Friday, June 28, 2013

Dig This

"This is a snakeskin jacket. And for me it's a symbol of my individuality, and my belief in personal freedom."

Nicholas Cage as Sailor in "Wild At Heart"

"The way your head works is God's own private mystery."

Sailor to Lula

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Road Twice Travelled

I began an odyssey in 2006. The screw accounting I'm gonna be a bartender odyssey.

It has been bumpy and cost me much in pain and dollars.

One stop was a tavern/lodging establishment where I tended bar.

I liked that job. Wore a white shirt, black vest, tie, dress pants. Upscale clientele. I tended bar, waited tables. The conversation was intelligent, the tips were good.

The chef was magnificent. This guy could cook. People would ask to meet him after dining on the food that he cooked.

It was my good fortune as bartender to dine on his exquisiteness for free. I'm talkin' Delmonico steak, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans almondine. I could not believe the meals I got there.

We became friends.

He had dynamite weed.

After close, we'd go up on the balcony or out in the parking lot and smoke. Have a couple of beers. A little civilized whiskey.

The drive home freaked me out on this road between Antrim and Hillsboro. A long, winding, nothing kind of stretch of road.

I would be so stoned, I would lose track of where I was.

I would grip the steering wheel tightly and assume that I was on the road heading in that direction for a reason. And that sooner or later I would see something familiar that would tell me where I was.

Which, of course, eventually happened.

This happened frequently.

I enjoyed it.

I now commute on the same stretch of road.

It is different this time.

When I grip the steering wheel tightly, it is out of intense anger. I am not stoned, but I have been known to toss an empty nip bottle or two out the window.

I focus on the beauty and the graveyard, trying to trick my mind into peace.

But it ain't the same.

Funny how the same stretch of road can mean two completely different things in your life at different times.

Still, it is a nice stretch of road.

I just don't know if it is leading somewhere or if I am just wearing out the same old goddamn route.

The Dead Got It made

Generally, the dead got it made.

The overwhelming majority of dead people worked all their lives at jobs they hated for checks that insulted them for the opportunity to go out for pizza once every six months.

If they were lucky.

They drove used cars that broke down all the time and cost them a fortune to repair. They ate discount food off paper plates with plastic forks, paid the Mortgage Vampire or a soul-less landlord for the privilege of having a roof over their heads.

A roof they sold their souls to keep up.

And that is in this great land of ours, America.

Billions of people around the rest of the world live on less than two dollars a day, and consider themselves lucky to perch on a toilet seat that does not burn the skin off their ass.

James Gandolfini does not got it made. He had the world by the balls. He had made a success out of himself and was living large. He won't like being beneath the dirt.

I focus on graveyards on my commutes. Always have. I'm fascinated by these people. Fascinated by the fact that they know what I HUNGER to know. Fascinated to know they are done with the bullshit.

Fortunately I live in NH, so the graveyards I pass are ancient. Stones leaning into each other like the teeth of the insolvent who stagger in to buy booze every day in The Asylum.

I pass two old graveyards every day on my way to work.

These old graveyards ooze history, which is cool when considering death. Fresh death carries less weight.

These people sit up when I drive by. They point at me, I hear the laughter. Knowing what they know, having that awareness that the road I am travelling has been travelled 60 trillion times before and will lead me nowhere but to an untimely death ending a futile life, they are amused that I did not learn from their mistakes.

It unnerves me. I ask for their input but they never offer it. They are smug.

I used to get stoned and walk around graveyards, talk to the dead. Ask them questions. Read the brief summation of their life on the headstones and wonder.

It gave me peace.

I should get back to that. I miss it.

They rest. They have a servant who cuts the grass above them. People bring them flowers and conjure fond memories. They are talked to lovingly (if they are lucky). They don't have to go to work. They don't pay a mortgage. They don't get screwed by billion dollar banks.

They dig the summer warmth. They laugh at the winter cold because they are cold and dead.

No TV, but they have me and thousands of people like me, driving by providing amusement. Hurrying to work. Hurrying home, rushing to satisfy obligations in the desperate hope for 13 minutes of peace before crawling into bed to fall into temporary death before staggering up in the morning to do it all again.

The dead know. They got it made.

Except for the precious few, like James Gandolfini. Lennon, Harrison, Garcia, Morrison, Joplin.............................................................    These are the people whose fingers claw up through the dirt trying desperately for one last hold on life.

Graveyards give me a sense of peace. There is frustration too, kind of like a library that is permanently locked. All that knowledge there for the taking but no way to get to it.

These graveyards - one in Antrim - one in Peterborough - are the highlight of my commute. The focus.

I salute them every day - wagging the hand with index finger, thumb and pinky raised.

They return the salute as they laugh.

A frustrating exchange.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Straws are for kids.

Adults look stupid drinking anything through a straw.

Frappes, sodas, juices. Suck it through a straw and you look like an idiot child in an adult's body.

Even worse are those who consume cocktails through straws.

Those itty bitty cocktail straws they throw in your glass. Usually red.

People sucking alcohol through cocktail straws look like demented children with substance abuse issues.

Especially if they get to the bottom of the glass and make that desperate sucking noise. The noise of the committed drinker.

A very weird scenario for a bartender to look upon rows of faces sucking alcohol through straws.

Like being in a funhouse. Or being in an M.C. Escher painting.

A Casual Glance

Really going through the meat grinder here. Amazing how uncomfortable other people can make your life. Amazing how they steal your time.

A casual glance over at a Rolling Stone magazine this morning, as I sipped coffee, short breaking from sweet reading relief.

Saw my name on the label.

Hit me how weird that is. Just a name on an address label. But that name is my name, it identifies who I am. That name and my life are inextricably interwoven 'till death do us part. Even in death it will still be used to reference the guy who once was.

There is and always will be all sorts of confusion as to the meaning of that name. Everybody has a different impression. People who know me intimately, people who know me casually.

Even me. Myself. The name has different meanings.

So the name is essentially meaningless.

I am not the man I thought I would become. Deeper than that, I don't like the man that I am.

I'm a million different people from one day to the next.

The only time I am me is when I am alone. And even then there is confusion. The mind recoiling at this life, at this person, debating who I really am, who I should become and how to get there. Wondering how it is that I cannot become who I am. Thinking how strange that is.

"I know Jesus and I know the devil, they're both inside of me, all the time." John Mellencamp - "Right Behind Me" from "No Better Than This."

As soon as one other person is in front of me, I become another Joe. Very bizarre. I react in certain ways, brain waves travel different routes.

Introduce a few people into the circle and I change even more.

Words come out of my mouth derived from a source that doesn't exist. An alter ego that is not me, talking out of my mouth.

How bizarre. How bizarre.

That's the casual stuff.

Throw me into the work environment, especially the one I am in now, and I experience myself as if I am sitting front row center at a play.

So far outside of myself, feeling emotions I can't control and don't want, spewing words I don't mean, talking as if I care about things I don't give one good goddamn about.

It amazes me that I don't twist up my face in horror, shock and surprise at some of the things I say and do. They are so foreign to my true nature.

Assuming I know what my true nature is.

Lately I have taken to yelling full force in my truck on the way to or from work. Without thought. Thinking about what I should do and suddenly the words "Do it!" explode from my mouth in purple anger.

Just read an interview with Johnny Depp. Talking about Marlon Brando he said - "Marlon got to a point in his life where he just said "I don't care." And that must be some species of nirvana. It has to be. It's freedom."

