Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Dig This

"I am so physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted that I cannot even be wide awake with fear."


Monday, July 29, 2013

Improbable Soundtrack

Carol and I watched Silver Linings Playbook recently.

We even paid for the goddamn thing, which we don't usually do. Our cable bill is $14,000/month, so we prefer not to increase that burden.

I was a little disappointed. The movie got a lot of hype. It started off with promise.  The relationship between Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper as father and son was intense.

But eventually it devolved into just another love story.

That is not why I am here today.

Bob Dylan put out an album called Nashville Skyline. On it, he duets with Johnny Cash on a song called "Girl From The North Country."

This song pops up in the movie as background to a scene. I don't even remember what the scene was because I was so amused to hear this song on a soundtrack, wondering how the hell it fit the scene.

Four verses. Dylan takes the first, Cash takes the second, they duet on the 3rd and 4th. The 3rd and 4th verses are the ones you want to zero in on.

They are the most out of sync duo in the history of duos. Halfway through the 3rd verse they actually begin to sing different lyrics. After a few seconds Dylan bends to Cash's will and sings what he is singing. The song ends raggedly.

Go to YouTube. Dial it up. You will be amused. You might even learn to love the song.

As I have.

The song fit the scene. It set the mood. It complemented the mood.

I don't know how the hell that happened, but it worked.

Cooler Than Jesus

The coolest character on Breaking Bad is Mike Ehrmantraut, played by Jonathan Banks.

He plays one of those impossibly cool, tough and intimidating guys who almost always knows what to do, knows how to improvise when unsure and is intimidating to the max. A guy who knows exactly who he is and doesn't take shit from anybody.

He projects a soft spoken menace. Screaming insanity is good. Psychotic behavior works when distributing or combating evil. But soft spoken menace is the most intimidating because it comes from the gut. Quietly fueled by fearful self confidence.

You know, the kind of guy we all long to be.

Mike Ehrmantraut is a former Philadelphia police officer who works for Gustavo Frink, a major league drug lord. He also works occasionally for Saul Goodman, a slick and slimy low level lawyer with his fingers in everything illegal.

Mike's philosophy comes from his experience as a cop. Once as a cop he decided at the last second not to murder a wife-beating husband, only to later arrest that man for smashing his wife's head in.

His mantra became "never take half measures."

You know this about him, he exudes it. When you are face to face with Mike you know he will carry out whatever threat he tortures you with.

I had a few interviews with a liquor commission exec who bore a passing resemblance to Jonathan Banks. It amused me because he was a typical spineless, corporate weasel who worked hard to project a tough image.

It didn't work. The thinness of his character leaked through the facade.

If you are working your way through the history of Breaking Bad, do not read the rest of this captivating column.

Mike was cool to the end. Exceptionally cool.

He dies at the end of season 5. Walt shoots him in his car. Mike manages to get out of the car and walk to the edge of a river, where he sits on a stump, bleeding profusely and gazing out over the flowing water. Walt realizes too late that he didn't have to kill Mike, that he could have gotten the information he wanted from somebody else.

He frantically tries to explain, tries to apologize.

Mike says: "Shut the fuck up and let me die in peace."

Seconds later he does.

Even Jesus whined: "Father, why hast thou forsaken me?"

Mike Ehrmantraut - cooler than  Jesus.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Dig This

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

And Dig This

"I am going to have to get reckless if I am to retire before I die."


Mick At 70

Mick Jagger turned 70 on Friday, July 26.

He did not invite me to celebrate with him. I must try harder to raise my profile.

Mick is in a unique situation. I can see Keith bluesing into his eighties and beyond because it has been done. Many blues singers and musicians play well into their nineties and there is no reason not to.

I have a theory that love of blues triggers longevity, but that is a topic for another time and place.

Mick is different because Mick has to move. Has to dance. It is part of what he does, part of who he is. He moves uniquely; if you saw him projected as a shadow dancing across the stage you would know it was him from the moves.

And he is still kicking ass at the age of seventy. He keeps himself in great shape, but how far can a body go being subjected to what he subjects his body to?

Can you end a sentence with to?

I think when The Stones decide to hang it up, it will be Mick's decision. Because he won't be able to perform the way he always has.

Unless................he adapts. Big league pitchers adapt as they get older. They come in spitting fire. 99 miles an hour. They get older and they are throwing at "only" 95 or slower.

They learn how to pitch. They get crafty. They master new pitches, they master situations and know exactly how to get somebody out without blowing back their hair.

Mick could do that. I could see him scaling down his performance to suit his physical limits while still delivering an explosive performance.

And all the girls will still want to sing "Gimme Shelter" with him.

Apparently The Stones have played around with lyrics as they age.

Hendrick Hertzberg notes that the original lyrics to "The Spider and the Fly" included these lines:

"She was common, flirty, she looked about thirty....
She said she liked the way I held the microphone"

On The Stones "Stripped" album the lyrics were changed to:

"She was shifty, nifty, she looked about fifty....
She said she liked the way I held the microphone"

The NY Times, in an article discussing Mick's birthday, brought up an interesting point of view.

The article references a column written by Russell Baker in 1972 concerning the kids growing up in the sixties.

In the column "he predicted that being young was so enjoyable that "the kids" would never give it up, and would refuse to reproduce. By bringing down the birthrate, he theorized, the 60's people would stay in control forever while the dwindling number of youths in the future would be trained to sit in their shadows."

The Times points out that this of course did not happen, ironically noting that Jagger himself has 7 kids. But in talking about Jagger they say "But maybe some people can will their way around the aging process. Or, at least, if you're doing something you love to do, you can rise above it."

Amusing Mick Jagger quotes:

When he was 29: "I'll never tour when I'm fifty."

When he was 31: "I'd rather be dead than sing "Satisfaction" when I'm 45."

Keith Richards will turn 70 on December 18. I will be working relentlessly to raise my profile between now and then.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Dig This

"Sex without love is a meaningless experience, but as far as meaningless experiences go, it's pretty damn good."

"If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans."

Woody Allen

Cribbage Is Vicious

Cribbage is a vicious game, man and, it's supporters are zealous protectors of the realm.

Experienced players, in attempting to teach novices, do so at faster mile an hour.

They'll get the novice up to speed throwing cards around and then.........................

it's time for scoring.

Quick and dirty.

15-2, 15-4, 123, 234, 2, 4, 6, 8.

Get that?

Are you serious? Get what?

There is a lot to consider in reviewing a hand. Various combinations that add up to this, this thing that gets you these points, that thing that gets you those points, add this card to those cards then add the same card to other cards..................................

The novice cannot take it all in at a glance. You have to develop a way of perceiving, a method of seeing, that is cribbage tinged.

This comes with experience.

And with detailed and careful explanation of what exactly is going on.

Strangely, it appears that experienced cribbage players are incapable of slowing down.

It is possible that cribbage is somehow inextricably intertwined with meth addiction, although currently I have no empirical evidence as proof.

What remains to be seen is whether or not I become Speedy Gonzales after I "learn" the game.

Will I torture novices with speed of sound summaries of the scoring of the hand?

Or will I remember the bewilderment and slow it all down.

I am on the precipice of a strange and wondrous science experiment.

Learning how to play cribbage.

It could be some twisted black hole leading to dark secrets that will skew my life and scramble my perspective.

These are exciting times.

Kinda Personal

Feeling kinda personal today.

Thinking. Which is a remarkable thing for me. I don't think a lot. I obsess. I analyze. I dissect. I cringe, I duck, I move, I remain motionless, I fantasize, I dream.

July 27. Summer's Almost Gone (by The Doors)  soundtracking in my head.

Weird summer this year. The job is monopolizing most of my time and all of my energy and emotions. Very little time for rest; very little time for peace of mind or even to pursue peace of mind.

And yet I am strangely plugged in to summer. Driving to and from The Asylum I have been fiercely aware of the sunshine, the warmth, kayaks and smiles, dog walkers and low talkers (non sensical reference but it rhymes; I am driven to rhyme).

