Sunday, September 30, 2012

Had A Conversation

Had a conversation yesterday.
When you stand at a cash register in a liquor store for hours on end you have mini conversations.
Actually they are not even conversations, they are really exchanges. 99% of them are boring, 99% of them are repetitive.
They say the same things, you say the same things.
You encounter cynicism (a lot), braggadocio, feeble attempts at humor, condescension, and unbelievably transparent shows of pseudo confidence.
You also develop liquor store acquaintances. People who come in on a regular basis, develop a comfort level with you and seek you out at the register.
As was the case when I tended bar at the legion, my best and favorite chats are with older people. Because they look at the rest of us with amusement. They don't have to fake it anymore. They are up front and honest.
I crave honest conversation. It is almost impossible to come by.
Sometimes you get meaningfulness and honesty from the not-elderly.
That's a gas.
A guy has been coming in and we have connected as much as you can on a liquor store level. He has a southern drawl, appears to be mid thirties, early forties, and comes across as amazingly laid back.
He and his wife recently had their second kid. Southern man brought him in last week for the first time, in the car seat carry all.
Put the car seat up on the counter, I talked to him, looked into those innocent eyes and held out my finger for him to hold onto. And he did. He grabbed that sucker with authority.
I was impressed.
Yesterday we continued our conversation about parenthood.
I told him I have a thirty two year old son and a twenty eight year old son and that time has blown by so fast.
He said since his wife and he have come at parenthood later in life, they are super aware of how quickly it all goes by, so they make a conscious effort to stay aware of the beauty and the magic of having kids.
I told him how I would give anything - ANYTHING - to have one more day when my sons were three and six, so I could pick them both up in my arms and kiss their cheeks and dig the purity of their kid laugh and their kid love.
I told him my favorite picture in the world was taken at my brothers wedding. I was the best man and my sons were in the wedding as well. We all wore tuxes.
The picture is of me holding both my sons in my arms, all of us looking quite goddamn debonair.
Southern man had tears in his eyes.
Do you understand what I am saying?
We were standing in a liquor store, a consumer and a clerk, connecting on so deep a level that he had tears in his eyes.
He said to me "Man, you brought tears to my eyes."
I told him that I was an accountant for over twenty years and that I despised every minute of it. But when I got home, the briefcase and the bullshit got dropped, and I played and laughed with my sons. I came alive and I LIVED.
He works in a local hospital evaluating people with psychological problems. He said that every day he sees damaged people who were mistreated by their parents in a way that screwed them up for life. Or kids who are screwed up right now because their parents abuse or mistreat them and have no love to give.
Before he had kids he said it tore him up and he had a real hard time handling it.
Now his kids are his sanctuary. He goes home and lets their magic wash over him and his love wash over them.
I played the wise philosopher, a role which I am eminently not qualified to play. But I told him that even today when I am with my sons, we laugh and have great conversation and they bring peace to my tormented soul.
He said he could dig that, could look forward to it.
He said he enjoyed our conversation and walked out.
That is what I live for. Honesty and emotion.
This all took place in the space of five minutes or less.
A deep, meaningful connection in a place where people go to buy a product they use to kill their pain, to hide from life.
Blew my mind, baby.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Big Brother Moment

Got in early, performed all the functions necessary to open up the store, had 38 seconds before I was obligated to unlock the doors to the thirsty, pain killing starved public, so I sat and thought.
The piped in music was playing as I did so. The music is continuously interrupted with commercials. I want to explode every time an Allman Brothers song or good blues song gets interrupted by crass, misleading commercialism.
Anyway, the music will stop and there will be a moment of silence before the hard sell begins.
As I sat there, the music stopped and during the silence I had a Big Brother moment. Expected a voice to come over the speakers - "Hey Joe - we are watching you - get up - straighten out that shelf - grab a case of Apothic Red, we think there is room for twelve bottles. Sweep the floor and replenish the toilet paper."
This is not so far fetched. This is an organization that is so controlling that, even though $100,000 of wine has gone missing, even though the three top guys were busted for using business vehicles for personal reasons, even though there have been numerous other scandals involving top guys, even though the entire organization is currently under legislative investigation for numerous questionable business practices and unfair treatment of employees, this is an organization that recently circulated a memo discouraging employees from gossiping because it can be detrimental to the atmosphere of the stores.
This is not my beautiful job. This is not my beautiful career. Well, how did I get here?


Bad haircut, baby. I don't get haircuts. Got the shoulder length thing going. But when I see pictures of myself the hair looks stringy (and gray), never looks as good (?) as it does in the mirror. Anais Nin said "We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are."
So does my hair look good or not?
Doesn't matter. It is directly tied into images of my youth. The things that resonated with me. The long hair means something to me beyond vanity.
Then again it looks good slicked back...................

A Used Car Salesman At The Debates

I don't trust Romney. What a shocker.
I'm thinking about the debates. On the surface of it, it is absolutely certain that President Obama will shred Romney. Mitt is spineless, uncommitted, unintelligent and exceptionally snakelike. Exactly the qualities you want in a man who could be responsible for "the most powerful country in the world."
Romney knows he's an idiot and he knows he does not even deserve to be in the same room (or same presidential race) as President Obama.
This is what worries me. He cannot possibly (?) be stupid enough to walk into the debates unprepared and hope for the best. I think he must have some underhanded, sleazy tactic up his sleeve that he will use  to try to unnerve President Obama.
There is nothing Mitt can do that President Obama can not handle intellectually, but the risk is that Mitt's trick will play out in front of the entire country.
Or at least those who are not engrossed in reality TV, which leaves 2 republican voters.
Whatever slime Romney has planned will be planted in the heads of subservient voters no matter what President Obama does to counter it.
Morons who are hungry for any excuse to hate President Obama and would believe Romney if he said the Prez secretly is a serial killer who is burying bodies in the white house after carving the juiciest body parts to be served at diplomatic dinners.
Maybe Mitt will call in sick. You know, the way you do when you just don't feel like going to work and you have some sick time saved up.
"Hey Barack, I can't make it tonight. I have a tickle in my throat."
I am wary of feeling supremely confident in President Obama's abilities. The republican party and their mighty leader Mitt have proved themselves to be comfortable with lies, comfortable with changing positions like a couple experimenting with the Kama Sutra, and comfortable with outright manipulation of stupidity and racist attitudes.
They have no moral compass.
I am looking forward to the debates, especially the first one which will set the tone, but I just don't trust Romney and the immoral party he represents.

That being said, I will continue to make the following point until I am blue in the face. Watching MSNBC this morning and the inevitable summary of the polls, and Mitt is still only a few points behind President Obama.
After openly betraying a large segment of this society, including a large number of republicans, after continuously showing his contempt for those who are not rich, for the working class, for the elderly, for college students, he is still in the race.
Bill Maher is fond of asking how much sh** Americans will take before they fight back. This is the perfect example.
Romney has essentially come out and told the American public I will not serve you, I will not protect you, I disrespect you, I will jeopardize your financial existence as well as the survival of this country, and people are still lining up glassy eyed to support him. To gobble up his lies as if they were exquisite gourmet offerings.
Our stupidity will be our downfall.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Steve Sabol

Steve Sabol WAS NFL films.
For football fans, NFL films provides mind blowing, inspirational, down and dirty coverage of the game.
I love watching the videos because they are right there, they capture the essence of the game close up.
Even if you are not a fan, I am willing to bet that many of you would still dig these films, these documentaries, these specials because they are done creatively, they are compelling.
The man won 35 Emmys for writing, editing, cinematography, directing and producing, for Christ sake.
This is quality stuff professionally done.
Somehow Sabol got the NFL to trust him many years ago to honorably document the game. Allowing him to wire players and coaches, allowing cameras in meetings considered sensitive or crucial.
He got Bill Belichick to agree to be wired for an entire year, which is like getting the Pope to agree to be wired discussing child abuse in the church with guilty priests.
The NFL trusted him and he did not let them down.
Peter King says "His ethics were above reproach, and he was one of the most authentic football lovers ever born."
Steve Sabol said something before he died that blew me away.

"So they talk about heaven, and I don't know what is waiting for me up there. But I can tell you this: Nothing will happen up there that can duplicate my life down here. That life cannot be better than the one I've lived down here, the football life. It's been perfect."

Those words are heavy, they are like a nuclear explosion of life truth, they are mind blowing in their simplicity and their deep meaning.
Because this is what every single one of us wants to be able to say before we die. This is what we want to feel as we live our lives.
So many of us are so very far away from that, it is a crime. It is a sin, it is loss, it is confusion. It is a diminishing of something precious. More precious than any other concept or thing or want or desire or expectation.
It is hopeful to know that there are some out there whose lives make sense to them. We all need deep down in our bones, in our souls, for our life to make sense rather than to be an unanswered question.
The NFL decided to call it's new series of inside stories of the stars of the game, "A Football Life."

