Friday, January 31, 2014

What Every Kiss Should Be

"Before you slip into unconsciousness
I'd like to have another kiss
Another flashing chance at bliss
Another kiss, another kiss"

"The Crystal Ship"            The Doors

Voodoo Optometrist

The optometrist Carol and I visit is an elderly gentleman.

Probably mid 70's.

I love the guy. He is an older guy with a young and open mind.

We have great conversations which I enjoy immensely. I have always said I enjoy conversations with those more advanced in age than myself because they have nothing to prove. They are fully formed and have lived a life.

They speak unaffectedly.

This is not always true. Some fools never grow up, always feeling they have something to prove.

But in general, it does appear that with age comes wisdom.

This became blindingly apparent to me when I started tending bar at the American Legion. I started at the tale end of an old age wave - a lot of guys in their 70's and 80's were regulars.

They made me laugh, we talked seriously, and my favorite - they would openly mock the younger fools in the bar who were putting on a show. The older dudes would openly challenge things these fools said, and then make hilariously cutting comments about them out of the corner of their mouth.

I had my vision checked a few weeks ago and we got to talking. Talking about what I am going through with the pinched nerve in the neck. Dr. M was very interested.

He told me that in the 90's he got together with an osteopath friend of his because of something his friend had noticed.

He prescribed exercises for his patients and he noticed that they worked well for some patients and not so well with others. Eventually he noticed that to a large extent, the patents who did not respond wore glasses.

That's when he called Dr. M.

Dr. M read up extensively, studied and began meeting with these people and discovered that many of them had bum eyeglass prescriptions. Their vision was unbalanced and their glasses were not correcting that.

He corrected the situation and a lot of the patients began to respond positively to the exercises.

In his research he learned that when the vision is unbalanced, the body fights against itself, one side against the other, and causes all kinds of physical ailments. He learned to detect this condition by gently placing his hands on the head and neck of patients to interpret the vibe being emanated.

At my recent exam he did the hands thing and told me he felt a strong vibe of conflict in my body. That there was a definite one side against the other thing going on.

My left eye is much weaker than the right. It has been that way for many years.

Up until now I have been using reading glasses that correct for that situation. Obviously I only wore them to read. So the rest of the day the imbalance in my vision was not being corrected.

Now that I am older and degenerating rapidly, my distance vision has begun to fade and Dr. M prescribed bifocals. He theorized that wearing the glasses around the clock could contribute to improving the neck thing.

I picked the glasses up on Wednesday. He fitted them up right and proper and then we decided to test his theory.

I sat in a chair with the glasses on looking out the window as he did the hands thing. After a few minutes he told me to take the glasses off and keep looking out the window.

When I did it, felt like my left shoulder was moving forward. It was weird because I knew I was not moving, but I definitely felt it.

Within seconds he said to me: "Oh, yeah, I definitely feel a change. It feels like the left side of your body is twisting forward."

My mind was blown.

I know you think I am suffering through the DT's. I know you think I felt what I wanted to feel.

But the truth is, I did not have any expectation. It just happened. I definitely felt it and it was powerful and strange.

Dr. M said to me: "The eyes are powerful."

It makes sense.

I am desperate for this neck thing to go away. Truthfully I am wearing the glasses as much as I can and I have not experienced miraculous healing.

But I do believe that correcting the imbalance in my vision can contribute to the healing.

Like every other goddamn thing I have tried, it will probably take time.

I am walking on the wild side here.

It feels perfectly natural.

And right.

Strange Island

I find myself on a strange island.

Having reduced whiskey consumption by 85% (the number is precise - I have done the calculations), one would assume that I am now enjoying vibrant, conversation filled, energizing evenings with my lovey wife.

Not so.

The only position I can comfortably adopt in the recliner is fully reclined with two pillows behind my head. Because I am still getting only four consecutive hours of sleep a night, combined with snippets of sleep from that point on, I am eternally exhausted.

I fall asleep.

Soundly and early.

Every goddamn night. At least the nights when I am home at a reasonable hour.

Carol quietly goes to bed at her appointed hour; I wake up in the recliner at 12:15, pop a pain pill and climb into bed.

I have replaced drunken repose with exhausted repose.

I guess my point is that I am in a strange place. I have made positive changes for which I receive no reward. My life is in limbo right now.

A limbo of chiropractor appointments, ice on the neck, "exercises", pain, exhaustion and, apparently, very little progress. At least progress that is not fast enough or dramatic enough for my needs.

I believe I am moving forward. I believe I am doing the right thing. But the way my mind works, when I make dramatic change I expect dramatic results.

My mind tells me that if I am going to fall asleep with whiskey in my belly or without whiskey in my belly, then I might as well have a drink.

I have done a good job of resisting that, although I have relapsed a few times because, as anyone of any wisdom knows, whiskey is a great elixir, solver of all problems great and small and the world's greatest medicine.

My mind tells me that if I faithfully visit Chiro Man and do the "exercises" he prescribes, then I should see marked improvement.

I do not. But I do the exercises anyway.

I am in a strange new land that I do not understand. My mind lately is tending towards despair.

I am fighting it as best I can.

Meanwhile the only two organisms that are happy with the new me are my liver and my wife.

Jane Austen Is Much Maligned

I am reading "Hitch 22" -  Christopher Hitchens memoir.

I love this guy. This is the third book of his that I have read and it is always supreme brain nourishment.

I have to slow down and take it all in. I read quickly unless I am reading writing of an intellectual bent. I have to think and contemplate, interpret and reflect when I read this kind of writing.

I think it is good for me. Kind of like taking the time to enjoy a fine meal in a pleasant restaurant versus dashing through McDonald's drive-through on my way to the next blood work appointment.

Hitchens was reminiscing about his friendship with Kingsley Amis, British poet, critic, novelist and teacher.

Kingsley made disparaging remarks about Jane Austen.

I find it fascinating that I come across this just a couple of days after hearing Mark Twain's assessment on NHPR.

What are the cosmos trying to tell me?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Dig This

"I haven't any right to criticize books, and I don't do it, except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can't conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice, I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin bone."

Mark Twain on Jane Austen

Ringo & Paul

I taped the Grammys.

Because I wanted to see Paul and Ringo playing together.

It was a curiosity thing, but I was not prepared for the emotional response.

Now dig, I watched it at the tail end of inventory night. 14 and 1/2 hour day. I was tired. My defenses were down.

Ringo did a solo thing. He sang "Photograph" with a 1,300 piece band behind him.

He always has lots of musicians backing him up. He comes out every other summer on tour with a boffo all star band. He calls it Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band.

I have never experienced it. I have seen Mr. McCartney. I owe it to myself to see Ringo.

Anyway he stood in front of the band and sang "Photograph". I thought it was a bit awkward. He is not built to be a lead singer; he is built to be behind the drums. He did not move naturally, he did not create a lot of excitement.

But he is Ringo. I loved it.

Later on Paul came on. Ringo was behind the drums.

I was thrilled.

There were many shots of Paul caressing the piano keys where you could see, over Paul's shoulder, Ringo playing behind him.

These were the shots that I loved. The two of them in the frame together. Paul moving the way Paul moves, Ringo moving the way Ringo moves. Which has not changed since 1964 on Ed Sullivan's stage.

After the song, Ringo came out from behind, they put their arms around one another and bowed.

What a moment.

At the beginning of the Grammys they showed Paul and Ringo and their wives sitting in the front row, on their own.

This award show has become such a spectacle, so huge, so dramatic, and here were two of the four guys who started it all. 

The Beatles exploded the world of music. They changed it forever. They had an impact no other band will ever have.

They were huge and they made the record industry huge.

Ringo and Paul are surviving Gods. No one will ever touch them. No one will ever come close.

You could feel the reverence in the room. You could see it in the eyes of the people in the audience and the eyes of the people on stage.

Once again I was saved by Beatles.

I went from 14 and 1/2 hours of fatigue and emptiness, to 10 minutes of pure emotion, a soulful reality.

Those ten minutes dwarfed the previous 14 and 1/2 hours by a long shot. Those ten minutes were more meaningful to me than the entire previous 11 months I have spent at The Asylum.

Ringo and Paul did that.

They always will.

You Know You Are In Trouble

I made a bold decision yesterday.

I changed pizza places. But only on Tuesdays when I get out of work late.

Tuesday is pizza night. Carol bowls, and I have the contractual obligation of picking up pizza to be waiting for her upon her return home. If I get out early, it is there before she leaves to bowl so she can scarf a slice and power up.

There is a pizza joint whose pizza we love, but it is not on my way home. It adds 20 extra minutes to my commute.

Here's the issue. Because of my work schedule, weekends and late nights, Carol gets tons of Carol time. Time alone without The Joe.

She worships these moments. She dances around the house singing "Joe is not here and neither is his bullshit, I can do whatever I want to."

I have this on tape.

There are weeks when she can get up to 20 hours of alone time or more.

I get 4 hours on Tuesday nights. Unless I work late. Then I get 2 max, sometimes an hour and a half.

I am not being cruel here. Alone time is good for anybody. I do not begrudge Carol her carefree moments.

I just don't get enough of it.

So I decided to buy pizza at a joint that is on my way home. The pizza is good there, we are happy with it.

Last night was Night One of the new initiative. I got out of The Asylum at 6:30.

You know you are in trouble when you walk into a pizza joint and say "I am picking up a meat lovers with extra cheese ( as you can see I am sticking with my new, healthier diet) and a heated argument ensues. In Greek.

I had called the order in 45 minutes earlier.

