Wednesday, April 30, 2014


"The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition."

Carl Sagan

Three Ducks In A Row; Nature Is Cool

I get home from work the other night in a miserable mood.

Once again I let this ridiculous job get the better of me. I was feeling murderous.

As I prepare to pull into the driveway I see three birds across the street by the mailbox.

Plump little suckers. Short to the ground, a lot of red about the head and beak.

I figure they gotta be bald eagles. Or ducks. Or sparrows. Or pelicans.

I am a city boy. I don't know a goddamn thing about birds.

I pull in to the driveway, shut The Big Ride down and look into the rear view mirror.

All three birds are waddle-strutting across the street and straight down my driveway. Not tentatively. Enthusiastically. Like we are going to check this guy out; see what he is all about.

Right then and there I laughed. They were so goddamn cute and determined, quizzical and unafraid.

I slowly exited my glorious car so as not to spook them. I did not even shut the door. They kept right on marching. Right up to the back of the car.

I talked to them. How you guys doing? What's up? Who are you? Where you headed?

They milled around, looking at me with no fear.

After a couple of minutes responsibility kicked in. As much as I wanted to, I could not talk to these guys all night. There was a bag of kitty litter crying out from the trunk so I popped the trunk, assuming it would startle my fine feathered friends.

It did not. They did not budge. At that point I figured maybe I could get up real close, maybe pat them a little, let them know I am one of the good guys.

No chance. I took a step or two, they went on hyper alert and by the third step they were off into the woods.

Slowly. Waddle-strutting. Off to the next adventure.

The thought process obviously was: "We are curious but we are not fucking stupid. After all, you are a human being."

Smart birds.

I grabbed the bag of kitty litter and walked back into what some people consider reality.

Told Carol the story. She laughed. She theorized they were pheasants.

I checked that out on line. I think she is right.

Anybody want to put those cuties under glass - I would have to kill him.

As I Continue to Age


I am wearing fucking tri-focals now. TRI.

Been wearing bi-focals for a couple of months but there was something wrong there, baby. The distance part worked for DISTANCE. Unfortunately, 75% of my looking occurs in the middle ground. The distance part was too much, the close up part was grotesquely inconvenient.

The only way to make it work was to tilt my head up to the sky and look down.

I started switching back and forth between my reading glasses and the bi-focals. I needed the reading glasses for computer obligations and middle distance stuff, the bi-babies for length.

What a pain in the ass.

Of course I kept getting caught with the wrong glasses on, like when I'm sitting at the computer and I have to suddenly run down to the register to kiss some customer's ass. I could see the register fine but the customer's face was a blur.

Which is not a bad thing.

Or I would head out back to grab a precious case of wine, wearing the bi-focals and be unable to read the labels unless I grabbed the glasses off my nose and raised them up enough to look through the bottom.

In addition I swear the bi's were tinted somehow, someway. I never really felt like I was seeing distance clearly. My eyes were strained. When I wore the reading glasses it was like looking through a window. Clear. With the bi-focals it was like looking through plastic. I was never comfortable with them.

I gave up with all the adjustments and switching and settled for an almost permanent blur.

Finally got fed up and went in to see Dr. Eyeball and he suggested tri-focals.

I thought, great, now I am going to look like a bobble head doll, constantly moving my head around to see through the appropriate window.

Not so. I picked up the tri's yesterday. This is the good part of the story. To make up for all the previous whining.

I love them. I adapted immediately. I no longer need to switch to reading glasses to sit at the computer. I no longer need to switch to anything at all.

Distance is clear, middle ground is clear, reading is divine. The only small inconvenience is that if I am talking to you up close you are in the middle distance. I have to tip my head back to get to the middle of the lens. Feels a tad uncomfortable but it ain't no big deal.

60 has kicked my ass. Pinched nerve. Bi-focals. Tri-focals. High blood pressure.

I'm kicking back.

I will not go gentle into that good night.

The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent And Depraved

I feel exactly as if I have been spit out the end of a meat grinder.

Which, of course I have.

Just did a stretch of 9 consecutive at Lompoc, and man did it suck. 7 days of exquisite torture followed by, caped off by, two solid days of physical extreme. Typical of this job. No break ever.

When a new sale starts, last month's displays have to come down or get moved around to new locations. New displays get set up. This results in an overwhelming amount of moving boxes of booze around.

They get heavy. They get real heavy.

Today I am physically and mentally exhausted. Of course I get mentally exhausted making the decision about what to eat for breakfast, so no big deal there.

But my back hurts, my legs hurt, my ego hurts and I am just down right wiped out.

Luckily I have one whole day to recover.

I'm feeling kind of bitter, kind of blue. Work 9 consecutive days and my one day off, on April 30, it is raining. Dark. Cold.

What kind of justice exists in that equation?

However......................, I do have today off. I am going to write because I must. I will kiss my cats. I will cook for Carol and we will enjoy a delightful meal and The Sox together.

I am going to clean. I am dedicating the entire afternoon to cleaning.

A brief explanation.

Keith's birthday falls on May 3. Used to be, way back in the way back, we would engineer a large family gathering to celebrate the birth date of our first born son. Coincidentally, his birthday falls right around Kentucky Derby Day. So we would gather on Derby Saturday, celebrate and incorporate the Derby into the  goings on, complete with a Derby pool.

It was an enjoyable tradition.

It died.

Kids grow up, they move on, nephews marry and have kids of their own, parents die, scheduling becomes impossible.

Or seemingly so.

In my obsessive quest to make 2014 The Year of Fun & Family, I have revived the tradition.

It hasn't turned out the way I wanted it to. First of all, neither of my sons or their women can make it. My brother can't make it. Paula & Bill can't make it.

These people are what I considered to be the core of the celebration.

In addition, our nephew Paul and his family cannot make it. This was a blow.


Sarge is coming and so is John. Kevin and Tawnya. Jeff and his family are coming.  Jason & Karen.

We will have a great time. We will have resuscitated a family tradition. And it will grow. We have planted a seed. Next year will be bigger; the year after that even bigger.

Carol and I are excited.

But I must clean. I will do so willingly and with extreme prejudice.

I will relax as well, I will smile here and there, I will re-connect with my soul just a bit.

Screw my job. It ain't nuthin' compared to the year I got in mind.

Kicked it off with a perfect day at Fenway. This is Step Two.

You better stay the hell out of my way for the next four months.

I am going to be a rolling, flaming, screaming ball of fun.

Editor's note: The title for this entry was stolen from Hunter S. Thompson. Early on in his career he was given the assignment to cover The Derby. What was expected was a reverent piece on this hallowed tradition. What they got was the truth. Hunter wrote about the insane drunkenness, the gambling and the class snobbery. In typical Hunter style.

It was magnificent.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Genuine Wishes

OK, it is Saturday and I want you to be happy.

The following post is on the dark side so this post is designed to offset that a bit.

I truly want you to be happy. I hope you have the day off. I hope you are doing things that you love with people that you love.

I hope you are experiencing a sense of peace that lowers your blood pressure enough, and slows down your heart beat enough, that you can directly communicate with your soul. That you can actually hear your soul; feel your soul.

I hope you smile a lot today.

Christ, I hope you laugh out loud a lot today.

Have a blast.

This Is What Killed Me

I don't remember where I am along the road of keeping you posted on my reading progress.