That just might be the best approach to life. Forget the therapy, the analysis, the introspection. Skip right over all that work and effort and commitment.

Go directly to I don't care.

Thinking I might rip all the labels off all my magazines before I head in to The Asylum today.

That guy doesn't exist anyway.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Inevitable

When a child-adult looks into the eyes of a failing parent, a dying parent, an aging parent, there is sorrow, both for the inevitable death of the parent and the concrete confirmation of what is to come for the child-adult.


Just finished 6 consecutive days at Lompoc.

Got today off.

Tomorrow I start a stretch of 8 consecutive days at Lompoc.

This is not a recipe for inner peace.

Such A Painful Phone Call

Had to call my son last night to tell him we could not get together today, because my goddamn truck screwed me again.

I love this truck. I really do. It came randomly into my life, I am not a truck guy, but it has served me well. 1997 Dodge Dakota pick-up with an 8 foot long bed. An 8 foot long bed.

Think about that. The standard bed is 6 feet. Mine is 8 feet and I don't even use it. I am not a truck guy. I don't haul lumber, I don't carry tools, in fact my tools have rusted. I don't pick up this, I don't transport that.

I just drive a truck.

But I dig it. I think mayhaps I believe it machos up my image. Who the hell knows. I have been living in NH too long.

Anyway, a month or so ago the truck started stalling on me. Start it up, foot off the gas, stall. I drove around with one foot on the gas, one on the brake. Eventually it wouldn't start at all. Had it towed to the best car guy in the world, he massaged it back to health.

Around 6 months ago my son suggested it would be cool if we spent some time together. Me and him. One on one.

He is a bartender, I am a retail employee, our schedules are weird. Figured we could make this happen.

Time slipped away, we talked about it from time to time, it didn't happen.

When he brought it up, I was thrilled. I don't use the word thrilled often but the reaction was genuine.

I worship my sons. I don't see enough of them, not even close, because I don't make the effort. One lives 25 minutes away, the other 45.

I am so wrapped up in my own personal pain, real or imagined, that I go to work, I limp home, I nurse and kill the pain.

I don't make the effort.

Finally, we had concrete plans to get together today.

Friday night, when I started my truck at work, it stalled. And stalled. One foot on the gas, one on the brake, to make it home.

Sunday I drove The Peace Mobile to work (enabling me to dig on Van Morrison, see below). Carol had to go out and do errands; the truck would not start.

I had to call my son last night to tell him I could not make it because I had to deal with the truck today.

It        broke            my                  heart.

Because as the words came out of mouth it sounded like I was making excuses. Like I was lying. 

Even though the words were the truth and the situation royally sucked. The timing. I cannot believe the timing.

I hunger to make a deeper connection with my sons, to see more of them, much more of them. To do simple, fun stuff with them.

John Mellencamp has a song from "No Better Than This" called "Easter Eve."

Here are some of the lyrics:

"Well me and my son of only fourteen, a finer young gentleman you've never seen, we went out walking on Easter Eve, just to pass some time together. Well he asked me some questions of things that I'd done, but I kept it good natured, we were just having fun."

That is what I am looking for. To just pass some time together. To just have some fun.

Somehow our relationship seems to have degenerated to Carol and I as parents summoning our sons to the house to congregate in the mandatory celebrations. This is the relationship I had with my parents and I resented it. The assumption of obligation.

So my heart is broken today. Genuinely broken. I should be laughing with my son in total honesty and trust. Instead I am wondering if we can afford a newer vehicle, worrying about work, worrying about money owed, wasting away the one day I have off, before serving 8 consecutive at Lompoc.

I have to believe he believes me. I have to believe he picks up on the vibe of how much I love him and how much my life is enriched when I am in his company. I have to believe both of my sons know this. And feel this.

I cannot survive otherwise.

You Better Duck

Looking around for a Bukowski poem to complement what I was writing about women (see below). Thinking I could get a unique but confirming perspective.

Got knocked off my chair with this.

"A Smile To Remember":

"We had goldfish and they circled around and around
in the bowl on the table near the heavy drapes
covering the picture window and,
my mother, always smiling, wanting us all
to be happy, told me "be happy, Henry!"
and she was right: it's better to be happy if you
but my father continued to beat her and me several times a week while
raging inside his 6-foot-two frame because he couldn't
understand what was attacking him from within

my mother, poor fish,
wanting to be happy, beaten two or three times a
week, telling me to be happy: "Henry, smile!
why don't you ever smile?"

and then she would smile, to show me how, and it was the
saddest smile I ever saw

one day the goldfish died, all five of them
they floated on the water, on their sides, their
eyes still open,
and when my father got home he threw them to the cat
there on the kitchen floor and we watched as my mother

This is not what I was looking for. However, it mashed up my insides and tortured me with hidden, dark truths.

The kind we all bury deep in our guts.

The line that ripped the top of my head off was: "raging inside his 6-foot-two frame because he couldn't understand what was attacking him from within".

There is enormous pain there, transmitted from heart to fist from a man who just can't understand.

In defense of Charles Bukowski - he's another one of those guys - like Keith Richards - easily dismissed as a clown of a drunk.

Bukowski used to have to mow the lawn as a kid. When he was done, his father would get down on the lawn and measure the length of the grass with a ruler. If it was too tall, Bukowski got a beating.

That is just one story. He had a brutal upbringing. He was exposed to cruelty and unfairness and illogic as a child. I know nothing, but I am theorizing that leaves an impression.

His poems sometimes appear simple and direct. Until you read a line like: "raging inside his 6-foot-two frame.........................."

Then you know there is a lot more there. Analyzing the motives of the father who terrorized him.

As I think about the female connection, maybe I did get what I wanted. His mother was being a mother against all odds.

Fighting, in her own way, for the life of her child even as her life was being destroyed.


Digging on "You're My Woman" - Van Morrison - on the Sunday morning commute yesterday. The one commute I find more melancholy than all the others.

It's that Sunday morning feel. It's watching everybody else vibe out that Sunday morning feel on my way to The Asylum.

I am more vulnerable to sensitive lyrics on the Sunday morning commute.

Beautiful, passionate song celebrating that man/woman thing. That wispy, delicate thing called woman; that ethereal, unholdable thing that floats, never touching the ground.

The wife. The mother. The wife and mother. Such a strong image, a holy thing in a spiritual sense.

"You're my woman and you're my woman, you bore my child, Lord, you bore my child, I want to thank you, I want to thank you, and no one else will do and no one else will do and no one else will do"

"And it's really real the way I feel, its really real, Lord, have mercy, look into my eyes, look into my eyes, and you realize, and you realize, its really, really, really real."

That wife and mother thing. It exponentially magnifies the magic, and the wonder. This female that you pledged your life to, mysterious from the start due to gender, magically transformed into the mother of your children, a concept so bizarre, this carrying and giving birth to the child, that it just has to be treated with reverence.

Mother's Day is a holy day. The attention it gets defies anyone to ignore the worshipping of Mom. The hype is unbelievable. Mountainous.

Father's Day plays second fiddle. Dads get a polyester tie and Faberge.

Dads are depicted as hapless loons, mothers are depicted as saints.

Unfair, inaccurate, but still, there is the mystique. The mom mystique. The wife mystique. The female mystique.

It is too much to overcome.

As if my emotions were not stirred enough, the following song was Tupelo Honey. A soaring, gorgeous, tribute to love.

