Saturday, August 31, 2013

Coffee Karma

I don't know what kind of karma I am creating for myself right now.

The coffee cup I choose syncs up with my potential and provides major influence on which direction my life will go.

I try to be consistent.

Tweety Bird guided me for the longest time. Tweety is so goddamn cute.

Then I bought a Beatles mug in February and decided that karma was more in line with my past and my future.

Recently I have been zigging and zagging between Tweety, The Beatles and a PATS coffee mug.

This is probably a dangerous course to take, a challenge to the universal vibe.

Then again it suggests a bold disregard for the invincibility of those who would determine my fate.

I'll keep you posted.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Dumplings, Baby

Ma Shunli is a master dumpling maker.

I bet you didn't know that. I didn't either until I got into dumpling week on NPR.

Dumplings are a big deal in China and Ma supervises dumpling creation in a restaurant called Defachang in Xi'an city.

The restaurant serves up to 318 varieties of dumplings, which is a world record.

I'm thinking the same guys who track baseball stats probably rent themselves out as master statisticians to track things like greatest variety of dumplings. These guys have to be the biggest nerds in the world, probably math wizards who cannot get enough of calculatin'.

The same guys who know that Dustin Pedroia is hitting .673 on Tuesday day makeup games when the temperature is 73 degrees, after eating a cheesesteak omelet with Swiss cheese, not cheddar, for breakfast, following exactly 7 hours and 45 minutes of quality sleep preceded by the ritualistic viewing of Major League before bedtime and reciting like a mantra on his knees beside the bed, alternately, hats for bats, up yours Jobu, I feel like a banker, and how's your wife and my kids, these same guys are perfectly content to count dumplings in China.

I want to be a master dumpling chef. I believe it was John Lennon who sang "A master dumpling chef is something to be."

What the hell is a dumpling anyway? I mean I have a pretty good idea but not a specific one.

I looked it up and came across the following definitions.

"A small mass of leavened dough cooked by boiling or steaming."

"A small savory ball of dough (usually made with suet) that may be boiled, fried or baked in a casserole."

"A usually baked dessert of fruit wrapped in dough."

"Something soft and rounded like a dumpling; especially: a short fat person or animal."

NPR gathered some experts to define precisely what a dumpling is. Apparently there is controversy about whether something like tamales can be considered dumplings.

There world of haute cuisine is fraught with contradictions and confusions.

Which reminds me of a line from an Allman Brothers song called "Get On With Your Life" - "each day brings a new confusion." A simple yet elegant definition of life.

But that is a story for another place and time.

Fuchsia Dunlop, Chinese food expert and author:"......any kind of dainty little snack that's made of one ingredient wrapped around another ingredient, and usually boiled or steamed, but sometimes fried."  Way to make a commitment, Fuchsia.

Ken Albala, professor of history at the College of The Pacific:"The best way to probably define it is to say something that goes "dump!" into the water. Something that's boiled and keeps its shape." Ken obviously experimented a tad too much with LSD in his college days.

Frederick Douglass Opie, professor of history and foodways at Babson College:"A dumpling is a mass of dough about the size of a U.S. fifty cent coin or larger. Cornmeal dumplings are solid and used to soak up the flavor of whatever they are cooked in - most often soups and broths. Flour dumplings are generally larger and filled with vegetables, fruit, dairy, or meat. Dumplings most likely originated in the kitchens of peasants and proletarians as a savvy, cost-saving filler." I have uncovered the closet baseball statistician in the group.

Dumplings seem cool to me. I like any kind of food that leaves a wide berth for creativity. You should see what I put in my omelets.

The fact that  master dumpling maker is spelled in lower case puts me off from pursuing this craft as a career. If I am going to put effort into my new career I want the status that goes with the achievement. Joe - Master Dumpling Maker.

Then again, the Chinese are notoriously humble in their wisdom and intelligence, so maybe there is a lesson to be learned in lower case.

I don't know. I know nothing. I am a guy who considers a Royale with cheese a gourmet meal when I am hungover.

Anyway, NPR devoted an entire week to dumplings. I think that's cool. Absolutely majestic.

I don't think dumplings are a staple in Dustin Pedroia's diet, but I'm not sure.

I'll have Freddy look into it.

Murderous Intent

When I have to continually interrupt my morning reading to blow my nose, I develop murderous intent.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Allman Brothers - More Detail, Less Emotion

Attending an Allman Brothers concert results in an overload of stimulus.

Visual, auditory and olfactory. Yeah, the sweet gentle aroma of pot wafts through the air, perfectly complementing the vibe of the event.

This makes me happy. Years ago you could smoke pot with abandon at concerts. Now the attendants are roaming with intent, so you have to be more discreet. I am proud of the fact that Allman Brothers fans defy the new, more narrow code of rock concerts.

The Allman Brothers are ultra cool. They don't even get announced. They just casually wander onstage in the dark, strap on their instruments and start to play.

Experienced fans like me know this, and we wait and watch. And I gotta tell you when I see Gregg enter stage left, I get goosebumps. Every single time.

Seeing Gregg Allman walk on stage is more dramatic than seeing Jesus walk on stage. The man is an icon. He is larger than life and he carries on his shoulders the legacy that his brother left behind when he died in 1971.

He has struggled and failed, and he has risen like the Phoenix and emerged triumphant.

His voice was strong last night, the ultimate blues voice, and he exuded energy. I worried about him because earlier this year I saw interviews with him and he appeared fragile and old.

He still looks 10 years older than he is, but he was a God last night.

This band cannot be contained on a small stage. They are seven members strong. Gregg on keyboards, Derek and Warren on guitar, Oteil on bass, Jaimoe and Butch on drums, and Marc on percussion.

I am talking keyboards, two guitars, bass, two full drum kits, and percussion.

They command presence.

There are two screens, one on each side of the stage, and one screen behind the stage directly over the band.

You can watch the side screens to get blown away by what these musicians do. Close ups of fingers running insanely over frets, drum sticks flying with controlled abandon, keyboards being caressed by knowing fingers.

And I do that and I dig that.

You can look at the screen above the stage and dig the old school graphics. And the super imposed images of Duane and Allen Woody and Berry Oakley and Lamar Williams. And countless blues greats as well.

And I do that and I dig that.

But mostly I look directly at the stage. Because you see all seven musicians in motion and it is mind blowing. Cymbals crashing, fingers flying, faces grimacing in ecstasy.

In between songs the stage grows dark and the band mulls around.

Again, the experienced know this so I was amused when Sir Eric asked me "Are they always this casual?"

And the sound. There is a lot of sound. You can focus on solos or you can pull back a little and allow your ears to be assaulted by the rumbling bass, the wailing guitars, the rhythm guitar, the keyboards, the drums, the percussion, all happening at once and all happening like a well oiled machine.

So tight. So explosive.

The fans. The fans, baby. Allman Brothers fans are fanatics. You can feel the intensity of the audience. It ripples through you and the venue and elevates you even higher.

These people are knowledgeable and devoted. There is nothing casual about an Allman Brothers fan.

You can't be casual. The band doesn't allow it. A band this accomplished, this talented, this polished, demands respect from the fans.

I kept looking around at the sea of gratified faces, the swaying bodies, the mouths singing lyrics and I felt, as I always feel, that I am part of a community.

A community founded on excellence and love and musical devotion and appreciation of what a band like The Allman Brothers means in the history of music.

When the music's over and we are filing out, there is almost a sense of exhaustion. This band lifts you so high and makes you feel so good that when you re-enter "reality", you got nothing left.


I think I blew it on the less emotion thing.


I was perfectly straight at The Allman Brothers concert last night.

No beer, no whiskey, no drugs.

This is an uncommon situation.

I have been to at least 30 Allman Brothers concerts in my lifetime. I bet I have been straight 5 times.

By the way, I always feel compelled to tell people how many Allman Brothers concerts I have been to. I can't just tell them I am going to an Allman Brothers concert. I always have to say "Oh, yeah they are my favorite band in the world and I have seen them at least 30 times."

Can't just let it go. Always with the ego. Trying to prove how big a fan I am.

I am merely a fragile human looking for validation at every turn.

Anyway it is a blessing not to have to interrupt the concert to go to the bathroom and the bar.

I left my home at 6:45 last night, seated at around 8:20, The Allman Brothers came on around 8:30, they finished up at 10:30. Not once did I have to get up to visit the bathroom.

I am 59. Do you realize what an achievement that is?

I did not miss one second of that concert and thank God for that.

And I am more alert. I am not distracted by the old school light show or butterflies flying by or delusions of grandeur.

I am dedicated to debauchery.

But every time I see The Allman Brothers straight I feel like I am more in tune with the show.

I experienced it with religious rapture and woke this morning without a hangover.

I'm sure Gregg was proud of me.

