Thursday, November 27, 2014


"When you have limited brain power, the phrase - I have a lot on my mind - doesn't pack much of a punch."


Monday, November 24, 2014


"My future is about as bright as that of Cary Agos."


Cowardly Commercialism

Many of the ads for "Black Friday" have a common theme.

They say "Black Friday starts on Thursday at 6 p.m." Or some variation.

They don't have the guts to say Black Friday begins on Thanksgiving.

If you are going to exploit your employees' desperation for a fatter paycheck, corporate greed, and the public's indifference to the quality of life of fellow humans, be honest about it.

One aspect of this is the sad truth that many Americans are barely surviving and feel that overtime earned by working a holiday is worth the sacrifice of family. I am hoping that all employers are required to pay OT on that day. I am praying that is true.

I also know that any corporation that can get away with it will pay straight time. And there are desperate Americans who will feel that is worth the family sacrifice too.

Another aspect is that many employees are not given the choice of whether or not to work on Thanksgiving.

K-Mart. I did some reading up on these people and it appears that employees will be scheduled whether they like it or not. Work or be fired.

They open at 6:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving and remain open for 42 hours.

The company spins the situation by saying they try to fill the shifts with volunteers or seasonal hires. However the following signs, posted in K-Mart locations in employee break areas say: "Attention associates - No time off requests will be honored from November 23rd through January 1st due to holiday shopping." And

"Attention All Team Members - Please be advised that on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Saturday, all team members will be scheduled for the needs of the business. Availabilities will not be accommodated. Thank You. Management."

The thank you is a nice touch.

In addition, many employees are not told until the last minute whether or not they are required to work the holiday. It is as if the company is trying to upset the lives of these people as much as possible. One employee claims in the past her schedule was not made available until the day before Thanksgiving.

She had to work the holiday.

How the hell do you plan for Thanksgiving given that type of uncertainty and disrespect?

Bear in mind that corporations who decide not to open on Thanksgiving may not be entirely altruistic.

It is considered good PR considering the backlash associated with opening on Thanksgiving. And consumer research indicates that 70% of holiday shopping takes place after Thanksgiving.

In the interest of open mindedness I happily admit that there are stores who close on Thanksgiving for the right reason. I applaud them. I love them.

Insight into the poisoned psyches of Americans: A survey by consulting firm Accenture shows that 45% of Americans plan to shop on Thanksgiving. 45%. That is an increase from last year's 38%.

A lot of cold hearted, selfish, insensitive individuals out there.

Dig this half assed stupidity from Radio Shack. They initially announced they would open from 8:00 midnight on Thanksgiving. They changed their tune and decided to close from noon to 5:00 p.m. to "give workers a break."

A corporate memo from chief executive Joe Magnacca,references "issues with personal scheduling" and says the break would "eliminate that concern and still capture the opportunity in the marketplace."

What an idiot.

There can be no argument that stores opening on Thanksgiving and forcing employees to work on that day is disgusting. It is a soul suffocating, life nullifying and horrible thing. When corporations decide for their employees that sales trump family in every situation, family life is dead.

A partial list of stores that will be open on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2014: K-Mart, Wal-Mart, J.C.Penny, Best Buy, Toys 'R' Us, Kohl's, Macy's, Sears and Target.

A partial list of stores that will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2014: Barnes and Noble, Bed, Bath and Beyond, B.J's, Burlington Coat Factory, Costco, Home Depot, Joann Fabrics, Sam's Club and T.J. Maxx.

You make the choice.

Don't Say I Didn't Warn You

Previous to this time but not this place I warned you about a corporation called BDO.

At the time I was seeing ads with some frequency touting the supremacy of this organization. The ads abated somewhat in frequency but.................

for some strange reason with the advent of the holiday season I am seeing ads with frightening frequency.

From their website: "BDO is the brand name for BDO USA, LLP, a U.S. Professional services firm providing assurance, tax, financial advisory and consulting services to a wide range of publicly traded and privately held companies."

First of all, any company with that many initials in its name is more frightening than the best Stephen King novel.

In the U.S. the firm has 52 offices and more than 400 alliance firm locations nationwide. In addition, "as an independent Member firm of BDO International Limited, BDO serves multi-national clients through a global network of 1,264 offices in 144 countries."

BDO stands for Binder Dijker Otte. These were the original names of their UK, Dutch and German member firms.

They are the fifth largest accountancy network in the world. They reported Global Fee Income of all BDO member firms for the fiscal year ending 9/30/13 totaling $6.45 billion.

In their website they brag about their flexible approach to the work environment, beginning with the following sentence: "Technology and globalization have transformed "work" into a 24/7 reality by eliminating the traditional boundaries around work and our everyday lives."


This is the company featured in those adds where you see and hear high powered professionals discussing  an overwhelming work situation. Typically a situation with corporate global financial implications.

The Dufus in the commercial says "But we don't have the resources to handle that."

The Hero says: "I know. That's why I called in BDO."

The only thing that would perfect each commercial would be if the Hero made the sign of the cross as he/she spoke BDO's name.

You know the world is rapidly heading to a place where there is only one employer. All working stiffs will work for this one company.

Or perish.

I have identified BDO as that company. As that future.

Polish up your resume. Perfect your ass kissing skills.


"Men are brothers, you know, and they have a great instinct for brotherhood - except in boards, unions, corporations and other chain gangs."

From "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand


"He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal."

John 12:25 King James Version

Oh nooooooooooooooooooooooo.................................

Saturday, November 22, 2014

My God - What Have I Done?