Had to wipe my brains off the driver's side window of The Peace Mobile so the wife would continue granting me permission to drive it.

Van got me thinking about a song by Kris Kristofferson called "Thank You For A Life."

"Thank you for a life that I'd call happy, overlooking all that we've been through, when it comes to loving I've been lucky, everything I am I owe to you."

"Thank you for the little girls you gave me, thank you for them bouncing baby boys, thank you for the sadness that you saved me from, the madness, baby all I'm crying now are tears of joy."

The man/woman thing is real. Men know it. Strong men like Van Morrison and Kris Kristofferson can admit it.

These two guys are very strong men, icons and individuals, living their lives exactly as they please and succeeding wildly in a business that eats wannabes like cannibals.

Yet they feel compelled to thank their women, their loves, the wives and mothers of their children, for being in their lives.

For completing them.

They thank them with simple words bursting with emotion and gratitude, spiced with a heavy sense of wonder.

Poets and singer/songwriters seem to have a more direct path to the truth.


I am so far outside of myself that I am no longer into myself.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

An Observation

I'm still waiting for the moment to arrive when I know I'll be alright.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Dig These

"Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence.................Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you."

"Alcohol makes other people less tedious, and food less bland, and can help provide what the Greeks call entheos, or the slight buzz of inspiration when reading or writing. The only worthwhile miracle in the New Testament - the transmutation of water into wine at the wedding at Cana - is a tribute to the persistence of Hellenism in an otherwise austere Judaea. The same applies to the seder at Passover, which is obviously modeled on the Platonic symposium: questions are asked (especially of the young) while wine is circulated. No better form of sodality has ever been devised: at Oxford one was positively expected to take wine during tutorials. The tongue must be untied. It's not a coincidence that Omar Khayyam, rebuking and ridiculing the stone-faced Iranian mullahs of his time, pointed to the value of the grape as a mockery of their joyless and sterile regime. Visiting today's Iran, I was delighted to find that citizens made a point to defy the clerical ban on booze, keeping it in their homes for visitors even if they didn't particularly take to it themselves, and bootlegging it with great brio and ingenuity. These small revolutions affirm the human."

Christopher Hitchens

One thing I love about quoting greater minds than my own (of which there are untold billions), is learning from them.

I now know that sodality means brotherhood or community.

Wonder if I can slip that into conversation at The Asylum today?

I'm Wondering

I never flipped my calender from March to April. Went straight to May.

May is still staring me in the face.

I wonder if I am trying to slow things down. June is already three quarters over.

Exactly how much power do I have?

Musical Synchronicity

Strange musical occurrence in The Asylum yesterday.

Heard "Fool On The Hill" and "Nowhere Man" back to back. Made me quite melancholy.

"He's a real nowhere man, sitting in his nowhere land, making all his nowhere plans for nobody."

"Doesn't have a point of view, knows not where he's going to, isn't he a bit like you and me?"

"He's as blind as he can be, just sees what he wants to see, Nowhere Man can you see me at all?"

"Nowhere Man, please listen, you don't know what you're missing, Nowhere Man the world is at your command."

Touch of reality, thread of universality. Lost people, shuttered down, making the world smaller. But, there is hope. Open up, maybe at the prodding of a liberated soul, and the world is at your command.

Wonder what the stats are on which direction is generally taken in the entire recorded history of mankind.

I shall commission a poll through MSNBC.

"Day after day, alone on a hill, the man with the foolish grin is keeping perfectly still. But nobody wants to know him, they can see that he's just a fool, and he never gives an answer, but the fool on the hill, sees the sun going down, and the eyes in his head, see the world spinning 'round."

"Well on the way, head in a cloud, the man of a thousand voices talking perfectly loud. But nobody ever hears him or the sound he appears to make, and he never seems to notice but the fool on the hill........"

"And nobody seems to like him, they can tell what he wants to do, and he never shows his feelings, but the fool on the hill............."

"And he never listens to them, he knows that they're the fools, they don't like him, the fool on the hill............"

They consider him a fool with a foolish grin. They don't hear what he has to say (not can't). They don't want to know him, they don't like him.

It's possible the grin is a knowing grin, one created through knowledge and experience. He knows they are the fools, not because they are stupid but because they don't question, they don't seek, they don't evolve. They do not want their weaknesses and self deceptions exposed.

He makes them uncomfortable, so they mock him.

These two songs capture two prominent sides of human nature. They describe a massive chunk of what the human experience is about.

Hearing them back to back made me weak in the knees. I asked my next customer if he felt he was doing everything he could with his life. I asked him if the guy his buddies mock when they are drunkenly rooting on the Bruins is actually more worldly than them, with insights to share.

He clubbed me over the head with his 1.75 of Jim Beam. It didn't break because my head is soft from constantly pounding it with my palm, as in "Damn, (slap) why didn't I think of that?"

He called me a fool and told me I am a loser.

The lyrics of those two beautiful songs rang in my head as I bounced a stapler off the back of his head.

Dig This

"A man hasn't any idea what his soul looks like until he gazes into the eyes of the woman he is married to. And then, if he's any kind of decent human being, he spends the next couple of days throwing up. Because no honest man can stand that image."

Danny DeVito as Phil Cooper in The Big Kahuna.

Casting A Pall

During the Bruins' last game, of all things, the commentator said the Blackhawks' goal cast a pall over the enthusiasm in The Garden.

Being a word guy, I began to wonder how that expression links up with the role of pallbearer.

No quick and easy answer.

The general definition of casting a pall appears to be derived from the idea of something, smoke or dust or fog, that makes the sky dark. Similar to sucking the excitement out of a room.

Pallbearer. A pall is a blanket sized cloth that has religious significance in many churches. In ye olden days, a funeral procession consisted of those carrying the casket and those carrying the edges of a pall, which would eventually be placed over the casket at the church or the graveyard. In some religions the significance of the pall was to illustrate the fact that death is the great equalizer, regardless of the simple or ornate casket housing the dead.

Eventually the pall was eliminated or draped over the coffin, and the entire process was encompassed in the term pallbearer.

Death is linked by a thin thread to both terms.


As he approached the building he wished, fervently, to drop dead before crossing the threshold.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Silly Rabbit, Seminars Are For Kids

Attended a seminar on Monday. A course. A class. Whatever you want to call it.

I have attended a number of these things over the course of my "professional" career. I have always found them to be disturbing.

I think maybe decades ago they were a tad more professional. Now they are geared towards fifth graders.

This course was on improving customer service. The lecturer actually advised that when talking to a customer you should shoot for a fifth grader's level of comprehension. For co-workers, eighth grade will do. This nugget of advice is designed to facilitate efficient communication.


Apparently what she left out is that for seminars, second grade will do.

She had us all draw a pig and then get up and walk around showing everybody else and her what our pig looked like. Then she explained how the way you draw the pig reveals things about your nature.

She asked us to identify our three strongest traits as managers, and our three weakest. She asked us, one by one, to read these out loud. Then she asked us to walk around and hook up with the people whose strengths were our weaknesses to get advice.

Apparently she does not take into consideration lying, self deception and general tomfoolery.

She asked us to identify a typical liquor store problem and write down solutions with a marker on static cling plastic. Then we were asked to hang the static cling plastic on the wall with one group representative explaining our thinking.