Typically I would see a body moving casually down the street, T-shirt and shorts, exuding summer laziness and I would be furious. Especially on a Saturday or a Sunday as I drive to work.

This year I have been able to just take it in as a natural part of this time of year. I don't necessarily want to kill these people. I am framing a summer picture in my mind and getting out of it what I can.

Maybe Keith's wisdom is finally sinking in.

This summer is not what I want it to be, but it is what it is. It is of my creation born of my own decisions. It is all I got in 2013.

2014 might be better. Pretty much has to be better. I sense that I am at some sort of personal breaking point.

This job eviscerates me minute by minute every single day. An acquaintance has provided for me an opportunity to escape into another job. Monday through Friday. No weekends. Paid holidays.

It's a long shot. I haven't even interviewed yet and I'm sure there are 637, 818 applicants.

I know I won't like that job either.

How Many  More Times -  (Led Zeppelin). How many more times will I do this to myself?

My embattled and embittered brain is coyly suggesting that this is the time and the place to take a stand. To go after what I want no matter the price. Now or never, baby.

My mind just keeps working on me. "You are running out of time, Joseph. You can't keep making bad decisions based on money and escape. You are better than this, you know you are better than this, you know you can accomplish something with the natural talent that flows through your veins. Do it. NOW."

Fifty nine and not much time. Goddamn rhyme. And again.

Easier to think this way than to do it. Deadlines and commitments (exactly, Mr. Seeger), prevent one from moving freely about. Step one inch outside of those deadlines and commitments and there is a devil instantaneously there to menace you with a lurid smile.

But that is really irrelevant when you are talking about a life. A life with options. Options that have not been fully explored or come close to being realized.

You gotta make it happen.

Summer is dripping away, the job I have wears death's shroud, the opportunity I have before me is nebulous and unwanted, and the mind, the spirit and the soul are life weary and almost devoid of energy and inspiration.

Yet, somehow, summer is making it's mark. Making it's presence felt. And my mind continues to hope.

Went to a Fishercats game on Thursday night with my oldest son, Keith. A glorious night. We talked all night. Laughed a lot. Couple of ballpark beers and some sinfully and delightfully unhealthy ballpark food.

A stereotypical American summer night that was not stereotypical at all because I was with my son.

It was our night.

Completely comfortable in each other's company. And we witnessed a no hitter, although the bad guys were the architects of that accomplishment.

That was a moment. A summer moment. A life moment.

Although there is no reason for it to be otherwise, I am always amazed and grateful for the comfort I feel in my sons' company. The peace it brings me. The laughter and the escape.

Thursday night I was at peace. Negatives in my brain were compensated for and unexamined that night. Replaced by good baseball, ballpark beer and food, a summer night, fireworks after the game, and the company of my son, effortless and magical.

Once August 1 rolls around, summer begins retreating at warp speed. Maybe my life will change in August. Maybe change will happen to me, maybe I will originate the change.

I have memories of the summer of 2013 so far. Looking into the sun, loving the heat, feeding off of others' leisure, LOUD music fueling me back and forth from work.

One powerfully laid back and easy flowing night with Keith. Mind shatteringly peace providing.

I continue to struggle, but it ain't all bad.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Dustin Pedroia

Dustin Pedroia is a name.

Dustin Pedroia is an example.

If you live on Mars or, God forbid, are not into sports, Dustin Pedroia is the second baseman for the Boston Red Sox.

Dustin Pedroia just signed an 8 year deal worth $110 million dollars.

And he deserves it.

Even though those of us who dig sports dig it royally, maybe there exists a tinge of resentment over what these guys get paid.

We crawl through the mud every day and eat the meaningless words of our spineless bosses for the sweet reward of earning just below what we need to survive.

This creates anxiety.

Then you read about a guy getting umpteen million dollars, a guy whose character you question, and you feel cheated.

This creates resentment.

You get a clown like Manny Ramirez wallowing in money even though he disrespects the game, his teammates and the fans.

Openly. With no guilt or shame.

You get A-Rod signed for trillions, doping up to compete, and torturing yankees fans with his tender psyche.

You get a guy like Curt Schilling who retired rich and lost it all in the business world. If you or I had one tenth of Schilling's former wealth we would guard it zealously, falling to our knees every morning to thank the gods of compound interest.

There is another side to sports.

Paul Pierce crying when he received his championship ring.

Big Papi repaying fans with his smile and his strength and his positive attitude and his performance.

Tom Brady restructuring his contract to allow The PATS to continue to compete.

Dustin Pedroia coming into the league and being laughed at by jaded players for his insane hustle. Players jaded by the ego of being a pro; players jaded by fat wallets.

Pedroia answers by winning Rookie of the Year honors and going on in his second year to become MVP. By becoming one of only eight players to win a World Series and Gold Glove as well as being named Rookie of the Year and MVP.

Goes on to become the highest paid second baseman in baseball.

"..............But the way he plays the game, he plays like a giant. His intensity makes him a giant." Shane Victorino (teammate).

"He wakes up and thinks about baseball. He gets here at noon, it's baseball. He wants to win. He's a winner. Personally, I wish I had more of his characteristics."  Mike Carp (teammate).

"He's the kind of baseball player that every Red Sox fan wants to see in the field and at the plate."  John Henry (Red Sox owner).

"If I had nine Dustins we'd win every game". Terry Francona (former manager).

When Pedroia was asked why he did not look into free agency and a chance to earn even more money he said: "I'm not here to set markets. I'm here to win more games than the other second basemen."

It's that Guy Clark thing. Pedroia loves the game. He respects the fans and his teammates. He does what he does because it is who he is. He expresses his soul with a baseball bat, a baseball glove and an eternally dirty uniform.

And he is respected as an example by his peers. Someone to emulate. The highest compliment.

I bet if I shook Dustin Pedroia's hand I could pick up a bat and hit .250.

Well, maybe not. But maybe his vibe would course through my body for that brief moment and change me forever.

Into a competitor. A winner.

This is powerful stuff in a world so visibly out of whack with reality as professional sports is.

Can you finish a sentence with is?

Dustin Pedroia is the guy who makes it good to be a fan. He brings excitement and integrity. You watch him play and you lose yourself in his ability. His grit and determination and refusal to ever quit.

It's not about the contract.

It's about the man.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Guy Clark

Gonna try to attack a familiar topic from a different angle.

Probably fail.

My sweet, loving, sensitive and attentive wife turned me on to the fact that there was a program on NPR today dealing with a singer songwriter named Guy Clark.

As she listened to the program she heard a reference to the friendship between Guy, and Townes Van Zandt - another guy that I worship. She knew I would be interested.

I love the way Carol thinks of me. She never heard of Townes Van Zandt until I peppered her mercilessly about his music and the story of his life. That info stayed in her brain; she heard the thing about Guy Clark and knew I would dig it because he is a singer/songwriter. When she heard of his relationship to Townes she knew I would HAVE to hear this.

I have an amazing woman for a protector.

I just listened to the program.

Anyway, the topic is these people who inspire everybody else in a profession. For me the musical ones are the best because I have an intimate relationship with and an intimate need for music.

Especially singer/songwriters.

I love the loud stuff. The fast stuff. The Allman Brothers own me and they rock. They are the group that hijacked me at the age of fifteen and never let go. And I am goddamn glad and goddamn grateful that they did. I am going to see them in August for the 3 millionth time and I feel like a kid about to wet his pants in gleeful anticipation.

But typically, it is the personal stuff, the small stuff, the intimate stuff - that is what vibrates my soul at the frequency of life.

Guy Clark is 71 years old now. Been fighting cancer, has had two knee replacements and leg surgery.

Still writing. Still singing. Just put out a new album called "My Favorite Picture of You" dedicated to his wife of forty years, Susanna, who just died last year.

The picture is of Susanna standing outside the house arms crossed, fists clenched, mouth firmly set.