First Song, First Side, First Album

On Friday night last, I accompanied Sir Eric of Swenson to my second America concert.

The guy convinced me to experience America for the first time a couple of months ago. We saw them at The Hampton Beach Casino.

It was an interesting night, especially so because you could visit the bathroom any time you wanted to.

This is not a drinking crowd.

The concerts I go to at the Casino, you have to wait in a looooong line to get into the men's room. You gotta plan ahead around songs and moments.

I hate this and it is one of the reasons I avoid the Casino.

The crowd however was not a subdued crowd. They sang, they applauded, they shouted, they stood and rocked and swayed.

I dug it deeply.

Last Friday was a tad different.

We saw them at the Kingswood Performing Arts Center in Wolfeboro.

Pretentious crowd.

The average age was 89. As Sir Eric and I sat in the parking lot we watched an endless parade of Mercedes, Lexus's, Cadillacs, and BMW's roll past us.

We were amused.

Even the parking lot attendants were old. One lady looked to be about 188, hobbling around pointing and providing direction.

The crowd appeared to be the self-satisfied type who pride themselves on their support of the arts and come out to see America like they are participating in a science experiment.

Sir Eric and I were separated by floor space. An older couple sat next to me and before she sat down the woman said to me:"No screaming."

This was the sad type of older woman who is overdressed and reeking of perfume in a desperate attempt try to still project the power of femininity.

Apparently she made this comment because at the age of 59 I looked so much younger than her that she thought I was a teenager.

Me being me I calmly turned to her and said: "Can I sing?"

She responded "I don't know. Can you?"

I couldn't believe it. I was one upped by some old broad.

This was a quiet crowd. No yelling, no standing or dancing, no singing; just polite applause.

Except for Sir Eric. Please remember, America is to Eric what The Allman Brothers Band is to me. He was animated, he stood, he yelled, he sang. I loved him for that.

On that night I realized that America is a band who knows exactly who they are. They are supremely talented and they have a ton of hits. They also have the courage to play new stuff that most of the audience is probably not familiar with. They employ a self-deprecating sense of humor, yet they exude impregnable confidence.

They have a guitar player that I have to dig into. He has been with the band since 1977. His name is Michael Woods. This guy looks weather worn and he always plays with a twisted smile on his lips. When he solos, he leans back on his right leg with his left leg slightly extended. He looks like a gunslinger.

America run through different phases of their career in concert.

At one point they announced a song and identified it as first song, first side, first album.

That phrase really struck me. That album came out in 1971. 42 years ago. I got to thinking about how amazing it must feel to record your first album. The process of recording, as well as the thrill of hearing it on the radio for the first time.

I got to thinking how amazing it must be to look back 42 years later with pride and the knowledge that you are still bringing it and people still love you.

These guys started writing and performing right out of high school, and a year and a half later were opening for big name acts all over the world. I don't think most people realize how influential America was in the 70's.

I didn't. But I dig them now.

I said it a couple of months ago and I will say it again. You have not experienced Horse With No Name until you have sung it along with America. The song can be fairly benign when you hear it on the radio, but when you sing it along with America it takes on power and meaning and message and inspiration.

I am proud to say I did sing along with Sir Eric on that one.

Good night. Very good night. Musical magic in the beautiful setting of Wolfeboro, NH thanks to a band called America.

Brace Yourselves

Today is music day.

I have had two delicious musical experiences in the space of five days and my head and my heart are exploding.

Saw The Allman Brothers last night and they healed me.

They took me to a place of joy and wonder. They drained all the poison out of my system and allowed me to just be me.

I am not kidding about this.

I am warped right now. Filled to capacity with stress and anger and frustration and desperation. I don't know what to do or how to act or what to say. I have lost myself to a negative moment.

However, the music that I heard last night, the level of musicianship that I witnessed, the awe that I felt for this band that I have loved since I was fifteen years old - 1969 - blew out all the bad. Cleaned out my system.

I am serious. I feel calm today. I feel like the real me is out in the open. I feel comfortable.

I never feel comfortable.

This feels like an opportunity. An opportunity for me to use the power of my mind to think my way through to a better me.

With no distractions. No poison in my system.

Will this seed take hold? I don't know.

But my mind has been going through analysis lately. Self-analysis. My mind is struggling to make sense and provide relief and a road to travel.

Timing is everything.

I feel whole today because up until 8:30 last night I felt shattered.

Then The Allman Brothers Band stepped onto that stage. They grabbed a hold of my fragile psyche and my battered soul and nursed them back to health. Made them better than they they have been in six months.

I left Carol a note before leaving for the concert last night. I told her something I never told her before.

I call it The Carol Moment. It has happened to me many times at Allman Brothers concerts. They blast away the evil that is inside of me and replace it with exquisite beauty and intense emotion.

Suddenly during a song I will think of Carol with sheer happiness. The band will be wailing, I will have been transported to a new and better existence and I will think of Carol with tears in my eyes. This is because they strip away all my bullshit and allow me to see my life as it truly is.

Last night it was "One Way Out." They took that song that I have heard in concert 1 million times, and they made it something new with ferocious intensity, an extended drum solo and mind blowing musical sensuousness.

That is what talented bands do. They don't just spit back the same old stuff over and over. They re-create it, improve upon it and surprise and amaze you time after time.

Right in the middle of all that sound and emotion, Carol popped into my head and there were indeed tears in my eyes.

The Allman Brothers bring me back to myself and challenge me to build something as amazing as the band they have built.

I feel great today. I feel potential. My mind is crackling alive.

I love my beautiful wife, my amazing sons, their magical women and my incredible brother.

It ain't just music, baby.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Warning

Allman Brothers tonight.

The trajectory of the earth will change.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Kid Might Be Happy

The kid might be happy, I don't know. He doesn't look happy to me.

I pass a kid on the way to and from The Asylum. Don't see him every day, but I see him a lot. Maybe I'll see less of him now that the pained drudgery of school has begun.

He looks to be 10 or 12 years old. Something like that. I see him riding his bike around his driveway wearing a Tom Brady jersey.

He just rides the bike around the driveway in circles.

It's actually more than a driveway, it is a paved rectangular area between the house and the driveway.

Big for walking around, small for a bike.

It sits right on the edge of a busy road, so I'm thinking maybe he is not allowed out on the road.

So he rides in circles.

Maybe he loves the bike and has to be on it. Maybe that makes him happy. Maybe he rides the bike wistfully wishing for the freedom it offers, which is being denied him. Maybe he rides the bike when he is waiting for supper to be ready, or just after breakfast.

I see him in the morning. I see him at night.

I don't want to believe he spends hours doing this. I want to believe I catch him in the middle of a brief moment.

The jersey is always the first thing to catch my eye from a distance. He wears the home jersey.

It's only a snapshot. Could be interpreted a thousand different ways. I will never know the truth.

He could be happy.

But it paints a lonely picture in my mind. Then again mm mind is a lonely place to be.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I Apologize But..................

I was just watching a replay of a Dallas/Arizona pre-season game.

I apologize for that.

However I captured a great quote.

The color guy, who sounds like Puddy from Seinfeld said:

"I like my middle linebackers malicious and maladjusted."

Au Contraire

All evidence to the contrary, I consider myself an aesthete.

You Have No Idea

You have no idea who I am, nor I you.
We negotiate life at the wrong speed and in the wrong direction,
and wonder how we get lost, all the while failing to make any
meaningful connection.
I spend time with you at work, bump into you in the grocery store,
in a bar, and we form opinions.
Opinions that are only true to that moment.
Every morning I begin life as a different person, every night I
reflect upon my wounds and my victories.
Yet you confine me to a box in your mind because its easier than
interpreting my emotions, my nuance, and I do the same to you.
We take life and strip it down so we can have even a shot at
dealing with it, but when we do this to each other we are
committing a heinous crime.
Being human is complex, it is rich, it is tangled in contradictions
from which the beauty, the essence of being alive, emanates.
Summarizing someone in one word, one phrase, is like saying
it tastes like chicken.
Let's make an effort, you and me, one on one.
We will never truly know one another and that is somehow fitting,
but maybe we can enrich our lives by surprising ourselves
with our inconsistencies.

Dig This

"You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer."

Frank Zappa

Beware Mr. Baker Redux

So what I was trying to say is..............................

I really admire people who LIVE their lives. People who beat and bang around and make a lot of noise and a lot of enemies and some friends, who attract vicious criticism and deep respect, people who stick to their guns no matter what, who are not afraid to make mistakes whether they learn from them or not, people who are not afraid to break bones and hearts.

The trick, I think, is to back this up with talent. You have to recognize some talent within you, something that is solely you, that you can concentrate on fiercely. That is what all the beating and banging and pissing people off is all about. If you can crash through life and still point to this thing that you have and say "Fuck you, you don't get it, you don't get me and you never will", smile as you do it and know that that thing has been the core of your existence, the inspiration, the guiding light, then you have lived a life.