These things are designed to keep you involved. They are designed to keep you awake. I understand that. The goddamn seminar was 6 hours long and believe me I was ready for a nap fifteen minutes in.

I am proud to say that not once did I leave my table, walk around, engage in child-like behavior. I kept my involvement to the barest minimum. Although I was exponentially amused when someone came to me to ask advice on what I identified as one of my strong points. As I talked to this person, I was experiencing a surreal moment of disbelief, as if my mouth was not connected to my body.

It was the highlight of the day.

More could be achieved through intellectual stimulation than through kindergarten psychology. Actual learning would be nice. It would be nice to walk away with a feeling of being challenged than with a feeling of sweet relief at having endured 6 hours of condescension.

I have a certificate. It says that I "have successfully completed the requirements to hold this certificate in Excellent Customer Service."

Of course it is impossible for me to know, but, I don't think this certificate is on a par with my college diploma. I don't think it is on a par with my high school diploma.

I think it is on a par with the diploma the Wizard of Oz gave to the Scarecrow.

James Gandolfini

Death casts a strange aura over things.

Depends on who is doing the dying and how they relate to you, but the reaction varies, the effect.

Different deaths mean different things.

James Gandolfini is dead. Fifty one years old. The guy was an actor, not a part of my life in a physical way, although I am sure he would have loved to meet me.

I loved him as Tony Soprano. I loved him in True Romance, I loved him in The Mexican.

He was an actor, but I feel like I knew him. What he did with the Tony Soprano role was amazing. So much in contrast with the gangster stereotype. He showed so much vulnerability in stark contrast to the cold hearted, taking care of business at any cost side of him.

In one scene he could be looking into someone's eyes just before killing them, or sawing the head off a corpse, and in the next he could be fighting with his wife or being loving with his wife, doting on his kids, and even crying from time to time.

I am attracted to violence because I know I'll never have the guts or the discipline to kill the people on my list, so I live vicariously through the mayhem of others. So maybe I am romanticizing my impression of James Gandolfini.

But I don't think so. In interviews he came across as a down to earth guy, a guy you could like, a guy whose head did not blow up with success. In interviews you could see the sensitivity and know it was genuine.

He had the world by the balls and now he is dead at 51. Fifty one.

What is better? A successful life that flames out early, or hanging in there for 85 years hoping for something better?

When an actor creates an iconic role that transcends him, it says everything about his talent. Tony Soprano the character, took on a life of his own. Everybody knows who that is, people quote him, a couple of T-shirts have been sold.

James Gandolfini did that. He infused that character with qualities that connected with a mass audience in some hard to define way. He magically took the edges off a mob boss who killed without remorse, and made it possible for people to love the guy.

He was a well respected character actor before The Sopranos came along. His talent blossomed like a mushroom cloud in The Sopranos.

The Sopranos is probably my favorite TV show of all time. I cannot say definitively because my brain balks at comparisons. But I do know that I loved it, truly enjoyed watching it, dug the bizarre cast of characters and story lines that kept my brain and emotions stimulated.

To this day I will watch The Sopranos anytime, anywhere. Over and over again.

I feel for him today. His death disturbs me in an odd way. I am a little down.

The infamous James Lipton asked James Gandolfini "What would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?"

James Gandolfini said "Take over for a while. I'll be right back."

Saturday, June 15, 2013

These Are The Things

I slept until 9:30 today. Rare. Very cool.

Five minutes after I went downstairs I got a call from my close friend Gary, who has been living in Sweden for many years with his family.

He is back in the states jump starting his life once again.

I took the call outside sitting in the brilliant, early morning, warming June sun. We laughed and talked. Our conversations are great because Gary is intelligent and wickedly witty.

Very cool.

Carol ran out to do an errand and came excitedly back and told me of some chairs on sale at a flea market kind of place. We have been looking for some cool chairs to put out on the screened in porch.

I dumped my coffee into a travel mug, we jumped into the truck, cruised to the bank and rolled back to the chairs.

Four chairs for $35.

Very cool.

Later today Carol and I are going out to buy me a new grill. She insists on doing this and I love her for it.

Very cool.

Tomorrow, on Father's Day, I will be graced with the presence of my beautiful and precious sons, Keith and Craig, with the magic and awe of Emily and Karen and, hopefully, with the wit and wisdom of my brother, who I love and respect.

And of course I will have Carol, who has been with me for almost forty years and who I love more deeply and in ways I could never have predicted way back then.

Lately I have been unhappy with how hard it is to negotiate get togethers with the family. But that unhappiness has been tinged with the bitterness of my current situation.

I cannot tell you how happy I am to know tomorrow is coming. Any doubts, any bitterness, washed away by these people named Carol, Eddie, Keith, Emily, Craig and Karen.

Very cool.

These are the things that make up a life.

I am feeling very lucky today.

The Ferocity Of Creativity

It is well known that Keith Richards often said of The Stones: "The only way to leave this band is in a coffin."

He has always understood the magic. He knows how hard, how fortuitous it is to assemble a bunch of musicians that create a musical alchemy that translates.

Translates into beautiful music. Translates into something meaningful for millions of fans.

He was warning any member that disturbing this delicate balance was a punishable offense.

I think on another level he is saying that once you are a Rolling Stone, you are a Rolling Stone forever, whether you are playing with the band or not.

The Allman Brothers Band have a similar story.

They went through a number of different lineups before they clicked with the band that exploded on the scene in 1969. All bands go through this. Searching for the right combination of musicians, searching for the right sound.

Duane Allman was the driving force. He was the leader, the supremely gifted guitar aficionado who practiced endlessly to become a guitar players' guitar player.

He fought to put this band together.

Things were a little ragged just before the magic happened. Gregg was not convinced they would ever get anywhere and he was out in California doing his own thing. At one time he entertained the idea of becoming a dentist. How bizarre.

Duane got together Dickey Betts, "Jaimoe" Johanson, Berry Oakley, and Butch Trucks, and he knew he had something. It was down south. Florida or Georgia. I forget. Shoot me.

He had to coerce Gregg to come back from California to sing and play with the band. Along with his doubts about ever making it in rock 'n roll, Gregg did not have a lot of confidence in his singing abilities.

Come back he did. The six of them got together in a small house and jammed for a while.

Eventually Duane stood up and walked over to the front door and said: "Anybody who wants to leave this band is going to have to fight their way out of here."

The ferocity of creativity.

A rare, delicate and beautiful thing.

Musical Notes

Slowly, I am coming out of Rolling Stones melancholia.

I am actually surprised at how deeply this is affecting me. I really wanted to see them at The Garden.

A guy walked into The Asylum yesterday wearing a 50th anniversary tour T-shirt. I asked him if he was at Wednesday's show. He said "Yup" and he was going last night as well.

That skewed my equilibrium for a while.

On Thursday night, Carol and I dialed up an episode of Stephen Colbert featuring Paul McCartney. A one hour show. This was the night in between The Stones shows.

So I guess my brain got a double dose of mind altering nostalgia.

Colbert was fantastic with Sir Paul. An excellent interview. Funny, informative, obvious reverence colored with a touch of irreverence. I  was a little surprised at how good the interview was. Paul told a few stories I hadn't heard before and talked about The Beatles a lot.

He is not and has never been well spoken. But it was cool anyway. He played a bunch of songs as well.

He has never been my fave, but I found myself hanging on every word. Mesmerized.

Because he is Paul McCartney.

