Friday, November 30, 2012

A Cool Commute

There's a local radio station that plays Christmas music 24/7 at this time of year.

I dialed it up this morning for the first time in the 2012 Christmas season. Fortunately I was rewarded with a soul inspiring song. I don't remember which one it was - that was eleven hours ago - eleven pretty physical hours ago - but it worked out just fine.

I don't like the cutesy Christmas songs - Frosty The Snowman and stuff like that - those are for kids. I like the deeply moving and emotional songs, the ones that tap directly into the true Christmas spirit. The ones that make your soul soar.

I kind of figured out where my head is at this year by my gut reaction to the song. It was immediate and it was powerful - emotional beyond belief. It was like a waterfall of feelings rushing out behind a crumbling dam.

I was surprised.

I know what I want from Christmas this year. I know what I need.

It has nothing to do with presents and wrapping paper. Which is good because I SUCK at wrapping presents. I'll throw the gift in the middle of the paper and turn all the corners up and tape them up horrifically. And if I don't have enough paper I'll cut another piece and stretch it across the gap. I don't give a damn what the present looks like as long as it is covered up.

I need Christmas this year. I just need Christmas. I want the tree up, I want to look at the lights, I want to send cards, I want to get cards, I want to dig into a couple of Christmas celebrations, I want to be with my family.

What I want most is The Feeling. I want to sit in front of the tree on a quiet night with a civilized whiskey and feel warmth and hope and love and gratitude and promise and contentment. I want to feel what everybody should feel on Christmas.

Beauty. Peace. Goddamn it, this time of year is crammed with reasons to believe and to celebrate and to feel good. Thanksgiving. Christmas. New Year's Eve. New Year's Day. All jammed into a short period of time.

Intensity is supreme. Intensity is backlash against the daily grind. Maybe it would be easier to have these special days spread more evenly across the year but maybe that would take away from the impact.

I thought I would depress myself through Christmas and beyond, but now I am thinking I am going to grab onto the spirit of the deal. The real spirit. The soul nourishing spirit.

I don't understand Christmas shopping. I never have. I never understood it each and every goddamn time we did it. Every year we would go out and  do the duty and stress out over how much we were spending and worrying about how the hell we were going to pay for it. I firmly believe that the majority of people who shop like lemmings cannot afford it. They don't think about it. They feel they just have to do it. It makes no sense and distorts the whole concept of Christmas into sick perversion.

I'm looking for a little relief form Christmas this year. A little magic. I have been pushing myself pretty hard and punishing myself for perceived failure. I just want to feel a little gentleness.

I'd like to get into downtown Concord and walk in the cold and look at the lights and brush past the harried shoppers and maybe grab a buffalo wing or a distinguished cocktail. Look into my wife's green eyes and see the hope for better things in 2013.

I want balm for my soul. And your soul. And everybody's soul.

I am one of those ridiculously sensitive souls who hurts when other people hurt. And there are a LOT of hurting people in this world. I see them, I talk to them every single day.

Tomorrow is December 1, 2012. I have been listening to Christmas songs as I wrote this. I am ending it while listening to Happy Xmas ( War Is Over) by Mr. John Lennon and Ms. Yoko Ono. This is the ultimate Christmas song because it contrasts the feeling of a happy Christmas with the reality of life. It throws a spotlight on the injustice in the world and it promotes the very healthy idea of taking a look at your life, recognizing that another year is over and asking yourself what have you done?

What have you done?

But it still captures the wonder of Christmas.

I have 24 days ahead of me until Christmas morning wakes me to sweet celebration. 31 until 2013.

This is a meaningful time of year and I am going to use it to celebrate me and my wife and my family, to look into my soul and dig out the poison and swim in the beauty.

I have beauty in me. You do and everyone around you does. Take a breath this month and find it. Wield it like a weapon but do it gently. Use it to cut through your own misconceptions to get to the real you. Recognize your life for what it is and emphasize the good stuff. Try to forget the hard parts for now. Maybe you can work some magic.

There is a vibe, a good vibe at this time of year if you can avoid the malls. If you can vibrate your own essence and bring it up to meet the true vibe, the honest vibe of what this time of year is really about, you may bring about an epiphany. An epiphany of your own soul which we all dearly need more than any of the petty things we stress about every day.  

Happy Christmas Yoko. Happy Christmas John.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Johnny O'Shea

Johnny O'Shea got in my way
So I put a gun to his head
He flipped me the bird, that useless old turd
His bravado got himself dead

Little Ole Milly acted so silly
She drove me right out of my mind
I reached for my knife and cut me a slice
Then sat with a book to unwind

John was a jerk, with him I did work
His agendas were greasy and slimed
A sledgehammer was handy which I thought was dandy
Smashed his skull to free up his mind

LeRoux made me blue, that's all he would do
He dragged me down every day
He wasn't ready to meet my machete
It was a pleasure to put him away

I sat in my bar with Frankie The Car
I hated his nickname so much
I cut off his ear to make myself clear
Then I extinguished his life with my truck

I met Paul at the mall, he made me feel small
With his wallet and boatloads of cash
I walked into Sears and got me some shears
Disconnected his legs from his ass

A man called me Sonny and thought it was funny
He did not see the look on my face
I picked up my Uzi and shot me a doozy
Now he's scattered all over the place

Some people must die, inside they know why
I do it and don't even blink
If you want to live, to see your grand kids
Be silent and buy me a drink

Where's Waldo?

I need to live for 300 hundred more years so I can learn everything I don't currently know.

If Loving Jesus granted me those three hundred years, I could spend 250 of them studying Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I've been digging into this guy and he is blowing my mind. I brushed up against his writings in the past but never studied them. He was a giant in the 19th century, an influential man hanging with influential friends.He was a preacher, philosopher and a poet. An original thinker, which is the highest compliment I think you can give to a human. His essays and lectures are revered and packed with challenging ideas.

I have only read two of them so far. And let me tell you something. If you sit down to read one of Ralph Waldo Emerson's essays, you better set aside 30 or 45 minutes. This is richly written 19th century prose jam packed with ideas that will make your head swirl. You are not gonna get it if you have Justin Bieber on in the background.

Uses Of Great Men.

This one concerns the benefit to having original thinkers around. People who can wake you up and get you to see things differently or see things you haven't seen before.

His point is that greatly intelligent people raise the intelligence level of the communities they live in or the countries they live in or even the world. The evil voice inside my head questions the wisdom of that given the current state of this country. But we are obviously in a period of intellectual decline. Maybe in the 19th century people actually cared about learning and improving their minds.

Emerson said "Men who know the same things are not long the best company for each other." He felt it was best to mix things up, to trade on each other's intellects and experiences so we can grow as a species.

He also said "great men exist that there may be greater men." I love that. Suggesting that intelligence and innovation are not an end in and of themselves, that it is a perpetual process of enlightenment, one genius laying the groundwork for the next.

"The cheapness of man is every day's tragedy. It is as real a loss that others should be low, as that we should be low; for we must have a society." Those with the ability should lift others up; it is as detrimental for your brother to be down as it is for you to be down.

Waldo also slapped us around a bit.

"It is our system; and a man comes to measure his greatness by the regrets, envies and hatreds of his competitors." Keeping up with the Joneses, baby.

"It is the delight of vulgar talent to dazzle and to blind the beholder. True genius will liberate and add new senses." Beware of bullshit.

Self Reliance.

I really dug this essay. It's all about being your own man, independent, impervious to the opinions of others. Never conform.He says that "envy is ignorance and imitation is suicide." We are all unique and you have to be strong enough to live within your uniqueness and everybody else be damned. He says you have to trust yourself and speak your mind because if you don't someone else may say exactly what you were thinking and "we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another." BOOM.

You have to use your uniqueness to take what you know and improve upon it. Emerson says the point of learning is to give you what you need to push thinking further. That too many people learn stuff and leave it at that, essentially regurgitating what others have thought.

"Infancy conforms to nobody; all conform to it so that one babe commonly makes four or five out of the adults who prattle and play to it." I am proud to say I have never gooed and gagaed over a baby. I talk to them. However I also talk to my cats.

Another Waldo point: As soon as you start using your consciousness to edit what you want to say and think, you smother your essence a bit. He also encourages us not to be afraid to contradict ourselves. Thinking people change their minds; consistency is conformity. Whatever you say, say it with conviction and don't be afraid to change that point of view if your knowledge or experience informs you differently.

"Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist." "Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind." This is beautiful stuff.

This is my favorite. In talking about how we behave in groups, where we are afraid to just be ourselves, he talks about the forced smile. Describing how the smile is formed he says "the muscles, not spontaneously moved, but moved by a low usurping wilfulness, grow tight about the outline of the face with the most disagreeable sensation."

This guy is blowing my mind at a time when I am actively seeking to have my mind blown.