If you have no talent, if you act this way out of anger and disappointment, you wind up just being an asshole.

There are a lot of people like that in the world.

A lot.

Because very few of us have something big enough to revolve an entire life around. Very few of us have a foundation sturdy enough from which to attack the world with wild abandon.

It must feel magnificent to live life at faster miles an hour. Exhilarating.

Ginger Baker has suffered for his mistakes, is suffering now, but he has also made his mark. He is revered and respected by those whose opinions matter.

That is what life should be.

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe was a whining maggot.

Just finished a biography on this man who wrote such amazing stories.

He spent his entire life begging people for money so he could survive; family, friends, even mere acquaintances. He was never able to support himself through his writing.

Always breaks my heart when I learn of situations like that but it happens often in the world of creativity. Creative people are often ahead of the curve and artistically and intellectually superior to the rest of us. They bust their ass to be seen, heard and appreciated and die trying.

Posthumously, fame caresses their corpse (cut me some slack, I'm talking about Edgar Allan Poe) which does them no good.

From what I read Poe was not a man of character. He borrowed money without repaying it. He was always whining about being sick or weak, always making excuses for his failures.

His desire was for recognition in the literary world, but when he realized it might not happen his big dream became publishing his own magazine.

Magazines became huge during Poe's time (1809 - 1849). They were a new thing. After they were introduced they caught on and a ridiculous number of magazines were published in this country, Playboy not among them.

Literary giants published and popularized their writing through magazines. They were considered a viable way to get culture to the great unwashed.

Poe worked for a number of magazines and became obsessed with publishing his own. His goal was to appeal to intellectuals rather than to the masses. He felt there was enough good writing out there and enough intelligent people to make this happen. He tried and failed over and over again to establish his own magazine, failure being largely of his own making.

He would lure investors in with promises of huge circulation and then fail to line up subscribers.

The man was a dreamer, not a businessman.

He first attracted attention as a critic. Apparently being a critic was a big deal during these times and he was good at it. He was also caustic and cruel. He routinely ripped apart the big names of the time like Longfellow, Emerson, and Whitman, largely out of jealousy over their success. Then he would turn around and ask them for money when he was trying to establish a magazine.

Interesting fellow.

His critiques in general though were considered informative, and his point of view was respected as knowledgeable.

He is credited with writing the first detective story. The Murders In The Rue Morgue. He established the genre and set the standard.

He is credited with writing the first poem, The Raven, that was accessible to and appealed to the masses. It was a huge success and every time he gave a lecture he had to recite the poem. People loved it.

His collection of horror stories is tasty stuff. I read every one of them. My father had a collection of those stories which he gave to me. I remember them vividly. The books were black bound and cool. I remember lapping up every story with relish.

What became of those books is beyond my ability to recollect, which exposes a weakness inherent in my and probably your nature, which is an inability to recognize the value of something at precisely the right time.

I cherished those books.

The biography is titled Edgar A. Poe - Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. I'm glad I read it. I learned a lot about the man and the times. I did not gain any respect for him as a man but I deepened my respect for him as an author, a creative spirit, another amazing talent who suffered for his sanity.

One Day

One day is not enough One day is not enough One day is not enough
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One day is not enough    I am so exhausted     One day is not enough
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One day is not enough  I must extricate myself from this morass  
One day is not enough One day is not enough One day is not enough
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One day is not enough One day is not enough One day is not enough

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Most of the time, the problems we complain about are of our own making.

The combination of the creation of the problem, coupled with our refusal to do anything about it, provides endless opportunities for complaint.

A little thing triggered this in my mind this morning.

For the first time in over a week I sat down with a cup of coffee and relaxed to read.

Going a week without reading is like going a week without breathing.

I was pissed as I thought about this and began to curse my job.

Then I realized that at least twice during this period I chose to write rather than to read. And I had many opportunities to read at night.

I haven't read in over a week because of choices I made.

Not because my life sucks.

Beware Mr. Baker

"God is punishing me for my past wickedness by keeping me alive and in as much pain as he can."

Ginger Baker

At the age of 74 Ginger Baker gets by on daily handfuls of anti-depressants, stomach pills and pain killers. He has a morphine inhaler, for Christ sake. If I had a morphine inhaler I could better tolerate my job. He also smokes three packs a day. In his life he has broken most of his ribs, mangled one of his arms and had his front teeth smashed in. He has been diagnosed with a degenerative spine condition and the onset of emphysema.

In 1966, rock's first super group was formed. Cream. Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker. Ginger was the drummer/madman.

They all had histories and reputations prior to Cream and when they formed the band the music world was blown away.

In 1962 there was a well respected group of musicians in England called Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated, which featured Jack Bruce on bass. Ginger Baker replaced Charlie Watts in that group. Rock drummer royal lineage, although both men were heavily influenced by jazz. But you get the point.

Great story: One day Mick Jagger stopped by to perform with the group. Ginger Baker: "This effeminate little kid showed up, and I hated him. He was a musical moron." Baker and Bruce picked on Jagger, throwing in complicated jazz licks to confuse him.

Baker and Bruce went on to form the Graham Bond Organization. Pete Brown, poet and Cream lyricist says "what the Beatles were to the public, the Graham Bond Organization was to musicians."

And of course by this time Eric Clapton was already being celebrated with graffiti reading "Clapton Is God."

That is the magnitude of what Cream was.

The really cool thing about them was they were a power trio that emphasized instruments over vocals. In other words it was all about the music and they were devoted. Clapton said their devotion to the music was unfettered, extreme and beautiful with no outside distractions.

They imploded in 1968.

By the way I did not know Cream had a lyricist. I thought all the lyrics were written by Clapton/Bruce/Baker. I am just finding this out in 2013. How does this happen?

I watched a documentary last Tuesday night called Beware Mr. Baker. Ginger Baker now lives in a gated compound in South Africa with a sign just inside the gate that says Beware Mr. Baker, which is a fitting warning because this man is one of a kind.

A fearless, I am who I am, madman who has lived life at warp speed, made and lost fortunes and keeps on going.

The documentary was so powerful I had to watch it again on Monday morning, which coincidentally marked Ginger Bakers 74th birthday.

He was a close friend of Jimi Hendrix. When Hendrix died, Baker decided it was time to get clean so he took off for Africa to immerse himself in African drumming. His trip across the African desert and his residence in that country is legendary. He settled in Nigeria, set up Africa's first 16 track recording studio, and was accepted and respected by Africa's drummers.

That's how talent works.

Baker has a knack for blowing up his own life, and when things went bad in Africa he returned to England for a while. Instead of playing with Clapton he was selling drugs at the studio where Clapton was recording.

When that blew up he moved to Italy to get into olive farming. Then he moved to LA to take a shot at acting. Then he moved to Colorado where he could raise his polo ponies, a sport he became passionate about in Africa. Eventually he moved back to S.Africa and bought a farm. That fell apart and he settled in Tulbagh, S. Africa. He was forced to sell that property, his horses and his Range Rover and I do not know where he is now.

I hope he settles in my basement.

The documentary opens up with video of Baker poking the interviewer in the face with his cane. Drawing blood. The interviewer was going to contact people for the special who Baker did not want contacted. Baker responded rather directly.

He is consistently described by musicians as a virtuoso madman, the red headed madman and a force of nature, which is supremely evident when you watch him play. He is also described as the pioneer rock drummer for whom there was no context, no archetype.

The father of the drum solo.

When the names John Bonham and Keith Moon are brought up, Baker is immediately dismissive. Bonham and Moon were considered rock drummer Gods. When their names are mentioned to Clapton he is immediately dismissive as well saying they were not even close to being in Baker's league.

Watching footage of him playing in this documentary convinces me that Clapton and Baker are being honest.

And his eyes. My God, those eyes. So many shots of those eyes wide open with lunatic glee.

I was thinking about the gated compound thing. Hunter S. Thompson lived in what he called his fortified compound. Owl Farm in Woody Creek, CO. I think some people are so supremely talented that they must exist alone. Mere humans cannot engage them.

Although their existences were different. HST's compound was a social affair, always teeming with writers, actors, politicians, intellectuals, madmen and partyers. But ultimately it was his refuge. Baker is protecting himself from the world and from soul-less idiots.

Still, there is a common thread there.

At the age of 14 Baker was blown away by an album called The Quintet Of The Year, also known as The Massey Hall concert. A live recording of the only time that Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus and Max Roach played together.


That triggered his addiction to music and virtuosity.

Phil Seaman, a talented British jazz drummer was his next influence, teaching Baker technique and turning him on to African drumming. He also turned him on to heroin which Baker said made him fearless so he could play with the wild abandon that he did.