So here I sit. And I am thinking about The Allman Brothers Band. I have a date to see them this August. With family and friends. It will be a glorious night.

I did not see them last year. Over the past 25 years it has been extremely rare that I don't see them at least once a summer. A few times I have seen them three times in one summer. I even went to a concert alone one year. Sat next to some young kids, struck up a conversation. Eventually one kid asked how long I have been a fan. I told him since the first album came out. His response: "You must be really old."

I did not see them last year. I cannot describe how strangely that throws me off. I need that fix. They are in my blood, part of my DNA, a necessary experience that I must have to confirm that I am indeed human.

August looms large in my mind, my heart and my soul. I missed The Stones but I got The Allman Brothers Band. I have always had The Allman Brothers Band.

Got a rag tag group attending the show. Some who have never seen them before. I don't know what to expect but every ABB concert I have ever attended has turned into some kind of event. This one took on a life of its own. When the date was announced, friends contacted me and bullied me into guaranteeing I would get them tickets. All of whom have not seen ABB before. The vibe is growing.

There is indescribable magic there.

I love talking to the youngbloods in the parking lot before the show. Kids 35 years younger than me (and more) who get The Allman Brothers Band. Youngbloods who are knowledgeable about The Allman Brothers Band. Kids who look up to me and my friends as Allman Brothers warriors who have lived their legacy with them and through them.

My love of this band was vindicated a few years ago when my brother attended a concert with me. It was his first time.

The Allman Brothers have a kind of a Keith Richards thing going on with them. The uninformed think they are just a crazy bunch of drug addicts. Over 20 years ago I once told someone I was going to an ABB concert and she said "Wow, you are hard core." Ridiculous.

My brother is an accomplished musician and an informed music lover across all genres. The Allman Brothers blew him away. I did not need the vindication, I have known this since 1969, but it felt good to see his reaction.

The Stones are icons. In fact they are beyond icons; there is no word. If you get to see them, you are lucky.

The Allman Brothers are giants. Superbly gifted musicians.

And they are accessible.

They only tour in the summer (except for the annual Beacon run in March) which I love, because it creates a perfect vibe for me. The band I worship performing in the weather I worship.


I am coming around. I know what is coming and I know it will revive me and rejuvenate me and lose me in magic so powerful that for that one night Joe Testa will not even exist. I will evolve to a higher level of existence that will allow me to float with the music, to connect with the vibe and supercharge my essence.

I am deeply saddened to have missed The Stones.

I am thrilled to anticipate The Allman Brothers Band.

Luxurious Awakening

Slept until 9:30 this morning.

I haven't slept that late since 1920.

It was absolutely luxurious.

My body rarely allows me sleep beyond 7:00 a.m. no matter what time I collapse into bed.

Because I am old.

I wonder if that is some sort of biological alert to force you to experience as much out of life as possible as you age.

I don't know.

But I do know this morning was luxurious.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Melancholy Rock

Feeling a little morose today. Pensive.

The Stones played The Garden Wednesday night. I was not there.

They play there again tonight. I will not be there.

Whaddya gonna do? That's life. I couldn't make it work and it didn't happen.

I am experiencing a genuine feeling of melancholy. They may never come 'round again. It is not my way to count The Stones out, but they only tour every 5, 6 or 7 years. If it were to happen again, they would be in their mid-seventies.

Not impossible, but not likely.

Seeing them in The Garden would have been superb. I have seen them twice, but in stadiums, where I spent all my time looking at the screen.

It does me good to know the boys are still rocking because it is vindication for my generation. We have sold out almost entirely - 99% - but The Stones were there in the beginning and they are here now. Brings weight to the music, keeps the spirit alive, nourishes roots that changed our lives, that changed the world.

I expected Charlie, Keith, Mick and Ronnie to be at my house for dinner last night on their night off when I got home from work, but Carol could not pull it off.

I still love her.

Only my generation can understand what The Beatles and The Stones meant to young, impressionable minds. Only my generation can understand the power of this thing that still vibrates fifty years later. Still excites, still creates wonder.

Everybody knows the story of Keith running into Mick at the train station and noticing they were carrying some of the same records. Sharing their interests, forming a band, and conquering the world.

A truly great story.

They are called The World's Greatest Rock 'N Roll Band. And they proudly celebrate the world's greatest rock rebel as a founding member.

Some quotes from a recent Men's Journal interview with Keith ( who will turn 70 this December in a big up yours to the world):

"They think I'm a cartoon. I mean "Keith Richards"- everybody knows what it means. It comes with longevity. I'm glad it strikes people's imaginations. I'd like to be old Keith and play him to the hilt. I'm probably something different to millions of different people."

"With the smack, I knew - I've got to stop now or I'm going to go in for hard time. The cocaine I quit because I fell on my head. Due to that - no more coke. Actually my body tells me when to stop..........the hard way. Its a knock on the head - OK. Its no big deal to me to give things up."

"It's like Churchill said about alcohol, "Believe me I've taken a lot more out of alcohol than it has ever taken out of me." And I kind of feel the same way about the dope and stuff. I got something out of it. Might've pissed off a lot of people."

"Yeah, I guess I mellowed. Until maybe about 20-odd years ago, it was "Nobody left this band except in a coffin." I'd just say, after 50 years in a band, anybody that's still alive, you're welcome to come back in and do your bit."

"Oh, I've been to a few end of year concerts, and school plays. I've done my daddy bit, big time. It's kind of new for me, graduations and stuff.".................."Yes of course I enjoyed it. It was important to me because it was important to them."

Q: You don't feel shackled by the chains of domesticity?

"No! I'm the one that cooks breakfast. When I'm at home, I'm Daddy to the max."

"I've always wanted animals; there's something of a connection with them. I've always felt that it's very innocent and beautiful - there's a beautiful trust exhibited, with no other side to it."

Some sides to Keith.

Anyway, I'll think about The Stones tonight when I am at The Asylum. They will probably just be coming into it, really starting to crank, as I leave the store.

Maybe, if they do decide to hang 'em up in the near future, maybe they'll do some sort of abbreviated farewell tour. I could shoot for that one.

If not, I have my vinyl, my cassettes, my Cd's, my iPod, my Dvd's.

And my memories.


Pets are proof that the purest form of communication is love.

The only form of honest communication.

The fact that humans can talk, is our ruination.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


In hockey, the announcer says : "One minute left to play in the period." You sit up and are overwhelmed with excitement, adrenaline surges through your body as the action is frenzied and inspiring. You look up and only 15 seconds have gone by.

In basketball, there is 2:14 left with a tie score. 49 minutes and 17 timeouts later, the game is over.

You are asleep.


"Caterwauling" is an excellent word.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Universal Theme

"And I saw myself for a second as I really am
 As I was coming down the road
 And I had to look away in disbelief I suppose
 As I was coming down the road
 I caught a glimpse of myself as others see me
And I wasn't the fella that I thought I'd be
As I was coming down the road
Coming down the road"

"Coming Down The Road"   John Mellencamp   from   No Better Than This

Dialogue: "Its weird. I'm just lying here and I'm wondering how I got here, you know? I don't mean here, I mean how I got here. How I'm not anything like what I'd hoped that I'd be, you know? I'm not even close to the guy I thought I'd end up being. And it kind of blows."

From the movie Beautiful Girls                      Matt Dillon as Tommy "Birdman" Rowland

These examples and many others.

There is a universal theme here.

