Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Lemmy Kilmister is Dead

Lemmy Kilmister is dead at the age of 70.

He formed the band Motorhead and was one rare individual; the rare human being who was exactly who he is no matter what in every situation every day of his life.

Full disclosure - I didn't really become aware of the man until the last five years or so. I am definitely not a Motorhead fan; they did not capture my interest so I was not exposed to this lion of a man until recently.

I had read about him from time to time and became aware of a documentary called "Lemmy", which I checked out and loved.

That is when I got a sense of who this man was and how he lived his life.

He had a soul-deep fuck you attitude - if you did not like him, his music, his lifestyle or his band he could care less and wasn't afraid to let you know that.

He lived the bad-ass rock 'n roll lifestyle to the max, refusing to scale it back until he absolutely had to in 2013, for health reasons.

He claimed that he drank a bottle of Jack Daniels every day since he was thirty. He smoked cigarettes and loved his speed.

For the past thirty or forty years Lemmy lived in LA right around the corner from a bar called The Rainbow. He had a permanent seat at the bar and could be seen there every day drinking Jack and just being Lemmy.

Ozzy Osbourne was a close friend of Lemmy's right from the beginning of their careers and remained close for the rest of Lemmy's life.

In remembering Lemmy Ozzy said they used to joke about who was going to die first. But Ozzy cut way back on the booze and drugs many years ago. Lemmy said: "What's the point of living to 99 if you're not enjoying it? It's my life and I want to have fun with it."

There it is right there. That is what it's all about.

So I sit here talking to you about a guy I don't really know, who's career I never followed and you have to ask why? What is the point?

If I talk about Keith Richards or Gregg Allman I am talking from a position of strength - these are guys I have followed since I was a wee lad and I can tell you a thing or two about them.

Lemmy came into my awareness only recently.

So, why?

As I sit here contemplating the arrival of 2016 and the beginning of my 63rd year of life, it resonates with me that the one and only new year's resolution worth making for you and for me is to commit - fully and with extreme prejudice - to being exactly who you are.

Living your life your way regardless of what anybody thinks about you.

None of us do that. We all slither through life on our bellies.

The reason is that it is hard to be yourself ferociously. You have to have balls to not care what people think about you; to live a lifestyle that others condemn, to speak opinions that few agree with.

However, think about the consequence of a life lived that way.

Complete and fulfilling peace in and communion with your own soul.

That has to be the ultimate existence, the very reason for being alive. The only reason for being alive. There can be nothing more fulfilling than that.

That is why I am glad I learned about Lemmy Kilmister, that is how his life touched me.

His death disturbs me only because I know full well the world has lost an original and there are precious few originals around.

The world has become more complacent.

I could never mourn his death because he lived his life exactly the way he wanted to, knowing full well where his lifestyle was leading him.

I respect him enormously for that.

As 2015 trickles away, another year pissed away on trivialities; as 2016 looms large in the headlights, think hard about who you really are and who you are pretending to be.

Think about the supreme happiness you could experience just by being you. Think about that sense of peace that would no doubt be the greatest sensation you could ever imagine.

That's what I am doing. I am thinking hard about that.

Let's go out and get it.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


"To dare to live alone is the rarest courage; since there are many who had rather meet their bitterest enemy in the field, than their own hearts in the closet."

"Suicide sometimes proceeds from cowardice but not always; for cowardice sometimes prevents it; since as many live because they are afraid to die, as die because they are afraid to live."

Charles Caleb Colton

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Here Comes #3 (Don't Waste The Opportunity)

So here we are.

Thanksgiving came around peacefully and left gracefully as it always does. The greatest of all holidays.

Christmas gets stupid no matter how hard you try to avoid that. You vow that there will be no gift giving, no shopping but you still end up having to buy stuff. You still end up stuck in crowds and waiting in line, even if it is only at the supermarket.

Do people still use the word supermarket?

However, when the day itself rolls around, Christmas day, it is beautiful.

And then it too is gone.

And by the way, who the hell decided that these three major holidays should be grouped so close together?

You get a month and half of frenzied fun, distraction and relief and then a long stretch of the same old same old.

Killer schedule.

So you sit here on December 27 looking at four days left in 2014.

You know you gotta somehow plow through four days of work just to get to the point of celebration.

What will that celebration be?

Will you just get stupid drunk on New Year's Eve, spend the first day of your new year with your head in the toilet bowl and then go back to the same meaningless, dead end life routine?

I hope not.

New Year's Day is heavy for me because it does double duty as my birthday. I get deeply introspective, I look at my life, I dare to look in the mirror.

I get all revved up and then I fail every single time.

I think the only victory I have experienced recently was the year I vowed to lose weight and get under 170 pounds.

It felt good. However, right now I weigh about what I did when I first dedicated myself to losing the weight that year.

A pretty hollow victory, no?