The guy took my money and walked out back, yelled "meat lovers with extra cheese" and came back to the counter.

Ten seconds later, the matriarch of the place came around and began an angry discussion with counter dude, in Greek, right in front of me.

She walks away and he says to me "Five minutes." Like I am an idiot.

Obviously they had blown my order.

Twenty minutes later I am walking out the door with my precious pizza.

By the time I got home, iced up my neck and sat down to eat, it was 8:20.

Carol got home at 9:45.

So much for my brilliant time saving plan.

Thank God I can be alone in my head.

Believe me, nobody else wants to be in there.

What Infuriates Me

I was just driving home from Chiro Man/car registration obligations and listening to NHPR.

They were talking about The Prez, the State of the Union address and republican response.

Actually getting a republican response from Jennifer Horn, who chairs the GOP in NH.

They played a clip of President Obama challenging the republicans, for the 10,000th time, to come up with concrete alternatives to the Affordable Care Act, instead of consistently and blindly opposing it and bad mouthing it.

She began her response by pointing out that she finds it interesting that President Obama now refers to it as the Affordable Care Act instead of Obamacare. She said he used to be proud to put his name on it, but now is trying to distance himself from it because of all the problems associated with the rollout.

She went on to say that republicans have offered countless detailed alternatives to the Affordable Care Act but they have all been shot down by President Obama and Harry Reid. She said that democratic claims of obstructionism by republicans are disingenuous because democrats are doing the same thing.

When the NHPR moderator tried to cut in to ask specifically what are the details of republican alternatives to the ACA, Horn rudely said "Hold on, hold on" and continued to spew meaningless rhetoric.

This is what infuriates me about the republican party. They are a party of bullshit. They lie, manipulate, inflame the public in dangerous ways, and then make blanket statements the voting public is expected to swallow whole.

I am not objective on this topic. I will give you that. But almost every high ranking republican I listen to, comes across as a used car salesman. Somebody who is obviously lying to you and does not try to hide it.

Given the fact that a lot of cars are purchased in this country, there are obviously a lot of people buying the bullshit.

Given the intense level of racial prejudice in this country, there are a lot of people willing to be lied to by republicans even when they know in their evil little hearts that they are being manipulated.

This country has a two party system designed to use compromise as a way of getting things done that are good and fair for the citizens of this country.

We are as far away from that as Justin Bieber is from being a musical heavyweight.

During the discussion Horn said "We want people to live better lives." Lie. republicans are the party of big money, big business and repression. The only way big money can protect their money is by keeping the little man in his place. Toiling away like a dog for a lifetime and never getting ahead.

We live in a time of polarized political positions. A time when politicians fight for power and influence and not for the benefit of their constituents.

There are plenty of self serving democrats out there. Fat cats who care only about their bank accounts and their egos. It is not only a republican disease.

But republicans are a lot gutsier about blatantly disregarding the welfare of the little man. Gutsier about openly lying about what they are trying to achieve. Gutsier about out and out breaking down the lives of the little man and whatever is available to protect him.

Give me intelligent debate, give me facts, give me accomplishments and I will give you respect.

I spent a lot of time researching John McCain before President Obama's first victory. I thought maybe he had something to say, something to offer. Of course I did not spend time on Romney. That would have been like smashing my head against the wall and wondering why I am bleeding.

republicans have taken an eight year opportunity for dramatic change in this country and turned it into a circus.

I despise them for that.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Not Where I Shall Remain

OK, I am hanging tough.

As tough as I can, anyway.

Had 10 days of peace, love and understanding and they did me a world of good psychologically and physically. Then I plunged right back in to a schedule of 8 consecutive.

Today was Day 6 of eight consecutive at Lompoc. Tomorrow is a goddamn doozy. 8 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Inventory.

Anybody who has participated in an inventory knows how badly it sucks. And what makes it worse is the phony enthusiasm and "pretending to be having fun" bullshit of some of the inventory takers.

I understand the concept of making the most of a bad situation but what I cannot stomach is blatant phoniness.

Anyway, it's gonna be a tough, long fucking day.

Then I turn right around to work Day 8.

Somehow, and I am proud of this, I have maintained vacation calm. I have not allowed this phony baloney job to wind me up like it did before. I am not feeling out of control stressed, I am not feeling like I should kill myself or anybody else.

But I am not getting enough done. No exercise and I have not applied for a job all week.

From one extreme to the other.

I felt a little forlorn today, moments before I opened the store, when I was still alone. Feeling like I got sucked back in and that I will die a Liquor Commission employee.

But I fought it back.

The calmness within gives me hope. I have not abandoned my commitment, I have just not figured out how to make it work within the framework of this ridiculous schedule.

Just laying a little honesty on you.

That is where I am at on January 26, 2014.

But that is not where I shall remain.

What I Don't Know

For some reason I went online to read up on "On Tour With Delaney & Bonnie and Friends", the magnificent album that recently transported me to nirvana.

This album has owned me forever. I have the vinyl, I have the cassette, the CD and it breathes on my iPod.

The album cover is one of my favorites.

Anyway, a little effort, a little reading, taught me some stuff.

First of all, Clapton was touring with this band. He had just come off the break up of Cream and was tired of the Clapton is God stuff. He just wanted a break, a chance to fade into the background and support good musicians.

I knew all this.

The band was an 11 piece band, and they rocked. What I didn't know was that most of them would go on to play on Clapton's first solo album. And that the core of this group, Carl Radle, Bobby Whitlock and Jim Gordon would mutate into Derek & the Dominoes, a band that recorded cool stuff with Clapton, including "Layla". And that most of that group would be the core of George Harrison's first solo CD, the amazing triple album "All Things Must Pass" that George exploded onto the world to release his pent up creativity, the creativity that had been held back in The Beatles.

I am familiar with Carl Radle, Bobby Whitlock and Jim Gordon because I am a music freak of nature. They are legendary session musicians and band members.

I just didn't realize the extent of their contributions.

I should have.

Anyway, for the 13 millionth time I will reiterate my love, fascination, joy and glee at the incestuous way supreme musical talent feeds one on another to keep giving us the beauty that eases our difficult days.

Dig it, baby.

Scraping Barnacles

It always scrapes the barnacles off my brain when somehow, someway, I get plugged into The Now.

It always happens unexpectedly and it always feels so damn good.

I was driving to The Asylum on Friday when it happened. I had Delaney & Bonnie cranked, the sun was brilliant, the temperature was not.

I looked to my left at a frozen lake, the sun was about shoulder high, and the snow and ice were high priced gems sparkling just for me. I was singing as I casually checked the temperature. It was minus 1 degree.

Didn't faze me, didn't ruin the mood.

Gentle fingers reached out from 1969 (the year this magnificent live album was recorded) and lowered my blood pressure, lowered my blood sugar level, cured my pinched neck and improved my kidney function.

Sometimes I think these moments are designed by The Mysterious Architect of My Life to keep me alive.

They are refreshing and they tease me with a taste of How It Could Be.

Magnificent ride.

Looking forward to more.

Anybody You Want To Sing This To?

"You know you're wrong
You know you're wrong
You know you're wrong
You know you're wrong

You see I don't want to fight jack
But you are never right

You know you're wrong"

From "You Know You're Wrong"...................Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

Saturday, January 25, 2014


According to Merriam-Webster:

"Interregnum" - the timing during which a throne is vacant between two successive reigns or regimes; a period during which the normal functions of government or control are suspended; a lapse or pause in a continuous series.

Great word. Rachel Maddow used it last night.

Got me wondering if people who use words like that are showing off, or using the word to achieve word economy. By word economy I mean saying a lot with one word or one short highly intellectual phrase.

I'm going for the latter.

Interregnum is a good word. I like the sound of it.

I also like, and I have hammered this home before, that in using that word and others like it, she is assuming her audience will understand it.

She is assuming intelligence rather than to assume stupidity, which is what reality TV is all about.

Bill Maher does it. George Carlin used to do it.

Enough. Gotta head off to The Asylum.

You better believe I will not be using the word interregnum in that meaningless world.

God's Spine

Chiro Man has a God thing going on.

Not a God complex. He's not Alec Baldwin.

Just a God thing. Although I hesitate to use the word just. It feels a little more than that.

When I first get there he goes at me with the tiny jack hammer. Manipulates neck and spine.

Then it is off to Electro Land, the land of electric muscle stimulation. Sometimes one of the machines is immediately available, sometimes not.

If not, you wait. Two chairs sit against a wall facing the room where the jack hammering goes on.

On the wall opposite the chairs is a large poster with a kind of mission statement on it. At least two feet across, three feet down, maybe more. Very large.

It starts out talking about how the Doc is committed to improving people's lives. Then it leaks into a philosophy of indoctrinating children into chiropractic. Says something about how a healthy life can make it possible for them to achieve the potential that God gave them.

Then it gets back to general statements about the goals of chiropractic.

The last sentence says "Dr. David will do his best, and God will do the rest."

It signed "Love, Dr. David."

Normally I would be uncomfortable with something like that. Actually I would be quite amused.

But I want for this to be an occult experience. I want it to succeed enormously, so much so, that it inspires me to get so far outside the parameters of accepted medical wisdom that I begin practicing voodoo with peace in my soul and a grin for the devil.

I enjoy imagining that when they close the doors at night, the staff all get down on their knees, bathed in candlelight and blood and chant "Oh merciful God in heaven, please heal Joe's spine, his neck and his psyche so he can get back to his naturally wicked ways."

Actually I am indulging in poetic license here. It truly is a tad weird to me to have that god stuff on the wall and the "Love, Dr. David" staring at me every appointment.