The story: "Townes and I were in that house, just absolutely, obnoxiously drunk - and she'd had enough. She just got up, put her jacket on and left. And that has always been my favorite picture of Susanna. From the moment I saw it that day, I had held onto it and saved it. 'Cause that was Susanna: Don't fuck with me, 'cause you will lose."

Cool lyric: "he taught me how to drive a car when he's too drunk to." A lyric that would probably be ripped apart today, but a lyric that paints a picture that is vivid and describes a reality that is simple and honest.

Cool lyric: "I have a tattoo with her name right through my soul." A powerful statement of love.

Back in the day, Guy had guitar pulls at his house. A guitar pull is when a bunch of talented people get together and try to outdo each other musically, both in lyrics and on their instruments.

Another well known group of people who used to do that included Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and more.

You get the point.

Guy had Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell and more.

Rodney Crowell: "If I could write something cohesive enough, strong enough, powerful enough, true enough that I could play it for Guy and look him in the eye while I'm doing it, then that's success."

Emmy Lou Harris has amazing things to say about Guy in this program; so does Lyle Lovett.

There are enormously talented people in this world. People who are plugged into genuine emotion and the true fabric of life. People who can turn all of that into amazing music that resonates with the everyday human. Music that inspires us to buy their music and to attend their concerts.

Because doing so makes our lives better.

Those people in turn  are drawn to supremely gifted people for inspiration. The numbers are so small. Successful entertainers are one in a million. Those that inspire them are one in a billion.

Guy Clark is one of the elite.

And these people hang with a guy like Guy Clark hoping to learn from him while knowing full well they will never be in his league.

Guy Clark and people like him might just be the source of life.

A Refreshing Perspective

"Well, I've always believed that if done properly, armed robbery doesn't have to be an unpleasant experience."

J.D. - from "Thelma & Louise"

Monday, July 22, 2013

I'm Down

"You tell lies thinking I can't see
You can't cry 'cause you're laughing at me
I'm down

How can you laugh when you know I'm down?
How can you laugh when you know I'm down?"

"I'm Down" by The Beatles

Mutate To Kill

Read a piece in Time about new cancer treatments being developed to hopefully make it possible to stop depending on chemotherapy.

The new research could provide "gentler ways of targeting cancer that could require nothing more than popping pills, and with fewer side effects."

The article also says "Cancer cells, like bacteria and viruses, can mutate to resist the targeted drugs, so it may take a cocktail of drugs to address this defense, as happened with HIV/AIDS."

When I was reading Mortality by Christopher Hitchens, it took in all the pain involved in fighting back against cancer, including the psychological pain.

He would read about new treatments or be told about them, and become hopeful. He would then contact appropriate physicians to discuss the potential. Almost invariably he would be told the research was not far enough along, or that his particular type of cancer did not qualify him for treatments that were being tested.

Some new treatments were tried but failed.

He made the comment that he was well aware that research was going on that just might beat cancer or at least increase the cure rate, and that it would probably not happen soon enough for him.

It did not.

This disease is hideous.

And it can mutate to resist targeted drugs.

Human beings are so fragile in an infinite variety of ways, excluding the threat of disease.

Hideous diseases exponentially complicate the equation.

The blueprint of life is unfathomable.

Dead On

A partial quote from Maya Angelou on the Trayvon Martin verdict:

"........................What is really injured - bruised, if you will - is the psyche of our national population. We are all harmed. We are all belittled, and we give to the rest of the world more ammunition to sneer at us."

Sunday, July 21, 2013

End Of The Line

"No matter how hard I run, I just can't get away
I try to do my best, but the devil gets in the way
Spent most of my lifetime downtown, sleeping behind the wheel
'Till it all came down to kill or be killed"

Rockin' my way home with The Allman Brothers. The lyrics  resonated.

"End Of The Line" from the Shades Of Two Worlds CD.

Editor's note: Just got home from The Asylum after the dreaded Sunday shift, poured a little whiskey, walked upstairs to get comfortable, set the whiskey glass on the plastic case of the above mentioned CD.

Somehow seemed appropriate. Would have made a hell of a photograph.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Open Range

You know you're watching a good western when the last line of the movie is:

"Let's go get our cows."

I Can't Keep Up And I'm Pissed

Netflix is screwing around again and I'm gonna get hurt.

They are changing their focus, allowing certain licensing fees to expire, moving in a new direction. trying to become the internet's HBO, and the king of video streaming.

I understand. Technology is moving fast and you gotta keep up.

What I don't like is that from what I have read, a lot of what is being sacrificed is "old Movies."

Precisely the movies I want to see.

I am not comfortable with a corporation making decisions based on what the public wants.

The public is overrun with morons. (See Reality TV).

My dream is instantaneous access to every movie ever made. In today's world I am willing to bet that is not so far fetched an idea.

My nightmare is what is happening now, where quality entertainment is deemed superfluous and expendable in favor of a dive towards stupidity.

I have not even reached the streaming phase yet. I tried to set it up, but the woman I spoke to over the phone asked me 318 frustrating questions that drove me out of my mind.

I hung up.

I am aware that there are options out there that I haven't investigated. Amazon prime. Roku. I don't know what the hell these things are, I don't know how they work.

My ignorance is my own fault. I gotta make the effort. Gotta do a forty five page cost/benefit analysis, coupled with an efficiency study.

Lurking in the diseased corner of my mind is the belief that even if I have the stamina to make this effort, I won't be able to get the things I want.

I am an independent movie guy. Classic movie guy. Sub-titled movie guy.

I like blockbusters, like a little action, love a lot of violence and insanity, but my focus is on the above.

I am in an irrelevant demographic consumer wise, unless you are talking about Depends and coffins.

This does not please me.

The Right Thing

President Obama did the right thing.

He had the guts to speak the truth about the racial tensions and unfairness in this country.

He probably felt an obligation to do so as The United States of America's First Black President. He probably felt a moral obligation to do so as well.

Of course the backlash is intense.

Americans are comfortable expressing their racial prejudices openly, especially after President Obama's election in 2008. They are not comfortable being called on it.

He did it in an offhand way, no script, with emotion and carefully chosen words because he respects the power his office holds.

He was criticized for that. For the halting way he spoke. When he reads from a teleprompter he is criticized for not being genuine. When he speaks off the cuff he is criticized for speaking haltingly.

That is one tiny and petty example of how this man cannot win. I can offer up 300 more.

He speaks carefully when the words are unscripted because he is intelligent. He chooses his words carefully. In a case like this he checks his emotions. You could see him reigning them in a couple of times during his comments.

He exposed what everybody already knows. Justice is unfair in this country. Warped by racial prejudice.

He referenced the history of black people in this country as well as their current reality, and delicately made the point that black people might just see a case like this differently than white people.

His words might carry more weight because it is difficult to imagine The President of The United States at any time in his life being followed in a department store, having women clutch their purses in fear around him, having people lock their car doors as he crosses the street.

I want to believe his words have more impact and can spark change.

I don't.

What is cool is The President of The United States saying out loud what black people deal with every day. Making that connection with them. Giving them a voice at the highest level. The most powerful man in the free world unafraid to address poisoned truths.

He is a big enough man to point out that things are changing. That he sees less prejudice, more open mindedness, in the minds and in the actions of his daughters' generation and in youth in general. That that generation is better than we are, better than we were. He introduced hope into a dark and honest commentary on America.

That reflects the intelligence and the integrity of this man.

He also made the point that we have a long way to go. A long way to go.

He had to do that, had to make that point, because the way things are "progressing" in this country, the day we get to a post racial America will be the day after The Apocalypse.

President Obama's presidency will go down in history as the biggest squandered opportunity for the betterment of America ever experienced.

Congressman who fought him at every turn for immoral reasons, regardless of the dire consequences to the voters they supposedly represent. Congressman who were willing to jeopardize the survival of this country for political and racially prejudiced reasons.

A man of principle, a genius, who is resented for his intelligence and thwarted because of the color of his skin.

