Saturday, November 30, 2013

Still Digging On Joe Namath

It is satisfying to me to still be able to dig on Joe Namath even now, at the ripe old age of 70.

Him, not me.

I cannot believe Joe Namath is 70. I can not believe it.

I worshipped this man. I worshipped his mink coat, his white shoes, his Fu Manchu mustache, his bar hopping I will do what I want attitude, his bar owning bravado, his defiance of the NFL as the face of the upstart AFL, his sly grin-about-the-girls--that-says-it-all attitude, his sense of humor, his willingness to challenge the definition of masculinity in panty hose attitude.

I worshipped him as a quarterback. The man could fire a pass like nobody you have ever seen. ZIP. Completion. I worshipped his ability to take a beating and keep getting up and keep delivering and keep smiling and spreading around that unique mannerism of speaking that still distinguishes him today.

I cannot tell you how many times I saw him get pounded, and watched him get up slowly while my heart beat in my mouth. You want to see a definition of tough? Go back and watch some film of Joe Namath getting blasted in the pocket. It broke my heart every single time.

I still worship him.

He came into the NFL hurt, for Christ sake and never looked back. His knees are uglier than Mom's Mabley's face. He kept on keeping on. He won a Super Bowl. He beat the Colts in a game nobody gave his team a chance. He predicted it and backed it up.

New school defeats old school. It was the perfect script for the times and he was the perfect man for the script.

His stats suck. He threw 173 TD's in his career and 220 interceptions. He only led the league in touchdown passes once; he led the league in interceptions four times. He played thirteen years and only twice did his TD passes outnumber interceptions.

The operations they performed on his knees were medieval by today's standards; barbaric. Probably shortened his career.

Still, he is in the Hall of Fame. Exactly where he belongs. Shining the light of uniqueness as brightly as a spotlight.

Still, he doesn't make excuses.

The standard question for retired quarterbacks, especially those who go back a ways like Joe Willie White Shoes, is how do you think you would do in the league today with the revised rules for quarterbacks and receivers?

By way of comparison, consider the claim by Johnny Unitas that he would have been the highest paid player in the game if he had played in the modern era.

Namath's answer: "I learned from the great general manager Don Klosterman that you can always say, 'Woulda, coulda, shoulda" and even " Yeah, but.' But none of that means crap. I never had to defend myself when I was playing and I'm not going to now. I wasn't ever as good as I wanted to be and using injuries as an excuse is ridiculous. My injuries were so minor compared to what so many people really have to deal with, like ALS, heart problems, liver problems or kidney problems."

"Easy has nothing to do with playing quarterback, whether it was then or now. It's grueling no matter what because the goal of the game is still to hit the quarterback and hit him as hard as you can. Sure, we didn't have the same protections back then, but it doesn't mean that the goal isn't the same.

Sure it's easier for receivers to get open and for quarterbacks to get the ball down the field, but it doesn't change the goal of what the opposition is trying to do. They're trying to hit you as hard as they can. It's like my old teammate Don Maynard once said, "MVP stands for Most Valuable Position and that's team doctor.' The name of the game is to kill the quarterback. It was then and it still is today."

An intelligent rebel is infinitely more valuable than a blindly passionate one. And eternally more valuable than an old school, close minded dinosaur who is incapable of learning; of evolving.

Joe Namath is still a rebel. Every single time I see him, I smile. I smile a smile that comes from my soul, a smile that has its origins in my teen years.

Because of the look in his eyes. Because of that smile. Because of the way he talks.

He rebelled, he succeeded enormously, he has gained wisdom.

He is a contributor. A contributor to history, to life, to humanity. He made a mark and he continues to back it up.

I still worship Joe Namath.

A Random Purging

My brain is clipping along at 1,000 M.P.H. right now with input, impressions, thoughts, considerations, plans of change, awareness, hope, despair, gratitude, commitment identified and such.

It has been going on for about a month.

Typically my brain feels as if it has a Tupperware seal over it. Foggy, impeded, inefficient, damaged.

Recently clarity has entered the picture. I don't think there was a single catalyst. Maybe one dominant catalyst and a whole host of other impressions and observations mixed in.

It is so there that I cannot ignore it. My brain actually feels different. Thoughts are zinging around my thick skull without getting lost.

It has created quite a soup, a pensive stew in my mind.

More than pensive, though. Pensive feels to me like slow moving thoughts. I am not against pensive. I am eternally pensive.

But right now the synapses are firing furiously. Something is going on inside. Am alchemy between the outside world, my life and what is real inside.

This is merely an observation.

I have learned not to make predictions. I have learned not to make promises.

I know intuitively that something is going on. I feel it. And feel is what it is all about.

Where it will lead and what I will do with it is about as predictable as the mood of a schizophrenic. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Dig This

"Having the day after Thanksgiving off is sweetly delicious and doubly nutritious."


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Dig These

"Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow."   Edward Sandford Martin

"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." 
                                William Arthur Ward

"Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action."  W.J.Cameron

"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others."   Cicero

                                              And on the flip side:

"Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often."  
                                                  Johnny Carson

The Strangest Of Dreams

Woke up the the strangest of dreams  yesterday.

In the dream I was hiking in the woods. That alone is bizarre. I don't hike. I am not an outdoor guy except to stand pensive in the warm sun, to drink in the beauty of the woods around me, to absorb the royal red of a sunset and to experience a caressing breeze on my bare arm in the middle of July.

In other words I am not an active participant in the great outdoors. I don't kayak, bike, jog, swim or mud.

And I don't hike.

Anyway I was hiking in the woods. Really hiking. I mean I was getting up and down mountains, crossing streams, covering a lot of ground.

But I had this nagging reminder that it was my brother's birthday and I had to get back for the celebration.

At one point I was up high and I heard a group of people down below singing the happy birthday song. I thought to myself "Shit, I missed it." I listened attentively and when they got to the happy birthday to................. part, they did not say Eddie.

I was relieved.

I continued hiking and then suddenly I was in a house where a celebration, a dinner, was going on at a long table. In the dream I saw myself sliding into a chair near the head of the table where an older gentleman was  speaking to the gathering.

He was very emotional.

He was talking about how we all say we are going to pay more attention to the ones we love, how we reflexively say we are going to appreciate our family and friends and our lives, we promise to do it and know it will improve our lives and make us happier, but we never follow through.

He got louder and more emotional as he spoke. He was trying so hard to get through, to get past just words to true communication. He was trying to create change in our hearts right there, right then, so there would be no going back.

Eventually he just broke down and started sobbing.

There are loose ends hanging in the details of this dream, seemingly unrelated facts and bizarre realities.

Ultimately, I believe my brain is working overtime, feverishly, to get me to The Truth.

Happy Thanksgiving

When people wish me a Happy Thanksgiving I feel good.

When people wish me a Merry Christmas, typically I lash out with a backhand to the cheek, a kick to the shins and a "Move on and out of my life with your Merry Christmas bullshit."

Or something like that.

I believe in Thanksgiving and I think most people do, whether they are aware of it or not. We all stumble around with Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year on our lips.

We say it mechanically and we don't really think about it. It is what you do in November and December and January. Its what you say.

But the Happy Thanksgiving thing has a genuineness to it that is unavoidable. No stress. No presents to buy. No budget to over extend. No mall shopping and pill popping. (Sorry - its the rhyme thing).

I guess truthfully there is some stress. At The Asylum, as people continuously staggered to the counter with mountains of booze, many of them would complain about dinner preparations or travel or, worst of all, in-laws.

But I noticed that the majority of people do not complain about it, and those who do are not vehement about it. Kind of a subdued complaint. Like the weekly complaint quota has not been met so I gotta say something kind of thing.

That's where the genuineness comes in. I think we know it subconsciously. My theory, which I have expounded upon endlessly over the years, is that Thanksgiving is a pure holiday.

It is simply about family getting together over a meal. Talking, laughing, reminiscing, and appreciating each other. Free and easy. Football on the fancy-vision projection device.

I also believe that our intuitive understanding that family is really everything - that love is really everything - that this is truly the core of our existence as humans - I believe that understanding rises to the surface.

It breaks free of the every day grind I can't pay my bills my car broke down and my dog bit me bullshit. It forces our heads up for air and the aroma is sweet.

"Merry Christmas" should be stricken from the English language.

"Every idiot who goes about with "Merry Christmas" on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart." I love you, Ebenezer Scrooge.

Merry is a wimpy word that you never use otherwise. As such, it should carry potency at Christmas but it does not. Because it is usually uttered through gritted teeth.

Happy New Year has some truth to it. We all had somewhat unhappy old years and we all want happy new years. So I believe we mean it when we wish each other Happy New Year because we are all in the same boat.

But you don't get together for New Year's dinner.

Thanksgiving is the King-Hell daddy of all the holidays. I stole the King-Hell thing from Hunter S. Thompson. That is a phrase he put together and used to describe the ultimate, the pinnacle, of whatever he was referring to. I love the sound of it and borrow it unabashedly.

Today is the day. Revel in it. Look around that dinner table at the people you love and the people who love you. Allow your mind to absorb the fact that these people are your life, YOUR LIFE,  and that you are lucky to have them.