But, rather than repulse me like it normally would, it does kind of feed what I want from this experience in a left handed way.

About the Dr. David thing. Nobody calls him Dr. David. They call him Dr. Lewis. He is introduced as Dr. Lewis and all the patients call him that.

I even got sucked into it for a while. But I don't believe in that type of class separation. If I am required to call him Dr. Lewis, then he must be required to call me Assistant Manager Testa.

Now I use no name or greeting whatsoever.

About the two chairs.

I have only had another body seated next to me, waiting, on two occasions.

One was a woman in my age range, the other was a young woman.

I prefer using the phrase "age range" now. It makes me more comfortable. I define my age range as between 30 and 140.

When you have to wait and there is already somebody waiting, Chiro man will introduce you to each other.

I had a great conversation with the woman in my age range. She works with horses and we got into the whole personality/spirituality thing with horses. Also the work ethic.

The young woman sat next to me and texted.

Aside from my hatred of the anti-social nature of texting, and the fact that it is reducing generations to automatons who stare at a tiny screen in their hands who wouldn't notice a goddamn bald eagle if it flew within three inches of their face.................................

I was amazed that this young woman passed up a chance to have a conversation with a wise old owl like me. She should have taken one look at my grizzled, white beard and realized that she could have instantaneously understand the meaning of life through five minutes of chat. Save her a lot of wasted time and pain invested.

Then again my face probably did not register in her brain because it was not reflected in her tiny, little world.

I mean, screen.

It just occurred to me that Dr. David probably loves the texting addiction.

All those permanently bent necks and all.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Just Practicing

Jaloxi was crouched, low to the ground and ready to strike.

She did not understand why she was in that position or how she got there. She only knew that, despite her mind's surprise, she could not move.

It was dark and no one was close. The space was confined, she felt comfortable there, knowing there was little risk of discovery.

There was something inside her that felt foreign; poisoned and vengeful, dangerous and calculating. It had its own mass, its own presence and it displaced things inside her she once reflected on as good.

Still, this thing felt right. Felt like a thing of transformation. Something her mind had not fully grasped but was slowly becoming comfortable with.

She smiled, but the smile would not be universally recognized as welcoming.

It was grotesque.

How You Feeling?

"It's so hard to forget pain, but it's even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace."

Chuck Palahniuk

Take a look around, baby. Pain is everywhere.

On one level there is physical pain. There are one hell of a lot of people out there living in many different levels of pain.

Physical pain is straight ahead. It shows up in your life, slaps you around and dares you not to deal with it. You deal with it as you choose; traditional medicine and medical treatment, alternative medical practices, booze, drugs, denial, self-pity, crawling for the pity of others.

The relation between pain and a reaction to it would seem to be black and white, but it's not that simple. People experience pain differently. What is excruciating to one person is baby stuff to somebody else. A person with a high threshold of pain will put treatment off until they are crawling on their hands and knees through the drive-up window at KFC. A person with a low threshold of pain will be in the doctors office the day before they stub their toe.

There is a psychology of pain that exists on many levels. Many people love to talk about their problems, brag about their "meds", because it draws attention to them, it perversely makes them feel important. These are the people who do not mind endless trips to the doctor or physical therapist, and our esteemed medical community just loves to indulge them.

There is the perception of pain. You walk around with a limp, everybody notices and the conversation flows. People in chronic pain "get used" to it, they learn how to mask it. If they make the mistake of talking about it, their co-workers are off to the side minutes later saying "He's full of crap. He doesn't look like he is in pain."

There is a discussion out there that debates whether or not pain is felt in the body or the mind. If you burn your finger, is your finger feeling the pain or is your mind feeling the pain?

Whatever the considerations, physical pain can be learned from. How to be avoided in the future, what actions can be taken to guard against it. It can also give a person perspective. It can change your understanding of life. It can dramatically redefine the word fragile.

Pain covers the entire spectrum of human experience. All the idiosyncrasies and bumps and burps and twisted associations and mind games and anxieties and fears of just being human.

It is all pain.

Pain demands a response. That is its purpose. But on the psychological side of things it is easy to bury it, ignore it or sculpt it into something it is not.

We humans, crafty beings that we are, will find endless ways to turn suffering into something else. A weapon, a defense or an excuse.

Pain wakes us from the lethargy that is pleasure. "We have no scar to show from happiness." The good stuff becomes status quo, numbs us because we don't really know what we have.

So we don't learn from it.

There is this vapid "gratefulness" movement that attempts to mine the beauty of the good stuff. Focusing on the pleasure in our lives should teach us something. It should teach us how to live.

But the "gratefulness" movement is superficial. It is jingoistic. If you are going to get anything out of the good stuff in your life you have to do it on your own and in your own way.

Humans have a limited capacity to accomplish that.

Pain is the ultimate teacher.

It gets your attention, it ravages you or is defeated by you, and it definitely leaves its mark.

You can ignore the lessons and go gentle into that good night, or you can evolve.

Dig This

"A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin."

H.L. Mencken

Dig This

"As soon as you trust yourself you will, you will know how to live."


Wednesday, January 22, 2014


It is always more meaningful to grab inspiration and perspective from the creative.

Because they feel.

NHPR. Driving home last night listening to winter reflections from Bill T. Jones, choreographer and dancer.

He was talking about the memories that music can evoke. For him, the piece "Winterreise" by Schubert has powerful life connections. It is a song cycle about a solitary traveler in a savage winter whose heart is frozen in grief.

The music sparks a memory of when he was in the fourth grade, day dreaming and looking out the window on a frosty cold, blustery winter day. He was watching a man walking along the highway, turning his back to the bitter cold and snow and Jones was feeling sorry for the guy.

He suddenly realized that man was his father. His father had been the director of his own contracting business in the late fifties, but the business had died and now he was broke and sick and trying to fend for his family.

On that day, as Jones describes it: ".....................and he had to get to this very insignificant job in a factory, miles and miles away. A black man, with no car, trying to hitchhike, and no one picking him up, and he has to walk that 10 miles to get to the factory."

Jones felt tormented at that moment, torn between two worlds. He was sitting in a warm classroom, which is what his dad wanted him to do so he could live a better life. Yet he was watching his father struggle through bitter cold and snow to get to a shitty job so he could support the family.

Could he better serve his father by staying in the classroom, or by running out into the storm to somehow try to help him?

There is so much to that one story, that one moment. The father/son thing, racism, survival, dreams versus reality.

Heavy duty.

He relates it back to the music by saying: "And this music, when I hear it, I feel for my father. There's something about art that can be, yes, depressing, but helps us bear the pain through shear beauty and intensity."

Gregg Allman sings: "I make my living, pouring out my pain." I know in my heart that his voice would not move me the way it does if Gregg had not experienced his own level of suffering.  Through pain, he brings me beauty and escape and relief.

In talking about how his perspective for this music and his father has changed over the years, Jones says: "It's taken on a greater weight over the years. There's now more and more. My body speaks to the body I saw from a child's distance, from a parent. I understand him inside and even outside now. I'm not afraid of aging, but the idea of what is success in life, what is a life well-spent. His dreams were behind him at that point; where are my dreams now? I love him so much for getting out there that day, with no car, and really not talking to us about it, not complaining, just facing it alone. I love him so much, but did I ever tell him I love him? Probably not."

I don't know where to go from here. Instead of drawing my typical pompous conclusions I'll let you rest with your own impressions.


Fierce Inspiration

I wanted to blow my goddamn brains out last night.

Day One. Back at The Asylum.

It wasn't even a bad day. In fact it was a good day by Asylum standards. Relatively quiet, very little manic activity.

I managed to maintain my calm, which was a large victory. After 10 days of peace, love and understanding I was calm for the ride in. Bogeying to Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

I stayed relatively calm. I even did a lot more lifting than I planned on doing and it did not wreck my neck, which is a very good sign.

But my mind was screaming, just shrieking in disbelief that I was back in that hell hole again.

I am applying for jobs, I am taking large personal positive steps to get my life in my hands, I am working hard on the oily, twisted, labyrinth that is my mind.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that things will change.

None of that could soothe me.

All that my mind knew was that I was back in the snake pit and nothing had changed. The ease with which I fell back into it was nauseating.

Same conversations, same routines, same bullshit.

Apparently my mind will not be convinced that I have made a commitment until I am staring at four new walls.

At one point I was out back, just me and the new guy, receiving the load that had been delivered that morning. As I checked stuff in, I watched him mark a box to indicate where it would be going and I had a surreal moment.

I watched him writing on the box, almost in slow motion, and my brain said: "This is your life. Writing on the sides of boxes in a warehouse."

I will say this one more time with conviction. My life will change. I am going to make it change. Very soon.

You don't believe me and I don't blame you. I have written words of bold inspiration, blinding insight, wild-ass hope and iron clad commitment many times in here over the years and failed every time.

This time it is different. Of course, I am the only one who can know that.

This job strangles me. It destroys me. I will fight back hard from now on. I will not sacrifice my personal life like I did in 2013. Not even close.

I gotta get out. It is a poisoned environment. A meaningless job. A colossal waste of my life.

I am digging in hard, baby and swinging for the fences.

Yesterday was just one more piece of fierce inspiration.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Beating Cancer With 140 Characters

Started digging into this tweeting for cancer thing.

Smacked my head right up against some heavy words.

"The truth is there is a thin line between having it all and losing it all. And it is on that line we balance, listening, always, for the low hum of the terrifying possible."

That was written by Francesca Kaplan Grossman in support of Lisa Bonchek Adams, who is the woman tweeting her cancer experience to the world.

