocks quite beautifully. You should check it out if you want to enrich your life.
If you don't want to enrich your life stay the hell away from me.
John Prine has a song called Taking A Walk. I have talked about this song before. It rips intense emotion out of my heart, my mind and my soul.
He describes situations that stress him out, then the chorus kicks in and he's taking a walk.
I'm in a different head space now and the lyrics mean so much more to me.
I have spent my life fighting against. Fighting against my job and my income and my career and my situation. Never accepting that the life I am living is my life.
It has caused me a great deal of stress.
I am developing a new outlook, a more mellow outlook and I like it. So all of a sudden  I listen to John Prine's lyrics and my heart expands to a dangerous size.
Previously, when I was stressed, I reached for The Crown. I am trying not to do that now. And when I listen to Taking A Walk I can identify with it deeply. Something sucks, go outside, absorb some sun, listen to the birds and the wind and the stream and realign yourself with your own humanity.
Whiskey is a scam. It creates artificial release; this accomplishes nothing.
Concurrent with this realization is my love affair with the birds. Over the past couple of years I have tuned my ears to the songs of the birds who begin each day beautifully at sunrise chirping their happiness un-self consciously out into the world.
I always wake up early. Because my mind is tortured, because my mattress sucks. If I awake at 4:00 a.m. the world is silent. Even the birds are still asleep.
Around 5:00 the birds begin to sing and it is magic. As I lie there knowing full well that I will not get back to sleep, I listen to the birds and I am blown away. They deliver peace directly into my soul.
Coincidentally I am listening to Leonard Cohen on my way to work and the opening lyrics to Anthem burn their way into my skull.
"The birds they sang at the break of day, start again I heard them say, don't dwell on what has passed away or what is yet to be."
I suddenly realized with explosive realization that this is what I get from the birds in my own back yard at 4:45 a.m. A joyfulness, a sense of hopefulness, an innate beauty. A new beginning every f***ing day, a forgiveness.
I listened to John Prine on the way to work that morning and Leonard Cohen on the way home. Very dangerous, but I survived it and expanded my emotional and intellectual scope.
I survived it because my head is in a very great place.
By the way, John Prine has a killer sense of humor, as most creative people do.
Last verse: "Found a card in my pocket, of my worn out overalls, from a girl in Cedar Rapids, now residing in Idaho Falls, I wish you could have been there when she opened up the door, and looked me in the face like she never did before, I felt about as welcome as a Wal-mart Superstore."
So he took a walk. By the way Prine's chorus also includes the line "I'm watching the birds."
It's all connected, baby.
So I am searching for simplicity and wiser men than me are inspiring me on how to go about it.
You have to open your mind.
You have to listen and learn and think.
Goddamn I feel good.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Genius Ad Exec At Work

They all have a catch phrase on TV, something that sounds deeper than it is to trick your brain.
I drink designer Keurig coffee at home, but for some reason I drink instant coffee on the ride when I have to be at work early. Its a little more rugged, and the Keurig don't brew it hot enough.
Anyway I'm standing in front of the stove half asleep yesterday morning, anticipating another incredibly exciting day at The Booze Emporium and waiting for the water to boil, and the ad exec in my mind came up with:

Harsh Reality Instant Coffee - A bolder brew that stands up well to your commute.

I should get paid for this stuff.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

You Want To Know Exactly How Small Your Life Is?