Who knew.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Small Things

It's true that small things make a life. Leftovers, hugs, mistakes, TV nights and no alarm mornings.
A great pizza, a kiss fueled from pure and honest love.
Big things make a life too. You need to build off the small things to make room for the big things.
Like dignity. A touch of independence. Absence of fear.
Sometimes you cannot make it from the small things to the big things. You just cannot build that bridge. Life gets in the way for most of us; too heavy, too impenetrable, too limiting, too damn unfair.
Stand on the small things and reach for the big things.
Do not ever settle for a small life and a smaller death.


So here's what I got. Charlie, Keith, Mick and Ronnie on NPR. You gotta dig that. Cranking up the 50th.

Each of them picked one song from their enormous catalogue to talk about. Their personalities were on display.

Charlie laid back, not taking any of this too seriously. You can go back to 1963 and check out pictures of him behind the drums and see the origins of that familiar whimsical look. The same look he sports today. He always gives the impression that he'd rather be sitting behind his jazz band.

Ronnie, ever the clown and I say that with respect. Always with a sense of humor, a suggestion of devilishness. Still, an accomplished musician and artist. I covet his paintings and some of the T-shirts he has designed

Keith with depth. An approach to the music, to all music, that is spiritual and infused with knowledge and experience. Always with a hint of self promotion; he likes the pirate reputation.

Mick, a touch of pretension. A cultivated air of sophistication. Feigning indifference to the interview when deep down inside I think he loves the attention. I want to hate Mick but I can't.

An aside:  Ronnie brought up "the ancient art of weaving" in his interview. That is how he and Keith describe their style of mixed lead and rhythm. It is an unusual style for two guitar players where they trade back and forth from taking the lead to providing support. I have always loved that description which, of course, was coined by Keith. It kind of sums up his mystical approach to the ethereal beauty of music.

They played the first concert of this tour on Sunday in London, and I read that they rocked. They brought back Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor, which I love. Wyman is an original Stone. He quit the band in 1993. Mick Taylor joined the band after Brian Jones died. Piecing together their rich history as best they can. They even covered a Beatles song - I Wanna Be Your Man. Cool nod.

The show opened with a video tribute from the likes of Elton John, Iggy Pop and Johnny Depp, paying homage. The show itself included an extended video homage to John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and more.

It is deeply meaningful to me that talented individuals pay tribute to The Stones as The Stones themselves pay tribute to the people who came before them and inspired them.  It is a continuous line, an unbroken chain that evolves and is renewed; this celebration is tangible proof of what music is, how it lives.

This is history, baby. This is a huge piece of rock 'n roll and British and American history. It deserves to be treated with respect and with an understanding of the sheer impact one group can have on a musical genre and on peoples' lives.

I listened to the two NEW songs on the 50th anniversary greatest hits album.

One More Shot - The song rocks but it also has a Sheryl Crow kind of sound to it that adds pretty to rock.

Doom and Gloom - This song ROCKS. And dig the lyrics:

I had a dream last night
That I was piloting a plane
And all the passengers were drunk and insane
I crash landed in a Louisiana swamp
Shot up a horde of zombies
But I come out on top
What's it all about?
It just reflects my mood

Sitting in the dirt
Feeling kind of hurt
All I hear is doom and gloom
And all is darkness in my room
Through the light your face I see
Baby take a chance
Baby won't you dance with me

Don't ever underestimate The Stones, baby.

I'm all caught up in this tour. It's been building slowly in my soul and now has reached a fever pitch. I want to see them. I NEED to see them.

The Stones are my life. The Beatles were my life. The fact that they are all seventy or approaching seventy shines a light on where my life is at. The fact that I am trying so hard to mold and shape a life I can love and can be proud of before it's too late is counterbalanced by these guys who have lived lives that they love. And they have given me joy and release and dreams, they have been with me since I was nine years old.

They are not just a rock 'n roll band. They transcend any cliche you want to use to pin them down. Because nobody has ever done this before.

People who mock them have no understanding of what music can mean to a soul. People who mock them cannot possibly be spiritual. In fact I think that people who mock them are superficial, given to predictable words, and unwilling to dig, to learn and to appreciate.

Inspiration can come from anywhere. A sense of depth, of being whole, of being human often needs a catalyst. You have to look for these things.

And you cannot afford to miss them.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Dialogue

Vince (Shouting in bar):  I HATE MY LIFE. I f***ing hate my life
Ryan (Vince's buddy):  Shut the f*** up. You're gonna get us thrown out.
Vince:  I can't stand it. I'm going to explode. I'm so goddamn trapped.
Ryan:  We're all trapped buddy, we're all trapped. But you don't want to make a big deal in here.
Sexy Waitress (Striding over with stern look on her face):  You need to calm down, some of the customers are complaining
Vince:  I don't want to calm down. I hate my life.
Sexy Waitress:  Hey look. Being a waitress wasn't my childhood dream. Life sucks. Deal with it. And do it quietly.
Vince:  At least you got cleavage to fall back on.
Sexy Waitress and Ryan (simultaneously):  What the f*** are you talking about?
Vince:  Never mind. You don't understand.
Sexy Waitress:  You get crazy again and you are out of here.
Sexy Waitress walks away.

Vince:  She doesn't get it. She's a bimbo.
Ryan:  Sit down.
Vince (sitting down):  You don't know how much I hate my life. If I saw a guy throw a puppy in a meat grinder and then fix himself up a plate of puppy tartare, I would hate his guts with my entire being.
Ryan:  That's disgusting. You're an idiot.
Vince:  I would hate his guts with all my being. I hate my life even more than that.

A few seconds of silence

Vince:  And what about God? Where is he in this whole equation? Isn't he supposed to take care of me? I'm a good guy. I haven't killed anybody.
Ryan:  He's not supposed to get you a better job, for Christ sake.
Vince:  What if there isn't a god? What if this is all there is? I don't want this life. I didn't ask for it. If this life is all I have with no redemption to look forward to, I'm ready to check out right now. Dying drunk is a noble way to go. Lots of poets have done it.
Ryan:  You're not a poet.

Vince:  What about the American Dream? You are supposed to be rewarded when you work hard. Climb the ladder, make more money, drive nice cars, bang hot chicks. I've been working hard for forty years and I all I got to show for it is a bad back and aching knees and a subscription to Playboy.
Ryan:  George Carlin said they call it a dream because you have to be asleep to believe it. Listen, life sucks. It's unfair. It's a grind. That's just the way it is. You gotta be grateful for what you got and make your fun where you can.
Vince:  Don't give me that grateful crap. Those are words you speak on your knees. I'm supposed to be grateful for driving a fifteen year old truck? I'm supposed to be grateful that pizza is a big night out? I'm supposed to be grateful that every time something breaks I sweat blood wondering how I'm going to pay for it?

A few seconds of silence.

Vince:  I'm making my own fun. Right here. Right now. I need another drink.
Ryan:  You are making an ass out of yourself. If you have another drink you'll puke on your shoes.
Vince:  I don't care. I hate these shoes.

Vince climbs up on his chair and shouts: Hey waitress. Bring me another civilized whiskey.
Customers all around them yell:  Sit down idiot and shut up. Get a life.
Vince gets agitated:  See what I mean? Even these people know I have no life. How do I get a life? Where do I get a life? I WANT A GODDAMN LIFE.

Sexy Waitress and The Bouncer come running over.

The Bouncer says:  You are done buddy. Pay the little lady here and get the hell out.
Vince begins to reply but Ryan puts his hand over Vince's mouth.
Ryan:  We're all set. I'll settle up and get him out of here. I am so sorry for the disturbance. He thinks his life sucks and it's eating him up.
The Bouncer:  Hey look. Being a bouncer wasn't my childhood dream. Life does suck. The entire booze industry is built around that truth.
Vince breaks down, begins to cry and whimper:  I just want a life. I just want a little dignity. I never knew it would end up this way. I had potential. I had dreams. I got no hope and my dreams are dead.
The Bouncer:  Shut up, wussy boy. Just deal with it.

Ryan settles up with the waitress, giving her a big tip. The Bouncer walks away.
Ryan wraps his arm around Vince and prepares to leave.

Before he does, he enjoys a lingering appraisal of Sexy Waitress's cleavage and says:
Whaddya say we get together later, I stick a celery stalk down your cleavage and we pretend that you are a Bloody Mary?
Sexy Waitress smiles coyly and says:  I get off at two.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Nobody Told Me

My brain inhabits a weird and dangerous head space on the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Even more so today because our Thanksgiving weekend was jam packed with wholesome goodness.

The day itself was superlative. Friday sucked because I had to go to that job that to me is nothing more than a hallucination. Saturday we rolled into Keene, bopped into the L'n L for a quick drink and caught Craig behind the bar. Which was cool because we were beginning to wonder if he actually worked there. Had a beer on Craig, then Scottie showed up and I ended up having a shot with him. A very cool twenty minute visit.
We proceeded from there to Waxy's, an Irish bar and hooked up with friends of Carol's. Cold beer, live band, conversation and laughter.

Yesterday we went to the Monarchs game with Keith and Emily. Great game although the Monarchs ended up losing in OT. Afterwards K&E took us out to dinner to celebrate Carol's birthday. An exquisitely laid back, enjoyable dinner graced with easy flowing conversation and laughter. Keith and Emily really topped off our weekend with chocolate icing yesterday; it was an awesome day.