That may be what is most powerful about his statement on the Trayvon Martin case. Not even the President of The United States can escape the backlash, the viciousness, the small minded and destructive result of racial prejudice in America.

Thomas Jefferson Wasn't THAT Smart

I am reading a biography on Edgar Allen Poe.

Poe attended the University of Virginia in 1826. The university is described in the biography as: "the fulfillment of forty years' thought and planning by its eighty three year old rector, Thomas Jefferson."

Jefferson felt that Virginia youth would not respond well to the tight discipline of Harvard and other northern schools so "he established a system of minimum rules and maximum governance, hoping students would monitor one another's behavior for the good of all."

Dig the results:

"During a riot in the school's first year, masked undergraduates threw bricks and bottles at professors"

"The faculty threatened to resign unless the school established "an efficient Police."

"During Edgar's year, seven students were suspended or expelled for high stakes gambling, assaults, or drunkenness, and his examination in French had to be re-scheduled after "some or all" of the class managed to steal the questions beforehand."

"Several scholars besieged the house of a townsman and stripped the clothes off his servant-woman believing she "had infected the Students with disease."

Apparently forty years wasn't enough for Jefferson to come up with a better plan. Perhaps he was distracted while cavorting with his slave women.

Thomas Jefferson: One of the founding fathers of this great country; the founding father of the first Animal House.

Loved This

Christopher Hitchins from "Mortality" :

When you fall ill, people send you CD's. Very often, in my experience, these are by Leonard Cohen."

Friday, July 19, 2013

Upon Further Review

One aspect - an enormous aspect - of what disturbed me about Mortality, was the vivid descriptions of what Christopher Hitchins went through.

The pain, the painful medical procedures, the vomiting, loss of voice, weakness, loss of weight, rashes, reactions to drugs, loss of appetite, excruciating pain of just swallowing at one point in the treatments, the stimulation of hope, the death of hope and on and on and on.........................

I'll be sixty in January. I live in the danger zone. I haven't exercised for one second in 8 months and I have been known to consume what physicians call an unhealthy volume of civilized whiskey; in addition the stress level is through the roof.

My biggest fear is having to go through something like that. Or experiencing a health crisis that leaves me incapacitated and not dead.

If my health must go, let my life go with it.

I am finely tuned in to the desperation that defines the rest of my life. A frantic, panicked desire to wrest victory from the arms of defeat. An obsession to make myself proud by making my professional life something to be proud of.

The fearful is the inability to know what my constitution truly is. How much abuse can I take.

Am I Keith Richards, or some wussy boy who has exacted too high a toll on his body already?

Keef leads to more decades to establish myself. Wussy boy leads to an intimate relationship with hospital beds.

There is no way to know.

There was a definite feeling of discomfort when I put down Mortality. A voice in the head.

A starters gun going off compelling me to pick up the pace.

That's all I got for now.


Just read a book by Christopher Hitchens called Mortality.

He wrote it after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer in June of 2010. He died eighteen months after the diagnosis. He called this "his time of living dyingly."

My thoughts and emotions are all over the place. The book is written in a straight forward manner detailing the pain and indignities of dealing with cancer without being self pitying. There is a lot of humor in his words. It is spiced with amazing quotes and references and opinions.

I'm sitting here reeling because of just holding the intimate experience of death in my hands, while also realizing it will take me two weeks to sort through all the references from poets and writers and philosophers.

Hitchins was that kind of guy. So damn intelligent, so damn knowledgeable, that whenever you read him he turns you onto to all kinds of fascinating things. And he did not condescend to dumb himself down; he assumed, maybe even challenged his readers to have the intelligence to understand him and/or the ambition and interest to research his references and improve their minds.

He used his mind. He was a thinker. He left behind a million quotes to challenge and inspire you. Contained within the body of a larger quote was the line "Suspect your own motives, and all excuses."

That in my humble opinion is the essence of thinking.

Humans fall into predictable modes of thought, predictable reactions to situations. I know I do. I have been running in circles for decades because of that. Suspecting your own motives and all your excuses is a way to bust out of that rut and maybe arrive at freedom.

Easier said than done. Easier to question others' motives than your own. Because it is hard to be honest with yourself.

Typical Hitchins observation from the book: "My father had died, and very swiftly, too, of cancer of the esophagus. He was seventy-nine. I am sixty-one. In whatever kind of a "race" life may be, I have very abruptly become a finalist."

He disputes the theory of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross who said that terminally ill patients progress through stages from denial to rage to bargaining to depression and the eventual bliss of acceptance.

He questions the old cliche that whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

"Indeed, it occurs to me that if I didn't have such a stout constitution I might have led a much healthier life thus far." He was a renowned drinker and heavy smoker who is saying that maybe if his body had broken down a little bit earlier on he might have changed his wicked ways.

Interesting perspective.

He was attacked by the religious after he was diagnosed, saying he was being punished by God. His response was, in part, "The vengeful deity has a sadly depleted arsenal if all he can think of is exactly the cancer that my age and former "lifestyle" would suggest that I got."

There were those who prayed for Hitchins even though he was an atheist. He references a quote from Ambrose Bierce in his Devil's Dictionary -  "Prayer: A petition that the laws of nature be suspended in favor of the petitioner; himself confessedly unworthy."

I'm not really getting across where my head is at after reading this book. I'm probably boring you with quotes.

It hit me, I guess, because it was an intimate brush with death, the death of a guy I respected. At the same time it inspired me with so many quotes and references, it got my mind thinking about life and myself, it sparked in me a thought process that could be beneficial if I could learn to suspect my own motives, and all excuses.

It gave me a more intimate acquaintance with the man, it got me thinking about death and disease, it got me thinking about life and evolving. Achieving potential. Thinking and learning.

A pretty good jolt on a Friday morning.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

George Zimmerman In America

Been sitting back for the last few days taking in the reaction to the Zimmerman verdict.

Hearing words I have heard before. Words that infuriated me, some that amused me, some that disappointed me.

The biggest disappointment is that I am hearing the same things again.

Mindless racists who deny their racist attitudes in public and celebrate them in private, defending our legal system and saying the decision makes sense.

I found out about the verdict while working at The Asylum last Sunday. A guy came in and told me he just saw a bunch of cop cars, sirens loudly wailing, screaming past him. He wondered where they were going, and then said "maybe there is a riot going on because of the verdict." He then proceeded to tell me he had work experience within the legal system and knew the decision was the right one, explaining it to me in blatantly racist overtones.

I wanted to strangle him.

I didn't contradict him because I work in retail. The agreement is that you don't piss off the customer.

There should be exceptions. I should have been able to tell this guy that he is a racist pig who hates people because of the color of their skin and that because of that he has no rightful place in this life.

We have endured racially polarizing incidents and trials in the past; too many, too frequently.

Racist cretins celebrate the injustices suffered by the black population. Intellectuals say stuff like it's time we had an honest conversation about racism in this country. Legal folk defend our legal system as if it could not be corrupt.

Everything is corrupt.

"There's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in." Leonard Cohen.

I have been listening. And thinking.

One intellectual said white people see black people and that is the first thing that registers in their mind.

It's true.

I don't consider myself a racist but I could be fooling myself into thinking I am more evolved than I am because I want to be.

When I encounter a black person, it immediately registers that they are black. I feel no hatred, I feel no threat, I do not consider myself superior, but my mind says "this person is black."

I don't know what that means.

The most disturbing thing to me is being made aware that black fathers routinely have conversations with their sons telling them how to act in public and especially around police.

I have heard this many times since the verdict.

It breaks my heart.

I have two beautiful and very precious sons. I never had to warn them about how to behave in public and in front of the police.

Black fathers my age told stories of their own fathers having this conversation with them and they in turn having the same conversation with their sons.

Do you really believe we are making progress in America?

We are not.

Eugene Robinson, a Pulitzer prize winning author who deserves your respect, wrote in the Washington Post on July 15:"But black boys in this country are not allowed to be children. They are assumed to be men, and to be full of menace............ If anyone wonders why African Americans feel so passionately about this case, it's because we know that our 17-year-old sons are boys, not men. It's because we know their adolescent bravura is just that - an imitation of manhood, not the real thing."