Enjoy the dinner. Cram as much into your belly as you possibly can and then eat some more. Drink enough to be happy but not enough to ruin the day. Or tomorrow. Dig football.

Tonight when everybody is gone and you are settled deeply into the recliner, recognize that you lived your life today. Truly lived it. That you caught the vibe.

I wish everybody today a Happy Thanksgiving, a royally, laugh filled and fulfilling Thanksgiving.

I wish it with all the love in my heart.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

In A Peaceful Way

I am sitting here looking at snow on the ground.

A dusting but still, snow. The wind is howling and it is barely 20 degrees, if that. Wind chill is 444 below. I have to go to the dump today, I have to get gas, which means I have to brush snow off The Big Ride for the first time. Which means I have to venture out in this harshness.

I am taking all this in calmly.

I am charting strange new territory and I like how it makes me feel.

The tortured crucible change in my mind may finally be taking hold. I am thinking about my life, I am staring down mortality, I have been shaken up and kicked around.

I had yesterday off. I have today off. I am thinking.

I feel at peace today. One reason is that I did not chug whiskey on Friday or Saturday night, nor will I do so today. I slept well. A strange and new experience.

My health has been challenged and I am attempting to take a new approach.

Here is a little honesty for you. I started drinking at the age of fifteen. It made me a crazy man, fun to be around and it killed my pain and hid my insecurities. It became a blueprint for my life and I have been abusing it non stop for 44 years.

I have always justified it in my mind and to you by explaining that the numbness kept me at bay. Kept me keeping on, instead of running away to Tijuana.

There is truth to that, but nowhere near as much as I have claimed in the past.

Ultimately alcohol has been the single most powerful deterrent to my becoming who I should be.

And it will continue to do that to me, I will continue to do that to me, unless I change.

I am not making promises here, I am outlining what I know to be the truth.

When I got the sky high BP diagnosis a week ago, I came home and swilled down a large amount of whiskey.

How incredibly stupid. Booze exacerbates high blood pressure.

This is why I am not making promises. Reaching for the bottle has been my go to solution for 44 years, no matter how stupid, how damaging that reaction has been.

But I am comfortable in this peace I am living today. I enjoyed a sweet and pleasant Friday night with Carol. I enjoyed a sensitive Saturday with Carol and a magnificent lunch with Keith & Emily.

I feel good today.

My actions in my life up to now have predetermined the final chapters of my life and it ain't pretty.

A smart man would rewrite those final chapters to give himself the surprise ending that he deserves.

I'll see how it goes.

Ms. George Eliot

I have fallen in love with and adopted as my own the quote: "It is never too late to be what you might have been."

That is because I have too much "too late" and not enough "to be" in my life.

But I ain't done yet, Bubba.

I had to check out the originator of this comment and found it to be George Eliot. I figured George Eliot had to be a pretty cool guy.

Until I found out that George Eliot was the pen name of Mary Ann Evans. Then I became even more impressed.

Mary Ann Evans was one of the leading English novelists of the 19th century. "Her novels, most famously "Middlemarch", are celebrated for their realism and psychological insights."

I did not know this. I got the info from a BBC history page, hence the quotes.

She also wrote Silas Marner, a novel I am aware of but have never read.

How could I not know this? I can't know everything but when it comes to literature I expect to know everything.

How silly of me.

Maybe you are laughing at me saying "For Christ sake, Joe, everybody knows that." Like those Geico ads, of which the only good one is the Old Macdonald one. The way that dude adds EIEIO to the end of cow and the way he says dagnabit when he is disqualified..................makes me smile every time.

Evans took the George Eliot pen name because female writers in the 19th century were associated with romantic novels and apparently her novels had more meat to them. She wanted to be taken seriously.

Pretty ballsy.

She began her career submitting pieces to the 'Westminster Review', a leading journal for philosophical radicals. She eventually wrote six novels.

As a successful writer, her and her husband's home became a meeting place for writers and intellectuals.

This concept has always fascinated me. The idea of creative and intelligent people meeting to exchange ideas, to inspire and critique each other, seems so cool. There were the ex-pats in Paris, of which Gary Handley was not one but could have easily fit in with his intellect and furious wit. There was The Algonquin Round Table. Etc.

When Mary Ann Evans husband died, she married a friend twenty years her junior.

This woman was a rebel, she was a free thinker, and she was talented.

She lived from 1819 to 1880.

I am going to try to summon her spirit tonight over the pinecone and lime scented Yankee Candle that I bought yesterday.

And in a related incident, here are some great quotes from members of The Algonquin Round Table:

Robert Sherwood, reviewing cowboy hero Tom Mix: "They say he rides as if he were part of the horse, but they don't say which part."

Dorothy Parker: "That woman speaks eighteen languages and can't say "no" in any of them."

George S. Kaufman: Once when asked by a press agent, "How do I get my leading lady's name into your newspaper?" Kaufman replied: "Shoot her."

164 Million Reminders

I keep coming back to the simplicity of it all.

A dog sitting in front of you, looking up at you, happily and with love, wagging his tail energetically. Willing to follow any command to please you. Sit, stay, roll over.

A cat that rubs up against your legs and closes her eyes in contentment when you pick her up. A cat that sleeps in your lap and next to you in bed.

Strip away the awareness of death, strip away the distractions of responsibility, strip away the unpredictability of relationships and you get down to love.

Love is life and our pets tell us this every day.

There is a sleazy restaurant next door to The Asylum. This place is scumsville and has a reputation for being directly involved in the local drug trade. A few weeks ago the owner got dragged away in cuffs. They shut down unpredictably and re-open just as randomly. Over and over again.

I wouldn't eat there if the food was free.

There is a character that hangs there. An old dude. Grizzled, missing teeth. He comes into The Asylum occasionally to buy scratch tickets. Never booze. He drives a beat up old station wagon, ass end low to the ground, out of which he operates a locksmith business.

I don't understand how this works, I don't understand how it is even legal. He shows up in the parking lot every day, parks his car and does business out of the vehicle.

I don't even know if he lives anywhere. He is there on my early 7:00 a.m. days, he is there when I leave at 9:30 at night.

He spends a lot of time hanging in the restaurant. Knows the owner and the hangers on well. He is decades older than any of them.

Old Dude has a dog that is always with him. Small, yellow, old dog, always dirty and with a nasty growth over one eye. The guy used to keep him roped up to the car. Long rope so the dog could roam. Bowl of water close by. Until somebody complained to the police that it was dangerous for the dog because of all the traffic in the parking lot.

Now it seems like he keeps the dog in the car. Or maybe in the restaurant. I don't see him out all the time but I do see him around.

This summer when it was one of those 1,000 degree days I went out back of The Asylum to dump trash in the dumpster and Old Dude's car was parked there with his dog lying next to it. I was offput because the dog wouldn't respond to me. I have a high success rate with animals and children. When they don't let me in, it disturbs me.

I went to the back door of the restaurant and yelled through the screen door to get the attention of one of the sleazeballs who works there. I asked if anybody was keeping an eye on the dog; it was hot as hell and he might need a break. Sleazeball told me, yeah, the dog belongs to Old Dude who is inside watching racing. He said they were on top of it.

I brought out bowls of cold water three times that afternoon and checked up on the dog just in case.

I have seen Old Dude feed the dog, I have seen the dog bark to get back into the car.

I have seen the dog respond lovingly to whatever attention he gets from Old Dude.

This dog's life breaks my heart.

Even this dog with his life as tough as it is, with his owner being as sleazy as he is, even this dog knows that it is all about love.

He wags his tail, he is patient, and he takes whatever love he can get.

He is not mean, he is not loud, he does not whine - he waits.

2012 statistics estimate 164 million dogs and cats in homes in this country.

That is an enormous amount of pure love permeating our existence.

We adopt pets exactly because of their sweet, simple, perfect understanding of love and the happiness that brings us.

But we cannot evolve to the point where we can learn from it.

When your pet looks up lovingly into your eyes, know that part of what is in that look is pity for our venal stupidity.

But there is also hope and trust and love.

That is what makes a pet a pet.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


I'll talk to you on Sunday. Right now I am trying to digest macadamia nut crusted chicken and asparagus, followed by a wedge of chocolate truffle pie. Not a bad place to be. By the way I took a shot at a glass of Mark West pinot noir. We sell a ton of it at The Asylum.

I was not impressed.

Ciao, baby.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


As I was driving home last night I saw the moon  reflected brilliantly on the still surface of a peaceful lake.

Suddenly I understood the trickery employed by nature to sooth my soul.

Sometimes I just have to see exactly how pretentious I can be.


So I'm doing research on the lyrics to High Cost of Low Living, and I come across the connection between Soren Kierkegaard and Gregg Allman.

I called it research so I can keep up with the current trend of making everything sound more important than it is. Who could ever have predicted that euphemisms would become the premier mode of expression in this sweet land of ours?

The first verse of High Cost goes like this: "You're the life of the party, everybody's host, still you need somewhere you can hide, all your good time friends and your farewell to has-beens, Lord knows, just along for the ride."

Those words sparked some sort of connection in my smoke-filled, delicately marinated brain. Eventually I thought I remembered something Kierkegaard said. I did more research and came up with this:

 "I have just now come from a party where I was its life and soul; witticisms streamed from my lips, everyone laughed and admired me. But I went away--yes, the dash should be as long as the radius of the earth's orbit---------------------------------and wanted to shoot myself."