Hey Fatso

Listening to NPR on the way to the dead end job yesterday morning and I was blown away by a topic.
Vanity sizing.
This is a phenomena in this country where clothes are mislabelled to make you feel better about yourself.
In other words, a dress that was labelled Size 8 in the fifties was labelled Size 4 in the 70's and a 0 in the 21st century. Or men's pants with a 36"  waist might have been a 40" waist ten years ago.
The piece started out with the stat that according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese.
Aradhna Krishna, University of Michigan marketing professor, is quoted as saying "Because obesity has become so much of a problem, there is a greater need for vanity sizing."
Are you f***ing serious?
How about because obesity has become so much of a problem there is a greater need for exercise and self control at the dinner table.
Or to be more precise, get off your fat ass and take a walk and don't eat a donut while you're doing it.
What is it about this country that makes us so lazy, stupid and gullible?
Always looking for the easy fix even if you know intuitively that you are lying to yourself or being lied to.
In fact the question was raised to Krishna, do consumers realize they are being lied to? She responded that it's not a question of lying, but a question of do you want to be lied to?
In other words it's not really lying if you want to be lied to.
The sinister side of this is that business is on board with this concept. Obesity is bad for business. Apparently if people feel bad about themselves approaching the size of an ocean liner, they shop less. If you make the clothes bigger and label them as smaller, people will shop (spend) more.
I am not exceptionally bright but I don't think there is any consideration for health in that equation. Perhaps I am missing something.
If you follow the thread, if Americans are that easily duped into believing they are buying smaller sizes, then they probably feel skinnier and will eat more.
Pretty soon the average American will look like Jabba The Hut.
And you'll be buying 60" waist pants in the kid's section of the store.
I am somewhat concerned about this. Two years ago I weighed 190 pounds. I am five foot seven. I had an enormous gut; it's amazing I could even stand erect.
I now weigh 170 pounds and I am shooting for 165. I went from a 40" waist to a 36".
But did I?
Actually I know I did and that's the point I am trying to make.
At 190 pounds, when I looked in the mirror I was repulsed at this enormous thing I likened to a tumor that was hanging off my body. Even at 170 it is still large and repulsive but it is definitely considerably smaller.
I don't care if in reality I went from a 48" waist to a 40", or from a 40" to a 36". I know I lost weight. A lot of it and I feel much better.
If you haven't lost weight, you know it. So if you are wearing "smaller" sizes and believe you are making progress, you are an idiot.
Psychological manipulation is rampant in the fast food business as well. Portion sizes are not standardized so they can be labelled indiscriminately. A 32 ounce soda at McDonald's is called a large while the same size at Wendy's is a medium.
In addition the large soda people order today is six times the size of a large soda ordered sixty years ago.
Krishna conducted a labelling study with cookies. Consumers were given identically sized cookies, but some were labelled large and some medium.
People ate more cookies when they were labelled "medium."
I think this country is in a stupid spiral.
We ignore reality and embrace fantasy so we can justify laziness and ignorance.
In a twisted way I like the concept. Previously, I considered myself poor, or at the very best, lower middle class.
But I have changed the label, the definition, of income classes. I now believe that the money I earn from my part time dead end job puts me in the class of the super rich.
Please excuse me. I have to call Donald Trump to see if he is available for lunch.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Digging Down A Little Deeper

I am famous for worrying about our cats.
I hate to leave them alone.
People always tell me cats are OK, you can leave them alone, they can handle it.
When we go to Old Orchard Beach, gone for two nights, I have to arrange for someone to visit the cats, give them cool water, and fresh food.
More importantly, to visit with them.
I could never leave them alone for two days without at least one visit from a gracious family member or friend.
Even at that, I still think about them continuously while we are away because if we are gone from Friday morning until Sunday noon, factoring in a one hour visit from a gentle cat sitter, they are still alone for 49 hours.
I know they have food, water and a clean kitty litter box and they are physically OK.
But I know they have emotions. Our entire relationship is emotional. Love and laughter and conversation and spiritual fulfillment.
I don't know if they get worried after a while, if they wonder where we are and will we be back. I don't know if their minds work that way.
But I do know that they miss our company, that they miss the love and attention and interaction and I have to believe that bothers them.
I never want to cause them emotional stress. They don't deserve it. They are spiritual, loving beings and their lives and happiness is intimately interrelated with that of mine and Carol's.
Yeah they are self sufficient, but they require love, and that's what I mean about digging down a little deeper.
That's where my anxiety comes from.
That being said, my feelings are not practical. Sometimes we just have to leave the cats. I even hate leaving them alone when I go to work.
This blurb is designed to try to explain to those who try to comfort me why I agonize over leaving Maka and Lakota home alone.
What can I tell you.
I am who I am.

P.S. - You want to talk about Karma? Maka just jumped up into mylap.

High Heels

I was driving home from work Thursday night - another late shift. As I passed the local high school, kids were filing out. Must have been a play or musical or some event. A teenage girl crossed the street in front of me wearing high heels.
She was not steady in these shoes. Actually quite awkward.
That image lodged in my mind.
Saturday morning I was driving into work early for a change - on the road at 7:00 a.m., listening to The River by Bruce Springsteen.
Powerfully emotional album, moody with feeling. Certain song lyrics and images clicked in my limited brain with the image of the high school girl wobbling in heels.
One lyric was about getting married, getting a job, settling down.
I wondered what that girl was about. Was she testing out the high heel thing to see how the boys react? See if she can get extra attention?
And if so, why?
She might be looking to get a man and may even be looking to the long term to "settle down", but probably not at what the reality of settling down is.
Sounds comfortable, safe, settling down and raising a family. But what it often turns into is sacrificing fun, excitement, spontaneity.
No more boogying in clubs or getting insane. More about paying bills and budgeting and staying home. Forcing your body to do the opposite of what your mind wants it to do.
I doubt that is what she has in mind if she is using those heels as bait.
I prefer to think she is testing her prowess as a woman. Seeing what works for her, what she is comfortable with, so she can express her womanhood in fierce independence.
Another lyric was a guy telling his girl he didn't want their relationship to just fade away.
Again high heel girl came to mind. A little further down the road.
Maybe she makes the right choice, finds the right man, lives an interesting life but time and human frailty and pettiness still takes its toll.
Maybe the relationship just fades, loses its sparkle, becomes routine. On one level life can be maddening in its predictability. It can bore you. It can suck the life out of your love.
I don't think she is expecting this outcome either.
Another lyric said you learn to sleep with the cross you bear. That one made me shudder.
Maybe things don't go the way you planned, maybe a lot of the blame lies with yourself. You get complacent, stop fighting and learn to sleep with the cross you bear.
This is loosely tied together (if it is tied together at all). I guess seeing that girl wobble in heels got me thinking about the choices we make, small as well as large. Choices that affect the image we project, affect our own self image, have some kind of impact on our lives, large or small.
Sometimes those choices become unthinking ruts. You get comfortable with them even if they don't fit, and you just keep doing it.
I hope she gets comfortable in high heels. I hope those shoes project her inner self and power honestly. I hope they are a small part of her grabbing some happiness.
I hope if she can't get comfortable in those heels, that she will try something else. Sneakers. Work boots. Whatever. I hope she keeps trying until she finds what makes her comfortable.
And I hope she gets comfortable with her life.
One more completely random impression from that Saturday morning ride.
As I passed my last route marker just before I begin the inevitable descent to a dead end job, the cemetery at the top of the hill, a guy was just walking into it. It was around 7:30 a.m. He looked over his shoulder at me as he walked towards the graves.
If you are going to visit a graveyard alone, it makes sense to do it early or do it late. It just seems to suit the vibe. I have done it many times and enjoyed the solitude and reflection it inspires.
Anyway, making eye contact like that was unnerving. And I don't really have anything to say about the image or the situation other than to say it felt like it fit right in with the rest of my thoughts.

Race Day......................Again

I have not visited in a few days and those who know me, know full well that I now have 103 things to write about.
I like having a backlog. Endless writing fuels me and brings me peace.
I was not going to write about the race. NASCAR. Went to the race yesterday and dug it royally. I write about it every year and its always about the spectacle, the larger than life event, the ritual, the partying.
This year it was about being human so I got something new to say.
Don't get me wrong. It was large. It was insane. The weather was perfect. We partied. Unfortunately the race was boring. It happens.
But the day was defined more by the absence of Cori and Sarge than by the usual parameters.
We were hanging and partying and eating and drinking - having a damn good time - but every once in a while somebody would stop and say "It's not the same. Feels like something is missing."
Sarge is sick and fighting it like a warrior, but he and Cori could not make the race.
Having them at the race makes it all work. They are larger than life and cooler than life. In their own understated way they are the core of the proceedings.
When they are not there you cannot help but notice. Their absence is a physical thing. You feel it. It cannot be ignored.
It says a lot about people if they have an impact whether they are around or not. People like that are rare and magical and a gift and a source of laughter and good times and true friendship and emotion.
That is Cori and Sarge.
We included them in our own way. Collected a couple of T-shirts, one paid for, one "appropriated". We all signed one of the shirts with messages for them both.
We created a Pabst Blue Ribbon tribute (Sarge's beer of choice since before he was born).
When the green flag dropped at the start of the race, tears trickled out from under my sunglasses. The sunglasses I choose because I think they make me look cool. The only cool thing on my face was the tears because they were real.
I want to be real f***ing clear about this. The tears were a recognition that Cori and Sarge were not there for reasons they do not deserve to have to deal with. AND the tears continued because I pictured next year when we will all be together again and how much fun that will be. They were tears of disappointment and hope. Actually more than hope.
I believe attitude is everything in fighting for health, and Sarge is tough and he is amazingly optimistic with a tremendous sense of humor. I know he will win.
There was a lot of hugging, a lot of warmth. Had a great conversation with Kevin and Paul, amplified with a powerful and emotional group hug. A warm and meaningful hug with Wayne and much good conversation. Hugs and conversation with John. Great conversation with my lovely and special wife. Laughter and enjoyment throughout.
Cori and Sarge's spirit energized us, made us feel human and kept us real.
A cool aside. I took a lovely stroll with John. Cori's Dad.
He had tickets to the Miller Lite hospitality tent. You pop in there and you pick up free trinkets and some free beer. When we all made our way to the track, John and I left our coolers at the seats under Carol's watchful eye and began travelling.
It was a long goddamn walk. Halfway around the track in the opposite direction than the other 99,998 race fans were going.
We arrived at the general area to check in, but couldn't find the right location. After wandering a bit and asking a few people, we finally figured it out.
As we approached we were stopped. "We are closing the hospitality tent in fifteen minutes so we are not letting anybody else in." The tent itself was in the infield of the track so that would have been another trek anyway.
Of course we gave it a shot. Tried to convince them to let us go, grab a beer and a well deserved trinket.
No go.
So we walked all the goddamn way back to our seats. I'm surprised I didn't fall asleep during the race.
Another cool aside. Paul and Kevin, in keeping with family racing tradition, "appropriated" a Coors Light racing sign. I am proud of them and feel comfortable knowing that this tradition has been passed down to good hands.
It was a great day. A lot of fun. Lots of laughter. Some quiet contemplation.
I realized that this event, and probably anything you look forward to and participate in, is not about the insanity or the passion.
It's about the people.
Carol and I spent the day with good people. And family.
A day of honest emotion and love.
Cori and Sarge didn't make it and we MISSED them. But in a cool way they were there anyway.
Together they have created a vibe in this world that will always be there.
A vibe that makes people feel good.
That's what the race was about yesterday, baby and I dug it.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Here In Spirit

Haven't had time to write. Don't give up on me. Meanwhile chew on these:

"The Edge - there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over."