Just read an article in Rolling Stone by Matt Taibbi about major banks in this country being prosecuted for ripping off the American public on a scale that is unimaginable.
I love this guy. I consider him a direct descendant from Hunter S. Thompson, and that is high praise coming from me.
He is not in Hunter's league, but he captures the same sentiment of outrage, sarcasm, and provocative statements based on a wicked intelligence and a deep understanding of the subject he is writing about.
I am not going to get into the details because it is overwhelming and confusing stuff. I read the article carefully and I understood only 1/2 of 1 %.
In a nutshell, virtually every major bank and finance organization in this country - including GE Capital, J.P.Morgan Chase, Bank of America, UBS, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Wachovia and more, collaborated to rig the bids on $3.7 trillion of municipal bonds.
For example say a city or town wants to build a school. They go to Wall Street to issue a bond in the town's name. The bond is supposed to be submitted to a competitive auction  of at least three banks so the town can get the best interest rate.
What these a**holes did was to work together to ensure that the town got a lower rate than it could have on the bond, reducing the town's return and increasing the banks profit. Payoffs were made to middle men, financiers and politicians to make the whole thing work.
The reason we know this to be true is because the case went to trial. GE Capital was prosecuted for their part in the scam. It is extremely rare that Wall Street and financial institutions are brought to trial, so this case is heavy duty.
The three individuals on trial as employees of GE Capital were found guilty. And are likely to get sentenced to up to five years in jail.
All of the above mentioned banks were proved to be involved in the scam. They all got off with slap on the wrist fines, and allowed to retain their positions of power in the municipal bond market.
Let me say this clearly - it was proved in court that these banks were part of an entrenched system that affected major bond issues in every state in the nation; they ripped off the entire country, virtually every day for more than a decade. They stole from schools, hospitals, libraries and nursing homes.
And they got a slap on the wrist and are still allowed to participate in this market.
As Taibbi says, "get busted for welfare fraud even once in America, and good luck getting so much as a food stamp ever again. Get caught rigging interest rates in 50 states, and the government goes right on handing you billions of dollars in public contracts."
This is the country we live in, folks.
This is why the 99% will never get ahead, never improve their standard of living.
The odds against us are too huge and the money men have the power to keep it that way.
The American Dream, my ass.

The New Business Model

The new business model works as follows.
You staff your organization with as many part timers as you can. Overwhelmingly so.
You demand of them - everything. You give them responsibility commensurate with a manager's. Give them complete responsibility for opening or closing a store as well as supervising other part time employees. And you pay them nothing extra. Absolutely nothing.
You ask them to come in early when they are scheduled to come in late. You ask them to stay late when they are scheduled to leave early.
You ask them to come in when they are scheduled to have a day off.
If they screw up they are held accountable. If they excel, they are not rewarded.
Full timers get time and a half for Sundays, more than that for holidays. Part timers get a shift differential. Maybe.
You offer the part timers no hope for advancement and you screw them financially at every opportunity. You are openly condescending towards them, treating them as if they are invisible and expecting them to kiss your ass.
And you expect them to be loyal, to follow the rules, to be grateful.
Every single thing about how a part timer is treated breaks the human spirit and creates a molten anger, a distrust and a resentment against cold hearted employers. It is truthful to say that this kind of treatment creates intense hatred on the part of the part time employee. And disgust. And a complete and total disassociation from the normal attitude towards a job. The job means nothing, the business means nothing, the employer is looked on with contempt.
The employers' answer is tough luck, buddy there are a million like you ready to take your place.
The New Hampshire State Liquor Commission did not invent this business model.
But they have perfected it.
This is the new business model for America.
There is no chance at a return to respect.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dig This

From a Prohibition supporter:

"When a laboring man works eight hours and spends none of his time at the saloon, he will save up more money and better his economic status. When the workingman spends his evenings at home or at the library, and has good books and a gramophone and an automobile, society will be better off."

This is reminiscent to me of the republicans' condescending trickle down theory of economics.

It never ends, folks, it never f***ing ends.

Something You Should Know

President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle represent the personification of The American Dream.

Mitt Romney and his wife Ann represent the perversion of The American Dream.

You Want Me To Stop Doing What???????????