For what it is worth, at least I make the effort, take the time every year to look at myself and figure out what has to change in order for me to develop some sort of pride and self respect.

This is what everybody should do at this time of year.  It is the perfect time to take a hard look at the things you hate about your life and yourself and try to figure out what you have to do to get yourself happy.

You shouldn't let the next week and the holiday slip away like they always do.

Use them. Pull your head out of your ass for a while.

We all get numb just trying to survive and we forget how to be happy. We forget how to think and we don't have the energy for change.

That is how the majority of human lives get wasted. Used up meaninglessly as if they were nothing important.

Your life is the only thing you have. The only thing, and it blows by at faster miles an hour.

My track record for change and resurrection sucks. Absolutely blows.

I stay mired in the same old shit for decades and become more bitter all the time.

My own fault. Entirely my own fault.

I feel a different sensation this year. Something approaching strength. Feel it from the inside.

It is heavily driven by a thing called Fear. Fear of 62.

You will hear all about my convictions on January 1, 2016.

Until then I suggest you do some soul searching. Take the time. Change your life; change yourself.

There is no other reason to remain alive.

Friday, December 25, 2015

And So This Is Christmas

So here we go.

Christmas 2015.

I don't typically get to wordify in here until the holiday is over. Usually sleep late, read a little, coffee up and get organized for the family assault.

Luckily I was awakened at 6:30 this morning by my asshole neighbor's asshole dog.

How's that for Christmas spirit?

Goddamn dog started barking at 6:30. Our bedroom window is open because it is June in December - the dog might as well have been in bed with us.

So we have been awake for a while.

Anyway..................the good stuff.

It is Christmas day. I am looking forward to spending this special day with my extraordinary family.

Got the full crew today and that makes for a magical, mystical beautiful gathering.

The holiday got kicked off in style last night with Christmas eve dinner at Keith and Emily's.

What a delicious, laid back, natural family get together.

Just the four of us. And Cooper and Jack.

Casual conversation, laughter, and the trust and comfort of family. That deeply warm and safe feeling you get from being with people you love endlessly and trust implicitly.

We sat around the dining room table basking in candlelight and enjoying the excellent meal that Emily had prepared. Even the goofy snickerdoodle flat baked dessert.

You get a few years down the road and everyone has different experiences under their belts, which makes the conversation better - never boring. Things change.

I looked into Keith's eyes and Emily's eyes, I listened to what they had to say; no distractions and I felt closer to them then ever.

This is the 2015 version of Keith and Emily - they have been living their lives and that gives them fresh perspective and deeper wisdom.

They are a fiercely creative couple which makes them even nearer and dearer to my heart.

Beautiful night, beautiful family.

Today it will be Carol, Keith, Emily, Craig, Karen and Eddie. The six people who are as much a part of me as my heart and my soul.

What a very lucky man I am.

I staggered into Christmas because I work in retail. Christmas spirit has been a struggle, even with Bill Murray's help and that of "Love, Actually", which Carol and I enjoyed again in our annual viewing on Wednesday night.

Last night was perfect. Absolutely perfect. It jump started my emotions to exactly where they should be to enjoy Christmas in the way it should be enjoyed.

I'm feeling emotional, grateful and strong today in the awareness of the pure and natural beauty and gift that I am lucky enough to call family.

We Americans have Christmas all screwed up, but when the day arrives, if you are lucky, it does become special.

It is a moment in time.

I will keep my eyes and my heart open today.

To Carol, Keith, Emily, Craig, Karen and Eddie  - Happy Christmas. I love you more than I can ever express in words or in any other way available to me.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

I Forgive You Keith

Keith Richards turned 72 on December 18th and once again he did not invite me to party with him.

I forgive him.

I planned on getting in here on his birthday but I blew it.

Distracted, rushed, unfocused - retail at Christmas, baby - it will burn your soul.

All I gotta say is this man - this Keith Richards - is a guy I admire.

A guy I have admired my whole life.

You may not get that but I don't give a damn.

Happy Birthday Keith - I am so happy you have made it to 72 and I am thrilled to see how much further you can push this thing.

Love you, man.

Opening Myself Up To Weird

I got home tonight beat down like an unloved, scrap eating dog.

Got myself sick over the weekend but I would not give in. We had dinner plans with Phil & Betty on Saturday night, super close friends of ours who will soon be slipping away to Florida for the winter so there was NO WAY I was going to cancel and sit home blowing my super sized Testa nose.

I packed my pockets full of kleenex and talked and laughed and got intimate with lifelong friends as I blew my nose through a magnificent dinner and a great night.

Hope I was not too disgusting.

Sunday I had to be there for my brother. I would never let him down in any situation as long as I can help it. And especially now when I understand the depth of his pain. Went down to participate in the ceremony and after-gathering commemorating the one year anniversary of Jonathan's death - my brother's only son.