"If you're going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you're going to be locked up."

"In a closed society where everybody's guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity."

"You better take care of me Lord, if you don't you're gonna have me on your hands."

"Call on God, but row away from the docks."

"For every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampled."

Hunter S. Thompson

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Deep Appreciation

I forget that I have everything. I forget that I am healthy, that a throbbing knee or an annoying back is nothing. I forget that I have a home to retreat to. I forget that I have family who love me unconditionally. I forget that I am alive.
But I am getting better at remembering. Becoming acutely aware. I have seen too much suffering, too many serious struggles that are close to the heart.
Artificial optimism is not what I am after.
I am after a deep appreciation of life.
My life.

Teachers And The NRA

I am shooting from the hip here. Working off a vibe. Feeding off an impression.
I dig teachers. I truly believe it is a noble profession.
What could be more significant than passing on knowledge? Knowledge that hopefully will give someone a better life, a chance.
About three or four hundred years ago I got a tiny taste of what it could be like. I was unemployed at the time and I volunteered for a reading program at the local school. Reading to very young children.
I would show up, the kids would gather around me and I would read to them.
It was one of the best experiences of my life.
Looking into those young eyes, realizing that I was making some sort of impression on them, was humbling.
They dug me and I dug them.
When I hear about teachers striking I am in their corner. Teachers should be paid extravagantly. Teachers should earn $250,000 a year, corporate executives should work for $7.25/hour.
But I get the feeling they are striking for the wrong reasons. Like protecting the concept of tenure, which is the most bizarre concept in employment history.
Again I am shooting from the hip here but I don't get the feeling that they are striking to improve ways of teaching the kids or that learning is at the heart of their concerns. I think when you get down to the nitty gritty I think the teaching community is a closed community with it's own strange culture and specific concerns.
When I listen to their arguments I get an NRA feel in my gut.
The NRA is the most mindless, manipulative organization in the entire recorded history of organizations.
If President Obama created legislation outlawing death, if he had the power to eliminate death, the NRA would oppose it because it would negatively impact gun sales. But they would frame it as a violation of  second amendment rights.
The government tries to ban or limit sales of guns that are only useful and defensible in combat conditions and the NRA whips up an emotional, non-thinking response from their members making it sound like self defense is being legislated against.
They have become a caricature of themselves and unfortunately make their members look like empty headed cretins who spend their nights caressing their guns in dark corners while sipping on rot gut whiskey.
When the NRA gets to speechifying I squirm. Because there is an underlying impression of a thought process that goes way beyond the right to bear arms. An impression that makes me uncomfortable and doesn't feel logical or rational or safe.
I get a similar sensation when teachers strike. An underlying impression of a thought process that goes way beyond the commitment to teach "our kids".
I may be wrong here.
I hope I am.

The Four A.M. Strategy

I woke up at 3:53 this morning because Carol got up to visit the bathroom.
When she crawled back into bed I was in that trance state, that half awake, half asleep state. Which meant that if I just stayed there I would fall back asleep shortly.
But I knew I would probably have to visit the bathroom myself sometime before the alarm went off at 6:00. It is inevitable.
So the question was should I try to go back to sleep and let nature take its course, or should I attempt a preemptive strike. Get up and roll the dice.
No small decision.
Laying in bed as I was, there was a good chance I could fall asleep again within half an hour or so.
When I go vertical I am doomed. Once I walk to the bathroom and get the body moving, I am one of those people who will lie in bed for an hour, sometimes two, waiting to fall asleep again.
As opposed to my wife who is the instant coffee version of a sleeper. Within five minutes of her head hitting the pillow OR LESS, she ALWAYS falls asleep.
I know. I have been lying next to her for thirty four years staring at the ceiling as she sleeps restfully.
For some reason that I do not understand I decided to make the trip.
At 4:50 I knew I had made a mistake.
If a crisis occurs in this country, they better not mistakenly make the 3:00 a.m. call to me.
I would definitely make the wrong decision.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Quiet Goal

If your goal is to radically change your life, you have to combine the cold hearted focus of a hired killer with the practiced precision of an accomplished surgeon.
This is the level to which I aspire.

Come On, Romney

Mitt Romney is trash.
I say that in humble objectivity.
When the tragedy in Libya occurred, Romney marked the occasion by saying "It's disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks."
Those are despicable words. Another insulting comment for which Romney should be disqualified from the presidential campaign.
I am serious about that. He is using inflammatory words to rile people up against the President. In keeping with the consistent republican message that President Obama is not American, is un-American and weak.
September 11, 2001 established a climate of fear in this country, a climate of doubt. republicans use that irrational fear as a weapon against the President. Romney's words will stir up impressionable people into believing the President is our enemy.
Disgusting beyond belief.
His comments are also in keeping with the consistent republican slur that President Barack Obama apologizes for this country.
Early in his Presidency President Obama while traveling abroad made clear that the U.S. is not beyond reproach. He said the U.S. at times acted "contrary to our traditions and ideals" in its treatment of terrorist suspects, that "America has too often been selective in its promotion of democracy", that the U.S. "certainly shares blame" for international economic turmoil and has sometimes shown arrogance towards allies.
He was not apologizing. He was telling the truth. Which takes guts. Which Romney does not have.
The republicans' definition of patriotism is flag waving mindlessness, slogans, empty words, fist pumping chest bumping stupidity.
The true definition of patriotism is love of country balanced with a desire to correct its faults. That is an intelligent approach. It is an honest approach. This country has a lot to apologize for, not the least of which is the shameful way our own citizens are manipulated and lied to.
In the current Romney hidden video scandal he has truly revealed himself as a condescending rich man and a bigot.
The 47% voter comment is so insulting I am amazed there has been no revolutionary uprising. Burning of Romney campaign signs etc.
"People who are dependent on government, people who believe they are victims, people who believe they are entitled to health care, food, housing, people who pay no income tax, people who will not take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
There is a Tax Policy Center study that indeed suggests that 46% of Americans pay no federal income taxes.
Here's why.
Half of those - roughly 23%  of households - do not pay income taxes because their household income is below the minimum threshold that would result in an income tax liability. Which, by the way, is $26,400 for a couple with two children.
Three quarters of the remaining 23% had their federal tax liabilities offset by tax credits for the elderly and tax credits for children and the working poor. Tax credits supported by Democrats and republicans.
Sorry to bore you with all the stats but the bottom line is that all but 6% of the 46% pay no federal income tax because they are working poor and elderly whose tax obligation is offset by standard deductions and targeted tax credits.
Legally and appropriately.
Which we probably cannot say about Romney himself.
Of course wrapped up in all of this is the unspoken suggestion that we have a black President whose supporters are all on welfare.
On Latinos:"If the Hispanic voting bloc becomes as committed to the Democrats as the African-American voting bloc has in the past why, we're in trouble as a party and, I think, as a nation."
As a nation?
Vile and disgusting words. Can you impeach a candidate? Let's set a precedent.
I have talked here about only two comments Romney made in that video. There are many more comments that reveal his true nature. Please check the video out if you are an undecided voter.
Here is the source of the depth of my disgust.
Polls show Romney still running close to the President.
If voters in this country were intelligent, Romney would be polling at zero %. The fact that he is not demonstrates beyond argument that racism runs rampant in this country, that voters are unintelligent and uninformed, and easily swayed by lies and innuendo, which are republican strong points.
They are easily swayed because they want to be swayed. They are not smart enough to research the truth, they want lies to grab onto to justify their racist hatred.
Yeah this country has a hell of a lot to apologize for.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Strut My Stuff

"For there's a change in the weather
There's a change in the sea
So from now on there'll be a change in me
My walk will be different my talk and my name
Nothin' about me is going to be the same
I'm gonna change my way of living if that ain't enough
Then I'll change the way that I strut my stuff
'cause nobody wants you when you're old and grey
There'll be some changes made"

The song is There'll Be Some Changes Made. 1921. A jazz standard.

Digging on Boardwalk Empire on Sunday night - episode #1 of the new season - this song plays and I immediately adopt it.
It's not like I haven't heard it before. I have.
But it's one of those things - things hit you differently depending on where your head is at, your heart is at, and whether you're even paying attention.
I leaped out of my recliner, spilling whiskey and semi sweet chocolate and yelled "Mama I'm going to make this my new mantra."
That's hyperbole. Actually it's a lie. I didn't do that but I might as well have.
I'm ripe for change right now. I'm talking about a life sea change, not just greasing my hair back. And outside forces are conspiring to vibrate my change vibe into a world class explosion.
I'm feeling something, some kind of reaction that hasn't happened before. I'm getting help, a push in this direction, a gentle nudge in that direction, an opening up of opportunities.
Chance connections that emanate power and have me believing.
I feel like a window of opportunity has opened and I better f***ing take advantage of it.
So I gotta change my level of effort, up the intensity of my belief, shed self doubt and dive through that window whether there is a safety net there or not.
I gotta change the way I strut my stuff, baby.
I am damn ready. Got the brand new pair of two tone shoes to Nucky me towards success.
That last phrase means nothing except I liked the sound of it. I do have a brand new pair of two tone shoes and they are gorgeous. Haven't even worn them yet. I was inspired to buy them by the gorgeous shoes Nucky Thompson wears in the opening credits of Boardwalk Empire.
Anyway they are definitely the right shoes to adorn my feet when I change the way I strut my stuff.
Cool song.
Cool lyrics.
Cool inspiration.
Ciao, baby.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Soggy Nachos