I finished "Money" by Martin Amis. It was excellent.

I moved on to "The Moviegoer", by Walker Percy. This is classified as literature.

I get a kick out of these distinctions. At the upper left side of the back cover it says "fiction/literature."

As if adding the word literature makes it a better read.

Stephen King books do not say "fiction/literature" and I know this pisses him off. I read once where he railed against these pompous classifications.

Anyway, back to "Money." The book is about a guy who works behind the scenes in the porn industry. Producer, director, whatever. He makes a lot of money. He is obsessed with money.

He drinks a lot, parties a lot, is generally unreliable and eventually his life falls apart.

I am not here to talk about that today.

Somewhere in the story he says "Money is a suicide note."

Boom. Instant connection with my diseased and battered brain.

Money is indeed the ultimate suicide note. The great majority of us spend our entire lives, actually devote our entire lives, to making sure we have enough of it.

Most of us fall short.

Money overrides everything. We literally kill ourselves in pursuit of it. We have no choice.

Many are the cutesy clichés about family first, stopping to smell the roses and etc., but the truth is we spend the majority of our time prostrating ourselves before someone else (usually an unworthy someone else) to get our greasy little hands on dollar bills.

What a horrendous waste of life. Especially when you factor in the awareness that this drive to survive is actually killing us.

I have said it before and I will say it again. Whoever drew up the blueprint for life was a sadist.

At some point in our lives we should grab a dollar bill and write a suicide note on it. Reach on down to the darkest part of your soul and write whatever lurks there.

Or write your happiness on that note. I am told that some people are actually happy.

No matter what you write, still, it is a suicide note.

Carry the bill around in your wallet and make sure those responsible for your disposal when you are dead know that this note is to be part of the ceremony.

As I think about this it occurs to me that one sentence covers it all. I intend to copyright this idea and this sentence so I can profit handsomely from mortality.

Every death dollar should read: "This is what killed me."

Every Day

Part of the fallout from the pinched nerve episode is a lifetime (or what's left of it) of "exercises."

Chiro Man calls them exercises. They really aren't. They are stretches or maneuvers.

The one that has the most impact is one where I roll a towel up, shove it under my neck and lie on the floor for ten minutes. It stretches out my spine and it definitely relieves pressure.

Ominously, Chiro Man told me to plan on doing that maneuver every day "for the rest of my life."

At first that sounded foreboding. Then I realized if that will help to keep the pain away, then it is a glorious addition to my daily routine.

I lie on the floor every day, sometimes twice in a day, and Lakota climbs up on my belly. It is a precious, sweet moment.

She lies down, makes herself comfortable and sometimes dozes off.

I love that. Initially, she is purring away. The purring begins to fade and, every once in a while, she lets out the big sigh, the purring stops and she is asleep.

These goddamn cats.

I love them so much.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Are You Serious?

Yankee pitcher Michael Pineda got ejected in the second inning of a game against the Red Sox for openly smearing pine tar on his neck.

He has since been suspended for 10 games.

The story originated the last time he pitched against the Sox because he had the stuff smeared on his hand.

Everybody made a big deal out of that. Outrage. You can't do that, it is not allowed. But nothing was done because John Farrell did not object.

This time Farrell went to the ump and Pineda was ejected.

This is the most blatant demonstration of hypocrisy I have ever seen in my life.

Open hypocrisy. Hypocrisy unhidden.

The commentators were outraged by Pineda's callous disregard of the rules.

The unwritten rules.

All sports have unwritten rules, understandings between players, understandings between managers and coaches, understandings on the part of officials. Many of them are amusing.

Ever watch a batter argue a call with the home plate ump? He does not look the ump in the eye. That is the unwritten rule. You don't look the ump in the eye when you are arguing balls and strikes. So the batter looks at the ground or to the side, which appears ridiculous.

However when you get ejected you can look him right in the eye and call him every disgusting, insulting thing in the book, including nasty remarks regarding the ump's mother, wife, kids and pets.

That's OK.

As the commentators were getting furiously outraged at Pineda they kept saying: "Everybody does it. Pitchers do it all the time to give them better grip in the cold. Or more control when they lose their speed and have to rely on sexy pitches. But everybody hides it. They put the pine tar inside their waistband or under the bill of their cap. They don't openly smear it on their bodies."

They also admitted that pine tar does not alter the way the ball reacts and that batters feel good about it because it means they won't get hit in the face with a pitch.

The argument was "yes, it is illegal but everybody knows about it and everybody looks the other way, as long as it is somewhat hidden."

Are you serious?

I love the fact that Pineda did this. Maybe the waistband doesn't work for him. Maybe the bill of the cap doesn't work for him.

I do things differently at work and I have had co-workers tell me my ways are strange.

Really? and you can kiss my ass.

I have to do what is comfortable to me.

Maybe Pineda was making a statement. I don't know. Why choose a statement that is guaranteed to cost you and will not change anything given the deep rooted culture and traditions of baseball?

As far as commentator and league reactions go, typically when you are dripping with hypocrisy, you are too stupid to know it or smart enough to do it behind people's backs.

You don't broadcast your hypocrisy to the world.

What should happen is the illegal use of pine tar should be recognized and punished across the board. Or the rules should be amended to make it legal.

Pineda should not have been punished.

The league should be punished.


I don't get Easta.

Apparently Easter is a pretty big deal. It is one of only three days in the entire year that the NH State Liquor Commission deems important enough to close all its stores. Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving. And you know, given American culture and the callousness of big business, even those three days are not sacred. I can only hope that I am no longer a puppet of the NHSLC when they get to the point when 365 days a year are a requirement.

The NH State Liquor Commission is one of the greediest, cold-hearted and uncaring organizations on the planet, especially when it comes to their employees. So you know it is heavy duty stuff for them to close on Easta. Must be a lot of pressure to do so. Otherwise I would have been wearing my Easter bonnet at the register on April 20.

There is a lot of frenzy connected with the approach to Easta. There's a lot of buying going on, as Scrooge himself said while licking his chops, as the Ghost of Christmas something or other was showing him situations to teach him a lesson.

A lesson Scrooge learned, by the way. A lesson the New Hampshire State Liquor Commission will never learn.

A hellacious amount of booze got sold on the two days just before Easter. Insanity. A lot of stories were told of family get togethers. Large family get togethers.

One guy told us that he was having over forty people to the house. He would be shooting off canons and he had a Mexican trio that would be performing for his guests.

I did not make that up.

I get Christmas. Magical time of year, lights, trees, presents. Attempts to take the sting out of winter. It is not a religious thing for most of the people who celebrate it. It is merely an opportunity to destroy their credit ratings, enjoy family and friends in a kind of pleasant LSD atmosphere, and to gaze silently into baubles and bangles and Christmas lights and reflect.

Easta is not a religious thing for most people either. But it seems to take on the same magnitude of meaning as Christmas does for most people.

I don't get it. To me, Easta is Christmas with eggs.

4th of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day - these loom large for most people as well. But there is an air of insanity about them. Desperate release, a determined conviction to kick life in the teeth and get crazy. Or just relax.

These holidays do not have that family feel about them.

Easta does.

I don't get it.

I like it because I like anything that celebrates family over commerce. Anything that promotes meaningful celebrations that make life real; make life worth living.

It's just that when I do the Christmas thing, I get a warm feeling inside. A glow not originated by or connected to whiskey consumption. Thanksgiving is The King Of All Holidays. No doubt there.