The West End

"Well, my old man slaved down here in the West End
  He thought the future was bright, way back then
  But it beat him down 'till he had nothing to give
  It broke his back, took away his will to live"

"The West End"   John Mellencamp   from   No Better Than This

It is generally assumed that words like that describe manual labor. There is a school of thought that believes those words can describe jobs in general.

Clerical, administrative, retail, teaching, medical, insurance, sales.................

Any job can break your back. Any job can take away your will to live.

Its that hollow feeling you get when your paycheck does not reflect your sacrifice.

Your assignment, Jim, should you decide to accept it, is to stiffen up that back and pump up that will.

Monday, June 10, 2013

I Have A New Answer

People ask about the new job.

I remind them of One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest.

I explain that I am Randle P. McMurphy.

Angling For Benefits

Everybody wants that job today. The one that pays benefits.

Sick time, vacation time or whatever corporate euphemism is used to describe the same thing. Vacation pay.

Much harder than it used to be because corporations are committed to creating a workforce that is 80% part timers.

Don't have to pay them benefits, no OT, they can screw with your hours.

And absolutely no commitment.

They can treat you like garbage because that is how they perceive you. An expendable resource with no connection to humanity.

Still there is something horribly pathetic, horribly awry, with feverishly chasing that benefit rich job.

It is more like avoiding a negative than achieving a positive. We will do anything to worm our way into that position. Sell our souls, our dignity, our everything to get what corporate america has maneuvered to be the ultimate prize.

Desperation. The new corporate incentive.

Two Ways To Go

You can climb the ladder. Do the things you are supposed to do. Keep that resume fresh, print it on pretty paper, get yourself interviewed so you can tell your lies to the interviewer who is lying to you.

There is a blueprint laid out. You are taught to follow that. That is just the way it is, it is just the way the game is played. Keep moving on up if you have the ambition and the persistence. Buy the house, buy the car, take the vacation.

I was great in interviews. Still am. I am an actor. Once I get the job, I underachieve. The greatest, most honest comment I ever got from a boss was from my buddy Ken McGucken. I landed a job as a Sr. Accountant in an insurance company, supervising three people. He was my boss.

After a few months of underachieving, when he realized I wasn't quite as good as my interview performance lead him to believe, he said to me: "You are an interesting guy. You came across as a confidant guy, a leader in the interview, but you are a whole 'nother guy on the job."

I loved that comment. It didn't hurt because it was dead on true and he had the balls to say it to my face. A fine historical moment.

But I digress.

You can play the game and that is fine. We are all struggling to be able to eat and to be able to pay the Mortgage Vampire. Whatever it takes to survive, baby - whatever it takes to survive.

You can also choose to scale your life back. Make it so damn small that the demands on your psyche and your time and abilities are minimized.

There's this guy.....................

There is a guy I drive by on my commute to and from The Asylum everyday.

He lives in a single wide trailer right by the side of the road. I mean I could practically reach out and high five this guy as I drive by.

I never see a car or truck on his little patch of land. Never. And I drive by at all hours of the day because my schedule is so fucked up. I know he is there. Sometimes I see him walking in or out, or sitting on the stoop. No vehicle.

At night I see one small light on at one end of the trailer. Like he is trying to conserve eeelectricity. Or like that is the end of the trailer where he does his living; no need to illuminate anything else until necessary.

He lives 50 yards from a convenience store.

I imagine this guy to have a tiny mortgage payment, or none. I imagine him to have no job. I imagine him doing all of his food and beverage shopping at the convenience store. Living on Spam, no name Oateeios, processed cheese, Doritos and beer.

I imagine this guy to be a lot smarter than me.

Low stress, no stress. Doesn't have to kiss anybody's ass, doesn't have financial pressure, no deadlines, no commitments, can turn his face to the hot summer sun whenever he feels like it.

I could be wrong. His life may not be that perfect.

I choose not to believe that.

I worship this guy.

Tongue Patch

Venezuelans dig the tongue patch.

This is a new diet fad for people with no willpower and less brain power. It was launched in 2009 by Nicholas Chugay, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon. The patch is an abrasive piece of marlex - a material used in hernia repair - about the size of a postage stamp. It is secured to the top of the tongue by six stitches and makes consumption of solid food so painful that patients are forced to seek liquid diets.

This would not be good for me.

Patients typically lose 30 pounds in a month. It does have side effects. Patients typically have difficulty talking and it interferes with their sleep. "At the start you can't even move your tongue for the pain. I've tried to eat solid food but it's impossible. It's a huge inconvenience but I'm doing it to feel better about myself. I was very fat."

This testimony from Yomaira Jaspe in Charallave, on the outskirts of Caracas.

I am open to a new point of view. I should consult with Yomaira. She is a deep thinker.

"It's a good solution, I don't see it as extreme. It teaches you to eat differently and proves that there are alternatives." This from Yomaira's mother.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

The patch can only be worn for a maximum of one month. "The material has pores which allow for  in-growth of tissue. If you leave it in for more than a month it starts to become incorporated into the tongue." Dr. Chugay

How bizarre, how bizarre.

The procedure costs $2,000 in the U.S., but in Venezuela, clinics charge as little as $150.

The procedure is not FDA approved, and some physicians express concern saying there is a high risk of infection, patients drool a lot, its very painful and if it dislodges you could choke on it.


Lookin' For A Good Way To Die

My wife is gone, she took off just like that,
and left me in the dust,
Caught me kissing on Monique.
Says I got no credibility after all the stories I have told,
I don't understand the way she thinks

Now I'm stuck here in this trailer but it ain't half bad.
I got Spam, got a radio, a convenience store I can walk to
with the coldest beer in town.
Nobody visits and that's all right with me,
Seems I wind up in trouble with people around

My kids all hate me, 'cause I drink all their booze
and borrow their money.
I promise to pay them back but they say I got no
credibility after all the stories I have told.
They sound like their mother, I don't think it's funny.

So I'm lookin' for a good way to die,
One last shot at success.
After all of my failures I just gotta try
to go out with a puffed up chest.
Something unique that will get me some headlines,
I'm lookin' for a good way to die

My friends are long gone, say I'm damn unreliable.
They don't understand that I am busy, so many things
to get done, so many worries on my mind.
I want to get together but I get distracted,
apparently I get no credit for trying

Can't hold a job, out of work for two and half years now,
unemployment ran out last month.
My bosses never got me, lines of communication were twisted,
we didn't see eye to eye.
Still I'm looking around and filling out applications.
Some call me unemployable, I say I got a unique take on life.

Even my dog turned on me, he bit me and ran away.
Now he lives across the street with Ruthie, he ain't no
friend to man.
The hell with him, now I don't have to share my Spam.

So I'm lookin' for a good way to die,
One last shot at success.
After all of my failures I just gotta try
to go out with a puffed up chest.
Something unique that will get me some headlines,
I'm lookin' for a good way to die

Save Some Time To Dream

Driving to work, 7:30 on a Sunday morning. A precious, early June morning (wasted). Listening to these words courtesy of John Mellencamp:

"Save some time to dream
Save some time for yourself
Don't let your time slip away
Or be stolen by somebody else
Save some time for those you love
For they'll remember what you gave
Save some time for the songs you sing
And the music that you made

Could it be that this is all there is?
Could it be there's nothing more at all?
Save some time to dream
'Cause your dream could save us all"

"Save Some Time To Dream" John Mellencamp from the album "No Better Than This"

Friday, June 7, 2013

Phantom Hands With Phantom Plans

You sit behind somebody at a fast food drive-through.