Men define their manhood through football.
I watched a lot of football yesterday, including THE PATS horrible loss to the Cardinals, whom I have eternally cursed.
I dig football for explosive violence. I dig football for exquisite grace. I dig football for intensity.
I dig football because it is so goddamn manly.
Football players today are monsters bred in laboratories. Specific exercise routines and schedules, specific diets, fancy ass supplements and energy boosters and replenishers.
Pre-game rituals designed to pump them up to roar out to do battle in the coliseum.
In any other sport, if the players huddled around just before the game and repeated mindless chants, rising in crescendo until reaching an explosive peak, I would laugh. It would be out of place.
Especially in golf.
But it makes sense in football and I accept it and dig it.
There is a lot of fear and aggression to the sport, and you have to find a way to kill your nerves and build your confidence and flood flow the adrenaline.
But there is more to it than that. Male fans secretly want to be like these guys. Tough, apparently fearless, hugely muscled, openly insane and intimidating.
Very few men have jobs that make them look macho. Most have jobs that make them look like a soggy nacho.
So we over compensate by pretending our jobs are macho, by strutting and telling everybody how hard we work, how much pressure we are under.
And we watch football. And talk about it.
Guys talking about football is a funny thing. They puff out their chests and get all opinionated and hard assed. Just talking about it channels the tough guy vibe.
Football fans are fanatics. Arguments are hard edged. Logic is non-existent because everybody is an expert and everybody is right.
This entire thought process was inspired by watching the fans in the stands yesterday. Screaming, fist pumping, shaking and jumping up and down. Which is exactly what I would have been doing at Gillette Stadium yesterday.
Most of these guys do not look tough. Most of them have huge beer bellies which they do not mind exposing to the world on national TV. Rules of attractiveness are reversed in football stadiums. In every day life, we suck in our bellies in a vain attempt to gain the attention of that girl who is twenty five years younger than us. In the stadium we throw that belly out there and expect women to swoon.
Most of these guys will go to work Monday morning, if they are not too hung over. They will go to work even though they don't want to because they have no choice, no control. And they will do what their boss tells them to do.
But on Sunday they rule the world in insanity and fierceness and intensity and there ain't nobody gonna mess with them or tell them what to do.
We are men. We need this.
The whole deal was made more ironic because allergies are laying me low this year. Killing me. Sucking all energy directly out of my body and leaving me loose limbed and glassy eyed.
All this intensity was swirling around me as I sat in my recliner completely wiped out. I fell asleep for a second, a couple of times. You know, the head nod.
Do you realize how tired I have to be to nod off during a PATS game?
AND I had a cat in my lap. They took turns.
My presence in that chair was the exact opposite of what football is all about.
But I still felt macho inside.
And I feel tough writing about it today.
I might only be five foot seven inches tall, but baby I am going to take on the world today.
Got football on the brain.

Early On A Late September Morning

Sunshine slices through multicolored leaves ironically providing little warmth
Mornings are cold, evenings are chilly
Darkness comes early to the party and stays too long
Chipmunks run faster, bears get fatter
Chilly points the way to frosty, and coats and flannel redefine fashion
People move quicker and play it closer to the vest
Budgeting for the plow guy and oil bills
Winter has to be planned for
Summer just happens
Exquisite foliage as a delicate precursor to harshness and discomfort
Fall is brilliant contradiction
Partly truth and partly fiction

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Meet The Carol

Watching Meet The Press this morning, discussion about the tragedy in Libya and Carol made a prescient (I told you I love that word) comment.
She said if the situation were reversed, wouldn't we be going crazy in this country?
I thought about that.
Imagine someone in Libya making a video say, trashing American rednecks.
Let's pretend they portrayed them as pick up driving (full size, none of that pretend truck sh**), gun toting, beer swilling, flag flying, racist, sixth grade dropout cretins.
Just for the sake of argument.
Let's say redneck nation got a hold of this video and went nuts. Attacked the Libyan embassy in Washington causing madness and mayhem. Waving signs, firing guns, flinging Natty Light cans on the lawn and singing Born In The USA.
Let's say Libya sent troops over here to protect their embassy.
How do you think the rednecks would react?
Do you consider these reactions to be believable?
I do.
We look down on rebels in other countries, on violent reactions and passionate ideologies.
We think we are better than them.
We are not.
And before anybody skewers me, I am not belittling the deaths of four Americans. I am horrified by it. I am always horrified by death. Any death.
What happened was wrong and the perpetrators should be punished severely.
I am belittling our holier than thou attitude.
We are a nation of hypocrites, and will never truly set an example for the rest of the world until we find a way to be honest with ourselves and about ourselves.

Easy Street Prompts: Prompt 1020: losing his head

Easy Street Prompts: Prompt 1020: losing his head

Fall Cleaning

Tough getting my hand in between the clothes hanging in the closet. I love most of what is in there but wear very little of it. Always reaching for the same comfortable, psychologically and physically, shirt, sweatshirt, pants.
Got fall cleaning on my mind. Strip a few hangars, get down to basics.
Maybe do the same with my mind and my life.

Geek Acts

"People come to the geek act so they can look on the outside of a man like me and not look at the inside of themselves."

Purple Cain Road   James Lee Burke

I love this Burke dude. Read a couple of his books now and he has lots of observations like this that are direct hits.
Stop pretending to be tougher than everybody else. Stop talking behind peoples' backs in a cowardly attempt to make yourself feel superior.
That guy who you think you are smarter than has things going on that you are not equipped to understand.
"People in glass houses..."
We are ALL in glass houses.
Just be human and recognize the fact that everybody else is human too.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sunday Morning Monday Morning

Sunday morning Monday morning. Yin and Yang.
From a retail employees perspective. Rarely getting a Sat and Sun off so the contrast between Sun and Mon is more dramatic.
Tomorrow will be slow moving, peaceful, football, racing, coffee/book/Carol/cats/damn good eating. Monday will be the jolt.
It is a useful dynamic.
A chunk of Sunday will be spent plotting and planning and dreaming and wondering and trying. You gotta use your "free" time in a rewarding fashion. As I wrote that I amused myself with the free thing because that "free" time is bought and paid for with a workweek of sweat and sacrifice.
But that is part of the equation. To try to equalize the whole deal. Ideally you want to get yourself to a place where your free time is truly your free time. But only a tiny fraction of the populace ever achieves that.
The scales are horrifically tipped in favor of the sweat and sacrifice. You need to find ways to humanize your life and fight back.
An endless cycle of Sunday morning Monday morning. A learning cycle.
Some Sundays are wasted, some are fruitful, some are pure rest and escape, some are destructive.
I find when I spend a negative Sunday, the memory haunts my week and tips the scales even further in favor of those who would repress.
When I spend a Sunday expressing and refreshing my soul it carries me through the week. With a smile, secretive in my soul, sometimes openly on the face. As I am assaulted with agendas and meaningless toil, the smile is there to remind me that I am me. I am not this. I am not that. I am not what you try to make of me.
I have done something you cannot understand. Something I don't give a damn caring whether you understand or not.
If Sunday is fruitful it motivates me to squeeze more out of dreaded weekdays. It feeds on itself and gives me strength to shield myself from manipulation, lies and trivialities.
Sunday Monday, baby.
A one two punch.
I'm set up nicely for a powerful good Sunday this week. Because the week was a waste and I have been hipped to that by The Vibe.
The vibe that doesn't give up on me and keeps pulling me back in.
I don't know from whence it emanates but I am grateful it is there.
Ciao, baby.

To Forget About Life For A While

Strange morning.
Woke up at 6:00 which was not a big deal since I went to bed tired at 9:30 last night.
I must have been tired to go to bed before Bill Maher.
Brewed up divine instant coffee and sat down with a book. It hit me that this was the first time this week I sat down with a book.
Very telling.
I read every morning that I have a chance. Reading is my religion. I have said it before. I will take a cup of coffee and a good book over whiskey, rock 'n roll, football and pecan pie.
It's what I live for.
As peace settled my nerves I realized how unsettled my nerves have been this week.
I'm sure it is a result of the stark contrast of the beautiful weekend we enjoyed last weekend versus the improbable insanity of a meaningless six day work week.
Typically the work schedule is somewhat balanced between early nights and late nights so you can actually live a life. Sometimes the full timers get selfish and plug in the part timers to suit their own needs. That's when it gets stupid. Like the last two weeks of consistent late nights.
Anyway it is a weird morning. Hot and cold, dry and wet, a restless breeze, a seriously unsettled weather reality. Mayhaps my instability is directly affecting the weather.
Stranger things have happened.
I read to forget about life for a while. That's also why I drink whiskey. But reading doesn't make me fat or kill ambition or swell my liver.
Of course escape is only a part of it. Actually a small part of it. I worship words. I am a word worshipper.
I don't read passively. I relish the words, how they are put together, how the story is told. If the book tends towards the intellectual I savor the words themselves.
I am a word snob. Prescient, surfeit, surcease; these are words that thrill me.
The peace I just experienced woke me up to the fact that I have just wasted a week. Apparently I have been distracted, obsessed, compelled, inspired, detoured or just plain lost.
"It's a pretty good crowd for a Saturday, as the manager gives me a smile, 'cause he knows that it's me they've been comin' to see, to forget about life for a while." Billy Joel. Piano Man.
I won't belabor the point because I have belabored it a thousand times before. It fascinates me how many people spend so much of their life trying to forget about life for a while.
It is a sad commentary on the human condition.
And what I continue to fight against.
Just trying to scratch myself to a place where I can exult in my life.
This morning was an oasis of peace. Lakota curled up in my lap for a while as I read. She loves it when I rub under her chin. At one point she raised her head and I rubbed. She closed her eyes in complete contentment, which I really dig. I was looking at her closed eyes feeling good about what we were doing for each other and she suddenly opened her eyes. And looked directly into my eyes. For seconds.
She brought me back in line. Along with the book and the coffee and the weird weather and the breeze and Maka out on the porch and Carol sleeping peacefully upstairs.
Been a silly week. I will drag myself through another eight hours of retail hell today and dig tonight and tomorrow significantly.
What else you gonna do?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Box Cutter Syndrome

Pockets. I guess my pockets piss me off because there is nothing in them. I carry a wallet in the back left. There is definitely nothing in the wallet.
I could probably get by without a wallet for all the significance it carries.
Change, sometimes in one pocket or another, but nothing I can use to invest in the stock market.
Lots of stupid stuff I need for work. Badge with my name on it. How embarrassing.
Pen. Marker. Box cutter.
I never thought I would have a job that required me to carry a box cutter.
This is the third job I have had that requires me to carry a box cutter.
Maybe I should cut my goddamn pockets off.