But Christmas makes me feel good. I enjoy it.

Easta to me is enjoyable as an excuse for getting the family together but it is no different than a weekend barbecue as far as my soul goes.

Maybe I'm missing something.

Karma-wise it is a very good thing that so many people get all family-devoted on Easter. We as human beings need all of that, as much of that as we can get. When that many people simultaneously put out a loving vibe, a human vibe, it shifts the evil vibe in the world just a tiny bit.

Although we are fighting a losing battle on an exponentially increasing scale, it is vitally important as often as possible to poke a finger in the eye of those who would strip us of our humanity.

Hope you had a good, a loving, a family oriented  Easta.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Twisted Little Man

He was a twisted little man on the inside. Horribly so. Unrecognizably so.

He wore a smile on the outside for all the world to see. It was a practiced smile; it appeared genuine. Most would never see through the façade. Anyone who could get past the façade would shrink back in horror. The contradiction between the facial expression and what was going on inside was grotesque.

He was a twisted little man on the inside. Gnarled, contorted, burned, ravaged, deformed. His essence had been hollowed out, the void filled in with disappointment, surprise, hatred, shame, hopelessness and fear. All bubbling like the most corrosive of acid, which in fact they were. Eating him out from the inside. An odor so acrid he could detect nothing else.

Still, no one else noticed.

He walked through the world with confidence, jokes, a sense of humor and a sense of the absurd. Everybody liked him. They liked him for the wrong reasons. They liked him for the part he played. A part he played superbly. A part rehearsed endlessly since he became a sentient being.

A long time. A very long time.

He did not like himself nor did he like the character he inhabited. Self loathing in his soul and on the stage. Yeah, add that to the list . The list of things that filled the void. Self loathing.

Talk about method acting. His life was a testament to method acting. He never broke character unless he was alone or sleeping. But there was a gulf between the part he played and the real him, as there must be with all things imaginary, and that gulf, that awareness was the spark, the acid, the destroyer that was slowly dissolving his insides.

He lived his life like an animal in a cage. A cage he carried around him always. Projecting effortlessness and grace of movement outwardly; stumbling, gasping and buckling inwardly. It felt to him like he was staggering, forever staggering, lurching about wildly from wrong destination to wrong destination.

Yet the smile persisted. The smile was a smoke screen magically transforming reality into a performance. A command performance enthusiastically applauded.

By others.

He wanted to get at the damage with a scalpel. Get inside and cut and scrape it all away. Leave room and nurturing ground for beauty and essence to re-bound and to flourish.

He suspected this was hopeless. Suspected he was in Stage IV of  the disease; a ruined and wasted life.

He desperately wanted to understand how he allowed this to happen; he wanted an answer. An answer from himself.

He couldn't pinpoint the origin of the disease nor could he fathom why he was never able to defeat it along the way. To throw it off course, to walk a different road.

No magic bullets for him. Not now. Not for the body. Not for the mind.

Although he was filled with poison, consumed by it really, he felt empty.

He was empty.

Monday, April 21, 2014

April 19, 2014

Last Saturday, April 19 in the Year of Our Lord 2014, Carol and I went to Fenway Park.

We don't get there often because we are low wage earners and sporting events today are grotesquely overpriced. We haven't been there for years.

This is a shame because Carol is a mad Red Sox fan and Fenway Park is a fucking church. We won't even talk about THE PATS, which is my thing. Football is so ridiculously expensive that I am officially prohibited from ever again experiencing live the team that I love.

You walk into Fenway and you are blown away by the vibe. The beauty. The history.

I was finely tuned in. This was the first in what I plan on being many memorable events  for us to revel in warmth and looseness over the next four months.

I have become wise at the age of sixty. Even though I plan on visiting Fenway three or four or five more times this year, I know damn well it could be 2021 before we get back there again.

So I was focused. I paid attention. Every pitch, every at bat. I continuously looked around the park, over my head, to the right, to the left, the Green Monster. The crowd. The players. I sang Take Me Out to the Ballgame. I belted out Sweet Caroline.

We have been following The Sox closely and they have been struggling. I told Carol that our game would be the start of something good for The Sox.

They went down 1 zip in the top of the first, thanks to Felix Doubront. But they got a run back in the bottom of the first. That's when I knew it was going to go our way. And Doubront sucked it up after the first and looked pretty good.

Big Papi had a big day. Pedroia had a good day. The Sox won 4 to 2. We saw Koji Uehara get a save and display his over the top enthusiasm. We saw Big Papi throw him over his shoulder.

If we wrote the script ourselves it could not have been more perfect.

It was sixty degrees with bright blue skies. Absolutely perfect. We sat in the stands like Hawaiians digging the beach. We were in heaven.

We sat by Pesky's Pole. First time for us. Very cool seats. Eight rows from the field. Big Papi hit a home run that curled around the pole. Pretty damn close to us. When we got home we watched the replay of the home run, froze it and tried to pick ourselves out of the crowd. Couldn't do it but it didn't matter. We knew we were in that shot.

We signed Pesky's Pole. How cool. How very cool. Our names are on that pole along with our home town. I don't care if they get rained off or painted over. Our names are on Pesky's Pole right now.

After the game we sat in the stands and let the crowd thin out. In fact we hung around until they literally kicked us out.

I drank that park in like nobody's business. My head was on a swivel. I listened to everything, I smelled everything, I looked at everything.

Because I may not get back there until 2021.

We enjoyed this day immensely. And for me it went beyond measurable sensory reception.

I looked at my lovely wife, I watched her and saw how happy she was. Her happiness fed me like the finest meal. My emotions were out of control, knowing how much she was enjoying this day.

Before the game we went shopping for a new Red Sox jacket for her. The one she was wearing was ripped and repaired with tape. Time for a new one.

We walked around a couple of shops. Carol knows what she wants. We looked and looked and looked. She tried a few on.

She finally found one she loved and the price tag was $125. She balked. I began to quietly work on her because I knew she would continue the search even though that was the jacket she wanted.

I kept telling her "if that is the jacket you love, then buy it and forget about the price."

She continued to shop. I would say "that jacket is only $40 less than the one you really like. What is $40?"

She came around. She bought the jacket. She asked the kid to cut the tags off so she could wear it immediately. An awesome jacket with The Sox B on it and, more importantly, the words "2013 World Champions."

That day was heavy for me. I was aware. I was tuned in. I enjoyed every goddamn second of the experience. It could very well have been my best visit to Fenway ever. No exaggeration.

But Carol's jacket, which she wore into the park, her happiness, her contentment, her joy at being in Fenway and seeing The Sox win, along with a Big Papi home run and an Uehara save, signing Pesky's Pole, all of that burned a memory into my brain and into my heart that will sparkle as I look back at The Amazing Spring & Summer of 2014.

We could not have kicked off warm weather fun more perfectly.

And perfection, as you are well aware, is pretty fucking rare.

Just A Thought

Day One of 9 consecutive at Lompoc.

I despise how this job takes my life away.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

If He Could Do It....................

On Easter, Jesus rose from the dead.

In that spirit I am trying to effect my own resurrection.


Given that my life has been death since I first drew breath.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Size Is Relative

I feel small.

I'm trying to make myself bigger.

Bubba Watson

I watched The Masters off and on last Sunday for five hours.