Soren Kierkegaard lived from 1813 to 1855. Gregg Allman was born in 1947 and is still alive and kicking. I'm pretty sure they never ran into each other.

But you never know.

Sweet Jesus, this is the beauty of the creative spirit.

We get lost in our misery and confusion and wind up feeling so damn alone. Our souls search for some sort of justification but we cannot break through the shroud.

If you want to find the common thread of humanity from its inception through November 21, 2013, dig into art. Poetry, music, literature, painting, plays, movies.

You will find the same themes expressed in a million different ways.

All of humanities frustrations expressed sometimes eloquently, sometimes sparingly, over the course of 200,000 years.

Relative to the sycophant theme, original caveman wall literature translates: "Do you love me or are you using me?"

Jesus himself looked around the  guests at the last supper and wondered "Who's got my back?"

It is a comforting thing to know that, whatever you are feeling, you can dig a little deeper and find a greater mind than yours expressing what you cannot find the words for. Sometimes the very elegance of those words can improve your mood.

The human condition, baby. There ain't no cure for it.

How Did They Know?

"So many here who love you, but still, you just can't tell the real ones and those who drop your name, all the while behind your back they life the flesh right from your bones, you should know by now we're all fair game, you've been chasing each dream with whiskey, from here to Tokyo, usin' up all your real friends, places left to go......................

It's the high cost of low livin', ain't it high time you turn yourself around? Yeah, the high cost of low livin', is bound to put you six feet in the ground."

"High Cost of Low Living"

The Allman Brothers Band

Anesthesia Is Required

If you could factor out booze and drug abuse, would musicians live longer, healthier lives?

Musicians have an outlet. A way to express their pain.

Exquisite musical expression translates from raw emotion. When you hear music that stops you dead in your tracks, you are listening to someone's soul.

That is not something you take lightly, which is why we react the way we do to the music that we love. Talented musicians are offering you pure human essence; no bullshit. They are saying "This is what I feel, this is what I fear, this is how I hurt, this is how I love, this is my happiness." Whatever it is, it is pure, unadulterated emotion.

The rest of us keep everything locked up inside and cover it up with a thick layer of bullshit and braggadocio. Hence the violence, the drugs, the booze, the untimely death.

The booze and drugs are a big part of the deal, though. Musicians are sensitive souls and this world is not a place for sensitivity. Anesthesia is required.

Exploring their pain so nakedly, so openly, could be a way to evolve, to get past the suffering, to move to a higher place and thought process.

But you gotta learn from the experience.

"And I make my living, pouring out my pain, trying to make it through another day." "Desdemona" The Allman Brothers. Gregg's voice has evolved with the pain he has lived. He has the ultimate, whiskey soaked, blues voice.

If you disagree with me you must keep your opinion to yourself.

It took him a long time to learn, to evolve and I am afraid he waited too long. He has gone through a fragile period and he comes across as much older than he is.

He bounced back pretty good though. I saw the band this summer and Gregg sounded awesome.

There is a Catch 22 to everything in life. When you have the talent to express honest emotion through instrument and voice, the sensitivity that got you there requires booze and drugs to get it done.

You are faced with the overwhelming challenge of connecting with other souls as you try to get past mind alteration to peace of mind.

If musicians could avoid the substance abuse, they would all live to be 118, and there would be exponentially more exquisite music in this world to save the braggadocio buffoons and the bullshitters.

But the world doesn't work that way.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dig This

"And now the gravity of trouble was more than I could bear, at times my luck was so bad, I had to fold my hands, almost lost my soul, rarely I could find my head, wake up early in the morning, feeling nearly dead..........................

No matter how hard I run, I just can't get away, I try to do my best, but the devil gets in my way"

"End of the Line"

Allman Brothers Band

The Yin To The Yang

On a recent blue morning, when I woke up at 2:30 a.m., Lakota was stretched out beside me.

Her head was just under my chin. I knew I would be awake for a while so I patted her and talked quietly to her. Although I could probably talk conversationally to her - nothing wakes Carol up. She often sleeps right through the alarm. Which is amusing to me especially on weekends when I am playing indentured servant.

The alarm will go off, she will not wake up, I get up to  tend to toiletries and such, and half an hour later as I am ready to leave for The Asylum, the clock radio is still on.

I often wonder how long the radio is on after I leave. But I always forget to ask because by the time I get home my brain has shriveled a little more and that particular image has been shut down.

No I am not cruel - I do not know how to shut her alarm off.

So I was patting Lakota. I put my hand under her chin and tipped her head back so I could kiss the top of her head. And rub under her chin. She loves that.

I stopped patting her for a moment and she tipped her head back to touch my chin. I smiled so large. I kissed the top of her head and rubbed her chin.

Stopped. After a moment she did it again.

Another kiss.

Precious, precious life form.

P.S. - We had the same experience this morning only at a more reasonable hour. 4:45 a.m.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dig This

"Living's mostly wasting time and I'll waste my share of mine, but it never feels too good, so let's don't take too long"

"To Live Is To Fly"

Townes Van Zandt

Turning The Philosophy Around

My previous mentality was to limit the amount of drugs needed to survive.

I am not talking about the fun stuff - coke, pain killers, pot. Powder, pills and weed.

I am talking about the prescription drugs that grease the wheels of the medical and pharmaceutical communities.

At one point I was chained to three prescriptions, including one for acid reflux. I decided I could do without the acid reflux pill. Did some research and discovered that a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar a day fights acid reflux. I nixed the prescription and starting consuming a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar a day. I always have to go bigger.

It works. Not quite as well as the pill but I am OK with that.

So I was down to two prescriptions.

Now I am back up to three.

I have decided to go balls to the wall in the opposite direction. I now want every disease and affliction, real or imagined, known and diagnosed by man.

And I want prescriptions for every pill needed to combat these illnesses.

I am going to fill a bowl full of these pills, like a candy dish overflowing with M&M's. All mixed together randomly. Gonna keep it on the kitchen counter.

Every morning when I get up, I will scoop up a handful of pills and wash them down with a glass of Paul Newman's pineapple orange delight.

See what happens.

Wild abandon in the world of prescription medication.

What could be more thrilling than that?.

Near Death Experiences

Jonny Gomes has had five near death experiences.


When he was a freshman in high school a candle tipped over and set the sleeping bag he was sleeping in on fire.

A year later he was involved in a severe car crash that killed one of his best friends and sent Gomes to the hospital for two days.

As a senior in high school he was camping with friends when "an old, crazy moonshiner lit us up with a bunch of rounds out of a shotgun."

On Christmas Eve 2002, Jonny Gomes had a heart attack.

Last but not least he had a "run-in" with a wolf owned by a man who was tending to Gomes grandmother's property.

Jonny Gomes is a wild man. He doesn't have to do anything to prove it to you. Just look into his eyes. He definitely has that "I don't give a shit" light blazing from those orbs.

He and Mike Napoli were twins this year. Except for the eyes. Gomes gave off the vibe. The balls to the wall I am who I am vibe. He had the look. Not the external look. The internal look that spotlights out from the soul.

I'm not sure about the sleeping bag deal or the old, crazy moonshiner deal, or the wolf story. I'll buy the heart attack and the car crash.

Gomes has had at least two legitimate looks at death.

That's enough to steel your nerves to do battle with life.

We all need near death experiences. I don't know why, but we do. We all dribble our lives away whining and wasting time.

People who have stared down cancer or survived horrific accidents or come through heart attacks or learned to survive and flourish with a debilitating disease are the people who have an agreement with life.

You hear it all the time. I treasure every day, I worship my time with my family, sunrises make me cry ecstatically, I dig, I dig, I dig.

Maybe the rest of us need to manufacture near death experiences.

Maybe we need to take the things that bother us, the things that scare us and blow them up in our heads to life threatening proportions.

I am not talking about dramatizing the near fatal threat of a hangnail. I am talking about taking the real things that compromise our lives and examining them under the microscope of life's shortness.

As each medication is prescribed, think about what that necessity means. Take whatever it is in your life that makes you stop short, that makes you think, and weigh that against your mortality.

We are blase about life but we fear death. If we bring death closer to us, maybe it will light the fire.

Maybe it will give us the perspective to cherish every day every minute every breath.

Because that is how life should be lived.

Early Morning Angst

Dropped some sadness on you early Sunday morning.

148 people read that post.

That is the most hits I have ever gotten in one day.

I have stumbled on my ticket out of the barrio.

Early morning angst filled words.

Apparently there is a market out there for this.

I am stocking up on Five Hour Energy drinks and NoDoz.

Prescient Comment

I just made what I consider to be a prescient comment to Lakota.

The cats always want to check out the screened in porch no matter how cold it is outside.

I let them out knowing full well they will be in again in five minutes.

That way it is their decision; no danger of them assuming I am being mean.

I let them out this morning and while I was setting up the barricade Maka sneaked right back in. I didn't even see her.

It was hilarious. I walked into the house and there was Maka sitting in the living room.

It was like "Are you kidding me? It is too damn cold to be outside today."

Lakota hung outside a little longer. She is tougher with the cold.