At one point Baker, with tears in his eyes, describes Clapton as "The best friend I've got on this planet and always will be."

He says the four major influences on his playing were Elvin Jones, Phil Seaman, Art Blakey and Max Roach. He says they all became dear friends and "that is worth more to me than anything in the world." Again, he says this with tears rolling down his cheeks.

My point is he comes across as a crotchety old bastard in this documentary but there is sensitivity there. No one knows what makes a human what they are and no one is qualified to judge.

Then again when the interviewer asks if he considers himself a tragic hero Baker says: "Tragic hero? Why don't you go on with the interview and stop trying to be an intellectual dickhead."


Ginger Baker organized  drum battles with his heroes and they are mind blowing to watch. Two drummers playing against each other and eventually with each other. Virtuoso percussion exquisiteness.

When Baker returned from Africa nobody wanted to play with him. He was shunned. So much so that he placed an add in a music magazine saying "drummer looking for work."

His son said in the documentary that Baker should never have had a family. That without a family he could have focused everything on the music and that he wasn't much of a dad. His son plays drums and they have played together a lot, but at one point Baker told his son that he just doesn't have it, he'll never be as good as his father and he should pack it in.

His first three wives alternate between affection and exasperation when talking about him. Even his current wife, when asked if Baker is a good step dad to her kids hesitates for a very long moment before answering yes.

A complicated man emotionally.

In 2005 Cream played reunion concerts at the Royal Albert Hall which were legendary. Baker earned upwards of $5 million for the concerts and promptly blew it on 24 polo ponies that he had flown from England to S. Africa.

The man complains about being eternally broke, but he is his own worst enemy.

Near the end you see Baker in his stable and it is a gentle and a tender scene. He says: "Horses don't let you down, nor do dogs (he owns many dogs). They all know who I am."

That says it all to me.

By the way, when Baker bloodied the interviewer's nose he was pissed. He says "Ginger Baker just hit me in the fucking nose" and you see him screaming at Ginger.

But later on upon reflection he says: "This just proves that the madman is still alive and well. Beware."

Johnny Rotten says something along the lines of: "If being unsociable is what is required for Ginger Baker's music to be as good as it is than so be it. If you can't understand that, it is your problem."

I was all over the place with these words. I didn't get across what I wanted to get across but that is indicative of the kind of life this man has lived. It is sprawling, it is epic, it is legendary.

Twisted as he is, he is an inspiration.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dig This

"When one burns one's bridges, what a very nice fire it makes."

Dylan Thomas

Favorite Movie Quotes

From Beautiful Girls.

Kev and Birdman plow Darian's driveway. She's having an affair with Birdman. She brings out two cups of coffee.

Kev takes a sip and says: "No Sambuca today, Darian?"

Darian says: "Its five o'clock in the morning."

Kev says: "Does that make it too early or too late?"

Steinway, Baby

Steinway & Sons has been sold and I am uncomfortable.

Steinway is a "musical instrument maker" world renowned for the magnificent pianos they create. They have been around for 160 years.

The company was founded in 1853 by German immigrant Henry Engelhard Steinway in a Manhattan loft. The guy was a cabinet maker who built his first piano in the kitchen of his home in Germany.

Over the next thirty years after the company was founded Steinway and his sons developed the modern piano. The company holds 127 patents, many of which were based on scientific research including the acoustical theories of Hermann Von Helmholtz, a renowned physicist.

How does a guy go from being a cabinet maker to creating majestic pianos while incorporating the latest scientific research?

Its in the blood, baby.

By 1891 Steinway had moved to its current location in Queens and built what was known as Steinway Village, which included its own foundries, factory, post office, parks and housing for employees.

In 1880 Steinway opened a production facility in Hamburg, Germany. To this day these two manufacturing facilities are the only locations where Steinway pianos are created.

I first heard about the sale of the company on NPR and it just felt odd. This is a mystical, magical company that feels like it should be exempt from business dealings.

My initial fear was that the company would no longer be family controlled but it turns out it has been over 40 years since the company was family owned. Henry Z. Steinway, the founder's great grandson sold the company to CBS in 1972. In 1985 it was sold again to a group of Boston area investors.

I was saddened to learn this.

Employees were interviewed for the NPR piece, and none seemed worried. Their lives are intimately wrapped up in the history of the company and many are long term employees. They all described the work environment as enjoyable and peaceful.

The company was purchased by John Paulson who is a hedge fund manager. A hedge fund manager. That little bit of info twisted my gut.

I looked up hedge fund manager in the World Dictionary of Financial Terminology and the definition consisted of one word - rat.

He said: "The companies' proven business model and highly skilled employees provide a strong foundation on which to expand. We fully intend to maintain the superb quality of Steinway's musical instruments, which are the finest in the world."

Bernie Madoff talked like that. So did Michael Milken.

The more I looked into this, the more uncomfortable I became. I came across the fact that "private equity groups have their eyes squarely on the luxury goods market right now as they seek to profit from the recovering finances of the wealthy." Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus have recently been the target of private equity suitors.

In two different articles that I read it was pointed out that the Queens locations sits on highly valuable waterfront property that constitutes a large proportion of the companies' value.

I came across discussions of whether or not Steinway would be gutted and debating the job security of employees.

Steinway devotees include Billy Joel, Diana Krall, Duke Ellington, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Vladimir Horowitz, Franz Liszt, Igor Stravinsky, Arturo Toscanini.

When you troll the web for Steinway info you come across pictures of Fats Domino, Paul McCartney, John Lennon and many, many more seated at a Steinway.

The piano itself is a thing of beauty. When I get rich and famous and buy my mansion in Arizona I will plunk a Steinway in my great room even though I cannot play.

Steinway & Sons creates beauty. That beauty in turn is caressed gently by enormously talented people to give our lives a touch of exquisite.

A company like that should not be tainted by hedge fund managers and property value considerations. The employees themselves should be treated as celebrities.

There is very little magic left in this world.

I fervently hope that the magic in Queens, NY and Hamburg, Germany will not be poisoned or snuffed out.

The world cannot afford it.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Early Dark

It's getting way dark way too early.

The dark doesn't bother me. I prefer the dark. It is what the early dark portends that disturbs me - the death of summer.

It occurred to me tonight as I noticed the early dark that my perfect world would be hot summer weather coupled with nights gone dark at 5:00.

Why am I so hard to please?

Dig This

"Beautiful weather is wasted on the employed."


Taking The Time

Beatles lyrics always come back around. They will always keep coming back around because they are timeless.

Heard "Fixing A Hole" at The Asylum yesterday. The lyric "I'm taking the time for a number of things that weren't important yesterday" jumped out at me.

That's where my head is at right now.

I'm not actually doing it, but I am thinking about it a lot. The concept is establishing prominence in my mind. Soon, it will take hold.


I am starting to lean on a mantra. Ten good years. All I want from my life is ten good years.

The starting line will be 01/01/14. When I 'turn" sixty.

That is a lot to ask considering the way I have beaten and battered myself, but me thinks it is not overly greedy.

Seventy is not too old these days.

So as this mantra stews in my brain, as it marinates to tender perfection, other thoughts crowd their way in.

Like taking time for things that weren't important yesterday.

Not that they weren't important because they are not important. They weren't important because tunnel vision prevented me from recognizing the healing power of these things.

We'll see.

I have been full of shit before. Many times before.

No promises, no guarantees.

I'm just thinking.

And once again The Beatles have given me a gentle nudge.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Fully Armed

Heading in to work this morning armed with depression, fatigue and a chip on my shoulder.

This is not a recipe for success in the world of customer service.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Music & Vulnerability

Pumping my way to work this morning, John Mellencamp's "No Better Than This" serenading me and I am all smiles and tears.

I have been really down this week.

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

I get a kind of down that is cellular. It affects my whole body. Could be a way of coping. I get quiet and there is no resistance in my body. I am giving myself over to whatever will be. No fight.

At times like that I notice the music doesn't just surround and involve me, the music is me. It gets into my bloodstream and manipulates and empathizes with my emotions.

I sing through some tears, I sing through some smiles.

That might be the best time to listen to music. When you are vulnerable, whether you are happy vulnerable or sad vulnerable.

You go to a concert and you are so psyched that your vibe alters the orbital course of the earth. You file into the venue, the music starts and you get taken to an even higher place. The music recognizes your joy, syncs up with it, and blasts you into happiness.


You are really down, you dial up some music on the iPod, and the music gently caresses your nerve endings and flows carefully through your brain, negotiating dangerous terrain expertly, giving intense expression to whatever it is you are feeling.

Maybe when we are negotiating life anesthetized as we must be to survive, the music can't really get in, it can't do its work, it cannot connect with what is precisely and achingly human in us.

Intense emotion, happy or sad, vibrates at the same frequency of the music that we love, allowing a connection that reveals the true nature of music.