Friday Night Musings

Tired. Really tired.
Five days into another six day stretch at Lompoc.
Twice turning around late at night to motor in EARLY A.M. to do more meaningless stuff.
For absolutely no reason.
I think things ease up next week. Think I have a couple of days off during the week.
Might work on my mind with that time. Might try to bring it back in line.
Maybe get physical again. I have been woefully lazy about exercising for the last month.
If I skip one day I gain ten pounds.
Had to skill saw door openings two feet wider to get in and out this week.
I think there could be a message there.
When I exercise regularly I feel so much better. Lose weight, which soothes my mind and I am physically invincible.
When I fall off schedule I get logy and hugely fat. Had to rig up a winch system to get me out of the recliner.
Although there is a caveat. Feel better when I exercise but I am still exhausted every minute of every day.
I don't sleep. Whatever the classic definition of sleep is, I don't experience it. I definitely do not experience REM sleep.
Are you kidding me?
I wake up ten times a night, minimum.
I sleep on my side.
Up until the age of thirty six I slept on my belly. And relished it. Slept beautifully. One hand under the pillow. Face to the side, belly down.
At the age of thirty six I hurt my back. Was doing curls in the solarium. Tired, wanted one more curl, leaned back to make it easier and I literally heard a crunch.
Stopped dead with the weights in my hand wondering what to do.
Tried another curl - no pain - did a couple more. Macho stupidity. I knew I had hurt myself but I pushed it.
The next day I was an invalid. But the biceps looked good.
Since then I have been unable to sleep on my stomach or my back. I sleep on my side. I wake up because my shoulder starts to hurt. I roll to the other shoulder and sleep until that shoulder starts to hurt.
This happens over and over again every night.
I am eternally exhausted.
We want to buy one of those new fangled high tech mattresses but we don't have $23,000 handy right now.
Just the facts, ma'am, just the facts.
Friday night. Friday night doesn't mean anything to me because I am Retail Ricky. Working tomorrow. Late, again.
I'm pretty sure this will all work out.
I listen to NPR. How can it not all work out?
I listen to NPR to engage my brain on my way to work even when I don't give a damn what they are talking about.
I tune out when they discuss foreign affairs because I cannot keep track of all the players and all the religions and all the ideologies and all the nasty little disputes.
Today they were talking about how Russia is having a hard time keeping young, college educated professionals in the country. They see opportunity elsewhere and go. Feel Russia is repressive.
One guy was talking about the people who leave and classified one group as "academic superstars".
Wouldn't it be cool if we actually had academic superstars instead of the Kardashians?
If people in this country worshipped intelligence over vapidity?
Imagine if Rhodes scholars were mobbed in the streets, hounded by autograph seekers and paparazzi?
I thought it was a cool concept.
One that will never come to fruition.
Anyway we are going to laze around the house on this Friday night. I'll barbecue something and we will eat it.
I'm looking forward to Sunday. THE PATS. Racing.
No work. No bullsh**.
Just the cats, my incredible wife and my twisted mind.
Should be a good day.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pursuit of Happiness

I am fascinated that the founding fathers included "the pursuit of happiness" in the Declaration of Independence.
"We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness......"
Endowed by their Creator, unalienable. These are powerful concepts, powerful words. Unalienable - unable to be surrendered or transferred or given up.
These very deep thinkers were hashing away at creating a new country, a new society, and among the lofty ideals considered important was the pursuit of happiness.
Happiness is wispy, it has no real definition, it would not appear to be as solid a concept as life and liberty and yet these guys considered it important enough to include it in the Declaration of Independence of a brand new country. They chose to recognize this concept as part of the fabric of being human and therefore part of the fabric of the nature of this country.
I hear so many cynical people deride the idea of being happy. Like it is a foolish thought, a childish thought. Of course these people have been broken by life and choose to pretend that being happy is not important to them.
This country has "evolved" to the point where it has become much more difficult for the average person to be happy. It is so hard to survive that all of your energy is consumed in getting through each and every day and when you get home you don't have the energy to be happy.
Or to think about being happy or to put together a plan to get you happy.
This is because government has become dysfunctional, essentially useless and callous. This is because the business environment is dominated by major corporations who are greedy and callous. Corporations who when putting a potentially dangerous product on the market weigh the cost benefit repercussions of death related lawsuits against anticipated sales levels.
I want to believe that protection of the little man, that hope and the potential for betterment of the little man, weighed heavy on the minds of our forefathers.
Could be naive. Maybe they wanted to get rich and protect their wealth at the expense of the little man.
I prefer to believe that they were in our corner. It is hard to swallow that men who could come up with lofty goals and ideals, men who could think their way to a new type of life, would also include evil and sinister thoughts and motivations.
If they were supporters of the little man, they would suffer great pain to see how many light years away from the pursuit of happiness we all are. Because of the breakdown of the government they created, because of the corruption of the business environment they encouraged.
Life is short and hard and precious. We deserve to be happy. I believe it IS an unalienable right.
But I don't know how to do it. You can accept all the phony baloney new age thinking that encourages you to live in the now and be grateful. Even if you live in a cardboard box.
I think that is a justification for accepting mediocrity. Or worse.
I think we need to find a way to turn things around so that people truly do have a chance. You have to believe you have a chance in order to pursue happiness. If it looks impossible your spirit is broken and you crawl through life in numbness.
And your life is wasted.
I don't have an answer. I wish I did.
I dig the fact that at one time in this country's history we had leaders who looked at citizens as human beings.
Today we are considered everything but human. We are treated as statistics from the moment we walk out the door in the morning to the moment you get home at night.
Nobody gives a good goddamn about your spiritual well being. Your humanity.
Sad commentary.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Four More Dead

How does the human mind work?
What is it about us that allows us to think that because we differ in religious views or political point of view, it is OK to kill?
Yesterday protesters attacked U.S. diplomatic compounds in Egypt and Libya, killing four.
How is it that we see death as a solution to what is essentially a difference in perspective or philosophy?
Life is THE most precious thing most of us have. And to some it is not even that precious.
Allow me to explain.
If you are just getting by, if you are struggling every single day, than being alive is the only meaningful thing you have. For some reason, no matter how bad you have it, you keep on going.
Because you are alive.
A lot of people who struggle are not that impressed with life. Not real pleased with the way they live. But they keep on keeping on.
If you have money you have a cushion. You have peace that most people don't. If your truck breaks down, you get it towed knowing that paying the bill is no trouble, you rent a car, a luxury car just for fun, and you smooth on with your life.
Maybe you have a different perspective than the millions who struggle.
I am not saying that life is not precious to you, but it is not in your face every day forcing you to consider breathing a luxury.
Life is this mystical, magical thing and it is all you got for most of us.
The enormity of deciding to kill for any reason is mind blowing. For ideological reasons it is beyond my comprehension.
I kill people in my mind every day. People who insult me, people who disrespect me, people who lie to me.
But ideological differences don't make me want to kill.
At least not until the current crop of republicans came along.
(Editor's note to those who are secretly monitoring my words: I am not going to kill anyone. I am not capable of that emotionally, physically, or intellectually. So don't show up at my home with handcuffs and tasers, please. I am speaking metaphorically (look it up).
I am a bit over the top at the moment because it disgusts me that this crap just keeps on happening.
As a race we are habitually unable to learn from the past.
We kill. Nothing gets better. We kill again.
Human beings take this thing called life and trivialize it in so many ways.
We are an ignorant species and deserve to become extinct.
And we will.
One more point. This is one more enormous issue that President Barack Obama has to deal with. This man has had to deal with problems so enormous and so complex and so intricately interconnected on a global basis that you would think he would curl up in a corner and cry.
He doesn't. He does his thing.
If he handles the situation successfully he will get no credit. And I'm sure republicans are already blaming him for these deaths.
I have enormous respect for this man.
You should too.