Digging into Last Call a little more on this peaceful morning with Maka and a cup of designer coffee.
Reading/learning about the whole Prohibition (with a capital P) thing just gets me thinking about the human condition.
When will we learn that humans need diversion?
Its amazing that Prohibition even happened and hopefully its failure resulted in a lesson learned.
But maybe not.
Billions of dollars have been spent on The War Against Drugs. You might as well spend the money on a movement to prevent bowel movements. It ain't gonna happen.
People need booze, people need drugs. In the case of booze it is partially related to the fact that it tastes good. But any seasoned drinker will admit the overriding factor is the pursuit of a buzz.
With drugs you don't even have to bother with taste. You get right to the buzz. More efficient and you don't have to take bathroom breaks.
I think about the human condition all the time. Probably because I am one. And although my knowledge base is limited, I am slow moving and largely unaware, I am still willing to bet that I am not the first human to ponder the human condition.
We are a restless, unhappy and uninformed species. We don't know if there is life after death but we do know that we don't want to die. I believe the fact that death is inevitable exists in our subconscious and has a bigger impact on our outlook than we think.
Especially when you consider that the overwhelming per centage of people work jobs that they hate for money that embarrasses them to live a life that is severely limited.
When you are young, you are optimistic. You know that you will succeed and live well. Nine times out of ten that proves to be untrue, and you end up walking around in a haze wondering how the hell this happened. Looking at the smallness and knowing that's the way its going to be until you shuffle of this mortal coil.
So why not have a drink? Smoke a joint. Hoover up a line. Do whatever the hell makes you feel better, whether that results in laughing or forgetting. Or both.
People who demonize booze and drugs are ignoring the human condition. Booze and drugs do not destroy humanity, humanity creates the need for booze and drugs.
And the loudmouths who preach against the evil are very often miserably flawed themselves. Or just plain miserable.
The more I consider this "living in the now" concept, the more sense it makes to me. Especially after Christopher Hitchens ripped away my subliminal safety blanket of a "maybe" afterlife.
Trying to create happiness in the now is a good approach. It doesn't work at work; you can pretend to be happy with a phony, cheery attitude but that is just bullshit.
So do whatever makes you happy on your own time and in your own way. And if having a drink or having thirteen drinks does it, do it. People who make judgements presume to know better; I think they are just projecting their own unhappiness on the judged.
Being human is a tenuous, a fragile and an unknowing thing. That is a tough way to live.
If we could free ourselves from this need to control others, if we could take a hard, honest look at what it means to be human and let go of all the phony agendas, maybe we could progress as a species.
But we live in denial. Denial of death, denial that life is disappointing for the great majority of humans, denial that booze and drugs make you feel better. Or make you forget or escape or laugh or air out your true self or contemplate.
We are such a strange species. A brain with amazing capacity reduced to pettiness in a life so very short.
I don't get it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Prohibition, My Ass