If this past weekend was a sausage casing, it would have exploded with all the coolness we packed into it.

Then..............the alarm clock this morning. On Carol's birthday. It hurt me to hear her drag herself out of bed on a morning when she should be sleeping late with a contented "It's my birthday, goddamn it" smile on her face. I know she hated getting up this morning. I know she hates getting up every morning. I am her shining knight. I am supposed to be able to rescue her. I haven't been able to do it. Not yet.
It hurt me that I did not have a 2013 Volkswagen Beetle sitting at the foot of the bed. Or a 23 carrot emerald ring. Or two tickets to paradise.

I was really punked out this morning and kept fading in and out of hallucinations, didn't crawl out of bed until after Carol tortured her way to work.

And here I sit.

Thanksgiving is dead and I am supposed to be exuding Christmas spirit, but I can't afford Christmas spirit. Don't have to worry about the material side of Christmas this year because we got nothing to be material with. Hopefully I can conjure up some sort of wonder. I like wonder.

The end of the year approaches. Contemplation time. And my birthday on January 1.

I will be fifty nine. Eleven birthdays after that I will be seventy. SEVENTY. I see seventy as the line of demarcation. I'm hoping for eleven more years of relative health, mobility and brain activity. Deterioration will probably increase exponentially after that. I hope not, I hope to remain relatively robust well into my second century, but you can't count on that, can you?

My brain is aswirl and agog today with all these thoughts. It's the Monday after Thanksgiving, baby and the jolt back to "reality" is that much more painful.

In a few hours I have to head out to that dead end, soul sucking job armed with nothing but hope.

What concerns me is that the hope is not solid. I have spent two hard years trying to build rock solid hope, but what I ended up with is the typical wispy variety. Solidity has eluded me.

That tiny doubting voice in the back of my head continues to try to undermine my efforts. It gains strength as each year passes.

The rest of the year will be consumed with contemplation and a continuation of trying.

Nobody told me there'd be days like this.

I'm Thankful

Lots of things and people I am thankful for during this holiday season.

The #1 thing I am thankful for is that I KNOW I will engineer an escape from this soul sucking, dead end job that I am temporarily trapped in.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Soul Built

Just finished a book called The Art Of Fielding. Delicious. Great story. Well written.

I am not going to summarize it. Just go out and buy it. Right now.

Towards the end of the book there was a quote from one of the characters that blew me away.

"You told me once that a soul isn't something that a person is born with but something that must be built, by effort and error, study and love."

This completely challenges my idea of what a soul is. I have always held tight to the opinion that your soul is your essence. It is that thing, that pure you as you are born. That thing that gets covered up quickly by pain and abuse and injustice and disappointment. That thing that breathes for a few years and screams silently for decades.

I have expended an enormous amount of effort over the past couple of years digging down towards my soul. Digging down through layers of darkness so thick that the work is back breaking. Believing that with enough effort and insight I can get back to the real me and that when I do it will be the most liberating day of my life. A day that will make all the work worth it and make the rest of my life a precious work of art.

Believing that with enough effort I can get to the most precious state of being there is.

Peace of mind.

I believed that the soul was impervious. That it is what it is and happiness can only be achieved by bringing your mind and body in line with the soul. Something most people can never accomplish.

But maybe the seeking, the work, the effort are what shape the soul. Maybe it is an elementary thing at birth, a beautiful, shining essence that makes you unique. But something that can be improved upon.

Humanity has proved ad infinitum that the soul can be twisted and buried, tortured and killed. That is essentially what life does to most people. That is the source of the bitterness you see on most peoples' faces. The source of their sarcasm and their jaded approach to life.

The idea that the soul can be made stronger by not giving up, that it can shine brighter through lessons learned and effort expended, offers infinite possibility.

Because I see the soul as a natural and super spiritual source of strength and honesty. If you work on your life in a positive way, and as you are doing that, your soul is gaining strength, the ultimate result would be an explosion of re-birth equal to The Big Bang on an individual basis.

At that moment when your mind and your body come into direct alignment with your invigorated soul, I envision a brilliant awareness and a resulting peace that could only previously have been experienced by Jesus or Buddha or any highly evolved life form. A peace that could only previously have been experienced by other humans who have gotten to the same place. Which I figure to be about one in 10 million people. Probably less.

I love the idea that as I strengthen my mind and fight against the weakening of my body, my soul is growing stronger and more confident.

The light at the end of the tunnel could very well be me.

Dig it, baby.

Dig This

"Emerson had an almost intolerable awareness that every morning began with infinite promise. Any book may be read, any idea thought, any action taken. ................................By the same token, each evening brings a reckoning of infinite regret for the paths refused, openings not seen, and actions not taken."

Robert D. Richardson, biographer of Ralph Waldo Emerson

My Damaged Brain

All right listen, I just started reading a book called Incognito - The Secret Lives Of The Brain.

Does this sound appetizing to you? It is f***ing awesome. The premise is that our conscious state of mind, which we all perceive as who we are, is merely the tip of the ice berg. That consciousness is merely the beneficiary of the incredible stuff that goes on behind the scenes in our diseased little brains.

I have read enough and thought enough and felt enough to know that this is true. I have been victimized by my own brain for a lifetime. All the dark nooks and crannies, all the diseased pockets of misinformation and disinformation, all the misunderstandings and misinterpretations that combine to make me a part time clerk in a liquor store at the age of fifty eight.

What I love is this guy's approach. He takes a tough subject and makes it readable. Don't get me wrong, I am barely into the book and I have come across a couple of dry parts already. it's the kind of book where you cannot allow your mind to wander. You cannot suddenly wonder if you put butter on the shopping list in the middle of a chapter explaining the misconceptions about the relationship about what role the brain plays in how our eyes "see." You will miss something.

You have to focus to read this book but, then again, isn't that a good thing for your brain?

A couple of great references he has thrown in early on. He pairs the following two quotes. Carl Jung: "In each of us there is another whom we do not know." Pink Floyd: "There's someone in my head, but it's not me."

Read a little Eckhart Tolle and you will dig where he is coming from.

He uses hitting a baseball as a great example of the separation between the brain's ability to process something and conscious response to that. If a pitch is thrown at 100 m.p.h. it reaches the plate in four tenths of a second. That is enough time for the batter's eyes to pick up light signals from the baseball and work all that information through the brain in a way that gets the muscles of the arms moving. But conscious awareness takes half a second, which means the ball travels too rapidly for the batter to be aware of it. In other words you do not have to be consciously aware to perform sophisticated acts.

This blows my mind.

I can see you are already getting bored so I won't drone on.

I am excited because I am working on my brain right now, kneading it like dough, trying to bring it back to life after decades of dumbing myself down. This book gives me more to work with.

The author raises the following questions to give a taste for where he is going with this book.

How is it possible to get angry with yourself; who exactly is mad at whom?

Why do people love to store their money in Christmas accounts that earn no interest?

If the drunk Mel Gibson is an anti-Semite and the sober Mel Gibson is authentically apologetic, is there a real Mel Gibson?

What do Ulysses and the subprime mortgage meltdown have in common?

Why do strippers make more money at certain times of month?

I think I am going to love this guy.

Friday, November 23, 2012


I am always filled with a feeling of longing on the day after Thanksgiving.

The experience was so intense and meaningful, so satisfying, that I want more of it. Like a drug.

No one should have to work on the day after Thanksgiving. If you do the day right, you need another day to absorb the emotion, process the memories and slowly bring yourself back up to "reality". (?) When you have an especially stupid, soul sucking, dead end job like mine - and millions of others - the contrast is almost too much to bear.

I was not able to control time yesterday like I typically do. Somehow on Thanksgiving I am able to slow things down and experience the day at a languid pace. I am always surprised and pleased with how slowly the day goes by.

Not yesterday. Yesterday flew by. Everyone was gone by 7:30 and I was stunned. I don't know what happened but I do know that I enjoyed it.

My first impression was artistic. All the pieces were in place and I sat down in the recliner with a short but civilized whiskey to get my legs under me, to grease the path to joy. Awaiting everyone's arrival. I glanced over at the table so beautifully set by Carol and caught the sun angling in and glancing off the bottle of wine that was sitting there. Something about the wine and the sun and the quiet appealed to my sense of beauty regarding this day. If I had the talent I would have painted it.

I won't bore you with the details but everyone showed up, the day moved along smoothly, the meal was perfect, laughter and conversation vibrated my soul and I smiled more inwardly than with my face.

I sit here now with jangled nerves hungering for more of that purity and instead have to anticipate in a couple of hours going to a job that strips me of any shred of humanity.


We performed a potentially fatal experiment yesterday and got away with it. We engineered a personnel trade. Jaxon for Karen.

Our family vibe is pure and natural, it is strong and easy going. We have a family environment that functions like that of a successful sports team. All the pieces fit. To remove one piece and replace it with another is exceptionally dangerous.

We got away with it. Jaxon has always felt like a third son to us, realistically or not. A close friend to my sons, he has been in our life quite a bit. He plugged into the equation effortlessly and the day was magnificent.