Adams is suffering from Stage IV metastatic breast cancer and is tweeting liberally about the experience.

She has met with strange resistance from Bill Keller and his wife Emma. Bill wrote a column for The Times, Emma posted her opinion in The Guardian, both of them criticizing Lisa for going so public with her feelings.

First of all it cracks me up that, with so much garbage out there in cyberspace, so many meaningless words, so much wasted time, when someone puts something human out there, however uncomfortable, they are criticized.

We are perfectly comfortable talking about the most banal topics in the world but God forbid you should put something out there that people can sink their teeth into. Make them think, make them reflect, make them feel.

I think the sharing of pain might be one of the most powerful things we can do. Everyone is in pain and everyone buries it deep; it might be helpful for some battered, lonely human soul to read someone else's words, even if all it does is to make them feel less alone.

In addition we are such cowards about death in this country. We don't want to acknowledge it, we don't want to talk about it, we don't want to hear about it.

This is not healthy, it is not realistic. I read a book called "Denial of Death" written by Ernest Becker, in which he theorizes that our denial of death is at the root of all of our psychological problems.

I think he is on to something there.

I also think it's good to publicize how our esteemed medical community handles someone's treatment. Treatment that determines if they live or die and how they will live or die.

I have been dealing with a pinched nerve in my neck for coming up on 3 months now. Something so small, so basic, so seemingly simple. Yet I have still not received a comprehensive diagnosis telling me exactly what is going on. Only theories and various approaches to treating the situation.

And that is for a pinched nerve, for Christ sake.

Consider the possibilities when dealing with cancer. Endless. The docs need to be monitored.

My brother-in-law just had his second operation on his brain in a fight against cancer. They bounced him out of the hospital after a few days and sent him to rehab. His ever vigilant wife caught the people there about to give him a drug that he should not be taking.

She explained why and they responded: "Oh, we didn't read his chart."

Gives you a warm feeling, doesn't it?

Needless to say, Sarge was out of there that very day.

I just realized I am just scratching the surface here. This was a gut purge on a topic I have been marinating in my brain.

I need to dig deeper.

But today is Day One of "The Return to The Asylum". I am tired and I gotta get moving.

Talk to you later.

Monday, January 20, 2014


I sacrificed a virgin today.

To appease the football Gods of Parity.

It is not easy finding a virgin in 2014.

Parity is a big word in the NFL and it actually kind of exists. From worst to first and first to worst and everything in between - in a heartbeat.

Things change rapidly in the NFL, which is a good thing. You really don't know, from year to year, which team will emerge as dominant, which team will fall from grace, which team will surprise the hell out of you for a chunk of the season and which team will stink up the house so bad you just gotta open the bathroom windows.

Except, between the years of 2000 and 2004, the New England Patriots just dominated this league. Super Bowl victories in '01, '03 and '04. They were the gold standard, baby and it didn't look like anything was going to change anytime soon.

Except things began to go imperceptibly sour, under the radar, eventually culminating in 9 years of pain and frustration.

The football Gods had become angry.

After '04, The PATS could not put it all together. Wild card wins, divisional victories, conference championships, two Super Bowl appearances..........but no more Super Bowl victories.

The most painful was in 2007 when they fell short of a perfect season with a loss to the giants in the Super Bowl. Goddamn Eli, of all people.

But they have teased us a lot, brought us to the brink, consistently competed in the post season, raising expectations and excitement, only to fall short.

For a while I accepted it as the natural ebb and flow of the game, although it was hard to swallow given the apparent invincibility of the Brady/Belichick love connection.

Yesterday hurt. I felt cocky yesterday. I felt we had endured enough heartbreak over the last 9 years, I was positive we were going to the Super Bowl.

Towards the end of the game, dejected PATRIOTS sat on the bench. Including Brady.

It just didn't look right. It felt like the air had been let out of the balloon. Looked like the fight had been knocked out of them.

The evil serpent in my brain began to think that this was it. That I would never see B&B in another Super Bowl. That this was the beginning of the final unraveling of the magic of this team.

That there were no miracles left in the tank.

Really, really brought me down.

I go back to work tomorrow after ten days off. I planned on riding the impending Super Bowl appearance back to work like a warrior horse, giving me the strength and confidence and energy to deal with my idiot boss and the phony baloney job.

Now all I got is me. I did a lot of mental house cleaning over this break and I am ready to do battle.

But you never know. Always good to have an edge.

That's why I sacrificed a virgin.

For the sake of THE PATS. For the sake of my soul.

It was surprisingly easy to do. I'll probably do it again when the situation demands it.

All I am looking for is one more shot at glory for Brady and for Belichick.

All I am looking for is a genuine shot at evolving for the sake of my suffocating soul.

Excuse me. I need to scrub down the altar.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Just Practicing

It was indeed a sunny day. Such a cliché but the sheer beauty of the thing blew his mind.

Everything took on precise definition and he couldn't help but see things he had overlooked before. Couldn't help but see things differently than he did when darkness poisoned his vision.

There was a slight breeze so delicate the flowers barely danced, but the sensation on his skin was startling. Sensual confirmation of life in the ultimate.

The effect on his psyche was almost overwhelming. This must be what happiness feels like, what happiness is. Hard for him to define because the feeling was previously so foreign.

Aromas, sights, sounds, impressions both truthful and fanciful assaulted his mind with the amazing scope of what life can be.

People walking, running, riding, sitting, talking, arguing, laughing. All these people expressing so much emotion so effortlessly.

He had broken through a wall, a wall so thick in its construction he had become accustomed to leaning against it in despair. Using it as a prop, an excuse and an explanation of who he was at that time.

But he never gave up. He made slight changes in approach, thought process, and attitude and committed to those changes tenaciously. Even when it made him uncomfortable; even when others mocked him at the simplicity of it.

He felt alone, indeed was quite alone as people will shun you when you rob them of predictability.

Most people are not strong enough to change or moral enough to change or caring enough to change, and they refuse to accept change in others.

He tips his head back and exults at the heat on his face.

Knowing full well that from now on, even on days when the sun refuses to accommodate him, heat will radiate from within.

A heat that will sustain him through all that remains.

Dig This

"We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of the Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds, it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here."

Richard Dawkins - "Unweaving The Rainbow".

What A Copout

Brady vs. Belichick.

Belichick's name drives me crazy. I misspell it every goddamn time. It is not pronounced the way it is spelled. I just spelled it Billichick before I Googled it for correction. I know the spelling is odd vis a vis the pronounciation (I was just dying to use vis a vis) so I over correct and mutilate it horribly.

It is the bane of my existence.

Perfect day for this discussion. Talking heads are constantly debating the "who is more important to the equation" issue. Today being the AFC championship game, well, it only adds heat to the debate.

My gut reaction was to say Brady is the shining piece of the puzzle. Because even with all the analysis, all the preparation, all the practice, when it gets down to game time you need a leader who exudes confidence and can back it up with success.

Even tougher in this game because the gridiron is populated by humongous egos. You cannot survive the NFL without supreme confidence.

Because it is a frightening game.

So when the other ten super sized egos gather in the huddle, they need to look into the eyes of a man who can still command attention. And respect.

Brady is that man.

He is such a dichotomy. Off the field, in press conferences, talk shows and in life he comes across as a pretty boy. Soft spoken and not particularly well spoken.

But on the field he is a monster. I love it when he slams his helmet down on the sidelines or when he gets right in the face of a teammate. Or when they are up 38 to2 and he gets pissed because they fail to convert on third and short.

He has the skills to back up his on field swagger. Early on I was not convinced that he was a sterling quarterback. I now have no doubts. He completes passes that knock me off the recliner.

He also has three rings. Hardware carries weight.

Belichick commands respect in his own anti-fashionably, grungy way. He looks like a shlump and bores you to death in press conferences, but when he talks to his players on the sidelines you can see the respect in their eyes. This is not always evident with other coaches.

His preparation is meticulous. He attacks the opposition's strengths as well as their weaknesses and tries to find ways to neutralize them. Which he often does. He is a field general. A military commander.

And an improviser. He will throw shit out there that will blow your mind. Some bizarre call in a situation that makes you cringe. Sometimes yes, sometimes no but at least he can spice up his strict discipline with fresh perspective. And catch people off guard.

Belichick brings misfits into the organization and inspires them to change their wicked ways and contribute to the team's success. Guys who have been nothing but trouble with other teams, who come to THE PATS and put the bad boy away and contribute enormously to the team's success.

Not a lot of coaches that can do that.

You also have to consider the Matt Cassel, 11 and 5 factoid. That was a beautiful thing and incredible testimony to Belichick, Cassel, and the focus of the entire organization. But I do not accept the fact that you can take any QB, plug him into the equation and succeed like Brady has succeeded.

I think there was a little fairy dust sprinkled on that season.

Another thing to consider is the intangible of the chemistry between Belichick and Brady. They have been together a long time and it is obvious that they click. They feed off each other. There is mutual respect there. There is experience, there is a track record of success, there is knowledge, there is insight, there is informed confidence.

This is a magical thing. Something you cannot measure but something that definitely contributes to THE PATS success.

Cranking it up a notch, you have to consider the entire organization.

Robert Kraft is a God. He has created an organization from the top down that is dedicated to excellence. An organization that demands subjugation of the ego and the self for the good of the team. An organization that has taken the cliché of "one game at a time" and turned it into a religious mantra.

A mantra with results.

There is also an atmosphere of genuineness within the organization. A sense that Kraft and everybody else in the organization cares about the players as people.