Five minutes later I let her back in.

As she walked up to me and demanded attention I said to her "I know. It is cold out there, sweetheart. Only humans are stupid enough to go out in the cold."

Prescient comment?

You be the judge.

How I Know Jesus Loves Me

I know Jesus loves me because of the following incontrovertible facts.

THE PATS played Monday night football last night. I was able to watch the game. I was thrilled in knowing prior to the game that nothing could prevent me from watching the game.

Not sleet nor snow nor rain nor dark of night nor hideous job.

I watched the game with extreme prejudice.

They lost and it saddened me but I got to watch THE PATS.

In addition, THE PATS play again Sunday night. Nothing can prevent me from watching that game.

Not sleet nor snow nor rain nor dark of night nor hideous job.

That's two PATS games in a row. Two in one week.

Jesus loves me.

He really loves me.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

3:58 a.m.

It is 3:28 a.m. on Sunday morning November 17 2013 and I am deeply sad.

I have to get up at 6:30 for work. I haven't looked too closely at the schedule but I think I am about to begin another one of those torturous ten day stretches. 10 consecutive at Lompoc.

Every second I spend at this job is torture for me. Ten consecutive days ruins me.

Since I am up so early I am going to lay some truth on you.

Just to let it out.

The blood pressure thing knocked me for a loop. I am angry. I am afraid. I am exhausted. I am ripped apart on the outside and crushed on the inside.

I am so lost, so trapped in this life that is not my own that I don't know where to turn. I don't know what to do. I don't know how to get out of it.

I don't know how much longer I can handle it.

The sadness I feel is soul deep. It is incapacitating me.

I don't sleep well. I don't do anything well.

I am hoping to marshall some secret force inside me to combat this overwhelming sense of loss. I have been off balance since Thursday when Dr. Feelgood gave me the doomsday diagnosis. Very much off balance. I just picked up the medication yesterday. Yeah, I have been procrastinating. Actually I just didn't give a shit.

I'll pop my first pill this morning.

This is a moment. I am at a crossroads. I have to drastically change my life. I am not talking about wearing flashier socks.

I am talking major change. In my habits in my body and in my head.

I have to flee this job. I don't give a damn about what all you gratitude people say. Nothing about this job can justify the harm it is doing me.

If my life were truly my own I would just walk away from the fucking job.

But somebody else owns my life.

I know I have to change. My soul tells me this. Giving up would be so much easier  but that indomitable human will to live trumps all.

For now I am sad. Every cell in my body weeps. I feel broken. I feel like I don't belong in this world.

I hate with the most venomous hate there is - my life.

It is a stupid thing to me. It is incomprehensible to me.

It is getting worse. I am becoming an old man with a tray full of prescription pills and a head full of dead dreams.

I see the old ones come through the store all the time with their fifty year old kids talking to them like they are children.

I wonder every time I see it, how long before I am there.

I have said it a million trillion times in this blog. I don't have time to waste.

The urgency is more intense than ever.

I will deal with it or not. I don't even know what to expect from myself.

But for now I am sad. Just that. Sad. Hurting in a muted, incapacitating way.

It is now 3:58 a.m. It is a good time to be sad.

I am not inconveniencing anybody else.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Dig These

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart."

Helen Keller

"Find a place inside where there's joy, and the joy will burn out the pain."

Joseph Campbell

"I hated every minute of training, but I said, Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion."

Muhammad Ali

"If you accept the expectations of others, especially negative ones, than you never will change the outcome."

Michael Jordan

"Every moment and every event of every man's life on earth plants something in his soul."

Thomas Merton

"It is never too late to be what you might have been."

George Eliot

Didn't see those coming, did you?

Dig This

"It just takes too damn much energy to pretend to be happy."


Dig This

"There are moments when even to the sober eye of reason, the world of our sad humanity may assume the semblance of Hell."

Edgar Allan Poe

Bruce Dern

I like Bruce Dern. He pops up in movies from time to time and I always like the character he plays.

With movie folk you always assume they are living large.

I just read an article in Rolling Stone about Bruce Dern and the new movie he is starring in - Nebraska.

First of all I learned that he is 77. I don't want him to be 77. What a great thing it would be if movie folk could freeze their lives in the same way the silver screen repels aging. Good actors should never age. They should be exempt from dying.

The man has not had a wildly successful career. I did not know this. The article tells me his biggest pay day was $500,000 in 1981 for a movie called  Tattoo.

That is not impressive. Between what I earn and what I steal I bring home approximately $500,000 from the evil liquor commission.

Actors come up in waves and always get compared to their peers.

Dern emerged at the same time as Jack Nicholson and Robert Redford. They were all pals. Nicholson and Redford have fatter bank accounts.

Bruce was up for The Godfather, Jaws, and Cuckoo's Nest. He didn't land any of them.

Fascinating fact - in 1972 he was in a movie with John Wayne called The Cowboys. His character shot Wayne in the back.

Fascinating story - Dern: "It was 8:30 in the morning when we did the scene, Wayne was already shitfaced on Wild Turkey, a bottle and a half. I could smell it on him, and he leans into me and says, "Ohhh, how they're gonna hate you for this."

And they did. Dern says people came up to him constantly after the movie to tell him they could not forgive him. Even today people still comment to him about it.


Dern won the best-actor prize at Cannes for Nebraska. Insider chat has him being considered for a Best Actor Oscar.

He was last Oscar nominated in 1978 for Coming Home.

Age can be a sweet inspiration. Or a well to draw from. Elton John just put out an album that everybody is raving about. A back to roots, simplified kind of thing.

But not simplified in emotion or intent. Creative types start out in one place, get swept up into another and, if they live long enough, return to a place of simplicity armed with a lifetime of experience.


Wisdom is a great word. A great thing to earn. If you live long enough and your brain functions efficiently, you get wisdom.

You are able to get closer to your soul and to emanate a quiet and intimidating power.

This may be the ultimate goal for the creative spirit. To do it well, to do it powerfully, to do it sparingly.

Getting down to the bare bones of the talent.

Nebraska is about an old coot who thinks he has won $1 million in a sweepstakes thing and gets his son to drive him from Montana to Nebraska to pick up the money.

Sounds ripe for heartache and disappointment and pathos. Sounds like a movie about life.

Dern is a bit of a loner. Never got caught up in the Hollywood lifestyle. Probably explains in part why he never got the big payday.

His daughter tells the story of her 18th birthday. He wanted to take her on a road trip and she left the destination up to him.

He took her on a tour of California's ghost towns and state penitentiaries.

Maybe stunning creativity late in life is what life is all about. Or what it should be about.

A spirt that changes and adapts and learns over the beatings of a lifetime and crystallizes that learning, that wisdom, into something so simply powerful that it cannot be ignored.

Bruce Dern got paid $65,000 for Nebraska.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Lost Year

When I look back at the history of my life, 2013 will become known as The Lost Year.

I had high hopes for this year. They did not pan out.

I just went back and re-read blog entries from 12/29/12 and 01/01/13. I remembered that I made grand pronouncements about what my intentions were for me personally and in this writing. I tried to be honest, I tried to identify lofty goals.

I think maybe I gave it a shot. I think maybe I could have pulled it off. Christ, I sound like a NASCAR driver. Those guys are always telling you they had a good car, could have done better than they did. "We finished 43rd. I hate it for my guys. We could have contended, could have been right up front with the leaders but the breaks just didn't go our way." Every goddamn week. Please.

Anyway, I think maybe I could have pulled it off. Until 2/22/13 happened. That is the day I started the new job.

This job swept me up like a tidal wave and destroyed me. It sucked up all my energy and all my time, it distorted my emotions and thought process and bounced me around like a paper boat in the ocean.

And ultimately, it beat me.

I am now officially on blood pressure medication. Went in to see Dr. Feelgood two weeks ago for a random thing and when they checked my vital signs they freaked. Last summer the BP read 132 over 80 something. That was acceptable. Two weeks ago it read 163 over 90 something.

They gave me two weeks.

Yesterday it read 180 over 90 something. I was told 140 was acceptable.

My blood pressure has jumped almost fifty points in a year and a half. I guaranfuckingtee it didn't start to rise until 2/22/13.

It occurred to me as I walked out of Dr.Feelgood's office, prescription in hand, that I had achieved the American dream.

I traded my health for a fatter paycheck.

So ironic that the job that has allowed us to begin healing financially has also accelerated my approach to the grave.

That is how life works. That is what this country does to its workers.

Anyway I am sitting here on 11/15/13 trying to pull my head out of my ass. I believe in the things I wrote on 12/29/12 and 01/01/13. I have been distracted for coming up on 9 months now. Nine months that I could ill afford to waste.

But I have.

The Lost Year. I mourn this wasted year. I cannot afford to waste any more. Sixty is a tough number. It is reality in your face. You can fool yourself at 50 but 60 sounds harsher. 60 is harsher. I am desperate for an answer.

The world will not offer any help. The world will not offer any hope.

I am on my own.

I guess that makes sense. I am the only one who can take my experiences, take my dream, and fashion a life out of it.

My life.

That's all I really want. I want my life to be my life. Not somebody else's.

It's up to me.

I just don't know how many more body blows I can absorb.

From A Dark Place

Lou Reed. From the Rolling Stone tribute.