And: "The conversation we need to have is about how black men, even black boys, are denied the right to be young, to be vulnerable, to make mistakes. We need to talk about why, for example, black men are no more likely than white men to smoke marijuana but nearly four times as likely to be arrested for it - and condemned to a dead-end cycle of incarceration and unemployment. I call this racism. What do you call it?"

When I was a boy, blacks were not allowed into the same restaurants as whites, not allowed to drink from the same water fountains, and god forbid, not allowed to swim in the same public pools lest the pure white folk catch some horrible disease.

Is there a disease worse than racial prejudice?

I cannot believe, cannot believe, cannot believe that these conditions existed in my lifetime.

Nothing has changed.

Nothing will change.

I don't know what it is about this country, but our lives revolve around a deep, impenetrable and unacceptable thread of pure hatred. Hatred from hell. Hatred like only The Devil himself could create.

I theorize that it is the karma we created by coming to this country and raping it and deliberately destroying the culture of Native Americans who were light years ahead of us in spirituality and intelligence.

This country was founded on lies and bloodshed and racial prejudice.

We are incapable of learning from the horrors and injustices we have perpetrated because it is easier to hate than to love, and we are a lazy civilization.

Racist cretins are beyond hope. They will not change their opinions and they will breed children who will carry those opinions forward.

Intellectuals are beyond hope because an honest and uncomfortable dialogue will not change a goddamn thing; will not open up a mind. It will only make the conversationalists feel better about themselves.

The painful truth is that people will always hate other people simply because of the color of their skin.

So vicious, so stupid, so limiting.

This country came alive in 1776. Slaves were freed in 1865. Civil rights legislation was passed in the 1960's.

At that rate, blacks might have a shot at equality in the year 2213.

It will never happen. We will never get there.

Equality is not achieved in legislation; equality is achieved in the mind.

The mind of America is terminally ill.


I am still here.

Don't give up on me.

Maybe tonight, huh?

Schedule's been crazy. I am losing strength as I don't write.

Must crawl to the computer, glue fingers to keyboard.

Momma I'm coming home.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Peter Sellers


Holy Cow.

I had no idea how big a star Peter Sellers was in his lifetime.

Some perspective - George Harrison said: "We met him at numerous parties and different things, but at that time we were more in awe of him because of our childhoods and the Goons (Sellers' comedy gang). We just loved the Goons. It was the greatest thing we'd ever heard. I remember thinking that we'd met all these film stars and presidents and kings and queens...But there were very few people who really impressed me."

Unbelievable. The Beatles were in awe of Peter Sellers.

And the list of people he worked with and hung around with was amazing, the creme de la creme of the entertainment world. Celebrity royalty. He even palled around with members of the royal family.

This guy was huge in England and an international film star/comedian.

He was also deeply screwed up.

Had all the money in the world, massive fame and the professional respect of his peers who revered his comedic mind, but he was unable to enjoy it. He was deeply neurotic, jealous of his women and abusive to his wives and kids.

He described himself as an empty vessel, saying repeatedly that he didn't really exist, that he didn't know who Peter Sellers was, that he only existed through the characters he played.

He starred in a movie late in his life called Being There. I love this movie. He plays a guy named Chance (who through misunderstandings becomes known as Chauncey Gardiner) who spends his entire life as a gardener for a rich guy. The only other thing he does is watch TV.

He knows nothing, is uneducated and uninformed. He does not exist as a personality. The rich guy dies and suddenly Chauncey is thrust out into the world, out into reality.

This happens and that happens and he ends up in the care of another rich couple. Eventually he becomes known, and famous, for saying essentially meaningless things that others mistake for brilliance. Things he has learned from watching TV; things pertaining to gardening. People take these utterances as advice and as inspiration, he is wooed by presidents and powerful people; people come to him for guidance.

And he knows absolutely nothing. His face is blank when he talks, there is little emotion in his voice. It is a cool story and an amazing performance.

A critic said: "The audience must believe that Chance is so completely blank that he could indeed seem to be all things to all the people he meets. Peter Sellers' meticulously controlled performance brings off this seemingly impossible task..."

The role resonated with me when I first saw it. Reading this biography really blew the ears off my head when I realized Sellers was essentially playing himself. What is more amazing was that he didn't write the screen play; the movie was adapted from a book written by Jerzy Kosinski.

When Sellers' became aware of the role, he knew he had to play the part.

The movie floored me because that is how I live my life. I won't say I don't exist but I will say that my essence is buried under two tons of concrete. I survive by going with the flow, allowing everyone around me to be themselves no matter how much it compromises me.

I hide the real me. Always and forever.

Knowing now how tortured Peter Sellers was, how he felt that there was no Peter Sellers, I feel like a kindred spirit and understand even more why the movie jangled my nerves.

I couldn't stomach the fact that Sellers beat his wives and was evil to his kids. One minute he would be loving, the next he would be throwing furniture around the house. He said things to his kids no father should say; he wrote them notes telling them he no longer loved them and that they were out of his life.

He bought cars like toys, always luxurious, expensive and fast. He bought mansions all over the place, moved on a whim from house to house and country to country.

His family's life was in constant turmoil.

When he died he left each of his three children only $2,000. His fortune went to his wife, Lynne, who was his fourth wife and over twenty years younger than him. Sellers' close friend Spike Millligan approached Lynne suggesting she should share the fortune with Seller's kids.

She refused.

She died at the age of 39 from drug abuse and booze; the fortune went to her mother.

What a twisted and cruel legacy to leave behind.

He undermined movie productions, got people fired, skipped filming when he felt like it.

He was the ultimate spoiled  celebrity.

Yet professionally he was respected by his peers and considered to be a comedic genius. His peers opinions of him were always guarded and multi layered; yeah he could be a pain in the ass but he could also be the funniest, the warmest guy you would ever want to meet.

A complex, talented, tortured, misunderstood, sometimes heart warming sometimes heartless man.

He died at the age of 54.

The book was an emotional roller coaster to read. At times I loved the guy, at times I hated him; at times I empathized with him; at times I thought of him as a monster.

The book ended in an odd way. Biographies are always a crap shoot; biographers tend to be full of themselves, interjecting opinions where none are warranted, working hard to communicate literary style at the expense of the story of a life.

This book (written in 2002) ended on a death note. Heavy. A mortality roll call of Peter Sellers' friends.

"David Lodge, Kenneth Griffith, and Graham Stark live in or around London. Roman Polanski lives in exile in Paris. Terry Southern died in 1995, Stanley Kubrick in 1999, Hal Ashby died in 1988. Michael Bentine died in 1996. Sir Harry Secombe and George Harrison died in 2001.
Spike Milligan died in February 2002."

Ultimately I cannot hate Peter Sellers. He was an immensely talented and sensitive human being who got swept up into a life so large he could barely negotiate it.

His relationships with his mother, who spoiled and controlled him even as an adult, and his father who was spineless and quiet, had enormous consequences on who he became.

He was a supreme comic who could never be happy.

Dig This

"I can't dislike you, but I will say this to you: you haven't got long before you are all going to kill yourselves, because you are all crazy. And you can project it back at me, but I am only what lives inside each and every one of you."

Charles Manson

Check It Out

"Goin' to work on Monday
Got yourself a family
All utility bills have been paid
You can't tell your best buddy that you love him"

"Where does our time go
Got a brand new house in escrow
Sleepin' with your back to your loved one
This is all that we've learned about happiness"

"Gettin' too drunk on Saturdays
Playin' football with the kids on Sundays
Soarin' with the eagles all week long
And this is all that we've learned about living"

"Check It Out" - John Mellencamp

Not Really

I sang these lyrics to Carol this very morning:

"I went around to your house,
found you laid up in the bed,
by early afternoon you were so sloppy drunk,
you couldn't even raise up your head."