As you know, I picked up a copy of "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand.

I have heard her name for years, heard about her books for years. Her name and philosophy were bandied about quite prominently in recent political elections.

Mostly by republicans, who of course are not intelligent enough to understand in purity anything falling under the category of philosophy.

I love the book. I am digging it quite deeply. It is an interesting read because I don't know who to expect to be the hero, the winner, of the story, and who to expect to be the villain, the loser.

Scenarios are turned on their head because of Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism.

I love the story so much I dashed right out and bought a copy of "Alas Shrugged", her follow up book which is widely acclaimed to be her crowning achievement.

I have rediscovered book stores.

Used to be, back in the day, back when I was more in touch with who I am, I would regularly visit a used bookstore named "The Book Depot."

Magnificent place. Everything you want a used book store to be.

Old building, creaky, uneven floors, a wood burning stove giving off not quite enough heat in the winter, owners and employees who worship the written word. People who would engage you in half hour conversations about authors, books, poetry, music and life.

It was my church.

I have gotten away from it as I have gotten away from myself.


The Toadstool Bookstore exists near to where I work. I have taken to escaping there at lunch. Browsing peacefully through the used book section rather than punching my boss in the face.

That is where I bought "The Fountainhead." That is where I bought "Atlas Shrugged."

My dilemma is as follows:

"The Fountainhead" is 700 pages of fine print. "Atlas Shrugged" is 1100 pages long. The book is so big, so heavy, my biceps no doubt will swell with the exertion of holding it.

That represents a sum total of 1800 pages of Ayn Rand.

I am 250 pages into "The Fountainhead."

Have I taken on too much?

My appetite says no.


It was the darkest place he had ever been.


There was a strange feeling of finality to where he was. Or doom. Or acquiescence. Hope stretched to the thinnest definition. Almost broken. Almost gone.

The thing he loved most, his one inspiration, the thing that came from his soul; lay dormant. No sense of urgency. An urgency that used to give him life and release.

Now there was only a quiet. Foreboding quiet. A sensation that appeared to be the end result of a lifetime of emotional beatings.

There had been dark times before. Many. Darkness defined him; darkness expressed him.

In naked honesty.

These were accompanied by an atmosphere of frenzy. Desperation. A twisted definition of hope.

These were fueled, exaggerated and eventually numbed by brown fluids.

This new place was markedly and dramatically different.

There was only his mind.

Bruised in numb surprise.

The body and the mind were in perfect unison. Fatigue, limpness, a floating sensation suggestive of no existence.


A sense of being in the same place everywhere he went.


The mind functioned dully; the body felt as if it had aged ten years in a month.

There is a strange sensation of peace in all this.

A disturbing, ominous, peace that would not, could not, nourish any soul.

A peace that offered no salvation.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Two Days

Blew out of work early on Friday afternoon. Drove down to my brother Ed's place to see Buddy Guy.

Buddy Guy is a venerable, 78 year old blues dude who rocks like a kid.

Sat around Ed's apartment for a bit, then took off to meet two of his buddies at a restaurant in Lynn.

I have always said that quality attracts quality. Ed is quality, so I know that I will be comfortable hanging out with anyone he calls friend.

I was.

We had a couple of drinks and scarfed down some apps because we were running late and did not have time for big, juicy T-Bone steaks.

Motored over to the concert and proceeded to lose our minds. Buddy had a fifteen year old kid opening for him - Quinn Sullivan - who played like he was on fire. Jaw dropping, unbelievable riffs and solos. His fingers flew and that guitar screamed.

And he could sing. He sang the blues like he had the blues. Absolutely amazing.

As soon as I'm done torturing you with my words I am going over to Amazon to buy one of his CD's.

Then there was Buddy Guy.

Buddy is blues royalty. As a session guitarist for Chess Records he played with Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and Little Walter. He recorded many times with Junior Wells.

He has a truly rockin' blues style and is generally believed to be the bridge between the blues and rock 'n roll. Between the old blues masters and people like Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

He was magnificent. Towards the end of the show he brought Quinn Sullivan back onstage with him. I'm surprised the building is still standing.

The night was magic.

Spent the night at Ed's. We had breakfast together and talked. I cherish these talks. Brother to brother, pure honesty, respect and love. Now that we are becoming old warriors we talk about life a lot.

The conversations are made meaningful by our combined 120 years on this planet. Ed has a way of calming my spirit with his perspective, his never give up attitude, his sensitivity and intelligence, his wicked sense of humor. I bask in the respect others show him, as his two friends did Friday night.

The morning existed in deep, quiet contrast to the amazing, crazy night that preceded it. As I drove home I felt at peace. I suddenly realized that I always feel this way when I get to spend one on one time with my brother.

That means a lot to me.

I drove home to Carol and immediately felt the love and comfort she gives to me. I was gone one night and I missed her.

Half an hour later we were on the road to Maine to visit Sarge and Cori. Sarge is fighting cancer hard, but it is a difficult struggle. He was having a bad day yesterday.

He's been dealing with constant headaches for a few days now. He was very uncomfortable. Kept running his hand over his head trying to find some relief. He was distant and out of it. Sometimes we would say something to him and he would stare at us blankly and say nothing.

Still, as bad as he felt, every once in a while the Sarge spirit would surface and he would say something to make us laugh.

Cori is so attentive to him. Sarge was restless and in pain and she sat by his side and talked to him soothingly, and asked him leading questions trying to find ways to comfort him.

I stood overwhelmed by this definition of love that was being expressed right in front of my eyes. Cori keeps a cot in his room and sleeps there at night. She gets up at 4:30, goes home to shower etc and is back to work at 5:30. She works in the rehab place where Sarge is staying.