Just a couple of years ago I wouldn't be caught dead watching golf. Never even consider it.

My son Craig turned me onto it. He is a mad golfer. His enthusiasm infused the same in me. Watched some golf with him at his apartment and I started to dig it. Started to check it out on my own. Now I will dial it up from time to time for fun and profit.

Sons keep giving back. At least my sons do. Keith turned me into a mad PATS fan. I was always a football fan. From the age of ten. But I would watch any good game because I loved and worshipped the sport. It was easy to skip PATS games because they sucked at the time. Keith forced me to watch THE PATS. Even when they sucked. Now I can't live without them.

I enjoyed The Masters. There is one image that got burned into my brain.

After Watson won, there was a shot of his young son toddling towards him. Then the wife came into view.

What an amazing feeling that must have been. To look at your wife, your son, and say "Look what I did. See what I accomplished."

One man on his own.

Team sports rock.

We lose ourselves in them as we must if we are to survive this thing called life. I did not watch one Bruins game this year even though I love hockey. Guess I am just shiftless and lazy. But I will jump on the bandwagon and dig the playoffs. And I will feel oh so very alive when I do.

I am digging The Sox right now. Early season baseball is awesome to me. My interest wanes a bit during the season, but the beginning and end of the season give me what I need.

I am itching for the start of THE PATS year, although I am committed to loving warm weather slowly and casually before I get there.

When your team wins, you crazy go nuts. You celebrate and feel like you have accomplished something right along with them. And they are all "we this and we that."

Very cool.

But individual sports, man.

That has to be the pinnacle of pride. Achievement.

Golf, tennis, whatever. You get to do it on your own. And you get to turn to your wife and kid and say "Look what I did. Look what I did for us."

I will never have that feeling. Not on that level. And I feel cheated because of that.

I am forced to define my success on a much smaller level, full of compromises and rationalizations.

Which of course makes it a lie.

$1,620,000. That's what Bubba got for winning The Masters.

You can say it is not about the money, but you would be full of shit. It is not only about the money, but cold, hard cash makes life a hell of a lot warmer. Softer.

Still, I can only guess what it feels like to achieve on that level. To look into the eyes of your family and know they are immeasurably proud of you. Undeniably, deservedly so.

I am Bubba Watson's wife. I am Bubba Watson's son. Proud words lovingly spoken.

Bubba Watson cried on his wife's shoulder as they celebrated privately in front of the world. I interpreted those tears as an expression of pride on his part, as well as an expression of giving, an expression of sharing, an expression of "us" in our success and love and luck.

It gets passed down too. Twenty years from now Bubba's son can show friends a replay of him toddling onto the course into Daddy's arms.

He can say "That was when my Dad won The Masters. For the second time in three years."

He can say that with a chestful of pride.

Sports ain't just about sports.

If that's what you think, you are missing something.

You are missing a whole hell of a lot.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

David Letterman

A few days ago I started to write about the whole Letterman retiring thing.

I took the position that as you grow older there are so many things to remind you that you are growing older.

Like Letterman retiring.

It was lame and self absorbed.

Fortunately when I write, many times I go on line and read a lot of articles that pertain to whatever is occupying my diseased brain. This gives me perspective and raw information.

I came across a great article written by Bill Simmons on the website Grantland that gave me the perspective that I needed.

I needed to get tougher. I originally said that Letterman and Leno were the King-like successors to Johnny Carson, the greatest talk show host who ever lived.

That was a lie. Letterman was the man. Leno was the poseur. Letterman has an edge to him, an unpredictability, an aura. Leno is Mr. Clean.

Wholesomeness is never interesting.

First of all, the way Letterman announced his retirement was pure him. He backed into it, eased into it and surprised everybody.

Apparently even Paul Shafer.

It was fantastic.

Simmons pointed out that Letterman had that thing that I see in Bill Maher and saw in George Carlin, which is disdain for his audience when appropriate.

That's pretty ballsy.

He even shows disdain for his guests from time to time, which is something Maher does as well.

That is a man who is secure in his talent and intelligence.

Very impressive.

Letterman assumed he would succeed Carson but he got screwed over and Leno got the gig.

What a letdown. Originally Letterman kicked Leno's ass in the ratings. Eventually Leno began to beat Dave regularly.

This is because American audiences need their hands held; they are not intelligent enough or tough enough to appreciate a mind like Letterman's. They do not want to be challenged, they do not have the capacity to think.

So Letterman told this meandering story and nobody suspected where he was going with it. Until he talked about calling his boss, Les Moonves, and said "I'm retiring."

There were several seconds of silence in the studio. Paul Shafer even said: "This is - you actually did this?"

Letterman sat there with his trademark goofy grin. It was perfect.

Simmons: "He's the only late-night host who elicits the same respect from guests that Carson did."

True. It was so obvious that his guests respected him and loved verbally sparring with him, or even just dug being around him. The very close relationships were so obvious. So easy going.

Bill Murray, Regis Philbin, Johnny Depp and so many more. These are the people who could make Letterman laugh, and that says a lot.

Please note: Johnny Carson was a recluse after he retired. But he made a guest appearance on The Late Show. Carson was King. He didn't go on other people's shows.

This was considered to be Letterman's ultimate vindication. Letterman revered Carson; this was the biggest moment of Dave's career. He handled it superbly and insiders believed he had been blessed by the pope.

So David Letterman is retiring in 2015.

It is indeed the end of an era. Now you got Fallon and Kimmel and O'Brien and Ferguson and Colbert. Colbert probably being the edgiest and brightest among them.

That's the way life works. You have these young guys appealing to a young audience and that is just the way it has to be.

But David Letterman carried Johnny Carson's torch and he did it well.

He did it in his own way, in his own style, but he still commanded respect and had that King of late night TV aura about him.

We will never see that again.

I missed Johnny Carson's final show. I have always regretted that. I have seen it taped but that is not the same.

I should have seen it live.

I will not miss David Letterman's final show.

It will be unique, it will be surprising and it will bring tears to my eyes.

It is a concrete sign that I am getting older, no doubt.

More importantly, it will signal the end. The end of what late night TV used to be.

It will signal the end of the delicate balancing act between substance and entertainment.

David Letterman could not quite fill the void left by Johnny Carson but he gave it one hell of a ride.

Nobody will fill the void left when Letterman retires.

Nobody will even come close.

My Cat's Eyes

Lakota is persistent.

There is a bit of fallout from the pinched nerve episode. I can't sit normally in the recliner, still. You know, the first relax back position. Not all the way back; I'm talking when you hit the recliner and kick it back a notch.

If I sit like that long enough, there is discomfort. No pain. I have been pain free for weeks and I dig that. But there is this discomfort thing that persists in many situations.

It feels like something is going to snap in my neck and shoulder. It feels like I am about to return to pain.

So far the pain has not returned and I am dancing madly in gleeful gratefulness.

I have to kick the recliner back a notch and then ease it back a little more. Pull my knees up and support myself like that.

It is not uncomfortable but it doesn't leave a lot of room in my lap for Lakota.

She's a big cat.

She circles around, walks across the table next to me and squirms her way into my lap. This places her in a position where her face is 6 inches away from my face.

We look into each other's eyes.

What I see is nature and pure honesty. A living being who is being exactly who she is.

No artifice.

I wonder what she sees. I wonder what she senses.