Old Orchard Beach Redux

And what is really cool about this sweet moment of escape we enjoy every year is Sunday Sunday Sunday.
Leaving such beauty, peace of that magnitude, should foster evil thoughts of a return to "reality", despair, depression, sadness and a backwards sliding life.
BUT, once we wrench ourselves away from the intimate and violent seduction of majestic ocean waves, we are heading back home to THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS.
Game 1 of the NFL season.
Every year when we leave OOB the NFL is officially cranking up and the push is to get home in time for the game.
So once I tear my eyes and ears and soul away from The Atlantic I am actually excited to head home.
This is a bonus.
Got home at 12:30, unpacked, emptied the cooler, donned sweat clothes and settled my aged ass into my oh so sweet recliner PRECISELY at 1:00.
Sweet Jesus it was a thing of beauty.
And THE PATS did not disappoint. They looked good. They dominated. They gave me life.
Important decisions to make just before kickoff. The plan was to wear a PATS jersey for luck, but I bought a gorgeous yellow orange sunburst tie dyed T-shirt at Old Orchard beach that was too damn pretty to take off.
I figured it would bring THE PATS luck because it carried with it fresh memories just created of a super positive experience.
However I took no chances. I removed my onyx ear ring and replaced it with a PATS ear ring and I did not remove my PATS watch. One of the first things I do when I get home is take off my watch. No need to wear a watch in the house. I try to create a time vacuum when I am cloistered in quasi safety.
Except this Sunday. This Sunday I wore it during the game.
Brady took his first snap from center at 1:18 and I was in my world.
All my preparations were effective and THE PATS won. They have me to thank.
Of course now I have to consider what to wear this week. I'll figure it out.
Football comes at the right time of year. If it wasn't for football I would probably commit suicide every September. (You ask "is that even possible?" "Yeah, baby in my world it is.")
I realized it Monday night driving home from the dead end job at 7:30. In the dark. With the windows rolled up.
I'll put out all kinds of phony baloney positivity about trying to accept the cruel 10 month New England winter, but I cannot ignore the reaction in my bones.
There was a sinking feeling, a deep sense of loss and foreboding as I drove home.
I was sad. Truly, honestly sad. Bone deep. Soul deep.
I am a creature of the sun. A life form that requires heat.
There is just no getting around that.
But I got THE PATS. Football to defibrillate myself back to life every Sunday. I need that more than I need food and water and oxygen. More than I need the embarrassingly small paycheck I get from the immoral criminals I work for.
I need it because it makes me feel alive.
I NEED passion, I have to FEEL, I am all about emotion. Matching the same color socks is too challenging for my thought process because I am creative, I am emotive.
Football is intense. For Christ sake, the football season is already 1/16th over. The Red Sox have to play ten games before they get to that point in the season.
So yeah, I do go on about football because I have no choice. It is as much a part of me as the brilliant optimism I bring to life every day.
Football gets me safely home from Old Orchard Beach. Prevents me from hurling my ancient, distorted body into the cold September waves.
Some people might not be happy about that.
But I am.
Like The Bee Gees I am staying alive.
Punching and counter punching my way towards something.
And digging football along the way.

Head Space

I'm inhabiting a bad head space at the moment.
Demons are running wild in my brain and they are trampling positivity and creativity and receptivity and objectivity.
Draining energy and focus. Thwarting forward movement, rooting me in a present that is not mine, a present that crushes me and sucks oxygen out of my lungs.
Demons who sow wild thoughts of despair even as I trivially caught a glimpse of some kind of future, some future in a parallel universe which is actually my real life.
The demons dance and hope sleeps through the noise.
The ladder is still outside the window, dirty dishes procreate in the sink and the cats won't stop befouling the kitty litter box.
Time has jumped to warp speed at the precise moment I need to slow it down and conceive believe and achieve.
It's all slipping through my fingers.
Don't worry. I'll be all right.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Worst Our Country Has To Offer

Today is September 11, 2012. Eleven years after the worst disaster this country has ever experienced.
And these a**holes in NY and NJ cannot get together to create a memorial to the people who died, the people who survived, the people who unselfishly responded to attempt to rescue innocent victims of militant response to America's supposed policies.
Absolutely disgusting.
I am looking at headlines dated September 8 that say "a financial dispute has halted construction on the highly anticipated September 11 museum."
This takes a tribute to the most horrific attack this country has ever witnessed and reduces it to the level of every other business and political decision that takes place daily in this country.
Are you f***ing serious?
"Disagreeing factions in NY and NJ have put the brakes on the construction of the September 11 Memorial and Museum."
Now of course today the word was that they reached agreement and the project will move forward.
"The museum is expected to open sometime in 2014."
This exposes America at its worst.
There should be no argument here, no debate, no compromise.
It should have been done quickly and it should have been done with class, respect, admiration, sadness, despair and steely resolve.
Everything in America gets bogged down in partisanship, finances, business, bloated egos, petty bullsh**.
Over three thousand people were killed in this attack.
Anybody putting together a tribute should be able to hold hands, look directly into the eyes of decision makers, keep victims and families of victims, lost rescue workers and families of lost rescue workers, survivors, and surviving rescue workers in mind and MAKE THIS THING HAPPEN.
I am ashamed of America for not getting it done in eleven years.
And we wonder why the world is passing us by.

Today (With Disappointment)

I'm feeling incredibly beset upon tonight.
I'm going to indulge in a human moment.
As I do this I feel that I am speaking for millions of people. I know that I am.
Monday was Reality (?) Day One after a magnificent weekend. My job has proven to be such a dead end job that every second I spend in that building is a waste of MY LIFE.
I despise it. So it was tough being there yesterday. On top of that I worked an eight hour shift as a part timer, got home at 8:15, went to bed at 9:30, got up at 5:30 this morning to turn around to be there at 7:00 this morning to open the store, do a phony baloney mini inventory and crunch through another eight hour shift.
Major effort for which I will not be paid one dime extra or be promoted or recognized in any way for contributing WAY above and beyond my job description.
I have never before given a s**t about job descriptions until I started getting USED by the unscrupulous people I currently work for.
I had to motor to the bank to make last night's deposit this morning. When I climbed back into my truck the brakes went. Plunged to the floorboards with a little bit of grab.
I decided that I could make it back to the sacred store and risked it and made it.
I put the management of the store over my own safety. And I will NEVER be thanked for that in any meaningful way.
Checked the brake fluid reservoir - empty - looked under the truck - leaking. Arranged for a tow and my lovely wife to leave work early and pick me up.
The mortgage is due this week. We were already sweating it. I had a deposit envelope in my truck which I was going to rush to the bank with the leftover cash from Our Weekend.
I had to turn a chunk of that over to Tow Truck Bob.
So many people in this country live this way. It is heartbreaking.
My back up arrived just before we opened the store and she was agonizing over the fact that her refrigerator died this morning. Had no clue what she was going to do about it because of financial concerns.
My buddy E showed up a couple of hours later and was uncharacteristically quiet because he is having problems with his daughter.
The Booze Emporium was a negative life zone today because of what we all go through because we have no independence, no freedom, no control, no hope.
For me it was an emotional one-two punch. Day One - Somebody else's definition of reality. Day Two - a broken truck that we cannot afford.
Life is one harsh motherf***er when you have no money.
It is so wrong. So unfair.
And we all endure it because that's just the way it is.
Well I don't believe that's just the way it is. I think something is wrong. I think there is a horrible vibe that knocks us wee folk off stride and allows us to be taken advantage of.
I am looking for nuclear courage to fight back.
For me.
And for you.
Yesterday and today really really sucked.
For all of us.
I don't know about you but I am getting damn tired of meaningless, soul sucking days.

Monday, September 10, 2012

And Now Back To.............

And now back to the place I have never been. The place I strayed from so violently over the years, so far off course and digging in the heels to stop and change direction.
The irony is that when I get there I will know it. Recognize it.
Having been there for only the briefest of moments, still, familiarity will blind me with clarity.
And peace.

Old Orchard Beach

I got up at 6:00 today and it sucked.
I got up at 6:25 yesterday and it was supreme.
Allow me to explain.
I was on Old Orchard Beach yesterday. We went up Friday to Sunday.
When I was packing Friday morning I threw my iPod into the bag. I never do that. It is a sacred music machine and I am always afraid I will destroy it somehow.
I know. You say "Joe, it is made to be portable." Leave me alone. I have my hangups.
The sun was shining and the surf was surfing so I crawled out of bed and onto the deck shortly after 6:25. The clouds were already trying to hide the sun from us so it was good I didn't delay.
Sat alone on this long stretch of deck looking into slivers of sun, patches of brilliance as I listened to Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen.
It was the perfect song. I immediately had tears running down my cheeks. Thanks to the itty bitty ear buds I could hear the ocean waves behind the music.
There is a point in the song where Leonard and the backup singers sing hallelujah and everything stops - no voices, no music for two seconds - and the waves crashed in on cue.
I was blown away. Accelerated tears.
It was spiritual, it was emotional, it was delicately beautiful, it was breathtaking. That moment fused everything that weekend means to us into one powerful explosion of awareness and clarity.
I am done preaching except to say that tomorrow morning I want you to do what I did. Get up for the sunrise and listen to Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. You will understand what life is meant to be.
Fifteen minutes later and Carol and I were walking the beach. We took a long walk very early in the morning saying hello to people and dogs and babies and seagulls.
That is how life is supposed to be. Magic and music and beauty and peace.
The beach is such a magical place. It draws people out early in the morning in wonder. To walk, to sit, to listen and look, to fish, to surf.
It is meditative. It makes you aware that you are actually alive. Not just an employee or a bill payer or a responsibility machine.
You are human with all the beauty that implies.
This is an annual trip for us. We look forward to it endlessly.
This year we didn't have beach weather, which is rare, but we had peace weather and that's all we need.
The same core group goes every year and we talk and laugh together easily. Somehow this weekend moved along at a leisurely pace.
Usually it feels like it is flying by and we dig in furiously trying to hold back reality. For some reason the ride up and the ride home went effortlessly and the weekend itself unfolded in delicious slo-mo.
Lots of pictures and lower blood pressure.
Carol and I were there on Memorial Day Weekend, just the two of us and the theme was small dogs. Everywhere we looked people were walking tiny, little dogs on the beach.
This time the theme was toddlers chasing seagulls.
Over and over again we watched little ones staggering around the sand chasing seagulls. And they never gave up. Whenever they got close, the gulls would hop a few steps away and the kid would just keep on coming. The ultimate expression of hope and self confidence.
Had dinner Friday night at Sarge's Tailgate Grille in Saco, Maine - the greatest restaurant in the entire state of Maine.
Excellent food, a major family gathering, couple of drinks,a live band; a very supreme night. I had the best goddamn prime rib - The Richard Petty cut, mind you - that I have ever had in my life. Except for the last time I dined at Sarge's Tailgate Grille - the greatest restaurant in the entire state of Maine.
Today Carol and I are back to what passes for reality; a reality we don't like and are determined to change. We have to deal with that.
But we are armed with memories burned into our brain of a mystical, magical weekend complete with babies and dogs and people and music and sunshine and wind and family and divine food and beach food and quiet Dunkin Donuts breakfasts and walks on the beach and contemplation and raucous laughter and sand sculptures built and washed away and surfers and sexy guys and sexy girls and fat people and old people and young people alone people and together people and ocean waves and waves and waves and waves beautiful background rhythm to a weekend of LIFE.
Got all that fuel from a short but brilliant trip to Old Orchard Beach.
Thank you to Paula (who celebrated a birthday yesterday) and Bill and Lorraine and Cori and Sarge and Kevin and John and Wayne and Summer and Tawnya and anybody else I forgot to mention for building these memories with us.
The world is in trouble. Carol and are are ready to rock.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Prez