As much as that is possible in the NFL.

Organizational success starts at the top. Robert Kraft is the textbook example of how to run a football team.

Yup I am wimping out. I am not going to pick a name. because I think what THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS have is a unique situation. A magical, mystical moment in time.

It has succeeded enormously for 13 years now and that is pretty amazing.

They have created an organization based on a philosophy that permeates every aspect of the operation. They have created their own approach to the game that refines everything from player drafts to practice to game preparation to game execution to game improvisation to team communication, both internally and externally.

What I will say is that this organization is unique and the credit goes to Robert Kraft.

The success goes to Kraft, Belichick and Brady. Kind of like the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

Only better.

Dig This

"A desperate man must succeed or desperation will drown him."


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Don't Blame Bonnie Raitt

There is an urban myth floating around that Bonnie Raitt killed Lowell George.

Actually I do not know how prevalent this story is. Somewhere in my life the story got into my head. I did not make it up. It could have very well been the stoned imaginings of any number of music loving close friends of mine. We had many fascinating conversations after we discovered the wonders of marijuana, whose consumption we pushed as far as it could be pushed.

Lowell George was the founding father of Little Feat. If I have to explain who Bonnie Raitt is, please log out immediately.

George was a heavy drug user, a booze lover, junk food junkie and general wild man. He was renowned as a unique slide guitar player and compared in that category to Duane Allman, which is high praise. For both of them.

The story goes that Raitt convinced him to give up the booze and drugs and he died shortly afterward. Apparently from the state of shock his body was thrown into.

Truthfully he died on the road touring behind his one and only solo album after Little Feat had broken up. He weighed 300 pounds or more at the time as a result of his excesses. Officially he died of a massive heart attack suspected to have been brought on by drug abuse. He was 34.

But the Bonnnie Raitt story is so much cooler.

The reason I bring it up is that I have reduced whiskey consumption by 90%. Carol, no doubt, is chagrined to know that despite all her valiant efforts over the years, it was the fear of high blood pressure and the obvious correlation between alcohol consumption and said affliction, that brought me around.

I don't regret it. I don't miss it. But I am amused to wonder what my body is thinking right now. I have been drinking excessively since the age of fifteen. Almost exclusively beer for a very long time. I don't remember when I started experimenting with whiskey but I do know that my body took to it magnificently.

It has been my drink of choice for decades, my friend, my soother, my confidante.

My internal organs must be craning their necks inside of me wondering where the hell whiskey river went. Looking for the next deluge. Delighting in their (hopefully) return to normal functioning.

Chaos and creation inside my guts. I stole that term from McCartney. It's a song and the name of a relatively recent album. Not the guts part, the chaos part.

I have resumed exercising. I have contacted a friend of ours who is a psychologist who will soon provide for me a reference for a friend of his that is a psychologist. I am fighting the pinched nerve thing with a full on commitment to Chiro man. I am applying for jobs like a manic job seeker. I am writing more and trying to branch out into fiction which is where I believe my immediate financial future lies. I am reading and studying. Cramming my brain with nutritious information.

Hope all this good stuff doesn't kill me.

My mind being what it is, I have had the thought that I am sixty years old. How long will all of this take? What if the only outcome of all this is for me to die in peace. Probably not a bad thing to die with a tranquil mind. Sounds peaceful.

That would be ironic if that is all that I accomplish, because I am shooting for and capable of much bigger things.

I prefer to believe I am creating a wave of change that will allow me to wrestle some satisfaction out of  my existence on planet earth. All of my angst over the course of my life has been centered around the searing self knowledge that I am underachieving and that I am largely to blame for that.

Not circumstances, not anybody else. Me.

Not a lot of happiness in January 2014. Lots of pain, little sleep. But, hopefully, I am laying the foundation for the supreme transition.

Hopefully a very solid foundation upon which I can eventually stand and raise my fist to the sky, victorious.

I might have a dollop of whiskey to celebrate on that moment.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Kierkegaard On Self Love

"Any religion of love would presuppose one condition only and assume it as given: to love oneself in order to command loving the neighbor as oneself."

Soren Kierkegaard

This Is Why...................

Anybody who watches a lot of football, especially if you dial up the NFL Network regularly, has seen the clip.

Bill Parcells, coaching the Giants, along the sidelines trying to pump up his team at a critical moment.

And he yells: "This is why you lift all them weights."

I love it. Perfect. Perfect football motivation. No bullshit, no phoniness, just a direct comment that hits home with guys who spend all week long preparing for one game.

The comparison of preparation to actual game time is the most out of whack in football. These guys spend enormous amounts of time studying, practicing and reviewing.

And lifting weights.

All for the chance to spend 3 hours of game time and a lot less than that of playing time on Sunday.

Motivation is big in the NFL and most of it is hilarious.

Coaches' speeches after a game are pathetic. They should never be televised because it makes these guys look like toddlers delivering a postgraduate dissertation at The University of Oxford.

"We won this game because we played hard nosed football. And when you play hard nosed football you win. Most of the time. Except those times when you lose. When you play hard nosed and you lose, well, nobody really understands that. Maybe that's when you turn to Jesus. If you believe in Jesus. (The players are starting to look around the room and the coach is spitting as he talks). If you don't believe in Jesus, maybe you turn to booze or drugs. Or hookers. And that's not good. So maybe you shouldn't do that. Maybe you should pretend to believe in Jesus. So, OK, Jesus on three. 1-2-3 JESUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

When you get the team huddled up just before they take the filed and one guy cranking them up, it is even better. Jumping up and down, banging helmets, punching arms.

"Who are we? Jaguars! What we gonna do? Win! What if we don't win? That would suck! Do we like to suck? Only on a McDonald's shake! Do you see a McDonald's shake out here? No! Then we gotta win. Right? Right! OK - No McDonald's shake on 3. 1-2-3 NO MCDONALD"S SHAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I don't know how other coaches do it on the sidelines. I suspect Belichick is the same as Parcells. I'm sure he makes direct comments that the players can connect with and use for motivation.

I bet a lot of coaches, though, whip up phony shit that means nothing to these guys. That leaves them scratching their, um,................heads.

You don't make it to the NFL because of your oratorical skills. Stick to what you know.

That's what I love about Parcell's comment. It is as basic as you can get. And it is true.

If there is not enough good comedy on this weekend, tune it the pre-game player hype and the postgame coach-speech.

You will laugh your ass off.

12th Man

I love it when they lift the 12th man flag in Seattle and the stadium goes nuts.

The connection between fans and team is most passionate in football. Hockey comes in at a close second.

Baseball fans snore. Basketball fans just want to be seen.

Football fans are psycho hose beasts. Myself included. I have been neutered since my boys left the house because I don't have them around anymore to ratchet up the intensity and because 99% of the time when I am watching a game I have a cat in my lap.

I love these little beasts so much that I refuse to disturb their peace by jumping up and screaming. So I sit and cheer with muted passion.

But it ain't easy. And I do lose control once in a while. When I do, whoever is nestled in my lap becomes a rocket ship, leaping out and down to the floor. And staring back in sleepy wide eyed wonder at the lunatic who ejected them.

Sorry girls.

When that flag goes up, that stadium rocks. Absolutely rocks. Thunder. Vibration. Rolling echoes and passion reverberated.

At that moment the connection between fans and the sport they love is perfectly defined. A chance to yell, scream, roar and rumble and let everything inside of you out.

Football allows you to take everything good in your life and everything bad in your life, mix it all up in a bowl of emotion, heat it up with intensity and express it with maximum passion.

If you are not physically spent at the end of a football game you are not a true fan.

Even when I sit quietly with Cat#1 or Cat#2 in my lap, my body is tense. Wrapped up, wound up, reacting to the ebb and flow of the game.

Relaxed in sweet vindication after a win; limp with disbelief after a loss.

I love the fact that Seattle has made the 12th man a thing. That they actually raise a flag. It is a great testimony to the loyalty and the love of the fans. It intensifies the connection, recognizes and celebrates it and makes it a little more special.

PATS/broncos will be my entire focus early on, on Sunday. I am exuberantly excited about this game and feeling pretty good about it.

I am hoping I can carry relaxation into the Seattle/9'ers game, if you catch my drift. But I ain't making any predictions. I refuse to mess with the vibe.

But if I do carry relaxation into the Seattle game, when they raise that 12th man flag, I might just rocket up out of the recliner, through the ceiling and the roof and wind up with my ass sticky with sap.

Because sometimes it just feels so damn good to be a fan that nothing else matters.

The Strangest Thing

The strangest thing just happened, Mamacita.

Popped Big Bad Voodoo Daddy into the iPod projector and began to wash the dishes. Suddenly my ass and legs slipped right out from underneath me and danced their way into the dining area. Boogieing to beat the band.

I was astonished. I watched in disbelief but pure understanding as my lower body gyrated in ecstasy to this incredible band. I mean my ass and legs were kicking up a rumble like no man's business.

Half of me put on quite a show. Then again I have always known that, with my enormous talent, half of me can out-show all of you on any given day.

My upper torso stayed put with a sense of commitment. The dishes got washed.

As I dried my hands the upper body waltzed over to Mr. Ass & Legs, reconnected, and the next thing I knew I was dancing in the living room.

Fluidly. With abandon.

By this time both Maka and Lakota got into the groove, the vibe of the whole thing, and stood up on their hind paws while clapping their front paws rhythmically.

Sunshine streaming through the picture window got rhythm. At first I though trees were swaying in the breeze. Then I realized that sun beams were dancing. Twirling. Cutting and juking, swirling and moving.

And smiling.