This is not to say we didn't miss Karen. We did. A LOT. In fact, had she been there as well I think the roof would have blown off the house from the sheer power of family excellence. Would have been an interesting experiment.

I was hit more potently than usual with the fate of our military personnel. They always show groups of people overseas in hostile countries, gathered together and wearing football jerseys. Cheering and shouting. It hit me that these are the people for whom Thanksgiving means everything. They are the ones who make it possible for my family to get together without any fear. They are the ones who are furthest away from their families, both geographically and emotionally.

They smile for the camera but I'm sure their Thanksgiving celebration is painful and subdued. At least on the inside. I have spoken recently about how watered down our holidays have become. I have always felt that Veterans Day should be a day when everything stops, everything shuts down. It should not be celebrated in a half- assed way as it is now with corporations deciding if their employees get the day off or not. Putting that decision in the hands of greed mongers and employee condescenders highlights everything that's wrong with America.

One more sobering thought. CBS aired a piece on Jerome Harrison. He was a football player who last October got traded from the Lions to the Eagles and during the routine physical was diagnosed with a brain tumor. A tumor that would not have been discovered had he not been traded. I remember writing about him with amazement at how life can turn on a dime.

What I didn't know and found out yesterday was that the surgery to remove the tumor was more difficult than expected. and that the next day he suffered a blood clot in his brain and had a stroke. He was declared a quadriplegic, had paralyzed vocal cords, was trached and had a feeding tube.

Since then he has been working hard at rehabilitation and is able to walk, he can talk and be with his family. Doctors say he is an inspiration to other rehabbing patients because of his work ethic. I am sure that ethic is  a reflection of the work ethic he adhered to to become an NFL player.

I wrote about this guy a year ago and then completely forgot about him. Until yesterday.

You can't keep track of everyone and everything but you would think the things that fire up your emotions would stay with you.

We are moving too fast. We don't have the time or the focus or the energy.

In consideration of all that, I am over the top happy at being able to celebrate Thanksgiving the way we did yesterday. It was precious. It was inspiring. It was honest. It was pure. It was a day that gave me life and made me smile and allowed me to be human all the way through.

If your day was as good as that, I hope you have today off to allow that beauty to marinate your soul. To make it a little tougher so it is properly armed to fight the good fight.

Ciao, baby.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Christmas Rant

I don't know how I feel about Christmas this year.

Usually I focus on the lights, like an acid freak or mental patient. Love to shut down the lights in the house and dig the Christmas tree twinkle. Check out other peoples' outdoor lights as I drive by, when I am not straining to see through their picture window. Typically I am slightly depressed because our Christmas shopping budget is around $1.37. The commercial harassment leaves me feeling like Bob Cratchit. "That's all Bob Cratchit can afford."

Recently I started getting this weird hopeful Christmas thing going. Came out of no where and maybe is a by product of what I am doing to my brain and how hard I am trying to get a life. But I started getting warm Christmassy feelings. Nostalgic, inspired, gently hopeful.

Then all this black friday stuff exploded upon the scene. I despise the stores that open on Thanksgiving to accommodate mindless shoppers. The stores that force their employees to work on Thanksgiving. This is symptomatic of just how soul-less this country has become.

I had a conversation with a woman in The Booze Emporium yesterday about the fact that there really are no more holidays. Holidays are a blip, a secondary consideration. It won't be long before stores are open all day on Christmas day to accommodate "those last second shoppers." Code for idiot a**holes who don't care about anyone but themselves.

A Walmart exec, when asked how he thinks his employees feel about working on Thanksgiving said something like our employees are focused on the needs of our customers.

What a flaming a**hole.

I am sure there are plenty of people who want to work on Thanksgiving. Desperate people who need the cash. Unfortunately this also says something about this great country of ours, but I do understand the need. I also understand the attraction of shopping at odd hours; it's a kind of adventure. If a bar opened up locally that only allowed customers in between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. you better believe I would be drinking a civilized whiskey there at least once.

I also understand the need for big savings on black friday.

But ultimately it is wrong and I despise it. There are employees who are being forced to work against their will on Thanksgiving. To leave their families. On the Number One family day of the year. At a time when people are desperate for any speck of humanity, any chance to relax and smile and catch their breath and forget about things and be with the only people they can trust.

Desperate to feel human at a time when employers don't care whether you live or die.

I remember the days when stores were not open on Sundays and banks were not open on Saturdays and there were no goddamn ATM's. It was inconvenient but it forced you to PLAN AHEAD. I remember rushing around on Friday to make sure I cashed my paycheck.

This country has become lazy beyond belief and inconsiderate. And corporations feed right into it by providing more while giving their employees less.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and in my family we have elevated this day to an art form. It is supremely laid back and warm, slow moving and spiced with great conversation and laughter. Football. A top notch meal. There is not one woman in America who prepares a better Thanksgiving meal than my lovely and amazing wife. She works so hard on that day, spending 99% of her time in the kitchen before we sit down to eat. But she stays in the conversation and laughs with us because she loves what she is doing.

I hunger for tomorrow. I will enjoy it with all my might in an easy going yet intent way. I drink the day in. I look around during the day at my sons, who I worship, and their women who stun me with their amazingness. Karen will not be here tomorrow and we will miss her deeply. But she has family too and we understand that completely and wish her a magnificent day. I look at my brother who I love and respect beyond description. I look at my beautiful wife who should have kicked me out twenty years ago but keeps hanging around waiting for me to fulfill my potential and her dreams.

I also hunger for tomorrow because I have the day off. It wouldn't surprise me for that to not be the case next year. I work for one of those unscrupulous employers who doesn't give a damn about their employees. The Booze Emporium is only closed two days a year. Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'm sure they lust for the chance to take even those two days away from us.

Anyway, tomorrow will be beautiful and it will nourish my soul. It will be a gift, a shining example of what life is all about, something I can enjoy and then cherish the memory of.

As far as Christmas goes, I will wait and see what it does for me. I am changing at a rapid rate and something may come along to pull it all together.

To those who are forced to work against your will on Thanksgiving I say -  steal as much stuff as you can during the day. Fill your pockets with little treasures of defiance. It is your right. If any of your managers are nasty to you, sabotage them, ruin their day. You know what I am talking about. You know how to do it.

And to Santa - you better bring me a Mercedes. I know people. I have connections. You do not want to ignore my request.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Stones, Baby

I got some words about The Stones stewing and brewing. Been doing some research.

The wife turned me on to interviews conducted last week on NPR as part of the 50th anniversary. One per day - Keith, Charlie, Ronnie and Mick. Beautiful.

Tasty stuff. I listened to them all, got the feel, plugged into their individual vibes and hung on every word.

Watched Crossfire Hurricane last week on HBO, again, part of THE anniversary. Very cool.

Listened to the two brand new songs on the 50th anniversary album GRRR!

Dug them. I ain't no purist. I can listen to new Stones stuff and evolve right along with it. I hate the close minded of my generation who insist The Stones haven't done anything good since Exile On Main Street. You cannot be close minded about art. Art is alive. If you don't move with it you get left behind. I am not ready to get left behind.

So I have all these impressions in my head, all these images, all this music and I don't know what to do with it. I sat down last week and tried to write it all up and it came out f***ing boring. Terrible. I couldn't capture the emotion, the excitement, the myth and the beauty. So I held off.

This is a preliminary offering. Telling you, warning you, that I am all caught up in this 50th anniversary Stones thing. It is all up in my head, rolling around, percolating and expanding.

I might never write anything. How the hell do you capture The Stones in all their glory at this time, working in their history, anticipating the tour, wondering about the future.

They are giants.

As I wrote this I was listening to Sympathy For The Devil. Loudly. This is unusual for me. I need silence to write. But this seemed appropriate.

Time to cook supper. And, eventually, to cook up something about The World's Greatest Rock 'n Roll Band.

Ladies and gentlemen - I give you - The Rolling Stones.

Dig This

"The soul is impatient of masters and eager for change."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thirteen Degrees

It is thirteen degrees and I am freezing my ass off.
The heater in my truck sucks.  I have one of those portable heated seats, the kind you plug into the cigarette lighter and it works pretty well. The irony is that when it is this cold, my ass and back are toasty, my face and hands and legs are frosted. I always forget to bring gloves with me, so I alternate sticking my hands in the pockets of my jacket while driving one handed, or one fingered depending on what else I have to maneuver.

Like a cup of coffee or a donut or a nip.
Luxury cars pass me on the road and I am tempted to swerve into them. I hate them for their money and their warmth, the ease with which they negotiate the commute. Yakking on their goddamn cell phones like the world could not function without them. I imagine inventing a device, like a remote control, that would hone in on their precious smart phone and explode it in their ear when I press a button.

This makes me smile. But it doesn’t make me any warmer.
My wife says I have an attitude. I don’t think I have an attitude, just a finely tuned sense of justice. It’s not about jealousy or envy; it’s about restoring a balance to life. I work hard and expect to be rewarded.