Reading Last Call - The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.
This book is going to fire up my mind and entertain me endlessly. I pledge to have a drink by my side at every reading session. Actually I'll amend that; sometimes I don't feel like drinking in the morning. On those occasions I'll keep an empty whiskey tumbler by my side.
Prohibition went into effect on January 17, 1920. On January 16 there was a frenzy of activity inspired by the understanding that even after the law took effect people could legally consume whatever alcohol was in their homes as of that date. On the 17th The San Francisco Chronicle reported that people whose beer, liquor and wine had not arrived by midnight were left to stand in their doorways "with haggard faces and glittering eyes." I love that.
Two weeks earlier the New year's Eve celebrations around the country were insane in anticipation of prohibition. The evil 18th amendment to the Constitution had been ratified on January 16, 1919; the country was given one year to prepare.
Dig these quotes in response to the new law:
Evangelist Billy Sunday - "The reign of tears is over. The slums will soon be a only memory. We will turn our prisons into factories and our jails into storehouses and corncribs. Men will walk upright now; women will smile, and the children will laugh. Hell will be forever for rent."
Secretary of The Interior Franklin K. Lane - "The whole world is skew-jee, awry, distorted and altogether perverse. Einstein has declared the law of gravitation outgrown and decadent. Drink, consoling friend of a Perturbed World, is shut off; and all goes merry as a dance in hell."
Here's a quote from 1914, six years before prohibition, from state rep Richard P. Hobson - "If a family or nation is sober, nature in its normal course will cause them to rise to a higher civilization.. If a family or a nation, on the other hand, is debauched by liquor, it must decline and ultimately perish."
I contend that the current republican party and all its supporters are debauched by liquor.
Alcohol was big news early in this country's history and apparently consumed in greater quantities than we do now, which is pretty amazing when you think about it.
In 1839, Frederick Marryatt, visiting this country from England, wrote - "I am sure the Americans can fix nothing without a drink. if you meet, you drink; if you part, you drink; if you make acquaintance you drink; if you close a bargain you drink; they quarrel in their drink and they make it up with a drink. They drink because it is hot; they drink because it is cold. If successful in elections, they drink and rejoice; if not, they drink and swear; they begin to drink early in the morning, they leave off late at night; they commence it early in life and they continue it, until they soon drop into the grave."
No wonder America became the #1 destination for immigrants.
That's all I'm gonna give you today.
Kind of set the mood. Because I know this book is going to be a rich source of writing for me.
Gotta get prettied up and ready to roll. Soon I'm off to work at THE EVIL LIQUOR STORE.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Web Kills!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Newsweek comes out with a cover story asking "Is The Web Driving Us Mad?" and everybody's going crazy.
Some of the concerns are well founded, some are hysteria.
Apparently the article deals with the amount of time humans spend with face book, twitter, texting, e-mails, online. I haven't read it yet but I will.
I do, however, have opinions.
I have been saying for a very long time what an amazing waste technology can be. The internet is such a powerful source for information. For learning. And yet most people use e-mail, for example, to forward stupid jokes, and use the web to devour porn and keep up with the Kardashians' wacky high jinks and endless gossip from the entertainment industry.
Layer your options with texting, twitter and facebook and you have endless opportunities to gather and share information.
Instead you get garbage.
I watch people texting all the time and I think they look stupid. Staring down at their goddamn little device, sending out inane comments and waiting for more inane replies. I'm talking about people who text constantly, the people who never put their goddamn smart phones down. People whose phones have to be within reach no matter where they are or what they are doing. As a bartender I was always amused at the people who set their phone down on the bar in front of them like they couldn't possibly be separated from it even when they were out relaxing.
I understand the value of texting occasionally versus making a call, especially at work where you can goof off surreptitiously.
I see people walking down the street with phones glued to their ears and I think they look stupid.
In the interest of full disclosure I have to admit that I hate phones in general. The phone to me is an interruption. Unless I'm being informed that I just won $46 million.
Twitter drives me crazy. News shows, sports talk shows etc. flash twitter feeds across the bottom of the screen and they never say anything intelligent. They either agree with what is being said or they add something meaningful like "yeah, that is so real, man." And the really scary fact is the network probably had to sift through 43,717 comments just to get to the ones they decide are screen worthy.
And iPhone has Siri. What the hell is that? Apple felt the need to create a pseudo life form? A voice that you can talk to, ask questions of and make your next BFF.
Have you seen the ad with John Malkovich talking to Siri? Alone in a room? Quite bizarre. Looking to 'her' for jokes and conversation.
That is not so far fetched in my mind. Lots of lonely people in the world. In the future I can see The Siri defense as a legal strategy. "Yes, Your Honor, he did chop off his mother's head, hollow it out and use it for a soup bowl, but the defendant contends that Siri made him do it. We plead not guilty by reason of Siri."
There has been much hysteria over the years about kids playing video games. They don't go outside, they are lazy, they don't get enough exercise.
I think that is a bunch of crap. Every generation resents what the next generation has.
Look at my generation. My parents' generation railed about the horrible effects of marijuana and rock and roll, and we turned out just fine. (?)
I don't have a problem with the technology, I have a problem with people using it so stupidly.
And so rudely. One thing I despise is when you are talking to someone and they begin texting, looking down at their phone instead of looking into your eyes. Or they get a magic beep that tells them they just received a text and they look away from you immediately because the message could very well be life changing and is definitely more important than the conversation you were just having. Absolutely unacceptable.
Apparently there was a study completed in China indicating that the brains of people who use these technologies excessively begin to change and show the same characteristics of drug addicts and alcoholics, with reduced ability to process speech, motor control, emotions and sensory information.
I'm not ready to jump on the band wagon on that one but it is believable in a certain sense.
It is easier to be stupid than to get smart. We take these technologies and reduce them to their lowest functionality, comparing notes on what we had for breakfast. No thinking involved. I can see the brain atrophying.
There is probably a lot of overkill in the article and there will be much hysteria in the reaction, from dinosaurs like me and those who are plugged in.
My problem is that we use all this amazing technology to make ourselves stupider. And waste time.
I think it is a commentary on the human condition. I'm not sure what the message is but I'm pretty sure it's not positive.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Ultimate Super Hero Showdown (kind of)