I have to believe that when she looks into my eyes, when she picks up on the vibe emanating from me, she senses about 15 people.

Love has to be the overwhelming sensation bludgeoning her senses. I love these cats so much I will be arrested for it one day.

Beyond that she must sense the roiling, broiling, bubbling insanity that is my brain. That is my being.

The emotions and thoughts that careen from confidence to fear, from hope to despair, from joy to unhappiness, from pride to shame.

She absorbs it like the Buddha. She does not recoil. After all, she has lived in this house for 12 years.

She knows stuff.

She absorbs it with wisdom and understanding.

I would like to think she is putting out a comforting vibe that will soothe me. A vibe that will teach me and change me and get me closer to nature.

Closer to myself.

I know that having Lakota in my lap, or Maka in my lap, or many times both of them in my lap, is a peaceful, loving chunk of life that increases my potential for longevity.

Looking into Lakota's eyes, six inches from my own, is an intense experience.

She laughs inside at the turmoil and wonders why I can't get back to basics. Back to me.

I wonder the same thing.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Sun

I sit in front of a window as I write.

Right now, at this very instant, the sun is shining through directly into my eyes.


You Call That Music?

It's that time of year.

I'm waking up to birds chirping outside the bedroom window.

This morning there is a talented soloist persistently chirping. I can hear him right now.

It is such a hopeful sound. I love it. It's soothing and it is nature, pure and bold.

I woke up half an hour before the alarm did and lay there listening. Occasionally smiling.

He repeats the same pattern over and over again. Kind of like a portion of the guitar solo in "Ramblin' Man."

I was working some low life job many years ago during one of the many blue periods of my life, some sort of factory job, small place, only four or five of us in the room. They always had a radio going.

The guy to my left was an older dude and old school. "Ramblin' Man" came on, eventually worked it's way 'round to the solo and this guy started mouthing off about rock n' roll. Complaining about the solo being repetitive. The typical refrain: "You call that music?"

I'm talking Allman Brothers here. I wanted to kick this guy into soprano voice land but, being the new guy, I kept my quiet.

Still, it disturbed me. To this day, many days when I hear "Ramblin' Man" and the solo comes 'round, I think of that guy.

My bird has stopped chirping farther away now. I hear him lightly. Bummer. He probably got bored with my reminiscent segue.

It is 25 degrees right now, but the high is predicted to be 62. And sunny.

This guy is chirping his way to 62.

Happily. Defiantly.

Being closer to Mother Nature than I am, being much more a part of the natural order of things, I believe he is coaxing her to come around.

It is April 10 and time flies. We are supposed to be warm. We are geared up for it. After the past death-like winter, we hunger for warmth greedily and with extreme prejudice.

I am unhappy about the persistent cold. I did not go for a walk yesterday because it never hit fifty and it was windy. I will not be duped, abused and mocked by faux spring weather.

And yet this bird makes me happy. He elevates my spirit and gives me reason to move about today with faith in spring.

I would like to sit here all day long and listen to this guy.

I believe it would do my soul good.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Still Digging On Bill Maher

The man is magnificent.

He's a thinker. If I had a brain I would think too. But I gave it up for Lent.

His commentary during the New Rules segment of last Friday's show was dead on. Talking about the shrinking middle class. Of which I am one.

He pointed out that stores like Sears and J.C. Penny's and restaurants like Applebee's and Olive Garden are struggling. These are businesses that cater to the middle class. The middle class ain't got no money, baby.

On the restaurant thing he said they are struggling "because they've lost their best customers: people with a little money who fill up on bread."

I loved that. I always felt that "unlimited salad and bread stick" thing was stupid and insulting. I go to your goddamn restaurant and you expect me to fill up on salad and bread sticks? You think I am stupid?

I go to restaurants for food.

Maher pointed out that for Gucci's, Cartier and Tiffany's, business is booming.

He also pointed out the unchecked proliferation of dollar stores. There is one on every corner now. Right next to Starbuck's. Just kidding.

But they are everywhere. I hate dollar stores. I feel dirty when I go in one. But I do it because even the prostitutes charge a buck.

Here's a Maher quote/stat for you to chew on: "Fifty years ago, America's biggest employer was GM, where workers made the modern equivalent of $50 an hour. Today, America's biggest employer is WalMart, where the average wage is $8 an hour."

That gives you a good feel for how the morality of big business has evolved.

He points out that Alice Walton, a Walmart owner just spent over a billion dollars to build an art museum in Bentonville, Arkansas. This is a place where people have no teeth and men scratch their balls in church in the presence of the lord.

Her quote: "For years, I've been thinking about what we could do as a family that could really make a difference?"

Maher's response: "How about giving your employees a raise, you deluded nitwit?"

He highlighted the fact that the American "work ethic" of working hard and playing by the rules is now being challenged by people victimized by income inequality.

Maher: "At a McDonald's in Pittsburgh, an employee was arrested for selling heroin packed right in with the Happy Meals. And she didn't do it because she likes heroin, although it's probably no worse for you than the Filet o' Fish."

She did it because she's raising two kids on $7.72 an hour.

He talked about a Duke University freshman who acts in porn films so she can pay her $61,000 tuition.

Maher: ".....this is what the Paul Ryans of the world don't understand, that this is not a country of lazy people and good people, so much as it is a country of rich people and desperate people."

The unfortunate thing about all this is that we are past the tipping point. It is too late to turn back.

Decades ago wealth was tastefully expressed, or at least did not get right up in your face to tell you how poor and what a loser you are. The wealthy had mansions and limos to make that point.

Now they blatantly connive to steal from the working stiff any shred of decency and to rig the game so only the winners can win. There is no consideration of decency. They openly grab everything they can while defiantly putting boots on the necks of anyone trying to evolve.

This country is one of lofty ideals polluted through greed, and twisted by contempt for this thing called humanity.

Today I Am Glorious

I walk into work every day like a 160 pound side of beef strolling into a meat grinder.

I whirl and swirl around in that grinder for eight and a half hours, feeling myself being pulverized into something more compliant.

I walk out of The Asylum at the end of my shift, dripping blood. That's why I keep luxuriant towels on the front seat of The Big Ride. They are highly absorbent.

I stagger into my home like a lunatic on a three day drunk and begin to reassemble myself into a 160 pound side of beef.

The beautiful days are the off days. Like today. I wake up reassembled and overwhelmed with a sense of possibility. The contrast between the grinder and temporary freedom makes the freedom taste like chocolate.

Maybe that is how life is designed.

I woke up this morning and saw sunshine and blue sky through the Vaseline blur.

Thoughts of spring surged through my body.

I come alive at this time of year. They tell me spring springs on March 20. Or 21st. Somewhere in there.

That of course is a lie. It's a calendar thing. Today is April 9 and I have felt little spring. Right now it is 40 degrees and partly cloudy. I don't know if that is average for early April and I don't care.

That does not feel like spring. The expected high is 52 degrees. The low tonight will be 28.

28? You call that spring?

But my body is always hopeful. My body does come alive at this time of year every year. Somehow it knows that winter is close to releasing it's death grip and there is hope that my bones will warm in a few months time.

So I am humming and thrumming today. Gonna change my life completely. Get everything I want right now. Probably in the next fifteen minutes or so.

At least that's the way I feel.

I will get outside during the 52 degree portion of the day. Maximize the paltry heat today offers up. Take a walk.