I drove a compact car before this and loved it. It wasn’t anything fancy but I liked the looks of it and it was damn reliable. I was comfortable in it; it welcomed my body so that I only had to be half awake to drive it. I trusted it.
I bought it used from the greatest car salesman ever. He was a sporadically employed opera singer moonlighting disdainfully in sales. As we approached the car I said “I like the looks of that, it’s got a little style.” He said: “That depends on your definition of style.” I loved that he didn’t try to bullshit me. He was not impressed with the car or the job and he didn’t hide it.

Hopefully he is performing in Vienna as we speak.
I totaled the car one icy morn around two thirty a.m. coming home from a bartending shift.  Everyone should experience this once in their life. The car began fishtailing as I went down a hill five minutes from my house. I thought I saved it but eventually it went off the road, flipped and landed on the driver’s side door. I had to climb up and out of the passenger side window and walk home in the snow and ice.

Anyway that’s how I ended up with this fifteen year old truck which was the only vehicle I could afford with the insurance proceeds. I do love the truck. It makes me anonymous at the dump. I only hate it in the cold New England winter.

When I get to work there is a bold and beautiful Mercedes SL 550 Roadster sitting regally in the same spot every day. This is a $105,500 car.
I want to smash the windows with my frozen fingers. Dent the fenders with the heavy boots I wear to avoid frostbite in the truck. I want to leave a note under a windshield wiper saying “Give me money.”

My wife says I am wrong to hate this guy. She tells me he has earned his money and I should do the same.
I don’t see it that way. I think all that excess money he makes takes away from the money I should be getting. I work as hard as him. Probably harder. With a couple of breaks I could have been him but things didn’t go my way.

Not my fault.
I know who he is. I see him come and go. He doesn’t look so tough to me. In fact he looks kind of smug.

Sometimes I press my nose up against the window, carefully so as to not set off the alarm. I have a big nose. I imagine my ass on that buttery leather heated seat, my hands on the wheel as I confidently issue commands to raise the temperature to seventy two degrees, change the radio station and dial the phone so I can tell my wife I’m stopping for a couple of civilized whiskeys on the way home.
I really hate this guy.

I decided to confront him. Actually it was more of a reaction than a decision. It had been a crappy day, I was tired, and dreading the cold ride home. I limped across the parking lot and climbed into the truck at the same time that he climbed into his luxury. As my hand touched the frozen steering wheel he pulled out ahead of me and I tried to run up on him and drive him into a light post. Unfortunately I hit a patch of ice and swerved into one of those carriage carousels, you know where responsible people return their shopping carts after unloading them.
I smashed a head light and blew a tire. I was surprised to see him pull over and walk around to make sure I was all right. He said I could use his cell phone if I didn’t have one (apparently I have that look about me) and offered to let me sit in his warm car until the tow truck showed up.

I thanked him and declined.
I got home two and a half hours later and told my wife the story. After she calmed down she asked me what the guy was like.

I told her he was an asshole.

Fictional Thoughts In A Fictional Head

I'm just trying to figure it all out. I mean, how to be, how to act. How to survive.

It always comes down to anger. I think you have to be angry all the time to survive. Anger triggers the force field necessary to deflect the sharp words of others.

It is natural to want to trust. To open yourself up, to strip away the protective shield. It's called being human. You can get away with this for periods of time, if you are lucky, and then suddenly someone will make a comment dripping with criticism and accusation. Someone you allowed yourself to get comfortable with. At home, at work, on the bus, on the moon, in the park, at the movies, in a bar.

The truth is you cannot trust anyone. You must always be angry and on your guard, you must always assume that not one person on the planet gets you at all. And that when pushed they will not hesitate to inflict pain. Often enough, even when not pushed.

Anger is motivation. Anger is self defense. Because when you are angry you forget about being nice, you can't be conscious of other people's feelings if you are angry and this is important because when you are conscious of other people's feelings you leave your own exposed.

And BAM the hammer drops, the knife slices, the words hurt.

It takes an enormous amount of energy to remain angry all the time because it is not natural. That's the problem. Angry is what we have evolved into in response to this disappointing life we lead.

Maybe if life was a balanced equation there would be more humanity. But the cliche is that life is unfair and that is an absolute truth. It is unfair in consequence, there is no relation between effort and result. It is unfair in the need for empathy that gets murdered by the survival instinct in others.

You can never allow yourself to get comfortable. Not with your life, not with your job and especially not with other people. Comfort equals vulnerability.

We are born alone, we die alone, we live our lives alone. Alone is not lonely. There is a difference. Alone is life, it is what you are in your soul, that part of you that others will never know. And that part of others that you will never know. You cannot be more alone than that. To have something that no one will ever understand.

That is not a bad thing. It is what makes us all unique. But it is also what explodes the myth that you can trust other people, look to them for support or empathy. Ultimately, at that level, it is impossible for anyone to connect. That inability leads to separation. You are alone.

When you come down to what really matters, come down to that thing that will ensure your survival, you are ultimately alone. You have to make those moves, those decisions based on who is in your soul and screw what everyone else wants, expects, needs or believes.

For some maybe the anger is a result of having to concentrate on self defense all the time. Maybe after years of living in the fetal position, an anger boils up like poison and overwhelms the bloodstream. It becomes natural at some point.

Others have to learn to be angry, how to use it as a weapon, a means of survival. This becomes awkward and unnatural and inevitably you slip up and leave yourself open. And there is always somebody waiting for that opportunity. And the knife slips in.

Get yourself a bag of pecans and some bananas. Pecans and bananas are high energy food. Maintain that diet to maintain your anger.

And good luck with your life.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

Doctors want you to sleep 7 or 8 hours a night. They say it is vital for good health and an alert mind.
People who HAVE to work for a living never sleep well. Especially as they age. Everyone is exhausted always and relief is non-existent. Too much stress, too much worry, and never a break.
There is no such thing as tired because it has to be ignored to survive.
Get some sleep.
This does not qualify as advice. It is more a mockery of life's cruelty.

A Prophetic Onion

I was chopping up a beautiful white onion this morning to spice our omelets with and to throw in the crock pot later on.

It was a potent little fellow and tears were plentiful.

When finished, I went into the bathroom to rinse off my hands, and glanced in the mirror.

The tears on my face accentuated my age. I saw plainly the bags under my eyes, and the wrinkles.

Life is relentless when it comes to reminding us.

My Brain (Nice To Meet You)

As I continue to expand my brain, I continue to meet myself.

I promise a lot of things in here that I never follow up on. Intention is an evil word.

But I said that I was committed to feeding my brain and I have stuck to that. I have been studying and reading and focusing in an attempt to make up for lost time. And lost life. And to have more interesting things to write about than poor, pathetic me. And to inspire me to write better.

What makes the difference in this case is that I feel results. I use the word feel purposefully. I have awakened my brain and I feel physically different. I am challenging myself.

I feel particularly powerful on mornings after nights when I study and write a lot. I wake up with a feeling of accomplishment, as opposed to the typical toxic cocktail of dread and regret and worry.

I have no idea where this will lead, and make absolutely no promises, I invite no intentions. I do know that something is going on in my brain and in my body that my essence is comfortable with.

And that, my friends, is the key.

When you can vibrate mind and body in tune with the vibration of your soul, you are alive.

At work my brain SCREAMS "what am I doing here? Why am I wasting my life for cretins who will never reward me? Why am I undercutting my own potential?"

When Carol's hands violently fold over another unexpected bill that we cannot afford and another uncomfortable silence settles over the night, my brain SCREAMS "whose life is this? Why are you allowing yourself to live this way? My God, what have I done?"

But all of a sudden I have discovered an approach that silences the screams.

When you honestly poke around your own brain, you learn things about yourself. As I read complicated theories and thought processes and take the time to dig down through them, I surprise myself at what I can learn and understand. I am also surprised at the questions that arise in my head as a result.

It's called thinking.

As I take a look around, I see dark corners. Dark as in absence of light and dark as in mode of thought. These corners have always been there. Some I like, some are absolutely a part of me and I don't want to lose them. Those dark corners are what separate me from mindlessly optimistic people whose vapid smiles find their origin in an absence of facts.

There are also dark corners there that offend, corners that are draped in cobwebs and disease, corners that are warped and misinformed and unhealthy. Corners that are formed from life experiences improperly interpreted.

I want to clean those out.

The exciting thing is that I am discovering corners there that I did not know existed. This is what I mean about meeting myself.

I am 58 years old and just getting acquainted with parts of me that have lain dormant forever, just waiting for a spark. They may have been unnaturally shut down or maybe just passed over or ignored until the time was right for ignition.

I don't know, but I do know that I am getting dangerously close to making promises or formulating intentions.

So I will leave you alone with your Sunday. May it be peaceful and soul nourishing.

Shot Gun Thoughts

Where the hell have I been?

Christ, I hate it when I don't write. I really need to write every day to avoid fading out like Marty Mc Fly.
I got slammed with a cold on Friday, I was disgusting all the wonderful liquor store customers all day with sneezing and sniffing. Felt good to annoy them. So when I got home I put the whiskey and the beer right to the cold and took care of business.