She responded "What an idiot." Walked away and poured herself yet another wholesome glass of milk.

Editor's Note: The lyrics are from "Get On With Your Life" by The Allman Brothers Band. The song is fabulous.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Dig This

"I don't understand boredom. All you have to do is walk around the house as if you were blind. How could you be bored? Depressed, yes. That's a different ballgame. I know depression. I know every degree of it. But not boredom."

Dustin Hoffman


I have a lovely and amazing wife.

Thirty five years we have been married. We are officially a couple. When you are together that long you develop a relationship rhythm, like a dance team.

We know each other's moves.

So when subtle changes occur you notice them immediately.

Lately Carol has taken to sleeping with a Defender 13 inch Butcher Knife with Wood Handle by her side.

It's a cleaver. It's a goddamn cleaver.

I haven't asked her about it because it's important to give your spouse space as they evolve. New directions take shape through trial and error - interrogation throws people off track.

When the moon is just right in the sky, moonbeams cast a wicked glint off the steel.

She sleeps more soundly now than she used to.

Except, from time to time I hear her talking in her sleep.

She says "You better shape up, you little bug. You better start carrying your weight around here. When the hell are you going to just say WTF and get on with your life? It worked for Tom Cruise in Risky Business, it could work for you too, if you ever grow some balls. Because if you don't, I have the answer. I have the Defender. I am the Defender."

Sounds like movie dialogue, but I can't quite place it.

I try to descend into sleep after each performance but my mind is racing.

Must be the goddamn job.

Nutty Buddy

I look at the cats on the screened in porch and I see the serenity I have been chasing all my life.

Chasing relentlessly, like an ice cream vendor pursuing a child for a sale. Edging closer to the curb, choking off any chance of escape, veering dangerously close to the tricycle, pinching it up against the curb and screaming hysterically "Buy a Nutty Buddy for Christ sake, just one, that's all I ask. One goddamn Nutty Buddy so I can make happy hour at the Broken Dreams bar."

Yeah, just like that.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Solitary Confinement

According to Dr. Stuart Grassian, a Board Certified Psychiatrist who was on the faculty of the Harvard Medical School for over 25 years, solitary confinement can cause severe psychiatric harm. Severe restriction of environmental and social stimulation has a profoundly deleterious effect on mental functioning.

History: The U.S. was actually the world leader in introducing prolonged incarceration, and solitary confinement, as a means of dealing with criminal behavior. The penitentiary system began in the U.S., first in Philadelphia, and involved almost exclusive reliance on solitary confinement, becoming known as the Philadelphia System.

The results were catastrophic. "The incidence of mental disturbances and the severity of such disturbances was so great that the system was ultimately abandoned."

Of course this country being what it is, the lessons of the 19th century experience with solitary confinement are largely being ignored today.

"It's a standard psychiatric concept, if you put people in isolation, they will go insane." Sandra Schank, staff psychiatrist, Mule Creek State Prison, California.

"We make loners here, not better people."  Prison Psychologist

In 2005, 70% of the prisoners in the California prison system who committed suicide were in solitary confinement.

In 1993, Pelican Bay State Prison was the subject of a law suit filed on behalf of 3,600 prisoners alleging violations of rights and abuse.

Psychological assessments of Pelican Bay's solitary confined prisoners indicate high rates of anxiety, nervousness, obsessive ruminations, anger, violent fantasies, nightmares, trouble sleeping, as well as dizziness, perspiring hands and heart palpitations.

Wait a minute.

I feel that way every day.

Maybe solitary confinement could be a cure for me.

I hunger for solitary confinement.

My dream is to cloister myself in my home and make a living as a writer. Alone. No human interaction.

I am much happier around zero humans than when forced to deal with this thing we call social interaction.

It would be social interaction if the playing field were level, but phobias, neuroses and psychoses plague even the most mild mannered and seemingly well adjusted human.

Every person you deal with is Sybil.

That ain't social interaction. It is crowd psychosis.

I am happiest when alone but my version of solitary confinement is soft around the edges. Gotta have the computer. The cats. Yogurt. Music. A tangy sandwich and a cold beer at lunch. Screened in porch for meditating. Amazon.com for 1 penny used books.

Still I think there is merit in my theory that solitary confinement would actually cure me of anxiety and sweaty palms.

"Go to the segregation units and you will find the sickest people locked down, unattended to, and it's the way a malfunctioning prison system operates to hide their mentally ill." Fred Cohen LL.M, LL.B (whatever the hell that stands for).

I am a sick person, certifiable mentally ill, and I would love to be hidden.

Hide me.

Lock me up in my home.

Just so long as I can walk and stretch and dial up Mumford & Sons and kiss my cats on the head.

Gentle solitary confinement. No human interaction, all the amenities of modern living.

I invented the concept, I like it and I shall pursue it.

Ciao, baby.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I Have Been Spoiled

Came downstairs this morning at 7:00, wearing shorts and a T-shirt.

Ended up putting on sweatpants and a shirt over the T-shirt.

Currently the shirt is gone but the sweatpants are still being sported.

I am cold.

It is 68 degrees.


Lived from 1899 to 1968 and was a photographer renowned for stark black and white photographs of New York City.

Many of which centered around murder. Pictures of the dead, pictures of the police at the crime scene, pictures of leering onlookers. He has one picture of kids at a crime scene entitle "Their First Murder."

He was a practical man. "The easiest kind of a job to cover was a murder. The stiff would be laying on the ground."

He began working as a street portrait photographer in 1913. He would travel around with a pony and photograph NYC children on weekends. His biography says the job was short lived due to the expense of caring for the pony.

In 1917 he moved out of the family home to try to make it on his own and took a variety of odd jobs, typical stuff you do to survive, like dishwasher, day laborer - BUT he also worked as a "hole puncher" at the Life Saver factory.

I want that job.

He was also homeless off and on during this period, taking refuge in missions, public parks and railroad stations.

He began his freelance career in 1935, concentrating his focus around Manhattan police headquarters. In 1938 he got permission to install a police radio in his car. This is where his nickname originated. His real name is Usher Fellig. The twist is that he often showed up at crime scenes before the police, so people attributed a super natural kind of thing to him similar to a Ouija board supplying ethereal answers to desperate questions.

He bastardized it and adopted the name Weegee.

In 1941 he opened an exhibition titled "Weegee:Murder is My Business", which still travels the world today.

I must see it. You must see it. The children must see it. Fun for the whole family.

He wrote Naked City, a book that got turned into a movie and won two Oscars.

In the fifties he got into distorted portraits of celebrities and political figures.

To be fair, not all of his stuff revolved around the lurid. In fact quite a bit of it documented life. His catalogue includes a lot of pictures of life in NYC. Some convey the starkness, the delicate equation, of existence as a human being, some expose the pure joy of being a kid.

He published an autobiography in 1961.

Absolutely fascinating to know a human can evolve in this way. He began with an interest in photography, started out with a pony and kids, dug into the murder scene, evolved into the surreal of distorted portraits, wrote a book.

Were the seeds of all this there at birth? Or did they evolve as his brain was assaulted by life?

Who cares? What idiot even asked that question?

Let's just be thankful that a man like this existed as counterpoint to The Boring and The Mundane.

The passion is a big part of the story. The desire, the belief in what he was doing, to push through homelessness and Life Saver factories for the opportunity to express what was in his soul.

That is where the super natural enters into it. Most of us barely have the energy to get up off the couch to make a bologna sandwich.

It also says something that, although he is celebrated for his murder photographs and distorted celebrities, that same mind also was interested in daily life, and in the just plain happiness of being a kid.


Me in 10 years.

Dual Purpose

"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat,
"or you wouldn't have come here."

A conversation from Alice In Wonderland.

A conversation between me and a co-worker.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Proof Is In The Spillage

Woke up at 3:30. Got very little sleep between 3:30 and 6:45 when I got up.

I am tired.

Here's proof.

Cranked up the keurig coffee machine. Walked away to check into this and look into that.