Tomorrow I walk back into the meat grinder. But tomorrow ain't even close right now.

That's what work does to me. It grinds my bones into dust. It makes my days off feel like a week in Hawaii.

This does not sit well with whatever logic flows through my brain, but for now, it is what it is.

Today I am glorious.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Good Is Smaller Than Bad

Watched a thing on 60 minutes last night about The Health Wagon, which is a health provider outreach organization in southwest Virginia that provides free health care to this rural population.

Like any meaningful endeavor, this organization fights for every dime of financial support it can get, operates on a thin budget and just barely gets by.

Two women travel around in a beat up Winnebago type thing, stopping in rural towns to offer health care to the poor. Specifically, the people who fall into the cracks created by short sighted states who refused to expand their Medicare programs to make health care available to people who cannot afford the  Affordable Care Act.

I know there is irony in that statement, but I am not in the mood to dig into it right now. Perhaps I'll conduct my very own expose on the evil President Obama's evil health care law at some point in time.

Right now I'm focusing on good humans vs bad humans.

The Health Wagon pulls into town and people line up to get check ups and medication. These people are dirt poor and unhealthy. The area has a 9% unemployment rate. Many are out of work and barely surviving. Insurance payments are the last thing on their minds.

They get free check ups, free medication, and if they need follow-up treatment this program somehow negotiates with local hospitals to make it happen.

When they pull into town, maybe twenty people show up. This organization is chipping away at a mountain of misery using only an ice pick.

What pisses me off is that finding financing to run this thing is an enormous struggle. If they had adequate funding, extravagant funding, they could be making a huge difference in the world.

On the flip side you have our corrupt Supreme Court justices opening huge loopholes in the law that allow grotesquely rich fat cats to buy our government.

The Koch brothers gleefully rubbing their hands together in anticipation of how they will financially rig all future elections to further their own interests and those of the kindergarten level intellectuals who make up the leadership of the republican party.

I am willing to bet these two moron brothers have not given half a second's thought to throwing some of their cash at The Health Wagon program. They probably don't even know it exists.

Sheldon Adelson, another pompous billionaire, recently held try outs for potential republican presidential candidates. These spineless puppets rushed to an event Adelson put together so they could kiss his ass and beg for financial support.

An absolutely disgusting display of how perverted our political process has become.

I doubt Sheldon Adelson gives much thought to The Health Wagon program.

This program is worthwhile and humanitarian. There are thousands more like it in the world trying to make all kinds of differences in all kinds of difficult situations.

If you take the cumulative positive effect these programs are creating and stack that up against the evil being done to the world by the overstuffed overrich, you would not even be able to see it.

Bill Gates is out there fighting the good fight but he is in the minority, and probably shunned as a lunatic by the Billionaire Boys Club.

Feels like the soul of humanity is fighting a losing battle.

The Bad: One woman interviewed on 60 Minutes had been diagnosed with lung cancer that spread to her brain. The disease was discovered as a result of check ups provided by the Health Wagon. She died before this program aired. Maybe she would still be alive today had she received adequate medical care on a timely basis.

Rich billionaires don't care about the death of someone like that. They don't care about millions of deaths of people like that.

The Good: The Health Wagon program recently raised enough money to buy a new Winnebago type thing.

The scales have been tipped to favor the moneyed and powered elite. It has always been that way but it is infinitely worse now than ever before. Just research the disparity between executive pay and worker pay and how huge the gulf has become.

This entire planet is suffering from a terminal disease called greed.

A disease that is much bigger than any attempt to balance it out with morality.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


"Most of our assumptions have outlived their uselessness."

Marshall McLuhan

Boy George And Jesus

I was listening to Boy George being interviewed on NHPR recently.

Sounds bizarre, no? Boy George on NHPR. This is one of the many things I like about public radio.

The range of topics is amazing.

Boy George is now 52 years old.

How bizarre, how bizarre.

The interviewer asked him if his flamboyant, gender bending style paved the way for performers like Lady Gaga.

I love questions like this.

I remember a guy named Elton John. Before him I remember a guy named Liberace. Before him I remember a guy named Little Richard. Before him I remember.............................

Comparisons are a waste of time.

The nature of music spawns uniqueness. These are people who are putting their souls out there on display.

You don't do that. I don't do that. We keep our souls thickly cloaked so nobody will ever know who we really are. So we won't be vulnerable.

Performers do exactly the opposite. That fact alone makes them flamboyant. Then you get the performers like Elton John, Liberace, Little Richard and hundreds of others you could name that just push the whole thing as far as they can.

I guess you can recognize the lineage, which is a good thing, but trying to establish causality is a waste of time and words.

You would have to go back to the first performer who was ever over the top.

I don't know who that was.

Maybe Jesus.

Then again, his dad was pretty damn boastful himself, bragging about creating the world and everything in it in 6 days.

And then taking the first recorded vacation.

To his credit, Boy George was quite humble and did not leap to take credit. Pretty much said he did what he did, does what he does, and Lady Gaga does her own thing.

That's because he is on the inside of soul exposing. He gets it.

He doesn't need to seek credit or have his influence defined.

He just is.

Don't Stop, Joe

I was listening to an NHPR music dude describe a new group that he digs.

He was using that over the top, flowery, overly descriptive style that drives you crazy.

Something like this:

"This group is out on the edge of electronica, yet they maintain an air of emotion and sensitivity. Simultaneously bold and introspective, they ruffle the feathers of convention while still respecting the parameters of the genre. At times shrill, at times sweet, their message is both provocative and comforting."

I was thinking "Jesus Christ, this guy is obnoxious. Why can't he just describe the music simply?"

Exactly half a second later I realized that this is the way I write.

Over the top, wordy, excessively emotive, flowery.

I laughed.

It is said the qualities you hate the most in others can often be found in yourself.

I wrestle with this concept because there are a lot of things I hate about a lot of people.

And because I like the way I write.

Confusion. If I like the way I write but get annoyed at Music Critic Man, what am I to think? How do I interpret this?

Hell, I don't know.

Maybe you get annoyed at the way I write. Maybe you walk through these pages just to see how obnoxious I can get.

I'd like to think not, but who the hell really knows what goes on in the mind of another human being?

No one. Not even the other human being.

So I'll laugh at the critic, I'll laugh at myself and keep on doing what I do.

Throwaway Books

Finished "Die Trying" yesterday. Jack Reacher #2.

Walked upstairs and put the book in a box. I am still committed to cleaning house, vaporizing past laziness and turning our home into a gleaming palace.

It had to start with the books. I have so many books the book cases groan as they overlook piles of books on the floor. I am boxing up books that I can either sell or give away. Making tough choices but it has to be done.

I won't be holding on to the Reacher novels. They are an escape, a delicious fleeing from reality and an opportunity to imagine myself as a tough guy problem solver with huge balls and endless victories.

But they don't make the cut as books that define me in death. When my kids come to clean out the house, I want the books left behind to amaze, thrill and inform them. I want the books left behind to say to them "this was me, these were my interests, this is my soul in print."

As much as I love these novels, I have to draw the line somewhere.

So I finished the book and put it in a box.

You have no idea how foreign this felt to me.

This is the first book recently read that has made it to the recycle pile. This flies in the face of a lifetime spent keeping books. Worshipping them. Deriving comfort from seeing them nestled in bookcases and in piles on the floor.

It was not as hard as I imagined, but it definitely did not feel right.