You see an arm flop out the car window with cash dangling.

Then, an arm flops out the drive-through window with change.

Phantom hands with phantom plans.

Greasing the supra highway to obesity and premature death.

They pull up and you take their place.

America. Everything comes easy.

And with a price.

Hating Self-Loathing

Did some reading. Here's what I learned.

Self loathing involves not just having feelings of inadequacy but also blowing those feelings out of proportion and dwelling on them. That's why the well intentioned cannot just say "Hey stop beating yourself up, you are OK." Any more than you can say to a depressed person "Cheer up."

It ain't that simple, Homer.

Self-loathing can have its roots in abusive parents, or in physical appearance and disabilities. Most interestingly, some people can hate themselves for no reason anyone, including themselves, understands.

Self loathers typically don't hate everything about themselves, they just overlook the good stuff and give disproportionate weight to the bad.

Dig this: At the age of 51, Tolstoy looked back upon his life and considered it to be a meaningless, regrettable failure. It's all about perception, baby.

Circumstances that initially lead to self hatred trigger a thought process that takes on a life of its own. A thought process that gains momentum the longer it remains unchallenged. Once this opinion of worthlessness worms its way into the brain, it becomes difficult to disbelieve. Difficult because logic becomes suspended and self loathing moves front and center.

To like ourselves, we have to earn our own respect. This can only be done through the development of character. It cannot be achieved by acquiring things or making ourselves feel superior to others.

Fear is all wrapped up in this deal as well. Self mastery is a goal of Tantra Yoga. One powerful result of self mastery is living without fear.

Humans don't often admit to fear because it sounds weak. We say we are worried or anxious. But worry is a form of fear and anxiety results from succumbing to fear.

Fear is not a tangible thing, it is created in our minds. When we allow fear to paralyze our mind, we lose the ability to make choices and get locked into the mode of reaction.

When self  loathers are not worrying about something bad happening to them, they focus on past hurts, mistakes and failures. In other words, if they are not preoccupied with being attacked by someone else, they turn around and attack themselves.

The problem is when someone else attacks you, you automatically defend yourself. When you attack yourself, there is no defense. No outcome but to lose.

Self loathing feeds on a lack of self awareness and focuses on weaknesses and mistakes. It leads to giving up on yourself and becoming a victim. This approach denies your power to grow and change and you become stuck in your own ignorance.

Self mastery results from effort. Initially you will fail, but if you know in your heart that you are giving it your best shot and you keep trying, eventually you will succeed. Self respect comes from knowing you are trying your best, and from recognizing that mistakes are a necessary part of learning, not a reason for punishment.

A lot to chew on there.

Barb Wire

Watched half an hour of Barb Wire yesterday before I went to work.

Barb Wire is a 1996 movie starring Pamela Anderson.

Frankly I don't understand how this movie avoided earning multiple Oscars.

The plot line simply stated on the movie web page: Post Apocalyptic remake of "Casablanca" set in a strip club.

The story is deep, it is complex, it is full of twists and turns. My understanding is that it is a regular feature in the film study course at the University of Oxford.

The movie is set in 21st century USA during the second civil war. The American Congress rules with fascistic methods and there is only one free city left, Steel Harbor, HQ of the resistance. Barb Wire owns a night club there called Hammerhead and she also functions as a bounty hunter. She is one tough chick.

The acting is superb; subtly nuanced. Facial expressions and mannerisms communicate as much or more than spoken words. Almost every scene can be interpreted on many different levels, which is a hallmark of great cinema.

Of course this is to be expected when you pack a cast with extreme talent like Amir Aboulela, Adriana Alexander, David Andriole, Vanessa Lee Asher, Ron Balicki, Jennifer Banko, and Candace Kita.

And of course Pamela Anderson.

Pam relies on her acting chops to make a bold statement in this movie. Dressed demurely throughout, nevertheless, you cannot take your eyes off of her. Of course with lines like "Don't call me babe" and "No laws, no limits, no turning back" her role almost acts itself. But honestly,without Pam's thoughtful interpretation of the dialogue, the role would fall flat.

I saw only half an hour of this movie and was enthralled. I will set some time aside in the not too distant future to watch the whole thing, start to finish, armed with a notebook, a dictionary and a tasteful glass of fine Merlot.

Feel free to join me.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Dig This

" I try to deny myself any illusions or delusions, and I think that this perhaps entitles me to try and deny the same to others, at least as long as they refuse to keep their fantasies to themselves."

Christopher Hitchens

Had We Been Aware

Had Carol and I been aware of how diseased my brain would become decades down the road, we could have added these lines to our wedding vows for Carol to speak, considering how prophetic they would have been:

"But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck"

(Lyrics borrowed from "The Cave" by Mumford & Sons.)

Ten Mintes Later

"Moe is like a retarded person who doesn't know any better. He doesn't desire new experiences, new women, nothing. He's like a mental patient who doesn't know he's mental, so he's perfectly content."

That's a quote from a movie titled "Beautiful Girls." A great and hilarious quote from Beautiful Girls and to hell with you politically correct Playdoh heads. Check out the context.

Most have never seen the movie. It's a small movie. Most would rather watch Fast & Furious 19.

This movie belongs to Carol and me. Along with "Nobody's Fool."

We worship these movies and have seen them exactly 187 times each. I have talked about them before within these walls. They are quiet movies, movies with stories and deeply human characters. Movies you can watch over and over and still cry and laugh.

Carol was upstairs at the computer last night, I was looking for something to move me on TV. Came across Beautiful Girls on Sundance, in progress. Within two minutes, Carol heard the dialogue and knew what I was up to, yelled down asking "Is that Beautiful Girls?"

Ten minutes later she was on the couch and engrossed.

It was a moment. I dug the simple beauty of watching this movie again with my wife. We anticipate dialogue, we laugh in advance of funny scenes, we judge and make comments about certain characters. We share this movie between us, it resonates with us, we as a couple enjoy it together. It has meaning for us. It is a part of this couple identified as Carol & Joe.

Carol is a Red Sox junkie. The game started at 7:00 last night. We didn't switch over until the movie ended at 8:00. Even though we have seen it 187 times and own the DVD.

I am raw and exposed at the moment. At times like this I am more receptive to truth and beauty. When your nerves are scraped and bleeding, when they are exposed to the world with no protection, perception is heightened.

We were perfectly content as we watched that movie. A simple pleasure. A simple escape. I was on high alert and fully aware that the atmosphere in the house had changed and that something tangibly magical was going on.

If I could have bottled that experience I would never again need another drop of whiskey.

The experience changes a little every time we watch it depending on whether we are tired or not, happy or not, stressed or not, getting along or not.

However it goes, it is always our experience, and it doesn't matter to us if nobody else in the world ever sees or hears about this movie.

I have to be broken down and raw, sometimes, to fully appreciate small pleasures. Last night was great. Maybe the small things resonate because they are in keeping with a small life. Maybe they resonate because they vibrate at the same frequency. Maybe if you are hugely struggling to make your life large, you miss out on these things.

I look forward to viewing # 188.

Editor's note: In direct opposition to my remark claiming that I don't care if you ever see either of these movies, consider the casts:

"Beautiful Girls"  1996  Directed by Ted Demme  Starring: Matt Dillon, Timothy Hutton, Rosie O'Donnell, Natalie Portman, Michael Rapaport, Mira Sorvino, Uma Thurman.