Walked back - there was coffee all over the counter.

I had set my cup under the spout upside down.

There is no hope for me.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Pursuit Of Happ$ness

Just read an article in Time magazine about the pursuit of happiness.

I exulted in one point made. Money does buy happiness.

Whenever we are faced with the truth of our own poverty, we regurgitate the cliche that money cannot buy happiness.

This is true on a spiritual level. It is not true on a practical level. Money buys you room to breathe, it injects dignity into your life, it reduces the fear and anxiety wielded as weapons by The Mortgage Vampire and others of his ilk who maintain a stranglehold on your life.

In the 70's, Richard Easterlin opined that "there is a threshold beyond which increases in income produce no commensurate increase in subjective well-being. Once basic needs (food, clothing, shelter) are met, we simply reach a satiation point."

Researchers now admit that while happiness may not rise as quickly as income, there is no such thing as growing numb to money.

A study by the Brookings Instituion and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public policy, based on data from 155 countries, indicates that subjective well-being does indeed rise along with income and that a 10% bump in a $50,000 income produces a greater happiness boost than a 10% increase in a $10,000 income.

This may explain why we are all so dissatisfied with our 1/2 of 1% pay increases, if you get any increase at all, in direct contradiction to the kneeling gratitude our employers expect us to express

As Time puts it: "Rich isn't just better; it's much better."

Please retire the cliche.

More amusement. Pursuing happiness is most likely a basic human drive, but America is the only country that has written that phrase directly into our Declaration of Independence, identifying it as a central character trait of our citizens.

Irony: Since 1972, only about 1/3 of Americans describe themselves as very happy, according to surveys funded by the National Science Foundation. Just since 2004, the percentage of Americans who describe themselves as optimists has dropped from 79% to 50%, according to a new Time poll.

America took the pursuit of happiness and turned it into big business. Pills, self-help books, and motivational speakers. Self improvement is a $10 billion a year industry.

From Time: "According to the 2012 World Happiness Report, published by the Earth Institute of Columbia University, the U.S. ranks 23rd on a 50-country happiness index, far behind No. 1 Iceland, No. 2 New Zealand and No. 3 Denmark and trailing Singapore, Malaysia, Tanzania and Vietnam."

Only America could write the pursuit of happiness into the Declaration of Independence and then have the balls to commercialize it and turn it into a complete disaster.

Social media is referred to in the article as one aspect of discontent. Back in the old days you knew Carnegie and Ford and the rest of that crew were ultra rich, but you didn't see it. You didn't live next door to them, you were not invited to dinner.

facebook etc. makes everybody's exploits visible.

I know. I see friends of mine from high school taking lovely vacations, travelling to The Masters and generally living large and I regret deeply not sucking up to them more 40 years ago.

These are tough times. Getting more money is tougher than ever. Corporate America is severely dedicated to exacerbating that situation. Exploiting part time employees, minimizing the number of full time employees, taking away workers' rights. You better believe when business starts to turn around, employee raises will not follow suit.

I could take this opportunity to say that this country has created a  descending spiral of discontent that will result in its destruction.

But, as you know, I am a cheery optimist, so I'll let the facts and the stats speak for themselves.

Just promise not to hammer me over the head with the money doesn't buy happiness cliche, unless your goal is for me to purge on your shoes.

Dig This

"Some forms of reality are so horrible we refuse to face them, unless we are trapped into it by comedy.
To label any subject unsuitable for comedy is to admit defeat."

Peter Sellers

Peter Sellers

Reading a biography on Peter Sellers.

Haven't gotten to Poe or Lennon yet. I prefer to go with the flow of my mind rather than to read my books in order of procurement. I didn't even own this book when I was contemplating which of the former two to dive into.

Sparks are ignited in my brain and the flame carries me with it.

Sellers was my kind of guy.

He fascinates me because (according to his friend, Herbert Kretzmer): "He is the most successful actor since Olivier and Guinness. He enjoys a riotous acclaim clear across the world. He has more money than he can spend in his lifetime - and the endless promise of more.............Yet Peter Sellers is one of the saddest, most self-tortured men I have ever known. Here is a man almost devoid of any capacity to sit back and enjoy the riches his genius has produced. There is certainly no more complex personality in the whole spectrum of British show business."

Tortured genius. A huge segment of the creatively gifted set.

Four a.m. Cats

Crawl out of bed this morning at four, make the inevitable trip to the bathroom.

Crawl back into bed. Lakota jumps up onto the bed and curls up/falls back against my enormous bloated, gargantuan belly. I love her in this position.

Minutes later, Maka walks across my pillow and curls up on it, touching my head.

This creates a cross current of purity that thrills me. Being in contact with both cats at once in a semi-lucid, half awake state, results in a purity current running through my body.

They do this from time to time to cleanse me. Injecting my body with natural existence in an attempt to calm my diseased mind.

Unfortunately there is too much poison in this body and in this mind (after all these years) to be completely eradicated.

But progress is made and comfort is provided.

Pretty cool.

These two magnificent creatures are trying desperately to save me.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Oh Yeah

Just had to run out and pick up some stuff.

You know, kitty litter, cat snacks, Advil, Bayer heart smart aspirin, cold cuts, burgers, rolls, frozen peppers - standard American fare.

Gotta drive many miles to avoid being raped by the Shaw's that is close by. Those people are scum - they rape the locals because the locals have no options.

Anyway I was cruising and smiling and breathing in the heat and I noticed so many cars parked by the lake, so many boats and bodies on the lake.

And it hit me. It ain't just July 4th - it's the July 4th weekend. People are chilling to the max.

Retail scrambles the calender in your brain. First of all it took minutes for me to realize that today is Friday. Couple more to recognize that it is the July 4th WEEKEND.

So, what the hell. To those of you who are infinitely smarter than me, I raise a whiskey glass in toast to your freedom, your sense of abandon, and the laughter echoed off the glassine surface of The Lake of Sweet Release.

I Am Disappointed

With all the whiskey I have consumed in my life, I still do not have a whiskey soaked voice.

What's it gonna take for me to sound like Gregg Allman?

Dig This

"The normal is that which nobody quite is. If you listen to seemingly dull people very closely, you'll see that they're all mad in different and interesting ways, and are merely struggling to hide it."

Robert Anton Wilson

The Allman Brothers To The Rescue (Again)

I'm driving to work yesterday - 07/04/13 - fully prepared to be furious and maniacally depressed.

I wanted and expected to feel bad - figured I could draw on a wealth of despair and self pity to spew in here. Figured a July 4th commute had to be exponentially worse than a Sunday commute.

I despise the Sunday commutes.


It was 76 degrees at 8:00 a.m. as I negotiated the road in The Peace Mobile. I am comfortable with heat. I require warmth from the inside out. This is probably the only week in 2013 when I will feel physically comfortable.

Knowing my mode of transportation in advance, I chose a couple of CD's to insert into The Magic Music Machine for the commute. Randomly came across an Allman Brothers CD - Seven Turns - that I haven't listened to in a while.

Also chose Riding With The King - Eric Clapton and B.B. King.

Formidable weapons indeed.

Windows down, heat percolating, coffee being sipped, Allman Brothers LOUD - I was into the drive. Spectacular heat amplified sunshine slashing into my eyeballs - very little activity on the road.

Peace of a bizarre mutation.

The ride was great. The next eleven hours were not. An 8:30-7:30 shift. Just me and the boss. All the part timers refused to work because The NH State Liquor Commission has a consistent policy of exploiting and abusing part timers (and attempting to intimidate full timers). No extra pay. No thanks at all.

I know. I was there just 4 short months ago.

I expected it to be a laboriously slow death. I wrote death instead of day. I swear to Christ that happened without thought. That is hilarious. Anyway I expected a slow day. I forgot to factor in the world as it is in 2013.

261 people came into The Asylum lusting for booze.

Interesting social experiment. People of my generation consistently said "I cannot believe you are open today." Ironic of course because they were there purchasing booze.