Her work day is often interrupted by calls for her to help Sarge out or calm him down. When her work day is over she stays by his side.

I watched them look into each other's eyes. I felt a love so strong, and two spirits so strong, it felt like I had no right to be there.

Recently, Cori brought Sarge's cat, Newman, to visit him. Newman is a holy terror but he and Sarge share nothing but love. The visit did him good.

When Cori reminded him of the visit, Sarge got confused and started calling Newman's name, thinking he was there then.

Sarge got restless and decided he wanted to bop about in his wheelchair. He is not mobile right now and has to be lifted out of bed by motorized harness. We left the room to stay out of the way.

Eventually the attendant wheeled him down the hall and I took over from there. Cori and Carol walked as I wheeled Sarge around the joint.

That was tough for me. This guy who I have partied with countless times, this guy I have laughed and cried with, this guy who I have shared so many intimate conversations with, this guy who is my loving wife's brother; this guy was in a wheelchair and I was moving him around.

We left shortly after that. It was a tough visit. Especially for Carol.

Carol decided she wanted to drive down the road to Old Orchard Beach, a place that means a lot to us. Everything was closed, it was cold, it was dark.

We walked onto the beach and immediately reminisced and laughed about a visit years ago when we walked the same spot with Cori and Sarge on a cold winter's night. Complete with howling wind and pounding surf.

I kissed Carol as we stood on the stand. Told her I love her. It wasn't planned, it just came up out of my soul and my heart. This woman who was standing by my side, this woman who has always stood by my side, this woman who will always be by my side.

This woman I cannot live without.

We drove home to a peaceful night in front of the TV.

Lakota woke me up this morning at 6:30. Jumped up next to me and gently pawed my face. Tears started streaming down my face as I tried like hell not to wake Carol up. My first thought was how much Sarge would love Newman to wake him up like this every morning. How much Sarge deserves a simple pleasure like that.

So much emotion experienced in two short days.

The high of amazing music, the contentment of spending time with my brother, missing my wife and feeling soul deep love coming home to her, a tough visit with Sarge spiced with glimpses of his relentless spirit, the love and tenderness between Cori and Sarge, a kiss on a Maine beach in November, a peaceful night at home, the magic morning of a pet.

That was an electric jolt of life in its purest form. Highs, lows, happiness, tears, love, and respect.

Depth and meaning and perspective.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Radical Left Turn (and then........)

Finished a book titled "Twilight of The Elites - America After Meritocracy." By Christopher Hayes.

Meritocracy is a philosophy that says the cream will rise to the top. The smartest, the most aggressive, the most talented will naturally achieve success and will rule - either in business or in government - fairly. Fairly because they are intelligent, empathetic and know what is best.

They will achieve their success fairly because it is the natural order of things. It just makes sense.

The book lays out quite nicely how this philosophy has been perverted by the uber rich and the uber powerful. Essentially saying the successful climb the ladder and then pull the ladder up after themselves so no one else can follow.

That is an over simplification but what the hell do you expect from me? I ain't no scholar.

Excellent book.

I then read "Fifty Shades of Grey."

Wait, what?

The book has been sitting under my end table for a very long time. I have picked it up a number of times and put it back down. Because it is written in a juvenile manner and I just couldn't get past the writing.

This time I decided to make the commitment. I read far enough into it to raise some curiosity. The sex did not fascinate me - it became boring after the 76th encounter. What interested me was Christian Grey's obsessions. His kink.

That kept me reading, although it was a challenge towards the end. I wanted to see just how unique and interesting this man was.

I'm sorry. Did I say unique? I guess I was supposed to say sick.

I got through it. I will not be reading the sequels.

Now, just this very morning, I began reading "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand.

Ayn Rand established a philosophy called "Objectivism."

Objectivism defined: Follow reason, not whims or faith. Work hard to achieve a life of purpose and productiveness. Earn genuine self-esteem. Pursue your own happiness as your highest moral aim. Prosper by treating others as individuals, trading value for value.

I just started digging into this so I have little to say.

However I read some stuff that blew me away already.

From the author's intro to the 25th anniversary issue: "It is not in the nature of man - nor of any living entity - to start out by giving up, by spitting in one's own face and damning existence; that requires a process of corruption whose rapidity differs from man to man. Some give up at the first touch of pressure; some sell out; some run down by imperceptible degrees and lose their fire, never knowing when or how they lost it. Then all of these vanish in the vast swamp of their elders who tell them persistently that maturity consists of abandoning one's mind; security, of abandoning one's values; practicality, of losing one's self-esteem.

.......................It does not matter that only a few in each generation will grasp and achieve the full reality of man's proper stature - and that the rest will betray it. It is those few that move the world and give life its meaning - and it is those few that I have always sought to address. The rest are no concern of mine; it is not me or The Fountainhead that they will betray: it is their own souls."

Gonna be a good read.

Tough Commute

I was driving home last night.

On the last leg of the journey the line of cars in front of me started swerving radically to the left. I did as well when I drew up next to the source.

A deer. Lying in the middle of the road. Vertically, north and south so to speak, as opposed to across the road.

Took my breath away.

Every time I see that I have the same illogical thought. We invaded their world with roads and cars. They are eternally bewildered by that rape and die because of it.

We need roads. We need cars. I don't want to walk to work. It would take hours and might prove to be the ultimate factor in dissuading me from continuing the sheer stupidity of what I am doing to myself for money. Money from which I derive no benefit. Money that passes through my hands into the hands of those who own me.