Left early because I was feeling poorly; came home and sat like a lump on my recliner for a few hours before falling into bed.

Did the Monday thing at work and the Tuesday thing at work - got home Monday night at 10:00, had to be back at work for 7:30 this morning.

Retail. Christmas. Absolutely horrendous.

All I wanted today was to get home and melt into my recliner.

I was supposed to get out of work at 4:00 - I left at 5:45. But I made it, threw two slices of meat lovers pizza on a plate, poured myself a Blue Moon with a chunk of orange, and dialed up the Keith Richards special on Netflix. Second time around.

My plan was to dig it while I ate and then undertake the arduous task of searching Netflix for a movie that would heal my soul. I was already halfway through the special; I had watched a chunk of it the other night.

I fell right into it. Could not turn away.

It hit me - why the hell would I cut it short to search for a movie when what I was watching was feeding my soul?

So I dug it to the end. Again.

Really, really dug it. Focused on it, picked up on stuff I had missed last time around, laughed with Keith, dug in deep to who the man really is. This man that I love.

Shit it was good.

Came to an end and I immediately dialed up "A Very Murray Christmas."

For the third time.

Crawled all the way into it again. Loved it, felt it, laughed with it, lost my hurt in it.

I am continuously amazed when the things that connect with me heal me. When they lift me up and help me forget and inspire me to notice and to feel and to just fucking be.

These things are me. Keith Richards ain't for everybody. Bill Murray ain't for everybody.

But they are for me and I will never apologize for that.

Why should I apologize for people who make me feel alive? Why should I apologize for who I am - who I really fucking am?

It was a random night, unplanned and unexpected.

It settled me beautifully.

Got Springsteen on the tube right now as I write these words - a concert I taped a while ago.

It is delicious.

I have only been home for 3 hours and I feel whole except for the absence of my lovely wife who is bowling tonight.

I came home feeling ripped up, beat down, sick and tired and lost.

I am now back in sync with my soul.

I am weird and I like weird.

I plan on celebrating that loudly from now on.

I came home smacked down.

Keith and Bill lifted me back up.

Pretty good night.

I am grateful for nights like tonight.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Christmas Will Never Be The Same

Christmas will never be the same.

That realization hit me like a sledgehammer to the face this week.

I spoke to my brother on Tuesday, which was Kathy's (his ex-wife) birthday. She was not celebrating; her birthday comes along two days before the first anniversary of her only son's death.

It was obvious that Eddie was upset; he and Kathy had spent some time together that day.

When I got off the phone I cried.

I spent most of Wednesday thinking and worrying about my loving wife, Carol. That day was the anniversary of  her brother Sarge's death.

I cried many times Wednesday, thinking of her, thinking of him.

I spent Thursday dreading the call I planned to make to Eddie on the anniversary of his only son's death. I cried off and on during the day.

We never connected by phone. I cried that night.

As if that wasn't enough, Carol told me last night that she had received word that Rob McMenimen had died yesterday. Rob is an old friend of ours from back when we all worked at The Mitre Corporation. We have known him for at least 35 years. He was a couple of years older than us.

We rarely saw him but Carol had a lot of contact with Rob on facebook.

Way back when, Rob turned me on to John Waters. It was around 1972 or 1973. Rob and I shared a twisted perspective. I remember the night vividly. We ate dinner in Cambridge, MA at a funky, cool, atmospheric restaurant where we consumed excessive amounts of alcohol and ate well. Then we went to an equally funky theater to see "Pink Flamingos."

The movie is without a doubt one of the most twisted movies I have ever seen. Quirky, funny, repulsive to some people, campy.

I became a lifelong John Waters fan.

It is a rare thing when someone can turn you on to something or someone interesting; amazing that that person intuitively knows you will connect and keep a lifelong interest.

I remember Rob for many things, but that night will stand out in my mind forever.

December has become a cruel month for this family. Two years ago Craig lost a close friend in December. Last year we lost Jonathan, we lost Sarge. This year Craig lost another close friend in December. And now Rob.

I don't understand it. I understand that life is unpredictable and often cruel but I did not need all this sadness to drive that point home.

Nothing I can do about it except.....................................

Love my family openly and honestly with every fiber of my being and make sure they know it.

Carol, Keith, Emily, Craig, Karen and Eddie.

These six people are at the very core of my existence. I love them all so deeply it overwhelms me. I will never be able to put into words the love I have for them; the joy and the wonder they bring into my life; the way they constantly remind me, just by being who they are, that my life is magic.

I enjoy good, close friends who I trust implicitly, even with my life. We are going to dinner tonight with two of them - Phil & Betty.

I have known Phil since the second grade. That is 55 years, baby. You think that is a meaningful friendship?

I treasure it.

I am disgusted with the way December has treated my family recently. But I have a lot to hold on to.