"Yeah, why would anybody want to buy despondency?" Reed did his version of a grin - a thin smile of iron conviction. "I thought there was a certain kind of aloneness going on, and I felt I wasn't the only one feeling that."

This is where I am coming from. I am continually being accused of being dark. Why just yesterday an old friend of mine - a guy who spent over 10 years living as an ex-pat in Sweden and has now returned to the states - gave me the standard line.

Your writing is good but it is dark.

I examine Gary's comments closer than others because he is wickedly intelligent. In fact he and I make each other better. We both exhaust all our time dumbing ourselves down to get by. But when we talk, when we write, inspiration flashes, the connection is made and the conversation gets smart. The creativity flows.

So I dig where he is coming from and I respect the opinion.

My head and my heart tell me that life is so very cruel, so very random and that the vast majority of the people on this planet are unhappy.

Excruciatingly unhappy.

I write for catharsis. There is no doubt about that. I came up here brimming with emotion this morning and the monitor would not come on. I unplugged and re-plugged it, I shut down the computer twice and beat up the banister next to the stairs while I fumed.

Finally, thankfully, it came on. Had it not, I would have bashed my head against the wall.

That is how severe is my need for fingers to touch keyboard.

My mind is unafraid to explore the truth - the dark, sinister, unfair truth we call life. My assumption is that in being truthful I will interest genuine humans. That others will connect with what I have to say.

I am not trying to bring anybody down; I am trying to put honesty to paper interpreted through my own experiences in a way that will make others nod their heads and say "Yeah, I feel that way too."

Could I use more humor? Less intensity?


I am not sure that is me.

In the place I am at now, with the thoughts swirling around my head, I am thinking maybe I am not being dark enough, truthful enough about who I am and how life works.

I would rather write what comes naturally than to whore myself out to make others happy. To make myself acceptable to others.

That is the core of what I write and how I write and why I write.

Now if you will excuse me I have an overwhelming urge to get to this book I have been saving. Saving for just the right moment.

"How To Disfigure People Without Leaving An Incriminating Trail."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Powerful Stuff

I gotta be honest with you. I got some powerful stuff pinballing around my brain.

Including but not limited to a one handed violin virtuoso, the elderly with their walkers, a woman in a wheelchair powered by her breath, an old acquaintance with a daughter who has beat cancer and a wife who is currently battling brain cancer, and my own personal demons and possibly unjustified depression.

You know you are going to hear about this, but it has to be done right. It has to be meaningful, introspective and motivating.

It has to trigger change.

It is all stewing inside me. I am raw, and I have been assaulted with all kinds of images and realities and truths and challenges.

I am being buffeted about by my mind and the things I am dealing with in my life, as well as the harsh realities I see all around me and the triumphant human spirit celebrated boldly.

Give me some time.

I will come up with a way to express all this.

Clock Confusion

Three clocks in the bedroom. What could possibly go wrong?

Carol has two clocks by her side of the bed.


I don't know why.

I just checked them. One says 4:16. The other says 4:21.

When her alarm goes off in the morning it is five minutes ahead of the clock on my side of the bed.

My clock is synced with the 4:16 clock. The alarm is triggered in the 4:21 clock.

In addition I have not set my clock back yet. It is just too stressful and overwhelming for me to deal with. I have to wait for exactly the right time.

So in actuality my clock is 55 minutes ahead of the alarming alarm clock.

Carol normally arises at 6:15. The alarm shoots off at 6:00; she snoozes a couple of times and crawls out of bed at 6:15. Normally I get to loll until 7:00.

But not always. Yesterday I had to pop up at 5:30. Carol forgot to set the alarm ahead last night so today it went off at 5:30 as well. She wasn't due to get up until 6:15, I had the day off.

What a mess.

Now tomorrow I have to get up at 5:30 again.

Can you really blame me for being insane in the membrane?

Dig This

"It takes one to know one, baby, I know how you feel, you got your hunger and some problems that are real, and you're dealing with some demons who are driving you insane, and I've seen them drag you screaming down the hallways of your brain."

"Chase The Feeling"

Kris Kristofferson

What Will You Do

What will you do with the time you have left,
now that you know how little of it there is.
The time that has passed, you wasted,
let it slip away, let others steal it from you.
Passively you lived and you aged;
the mirror now does not allow complacence.
Fear burns in your belly with intent, but you
have never acted upon this before.
What will it take?
It will take belief. Belief in your dream and
belief in yourself. Belief that you can live
your life to suit your soul.
Passion, and fierce commitment.
You don't know if you have these things inside you;
you have never tested them.
The choice is clear: live your life or let others live it for you.
Live it, or let it fade ( the most egregious of sins).
What will you do with the time you have left?

Dig This

"I am the least of all your pilgrims here
 But I am most in need of hope"


Tom Russell

Dig This

"I sometimes imagine swiping my boxcutter across someone's jugular vein. Not viciously but artistically. One graceful swipe. Stepping back to watch the blood flow like a river in real time color. Attentively monitoring the look in the eyes - from surprise to horror to awareness to submission. Imagining that a truth could be revealed in that moment.

But of course this is only in my imagination."


At The Risk Of Sounding Redundant.............

I have to get to the bottom of this Lou Reed thing.

Got the new issue of Rolling Stone yesterday and there is Lou on the cover looking super cool with a dark pair of aviator sunglasses on, no smile.

Lou Reed 1942-2013 under the picture.

It is chilling to me to see the end date posted.

Right now my life reads Joe Testa 1954-               I prefer to keep it that way for a while.

The date thing seems so stark to me - an entire life summarized between two dates. There is more to a life than that.

Anyway the magazine haunted me. I was home alone and trying to chill in non-Asylum mode. But I kept looking down at the cover. I read the tribute last night and again today.

I read that Reed had a passion for contemporary, transgressive American writers such as Hubert Selby Jr. and William Burroughs.

There is a book sitting at the top of my queue titled Last Exit to Brooklyn. By Hubert Selby Jr. I just got it about a week ago. I became aware of it as I explored other pieces of my world. One thing leads to another. It is not a book that your mother ever read.

I am going to approach this subject with delicate intent because I am not claiming credit or connection.

This happens to me a lot. The books, poetry, films and music that vibrate me are often the same as the ones that interest or inspire many of the people I admire. Unbeknownst to me.

It rattles me every time I discover this because of The Voice that says "you are experiencing your interests passively", as opposed to the active way the truly creative work with their passions.

Often I find out that this guy that I dig hangs around with this other guy that I dig. I get a kick out of imagining this closed circle of original thinkers and, yes, I dream about getting a chance to hang with them to see what my brain could do in that situation.

But the circle keeps getting smaller.

Enough of that. I tried not to make that self indulgent but it came across that way anyway.

"Rock does this thing to you: You get directly to somebody, unfiltered. This person doesn't have to go to a movie theater. This person will be listening, alone, maybe at five in the morning." Lou Reed.

"Walk on the Wild Side" was Reed's only Top 20 single. His only gold album (sales of 500,000 copies) was "New York."

He was truly an outsider. An outsider listed as a major influence by a whole hell of a lot of people.

"My week beats your year". Lou Reed from the liner notes to "Metal Machine Music."

He could be easily dismissed as the guy who wrote songs about heroin, drug pushers and drag queens by "those without substance." These would be people who can only think in stereotypes, people who cannot find the humanity in anyone who does not fit their definition of existence. Shallow people.

Patti Smith about "Walk on the Wild Side" - "It takes a poet to elevate these people." Reed could be "so tough yet infinitely compassionate and open to all deviants, their fragile aspects." "He was taking these people up a notch, saying "They have an elegance you will never know - kings and queens of the street."

Lou Reed's dad was a tax accountant. That alone can screw a kid up. I was an accountant for twenty plus years. My sons are both drug abusers, saliva droolers, vicious and inconsiderate in the consistent way they beat their women and the cruel delight they take from verbally abusing their parents.

Reed was deep into the avant-garde. This was back when the avant-garde could actually exist as a living, breathing thing. Andy Warhol funded the Velvet Underground's first studio sessions. Reed and the gang hung around The Factory, Warhol's creative lair. Reed has said that "Andy made it possible for us to exist."

In 1970, when The Velvet Underground were doing OK, Reed just walked away. He walked away and took a job typing in an accounting office.

After that brief but ballsy and fascinating interlude, he began his solo career.

Laurie Anderson is an experimental performance artist, composer and musician who plays violin and keyboards. She began dating Lou Reed in 1992. They married in 2008.

She wrote a tribute to Reed in this issue. It is almost a definition of love.

Anderson: "Like many couples, we each constructed ways to be - strategies, and sometimes compromises, that would enable us to be part of a pair. Sometimes we lost a bit more than we were able to give, or gave up way too much, or felt abandoned. Sometimes we got really angry. But even when I was mad, I was never bored. We learned to forgive each other. And somehow, for 21 years, we tangled our minds and hearts together."

 Laurie Anderson was with Lou Reed at the very moment of his death. Somehow, and each of us will know this truth one day, somehow he knew he was about to die.