I'm telling you, man. That was a moment. A moment in time.

Magical musical moment that brought heat and light and life into my day.

Don't get no better than that.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Doors

Sometimes when you listen to The Doors, it feels like your ear is cocked at the portal to Hell.

Get Independent Or Die Trying

The world is filled with so called experts whose job it is to judge you.

Very often your life can hinge on decisions people like this make.

Very often these people are idiots.

I read a recent article in Rolling Stone on The Beatles' first trip to America in February 1964.

They had kicked Britain's ass. They were enormous, their records sold in unprecedented numbers, the music industry had never seen anything like it.

The Beatles themselves were apprehensive about coming to this country. Funny to think about now, but true. They felt America was so huge and had so much stuff, what could it possibly want from The Beatles? McCartney actually said on the plane ride over: "They've got their own groups. What are we going to give them that they don't already have?"

When the plane landed their eyes were opened. Humongous crowds. The lads were overwhelmed.

In Britain, The Beatles recorded for EMI. By the end of 1963 they had five singles in Britain's Top Twenty, three of which hit Number One. Their debut album, "Please Please Me" was number one on Britain's album charts for 30 weeks, only to be replaced by their second album, "With The Beatles."

Capitol Records was the American licensee of EMI. Capitol wanted nothing to do with The Beatles.

They rejected "Love Me Do', "Please Please Me" and "She Loves You." Dave Dexter was doing the rejecting. He felt "Love Me Do" was a generally amateurish and unappealing rendition. He bad mouthed it to any company exec who asked.

How can one man be so fucking stupid? It was this guy's job to recognize talent. He was paid as a goddamn expert.

Capitol remained reluctant even after The Beatles kicked ass on Ed Sullivan.

They finally woke up when they realized that in Britain with sales of the singles "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You", and the album "With The Beatles", The Beatles released as many million-selling singles in 1963 as the entire American recording industry.

There is nobody in this world with a better opinion than yours. Only a different one.

You have to be especially wary of people who pass themselves off as experts, because at some point they lose sight of what they are trained to do as their ego blurs their vision.

Think of that in your next job interview. Adopt an attitude of superiority.

You got nothing to lose.

Independence, baby. Proving people wrong.

That's a high that will grease your ride through life.

Faithful Readers of "Faithful Place"

Just finished a book titled "Faithful Place", written by Tana French.

The book was lent to me by my lovely daughter (in-law) and my amazing son.

Bless their hearts, bless their souls.

They are book readers. We are members of the book reading community.

Although they play around with that electronic book stuff. You know, the books with no pages, no spines, nothing to feel or smell.

Goddamn fad. Has about as much chance of catching on as rock 'n roll.

Anyway, get the book. Read the book. It is set in Ireland and is an interesting story with a cruel twist.

I don't have time to summarize the plot line for you. I am a very important person with enormous time constraints.

I can summarize my reaction to the book in one word.


No Break For Bonzo

Just got back from an appointment with Chiro Man.

It was my intention to go all dramatic with you and tell you how I am done for a while, that I am staying away from pokers and probers. That I am taking a break. Catching my breath.

For two months my entire life has revolved around medical appointments. Doctor visits, follow up visits, the chiropractor, physical therapy, X-rays, blood tests and the infamous failed MRI.

I have filled out so many goddamn forms and signed so many agreements, been handed so much information about high blood pressure, pinched nerve issues, physical therapy approaches, chiropractic practices that my head is spinning.

I am sick of it. Tired to the bone. I want to be left alone.

I have put 10 million extra miles on The Big Ride driving to places I don't want to be.

The true irony being that driving is the most uncomfortable thing I can do.

However, Chiro Man invited me back tomorrow. He is not normally open on Fridays, but he is behind this week because he just got back from a fun filled week in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, skiing his ass off.

I am happy to go back. I think he is going to help me.

He jack hammered my neck and spine today. It doesn't relieve the pain but it frees up my neck so I can turn my head almost as well as a normal human being.

THEN they applied the magic machine to my neck and shoulder. Electric muscle stimulation.

I hurt my back in 1990. When the medical community failed me again, I went to a chiropractor and as part of the treatment he applied these suction cup babies to my lower back.

Whenever he would turn the machine off, I would beg for more time. It felt that good. I became an electric muscle stimulation junkie.

Chiro man is using it on my neck and shoulder. I am quite pleased.

I went easy on him today but tomorrow, when he shuts that machine off, I will wrestle him to the ground and dial it up myself.

I am locked into a 3 month treatment plan.

Looks like I will not be stepping off this merry go round for a while.

If I get results I will become joy filled.

If not, I will kill someone.

Sweet Vindication

I am trolling through Netflix movie genres. Yeah, I am truly digging this streaming thing.

It is close to being my perfect movie dream.

But you know the drill. What I want, what I believe should be available, is every movie ever made instantaneously available.

If it does not happen before I kick, these words will be inscribed on my headstone....."shoulda been every movie ever made available whenever I wanted it."

With my luck, on the day of my death some young but tardy entrepreneur will come out with the big announcement.

Be that as it may I am quite happy with this new toy.

Anyway, I am trolling genres and I come across the following:

"Critically acclaimed dark drama"

It's an official genre, for Christ sake so stop giving me shit.

Ciao, baby.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Just Practicing

John is the kind of guy you don't want to mess with.

Fists the size of hams and liberally scarred. An awkward limp, kind of a limp with a limp, and a scowl that will challenge your words right back into your mouth.

Most days you can find him behind the local diner, next to the dumpster, in a stained apron, smoke in hand, shivering in the cold. No coat.

Taking a break. The break that is rightfully his. You can see that in his eyes.

John is 47. All the other pukes who take their breaks out back are a lot younger than John. The boys are soft and naïve but they act tough and street-wise. Which only makes them more pathetic.

The girls look like slut wannabes. Lipstick that goes beyond sexy to absurd. Spines bent back, breasts thrust forward,  promises they are not woman enough to deliver on.

They don't talk to him, nor he to them. Nods suffice.

No one knows John's story. Except the boss. Paulie. But Paulie isn't talking. John and Paulie have a respectful relationship. Not a lot of words are exchanged but those words carry weight.

John does his thing and Paulie does his.

It works.

A lot of rumors surround John, bizarre violent tales, a colorful history that has no evidence to support it.

People love to talk. Especially about people they don't understand.

There was one incident, though.

A guy sitting at the counter giving the waitress a hard time. Doing his version of flirting based on the assumption that young girls like older guys with beer bellies, grey hair, and $8/hour jobs.

You know the type. Kind of guy who buys two handles of rot gut vodka every other day and tells the clerk every time "You know this stuff ain't half bad. Especially for the price."

The waitress warned him off once or twice, then signaled for John out of the kitchen.

John walked out slowly, leaned over the counter and asked the guy to knock it off or leave, in a whisper. A menacing whisper.

Cheap vodka causes brain damage. The guy mouthed off one more time.

John grabbed him by the throat, one handed, lifted him off the stool long enough for a stain to spread across the front of the guy's pants, then bounced him off the opposite wall.

The guy left a nice tip.

Kissing The Chiropractor

I haven't formed a full impression of Chiro Man yet.

I have had two abbreviated sessions, in only one of which he did any manipulatin'.

I do feel comfortable with him. Mainly because he took X-rays one day and turned around the next day and gave me a detailed analysis of what's going on. Giving me the exact same information I had to beat out of Dr.Feelgood's assistant later on.

Tomorrow will be the first full chiropractic appointment. I cannot fucking wait. I am expecting miracles. Full cessation of pain.

Not really, but if he even lessens it a bit, if he provides for me hope where previously there has been none, I will kiss him right on the lips.

The only other thing I have taken away from the two visits is the "cool device" factor.

He used some kind of Ghostbusters thing on the first visit, rolling it up my spine and feeding etch a sketch info to a screen in front of me.

On the second visit he used a tiny jack hammer to manipulate my vertebrae. It beeped when the vertebrae moved.

Pretty cool.

It did provide relief. Not from the pain, but I could turn my head a lot easier, which is huge.

Right now the range of motion for my hat rack of a head (description courtesy of my Dad) is quite limited. And when I turn it I can hear crunching in the neck. Tip my head back and I will get a snap, like a cracked knuckle, almost every time.

Very weird and somewhat disconcerting.

So I think I am going to like his tools.

I can't help but think of Jack Nicholson, playing The Joker, in Batman, marveling at all of Batman's tricks. Saying, in typical Nicholson fashion,

"Where does he get all those wonderful toys?"

You Can Add Bifocals To The List

Here I am cruising along in life, acting the pretty boy, telling myself I am young at heart and that gives me a fighting chance.

Until the last couple of months of last year.

And then - BOOM.

Pinched nerve in the neck. Or something quite like it, since the esteemed medical community cannot quite pin it down. Constant pain, no sleep. Nothing but guesses from the medical community as to what exactly is going on and how to deal with it.

High blood pressure. For some reason HBP freaks me out. Since they hit me with the vitals I keep expecting to explode. When I check it on my own at Rite Aid, in the company of the shuffling elderly, and it is sky high, I come home and sit in the recliner expecting a heart attack to take me out.

Although the physician's assistant did sooth me with the "high blood pressure kills over time" approach. That brought me down a little, so now when the BP is sky high I pour a triple shot of brown liquid in bold disdain.

Just kidding.

Yesterday I get my eyes checked out and walk out of there with a prescription for bifocals.

Jesus Christ I suddenly feel like I am 107.