Music is created for your heart, it is created for your soul, it is created to expand your vision of life and what it can be so that you become aware that life is pure magic, pure emotion and pure love.

Gotta work again tomorrow. Day 7, of 9 consecutive at Lompoc. Sunday. I fucking hate working Sundays.

Got The Peace Mobile to ease my way down the road and back.

Got a CD player and the spirit of music to move my head around.

I'm just going to go with it. See how my molecules get rearranged.

It's going to do me some good.

Friday, August 16, 2013


There is no end to the sadness you get to deal with.

I just got home from work and Carol told me about Jerry Remy's son murdering his daughter-in-law while their 4 year old kid was in the house.

Jerry Remy has been battling cancer for years. It went into remission. Recently, it resurfaced.

Jerry Remy is a beloved figure. It hurts me to know of his health problems. When the cancer resurfaced I was really bummed.

Now I know that his son murdered his daughter-in-law.

Sadness is pervasive. It is deep.

You can't get away from it because it just keeps re-inventing itself.

Every time you think you have heard and felt the saddest thing you will ever hear and feel, something else comes along to trump it.

Sadness mutates. It breaks away and re-forms and finds a way to knock you off your feet.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Key

"I live in a little world. A weird and very strange world. Nothing makes sense in this world and nothing happens that doesn't happen over and over again.

The people in this world are odd. Lazy people, people who talk a lot and say nothing, people who move in circles and brag about how they are moving ahead. I suspect they are on a magic drug but I have no proof nor opportunity to experience this drug.

The building where we meet is under a voodoo curse. When you walk through the door you walk into unreality. Everyday objects take on strange shapes, and words and faces become warped. You have to learn to breath differently in this building. You have to learn a new language. It is an un-language. A language that communicates nothing.

All in all it is a strange but not a wondrous place.  It is a world within which no good deed goes unpunished. I don't like this world but there is no escape. At least none that I can discover. Entrances close up the first time you walk in and although you think you are leaving, you are really not.

I am leery and I want to escape. But an evil force controls this environment.

I believe there is a key. A solution. I will search for it as I slip and slide through a very strange existence.

That is the challenge."

Excerpt from an unfinished fairy tale written anonymously.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dig This

"It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages."

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

Friedrich Nietzsche

Empty Homes

I was preparing to leave for The Asylum yesterday morning when I noticed the empty feel of my home.

Carol had already left and the cats knew I was leaving and the house felt empty.

I was thinking about this house standing empty for so many hours every day. I think knowing the cats are alone for these long stretches makes the emptiness even heavier.

We fight and struggle and scratch and claw to "own" our homes and we spend an enormous amount of time away from them because of it.

I find this ironic.

Your home is the single biggest reason you go to work every day, against your will and against your sanity. Imagine how divine your life would be without The Mortgage Vampire breathing down your neck. Imagine how fluidly you would move through life.

We have made so much progress as an uber-intelligent civilization that in 2013 homes are emptier than ever.

People work longer hours for less pay, people work two and three jobs, people work weekends.

And homes stand silent, desperate for some sort of life within that will create fresh memories.

We get home exhausted and bewildered and I am not sure we appreciate or enjoy our homes the way we should.

In addition. given this ruinous economy we live in, the equation has been mortally skewed. Used to be if you were hardy enough to hang on for thirty or forty or fifty years, you would actually end up owning your home and it would be worth five times what you originally paid for it. Then you could sell it, borrow against it, do whatever the hell you wanted with it to exact some payback for the decades of sweat and worry.

Carol and I have been living in this palace for 27 years. We are watching its value diminish year by year, destroying our options, strangling hope.

If I had it all to do over again I would buy income property. A two family home where the other family would be paying my mortgage or a goddamn big chunk of it. Or I would buy a mobile home.

Which reminds me that my theory has been proven out. A while back I talked about The Most Inspiring Guy I Know, that I don't really know. The guy that lives in the mobile home that I drive by every day. No car, doesn't appear to have a job, lives within yards of a convenience store.

I was driving home and I saw a guy walking out of the convenience store with a cloth bag laden with goodies. Looked like one of those cloth bags you carry a ten pin bowling ball in. He was heading in the direction of the mobile home.

A couple of days later as I drove by I actually saw the guy outside his home and IT WAS HIM. Imagine my excitement. I wanted to stop and kiss his feet.

This is a guy who understands the proper balance between owning a home and voluntarily taking on oppressive burdens.

Anyway, it is an odd feeling to me when I commute to and fro, to drive by all these empty homes. Knowing everybody is scrambling like little bugs to suffer indignities for the privilege of owning these homes that stand empty.

I know somebody is going to attack me. Ask "What the hell are you talking about? How the hell can you avoid paying a mortgage? You are an idiot."

I am not offering solutions. I am not trying to be practical. I am just standing outside this bizarre life we all live and wondering how the hell we got here.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Dig This

"Music at its the grand archeology into and transfiguration of our guttural cry, the great human effort to grasp in time our deepest passions and yearnings as prisoners of time. Profound music leads us - beyond language - to the dark roots of our scream and the celestial heights of our silence."

Cornel West

I'm Wondering

I'm wondering if aging is more stressful for baby boomers than previous generations.

Nobody wants to get old because the final result of aging is rather final. But baby boomers were/are this vital generation that rocked the world and had higher hopes, had the hopes dashed, wimped out and sold out, and now are slipping into the dark years.

Could be a tad pretentious to say they had higher hopes; maybe they were just more vocal about it.

On the other hand they did create a revolution. They acted on their ideals in a dramatic way and fought to bring about change.

Life beat them back and yuppies were born. Suddenly baby boomers were businessmen, pretentious in dress and attitude. Over the last ten years or so I see a shift from sell out mode to mellow mode. People who leave the business world to craft leather goods. Kind of an aged reflection of the more peaceful aspects of sixties' hippie-ness.

Now they are seniors.

I wonder if disappointment has more bite at this stage. Having tasted and instigated gigantic moral and social changes only to see those changes eroded and negated, even in the year 2013 and beyond considering the regressive fools we have in office, I wonder if the sting is more severe.

Maybe it depends on whether you maintained a rebellious attitude over the decades, or whether you accepted the fact that life steam rolls over you and rebuffs major change thanks to the moneyed elite.

I call the baby boomers "they" even though I am one of them, because I was never really one of them. Not actively.

I dressed the part, I drank and enjoyed drugs, I was rebellious in my mind and in my hair but not in my actions.

I knew as a teenager that I did not want the middle class lifestyle but I never acted upon it. I did not live a unique and expressive life. I dove right in and strapped myself to a mortgage and a boring predictable job and skipped lazily through the decades.

So I am a senior now or damn close to it, and my disappointment is huge. I have a festering need to break free somehow, someway in order to validate my existence, even at this late stage.

A large void exists in my gut that needs to be filled. A large void that will slowly suck me into it and make me invisible if I do not fill it.

I imagine having tasted rebellion, having lived it, and then being forced to sell out just to be able to eat, creates a more pointed bitterness.

It must have been a heady feeling to be involved in social rebellion, a sense of power and hope. It must have been exciting to experiment with new lifestyles.

Maybe there is a sense of satisfaction from at least being involved in these things that beats back disappointment in the senior years.

I don't know.

The only thing I do know is I ain't done yet.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Little Honesty

John Mellencamp has a song on his "No Better Than This" album called "No One Cares About Me."

The lyrics are all about the terrible things going on in this guy's life, the lousy life that he has.

But the chorus says: "No one cares about me, no one cares about me, no one cares about me at all, if I had to guess it's because I'm spotty at best, no one cares about me at all."

Love it. A little honesty can go a long way towards explaining the misfortunes in our lives.

I know that is true about my bizarro world.

Laudenum - It's Not Just For Breakfast Anymore

I read a lot of literature from centuries past or books about people from centuries past and my disturbed brain is always drawn to references to the darker stuff.

Laudenum is a drug that pops up quite a bit in old tymey stuff and it has a nasty reputation.. Laudenum is an alcoholic herbal preparation containing 10% powdered opium and 90% alcohol. It came about when a 16th century Swiss-German alchemist discovered that alkaloids in opium are far more soluble in alcohol than water.

This is what I love about humanity. What the hell was this guy researching when he discovered this? Could be he was looking for  a new drug for pain relief. Could be he was looking for a better high.

Given my point of view and the history of humanity, I am opting for the latter theory. But that is a story for another place and time.

By the 18th century the medicinal properties of opium and laudenum were well known and many physicians were prescribing it for practically every ailment. It was used to relieve pain, to produce sleep, to treat colds, meningitis, cardiac disease, and to relieve menstrual cramps.

Regulation became stricter in the early 20th century with the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 which required that certain specified drugs be accurately labelled with contents and dosage. However cocaine, marijuana, heroin and other drugs continued to be legally available without prescription as long as they were labelled.