I'm talking about President Clinton.
I will give you my overall impressions of the DNC later in the week but right now I am buzzing over the speech the amazing Bill Clinton gave last night.
I am on my knees, my face squinched up in a grimace of fervent prayer, hoping with every fiber of my being that every undecided voter in this land of contradiction saw him speak last night.
Because he laid it all out in black and white. Made it easy to understand. Spoke the truth backed up with innumerable facts daring anyone to accuse him of lying. I'm sure the fact checkers are going to town today and I'm sure they will verify Bill Clinton's words.
 And he did it professionally. He did it with a wink and a nod.
Let me put this in perspective. I stopped watching the first game of the NFL season to listen to Bill Clinton speak. I missed the fourth quarter and did not know how the game ended.
And I did not regret it.
There is so much to talk about my tiny brain cannot handle it all. My favorite topic was when he introduced hate into the equation.
You rarely hear this kind of talk because it is raw truth. You hear it behind the words of republicans but not openly because they don't have the guts to be honest.
Clinton said he has had many disagreements with republicans over the years but he has never learned to hate them. He said he "never hated republicans the way some of them hate our President now."
Raw honest truth. I defy republicans to deny it. Of course you would have to give them truth serum first.
Clinton ripped apart the hypocrisy and lies in Ryan's convention speech.
"We simply cannot afford to give the reigns of government to someone who will double down on trickle down economics." What a quote.
He summarized the republican campaign simply: "We left (Obama) a total mess, he hasn't cleaned it up fast enough, so fire him and put us back in."
Clinton said changes he made during his own first term did not achieve wide spread results immediately and Americans did not feel it. Did not feel the improvements. By the second term everything clicked and the economy was booming and a surplus was created. People could feel improvement, feel better about themselves and their lives and their security.
Precisely the situation President Obama is in now.
He said no  previous president, none of them, could have fixed all the problems in four years that President Obama inherited.
He specifically laid out how republicans plans for Medicare and Medicaid will hurt the elderly and the sick and how President Obama has extended the life of Medicare and  improved the program with his policies.
I am not going to get bogged down in detail. President Clinton went right down the list of republican accusations, policies and lies and exposed them for what they are. A desperate attempt to defeat President Obama, and a complete disregard for the welfare of the middle class, the poor, students and the elderly. A complete disregard for the welfare of this country.
He did it all with a smile. No vindictiveness, no anger, no mindless partisanship.
It was one of the best speeches I have ever heard because it was emotional and it was filled with facts, with the truth, with realities republicans cannot dispute without continuing to lie to the American voting public.
He exposed republicans as fools, fools with no conscience and no love of this country or its citizens, and he did it with amazing grace and dignity and humor.
He made Presdient Obama's case better than he has done himself.
It occurred to me that if you could rule this country with a team made up of Condaleeza Rice, Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama, and without mindless republican opposition, this country would once again lead the world as Number 1 in EVERYTHING in a very short time.
I am begging you. If you are an undecided voter, check out Bill Clinton's speech. You will forget you ever even considered voting republican, you will be embarrassed to admit you ever considered it.
If you are an intelligent, sensitive human being, check out the speech for the sheer beauty of it. The honesty. The rawness, grace and dignity.
The man spoke the truth. Plainly and with power. The truth you need to make the right decision in November.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

An Observation

The first football game of the season commences tonight at 8:30.
NFL Network "coverage" of the game commences at 4:00. That's four and a half hours before the game starts.
I would love to put together a study of hours spent covering football during the season versus hours spent playing football this season.
It would be mind blowing.
I don't have the time or the energy.

Getting The Smack Down

P: What's up?
M: I'm deeply funkified. Down and dirty depressed. Way below the water line, emotionally speaking.
P: Why?
M:Getting slapped in the face the last couple of months. Large rejection. Insult. One was a killer. I let hope fly and watched hope die.
P: You can't give up.
M: I'm not giving up.
P: Forgive me for saying it, but your body language and tone of voice suggest surrender.
M: Pay close attention. I'm only going to explain this to you once. Where my head is at right now is not a choice. It's more like a fever, it comes on and I can't control it and I can't just shake it off even though some people think its that easy.
P: You know a lot of people are a lot worse off than you are.
M: Yeah.
P: Don't you feel selfish?
M: Apparently you were not paying close attention.
P: How do you get through the day?
M: Barely. The drive is to avoid humans at all costs, no conversation, but that's impossible. So every word that comes out of my mouth is torture. It is a huge effort to respond to anything anybody says. Leaving the house requires maximum effort.
P: This sounds like more than a superficial reality.
M: Now you are catching on. The roots run deep. Getting the smack down while desperately trying to change connects to a deep well of pain, an infinite well that cripples. I just have to ride it out.
P: How do you know that you can ride it out?
M: It's a strange thing. I have been here before. I always get through it. No thoughts of giving up. Apparently there is some diseased hope, some warped drive in me that exists independent of my reality.
P: Can you give me more on that?
M: It's all about glimpsing the soul. I know the guy who lives inside of me. I see him from time to time. More importantly, I feel him from time to time. I know what he can do. I am aware of his talent. His intelligence. I respect him. I like him.
P: Why don't we see more of him?
M: That's something I will never understand. At least have never understood. I hope to understand it. But every time he surfaces it is only for a moment, figuratively speaking. It can be an hour, it can be three days, but relatively it is only for a moment. And just as I get comfortable with him and begin to believe he is here to stay, he slips away. It's like watching the hand of a drowning man slip beneath the surface. But he never drowns. Not yet, anyway.
P: What would happen if he drowned?
M: I can't think about that.
P: Rumor has it you have some fun coming up. An escape of sorts. That should provide some relief.
M: I am indifferent to that. I might fake my way through it with a manufactured smile and over aggressive laugh, I might actually have fun, it might even snap me out of the Dr. Funkenstein role. No way to know.
P: My guess, and it is only a guess because the human mind is impossible to investigate accurately, but my guess is that if you could reach out and grab that guy's hand, pull him up and out of the water, become one with him, black funk would disappear.
M: If I could do that, the first thing I would do would be to crush him in a bear hug, kiss him on the cheek and say Welcome Home. Then I would bask in the glory of being whole. I am guessing that's what happiness feels like. Then we would walk off together and take on the world the way I know I can. I hope there is time for that.
P: Been revealing talking to you. I enjoyed it. You are open and honest about painful topics.
M: At least you listen. Most people don't.
P: So what are you going to do now?
M: It is impossible for me to answer that question.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Easy Street Prompts: Prompt 1008: those widow-women

Easy Street Prompts: Prompt 1008: those widow-women

This is how women look when they are done with men.
Burned and learned.
No smiles, intimidating both in weight and demeanor.
Gathering together for protection from calculating males.
As if any male would put in the effort with this crowd.

Goddamn Donuts

Goddamn donuts. Taste so good. Can't shrink my belly on a donut diet. I'm delicate. Don't like messy donuts. I eat Old Fashioned donuts. Plain donuts to the unimaginative.
No frosting, no sprinkles, no filling.
Chow them on the road with no fear of a mess.
Still use four napkins to clean up though.
How messy can they be?
They are messy in my head.

Fairness Doctrine DNC

I will be as fair as I can be.
The republican National Convention revolved around lies, and manipulation inspired by fear and prejudice.
Legitimate journalists and fact checkers were stunned by the boldness of the lies.
I will be watching the Democratic National Convention. If I witness lying and shameless manipulation I will say so.
I invite you to do the same.
Of course there will be the same mindless party (on two levels) atmosphere, but I expect the Democrats to come out of this looking morally superior and light years ahead intellectually.
Again, if I see any bulls**t, I will say so.

Curtis Martin

Curtis Martin gave the most honest, revealing, heartfelt acceptance speech I have ever seen, at the NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
The speech itself belongs in its own Hall of Fame.
Apparently he had notes which he left in his pocket, deciding to wing it, to speak from the heart.
That is usually a disaster. He turned it into a supreme moment. He took an institutionalized moment and made it raw and human.
He punched you in the face right off the bat by saying that he was never a big football fan. People laughed when he said this. They thought he was joking. He wasn't.
This from one of the greatest running backs in NFL history. He said he could count on one hand the number of football games he has watched from start to finish. Said he hates running. He boxes now to keep in shape so he can avoid running. He couldn't identify with the passion of the other players, the players to whom football meant everything.
When the opportunity came up for him to get serious about football as a kid because of his talent, he wasn't too interested. A pastor he respected told him to do it for God; to use football to do good things for others.
That's what motivated him all these years; the love of football was not in his heart but he played for a purpose bigger than the game.
Then he began talking about his childhood and his mother. He said he grew up in a bad neighborhood and a worse family. His father tortured his mother with hot water; he burned her hair, he burned her body with cigarettes, he beat her and threw her down the stairs.
Curtis' mother was in the audience and he looked directly at her as he spoke. Fought hard not to lose it.
His father was gone when Martin was five. His mother had to work multiple jobs, she gave him a key and when he got home from school he waited alone for her to come home at night.
Late at night. He was terrified because it was a terrible neighborhood.
When he was nine his mother found his grandmother murdered. When he was thirteen his aunt died painfully; he didn't get into the details.
At the age of fifteen a punk in the neighborhood put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger seven times. The gun didn't go off. The punk pointed the gun away from him and pulled the trigger again; it fired.
His mother pleaded with him to get involved with something after school, anything to keep him out of the neighborhood. Didn't matter if it was sports or the chess club or the band.
She said "if you die they might as well kill me."
Curtis believed he would not live past the age of twenty one. At the age of twenty he wandered into a church and made a deal with God. He promised to live right, to live for a higher purpose, if God would let him live past twenty one.
Curtis Martin said his greatest achievement in life was nurturing his mother back to physical and psychological health, and convincing her to forgive his father.
Again he was looking her in the eye when he said this.
He said he hoped at his eulogy, if his daughter was the speaker, she would not emphasize football. Hoped she would say he was a good man first and, oh yeah, he was a pretty good football player too.
In the overall scheme of life, getting inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame means very little. For Curtis Martin it means everything.
Not for the award itself but for the recognition of his fight to save his life and that of his mother and to dedicating the fruits of his success to helping others. Doing something he had a talent for but is not passionate about. Excelling at it with a higher purpose as motivation; helping other people to live better.
It has always been obvious that Curtis Martin is a classy guy. Anybody who follows football knows that.
That speech revealed what an amazing human being he is. Somebody everybody should look up to and learn from.
YouTube it. It's twenty eight minutes long. You have the time.
It took guts to do that in front of that audience. A football audience. An audience used to joking around and false humility and easy acceptance of riches and accolades.
I bet his mother was the only one that was not surprised.