To top it all off I was scheduled for an MRI this morning. I felt strangely calm since the appointment was made. I am not a guy who enjoys being cramped in small spaces unless I am standing up doing something illegal. But I was calm last night, I was calm getting there this morning.

Walked into the room and thought to myself "this ain't gonna be so bad." The machine did not look as intimidating as I expected. In fact it looked like there might be some elbow room in there.

The ladies told me all the pertinent stuff, and when I asked how long I would be in there they told me thirty minutes.

I wasn't expecting that. I thought ten, maybe fifteen minutes.

I laid down, they started to crank me in and that was it. I told myself to just keep my eyes shut and I would be all right. I was only in up to my waist, I opened my eyes and the ceiling of this thing was within inches of my face.

It had been approximately five seconds.

Let me out. Get me out. Now.

I freaked. Soiled my pants, fell to my knees sobbing like a red headed step child being beaten once again, I flailed my arms around and rotated my head like Linda Blair, wailing and gnashing my teeth.

Not really.

The ladies were quite soothing, telling me it happens all the time and there would be no charge. I can hear Carol sighing deeply in relief over the financial news.

But there is no getting around it. I felt like a loser. I was embarrassed. I could not believe I could not defeat this thing.

Again, I felt old. I felt weak.

I was pissed because I really want whatever info this evil contraption can deliver about my battered body. So that maybe, just maybe, the medical wizards can look me in the eye and say "We know exactly what is wrong with you and how we are going to relieve your pain."

Wishful thinking, I'm sure, regarding a group of people who would rather procreate with insurance and pharmaceutical companies than with genuine humans.

Typical conversation between a doctor and his wife after orgasm: Wife:"Wow that was mind blowing. Was it good for you?" doctor: "Yeah, definitely. Let me tell you about this new gimmick the insurance company came up with today, you wanna talk mind blowing."

I'm telling you right now I am never going near another MRI machine in my life.


It is freaky as heel, the ceiling of the thing even resembles the inside of a coffin. Kind of. Maybe.

I got to wondering who the hell would design a torture chamber like this. There has to be a better way to do this.

As I walked way in abject defeat, I looked back and saw, on the side of the machine, "Deluxe Marquis De Sade model." Complete with a computer generated signature.

I am feeling set upon. And more desperate every day. Closer to the edge.

Right now I blow up in my car, I yell in the bathroom, I punch things, I kick things. I clench my teeth a lot, I exhale slowly at those moments when I can keep from yelling. Always alone except for one incident at work.

Sooner or later I am going to be walking down the street muttering to myself and kidnapping baby carriages.

But I bought an elephant today. A Lucky Elephant. A tiny, metal elephant that I fell in love with and trust implicitly.

It came with this sentiment printed on a card:

"I have a lucky elephant and I want you to know, he's my good friend and companion wherever I may go.

His trunk is always pointed upwards and if ever I am stuck, he helps me get through anything, giving confidence and good luck.

You may think I'm superstitious and maybe you are right, but to have my little lucky elephant brings me nothing but delight."


He came with instructions: "This lucky little elephant may be carried in a pocket, held or placed on a shelf."

I am pretty sure things are about to turn around for me.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Just Practicing

I need to make one thing crystal clear. Me being here, alone, in St John's Evangelist Church has absolutely nothing to do with religion. Or prayer. Or Jesus. Or any other mystical, magical goddamn thing.

It has everything to do with life.

I mean, it's Tuesday afternoon in the middle of January. Who the hell goes to church on Tuesday?

I spent a lot of time here as a kid. Well, maybe not a lot, but what time I did spend here was compulsory. Parental edict.

I was never impressed with the place or the people. There is enough hypocrisy in the world without going out of the way to concentrate it in one place one day a week for an hour or so.

Seemed like a dangerous concept to me.

The building should have exploded. All those people pretending to be one thing, revealed for who they truly are, in the presence of God, seems to me there should have been some kind of reckoning.

But there wasn't. Maybe that reality sowed the seeds of cynicism in my twisted mind towards religion.

It is dark today. Raining and cold. This suits me fine. I don't think I could handle sunshine glorified through stained glass trying to make its way into my soul.

As long as no well intentioned priest makes his way into my reverie, I should be all right.

Maybe not all right. Its going to take a lot more than the House of God to make my life all right. As that thought crosses my mind, I realize it is a pretty heavy statement.

I don't have it that bad. Life piled up on me and backed me into corners I never planned on visiting, but I did end up with a family, a home, a job. Precious commodities in this day and age.

Some sort of health. I'm not incapacitated, I am not dead.

What I am is empty. I could never have predicted the weight that empty can carry.

Slowly, as you make your way through life, your insides get scooped out, little by little. Empty takes up the space and somehow manages to keep you upright and moving.

When I talk to people, it is a horror movie for me. Obscene. I cannot believe the stuff that comes out of their mouths and I have to wonder how their minds function. Do they believe the trash they are putting out there, do they think I believe the bullshit or do they just chalk it up to another grand performance?

Jobspeak, the blatant lies that float the working world. My boss lies to me and I to him. The company lies in their "mission statement" and exploits the customers to greater profits that do not trickle down to the working stiff.

Advertisements. Everything is an advertisement today. Selling you overpriced shit you don't need until they make you think you need it.

The world didn't used to feel this small. There was room to maneuver. There appeared to be room to maneuver, anyway.

I guess it is all about appearances. Smoke and mirrors. If I knew the truth about life early on, I might have.............actually I don't have a fucking clue what I would have done.

I suspected the bullshit. It is in your gut to look at your parents and the world they created and stagger back in incredulity.

Somehow that sensor gets turned off.

I have St John's today. Dark, peace, the weird vibe of hope a church puts out even as your logical mind rebels against it. The rebellion gets weaker as the years pile on.

I would be a hypocrite to pray. Or to ask Jesus for an answer. That is not what I am here for.

I think maybe I am looking for communion, some sort of communion of the spirit. A feeling of genuineness that can grow into hope.

Something to make me believe my life as I created it is not wasted, that I can rescue it, turn it around and walk into, even at this late stage, the life that should have been.

Something to fill the empty.


Just spent a few minutes dancewashing the dishes to Dean Martin.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Personal Assessment

I have been toying with this idea for a couple of weeks now. As part of year end, new year reflection.

Going back and forth trying to figure out the value of this exercise. I have been thinking about exposing my soul with brutal honesty, in here. To establish a baseline for change.

The time seems right. I am away from work for 8 more days. I feel like I have been viciously abused during this time and that it has caused me great harm. It has ended with me in physical as well as psychological distress.

I am raw. I cannot go on like this. I need to deal with myself.

This time that I have off is enormously important to me. I am dedicated to creating a clear path to job change and I am dedicated to beginning a process to change things about myself.

What follows is what I consider to be an honest assessment of me by me.

The bad stuff:

I am selfish. My Aunt Dina called me on my birthday and all I could think about was getting off the phone. She is in her mid eighties and has been on my side all my life, taking an interest in me and Carol and my sons and their women. Even as I recognized my selfishness during the conversation, still I could not wait to get off the phone. That is only one small example of hundreds I could unearth for you.

I am a coward. I avoid confrontation. I have adopted a life long "nice guy" personae that allows me to nod and smile as people say things that royally piss me off. A nice guy personae that I despise. As I am being nice I want to vomit because I do have strong opinions but I do not express them. I would rather let the idiots do the talking.

I have no self confidence. Absolutely none. So everything frightens me. I don't think I can handle anything or deal with anyone so I am always afraid and off balance.

I am lazy. I know in my soul that with maximum effort I can earn money from writing. But I don't put out the effort. I don't know why.

I am a lousy husband to my loving wife because I allow all my insecurities and personal drawbacks to affect our relationship. She gets my poison.

The good stuff:

I am an intelligent man. Above average. I can get smarter with more effort and then use my intelligence to improve my life. Knowledge is power.

I am passionate. Passion is the essence of life. Passion keeps you moving, it keeps you energized, it fans the spark in your soul to a flame that can burn your life through the world. My passion can get me anywhere I want to go. I have to be brave enough to use it.

I am sensitive. Extremely so. Sensitivity complements passion. Feeling is what life is all about. You have to feel life to experience life.

I am creative. I have a mind that sees things differently and the talent to express those thoughts. This is a gift, a supreme gift.

I have a sense of humor. Some call it dark. Doesn't matter. I can laugh. Laughter soothes the soul.

I am loving. I have an unlimited capacity to love.

I could go on with both the good and the bad but I think I got the important stuff down.

I have cut back on the drinking. A lot. High blood pressure did that but I find that I am comfortable with it. It is the right thing to do.

I will be seeing a psychiatrist soon. I am not smart enough to cut through all this on my own.

This break from work is a vacation. It is also my time to initiate change. Important changes that will positively impact my life.

I have said it before and failed.

This time it feels like the time is right.

It's Bad For Ya

I dialed up "It's Bad For Ya" last Saturday shortly before lumbering out of the recliner to prepare for a night out with those two loony toons - Jason and Karen.

"It's Bad For Ya" was George Carlin's 19th and final comedy album and his 14th and final HBO stand up comedy special. It was televised live on March 1, 2008 on HBO, less than four months before he died of heart failure at the age of 71.

First of all I want to point out that the first words out of Carlin's mouth that night were something along the lines of "Before I get started, I just want to say Fuck Lance Armstrong." He went on for a minute or two beating up on Armstrong and then he said "and while I'm at it, Fuck Tiger Woods too. And Fuck Dr. Phil."

Please note - this special aired well before Armstrong giving up on fighting doping charges and a year before Woods' sex scandal.