But there was incredulous sympathy. That comment often followed by "and I can't believe you are open until 7:00 p.m."

Young people pranced into the store like they owned the joint. I guarantee you they never gave a second's thought to the possibility that we would be closed.

No expressions of sympathy, no human kindness at all.

Because that is the world in 2013.

The greedy and abusive NH State Liquor Commission closes their stores on only three days a year. Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

And I'm sure in the future that list will be shortened.

I had eleven hours to reflect how painfully I have sold my soul in four short months.

I do not believe in working on Sundays. I don't believe in working on holidays.

Yes I get paid OT to do it. I know some wise ass is going to come in here and lecture me. I don't care about the goddamn money. I would have rather been home with my lovely, heat exhausted wife. Maybe gone out for ice cream and fireworks.

The liquor commission reflects delicious irony in their P&P which states "it is not mandatory for any employee to work on Sundays or holidays but managers are subject to disciplinary action if the store goes unstaffed and unopened."

Talking out of both sides of their mouth. As is their way.

Many decades ago stores were closed on Sunday. Banks were closed on Saturday and Sunday.

I know. This was in my lifetime.

People survived. People were only death stressed five days a week as opposed to the seven that is now the accepted norm.

The day ground by. It was long.

Slowhand and B.B. serenaded me on the ride home. Again, windows down, music LOUD, cruising through stifling July 4th heat now damn close to 90, couple of Crown Royal nips in place of coffee.

Pretty good drive.

I don't know if I could have maintained my sanity (?) without kick starting the day with The Allman Brothers Band.

Small things create huge impact.

It was essentially an eleven hour shit sandwich stuck between two serene commutes.

And the commutes made all the difference.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


all I'm looking for is some space to breath.

A break in the action.

A moment to think.

That is a small request.

But it ain't happenin'.

A Graceful Fall

"It's not a graceful fall from dreams to the truth."

Those words are painful; they are true.

John Mellencamp - "A Graceful Fall" - from "No Better Than This".

The lyrics to this song are stark. Enjoy them:

"It's not a graceful fall from dreams to the truth, there's not a lotta hope here if you got nothin' to lose, when your vision's no good, when you're flat on the ground, yeah the future's not bright, when you're falling down.

"Cause I'm sick of life, yeah it's easy to do, when everything so hard, has been handed to you, yeah I'm sick of life, 'cause its lost it's fun, I'll see you in the next world, if there is really one.

Well I'm not falling up the ladder, I'm just putting in my days, my pockets are empty and my aces won't play, yeah I'm movin' down the street, and I'm going nowhere, it's not a graceful fall, when you don't care.

"Cause I'm sick of life and it's easy to do, when everything so hard has been handed to you, 'cause I'm sick of life, and it's lost its fun, I'll see you in the next world, if there really is one, yeah I'm sick of life, 'cause I'm falling down, I'll see you in the next world, if you're still around."


I cannot tell you how privileged I feel to be working tomorrow.

July 4th. I am working on July 4th.

This is the pristine culmination of the American Dream.

To have the honor of going to work on a day when 98% of America will be beering and barbecuing, truly makes me proud.

This represents the triumph of commercialism.

There are many like me. I wish you well.

Any hump that comes into The Asylum tomorrow is a loser. A cancerous, scum-backed loser. If you have to buy booze on the 4th, you suck. People like you make it easy for greedy organizations like The New Hampshire State Liquor Commission to have all their stores open on a NATIONAL HOLIDAY.

Even better, on Sunday, when most of America will be winding down their 4 day weekend - I will be working again.

America has morphed from a land of opportunity to a land of exploitation.

Have a wonderful, peaceful, family-fun filled, goddamn 4th of July weekend.

Harry Dean Stanton

One of the coolest actors in the world. I was tempted to call him a character actor, but he has carried some serious roles in many a movie. He is that rare bird who is a star that comes across as a character actor.

NO, he is not dead. I was just thinking about him respectfully and affectionately.

Advice Without Consent

Everybody is always giving advice. They mean well.

They identify something you are struggling with and offer ways to cope with it. In other words they tell you what they would do.

If you consider every human to be an individual, then maybe advice should be stricken from the dictionary.

It could be replaced by the heavy intellectuality and deeply probing insight of the phrase "just sayin."

If every human is unique, than the possibility certainly exists that what works for one could not possibly work for another. Maybe not possibly work for any other human.

Taking the thought process deeper, what happens if advice is giving to someone who is not even living their own life?

Someone trapped in a hideous parallel side life, a parallel dimension, that swirls in psychedelic madness.

A person staggering through a life that is not theirs, does not need advice. Could not possibly accept or act on it.

That person needs a stick of dynamite, a tab of blotter acid, Jesus, Marc Maron, a machete or a very fast car.

A person like that is utterly alone.

A person like that can appreciate the intentions behind the advice giving, while simultaneously feeling attacked, belittled or judged by the advice giver.

Factor in the psychoses and neuroses of the advice giver, mix well with those of the advice receiver, and you get one hell of a batch of cookies.

Just sayin'.

19th Nervous Breakdwon

Nervous breakdown is a great term. It is not a precisely medical term, but it has medical implications, overtones of health problems.

The Mayo Clinic says "nervous breakdown is sometimes used to describe a stressful situation in which someone becomes temporarily unable to function normally in day to day life. It's commonly understood to occur when life's demands become physically and emotionally overwhelming."

There's a lot riding on that word "normally."

Most likely, "normally" within this context means acting like good little boys and girls. Doing what you are told, being punctual and reliable at work, and generally not upsetting the pre-ordained fabric of society.

In fact, the Mayo Clinic identifies one of the symptoms as "calling in sick to work for days or longer."

Another symptom is "having trouble following healthy patterns of eating, sleeping and hygiene."

It is possible that nervous breakdown is a synonym for "human."

Breakdown is a harsh word. It sounds like somebody who suddenly runs out of work screaming "where can I buy an Uzi? Where did I leave my hunting knife? Under the front seat? Is it under the front seat? I have to kill all of my co-workers to teach them a lesson and absolve them of all their sins to make them right with Jesus."

A nervous breakdown is more benign than that. It seems more like a withdrawing, an avoiding, a shutting down. Closing the circle for protection.

Sounds like survival.

The Mayo Clinic says "Nervous breakdown isn't a medical term, however, nor does it indicate a specific mental illness.   ......................the term was commonly used in the past to cover a variety of mental disorders; it's used less often today."

One possibility is that doctors in the past were sympathetic to the human struggle. Maybe today this way of coping with life is just considered normal.

One In A Row

Just survived 8 consecutive at Lompoc.

I am now enjoying one day off in a row.


Of course I am grateful for today. Grateful for the wonderful job that graces my life. Grateful for the paycheck and the myriad ways it has improved my existence.

I am wallowing in gratefulness.

I am so grateful for today I am positively beatific. A halo, an aura, surrounds my head. I walked out to the mailbox to pick up today's package of heroin, a neighbor saw me and fell to her knees in prayer.

Still, I am trying to make sense of it all. The math doesn't add up. I know. I used to be an accountant.

One is greater than zero, and for this I am grateful, but it is a lot less than recuperating.

I would appeal to Jesus for inspiration to understand, but my gut tells me I need help from somebody a little more hands on than Jesus.

Janis Got It Right

"If you got a cat for one day...you want a cat for 365 days, right, you ain't got him for 365 days, you got him for one day man.  Well I tell you that one day better be your life, man. Because, you know, you can say, you can cry about the other 364, man, but you're gonna lose that one day, man, and that's all you've got. You gotta call that love, man. That's what it is, man. If you got it today, you don't want it tomorrow, man, 'cause you don't need it, 'cause as a matter of fact, as we discovered in the train..........................

tomorrow never happens, it's all the same fucking day, man."

Monday, July 1, 2013


A guy was driving to work, 7:30 on a late June Sunday morning.

Looked to his left and saw a guy in a canoe on a lake.

It became immediately apparent who was the genius and who was the fool.