She describes it like this: "We were at home - I'd gotten him out of the hospital a few days before - and even though he was extremely weak, he insisted on going out into the bright morning light. As meditators, we had prepared for this - how to move the energy up from the belly and into the heart, and out through the head. I have never seen an expression as full of wonder as Lou's as he died. His hands were doing the water-flowing 21-form of tai chi. His eyes were wide open. I was holding in my arms the person I loved the most in the world, and talking to him as he died. His heart stopped. He wasn't afraid. I had gotten to walk with him to the end of the world. Life - so beautiful, painful, and dazzling - does not get better than that. And death? I believe that the purpose of death is the release of love."

Willie Nelson: "Ninety percent of the people in the world end up with the wrong person. And that's what makes the jukebox spin."

Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed were 10 percenters.

I don't know what I achieved here. Maybe a better understanding of who Lou Reed was. Lessons I can apply to my own life or thinking. An awareness of a great and true love that forced a little honesty into a cold world.

Lou Reed was too complex to summarize in one sitting. But I am done trying. You have had enough.

And I have gained a deeper understanding of the sense of loss that is invading my soul.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Jonathan Martin

Christ, I go back and forth on this thing.

The concept of bullying in the NFL seems kind of silly. I am not happy with the word bullying anyway. Bullying suggests schoolyard stuff.

Adults are much more crafty, much more cruel, much more vicious. What adults do to each other goes way beyond bullying.

Football is a tough sport and the NFL represents the toughest of the tough. I have said it before and I will say it again - I believe a part of the bravado the players project comes directly from fear.

Check out a running back's eyes when he breaks a long one. Check out how wildly wide his eyes are as he continuously looks over his shoulder and to the sides. Could be about seeing the field. I think a healthy portion of that look comes from fear.

These guys live on the brink of career ending injuries on every play of every game. Even the unsuspecting stuff like  a lineman having his legs rolled over by a teammate. Somebody who tripped or got pushed into the line. Never mind receivers who sky high to grab a pass knowing full well they will get hit and maybe come down on their head. Or neck. Or spine. Running backs who get pounded every time they touch the ball. The average career of a running back in the NFL is 3 to 5 years.

Quarterbacks who get blind sided and driven into the turf.

There is a lot of fear out there. A lot of fear that is buried under braggadocio.

Lawrence Taylor on Jonathan Martin: "If you are that sensitive and weak minded, find another profession."

I get it. You go into football knowing how tough the sport is and learning how tough the locker room can be.

The issue is that a hell of a lot of people roll into careers that they are not emotionally able to handle. Or intellectually. Or physically.

The majority of people in the world despise their jobs.  They can't just find another profession. Can't just change jobs.

Maybe they don't want to. Maybe they are doing something they like but something that has elements about it that just eats them up inside. Maybe they are being destroyed as humans as they continue to cash paychecks.

They have to suck it up every day just to survive.

But are they really sucking it up? Is it sucking it up when you survive by going home and getting bombed every night? Is it sucking it up when you survive by using drugs to shut down your brain? Is beating your wife sucking it up? Beating your kids? Kicking the dog? Just generally being cruel to everybody around you?

If you are going to suck it up, then you have to do it 24/7.

The majority of people who tell you to suck it up are full of shit. They will throw bravado in your face while they get eaten up inside. The majority of people who tell you to suck it up are weak.

If Jonathan Martin can compete in the NFL then he is enormously talented. He probably loves the game, has loved it all his life. Should he walk away from it because he cannot handle the psychological torment inflicted by TEAMMATES?

Or should football culture change?

For the record, I don't ever expect the culture to change.

The way the NFL is going, the crises the league is currently dealing with may destroy it. If that ever happens I'll be tormenting you with words written in Arizona as my lovely wife prepares dinner. Because I could never endure winter without football.

But that is a story for another place and time.

I gotta come down on the side of humanity. Hundreds of millions of people suffer every day because they have made the wrong job choice or career choice, or because they are trapped in a job that torments them.

It even happens in the NFL, only on a public stage with a warped code of conduct. There are other guys in the NFL who feel as Jonathan Martin feels, but they will never come forward to support him. Because they will be ostracized as he is being ostracized.

And they will never do anything to help themselves.

In full disclosure I have to admit I am uncomfortable defending the sensitivity of an NFL player. It just doesn't sound right and I know I am in the minority. I love the sport and the violence is a part of what I love. The bravado.

Because I don't get to do that in my life. I don't get to hit people or to express my aggression in a way that is condoned and accepted.

I am uncomfortable defending the sensitivity of an NFL player because it doesn't sound right to me.

But it feels right.

And that is all I give a damn about.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Dig This

"For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can't readily accept the God formula, the big answers don't remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command nor faith a dictum. I am my own God. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us."

Charles Bukowski

Slumber Rhyme

I woke up a couple of mornings ago with this little ditty playing in my head.

"Everybody hates me, nobody will date me, everybody wants me dead."

I am not lying; moments after I woke up those words were bouncing around my skull.

What do you do with that kind of creativity?

First you have to get by the darkness of it, the psychological implications. Personally I think that is meaningless. My brain likes words, it likes rhythm and I am obsessed with rhymes. I think that is all that was going on there.

Keith Richards wakes up from slumber with the killer riff for "Satisfaction" in his brain.

This is what I wake up with.

But I can work with this. It's got rhythm, its got a feel.

I just tried to write a couple more stanzas but they really sucked so I deleted them. I guarantee you that, given time, I could really flesh this thing out.

But I gotta hit the exercise bike and I'm feeling pressured.

By the way, don't cheer for me. I hit the bike four days in a row after the big BP scare, then I missed four days in a row. I did walk two days at work, for what it is worth. I go in Thursday for the next level of reckoning.

Anyway, Shel Silverstein made a living with stuff like this. My gut tells me I have a long way to go before I can even approach what he did.

But you never know...........................

Here is a taste of Mr. Silverstein:

"Bear In There"

"There's a Polar Bear in our Frigidaire, he likes it 'cause its cold in there. With his seat in the meat and his face in the fish, and his big hairy paws in the buttery dish, he's nibbling the noodles, he's munching the rice, he's slurping the soda, he's licking the ice, and he lets out a roar if you open the door. And it gives me a scare to know he's in there, that Polar Bear in our Fridgitydaire."

What A Wake Up Call

I'm driving to The Asylum yesterday morning and I pop in a CD by a group called Chase.

Bill Chase - the originator of the group - began putting this band together in 1969. Their first album - the one I was listening to yesterday - was released in 1971. The thing was huge.

One song - "Get It On' - made it to number one. The group was nominated for a Grammy, and Bill Chase was voted number two - behind Frank Zappa - in a poll of the top pop musicians of the year. Down Beat rated the Chase album as the number one pop album of 1971.

Here's the catch - the group had four trumpet players. Four. Also keyboards, bass, guitar and percussion. Five guys sang vocals.

There were nine guys in the band in total.

It is such a sweet and tasty memory to know that this band was accepted in the rock world. And to know that Frank Zappa and Bill Chase were considered the top two "pop" performers in 1971. If this band was formed today they would be shunned by the music industry because they could not be pigeon-holed into a genre.

It amazes me that an industry inspired by creativity, indeed founded on creativity, is so restrictive in the music it promotes, so cavalier about the music it destroys.

Chase rocked. They absolutely rocked. They were a cross between jazz and rock, referred to as jazz-rock fusion, somewhat in the tradition of Blood, Sweat & Tears, but they were exponentially more talented.

As live performers, before they made it big, they had trouble booking gigs after a while because they were so powerful nobody wanted to follow them.

Bill Chase didn't even start playing the trumpet until he was in the eleventh grade. He was inspired by Maynard Ferguson and eventually ended up playing in Ferguson's band as well as Woody Herman's band.

It is 7:15 on a Saturday morning, I am cruising in The Big Ride, and song number one opens with a sky high trumpet note and goes on to create a waterfall of sound that alerted me to the fact that I was alive and driving a vehicle.

Trust me, I am not close to being awake at that time of day, especially on my way to The Asylum.

Suddenly my eyes are bulging out of my head and I began to see the reality behind the illusion.

That sentence means nothing, but it popped into my head and I liked the sound of it.

These guys are rocking fiercely, trumpets wailing and suddenly Chase's trumpet comes in over the top, an octave higher.

Your mind and your senses can't handle it.

Chase hits the kind of notes on a trumpet that transform his face into redness and leave a red welt on his lips.

But that ain't the whole story. His fingers fly, all the trumpet players' fingers fly, they play together at impossible speed and thing you know you are listening to something slow and emotional and powerful.

These guys had the chops for it all.

The band got shuffled around, they released two more albums that did nothing because musical taste in this country was already starting to tank, and they faded away. At one point Bill Chase had to file for bankruptcy.

On August 9, 1974 Chase were on their way to Minnesota for a performance when the plane crashed, killing Bill Chase, Wally Yohn, John Emma, Walter Clark and both pilots.

If I had swerved into a tree yesterday and gone on to rock with Jesus, it would not have been a bad ending. I would have gone out in inspiration, awe, aural joy, and sweet release.

It didn't happen and it won't. First of all, The Big Ride is a lot of car and I know it will protect me.

Second of all I still have a lot to prove.

I ain't done yet.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Dead Plants And Violins

I was fortunate enough to experience an exquisite performance last weekend of Symphony Pro Musica.