I visualize this presidential election as the ultimate super hero showdown.
I did a little research to see which super hero battle comic book nerds feel was the greatest. And of course there are lists. Hotly contested lists.
I'm OK with this. Everybody needs an escape. Including my even tempered wife Carol who spends every night crocheting so she won't have to look at my ugly face or listen to my inane banter. Especially the inane banter. I make a bizarre comment to which there is no response. After a few seconds she says "I'm sorry. I was counting." Perfect.
Anyway I went through a few lists and it was stuff like The Hulk vs. The Thing, Batman vs. Superman, Spider Man vs. The Green Goblin and Superman vs. Captain Marvel. And a whole bunch of other ones I don't care about and don't want to care about like The Masters of Evil, The Avengers, JLA, Deathstroke, Bullseye and Elektra.
The problem is it became impossible for me to visualize Romney as a super hero. I just can't do it.
I suddenly realized this is not a battle between super heroes, it is a battle between a super hero and a super villain.
Superman and Lex Luthor.
Dig this description of Lex from a comic book website: "Lex Luthor is one of the most dangerously intelligent men on the planet - a super villain, a brilliant scientist, a billionaire industrialist and Superman's greatest enemy. This combination makes him an extremely powerful and formidable opponent; he is ruthless, efficient and creative. In addition to his personal vendetta against the man who thwarts his every scheme, he despises the alien Man of Steel from an ideological standpoint for contradicting his human achievements. Luthor has always been a controversial figure in the public eye due to LexCorp's corrupt business dealings, but he has also maintained political popularity."
Is that not Romney? That is f***ing perfect. I did not make that up.
I had to figure out the source of each man's power in this campaign.
For President Obama it is obviously his intelligence. His charisma and his charm. And that bewitching smile.
I hate to see him campaign because it feels like he is dumbing himself down to immerse himself in the cesspool of American politics. Then again it's kind of like watching Stephen Hawking competing against a kindergarten child. One who has not been red shirted. And I definitely dig President Obama's speechifying; the man is mesmerizing in a way few orators are.
Romney's powers come from collective stupidity. He draws his strength from the mass of uninformed Americans who make voting decisions based on what they know to be blatant lies, based on racist hatred, based on anti-intellectual backlash (we hate smart people in this country), based on fear of change.
The battle truly is epic from the standpoint that Romney represents politics (and business) as usual in this country complete with false promises, outright lies, ass kissing of the rich coupled with total disregard for the common man, and a painfully obvious sense of disconnection from the lives led by the majority of the people struggling in this country.
President Obama represents change. It is difficult to see because the republicans have steadfastly opposed him on every single issue, not on the basis of intelligent evaluation but strictly to make him look bad, to defeat him at all costs. Including the cost of thrusting you and me and this entire country into financial ruin.
Anyway Superman and Lex are going at it.
I take comfort in knowing that Lex Luthor has only defeated Superman temporarily, never with finality. He may get his hands on some kryptonite but Superman always finds a way to get back.
I look forward to the presidential debates when I envision Superman reducing Lex to the sniveling, cowardly, poseur that he is.
Lex will get that look on his face, that twisted, tortured Christ he beat me again look. The look that reveals his true nature.
And Superman will be standing in that classic pose, hands on hips, cape swirling behind him as he looks to the sky in victory and goodness.
I desperately need to see that pose on the night of November 6.

Dance While You Have The Chance

Finished up City of Refuge this morning.
Delicious book. Tasted like chocolate.
There was a character who had gone through hell because of Katrina, been displaced to Chicago, who returned for the first Mardi Gras after the storm.
He couldn't get into it, couldn't inhabit his usual partying with abandon spirit. Until he asked himself what he learned from living in New Orleans for so many years.
And the answer was: "You gotta dance while you have the chance. Because it won't last forever."
Words to live by, baby.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Criminal Manifesto