But I digress.

Deer are innocence. Beauty. Grace. They are nature. We are the antithesis of nature.

And we kill them? They should be killing us.

But they are too highly evolved for that.

My thoughts stray to hunting. I despise it.

You can forward all the arguments in the book as defense of hunting. I understand them all. They make sense on the surface of things.

But for me it always comes down to that moment. That moment just before the trigger is pulled or the arrow flies.

I don't understand what it is in a human's brain that allows them to sight a deer - standing peacefully in the woods - contemplate it for seconds - and then kill it.

There is a disconnect there that I will never understand.

Dead squirrels in the road don't bother me. They live in my attic and do not pay rent.

Chipmunks bother me. I hate that moment when a chipmunk runs under my car and I look in the rearview mirror to see if I have killed it.

Did not feel a thunk - did not hear one - but I see no trace of the chipmunk.

Drives me crazy.

Cats, dogs - dead in the road - brings tears.

But there's something about a deer. The magic. The majesty.

Their death at our hands points an accurate and accusing finger at our worthlessness.


"There is a great deal of sadness in the world. It must be eradicated immediately."


Monday, November 10, 2014

Now I Know

My sense of time has become distorted.

Somehow it is November.

It snuck up on me. I didn't see it coming. Suddenly it is cold. The threat of life sucking snow and ice hang in the air. We are talking about Thanksgiving. We are talking about Christmas.

I don't know how this happened. Typically as soon as September 1 rolls around I become hyper vigilant. Keeping a sharp watch for Evil Winter and all the suffering and inconvenience it inevitably delivers.

I kind of hunker down in my soul and wonder how I will survive another 10 months of discomfort in an even darker place than I normally exist.

I am somewhat ambivalent this year. I am beginning to think that I have given up.

I am beginning to think that I have given up, even in my soul.

Strangely enough this does not frighten me. Physical exhaustion combined with soul-deep weariness result in an odd numbness.

A numbness that murders caring.

Now I know how everyone else makes it through.

Class Distinctions Run Deep

The difference between the poor and the very poor is openly exposed when you go shopping.

Saturday Carol and I bopped about buying stuff.

First stop was Ocean State Job Lots.

I feel dirty in that store. I feel like I have to keep my hand on my wallet to fend off fellow shoppers. I don't like the way the store smells. I don't like the way it looks. I HATE the fucking jingle.

I used to feel that way in Wal-Mart. Still do actually. I just haven't been there in a while.

But somehow I think Ocean State is worse.

The people look downtrodden. They look uneducated. They look frustrated and angry. They look dirty.

Guaranteed, if I grabbed a shirt simultaneously with another shopper I would release it immediately. I believe I would avoid an ass kicking that way.

I bet the ratio of smokers to non-smokers in an Ocean State is 300 to 1.

Later, we shopped at Bed, Bath and Beyond. I felt perfectly comfortable there. Fellow customers appeared brighter; both in expression and intelligence.

The atmosphere was lighter. It did not wreak of poverty and broken dreams.

Bear in mind, it is still not an upscale place. How upscale could a place named Bed, Bath and Beyond be?

Still you get entirely different clientele in these two stores and never the twain shall meet.

Except when Carol and I shop.

There is a huge gap between the uber rich and the rest of us exploited majority. It sucks, its there and it is getting worse. They float on luxury air mattresses while the rest of us drown.

But even within our ranks there are divisions and understandings and class distinctions and separations.

I have also noticed that at Christmas time the most frenzied shoppers are the ones who appear to have the least amount of money and education.

What does Christmas mean to them?

A chance to pretend to be successful?

I don't know. Perhaps I am over thinking this whole deal a tad too much.

Today's Dream

I had the luxury of sleeping late today because Carol took the day off and I don't have to report to HELL until 11:00.

I was up at 6:20. Who knows why.

Had a dream. One of those morning dreams. Those seem to be the most bizarre.

I had decided to have a go at another shrink. One closer to home.

Found a guy, a local guy. When I walked into his office it was Larry David.

This did not fluster me. I was deeply and darkly honest with him. Told him all the dark stuff I didn't tell the previous guy.

Suddenly he says "Let's take a walk."

So we go out and walk around the neighborhood a bit.

As we are heading back I see a car pulling into LD's driveway. A guy gets out and walks into the office.

Me and Larry settle back in and resume the conversation. The other guy joins in, which I find kind of odd.

Larry says nothing.

Minutes later another guy walks in, plugs his laptop into an outlet in the wall and begins playing a video game.

Loudly. It is distracting; we can hear the music, the explosions, all the typical video game noise.

For a while Larry says nothing. I'm thinking "Are you serious? Are you just going to let this guy disturb us?"

Eventually Larry gets up and unplugs the laptop. The guy gets pissed and leaves.

Whatever my brain is trying to tell me is more secretly coded than orders to arm our nuclear weapons.

Saturday, November 8, 2014


"You can't lead the people if you don't love the people. You can't save the people if you don't serve the people."

"The country is in deep trouble. We've forgotten that a rich life consists fundamentally of serving others, trying to leave the world a little better than you found it. We need the courage to question the powers that be, the courage to be impatient with evil and patient with people, the courage to fight for social justice. In many instances we will be stepping out on nothing, and just hoping to land on something. But that's the struggle. To live is to wrestle with despair, yet never allow despair to have the last word."

Cornell West

Trending Towards Stupidity

I went out to vote on Tuesday night with an image in my head of Don Quixote tilting against windmills.