The featured soloist was a violinist.

He kicked ass.

I have a whole 'nother thought process going on inside my head about the performance and the whole damn experience. You know you will be tortured by my thoughts on this topic soon.

Today I want to talk about the violin, especially in the hands of a musician who is one with the instrument.

In my humble opinion, the violin is the instrument that comes the closest to pure emotion. The instrument can rock, there is no doubt about it. I have listened to musicians wail on that thing like an electric guitar and with the same effect. Adrian Anantawan, the featured soloist, wailed on his violin and I was speechless.

There were quiet moments too. Moments when what he was feeling in his heart was being expressed through him by his instrument.

What got to me last Sunday, the realization that I have known in my heart that finally made the transition to my brain, is that in the powerfully emotional quiet moments, the violin can bring tears to my eyes.

It sounds like tears. When the soloist is holding a note and then slides it one note higher, delicately, it sounds like crying. It is pure emotion. Pure emotion that resonated with my soul, my heart, my frustrations, my disappointments and my love.

A love named Carol. 

My insides quivered when he teased that reality out of his instrument.

I was floored.

Carol brought a plant in out of the cold. Trying to save it. Got it hanging in the living room.

Carol is a giver of life. She created a garden that is magnificent. She created life and color and aroma and sensation and sound. An oasis of peace that is under appreciated by two people scrambling to get by.

Any plant she touches, thrives. It comes naturally and it is magic.

I am not a gardener but the process of planting things, tending to them delicately and with love, watching them flourish, is a process I can respect.

It is the process of life. No different than childbirth.

The plant she brought in does not look good. She thinks maybe she brought it in too late.

The night she pointed it out to me, the night that she made that observation, I looked at the plant, really looked at the plant, and got the same reaction in my gut that I got when Adrian Anantawan slid exquisitely from one note to the next.

The plant is drooping over the sides of the pot it is hanging in and it looks so sad. Plants are delicate and subject to so much violence. It is a miracle they survive at all.

I don't think this plant will survive. But I am not discounting Carol's magic. Maybe she can bring it back.

If not, somehow, the death of this plant, this delicate, naturally beautiful life, is bound up in my mind with the exquisite, emotive musicianship of Adrian Anantawan.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Richie & Jonathan

I can't believe the attention this incident is getting in the press.

Sports and otherwise.

Richie Incognito verbally bullied Jonathan Martin. I hate the term bullied - it is yet one more word that is overused in our society.

 Bullying this, bullying that.

It is hard to even imagine the concept of bullying in the NFL - these are The Kings of Testosterone. They are all overflowing with the stuff, it is leaking out their ears. And if there is any question about an adequate testosterone level, they keep buckets of the stuff in NFL locker rooms.

A bucket with a ladle. If a guy has any foreign thoughts at all, like sensitivity or empathy, he just serves himself up a ladle full of team approved testosterone (logo on the bucket) and whammo he is a renewed and refreshed man.

It is just that simple.

Let's deal with the facts.

The NFL is a brutal league with neanderthal opinions of what it is to be a man. Verbal abuse is commonplace at a very high level. I'm sure it happens every second of every day on every team.

This is why it is so disingenuous to hear football players try to take Martin's side or attempt, feebly, to defend him.

They don't mean it.

They are all laughing at the man. Current players and coaches, former players and coaches, anybody at all who is involved with the league.

They are all laughing at the man.

I have heard more support for Incognito than for Martin. This is because this is the accepted culture in the league and everybody accepts it.

Everybody celebrates it.

99% of the arguments defending Martin sound tortured to me, like guys saying what they think they are supposed to say.

There is a rumor that Incognito was encouraged by team management to torment Martin to make him more of a man.

This is completely believable to me. Not even close to being outside the realm of believability.

Now team management rushes to vilify Incognito's actions and say things like "everything we do we do in the best interest of the players."

This from a league that considers the players as "product". A league that does not hesitate to gamble with players' health, a league that is cold and soul-less in denying the link between repeated head hits and later life dementia.

Apparently it is also impossible to imagine a man who is physically tough enough and talented enough to play in the NFL who is also sensitive.

This is just the way it is. It is a tough league with a marketing driven definition of toughness that is promoted throughout the league and then denied whenever the truth surfaces in embarrassing ways.

It cracks me up that the NFL is trying so hard to deny this vicious, tough guy image when this is really what they are all about.

I guarantee you they are all laughing behind closed doors, calling Jonathan Martin a fag and toasting Richie Incognito.

One of the ironic interpretations of the NFL is the "no fun league."

It may be true.

Oh Yeah I Forgot To Tell You

Remember my hero?

The guy that lives in the trailer fifty yards from a convenience store?

I give him the three digit salute. Every single time I drive by his expansive homestead on my way to work. Index finger, pinky, thumb.

He lives on a bend so I begin the salute before I can actually see his mobile home.

Way back in the way back, back in the summertime when it was warm and life was as it should be, I was cruising on by displaying the three digits.

As I curved around the bend I came windshield to face with The Genius and his buddy. It was an amusing scene. They were sitting on his trailer steps, legs extended down over the lower steps, facing into and soaking up the sun.

They looked like two little boys.

They saw me. I know they saw me.

Cruising by in The Big Ride waving my personal salute.

I wonder what they thought.

As I ponder the situation, I know unequivocally that I hope to never meet the man. He is an image in my mind; an icon, a genus, a life beater with all the right answers.

I prefer not to learn differently.

Brings to mind a night from my college days. We were partying hard on a special occasion. I'm pretty sure it was St. Patty's Day and we were in one very funky bar.

We did not do the trendy bars. We sought out dives, we sought out real bars, we sought out real drinking experiences.

Cool bar, lively crowd, pot and booze.


There was a guy holding court in the bar who looked like Gabby Johnson from Blazing Saddles.

He was sitting in a booth and there was literally a line waiting to talk to the man. Of course everybody was buying him beers.

I was leery but drunk enough and spiritually quested enough to get sucked in.

I wanted answers. I still do.

When I finally got my chance, I slid into the booth, bought Gabby a beer and commenced to talking.

I don't remember what I asked him, I don't remember what he said, but I do remember that I was disappointed.

Hugely disappointed.

My thought process then was no different than it is now. I am looking for magic. I am looking for inspiration.

The man was just a drunk with a funky look who played all the naive college types in the bar.

Obviously he was much smarter than we were.

So I don't want to talk to trailer guy.

I think he is a genius who made conscious decisions not to get chained to a torturous life of meaningless indenture.

I do not want to find out that his life fell apart and that this is where he landed.

I do not want to find out that he is dejected and depressed.

My opinion of him now is exactly where I need it to be.

I can live with that.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Sweet Hummingbird Reality

Rare hummingbird sightings on the east coast.

Believe it or not this does interest me. I dig birds. Carol has a few feeders around the yard and they are extremely active right now. Grateful and loving birds getting all they can get while the getting is easy. I love to watch them.

I know they appreciate it. They understand the cycle, they understand the challenge of survival. They dig the help. I swear if Carol stood out there long enough she could be the bird lady. Birds landing on her shoulders, eating out of her hands.

We have a hummingbird feeder that offered up endless moments of introspection and beauty over the summer.

Recently a west coast hummingbird was sighted on the east coast. I don't know if they have a west coast/ east coast rivalry like rappers do or did.

Probably not. They are too smart for that.

What got to me was the description of the west coast hummingbird's life style.

Summering in California, wintering in Mexico and South America.

Damn bird lives better than me.

You Never Know What Is Inside

I open up Time magazine this morning and go to Milestones.

I always go there first. It is Time's obituary section.

I read that Lou Reed died and had a powerful emotional reaction. So much so that I wondered "What the hell was that?"

I was never a huge Lou Reed fan. I have only one CD - The Velvet Underground and Nico - yeah, the banana album. Released in 1967. I have one cassette - Magic and Loss. Released in 1992. I haven't listened to either one very much over the years.

I realized it was what the man stood for. He was way out there. My gut has inside of it an appreciation of and a worship for those who are willing to do exactly what they want to do. Those who want to shock into life, those who experiment and question and put everything on the line to do it.

Those who do not give a damn what anybody else thinks.

That is what makes a free thinker. That is what makes an interesting human being. Somebody who fiercely expresses themself regardless of the consequences, regardless of the feedback.

I dug the banana album. The Magic and Loss album captured my imagination. When I first got it I listened to it over and over again.

It was a concept album inspired by the cancer deaths of two close friends - Doc Pomus and "Rita." It was done in a kind of spoken song kind of thing and it is very direct. It asks a lot of questions about life, makes a lot of observations and does not pretend to offer any answers.

It is not a collection of catchy tunes.

It has some great lines.

"There's a bit of magic in everything and then some loss to even things out."

The rawness is what got to me.

Straight ahead lyrics that deal with chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and physical deterioration.

There is a song on there called "Sword of Damocles:Externally" that deals with, as Rolling Stone's review at the time put it, "Reed's own vacillation between the crapshoot realities of chemotherapy and the vague possibility of a greater spiritual rationale for all this hurt."

One line all of us baby boomers should repeat every day because we have all had to deal with this: "I see you in the hospital, your humor is intact, I'm embarrassed by the strength I seem to lack."