Logic should dictate that us wee folk would all be criminals.
You play by the rules. Get up early to get to work on time. Do what they tell you to do the way they tell you to do it. Endure petty criticisms as huge injustices occur daily with the higher ups. Take your breaks and lunch on time, genuflect to the 15 or 30 minute restrictions on your freedom. Punch in, punch out and eat s**t for being one minute early, one minute late.
And you get no where. Sacrifice individuality and dignity and you get nowhere.
Because the rules are their rules. They are not your rules, they are not designed to be fair, they are not designed to make you comfortable or promote advancement.
On one level they are designed to maintain order. On another level, and I believe this is the greater portion of the justification, they are designed to keep you in your place, to break your spirit, to let you know who is boss.
To make you compliant and devoid of hope.
All good employees are compliant and devoid of hope.
Rules are designed so a game can be played fairly, so that neither side has an unfair advantage. When you realize this is not true of life, that rules are designed to give one side all the advantages, you would think we would all snap and look towards alternatives. I mean the concept is so foreign to logical thinking that your mind should rebel. You should break down completely and get yourself a gun.
Fortunately life wears you down slowly between childhood and adulthood so the shock is not so great. Kind of like watching yourself age in the mirror. You don't really see yourself age up to a certain point, so you can look in the mirror at the age of 68 and accept it.
Unless you are Keith Richards.
It could be cool and an interesting scientific experiment if there was no gradual wearing down. If you learned the meaning of the word rules, understood the concept, and then suddenly got slapped in the face with reality.
F**K YOU would be a much more openly expressed sentiment and quite appropriate. I can visualize the signs outside Sunday mass: "Today's sermon: On Incorporating F**K You Into a Meaningful Spiritual Existence."
Its interesting to speculate what the effect would be if 98% of the population were criminals, 1% were dutiful employees, and the other 1% remain contentedly rich and amused.
As I ponder this it occurs to me that not much would change. The dutiful employees would still be doing all the work and making the least money, the criminals would still be concentrated in management and making all the money, and the rich would still be kissing Romney's ass.
The only difference is that the condescension and lack of respect would be out in the open. With numbers like that it would be hard to hide.
Management would be sitting around drinking whiskey and smoking cigars, making audible jokes about their employees, pointing at them and laughing.
And carrying stop watches to time breaks and lunch.
Maybe the lesson is to just go out and be a criminal right off the bat. You don't need a gun, all you need is a complete disregard for the welfare of others. That's how upper management is formed.
Employees milk the system for any little advantage they can get. A couple of extra minutes for lunch, a pre-break break when the bossman ain't looking. Stealing whatever little item you can to give you a thrill and a taste of payback.
Calling in sick when you are not sick, getting in to work fifteen minutes late and blaming it on the imaginary 89 year old woman who collapsed while crossing the road.
I guess this is what passes for our life of crime. Most of us don't want to risk jail time and new friends with questionable sexual preferences. So we get back in any little way we can.
Ultimately I guess we are all criminals.
The more heartless get promoted, the rest of us settle for stolen minutes and free stationery.
We are indeed an impressive species.

Hope, Stillborn

They have taken away so much that they never gave,
creating illusions, giving birth to hope, stillborn.
To be lied to is to learn.
There is always learning.
Their goal is to make you weak and manipulate you;
but, in their naivete, the opposite happens.
You recognize your strength, unfazed at the ultimate
realization that you are truly on your own.
Striving for independence, the struggle is made
easier by a mind that is already free.
Easier with the knowledge that their feigned authority
makes them weak and vulnerable.
And laughable.

Precious and Imperfect

Reading City of Refuge. Blown away by one phrase. A phrase that perfectly defines the love of a parent.

A character describing his mother as "the person who had given him a lifetime of precious and imperfect love."

Precious and imperfect love.

Precious by it's very nature, imperfect by our very nature.

Says it all, baby.

Save The Hot Dog Rolls

There is great concern for the welfare of our fragile economy. Not enough jobs, bankers and investment hacks spiralling our finances right down the toilet, retirement funds being plundered and lost, everybody is nervous, afraid, unstable.
And they package too many damn hot dog rolls.
You barbecue six dogs but you have a package of ten rolls. You barbecue 19 dogs and you have two packages of twelve rolls.
It's a waste of time to freeze them because they suck two weeks later. So you throw them out.
I always end up with left over rolls sitting on the counter for days because I envision my self putting them to good use.
Then I throw them out.
My mind is too small and too damaged to understand the intricacies of finance and the economy. But I have this uncomfortable feeling that if we could just sync hot dog packaging perfectly with hot dog consumption, all of this current financial instability would evaporate, everybody would be employed, and cold hearted banks and immoral investment hacks could not hurt us.
Something to think about.

I Love Charlie Watts

Charlie Watts is the most bemused drummer in rock and roll. Potentially the most bemused participant in rock and roll.
Check out footage of The Stones concerts and you will see him with a wry smile on his face as he sits above and behind it all with magisterial splendor.
He plays in a jazz band on the side and has done it forever. He prefers that.
He is cultured, dresses impeccably, is soft spoken and sparing with words.
He is respected as a drummer.
Musically Keith Richards has the closest connection to Charlie; he looks to him and up to him all the time. Considers him the rock of the band. Respects him.
And musically The Stones are Keith's band, so that says a lot.
Check out their concerts and watch Keith keep an eye on Charlie, taking cues from the man, following him, digging the man, smiling and joking with him during songs.
Immense respect.
I love Charlie Watts, man.