This was a wonderful time in American history.

As I read up on laudenum I was blown away to find out that it is still available by prescription in this country. I thought it was an old tymey drug that was eventually demonized and banned. I don't know how often it is prescribed and for what, but I am thinking once I get my medical marijuana card I may try to expand it's usage through the relaxed moral standards of Dr. Feelgood.

As always, I am interested in the drug because of it's relation to the creative community. Users included Lord Byron, Percy Blythe Shelley, John Keats, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, William Taylor Coleridge, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, to name a few.

And this whole line of inquiry leads me to another favorite topic - absinthe.

Absinthe is an anise flavored spirit that is high in alcohol content and contains the evil herb wormwood. It was created by a French doctor as a drinkable concoction, green in color and known as "The Green Lady", and was rumored to cure everything from flatulence to anemia. Drinking absinthe is said to result in "psychoactive pleasure."

It was used in the 1840's as a field treatment for malaria for French soldiers.

Wormwood is a relative of the plant family known as daisies. Sounds pretty benign to me. But it contains thujone, a psychoactive chemical that supposedly has hallucinatory and calming effects. It began to get a bad rap due to winemakers PR, and due to the excesses of the19th century creative types who embraced absinthe.

Absinthe soared in popularity initially due to The Great French Wine Blight of the mid 1800's, when wine production virtually stopped. Drinkers found absinthe to be a marvellous substitute for wine. But when the winemakers got back to business they demonized "The Green Lady", calling it the "Green Curse", characterizing it's psychoactive pleasure as toxic side-effects and the result of madness.

People like Van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Charles Baudelaire, and Arthur Rimbaud embraced absinthe and furthered it's evil reputation through their excesses.

Absinthe was actually banned in the United States in 1912 and in many other countries around the world around that time as well. You could still buy it but in a neutered form, without wormwood.It came back to respectability in the early 21st century and I am proud to say I own a bottle, with wormwood.

The first time I drank it I experienced a wonderful high. I was afraid to drink more right away because of it's reputation so I grabbed a beer trying to enhance the high. The beer did nothing, as if the absinthe rejected it with contempt.

I also enjoyed the ritual of pouring cold water over a sugar cube perched on an absinthe spoon balanced on the rim of the glass. Rituals are cool, baby.

Anyway, I know you are bored. I see you yawning. The whole point of this history lesson is that I am fascinated with the human race's relationship with booze and drugs.

We want them, we need them, but we make up stories, we call them medicinal, we outlaw them, we legalize them, we demonize them, we exploit them, we hide them, we celebrate them.

We are generally tortured souls. Why do we want to complicate our relationship with the things that make us feel better?

Do what you will. I'm contemplating a glass of absinthe before The Sox game so I can enjoy Jerry and Don that much more.

Dead Twice Over

I heard an account on NPR of a bombing in Iraq at a cemetery.

I am too lazy to do the research on it but apparently during this holy season it is typical for families to congregate and picnic in cemeteries to remember the dead.

Terrorists set off a bomb in this particular cemetery that killed people who were picnicking there.

I have lost my capacity to be shocked at the horrendous behavior of human beings. low can you go. People who are most likely mourning as well as celebrating the lives of those who have died in an expectation of peace and safety, themselves being dispatched to an early grave.

What kind of statement are you making when you do this? What is the point, the expected end result?

The look of horror and surprise on the faces of those blown to an early death in this cemetery should be captured on a poster or a sculpture and titled "An Honest Expression Of The Human Condition."

Dig This

"Women are meant to be loved, not to be understood."

Oscar Wilde

I Am A Sap

I admit it. I hung in there for about half an hour for THE PATS first pre-season game. Watched it until Brady was done.

I admit it. I got goosebumps during the pre-game hype.

When Ridley ripped off a long run on the first play from scrimmage I was thinking to myself this will be immense good luck if THE PATS score on their first play in the pre-season. I was disappointed to see Ridley get hauled down before reaching the end zone.

I formed impressions.

I did not like seeing Brady get knocked down. I did not enjoy seeing only short passes. I like the looks of Blount - seems like a guy who can beat and bang his way through the line. I did not like the look of the secondary as Vick led the Eagles to a touchdown.

All of this meaningless. It is too early. Way too early.

And still I got goosebumps.

Too Cold For August

When you crawl downstairs at 8:00 on an August Sunday morning, open up the sliders so the cats can get to their beloved screened-in porch..................

when the cats wander out there and are back in the house in five minutes.................

one curled up in my lap, the other on the couch...........................

you know it is too cold for August.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The End Of An Era

Sarges Tailgate Grille, located in Saco, Maine, closed its doors on Wednesday, August 7, 2013.

If you never made it to Sarges, you blew it.

On Thursday, Cori and Sarge had a gathering of regulars, current and past employees, and family, in the restaurant to kill what was left of food and booze, and to enjoy and celebrate one last time the amazing atmosphere Cori and Sarge created in that place.

It was an amazing, emotional day filled with love and laughter. Just like many, many other days that we have experienced there. Except this time we left crying because it was the last time we would be leaving Sarges Tailgate Grille.

We have so many memories tied up in Sarges. Gatherings and laughter and parties, new friends who became old friends. Yeah the food was tremendous, the service was excellent, the bar was fun but I am talking about the intangibles, the feel, the comfort, the happiness.

People kept coming up to me and saying "I don't know what I am going to do now. I don't know where I am going to go."

That is how much of a vacuum the Grille is leaving behind.

We were there on opening night thirteen years ago. We were there before opening night when they were renovating the place, getting it up and running. I remember lying across one of the benches in a booth while the place was still being renovated. Lying there with a vicious hangover. It would not be the last but somehow the pain was a fitting price to pay for the fun.

We were there for opening night, we had to be there for the last blast.

They were forced to close in part because over the years a few chain restaurants opened up close by and stole some of their business with cheaper prices, lower quality food and lousy service. You figure it out. One of these days we will all wake up and this country will consist of one bank, one corporation and one restaurant chain. That is the day you might want to ask Jesus to take you home.

They were forced to close in part because of illness. Cori has had health problems, Sarge has health problems.

In my mind these circumstances are a sad and strange commentary on life. Creeping corporatization diluting the quality of our lives, and the fragility of just being human making life so unpredictable.

But I am not here to mourn Sarges.

Sarge and Cori imprinted their personalities on that joint. They made it like your living room, only with better food and someone serving you drinks. When I ask Carol to pour me another whiskey at home she says "Get it yourself, fat boy." I never had that problem at the Grille.

The bar was a blast. A great place to hang and relax, maybe get crazy once in a while. Yet it did not disturb the ambiance of the restaurant. Somehow Cori and Sarge created the perfect bar atmosphere while still maintaining a family feel in the restaurant. That is a delicate balancing act that a lot of places cannot achieve.

The joint was decorated to the max in NASCAR. Every inch of every wall and even the ceiling was prettied up with racing gear. The crowd that hung there was a racing crowd.

Sarge is selling a lot of that stuff because some of it is worth money. But Sarge has a generous side, a very generous side. I cannot count how many T-shirts, hats, posters and collectibles he has given me over the years. We walked out of there with arm loads of booty on Thursday.

The first driver I rooted for was Rusty Wallace. Sarge pulled stuff off the walls, stuff that I have lusted after for years, and gave it to me. Just gave it to me. He snuck a Rusty stand up into The Peace Mobile unbeknownst to me. As I climbed in to leave, Rusty was grinning up at me from Carol's back seat.

Now I root for Kevin Harvick. I walked out with Harvick hats, T-shirts and posters.

We will have to add a room onto the house to display all this stuff.

He even had a newspaper dedicated to Elvis for Carol, a Bobby Labonte metal wall hanging, and a prison tray donated by a friend of his who did time at Shawshank.

The atmosphere on Thursday says it all about what Sarge and Cori created. The place was rocking. It was busy. One of their friends carved a plaque out of granite with a great and fitting saying about friendship and family, with many customers signatures etched right into the stone. The thing weighed a ton. It was beautiful in design. Beautiful in tribute.

People were grabbing menus and asking Cori and Sarge to sign them. When was the last time you saw something like that?

When we left we hugged and were hugged by, cried over and were cried on,  people who worked there, and customers who frequented the place. People who became friends in our lives as a direct result of the magic that is Sarge and Cori. Good people attract good people. We could not help but make good friends there because of the people Sarge and Cori attracted.

The intensity ramped up as we moved on to family hugs. John and Kevin. Tears and love.

The toughest of course was Cori and Sarge. Lot of tears there and serious bear hugs. Honest, sensitive words exchanged, heart to heart communication.

More tears in the parking lot. It was very hard to leave.