Actually that is romantic and melodramatic, but not quite true.

I actually hoped to accomplish something.

I failed miserably.

In reality I ended up being Don Quixote.

republicans now control the House and the Senate. They control Congress.

The vote should have taken place on Halloween because there can be nothing more frightening than that.

My deepest wish was for Democratic initiative and commitment to defeat this possibility. Unfortunately mid-term elections don't get much attention of voter participation. We did not try hard enough.

In Presidential election years, approximately 60% of eligible voters vote. In mid term elections the number drops to 40%.

On Tuesday fewer than 37% of eligible voters voted. In yet one more category, this country is a flaming embarrassment compared to the rest of the world. The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance ranks the United States 120th in the world in voter turnout.

We are outraged - supposedly - at our ineffective political system. We are outraged - supposedly - at the way the rich manipulate everything to their advantage while stripping average Americans of the chance to improve their lives. We are outraged - supposedly - at how the rich buy politicians.

Yet we get a chance to do something about it, to fight back with the only weapon we have - the vote - and we end up with less than 37% participation.

I am vomiting with disgust.

Full disclosure - I didn't give damn about voting until 2008. Then I became fully invested.

George Bush's presidency ripped out my insides and woke me up to how an idiot can ruin lives. The idea of a black president intrigued me in a country so morally bankrupt and racially prejudiced.

BUT, as I have told you before (have you been paying attention?), in 2008 I kept a notebook. I put a lot of effort into it. I compared McCain's policies side by side with Obama's policies. I did research, I wrote it all down, I read and re-read what I had learned.

I gave McCain, and republicans, the benefit of the doubt.

That is the last time I did that. It is no longer necessary because republicans have gone so far over the top in stupidity and immorality and ass-kissing of the rich that their transparency is both an insult to intelligence and an open declaration of their callous indifference to the suffering plight of the average American.

Their incompetency, greed, shallowness, and stupidity is openly on display for all to see.

Scott Brown is a perfect example. This lowlife ran for the Senate in Massachusetts and was defeated. He then magically relocated his "home" address to NH and tried to pollute our state in yet another bid for the Senate.

He was defeated again.

What infuriated me the most was Brown's signs that, along with all the other signs, destroyed the landscape of this beautiful state.

The top line on his signs said "Defeat Obama."

Are you fucking serious? That is how uninformed I am. I had no idea Scott Brown was running against President Obama.

republicans are so weak, so vile, that they cannot run on their own agenda; their entire campaign was tied in to smearing President Obama.

Their entire campaign tied in to the seething rage in this country over the improbable election of a black president.

This is why republicans disgust me. They lie to the public and they use those lies to incite emotions that are dangerous.

Extremely dangerous.

Now we have a republican Congress. A result of an apathetic voting public who do not back up their anger with action.

President Obama has to spend the last two years of his presidency dealing with a republican majority.

A majority of idiots, a majority of racists, a majority of misogynists, a majority with decidedly anti gay hostility. People who will act together to rig our voting system against minorities and the poor. People who will advance the interests of the rich at every opportunity while simultaneously destroying opportunity for everyone else. They will act to regress the lives of the working class. Making our lives harsher and devoid of hope.

This country is regressing towards stupidity. We encourage it. We allow it to flourish. Stupidity dominates every aspect of our lives.

President Obama is a brilliant man who, with cooperation, could have achieved great things. republicans set out from day one to thwart him. Now it will be even worse.

This is the fate we deserve. For not voting. For not even trying to fight back.

Stupid people, greedy people, will always act to pervert any situation, to twist it to their specific advantage at the expense of everyone else's welfare, when allowed to act unchecked.

This is where our government has "evolved" to since 2008. 2015 and 2016 will see the situation worsen.

And God forbid a republican is elected president in 2016.

How is it that other countries flourish in democracy, while we poison and pervert it. What is it about Americans that we actively seek to debase and embarrass ourselves.

Gettin' Along

I am so burned out, beat down, disappointed in and tortured by life that I am eternally exhausted.

When I wake up in the darkest hours of night  horrified by what my life has become, I do not lie wide awake anymore.

That is now impossible.

I lie there in a kind of comatose state that approximates sleep.

Or a coma.

This, I believe, is the definition of progress.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Nothing Is Ever As It Seems

Kind of went back in history to explore a little bit of Primal Therapy. Also known as Primal Scream Therapy.

What got me there was looking back at John Lennon's first solo album.

Most of what is on there came about as a result of John and Yoko's immersion in Primal Therapy. The album is so raw, so open and emotional that if you have been numbed by life in this world you would not even be able to hear it.

Primal Therapy, originated by Dr. Arthur Janov, is a trauma based psychotherapy that argues that neuroses are the result of the repressed pain of childhood trauma.

It was quite fashionable in the 70's.

Sessions would guide people back to their childhood, sometimes simply by asking them to repeat the words mommy and daddy over and over again until repressed emotions surfaced with a vengeance. Often accompanied by a wail or flat out screaming.

Listen to "Mother" on "John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band." You will understand.

Childhood trauma, by the way, is not strictly defined by physical abuse. It could be as simple as a perception of a lack of love from parent to child, or feelings of inadequacy instilled in the child by the parent.

The theory was that by going back and rediscovering these emotions and expressing them so intensely, the source could be recognized and dealt with.

This always made sense to me. That's why I waited 44 years to reconsider it.

When I was seeing the shrink, I dug him up to a point. But there were small signs that maybe his advice would not suffice.

The most eye opening one was when he tried to tell me that if I adopt some sort of more positive attitude toward work, it will not rip me apart so savagely.