Tread Carefully

My last post was on July 4. Today is July 8. This is rare.
Combination of work scheduling and personal fun prevented me from writing.
When I don't write for 4 days, it is comparable to those uncomfortable days when you have been constipated.
I am home in peace today. Beautiful day. No obligations other than to make sure I infuse my body and soul and mind with peace.
Kind of like taking a diuretic.
You people are in for a world of hurt.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Never Thought I Could Dig Feng Shui

I am examining my thoughts, evaluating them, re-ordering and re-wiring them to achieve a new and improved approach to life.
You establish thought patterns over a lifetime, you take in a certain amount of information, you miss out on a lot more information, you develop opinions, which are always dangerous because they tend to get set in stone, and there you have a blueprint for negotiating your life.
Extremely limited.
I am trying to redirect the firing of neurons, send them off in different directions and at different speeds. Even trying to delay the firing of neurons in situations of automatic, conditioned-over-time response.
I am shooting for Feng Shui of my mind.
I used that phrase to make a point. I hate that phrase. I hate it because it embodies the phony way Americans co-opt something mystical and try to make it their own, failing miserably.
Feng Shui is a complex body of knowledge that reveals how to balance the energies of any given space to assure the health and good fortune of the people inhabiting it.
Does this sound like a concept that can easily be grasped by money hungry interior decorators?
People who use that term use it because it sounds cool, not because they understand how it works. I don't even understand how it works and I just looked it up.
Feng means wind and Shui means water. In Chinese culture, wind and water are associated with good health. Feng Shui is based on the Taoist vision and understanding of nature, particularly the idea that the land is alive and filled with Chi, or energy. The ancient Chinese believed that the land's energy could either make or break the kingdom.
Do you actually believe that if you rotate your f***ing couch 45 degrees you have achieved Feng Shui? All you have done is minimize the chance that you will break your toe the next time you stagger drunkenly across the living room in the dark.
The Chinese develop a philosophy over the course of centuries that ties into life and health and peace, and we take it, trivialize it and beat it to death on HGTV.
As I was writing this it occurred to me that the term makes more sense as applied to the re-wiring of my mind than it ever could as applied to the moving of furniture.
So yeah, I am shooting for Feng Shui of my mind. I will proudly shout this philosophy from the rooftops.
Walmart tells me to save money and live better. I think they are off the mark. My plan is to think better to live better.
Might even grow another Fu Manchu. Had a killer one as a teenager that my grandmother almost ripped off my face.
Grew another one about 15 years ago that looked ridiculous.
But this time I got Feng Shui working for me.

Takin' A Walk

Took a walk yesterday around noon. Gorgeous day. I could feel the fourth coming. Sometimes I almost like the day before a holiday better than the holiday itself.
There were a few more people around. People in their yards, fixing the light on the rear door of the mini van, chasing their itty bitty dog to keep her from biting my toes off, mowing the lawn, sitting in cheap lawn chairs.
There is a feeling of quiet freedom on the day before. People who managed to duck work and actually live. Extending their time off in an intelligent way.
On the day of, things get noisier, hectic, intense. Everybody's cramming in what they can cram in, traveling, not traveling, barbecuing, drinking, contemplating or not thinking at all. The day blows by because of the urgency of having fun, however you define that.
On the day after and beyond, if you're lucky enough to have been able to duck work until Monday, you are tired and already thinking about Monday. And there are more people around. The Wednesday thing makes it perfect for an extended weekend.
We all live for time off. It's a shame but that's life. You are only alive when you are not working. If you work a 40 hour week and sleep eight hours a night (neither of which assumption is realistic these days), you are left with 52.4% of the week to live. Factor in shopping, cleaning etc and I'm sure you dip below 50%.
That is a horrible stat.
So these special holidays are magic and magnificent. You get to be a human being for a short time.
And the day before has a mystery, a release, a peacefulness, a catching of the breath quality that pieces your soul and your psyche back together.
Hell of a walk yesterday.