Carlin was attacking them when they were still popular and doing it on the premise that he was sick of being told who to idolize.

Probably my favorite thing about George Carlin. The enormous size of his balls. The fact that he was his own man and a guy who could think creatively and cut through the bullshit. He was not afraid to point out our passive pension for eating what we are fed instead of thinking on our own.

I saw in his eyes the same thing I see in Bill Maher's eyes. When the audience laughs along with his point of view, he was thinking and Maher is thinking "I'm talking about a lot of you."

Instead of wallowing in the applause, they look out at the audience in subtle challenge.

I have to tie everything in to me, as you know. When that special aired I remember thinking that Carlin looked old. In the previous special he was George Carlin. In this special he was old George Carlin.

He was 70. By the way, he does an excellent bit about being old in this special.

Saturday even as I worshipped his mind and his words, I got to thinking about where I am at. I am young at heart and often taken to be much younger than I am.

What I am going through right now feels like it is aging me. Stress, constant pain and lack of sleep are not major ingredients in the recipe for eternal youth.

I used to do light weight work to keep my arms solid. I can't right now and my arms have shrunk; they are flabby. I am losing weight and my face is getting thinner. I feel weak, I feel tired, I feel vulnerable.

This does not please me.

In a way I have always thought it would be interesting when I lost the pretty boy thing and turned into an ugly, old troll. I was OK with it happening naturally. I am uncomfortable with the process being accelerated.

If it happens, if I come out of this looking ten years older, I'll have to adopt Carlin's point of view.

How you can get out of anything by pretending to be tired. How you never have to lift anything heavy anymore because everybody wants to help you. How you can forget anything - even important things - without embarrassment because people expect you to.

Typical Carlin: "Today was my daughter's funeral? I forgot."

Loved the man.

It hit me hard in 2008 and even harder last Saturday to see such a vigorous, ballsy, vibrant, intelligent guy suddenly appear old. You would think a guy with that much spunk and guts and intelligence and life in him could defeat the aging process. Despite all the cocaine abuse and heart attacks.

If he aged that quickly, what is in store for me? Passive liver of my own life.

One more thing for me to consider right now. One more reason for me to fight as hard as I can to get through this physical bullshit and change my life and my me.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Shot To The Soul

"One of my da's tragedies was always the fact that he was bright enough to understand just how comprehensively he had shat all over his life. He would have been a lot better off thick as a plank."

From "Faithful Place" by  Tana French

Oh What A Night

Killer night last night.

Went out with Jason and Karen to dig on Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

Now vibe-wise it was an enormous gamble. We bought the tickets months ago. Unfortunately the concert ended up being the same night as THE PATS Divisional playoff game. Jason and I manned up and went to the concert anyway, but we were sweating blood.

First things first. Dinner at The Common man. We had a magnificent dinner at The Common Man. I chowed on Cajun steak tips and I was taste bud glorious.

Carol created a bit of a scene. Sitting in the bar waiting for our cutesy buzzer to go off and she raised her voice to the bartender. He was taken aback. Told her she didn't have to yell at him and then he summoned security, who immediately cuffed her.

I applied the old Joe-smoothy-charm and convinced them it was only the fancy margaritas she was throwing back like water, and that it was a one time situation and a special night. They acquiesced and removed the cuffs.

We repaired to the dining room and enjoyed culinary magnificence. Good conversation. Much laughter.

I wrote a Haiku on the tablecloth. I am really talented.

Carol was a little high strung and afraid we would be late for the concert. She beat and battered and abused the waiter, repeatedly telling him "We don't have a lot of time. You better move this thing along, sonny."

In her defense we were victimized by the whole call-ahead bullshit. What a load of crap. When I was a wee young lad, restaurants had this thing called reservations. You reserved a dinner time and when you arrived you were taken to your table. You honored the reservation by being on time, the restaurant honored the reservation by seating you promptly.

Then restaurants lost their balls and started "call-aheads." The most useless thing in the universe. I called at 5:00, told them we would be there by 6:00. Phone fool told me there was no wait at all when I called (of course not - early bird special, Seinfeld etc.), but if there was a wait at 6:00 the call ahead would save a lot of time.

We got there at 5:45. Got seated at 6:30. They even buzzed us once and then told us they prompted the wrong buzzer. We left the bar, we went back to the bar. Had we been seated on time there would have been no anxiety about being late for the concert.

The concert: I won't even talk about the opening act. A local rock band stuck in the sixties. Called The Tripping Souls. You figure it out.

Then Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. I became aware of them years ago but never really got to know them. Carol fell in love with them a few years ago; we missed them last year so here we were.

This band rocks. Supremely talented musicians. They play old tymey swing music, big band type stuff. They cover classics, they play originals.

The individual musicians solo in almost every song and they solo exquisitely. They absolutely wail.

Frankly I am surprised that they are as popular as they are. Typically, supremely talented musicians command a niche audience. People who understand exactly what the musician is accomplishing with his instrument.

Although the music that BBVD plays is quite catchy and I think that has a lot to do with it. The audience is treated to gifted musicians because the audience is attracted to the music.

The concert was absolutely fantastic and I was happy to see Carol digging it so thoroughly. I already ordered a CD.

THEN: We scuttle across the street to the local sports bar to catch the end of THE PATS game. Walked in with 15:00 on the screen. The start of the fourth quarter.

I was supremely happy.

29 - 22 PATS at the time. A very thin, quite precarious lead. Especially considering Cro Magnon Man Andrew Luck's propensity for come backs.

Shortly after we walked in THE PATS blew the game wide open.

There are millions of PATS fans out there. Devoted followers. All vibing THE PATS on to victory.

However, had I not walked in to The Draft at the beginning of the fourth quarter, THE PATS would have lost. I am claiming sole responsibility for THE PATS win last night and I expect the exalted recognition that achievement deserves.

All in all a magnificent night. The only drawback was the fact that I was quite uncomfortable and in some pain all night due to this goddamn neck thing. And Jason was sick as a dog with a nasty cold to accompany the back pain he has been struggling with for months.

In The Draft I noticed Carol and Karen huddled together, eyeballing all the young studly drunken lads and whispergiggling in conversation.

I caught bits and pieces of it. Something like.........." dump these old men and snag us a couple of  young bloods that can keep up with us."

I might have been hallucinating.

Hard to tell.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Brain Up

Here is a word you or I will never use.

"Inchoate" - being only partly in existence or operation. Imperfectly formed or formulated.

Pronounced in- ko -et.

I have heard the word before. I am aware of it's existence. I am glad that words like this exist. They make the fabric of life more richly textured.

I am wondering if I can use the word to describe myself. It seems appropriate but I am not sure it is the correct usage of the word.

I most recently heard it used just the other day.


What a surprise.

Love. When Will We Learn?

On April 24, 2013, an eight story commercial building collapsed in Bangladesh.

1,129 people died. 2,515 injured people were rescued.

The building contained clothing factories, a bank, apartments and several shops.

The bank and shops on the lower floors immediately closed when cracks were found in the building. Warnings were issued to stop using the building after the cracks appeared; these warnings were ignored by the garment factories. Garment workers were ordered to return the following day.

The building collapsed during the morning rush hour.

I was sitting in the waiting room, waiting for my turn at bat with the physician's assistant, after returning from my glorious McDonald's breakfast and solitary reverie.

I started flipping through Time magazine's annual "The Year in Pictures" issue.

The first picture I came across stopped me dead in my tracks.

A Bangladesh couple, buried in the rubble, embracing in death.

I could not turn the page.

It is without a doubt the most haunting photograph I have ever seen.

Eventually I kept my finger in that page as I leafed through other pictures. I kept skipping back.

When my name was called I flipped back one more time and seared that image into my mind and my heart and my soul.

The bodies are buried from the waist down. The woman's back is arched, her head is tipped back, her right arm, bent at the elbow, lies across her right breast, touching the top of the man's head.

The man's left arm is wrapped around her body, his left hand behind her back. His head rests on her right breast. Blood trickles from his left eye like tears.

These people died because their employer did not give a damn about their safety. If you think that cold-hearted employer mentality does not exist in America you are a fool.

These people had to go to work. They needed the job, they needed the money. To their employer they were nothing but cheap labor. Cheap lives.

Nameless, faceless. Expendable.

In the face of unspeakable horror, looking into death's eyes as the harshest of truths stared back, they had each other. They had love.

What else do we need to know?

They wrapped their arms around each other and died. I don't know how to get at this, I am not quite sure what to say.

Love. Love, for Christ sake. Nothing else matters. We all know that. We know it because of the comfort we feel in our soul when a loved one comforts us nakedly, openly, with honesty exposed and the soul vulnerable.

Those moments you experience, if you are lucky enough, when you drop the defenses and reveal your true humanity to another and that trust is rewarded with love.

Nobody cared about these people. They were just a number. Just bodies to fill spaces to produce product. Bodies to be exploited and abused.

But they knew in their hearts that they were more than that. They understood their own humanity, they had dreams, they had hope.

They probably spent more time every day in that soul-less factory than they did actually living their lives. I picture them, in the brief moments they had together at home, plotting and planning a life. Talking about what they wanted, luxuriating in what made them happy.

However small.

Ultimately, when death came calling, when their employer brazenly signed their execution warrant, they wrapped their arms around each other in love.

They stared death down in love.

It feels like the ultimate declaration of love to me. And the ultimate testimony to the power of love.

A mind blowing, raw truth moment getting right to the heart of what life is.

That's what I got out of that picture. That's what I got out of that powerful cross section of love and death.

Google it yourself.

See what it does for you.