That's like telling someone that if you put the right spin on it, having ice picks jabbed directly into your eyeballs might not be as bad as you would expect.

Part of the problem might have been, as I reflect in hindsight, that I was not completely honest with him about just how dark my life is. I may not have conveyed just how vicious and soul sucking my job is to me. How I cannot manage it under any circumstance or thought process.

I told him I was desperately seeking another job - ANY job - to escape this hated environment. He told me I was avoiding the problem and should just deal with the situation at hand.

His advice would be right - both about the attitude and the escape plans - if I could function in my present situation.

I cannot.

The last two days have been sale change days. Lot of pressure. I flipped out pretty good yesterday.

Haven't seen the dude in months. Not because I don't want to. More because I am being pushed so far over the edge right now that I have to concentrate ferociously just to remember how to wipe my ass efficiently. Never mind making and keeping appointments.

When I do get back to him I am going to lay all the poison right down on the line and ask if he can handle it.

He'll probably recommend electro-shock therapy. Or lobotomy.

Primal Therapy sounds good to me. Screaming sounds like good therapy.

However the theory has been largely discredited. Others in the psychiatric community claim there have not been enough conclusive results to prove the therapy works. Some say that cathartic discharge only provides temporary relief.

Janov believes that neuroses is the result of suppressed pain, which is the result of trauma, usually childhood trauma. He believes that by confronting their trauma, the patient can relive the original incident or situation and can express the emotions that occurred at that time, thereby resolving the trauma.

Who's right?

I don't know.

And therein lies the problem.

Remember The 5th of November

Did you celebrate Guy Fawkes Night yesterday?

What, no? How can you expect me to respect you?

I celebrated in rollicking good humor.

Guy was a member of a group of English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605. This as part of a plan to assassinate King James I and restore a Catholic monarch to the throne.

The conspirators stockpiled gunpowder beneath the House of Lords; Fawkes was the guy in charge of protecting the gunpowder hidden there.

Through an anonymous letter the authorities caught wind of the plot and searched Westminster Palace ( meeting place for The House of Commons and The House of Lords) early in the morning on November 5. They found Guy Fawkes guarding the explosives.

Over the next few days he was interrogated and tortured. Finally he broke and gave it all up.

Just prior to his execution on January 31, Guy jumped from the scaffold and broke his neck. He was wise to do this. The custom at the time for people convicted of high treason was to hang them almost to the point of death, then emasculate, disembowel, behead and quarter them. Their remains were often displayed in prominent places, like London Bridge.

A broken neck seems a trifle by way of comparison.

By the way, lest you think English society at that time was barbarous -  for reasons of public decency, women convicted of high treason were burned at the stake.

The celebration of Guy Fawkes Day on November 5 is actually a celebration of the failure of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. On this day the British burn effigies of Guy Fawkes on bonfires and combine this with a fireworks display.

Joe, why should I care? How the hell do you even know this?

John Lennon, baby. John Lennon.

On John's first official solo release in 1970, "John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band", is a song titled "Remember."

At the very end of the song, Lennon sings "Remember the 5th of November". These words are followed by an explosion and that is how the song ends.

I always wondered what the hell that was about. After hearing it a few times as a tender 16 year old, I did some research.

And learned about Guy Fawkes.

Rock 'N Roll, baby. Exposing you to the depth and breadth of this sick and twisted world.

And you can dance to it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Meltdown #2 Redux

Of course when I step back a bit and examine these explosions dispassionately they become fascinating.

It is an amazing thing for a human to be pushed to the breaking point. Beyond the point where they can control their anger, their frustration, their depression, their sense of emptiness to the point where they lash out.

Spontaneously. Furiously. With no inherent ability to stop the explosion.

It is amazing that when a human gets to that point - consumed with anger - it is amazing they don't just die. Your body and your mind are dealing with much more than they can handle. You would think you would just flame out. Drop down, roll over and die.

But we humans are bred to suffer.

What I have noticed when these things happen to me is I enter a new zone of existence. Like riding the high of an unknown drug. I go to a place that can only be visited through pure rage mixed with a sense of being overwhelmed.

A high octane cocktail of massive frustration.

After I kicked the boxes, punched the steel cabinet and loudly expressed my true feelings about this hideous job, I had to go back down and deal with the customer. You would think I would be embarrassed.

I was not. I felt nothing.

I was cold and focused. My peripheral vision was gone. All I could see was this guy in front of me and the paper I had to consult. I had no sense that there was anybody else in the store.

He stood in front of me quite uncomfortably and that made me feel good. Because prior to the explosion he was getting pissed. He had been vocal about it and his body language was louder than words.

I heard nothing else but our conversation and I controlled it with an intense, focused, quiet anger.

I was in a singular place, a place detached from reality, except it was my reality. My reality disconnected from what others falsely represent as reality. I was feeling the truth, I was exuding the truth. I had crossed over from playtime to soul-deep, laser-focused, pure existence

I knew in my heart that if that customer said one angry thing to me I would have told him to go fuck himself. Or punched him right in the face.

He felt it too because he was quite polite through the rest of the transaction.

What is that place? Where is that place?

Is that where I should be living? Is that where I should be spending my time?

My experiences are not unique. They cannot be.

99% of the population on this planet are hideously disappointed by life and gravely afraid of death.

We hide the pain behind meaningless phrases that society has deemed acceptable.

Empty words like "Suck it up." Or foolish platitudes like when someone asks you how you are doing and you say "living the dream." When you really mean living the nightmare.