"Nobody's Fool"   1994  Starring: Paul Newman, Jessica Tandy, Bruce Willis, Melanie Griffith, Philip Seymour Hoffman

There is one guy who is in both movies - Pruitt Taylor Vince. He plays a particularly touching character in Nobody's Fool.

There is a scene in Beautiful Girls that invokes the spirit of  fortune telling. Natalie Portman plays a 13 year old who is exceptionally intelligent and mature for her age, and does it brilliantly. Timothy Hutton is infatuated with her even though he is many years older. As he prepares to leave town with his girlfriend, he tells Portman that she is amazing and that he hopes they stay in touch because he thinks she will grow up to do amazing things. How true, how true.

I leave you with the following quote from the character played by Michael Rapaport in Beautiful Girls, who is obsessed with super models, has his walls plastered with super model posters and has named his dog Elle Macpherson:

"Super models are beautiful girls, Will. A beautiful girl can make you dizzy, like you've been drinking Jack & Coke all morning. She can make you high with the single greatest commodity known to man - promise. Promise of a better day. Promise of a greater hope. Promise of a new tomorrow. This particular aura can be found in the gaze of a beautiful girl. In her smile, in her soul, how she makes every rotten little thing about life seem like it's going to be OK. The super models are bottled promise. A beautiful girl is all powerful, and that's as good as love. As good as love."

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Dig This

"I'm for human lib, the liberation of all people, not just black people or female people or gay people."

Richard Pryor

True Story

I woke up this morning with this line in my head:

"I dream of the day when I will spoon luxurious dark chocolate out of the severed skull bowl of my enemy."

That's a pretty good start to a story.

Kali, Baby

Kali is one of the most well known and worshipped Hindu goddesses.

She is usually depicted as naked and blood thirsty, with disheveled hair and four arms. Her left arms hold a bloody sword and a freshly severed human head. She has three eyes. The only "clothing" she wears is a girdle of human arms cut off at the elbow and a garland of fifty skulls.

This is somewhat at odds with the typical beneficent image of  a god like, say, Jesus.

There are various stories regarding her emergence as a god. One is that she killed a couple of demons and, in celebration, drained their blood. Drunk from the slaughter, she began to dance and became overjoyed with the feel of the dead flesh under her feet. She danced wildly out of control until her husband, Shiva, threw himself under her feet to stop her. She is typically depicted standing with one foot on the chest of her husband.

Legend has it that she will eventually continue the dance, which will bring about the end of the world.

Another story has it that the demon Raktabija could never be killed because each drop of his blood that touched the ground became another him. Kali spread her tongue over the battlefield preventing any of Raktabija's blood from touching the ground, which enabled the gods to destroy him.

The beauty of all this is that she is considered to be the ultimate manifestation of the Divine Mother.

Kali has an insatiable thirst for blood but intends her bloody deeds for good. Worshippers believe she may get carried away by her gruesome acts but that she is not evil. They believe that on the highest level her destructive energies can be seen as vehicles of salvation and ultimate transformation.

In Sanskrit the feminine form of the word black is Kali, so she is also known as the Black Goddess. Whether you interpret black as the merging of all colors or the absence of all color, it is a symbol of the infinite and a sign of Kali's all embracing, comprehensive nature; a transcendence of all form.

To some the Black Goddess is death, to the wise she represents the death of death.

Kali deals with the horrible aspects of life most people will not think about. She embodies horror, rage, unkempt fury and chaos but is worshipped as a goddess and not mistaken for a demon.

As you may have guessed, in Hinduism the polarity of good and evil are blurred.

Kali's most important place of worship is the cremation ground, preferably at the dead of night.

Kali is also associated with intense sexuality.

She is considered to be the triple goddess of creation, protection and destruction. A multi faceted Great Goddess responsible for all of life from conception to death. Therefore she is worshipped with fertility festivals as well as through blood sacrifice. Her initiations expand consciousness through fear, ritual sexuality and intoxication from a variety of drugs.

This is one very versatile god. A god whose worshippers cut a lot of slack. She is a multi tasker who inspires fear and love. A bloodthirsty killer who justifies the slaughter in the name of doing good. An intensely sexual deity who embodies the sweet purity of motherhood.

Gods like this make religion fascinating.

Dig This

"The snake that cannot shed its skin perishes. Likewise those spirits who are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be spirits."


Swaggering Braggadocio

Professional athletes are light years removed from the common human.

More money than any of us will ever see, a privileged life gently cushioned with fan adoration.

Somehow we forget all that as we get caught up in the passion of the game.

Except for golf.

Golfers casually walk around a pristine environment, crowd respectfully hushed so as not to disturb their concentration, and the unmistakable message is wealth and privilege and elitism.

NBA players give off the same air only they push it right in your face with swaggering braggadocio.

Fragile Beauty

Butterflies are a delicate, fragile and a beautiful celebration of life.

Deer have a fragile beauty to them as well, so graceful on those thin legs.

Human life is delicate as well, but we are too brutish about it to appreciate it.

Replaced From The Bench

A goalie being pulled from the game. Replaced from the bench.

There must be no lonelier feeling in sport, no longer moment than that skate to the bench.

Monday, June 3, 2013


It is hard - as a human being - to actually ever really KNOW anything.

We think we know this and we think we know that, but what we really know is what our life has trained our minds to know. The experiences, the upbringing, the twisted synapses firing unpredictably in our brains - this is not knowing, it is interpreting.

We imagine that we stumble forward in our knowing, but what we are really doing is staggering to the left, staggering to the right, taking three steps backward for every one step forward.

Enlightenment. The drug. That's what we crave.

Enlightenment does not come from a brain that "knows."

Enlightenment comes from a brain that does not know, accepts that it does not know, and is open to discovering an honest path towards knowing.

Birdie Love

My favorite bird - in the whole world - is the yellow throated warbler.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Vindicated At The Dump

Dump run this morning.

I was feeling defiant.

Lucked out and caught a good run of music on the truck radio.

As I negotiated my way around the recycling maze, the radio was blasting. I just did not feel like conforming.

A couple of pinch-asses looked at me and I ignored them.

As I climbed into the Dakota to leave, a guy in a truck across from me yelled out: "I'm hearing the blues. Muddy Waters."

It was Muddy Waters.

I felt vindicated.

Any Day Now, Any Day Now

"I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east.
Any day now, any day now,
I shall be released."

I come back to these lyrics time and time again. Thanks Mr. Z.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Sports Musing

Watching the Bruins pre-game hype and getting psyched.

I am a phony hockey fan. I watch very little during the season. I dig the playoffs. Shoot me.

Thinking about sports.

Hockey and football players are warriors. Watching Bruins interviews, looking at stitches and missing teeth. Blood during the game.

Football players play with broken bones, sprains, and deep muscle bruises. Blood during the game.

Baseball players are scratched from the line-up with stiff necks.

Basketball players should wear skirts. Saw footage a couple of weeks ago where TWO players took simultaneous dives as a player drove to the hoop. Standing side by side, flopping side by side.

Absolutely pathetic.

Dig the game. Go Bruins.

Side note: Sox playing the Yanks tonight. Good Boston sports night. I am grateful to be home early from work to relax with my beautiful wife and watch these games.

Does that satisfy you gratefulness junkies?