No way I was going to write.

Last night I was tired from the cold and from work AND from food shopping. Holy Christ I made a note to myself to never shop again on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Market Basket is typically crowded because of their wonderfully democratic prices. But yesterday there had to be half a million people in the store. A couple of times I had to climb up on a shelf, once in the cereal aisle and once in the pasta aisle, just to be able to breathe. Gave me an interesting perspective on Thanksgiving ants doing Thanksgiving shopping.

So I didn't write last night either, but last night I was just being wimpy. I could have written a word or two. I allowed myself to snuggle down in the recliner and get lazed out by the cat, the TV, supper and a general lack of ambition.

As I fought my way through Market Basket I watched all the worker bees doing exactly what I do in The Booze Emporium, only to the power of ten. These people deal with more people in one day than I see in a month.

Young girl at the register I went through. Mindlessly scanning trillions of items, glazed look in her eyes, mumbling the same things repeatedly customer after customer. Stretching, yawning, rubbing her eyes when she could. When I shuffled up I noticed her holding one hand against her chest and that hand was trembling. Visibly, vigorously, shaking. A co -worker asked her if she was all right; she said she was hot.

I think there was a lot more to it than that.

So many people work dehumanizing, mind numbing jobs in this country. I despise this reality. It is not what life is meant to be.

NEW TOPIC: Driving The Peace Mobile down my road on the way to work yesterday when I had to hit the breaks forcefully to allow four turkeys to cross the road. They appeared to have a sense of urgency about them. I hope everything works out all right.

NEW TOPIC: Popped into Dunkin Donuts for a civilized coffee as I continued my journey to dead end job. A bunch of boys walked out in front of me. Brimming with testosterone. It was 7:15 a.m. and they were slapping each other, running, talking animatedly, just giving off an impenetrable cloud of energy.
I wondered what happens to testosterone. Does it mature and provide silent wisdom or does it just fade away.

NEW TOPIC: Taking A Walk by John Prine. I have talked about this song a few times before in these pages; I worship the song. A line hit me differently yesterday. In the chorus he says, quietly, "I'm just getting by." He says it matter of factly, wrapped in the peaceful vision of simply taking a walk. No bitterness, no anger. Got me wondering if there is a way for me to accept our current financial hardship in a way that does not involve poison. Maybe there is a way to just let it seep into your cells where your mind can quietly work out a solution.


"So I'm up here in the north woods
Just staring at a lake
Wondering just exactly how much
They think a man can take
I eat fish to pass the time away
'Neath this blue Canadian moon
This old world has made me crazy
Crazy as a loon
Lord, this world will make you crazy
Crazy as a loon"

Life observation, lyrics and music provided by John Prine in the song -  Crazy As A Loon.

Friday, November 16, 2012


I am about to head out to work and I have absolutely no idea why.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Jersey Devil

Mother Leeds got pregnant for the 13th time in 1735. Her husband was a drunkard who was useless in taking care of her and the other twelve so this time around she raised her hands to the heavens and said "Let this one be a devil."

A few months later, minutes after birth, the baby began to change and metamorphosed into the most hideous creature the world had ever seen. It grew at an incredible rate, sprouted horns, talon-like claws, leathery bat-like wings, and hair and feathers sprouted all over its body.

It savagely attacked and killed its mother and tore the midwives limb from limb, maiming some and killing others. It then crashed through the door to the next room and attacked its father and siblings, killing as many as it could. It then sprinted to the chimney and flew up it, destroying it and leaving a pile of rubble in its wake. It escaped into the darkness and desolation of the Pine Barrens, where it has lived ever since.

That's a heartwarming story if I ever heard one. The Jersey Devil. It is New Jerseys oldest, most enduring piece of folklore. NJ's hockey team was named after him. How cool is that.

I don't know why we humans need these stories but I'm glad we have them. I could get all philosophical and assume that we have to put a face and a name to the horror of everyday life. Or maybe create a horror that is worse than every day life. Whatever it is I dig it.

Sightings of this loving offspring continue to this very day. There is an organization devoted to documenting sightings, the website is described as The Official Researchers of The Jersey Devil.

This I can dig. Sasquatch I cannot. Sasquatch looks like a lot of guys I have worked with. The Jersey Devil is one scary looking dude.

We need our monsters, we need our dark, we need fear to feed on. I am currently all wrapped up in American Horror Story. I believe this is the second season. The first season was bizarre but became more unbelievable as it went along.

This year it is set in an insane asylum in the early sixties and I am gobbling it right up. Because it is believable, given the truthful horror stories I have read about how the insane were treated in those days. It has the loonies, which is fantastic. Strange, twisted, broken down humans who are poisoned on the inside and fearful looking on the outside. Even more frightening are the nuts who look normal on the outside but are sickly twisted on the inside.

Like a lot of people you work with.

There are straight jackets, and beds with restraints and electroshock therapy and needles with nameless medications in them. Darkness, tight hallways, mean spirited orderlies.


Still I am OK with The Jersey Devil even though it is bizarre and hard to swallow because it is so frightening.

The Exorcist. When I got home from seeing that movie in a theater I lay awake in bed for a long time that night. Fabulous movie. It had the atmosphere, the dark feel of horror, the mind fright necessary to tremble your soul.

We all have our own definition of horror, specific things that turn our stomachs. Some people don't want to indulge at all, don't like horror movies. I don't understand them and condemn them to hell.

The prospect of being buried alive whisks up all the bile in my system. Which might explain my current state of unease. A mountain of debt and no sunshine. No bridge of paychecks to walk across towards the light.

I find the prospect of going to work tomorrow equally as frightening.

I am sitting here as dusk turns to night, the lamp on the desk is turned on and I start to see my reflection in the window. I like this time of night. I like even better the dark.

I wish some monster would suddenly crash its face against my window and scare the defiance out of me. Just so I could confirm that there really is pure evil out there. Pure, unadulterated evil. I want to know that monsters exist, real monsters that rip rib cages open and feast on hearts.

But that's just me. Maybe you prefer The Sound Of Music.

Max Raabe

The wife and I were digging on David Letterman last night. Julianna Margulies was on the show looking quite fetching and talking about her husband's love of Max Raabe.

I never heard of the guy so I YouTubed him. Christ I love living in the 21st century. Trouble is I wish I could live in the 23rd century too but, sadly, this is the last century I shall see. Unless...............

But I digress.

Max Raabe is a fifty year old German singer whose roots go back to German dance and film music of the 1920's and 1930's. He is the founder and leader of the Palast Orchester, the guys who play behind him, very formally dressed in tuxes and standing behind those cool music stands or boxes or podiums that harken back to big band days.

These guys cover vintage music, Rabe also writes original songs and music AND they cover pop songs. Like Oops I Did It Again, and We Will Rock You. I'm not kidding. All done with that old German beer house feel.

What got my interest was that as Dave was grilling Julianna about the music, trying to figure out who this guy was, he asked her about Kurt Weill. She had no clue but I did. Because of The Doors.

The Doors first album includes a song called Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar). It's a cover of a German opera song written in 1929 by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht. I love this song. I figured if this was a hint about the kind of music Raabe performs, then I would love it.

I was right.

By the way, Letterman is a very learned guy. Pay attention over time to the off hand comments he tosses off, like Kurt Weill, and you will understand just how much he knows. And if you don't like David Letterman, don't ever talk to me again.

Max Raabe has a sense of humor.
I listened to one song that had a title entirely in German. It kept transposing a picture of a beautiful babe with that of a dog. I tried to translate the title on line and got several bastardized versions but they were all consistent about one thing. Every translation included the words my dog and my girlfriend's leg.

The covers of Britney and Queen are humorous in a wink wink way, great stuff. There are American classics covered as well as the old German stuff and originals too.

Check him out. Try on something new today. Have a stein of beer close at hand to add to the ambiance.

A Luke Warm Welcome

I was watching Morning Joe this morning and a footline scrolled across the bottom of the screen saying "Elizabeth Banks welcomes new baby" or something like that.

I don't even know who Elizabeth Banks is but it's the "welcomes" part that got to me. Sounds so goddamn antiseptic. Like she shook the kids hand.

You don't welcome newborns. You marvel at them, you rejoice in their existence, you celebrate them in wine, whiskey, and song, you dance around your house and sing at the top of your lungs, you call everybody you know and cry and laugh about it, you taunt your barren female friends.

Save "welcome" for your mother-in-law.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Signs Of Optimism

There is evidence of optimism all around us. A woman just left a message on our answering machine cancelling an Avon order with my wife. She said:

"I have to cancel my order because my doctor told me I can't be around any chemicals. Hopefully in the future when I get finished with radiation therapy I can try again."

This sounds to me like someone who has plans. Who is not giving up. Even in the midst of dire circumstances.

The human spirit, baby. It is intangible. And beautiful.

What You Hate In Others

There is a school of thought that says the things you hate the most in other people are traits that you yourself have.

I always thought that this was bullshit. Didn't make sense to me. But in my new enlightened state, my insatiable quest for knowledge and learning, I am re-thinking my position.