Or empty performances like when you ask someone how they are doing and in a way over the top volume they say "Great."

None of these lies fool anyone.

Emotional explosions probably outnumber breaths drawn every day on this planet.

What do you do about it? That is the magical question.

You cannot continue to exist in an intensity of life-hatred that breaks your brain. Eventually something has to give.

Even though humans are bred to suffer.

Drugs and alcohol will see you through for a while, but everything exacts a price.

It is my tendency to voice my opinion on these situations. To try to offer up solutions.

But the truth is I am not that smart. Not even close.

The truth is there are no universal truths to being a human. We are so twisted, so hurt, so disappointed and so afraid that every human being is a powder keg. Set to detonate whenever life overwhelms to the point of suffocation.

The best you can do is to approach every human contact like a heavy weight boxer and be prepared to duck at the slightest provocation.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Meltdown #2 (Where Is This Leading and When And How Will It All End)

Six or eight months ago, maybe a year ago, I had a public meltdown at work.

Meltdown #1.

I started as a part timer working for the EVIL NH State Liquor Commission around four years ago. Hated the job, loved the guys I was working with.

We were five guys, approximately in the same age category, similar life experiences, similar sense of humor. Although the job fucking sucked we managed to laugh a lot.

Because the life I have built through mistakes, bad intuition, and overwhelming confusion, forces me to make decisions that go against my soul, that suffocate and torture my soul, I took a job as assistant manager of a liquor store. A full time job. Big fucking deal.

For the money. For the fucking money.

That took me away from Eric. Eric was the guy I connected with most deeply as a part timer. We used to laugh together so deeply. More than that, we had many conversations that emanated from our souls. Conversations that revealed our inner most fears and explored the frightening arc of our future.

We maintain contact. He calls me, I call him.

That particular day he called me in my new position in my new store. We talked, we laughed. Genuine laughter no holds barred.

As opposed to the phony, plastic, soul-painful character acting I have had to do every fucking day in this store since I first set foot inside the door.

When I hung up the phone I smashed my fist into a pile of boxes sitting next to me. Because the contrast between the reality of Eric and the pure bullshit of my current situation was unbearable.

The store was open. There were customers milling around. Customers who looked at me like a psycho hose beast.

Last Friday - Meltdown #2. A customer - known as a licensee because they either own and operate a restaurant or a convenience store - had a problem. Their transactions have to be tracked through customer order numbers. It's the law. It allows the state to track what they have purchased versus what they show in inventory.

A co-worked entered the sale without entering the licensee number.

Bad move. I had to fix it. Not easy because the IT system for the State of NH sucks and cannot make subtle differentiations.

I returned the sale but it did not equal the sale that was made. To make a long story short, as I tortured through this process, I had to call my boss's boss THREE times to get guidance.

As the licensee stood there. As 10 minutes became 30 minutes. He was angry. He was frustrated. I was angry. I was frustrated.

As I ascended the steps to the office for THE THIRD FUCKING TIME  to call my boss's boss, I kicked a bunch of boxes. I slammed my fist into a metal cabinet. I said loudly "I hate this fucking job."

Once again there were customers in close proximity to witness all this. And co-workers. And the customer.

What fascinates me is this - in both situations I crossed the line between social acceptability and pure rage. Easily. Angrily. Seamlessly.

There was nothing in my head that said "You can't do this. It is unprofessional. It is unforgiveable."

I just did it.

Know why?

Because I was expressing EXACTLY how I felt in both situations. No filter, no consideration for how the assholes of the world expect me to, command me to, react.

There is a deep message to a meltdown like that. To two meltdowns like that.

The brain is telling you that you better resolve this situation before something drastic happens.

Like heart attack. Stroke. Getting fired. Quitting out of the blue and off the cuff.

Fortunately for all concerned I am docile. I recognize that the mistakes I have made have painted me into an inescapable corner.

I love the EVIL NH State liquor commission. I want to work for them for the rest of my life.

I want to die standing at a NH State liquor commission register with a plastic smile plastered on my face as my soul screams in agony at the suicide my decisions have wrought.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Got A Secret To Tell

On Monday night, October 27, I was in New York City, at the Beacon Theatre, listening to the Allman Brothers Band for the last time in my rapidly waning life.

How did this happen, you ask.

My sons. My sons bought me two tickets to the second to last show ever for The Allman Brothers Band.

At no small expense.

How do you respond to something like that? Such an extravagant gesture?

You dig it to the max.

What they gave me cannot be described, it cannot be understood, except by me.

And I am humbled.

Initially I set things up to attend with my brother. He has recently recognized the glory of this band and I wanted him to experience them in the high church that is the Beacon. He is my brother and my friend and as such does double duty in the meaningful column. The intensity he brings to my life illuminates all that is good about being alive.

Plans came together, plans fell apart.

I then E-mailed my oldest and closest friend in the world, also a mad ABB fan. We have attended countless concerts together. His reply came back telling me that he was in Florida. BUT he said give me a day. I'll see what I can work out.

The next day I got an E-mail saying "I'm in. I booked a flight."

I was exuberant.

How insanely was this coming together? Phil flying up from Florida to NYC for one night, then back to Florida. Me bussing it to Boston, Amtraking it to NYC and back.

The whole trip was a testimony to the closeness of family. Carol put a lot of time and effort in to researching then arranging my travel plans. She even loosened up her grip on the purse strings. Initially she was looking in to bussing the whole way because it is so cheap. Suddenly she said to me "You know what? Take the train. It will be easier and more comfortable for you. This is a special night and you should enjoy the whole experience to the max."