Monday, September 3, 2012

John Prine...................Again

Washed a pile of dishes, cooked breakfast, listening to John Prine to get me through it all.
I have talked about him and this song - Taking A Walk  - before, in passionate terms so I will not bore you with repetition.
EXCEPT, just before the chorus he says ooohhhhhhh...............aha.........I'm Taking A Walk.
The way he says aha blows me away. It's not the music itself or the lyrics alone that make a song. It's what you do with the music and the lyrics.
That aha perfectly sums up the mood of the song. Everything about that song is revealed in the aha. I'm pissed off at life, I'm taking a walk. A deeply reflective mood expressed perfectly in two syllables.
THAT is what music is all about.

One more lyric from another of his songs.
"Waiting for a call at the wrong end of a broom."
We are all waiting for a call at the wrong end of a broom. Some of us are trying to make that call happen. Some of us are dreaming that the call will happen.
But we are all waiting for a call at the wrong end of a broom.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Selfish Pride

In this latest issue of Time magazine there is coverage of President Barack Obama's re-election campaign.
As I flipped through the pictures I realized they were all of his stop in New Hampshire.
This one of Rochester. I wasn't in Rochester.
That one in Rochester. I wasn't in Rochester.
Another one from Rochester. I wasn't THERE in Rochester.
One last photo.
A picture of a woman hugging the President "before a rally at New Hampshire's Windham High School."
YEAH, baby. That's where we were. That's where Carol and I experienced President Barack Obama up close and personal.
I got goosebumps looking at that picture.
I have goosebumps writing about looking at that picture.
Because we were a part of it. Because there is a picture of it immortalizing the stop in Time magazine. Which we don't need for validation because Carol took fifty amazing pictures at the event that sit in the brain of our computer to be savored at will.
But there is something cool about seeing that glossy picture in the pages of this respected magazine, knowing that we were there, that makes me feel good.
I am proud that we made the effort. I am humbled to know that I was in his presence.
Another memory to add to the beautiful life album that continues to grow in my head.
I ain't done yet, baby.
Not even close.

Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong's death has left me unsettled.
I don't know why.
Sometimes people are in your life, in your mind, without you really being aware of it.
The man walked on the moon in 1969. I was fifteen. It was the end of an amazing decade. A decade I entered at the age of 6.
A decade whose spirit I absorbed, a spirit that still occupies a large portion of my soul today, but a decade that I barely missed out on experiencing in any meaningful way. I was always just behind the curve age-wise.
I was more caught up in the music and the rebellion than in science, but sending men to the moon was a hard achievement to ignore. And walking on the moon? How amazingly romantic, unbelievable, impressive and mind blowing was that?
Still I don't remember dwelling on it. I'm sure I immediately got back to smoking pot and drinking beer and dreaming about all the ways my life would be dramatic and different from the norm. All the ways that never materialized. All the dreams I abandoned.
Space flight became common place, which is ridiculous. But it happened so often that we became indifferent to it.
I have not walked around since 1969 consciously thinking what a cool dude Neil Armstrong was. I have not followed his life. Don't know much about him.
But when he died I was thrown off balance. Almost like the first guy to walk on the moon should be immortal. Like he should get some special dispensation from life's orchestrator allowing him to live forever.
He is described in Time magazine's remembrance as a man "who had carried himself with such silent grace for so many years." I consider that high praise.
He could have gone off the deep end. The first man to walk on the moon, for Christ sake. He could have commanded people to bow before him, could have his dinner served to him on solid gold platters, could have grown shoulder length hair and spent his life partying in Ibiza with shallow women twenty years younger and an eternity less intelligent than him.
According to Time he was a deeply private man who at some point stopped signing autographs because it forced him to compromise his personality and because people would turn around and sell them, which bothered him.
A deeply principled man.
He flew seventy eight combat missions over Korea, commanded the flight of Gemini 8 in 1966 which almost ended in disaster but which he saved through steely cool.
And he commanded Apollo 11's flight to the moon.
And took a stroll.
Inside the front cover of this issue of Time is a Louis Vuitton ad featuring a photo of Muhammad Ali, and a little boy wearing boxing gloves.
The caption says "Some stars show you the way. Muhammad Ali and a rising star. Phoenix, Arizona."
I stopped short when I opened the magazine.
I worship Muhammad Ali. As a man even more than as a fighter. Actually as I write that it occurs to me that calling him a fighter covers it all.
Of course Muhammad came to prominence in the sixties.
After reading Neil Armstrong's remembrance I thought maybe my reaction is all caught up in that whole sixties thing.
It was a powerful decade. One whose seismic shifts will never be repeated.
I am proud to have lived it.
Another chapter has closed on that period but the vibe will never die.
And given his enormous impact on the world and the graceful way he handled it, neither will Neil Armstrong.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

September 1 and So Much More

It's September 1.
Time to make it a September to remember.
Labor Day weekend is upon us. It was strangely quiet in the Booze Emporium yesterday. Typically on the Friday of a three day weekend, hordes of booze lovers assault the store and plunder the shelves skipping merrily up and down the aisles singing Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead.
Yesterday was relatively quiet.
Maybe it's the economy. I don't know a lot of people with money to blow. Of course I hang around exclusively with lovable losers and no account boozers.
Maybe it is the horrible stench of the New Hampshire State Liquor commission wafting out the door that drives people away.
Maybe people have opted to make this weekend contemplative and spiritual rather than inebriated and combative.
Summer is officially over. In my life it is technically over as well.
Summer: July 1 - August 31. Winter: September 1 - June 30. That's how I see the two New England seasons.
A lot of people get hyped up at this time of year. Pumped full of energy and intentions. Makes Lowe's very happy.
I see the logic. As much as I worship warmth, it is easier to move around at this time of year. And you get motivated by a sense of frenzy because you know that soon all you will be doing is shovelling snow and sliding to work.
I am a sensualist. The colors that explode upon us as leaves die is a remarkable thing. You can walk out the door and stand still in your own yard and feel as if you are part of an interactive art exhibit. You become part of the painting. Standing in awe at the base of sturdy trees, hungrily absorbing the beauty with your eyes and your soul, watching the trees sway, listening to the leaves rustle, feeling a cool and gentle wind cross your skin, mourning the leaves that fall ever so gently to the ground.
They do indeed go gentle into that good night.
I once wrote a poem about trees. It was horrific. It shall never see the light of day. But part of it dealt with the concept of the trees letting go of their leaves as if they are letting go of their children.
Do they mourn this or celebrate it?
I wish to hell I was a tree. I could handle life a lot better.
This time of year holds the promise of the holidays.
Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day in a sense are false respite. People feel compelled to get out there and BARBECUE. Eat, drink, run, fun, sun. They know the season is short and that we Americans do not even get close to having enough time off. Desperate relaxation.
Christmas and Thanksgiving reign supreme.
Especially Thanksgiving. I sit at the dinner table on Thanksgiving and look at my long suffering and beautiful wife, my magnificent sons, the magic and mystical women my sons have brought into my life, and on very special occasions, my brother, and I am blown away. There was no running around, no buying and wrapping of presents, no overextended budgets.
Just a family dinner and football for the sake of the sweet spirituality of being a family. Celebrating and enjoying it.
Christmas is magnificent and again, as a sensualist, I dig the lights, the candles, the aroma. Not as pure as Thanksgiving because of retail overkill, but the players are the same and the beauty persists.
New Year's Eve is contemplative for me. I have been a drunken fool many times over on that night, but it carries a different feel for me now.
A year is ending. A year is beginning. I prefer to experience it alertly. This of course is not to say I won't crazygonuts again on New Year's Eves to come. I am drawn to insanity. But overall I enjoy spending it with Carol quietly. This magical, mystical woman who has celebrated thirty four New Year's Eves with me in marriage.
New Year's Day. My birthday.
I love having my birthday on January 1. It is perfectly placed to allow me to sit back and review my life. How did last year shape up? What will I do to improve my life this year?
I used to spend every birthday horribly hung over. Now I am peaceful and contemplative.
I seized my birthday back last year. I never pushed to celebrate it on The Day because I knew everybody was tired, hung over, beat up and beat down. What started to happen was that it didn't get celebrated at all.
Unacceptable. I am 58. I will celebrate my life at every opportunity.
So last year, on New Year's Day, we held the first annual Joe Testa Open House and Birthday Bash. It was minimally attended due to lack of advertising and a short notification time frame, but it was tasty, laid back and laugh filled. I loved it.
January 1, 2013 will mark the second annual Joe Testa Open House and Birthday Bash.
I look forward to it.
2013 begins Year Three of The Trying. I have been beat around pretty good as I strived to grab a hold of my life and control its direction over the last two years. Ups and downs, possibilities born, possibilities killed.
I will be reflecting long and hard on 01/01/13. But doing that in the company of family and friends will polish the surface, make it shine and give me light to inspire my way.
In my long winded way I have tried to convey to you that this time of year does indeed hold beauty and hope and promise.
But I will take it one step at a time. I will quite seriously try to make it a September to remember.
Have a great weekend, folks.