Side note: In addition to reading the House Committee Report on the New Hampshire State Liquor Commission this morning, I did extensive reading on Ralph Waldo Emerson which led me to read up on American transcendentalism. I ain't kidding about beefing up my brain, baby.

Anyway, I am an opinionated guy fueled by anger and bitterness and frustration. I hate a lot of things in a lot of people.

I got to thinking - am I really that perfect?

If there is something deeper to understanding my problems with certain types of people, something more than just my amazing perceptive abilities, than maybe I am doing them and myself a disservice. My life is screwed up enough without adding insignificant layers of bullshit to the mix.

I am not saying I want to love everyone. There are one hell of a lot of people out there who deserve to be hated. This is another problem I am having right now. I am pursuing enlightenment which would suggest a gentle evaluation of all humans. But I am also trying to get tougher so I can move on to success, and that part of me is perfectly OK with shredding other people in my mind.

Not sure where that philosophic mind battle is going to lead.

In addition I believe part of my problem is that I resent other people who have the traits I wish I had. This makes no sense. If someone else has something I want, you would think I could learn from them. Instead they just piss me off. I think this is another aspect of the "the things you hate in others" dynamic.

But the core of it is harder to deal with. The assumption that what I hate in others is what I hate in myself. That requires self reflection. Self knowledge. Honest and deep self knowledge.

The situation gets complicated because if the person you hate is someone you have to deal with, they probably pick up on your feelings which prompts them to hate you. Research shows that the more people like you, the easier and more productive your life will be. So if you are unnecessarily aggravating someone else you are really sabotaging your own life. Which really gets my attention because my life is 1% of what it could be and I am running out of time. Considering the fact that my brain is hard wired for insanity and illogical thinking, one could assume that I have created a lot of my own obstacles.

Or to put it another way, as my lovely wife has told me 16,375,978 times in the last 34 years - I am my own worst enemy.

The intelligent way to go about this is to think about exactly what it is about that other person that drives you crazy. And then see if you can identify those same things in yourself. This changes the whole dynamic of the situation because you can learn about yourself by paying attention to how you react to others.

And the more you know about yourself the stronger you are.

I'm not sure I can pull this off. It's a lot easier to be critical of others than to be honest with yourself. I have a 42 page list of people who piss me off. This complicates things as well.

I'll give it a shot, though. I got nothing to lose and 99% to gain.

In The Interests Of Fairness

I just read the House Committee Report on the New Hampshire Liquor Commission. All 36 pages of it. I must be insane.

Turns out part timers pay was brought up in the investigation.
Committee members were provided a copy of a memo that the Human Resources manger wrote to all commission employees (I have read it) which said the commission was not going to follow the requirements of the collective bargaining agreement for paying part time employees on Sundays and holidays because they are considered temporary employees.

Don't these idiots know who won the election? Is this even legal?

The issue was not resolved. New Hampshire State Liquor Commissioners were asked to report back to the committee on this issue before the end of October.

As I read through this mountain of words it struck me how defiant the liquor commission is, refusing repeatedly to supply information and answer questions. They should be incarcerated.

During the internal investigation into the $100,000 of missing wine, the chief investigator noted a "disturbing common thread" relative to liquor store operations:
Poor store management, lack of senior level accountability, inadequate supervision, and retention of questionable employees.

I can personally testify to the truth of all four of these issues.

OK. I am done with this crap for today. This reminds me of the end of Lenny Bruce's career when he would read court transcripts as his act. They were harassing him so badly, repeatedly arresting him and shutting down his shows, that he would read the transcripts to highlight the hypocrisy and injustice. He tried to make it funny but it ended up being sad.

I don't want my revulsion of the NHSLC to end up as 3,563 entries in my blog.

I need to write some poetry.

Ciao, baby.

And The Rich Get Richer

In August a legislative committee was created to look into allegations against The New Hampshire State Liquor Commission including illegal lobbying, illegal oppression of state officials, warehousing product of local manufacturers, bootlegging, hiding documentation from lawmakers, misallocation of $100,000 in wine, and improper bid documents for a liquor warehouse contract.
Bootlegging? You gotta love it.

The one topic that was glaringly missing from this list was the horrific way the liquor commission treats it's employees. Especially part time employees.
Their approach borders on the illegal and is definitely immoral.

The committee completed the investigation and the findings and recommendations are luke warm milk.

In 2009 lawmakers gave the liquor commission autonomy over it's finances, intending to give the commission greater flexibility to react to the marketplace and maximize profits.
What they did instead was unleash personal executive greed and allow for the creation of a repressive organization that succumbed to the worst instincts in human nature.
The committee now recommends those changes be reversed.
What a surprise.

The committee recommends one commissioner to head the liquor operation instead of three, it recommends stronger laws regarding lobbying, it recommends elimination of the special liquor enterprises fund which will redirect the money to the state's general fund thereby reinstating legislative oversight over the liquor commission's budget (which is just goddamn common sense), the investigation into the $100,000 of missing wine is still under way blah blah blah.

I think the liquor commission got off light and will continue abuses as this process drags on.

I understand that the way employees are treated was not part of the investigation because it focused on financial, executive and administrative improprieties.

I also think the subject was not addressed because exploitation of employees is the current business model in this country.

The liquor commission recently robbed part time employees of the right to be paid time and a half in any circumstance. In other words, if a part timer works a Sunday or a holiday it will be for straight pay. Full timers get time and a half.
The liquor commission is now moving to find a way to make it mandatory for part timers to work on Sundays and holidays. Again, for straight pay. Currently Sunday and holiday hours are voluntary for part timers.

I have heard story after story concerning questionable practices of the commission regarding employees, and I myself have been victimized by their sketchy and unfair approach.

These injustices should be investigated along with financial impropriety. The union that "represents" employees is weak; employees are on their own.
Which, in this economy, and given the cold hearted nature of the liquor commission, means employees are defenseless.

I cannot believe this situation exists in this country in the year 2012.

If you are a fan of  Charles Dickens you will understand the conditions under which liquor commission employees work.

I am apoplectic. Got nuthin' left to say.

Dig This

"If Americans were less regressive and less repressive about sexuality, there would be a lot less scandal and a lot more achievement."


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dig This

"The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can't be any large scale revolution, until there's a personal revolution,  on an individual level. It's got to happen inside first."

Jim Morrison

And Dig This

"Beauty may be skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone."

Redd Foxx

Before Dawn

Before dawn you lie awake as your life sits on your chest making it hard to breathe.
There will be no more sleep but you lie there waiting for the alarm.
Postponing the inevitable.
It is dark; you want your mind to flash brilliant, come up with solutions, give you hope, set a course.
Make a change.
Tangled thoughts, worry, fear, disappointment, sheer fatigue, compromise the efficiency of your thought process.
You waste this time in the dark as you will waste the rest of the day.
The irony is in the clarity with which you see yourself before dawn, in the dark, when there is nothing else to see.

Whaddya Think?

The blank, hopeless, bitter look on the face of homeless people is the same look the rest of us wear on the inside.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Get Out Of Town

Everybody wants to get out of town. Everybody wants to leave where they are, forget who they are or more accurately forget who they have become.
Such a romantic notion. Starting all over again in a new place. A thousand miles a way. New climate. New faces. New opportunities.
When you get there you want to leave. Because it is all the same.
There are mirrors everywhere you go. You cannot leave your soul but it can and will leave you.
Make it whole before it does. Let your soul become one with your life.
Then, and only then, will you be home.

I'm Not Like Everybody Else

I'm sitting in my truck eating my lonely sandwich today, and thinking.

It was a bonus day. November 12 and I am sitting in my truck in shirtsleeves with two windows open. There is an excellent chance today was the last time that will happen for six months.

So I dug it. After devouring my lonely sandwich, I closed my eyes for a couple of minutes and pretended that it was still summer. But it wasn't authentic because there was little in the way of bird serenade. A couple of chirps here and there from misguided or underachieving birds, but there was no happy symphony of song like there is in August.

There was a girl sitting in her truck diagonally to the left in front of me, eating her lunch. There was a kid sitting in a car behind me eating in his car. Still wearing his Market Basket hat. At least I take my goddamn name tag off when I leave the store, although I am still marked by the cutesy purple shirt. In the heat of summer I do take the purple insult off and sit in the truck in a t-shirt. That feels right.

There is something so wrong with America. Something so wrong with life.

People all over America who sit in their cars and eat lunch with vacant stares on their faces. None of us had music playing. Apparently it was such a relief to be outside the work place that that was enough. Or maybe listening to music offers false happiness or a contrast so stark to the soul sucking job that it is just inappropriate or unbearable.

I see people in their cars. I see people sitting on the curb with their back against the building. I see people alone a lot. Sometimes just smoking a cigarette and texting. The ultimate expression of human hopelessness. Openly inviting cancer while engaging in a petty waste of time.

I do not understand how we came to this place.

If there is a God, I don't think he anticipated the day that his most amazing (?) creation would look forward to eating lunch alone in a soul-less parking lot just to get some peace. A bitter peace tarnished by the fact that lunch has to end. Maybe he didn't think it through.