The core of my response is in knowing that rebels like this are fading away. Wondering if there is anybody else out there with the power and the conviction and the belief to replace them.

I take comfort in imagining that Lou Reed is sitting with Jesus right now and teaching him the lyrics to "I'm Waiting For The Man."

Or "Take A Walk On The Wild Side."

Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo

Sunday, November 3, 2013


I am not into closure.

At least not what passes for closure today. Closure is yet one more word that was picked up by some egg head and worked its way into the minds of the great unwashed.

Now everybody needs closure.

Dude gets up in the morning and can't move his bowels. He has no time to await the sacred event, so he hurries off to work.

He gets home 12 hours later, settles back down onto the porcelain throne and is wildly successful.

He bounces downstairs and proudly tells his wife: "Marge, I just got closure."

Closure this, closure that.

Our society picks up words, picks up phrases and then proceeds to beat them to death. Empirical studies show that 95% of the people who now use the word closure five times a day did not even know what it meant  a year ago.

I dig genuine closure but it is a hard thing to find.

I watched a chunk of the Red Sox World Championship parade yesterday. The city of Boston came out on a magnificent early November day to exult in pure emotion. To look up to inspiring characters, to participate in a wedge of history.

And to get closure.

When they stopped the duck boats at the Boston Marathon finish line, placed the trophy on it and sang God Bless America, with Salty and Gomes holding 617 Red Sox jerseys over the trophy, over the finish line, I was speechless, over the top emotional and blown away. As was everybody there and everybody watching on TV.

Marathon officials were standing alongside Saltalamacchia and Jonny Gomes. The connection had come full circle, the cleansing , of a sort, had come to fruition.

After the song had been sung, a 617 jersey was placed over the trophy on the finish line.

Typically we milk tragedy for maximum effect and for ratings. Manufacturing phony emotion in an attempt to mimic genuine caring.

It happens a lot in this country and I vomit every time I come up against it.

Not so with this tragedy and this team and this city.

From Day One the Red Sox made it clear that this was personal. From Day One the people of the city of Boston made it clear that this was personal.

And everybody made it perfectly clear that the city would bounce back. That you cannot fuck with the city of Boston.

The Sox were a magical team this year. You could feel it every day. A collection of free spirits who could have fun and get the job done. A team that came back game after game after game.

That is the point. They came back. Tine after time. They never gave up and you could feel that spirit oozing right out of your TV.

Part of that determination was inspired by the pure evil that was laid at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in June.

B Strong in centerfield. A reminder. An inspiration.

The Sox made it happen. They went all the way. From worst to first.

Absolutely amazing.

Yesterday you could feel the vibe in the city of Boston, the gratitude of the people of Boston, the resilience of the people of Boston, the defiance of the people of Boston, for the strong and improbable statement made by the Boston Red Sox.

It is a sad commentary on our society that tragedy has become commonplace. That magic is often tainted by violence. Too few celebrations, too many tragedies.

What the Boston Red Sox did for this city cannot be overstated. They took an entire city and lifted it out of despair on their own. They made it a mission and they fulfilled the promise.

People were smiling at the Boston Marathon finish line yesterday.

That is called closure.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Apparently I Do Not Want To Die

Had a disconcerting visit with Dr. Feelgood yesterday.

A tick bit me four months ago. I have not exhibited any signs of  hideous disease but the bite has never healed.

It is just a lump sitting on the back of my ankle that is sometimes itchy, sometimes not. It has been bugging me so I made an appointment to make sure I am not felled from Lyme disease.

First off, they could not figure out what the hell is going on. A physician's assistant took a look at it and went hmmm and ahhhh a few times. She did not think it was the dangerous bite but she could not figure out why it would not just heal itself. So she took off in her Snow White costume to consult with Dr. Feelgood.

Came back ten minutes later and decided the best course of action is for me to soak it every day and slap a band aid with Bacitracin on it every day. If it does not heel they will take a hack at it and see what is going on.

That was the minor inconvenience.

Standard practice when you visit the doc is to check vital signs. When the intern checked my blood pressure she went hmmmmmmmmmm. When I asked what was the scoop she said it was pretty damn high.

This surprised me and it didn't. I have never had an issue with blood pressure. It has been a standard joke between me and Carol. I come back from a check up and tell her that my blood pressure is fine.

Which always amuses me. I am the King of Anxiety. I am never at peace. I abuse my liver mercilessly. I don't get enough consistent exercise. And my blood pressure is fine.

Not this time. It didn't surprise me because I knew down deep that this job has been doing things to me I don't want done. I am a warrior but I knew instinctively that this job was damaging me.

It was high enough that they checked it three times over the half hour that I was there hoping it would come down.

Which is pretty silly when you think about it.

When Snow White came back from her bug bite consultation with Dr. Feelgood she addressed the issue and then dove right back in to the blood pressure thing.

Wanted to talk about blood pressure medication. I put an immediate stop to that. I am on a prescription for cholesterol and one for asthma. I do not want any more. I do not want to end up like my mother with a tray of 56 medications that I have to take every day.

I also do not trust the relationship between the medical community and the drug peddlers. They are too quick to make you dependent.

I talked about the stress of the job, my bad diet, and lack of exercise. I told her I wanted to deal with it by getting back to exercising and by eating better.

I am on a short leash. I have to go back in two weeks, During that interim I have to take my own readings and report those to them. I know they are serious about this because I have a physical scheduled for December 3 and they didn't even want to wait that long to see me.

I was furious when I walked out of that office. Furious that I allowed this job to compromise my health. Furious at myself for throwing whiskey at the problem as a solution.

That's when I realized that apparently I do not want to die.

I reacquainted myself with the exercise bike today. The bike I have not touched since I started this hideous job. Did fifteen minutes, which blew me away. I didn't think I would last five. It was a good start.

I know I can do this. Remember a year or two ago when I dedicated an entire year to losing weight and getting healthy? I drove you crazy with day to day blow by blow accounts of the exercising I was doing, the healthy eating, the reduced intake of alcohol.

I know you hated me for that and I don't blame you.

BUT I did lose the weight. I did reach my goal.

I am proud of that.

Not sure I can improve the numbers in two weeks. I am sure if they try to force the drugs on me I will put up a fight. I need a fair shot at this.

I am pretty sure that even if I cannot shed the job super soon, a change in lifestyle can still make a huge difference.

I am furious, I am focused, I am driven by my mantra of ten good years.

And I will be damned if I let a meaningless job and my own stupidity rob me of that opportunity.

McCarney Continues To Confound

Here I go again.

I go back and forth on Sir Paul. Sometimes in annoyance, sometimes in reverence.

Just read the latest Rolling Stone article about the man - I wonder how many articles I have read about Paul in my lifetime - in our lifetime, because we do indeed share a lifetime together - and I like what I read.

Apparently he put in a recent appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel show. The article, written by Jonah Weiner, is about that and about his latest album, "New". His 24th post-Beatles album.

I dug the first few things he did after The Beatles, then I got away from him. His first solo album, "McCartney" is a thing of beauty - of raw power and beauty. On it he played every instrument and sang all the vocals with wife Linda singing backup vocals.

It is one of my favorite albums.

In the 21st century he has recorded a lot of albums that have gotten a lot of praise. I didn't buy any until now. As of moments ago, "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard" is winging its way to me.

And there will be more.

On the night of the Kimmel appearance Paul gave a free concert on the streets of Los Angeles. The article opens asking "if you're dubious what Beatlemania looks like in 2013 - dubious, perhaps, about whether it looks like much of anything at all..............". Weiner then goes on to describe the mob of people jammed together on the second-story balcony of the Sun Taco on Hollywood Boulevard, the heads on every rooftop and in every window in sight, the news helicopters flying overhead, the three planes circling overhead with private pilots pulling off the ultimate gate crash, and the two block area that will contain 10,000 people assembled for the performance.

I love it.

Chris Holmes, McCartney's touring DJ, tells the following story: "He gives everyone their moment. When we're on the road, he'll come up to the stage manager and dance with him a little bit, and for the rest of that guy's life  he can say "This one time I danced with Paul McCartney." That's just who Paul is. It's not something he turns on for the cameras."

He's making me like him.

At one point Weiner is sitting with Paul in the lounge of the hotel. Paul mentions that he would like a drink but has decided against it because he is going for a massage later and he doesn't think it's a good combination.  So they drink green tea.

They talk for a while and suddenly Paul asks "You want a shot of tequila?" He signals the waiter over who subsequently delivers two glasses of Patron. As Weiner tells it:  "Here's to us - health and happiness," McCartney says, giving me my moment. We take deep swigs."

Giving me my moment.

I gotta get over this. I can pick the man apart all I want to, but the bottom line is that he is a Beatle. That means too much to me to ever let go of.

I'm gonna go all old man on you now. I pity every generation that has come since my own for never experiencing what we experienced when The Beatles hit Ed Sullivan's stage.

There is a depth of connection there, a soulful significance, that made our lives richer and continues to do so today.

There is not much in this world with that kind of staying power.

OK. Paul I love you, man.

And if I ever through the grace of God get my McCartney moment, you better believe I will deliriously eat it up and then preserve it in my head for the rest of my life as one more tool to make the rest of my life more gentle.