But Sarge in his easy going way, eased the pain. We are heading back up to Maine in a few weeks for our annual getaway. A getaway that we cherish. One night was always dedicated to dinner at the Grille. We can't do that this time but the bonus is that now Sarge and Cori will be able to spend casual time on the beach with us.


Anyway I was saying one last goodbye to Sarge, one last hug, a few hundred last tears. Struggling to hold it together. And he said in his amazing upbeat way "Hey we'll see you in a couple of weeks."

The closing of Sarges Tailgate Grille leaves a hole behind that can never be filled.

But thank God we had them for thirteen years. Those memories will bring a lot of smiles to a lot of lips for a long time.

That is a gift few people have the capacity to give.

That is a gift straight from the hearts of Sarge and Cori.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Bag Of Poison

I have explored this topic before but I am driven to return to it time and again.

Woke up early yesterday, lying there with my mind going in 153,768 different directions.

The alarm almost always mocks me. Springing to life well after I have already awakened.

Maka was curled up next to me.

She is so goddamn cute. She's a tiny cat and she curls up right close in cracks and crevices.

She was leaned up against my enormous belly.

Right now my body is nothing more than a poison bag. Raging with anger and fear and worry and disappointment and confusion.

When she or Lakota are right up against me like that I worry that my poison will infect them. I am enormous compared to them and I fear the power of my evil will destroy their gentle nature.

It is like a battle; their sweet gentle love and sensitivity against my turmoil. I'm sure they transmit their innocence and naturalness to me but my defenses are stout and I am incapable of learning.

It occurred to me yesterday that I should worry less. It is not a size thing, it is a natural thing. In other words they are at ease with who they are while I fight myself every step of the way.

My poison could never contaminate their existence because they have the power of peace of mind within them.

I need to work on that learning thing.

What's In A Name

Jonny Gomes.

Jonny Gomes is a great name, the perfect name for an athlete.

Jonny Gomes will never be Jonny, he will never be Gomes, he will always be Jonny Gomes. It rolls off the tongue.

Jonny has a twin brother on the Red Sox named Mike Napoli. If I had to guess I would say that Jonny Gomes is the evil twin. He just has that look about him. Kind of a cave man thing.

They strongly resemble each other and sport extremely similar beards. In fact, in deference to my diminished powers of perspective, it is probably only because of their beards that I call them twins.

But it makes me happy.

Napoli wears a shiny patina of sensitivity or self-awareness about him. His eyes suggest something deeper about the man, his physical movements transmit some sort of refinement.

Jonny Gomes exudes a neanderthal charisma. He looks like a guy who just is. Who wears his insides on his outsides. Crashing through this, smashing around that.

His eyes sparkle with hints of insanity.

He has an intimate relationship between his helmet and his head that makes you think he is trying to corral his evil tendencies within his brain. Or at least within his helmet.

I am not insulting the guy. I think it is cool. I bet he is a blast to be around. A few Sox players have identified him as the craziest in the clubhouse.

People like this are valuable because they are a refreshing offset to the playacting most of us do.

Of course there is an excellent chance I am totally misreading the guy.

That look in his eyes can mean a million things. It could mean he understands life better than I do; that he has the answer.

Who knows.

Only Jonny Gomes.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Stem Cell Research And Honey Boo Boo

My brain is atrophying at an alarming rate.

Just yesterday Carol asked me to replace the roll of paper towels on the sink. As usual she had taken the last sheet but was too lazy to get a new roll and install it in the dispenser so she batted her eyes at me and said "Honey, can you grab a new roll of paper towels and slam it into the fancy plastic holder we hold in such high regard?"

I am eager to please, just like a puppy, so I said "Of course, Darling."

I walked over to the sink and was distracted by the scene outside the window. Trees swaying in the summer breeze, chipmunks flitting about, birds zipping and zapping, the neighborhood black cat that torments our cats slinking across the lawn.

Twenty minutes passed with me standing at the sink and Carol finally asked me what I was up to. I said "Ooh look at the pretty birdies and the little chipmunks and how do the trees bend and look at the pretty kitty."

She gently guided me to the recliner and switched to Seinfeld re-runs.

So I decided I have to challenge my brain. I decided I needed to research two things to learn about tonight.

Stem cell research, baby. Holy confusion. Killing fetuses, not killing fetuses, scientists versus religious zealots - what and where is the truth?

Most stem cells are derived from embryos that develop from eggs that have been fertilized in vitro and then donated for research purposes with informed consent of the donors. They are not derived from eggs fertilized in a woman's body.

This is heavy duty stuff no matter what angle you cock your head at.

So I am going to skip that debate and focus on the possibilities.

Serious medical conditions, like cancer and birth defects are due to abnormal cell division and differentiation, which is another way to describe cells with a specific goal or purpose. Stem cells start out as undifferentiated cells or free spirits and develop into cells with specfific goals.

So a primary goal of this research is to figure out how stem cells become the specific cells that form the tissues and organs. And to use that knowledge to fight back against the nasty cells that lead to cancer and birth defects.

Even though I have been been hearing the name Honey Boo Boo for a while now, I have had no interest in finding out what it is all about.

Such a stupid name. How could I possibly be interested?

Bill Maher has worked her into his monologue many times on his magnificent show so eventually I decided that if Bill Maher knows who this is, I should know who this is.

Honey Boo Boo is a 7 year old child beauty pageant participant who is featured on a reality TV show on TLC.

Are you serious?

The show features Honey Boo Boo, her mother, father and three older sisters and is mostly filmed in and around the family's hometown in (what a surprise) rural McIntyre, Georgia.

The family originally gained fame on a TLC show called Toddlers and Tiaras, which follows the lives of child beauty pageant contestants and their families.

The second season of Honey Boo Boo premiered on July 17, 2013 and featured a Watch 'n Sniff event. Watch 'n Sniff cards were distributed throughout the United States with each numbered scent card correlating to scenes in the second season premier episodes.

I do not understand how anybody can say this country is losing it's edge in the arena of innovation. We continue to push boundaries.

I swear to God I had no intent of linking these two areas of brain stimulating investigation I embarked upon tonight.

However, it occurs to me that a positive by product of stem cell research might be to develop cells that do not multiply to produce exploitative parents and could eventually lead to the demise of reality TV in it's entirety.

A goal like that is intimidating. In this country, more intimidating than eradicating cancer.

Holy Christ, Peoples

Holy Christ, peoples. I am going wild and I am going mad.

The job has me running ragged and because I am so busy (so undisciplined, take your pick) I cannot get in here often enough.

Writing in here for me is better than sex so you can just imagine my frustration.

Pisses me off.

Whaddya gonna do?

I am 59 years old and one goddamn thing I have learned is that life NEVER goes the way you want it to and it takes a Herculean effort to even try to make it go the way you want it to.

That's why I am here.

This is what I love. This is who I am.

The goddamn job may exhaust me and frustrate me and take up more time out of my life than is fair but Jesus goddamn it I will persevere to get in here and express myself.

So be it.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Uncanny

Doing a little light reading on Freud's theory of the uncanny.

The uncanny generally concerns those things that make us uncomfortable. "It is undoubtedly related to what is frightening -  to what arouses dread and horror;...........................tends to coincide with what excites fear in general."

In exploring this theory, Freud gets into the fear of being buried alive. And says: "to many people the idea of being buried alive while appearing to be dead is the most uncanny thing of all. And yet psycho-analysis has taught us that this terrifying phantasy is only a transformation of another phantasy which originally had nothing terrifying about it at all but was willed with a certain lustful pleasure - the phantasy, I mean, of intra-uterine experience."

The research I read interpreted this comment to mean "the terror of death through premature burial is thus diminished or transformed into pleasure by locating it's source in the fantasy of returning to the womb."

Freud was a nutcase. A lot of his theories have been discredited. The more I learn about him the more I picture him sitting in the dark with pictures of a naked Anais Nin, writing feverishly in his tablet and passing off his observations as insightful analysis into the nature of humanity.

Kind of like if Anthony Weiner started his own school of thought in the world of psycho-analysis.

As Freud grinds his way through his theory of "the uncanny', he references a story written by E.T.A. Hoffman, called "The Sandman." Hoffman was a German writer, composer and painter known for his stories "in which supernatural and sinister characters move in and out of men's lives, ironically revealing tragic or grotesque sides of human nature."

Like in The Sand-Man. In the story a kid is occasionally sent to bed early after being told by his mother that the Sand-Man is coming. The kid's nurse tells him: "the wicked man would throw sand into the eyes of children who refuse to go to bed, steal their bleeding eyes, and feed the eyes to his own bird-children who would use their hooked, owl-like beaks to peck and eat the eyes of the naughty boys and girls."

Pretty gruesome story. There is more but my fingers are getting tired.