If there is a God I'd like to believe that it breaks his heart to know that millions of people do this all the time and that they shuffle from work to the car and back to work like automatons just looking for a little validation. A little hope.

If evolution is your thing I can't accept this behavior as proof of evolution. Devolution makes more sense.

We started out somewhere, there was humanity somewhere at some point. But it got taken away.  Or we lost it or pissed it away.

I watched a movie called God Bless America this past Saturday night. Written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait. The plot is about a guy who gets fed up with the stupidity in America and goes on a killing spree. The movie is not spectacular and really is a vehicle for Bobcat to express his disgust with the cruelness and pettiness in this country. I dug it but you probably wouldn't.

On the soundtrack is a song by The Kinks called I'm Not Like Everybody Else. When they sing the chorus the music gets heavy, ominous, intimidating and challenging. Perfect. It grabbed me by the cojones because I am not like everybody else. Even though I have spent fifty eight years doing exactly what everybody else does, I know I am not like everybody else. I know that I will break free someday.


It occurred to me today that if I played that song loud in the parking lot, my two lunchtime companions would have come alive with rebellion and rocked their way to a finger flipping salute to the life they are currently living. I would have joined them.

But for now we are like everybody else. That is what is sad. That is what is wrong with America.

Maybe there is only so much room for individuality. Maybe only the rich can afford the rent.

But there is no denying the soul deep longing to express human uniqueness and to fight back and lash out against the forces that box us in.

Even as we eat our cold cut sandwiches in the close confines of the cars we are struggling to make payments on.

I am fighting with everything I got to avoid eating lunch in my truck for even one day in 2013.


"I'm not like everybody else
I'm not like everybody else
And I don't want to ball about like everybody else
And I don't want to live my life like everybody else
And I won't say that I feel fine like everybody else
"Cause I'm not like everybody else
I'm not like everybody else"

A New Day Dawns

A new day dawns.
Monday morning. November 12, 2012. 6:34 a.m.
Got my cute purple shirt on and my name tag in my pocket. My grade school lunch packed and ready. I wonder why I feel like a six year old.
This is probably not what Tony and Revia envisioned for their first born son.
Not excited. Today will bore me. Offer me nothing. Take from me everything.

I will live in my mind. I will live in my hope.
That is what has grown stronger as my body and my opportunities grow weaker.
That is the spark, the tiny flame giving off almost imperceptible heat.

It is November. A good month, even with the cold.
Thanksgiving is the supreme holiday in my opinion and one my family does well. No presents, no chaos, no obligations other than to get together and eat and talk and laugh and watch football and celebrate the love this family has become.
My wife's birthday in November. Special, beautiful lady.
The only present I can afford to give her is the hope that next year I can give her something nice.
The same present I have given her for thirty four years running.

It's Monday morning and here I go again. Here you go again. Here we all go again.
I will bluff my way through the day along with my bluffing co-workers and come home to hope. See what I can do tonight to alter fate. To nudge it, re-direct it, change my future.
Make my future.
A new day dawns and possibilities await.
Not even a cute purple shirt and a name tag and a school boy lunch can kill that vibe.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dig This

"As we grow old, the beauty steals inward."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Very Strange Job

When you are a clerk in a liquor store, you have your regulars. People who come in all the time and who choose the clerk that clicks with them. They seek you out.
Because people need booze and people need empathy. Or a laugh. Or an ear to lean on. Connection.
A woman came through my register yesterday, a regular, I asked her how she's doing, she said not so good, my one month old niece died yesterday and I am on my way to see my sister.
Hint of tears in her eyes, hint of tears in mine.
She walked out and someone immediately came through my register.
I turned, smiled and said "How you doing?"
But my heart was not in it.

The Danger Of Books

A book is a dangerous gift.
When you give a book to a reader you take a chance.
Readers have their thing. Their author, their subject, or they have things they won't read about, that don't interest them.
I am widely read but I require good writing. I read all over the spectrum but it better be f***ing good. Well written.
If somebody gives you a book and you dig it, that is quite a gift.
It opens up a whole new world. Especially if it is an author you haven't read.
All of a sudden you have this person who captivates you, who took you away for a few days to a place you dug. Somebody you didn't even know existed. That always blows me away.
You want to know more about the author and you want to read more of his or her books. It gives you a new place to go, a new world to explore or new worlds to explore.
I despair of ever reading everything I want to read. I have to piss my valuable time away working a dead end job. A job that drains me with it's meaninglessness. Sucks my energy and enthusiasm, kills my spirit.
Just like your job does to you.
It severely limits my life, it drastically reduces my ability to spend time doing what I love, and it gives me nothing back. Not enough money, no hope of advancement, no reward, no satisfaction.
What a f***ing crime.
At this point in time, reading is the only thing I have.
I am running out of luck, if I ever even had any, and I am banging my head against the wall for a ridiculously insulting paycheck that any enterprising teenager could out earn.
My son Keith recently lent me a book that I started nibbling at. Now I am gobbling it up.
Thank God. It is taking me away for the brief moments I have to enjoy it.
A book is a dream, it is eternity, it is a reality to escape reality, to give the soul a chance to feel something, to breathe a little.
Share books carefully and share them well.
You might save a life.

Hard Work And Luck

When hard work is getting you no where, and you have no good luck whatsoever, when you can't count on work or luck, you might as well f***ing give up.

Friday, November 9, 2012

I Got Your TV Right Here

I have a strange relationship with TV.

People who pretentiously tell me they don't own a TV piss me off. They puff out their chests and take that condescending pseudo intellectual approach that suggests they are above such mindless pursuits. These are probably the same people who have a screen burn on their face from spending countless hours in front of the computer drooling over porn and voting in every top ten list the internet has to offer.

Don't get me wrong. I get the message. TV is a drug for a huge number of people. People who limp home from work, grab a pork chop and a bottle of whiskey and spend the next six hours staring at the eerie light. There is a lot of stupidity on TV and a lot of people who lap it up.

Not having TV is too drastic. You can find intelligent things on the tube, things that challenge and inform you, if you put in the effort. Morgan Freeman currently hosts a show on the science channel called Through The Wormhole. We are talking heavy duty stuff. Some of the episodes are titled: Did We Invent God? Will Eternity End? Mysteries of The Subconscious. Can We Eliminate Evil? What Is Nothing?

You can see where I am going. I had to clench my brain to get through these shows, really anchor it down, so I could focus and allow different thinking to seep in. Honestly there were plenty of times when my mind was so abused that it drifted and I had to rewind to get back in the flow.

But it was worth it.

I have only watched a few of these shows and now as I am writing about it I am re-committed to getting back to it. Apparently I was distracted by Kim Kardashian's on line diary.

Even if the only things that light up your TV screen are sports and movies, you are still ahead of the game. At least these are diversions, they allow escape from brutal existence, they don't make you stupid.

Still, I do waste a lot of time with TV. I do watch stupid things, I get sucked in when I am bone tired and life weary. Sprawled in My Magnificent Recliner with the pork chop and the whiskey, pissing away the very limited time I have left on this planet to drive Carol crazy.

In our defense I will say that we watch a lot of MSNBC. Many weeknights it will be on from five to eleven. That's good for the brain and I am proud of that.

Also Bill Maher on Friday nights. We are devotees. Excellent brain food and hearty laughter. I feel like a kindergarten child who has flunked out when I listen to him.

My impressions of TV also come from a different angle.

When I drive home at night in the dark I like to look into other peoples' houses.

Before you recoil in horror, no I am not  voyeur. Although I certainly would not look away from a wild display of lust and experimentation in somebody's picture window. Of course the problem is that I am driving by and would only have a one second view. But the memory could entertain me for weeks.

But I digress.

I look into other peoples' houses because I am fascinated with the idea that every house has lives unwinding in it and those people have relatives and friends and it all stretches out into eternity and I don't know one of those people. Yet they are living and struggling and working and budgeting and fighting and making up and laughing and crying just like I am.

If I see somebody at a window washing dishes, I am struck by the sameness of the task. And I wonder who they are and what they are thinking, I wonder if they are happy and financially comfortable or if they are broken and afraid.

The one constant in almost every house is an over sized TV. The goddamn thing illuminates the room. No other light is needed in the house, the TV is the sole source, like the sun. It takes away from the life-ness of my thoughts. This monster sits on the wall and all worship before it. It dominates the room and draws my eye to it as well as the eyes of the inhabitants. I envision a day when the TV will extend outside the house and neighbors will bring lawn chairs over to watch whatever entertainment is being shown on  the screen within a screen portion of that part of the TV.

It feels to me like these giants take away from the rustic, life being lived feel that inspires me.

Here's the irony.

I am desperately seeking money. Fighting to rearrange my life into success so I can afford things.

And when I get there I am going to buy the biggest goddamn TV my eyes and my house can handle so I can bask in the glow of THE PATS and The Godfather. And if my house cannot accommodate the size my ego requires, I will add on an addition.

So that someday some sensitive dude can drive by my house and shake his head in disgust at my shallowness.