Today I started "Money" by Martin Amis. This is a keeper.

I got turned on to Martin Amis by Christopher Hitchens. So you can imagine the quality of writing I am talking about here.

When I read "Hitch 22", Hitchens made many references to Amis who was a close friend of his. Talked about his writing. Got me interested. I followed through on Amazon. Glad I did.

As I absorbed the magic words this morning, I thought to myself that a 50/50 ratio is still going to get me in trouble.

Recycle Reacher, hold on to Amis.

At that rate we will still be forced to add another wing on to the house.

But I'm trying, Ringo. I'm trying real hard to be the shepherd.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Everything That Kills Me

Another great lyric.

OneRepublic - "Counting Stars".

"I feel something so right by doing the wrong thing, and I feel something so wrong by doing the right thing, I couldn't lie, couldn't lie, couldn't lie, everything that kills me makes me feel alive."

This is my dilemma, maybe yours as well.

I like the dark stuff, the evil or suggestion of evil. I hate rules. I despise normality; conformity.

Everything that kills me makes me feel alive.

I have dabbled in drugs; got a PhD in whiskey.

The brown fluid beats up my organs but it makes me feel alive.

I am in remission regarding self-abuse and honestly I hope I stay there. I can't squeeze the best out of the time I have left if my brain is pickled in 80 proof joy.

Part of the enjoyment from consuming whiskey, especially excessively, is knowing there is a certain segment of the population who frown upon the act. The phony types who beat their children and have sex with their dogs, then do an about face to preach to me about the evils of demon alcohol.

I need to be a rebel no matter how small the degree.

I often wonder where this desire originated. What makes us who we are? What makes some people happy to be on the ski slopes pink faced and white toothed, while others are content ass-down on a barstool? I have often said I am more comfortable on a barstool than I am in my own living room.

Could be rock 'n roll. At some point I realized that Frank Zappa didn't look like my father. That Jim Morrison was not going to church with my aunt.

I liked that.

I got into Hunter S. Thompson and Charles Bukowski. Two writers not for the feint of heart.

Keith Richards became a role model.

Maybe I wanted to be like them even though I knew I could never be like them.

Still, the lifestyle I chose was comfortable to me. It fit. To this day I love walking into a funky bar, grabbing a whiskey and digging on a hard working blues band.

At some point most of us have to make a decision. Keep on dancing in the dark or make one final stand.

In an odd way it is probably a good thing that I have not been professionally successful up to this point. Had I tasted success early on I would have continued on down whiskey river, high blood pressure be damned.

The high blood pressure thing spooked me. Not just because of the promise of an early demise; it is the promise of an early demise coupled with unfulfilled potential.

It's that unfulfilled potential thing that amps it way up for me.

Still I need to find a way to court the dark. Carefully. Intelligently.

I need to find a balance between commitment and debauchery.

I have made it this far.

I have faith I can figure the rest of it out.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Road Goes On Forever

I have to dig deep today.

As deep as I possibly can into the dark recesses of my soul.

The Allman Brothers Band cancelled their last four shows at The Beacon Theatre in NYC in March because Gregg came down with bronchitis. Butch Trucks missed an earlier show in the run due to an "undisclosed illness."

Every March since 1989 The Allman Brothers have set up shop at The Beacon for two or more weeks. Fourteen shows, fifteen, sixteen - it has been epic.

I have been lucky enough to have been there twice. This is the Holy Grail for Allman Brothers fans. I cannot overstate the significance of these shows. The band takes over Manhattan. Every bar within walking distance is filled with fans, every bar is playing their music. Everybody on the street is a fan. Musicians play on street corners, it is a party, a celebration and a form of worship you cannot comprehend if you do not dig ABB.

When you walk into the Beacon you get goosebumps. The place is holy. It is a former depression-era movie palace. It carries that magic, that aura. It has been home for The Allman Brothers for 25 years.

So you can understand how unsettling it is for them to cancel shows.

There are four surviving founding fathers of the band. Gregg, Butch Trucks, Jaimoe and Dicky Betts. Dicky was kicked out of the band in 2000, so Gregg, Butch and Jaimoe carry the torch.

The rest of the originals include Duane Allman who died in 1971 and Berry Oakley, who died in 1972.

I am going to cover familiar ground for anybody who even casually visits these pages. You will have to live with that; this band means everything to me.

Derek Trucks (Butch's nephew) has been with the band for 15 years. Warren Haynes for 25. These are two of the most talented guitarists you will ever experience. They both recently announced they are leaving the group at the end of 2014.

This is a huge blow.

In addition Gregg recently announced the band will stop touring at the end of this year.

I am staggered with this news. Uprooted, unbalanced and crushed.

I began a love affair with this group in 1969, the year their first album came out. I was fifteen years old. I have followed them reverently ever since. 45 years.

I began seeing them in concert in 1989. Kind of late but I made up for it with a vengeance. Since then I have seen them at least 30 times.

 I remember the 1989 concert. In an outdoor stadium in Nashua with my close friend Alan. Just the two of us getting crazy and digging on a monumental band.

They tour every summer, which syncs with my soul because I live for summer. I saw them at least once almost every year, twice during many summers and three times one year when I went to a concert alone. I have brought converts into the fold along the way, the most notable being my brother. I am proud of that because my brother is exceptionally knowledgeable musically and he is blown away by this band's talent.

They have been the musical highlight of my summer for just about 25 summers.

Allman Brothers fans are a community. Part of the fun of the concerts is the parking lot before the show. Everybody is friendly. Comparing albums, concerts, talking about the individual members of the band like relations. You walk through the lot, stop anywhere and you are talking and laughing. Digging the music, which is vibing from every other vehicle in the lot.

The past couple of decades have been particularly satisfying to me because there are a hell of a lot of 20 year olds in the crowd who dig the band as much as us old farts. Young bloods who know and appreciate the history and musicianship of the band. Young bloods who treat us ancient warriors with a bit of awe because of our lifelong commitment to The Allman Brothers Band.

I have shared many a joint and many a beer with these fans and I have laughed and conversed with them deeply. It has amplified my enjoyment of the whole experience.

I am poised like a snake about to strike with regards to this summer. I have to see them more then once. The four Beacon shows are going to be re-scheduled and I will be there if I can find any way in hell to do it.

I cannot imagine the summer of 2015 without an Allman Brothers concert. Literally feel a hole in my gut thinking about it. I don't want to think about it. It depresses me. This band has become so infused with my soul, with my human essence that being stripped of the magic of seeing them on stage leaves me numb.

One lyric that is eternally and inextricably tied to the Allman Brothers is "the road goes on forever" from "Midnight Rider." T-shirts, a compilation album with that title, etc.

But the road does not go on forever. Everything ends.

I am not giving up. They may pop up with another line-up. I have seen lists of possible guitar virtuoso replacements and the names are impressive. The Allman Brothers have imploded before but they have always bounced back.

Somehow, this time, it does feel like the end.

Unless you have a love, something outside yourself that fuels your ability to survive, you cannot understand what I am feeling.

Right now, when this band stops touring, there will be a void in my life that I cannot imagine filling. Summer will never be the same for me.

This saddens me.

But let me tell you something. This band has given me magical musical moments that have blown my head apart. Moments that have amazed me and lifted me up and outside myself and my tiny life to a place of pure ecstasy.