Do you have a loving wife like that? I doubt it.

Phil checked into the hotel at 3:00. I was supposed to be there by then but the train got delayed for 2 and 1/2 hours. I finally got to the hotel at 5:15.

The show was at 8:00.

I dropped my bag on the bed, said hello to my old friend, and literally turned around and walked out the door.

We hit a restaurant we've been to before, strolled down Broadway to a bar, had a  couple of drinks then walked on over to the Beacon. We spent the time laughing, catching up and reminiscing. We haven't seen each other in a couple of years.

Walked into the Beacon at 7:55. Immediately felt the thrill of being there, the history of the place, the shared history of The Allman Brothers in this place, the vibrant hum of a loving and loyal crowd anticipating one of the last shows of a band that is legendary and has the chops to back up that legend.

Our seats were in the upper balcony, dead center stage. A perfect spot to take in the whole experience because this band spreads across the stage. Two full drum kits, tympani, percussion, seven band members standing where they stand - when they are wailing there is so much to see it is cool to be able to see it all at once.

We could see it all at once. Perfectly.

The acoustics of the Beacon are impeccable. There are no bad seats.

They strolled onto the stage around 8:30. This gave us time for another drink or two and to strike up immediate friendships with the people around us. Which happens at every Allman Brothers concert I have ever been to and happens easily. Naturally.

Many of us traded stories about how we came to attend the second to last concert. My story was at the top of the list.

No fanfare with this band, which I have always loved. They walk onto the stage in the dark, everybody starts cheering, they start playing and the lights come up.

No introduction, no drama.

They blew the walls of the Beacon apart. The band excels anyway. At the Beacon they always take it up a notch. Given the meaningfulness of this run they took it up even another notch.

Cannot tell you how many times my mouth dropped open at what I was seeing, what I was hearing. How many times I high fived Phil and others around me as we said in unison "Jesus Christ, can you believe that?"

Twice that night I had tears in my eyes as I looked down on that stage, at this band, knowing I would never see them again. Both times thoughts of my sons were deeply mixed up in those emotions.

They rocked us until midnight and were gone.

I bought the perfect T-shirt commemorating that night. I now own two T-shirts purchased at the Beacon. I will never throw those away, no matter how threadbare they get. The older one is already pretty thin.

Phil and I partied on. It was New York City, for Christ sake - you didn't think we were going to bed early, did you?

Got back to the hotel at 3:30. Phil was up at nine to catch his flight, I was out of the room at 11:00.

Just like that it was over. The lateness of my arrival turned the night in to a full speed fun fest.

It was an explosion of joy, release, awe, friendship, and insanity.

You don't get many nights like that in your life.

Phil and I had one, thanks to my sons.

I got home at 8:00 that night to a quiet house. Carol bowls on Tuesday nights. I loved my cats, sat down in the recliner with pizza and exhaled to think about the insane experience I just enjoyed.

Still, I am in awe.

Strange Karma

I was on my way to New York City to see The Allman Brothers Band, cruising comfortably in the warm arms of Amtrak, everything going like clockwork, when the train suddenly and inexplicably stopped between stations in Milford, Connecticut.

We sat for ten minutes, then twenty and passengers started to wonder what the hell was going on.

Eventually a voice came over the intercom saying there was a medical emergency and there was no way to project how long the delay would be.

Sitting in my window seat I had seen police cruisers and an ambulance pull up on the bridge up above us.

We kept getting vague updates. When we asked Amtrak employees what was going on, they told us nothing.

But this is 2014. Smart phones cannot be denied.

Suddenly word spread through the train that a young woman in her twenties had leaped to her death in front of our train.

Has that ever happened to you?

From the Connecticut Post: "For the second time in five months, a local resident has apparently leaped to their death in the same place and in front of the same speeding Amtrak train. On Monday afternoon, a woman in her 20's, whose name has not yet been released, died when she was struck by Amtrak Train 93, according to rail officials.  .................the train was held at the spot while the woman's remains were removed from the tracks."

I was on Amtrak train 93.

At first there was quiet. Reflection, maybe. Shock.

Eventually human nature took over. I heard people calling others explaining they would be late. Much later than expected. Trying to figure out how to make up for missed travel connections. Trying to figure out when and where they would meet those who were waiting to meet them.

There was more than a hint of impatience, annoyance and frustration in their voices.

I don't know what the protocol is when someone commits suicide in front of you.

But the atmosphere seemed odd to me.

I was no better than anyone else. The train stopped around 12:30. By 2:30 I began to wonder if there was a chance I would be late for the concert, even though it was at 8:00. I had no idea how much longer the trip would be nor any idea how long the delay would be.

My close friend Phil had flown up from Florida and was meeting me at the hotel. I had the concert tickets.

I was thinking how much it would suck if this magnificent opportunity were turned into a disaster.

I felt uncomfortable with these thoughts.

Maybe there should be a rule book on suicide. Maybe hopeless people should be schooled to not include or inconvenience anyone else when they take their own life. Maybe it should be an expressly private thing.

I don't know how you get this information into the right hands. I'm thinking a smart phone app, and scrolling messages during reality TV shows could target 90% of the population.

It was a surreal experience. Painful to think someone so young could feel so hopeless. Eye opening to have suicide introduced into your life as you anticipate a night of pure happiness.

As it turned out, I got to the hotel at 5:15 instead of 2:15. Phil and I agreed this was probably a good thing. If we had six hours to kill before the concert we would have gotten in trouble. Things could have gotten blurry.

It seemed like a small, selfish, cold hearted thought to have.