Freud says "the arbitrary and meaningless elements of the story become intelligible as soon as we replace the Sand-Man by the dreaded father at whose hands castration is expected.  ...................we shall venture therefore to refer the uncanny effect of the Sand-Man to the anxiety belonging to the castration complex of childhood."

Imagine being screwed up in the head and going to see this dude for treatment?

You would come out stuttering, carrying a pickax and asking everybody you meet - "Did you bring me a hat?"

By the way I don't sit around reading Freud for light entertainment. I was turned on to the concept of "the uncanny" through a biography of Edgar Alan Poe that I am currently reading.

There is a twisted connection there that delights me.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Exquisite Torment

I went to THE PATS site for the first time today.

I am twisted like a pretzel at this time of year. My body is hanging onto, crying out for, more heat, more heat, more heat. Don't let summer die. Don't you pass me by. Don't you make me cry.

But football rumbles back to life at this time of year, as improbable as that may seem. Goddamn August and football teams are back in camp binging and banging and filling up stadiums with testosterone.

I don't want to think about football at this time of year. Football is cold. Football is snow. Football is winter.

I want to think about football at this time of year. Football is my passion, football is my life, football makes me come alive and keeps me alive.

I go to the site and immediately I am slapped in the face - today is Tom Brady's birthday. His 36TH birthday.

Jesus Christ.

Super Bowl XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX. Glorious.

XLII, XLVI - sucked.

We could have had 5 titles by now. Those last two losses ripped out a couple of my internal organs.

And Brady is 36.

The team is magic, it is beautiful, it has a life of its own. But Brady. Everything revolves around Brady.

The man rocks.

When he is gone my fandom may be tested. My son Keith lies in wait, monitoring me, waiting to see if I remain rabid if THE PATS slip for a while.

Keith taught me to be a PATS fan as much or even more than I am a football fan. To put this in perspective, if football were banned as a sport, I would put on a tutu, lock myself in a closet with an intravenous hook up to a 40,000 gallon jug of Crown Royal and ride the damn situation out to the bitter end.

I LOVE The New England Patriots. The level of excellence they have maintained since XXXVI is unrivalled in the history of the world.

Tom is getting older. I NEED another Super Bowl title with Tom at the helm. Maybe two. Maybe three.


I am committed to reading up on THE PATS as much as my life will allow. I want to be informed this year. INFORMED.

I want to know this team inside and out. When I exhale at night in my sleep I want that breath to smell like PATS.

I am committed to getting out of The Asylum hell I am burning in BEFORE the season starts because if I don't I will miss 75% of THE PATS games and this would destroy me.

Christ, one visit to THE PATS website and I am in flux.


And it is only August 3.

Tom Brady's birthday.

I was not invited to celebrate with him.

I must work harder to raise my profile.

Pants, Trousers, Slacks

I wear pants.


That's what I call them, that's what I wear.

If you wear trousers, you were born to a wealthy family. Every man in your family wore trousers. They called them trousers and taught you to call them trousers.

You called them trousers in school and did not get beat up because you went to an exclusive private school where everybody else wore trousers.

If you wear slacks, you have made your own money. You think you are your own man. Or you are living off credit cards and pretending to be well off. Driving a Hummer and making the payments by eating peanut butter.

You are a snob.

You memorize wine facts from Wine Enthusiast magazine and try to impress people with your knowledge of the difference between Tempranillo and Garancha grapes.

You go home and drink Zhenka.

You wear slacks.

Something To Think About

If you get up in the morning and:

1) Go to the bathroom
2) Brush your teeth
3) Wash your face
4) Floss
5) Apply deoderant
6) Comb your hair

and then go downstairs and:

7) Refresh the cats' water bowl
8) Pop a 10 mg Crestor
9) Pop a Bayer baby aspirin
10) Dump 1 tablespoon of vinegar in a little water and drink it

you have accomplished 10 things.

At this point I think you would be justified in turning around and going back to bed.

Of course if you consider yourself a go getter, I'm sure that thought process offends you. You are probably one of those people who is always saying "work smarter, not harder." Or you are one of those people who is always saying "give me something to do. I can't stand doing nothing."

Experience tells me that most people who say "work smarter, not harder" work their asses off running in circles because they are not smart enough to follow their own "advice."

And that people who say they can't stand doing nothing are perfectly content to do absolutely nothing.

I'm tired now. Gonna take me a nap.

From The Ground Up

I would have loved to be a cemetery caretaker in the old days. Nowadays I think cemetery caretakers spend their time maneuvering ride around lawn mowers, and picking up beer cans and condoms.

I checked out job descriptions and they are pretty benign. "Inspect the cemetery on a predetermined schedule, mow and trim approximately once per month, repair vandalism as needed to fencing, benches and signs."  Skills and Experience Needed: "None required."

These guys are town workers who spend more time away from the cemetery than in it.

I want the job but I want it old school.

I need to be there full time. I need to dig graves by hand and wipe the sweat off my brow with a blood red bandanna. I need to stand in the shadows as people mourn, I need to throw dirt on the coffin as they drink and reminisce.

I would only shave once a week and I'd wear worn flannel shirts in the cold and torn white T-shirts in the heat.

I would use a push mower as I carefully maneuvered around the graves.

I would want to develop an intimate relationship with the grounds. I would want it to be my cemetery.

I think it is all about respect. Every fresh grave I dug would make me wonder; who was this person, what did they do, were they ever happy, how did they die, did they die too soon and unfulfilled.

What does dying mean?

I would get to know them after the burial. Carefully mowing their new lawn. Amazing how we humans are obsessed with lawns, even in death.

I don't give a damn about lawns.

But here it would be a source of pride to take good care. I would be on my knees clipping to perfection. And I would read the gravestone, learn what I could.

The rest I would learn through conversation. I would have a rusty lawn chair to sit on at the foot of the grave as I ate my lunch sandwich consisting of capicolla, provolone cheese and horse radish sauce on rye bread. I would enjoy a cold beer with the sandwich but the empty would be carefully packed away and properly disposed of.

I would write poetry in the ten minutes left to my lunch break after eating.

I would make my rounds specifically to visit with these people. Just to stop by and say hello whether any maintenance was needed or not.

I imagine I would have my favorites. I know I would have my favorites. Hopefully nobody to hate, but I could see hate blossoming at the foot of a huge gravestone at the top of a hill overlooking the stream that gurgles by below.

One ups-manship even in death.

What the hell is the point?

I would lay my mind open to the vibe and divine from it what I could.

Obviously the peace of the job appeals to me. Tremendously. Nobody else to deal with. Nobody gossiping or attempting to maneuver me, nobody lying to me and talking behind my back.

You know, the typical work environment.

But it is all about that vibe. Being around the dead and hoping to learn something about death.

And life.

All these people who have the answer that all of us covet.

My hope would be that through my respect, a communication could develop.

Once in a while I would lay down upon a grave, my head up against the gravestone, probably that of one of my favorites, and look up into the sun.

Or on my bolder days, up into the moon.

And meditate.

Cemetery caretaker is one more job that has been reduced by progress.

One more job where I missed the boat.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Dig This

"Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night."

Edgar Allan Poe

Some Facts

I listened to Barry Manilow on my commute to The Asylum this morning.

I listened to The Allman Brothers on the way home.

I don't know who I am any more.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


I don't know what hope is.

I think it is a good thing to have if it is genuine, but I have no clue how to determine whether or not it is genuine.

I worry sometimes that hope is a concept dreamed up by those in control, the money men and the landed gentry, to keep us wee folk in our place.

Like self help books and seminars. People get caught up in an endless loop of "self helping" without ever helping themselves. The only people they help are the ones profiting from the books and seminars.

It is insidious because you want an answer, you want to change, but the "help" becomes ice over which you glide, never getting at what it is you need.

I think part of the problem is that we ache for comfort; we know we are really not accomplishing anything but it feels good to talk to somebody else who appears to care.

Gratefulness. That is a concept that is being sold to us. Be grateful for what you have instead of torturing yourself with what you want, be it material or spiritual.

This creates docility, which is exactly what is needed to keep us in our place.

Hope could be another manufactured concept.

With hope in your brain, you keep on keeping on. Keep getting up, keep going to work, keep performing and obeying.

If hope was totally eradicated, society would collapse because what we all do every day is meaningless without the hope of getting somewhere better.

The hope of a better job, the hope of hitting the lottery, the hope of a better life, the hope of peace of mind.

One hell of a lot of people have lost hope. You can see it in their eyes. But if everybody lost hope the world would come to a screeching hault.

Which would not be a bad thing. Maybe give us one last chance to get it right.

I want hope to be real. What passes for hope in me is continually being eroded and chipped away and poisoned.

Yet hope still pulses in a lonely corner in my brain, mal-nourished and friendless.

I may wake up one day to find I have been duped.

I suggest you avoid me on that day.