The Allman Brothers Band is a physical and ethereal part of my body and my soul.

I love The Allman Brothers Band.

I always will.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Zombie Ass and Inefficiency In American Business

I get home from work last night, too tired to do anything but thrill to the sweet release of moviedom.

I heat up a leftover boneless pork chop, after smothering it with shredded cheddar, and cover the rest of the plate with corn (smothered in cheddar cheese).

Sag into the caress of the well worn recliner, connect to Netflix and dial up "Zombie Ass: Toilet Of The Dead."

This movie was recommended to me by a well known film critic. A woman who is so knowledgeable in the world of the cinema that her nickname is "CGI."

The movie apparently has won five Oscars and features the superb acting talents of the most renowned Asian actors in cinematic history.

The movie hesitated, skipped, hung up and generally pissed me off. We have been having this problem with Netflix for a week now.

Three or four phone calls have served only to temporarily solve the problem. Only one out of all the techs we talked to knew what the hell she was talking about. She fixed the situation for a day or two.

I am renowned for having no patience with these fools. I was the first to call - last Tuesday - and I ended up hanging up on the know-nothing idiot.

Carol is more focused. She hangs in there on the phone and beats these people up pretty good. She has spoken to them two or three times.

I exhaled sharply last night and bit the bullet - called them one more time. Got the goddamn run around, the same questions we got previously, the same suggestions we got previously - no results.

Do they not have a file? Something summarizing the history of problems, suggested solutions and outcomes?

No. They do not. That is because businesses in this country are focused on hiring only the cheapest of labor and giving them as little as possible in the way of pay and perks. They are not concerned with efficiency.

That's why when you call for tech support you get nothing. Airheads on the phone. Morons.

It worked out for me because I had to have something. Feeling, emotion or insanity.

I went to On Demand, Comcast, and dialed up "Nebraska".

What a movie. Talk about pathos, a commentary on the human condition, recognition of fallibility and mortality, desperate attempts at bringing meaning to a life.

I don't think 70+ year old Woody Grant really believed his "million dollar" winning sweepstakes ticket that he got in the mail was real. I think he was desperate to make one final attempt at making amends to his sons for the inconsiderate father he had been.

Some great lines. His son is driving with him to "cash in" the winning ticket. They share a few beers and a lot of conversation along the way.

His son asks him why he got married and Woody says "Because your mother wanted to and I said what the hell." His son asks him if they discussed having kids and why they had kids. Woody says "I liked to screw and your mother was Catholic."

The movie touched my soul, satisfied my craving for something real.

The movie made me decide that when I get old, cantankerous and senile, I am going to lie to my sons, tell them I have Super Bowl tickets and make them drive me to the game.

The post script to this story is that I watched "Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead" on my computer today. I am old school and do not believe in watching movies on a goddamn computer, but Netflix left me no choice. The signal ain't getting to the TV but it is fine with the computer.

It was worth it. "Zombie" was a cinematic gem. A true classic.

It isn't for everyone, but if you enjoyed "The Sound of Music" and "Bambi", you're sure to enjoy this one.

Ciao, baby.


"A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding."

Marshall McLuhan

The Best Day Of My Life

Heard a song on my Asylum commute last week called "The Best Day of My Life."

Don't even know who sings it; don't care, too lazy to check.

One line blew me away.

"But all the possibilities, no limits, just epiphanies."

That's what we are looking for, baby. That's what we need.

That is one very solid chunk of positivity and hopefulness there.

Epiphanies. I want one epiphany every day. I just joined the Epiphany A Day club and it only cost me $540. They will mail me an epiphany daily.

I can't wait. None have arrived so far but I'm sure it is just a glitch in the U.S. Postal system.

An epiphany a day might be a little greedy. I'd settle for one a week.

It is inevitable that you reach a point in your life where epiphanies are better than sex.

All the possibilities, no limits.

Absorb a little of that philosophy into your soul and see where it takes you.

I would prefer not to believe that my best days are behind me.

I would prefer to believe that I can still have the best day of my life.

And then another.

Life.................Or Something Quite Like It

Anybody want to explain this life thing to me?

Got out of work last night - escaped The Asylum - feeling positively ebullient. Two tough days, long days, left me feeling wiped.

However, it was fifty something degrees. The first spring day that felt like spring. Had my window down, the hair was getting gently ruffled. My body was responding like a resurrected corpse. Positively buzzing.

And I was heading into a day off. A day when I can actually be myself, without having to put on the costume.

Two minutes down the road I passed a funeral home that was operating on all cylinders. Parked cars jamming the narrow street, a crowd of people on the sidewalk. People hugging and crying.

The contrast was dramatic. On this beautiful day, a day offering hope and the prospect of easy living, on this day that had me so jazzed at temporary freedom, there was a group of family and friends mourning the death of a loved one.

Ultimately, it didn't ruin my mood. I have seen enough death in my life to understand its indiscriminate nature.

It did give me pause, however, it made me think for a few minutes as I cruised on back home.

You fight so hard as a human being just to experience brief moments of happiness. You got to take care of business all the way around, just to survive. Doing things you don't want to do, working jobs that disgust you and break your spirit.

Somehow you squeeze in a barbecue or a movie or a concert or a book or a quiet moment in the relative safety of your own home with a loved one, and these things remind you that you are human.

Sometimes these moments are precious enough that you can forget about your other life for a bit. The pretend one. The one that forces you to be an actor on a stage.

Even then, sometimes, life will reach out and slap you just to let you know who is in control.

Killing off a member of your family or a friend, forcing you to mourn when you should be celebrating.

I'm telling you, man, life is a weird little animal. I ain't no where close to who I thought I would be.

And time is running out.

But I have been lucky. I am OK. I have wasted a shit ton of time, but the clock is still ticking for a reasonably healthy, slowly weakening but ever determined semi-old man.

That sudden shift in mood, that eye-blink quick taste of reality, that gravity thing pulling my soaring spirit back down to earth - served to strengthen my commitment to digging the hell out of the warm weather.

In 17 days, my ass and that of my lovely wife will be seated in Fenway Park. Close to Pesky's pole, baby. At the end of May we will be in Boston digging on the deeply emotional, honestly expressive music of the very cool Ray LaMontagne.


That is two confirmed major events already.

Just a beginning. I will wrestle with my work schedule fearlessly, taking every opportunity to tip the tables in my favor. In favor of my real life.

The time in between the big stuff will be filled with the real stuff. Barbecues, free outdoor concerts, walks, peaceful contemplation in Carol's magic garden, my sons and their magnificent women, my brother.

And more and more and more.

I have talked this talk before, but this time it is Nowsville, baby. It was a painful and difficult winter for me health-wise, but I'm bouncing back. And my perspective was sharpened in the knowledge that a friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer. A very young dude, an intelligent, successful dude with an awesome sense of humor. A guy as likely to get cancer as I am to get the next contract to host the Tonight Show.

I am royally pissed off that he has to suffer like this. But I know he is the man to handle it and I keep him in my mind for vibe-like support.

My brain has been re-wired. Re-wired to grab me some joy and make it my own. To electro-shock my life into a level of happiness and sweet release never before experienced by any other man.

I got a lot to get done, a lot to flat out enjoy, before a crowd of family and friends is standing on a sidewalk in the hot sun, hugging and crying over whatever footprints I have left behind.

And I will do it.

Fucking count on it.