I will hold on with every reserve of strength available to me as long as I live.

Thursday, December 17, 2015


To Jonathan:

It has been a year since you died.

My heart aches for your mother and your father. I cry when I think of you, I cry when I think of them.

Your father gave me a beautiful picture of you standing by a lake with your arms spread wide. The picture hangs on the wall right across from my recliner.

Every time I look at it I shake my head in disbelief, and I often cry.

I look at it a lot.

My thoughts:

My deepest regret is that I never got to really know my nephew as a man. My brother's only son. The last seven or eight years of his life were an enormous struggle, and I did not get to see much of him.

He was 27 when he died.

But there are some memories. We went to an Allman Brothers concert once; Jonathan, Eddie, Kevin and me. Did up some barbecue on my porch before we went and had a great night at Meadowbrook.

I visited Jonathan in rehab once with Eddie. Made a long trip down, I forget where the facility was, and when we got there we sat with Jonathan, just the three of us in a room.

Talking. Just talking.

He seemed so upbeat at the time, seemed like he was making progress.

That's what sucks about that goddamn disease. Heroin addiction. It doesn't let go.

He bounced back so many times, got himself a job and started over. Just the fact that he kept landing jobs considering what he was going through is a testament to his willpower.

So many lazy people say they can't find a job and my nephew would get out of rehab and find himself a job. Usually cooking, and he always did well and was often offered the opportunity to manage the kitchen.

Then he would succumb once again to the power of that goddamn drug.

Jonathan was a talented musician and artist. One of my brother's greatest sources of pride was teaching him to play the drums. He played well. I know that for a fact because my brother told me so and he would not sugar coat it if Jonathan couldn't play.

Jonathan was smart, he was witty, he was charismatic, he was creative.

I wish deeply, with all of my heart, that I could have been closer to him as an uncle. Just so I could enjoy his personality and feel his magic. I think we would have made a pretty good pair.

He has left me feeling like I somehow blew it, and I ache because of that.

Jonathan was destroyed by a drug that hollows out your insides and turns you into someone else, someone darker, someone unrecognizable.
I used to joke about hard drugs, make stupid comments about how I could use some heroin to kill my pain. I thought guys like Pablo Escobar and George Jung were cool; outlaws getting rich and flipping the finger at society.

I see things differently now. I see those guys as assholes.

Ultimately, Jonathan's gift is the love and pride and happiness he inspired in Eddie and Kathy for most of his life. He brought a lot to this world, a lot more than most people do.

He made my brother happy. He made my brother proud. I love my brother deeply and I can take some comfort in knowing that.

But it hurts to know how much Eddie hurts since December, 17, 2014.

It has been a year and the pain is no less. No less at all.

The loss is too big.

I wish I could have gotten to know Jonathan a lot better. A lot deeper.

I will never get that chance now.

I regret that deeply. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


It has been a year since you died.

I miss you, man.

Time flies even when you are in pain. This year went by so fast even though so many carried sadness around in their hearts, missing Sarge.

You would expect sadness to slow things down, that the loss and the pain would stretch out time but it just doesn't work that way.

Life is relentless, time is relentless.

Memory also, can be relentless.

I cannot tell you how many times I thought about Sarge over the past year. At home alone, in the car, at work, sometimes in tears (often in tears), sometimes with smiles.

The expression "I think about you every day" is overblown, it is an impossible cliche, but I can say truthfully that Sarge was in my heart and in my head for a vast majority of the past year.

That is because he was a big part of my life.

I regret deeply than I can no longer spend time with him. He was a real man and an inspiration to me.

I also have a treasure trove of memories because I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with him.

So many race weekends, time spent in his apartments, his home, the Grille, and more.

We shared so much insanity, so many laughs. He was a natural, he made me feel comfortable and we just went for it when it was party time.

A memory just popped into my head of one of the fund raisers thrown for him when he was fighting cancer. He was in a wheel chair, we were sitting side by side at a table surrounded by people, having our own conversation.

Even then he was able to laugh and to make me laugh. He was stronger than I will ever be.

We also shared many intimate conversations, one on one and heart to heart, the memories of which I truly treasure.

He was not just a crazy man, which is an easy stereotype. He was gentle and loving and considerate and thoughtful.

I miss Sarge deeply; it breaks my heart that he is not around.

As sad as I am, Carol's pain is ten fold.

Because Sarge was a great brother to her. He loved her and she loved him back. He took time to be with her and he protected her.

Carol always tells me that Sarge taught her how to throw like a guy, not like a girl. I love that story.

She has told me many stories of things they did together, evidence of the deep bond they shared.

There is a picture floating around of Carol and Sarge sitting on a couch together at Bill and Gail's home when we went up to watch the Daytona 500 a few short years ago.

They are side by side, so easy in conversation, so comfortable in each other's company.

It is a magnificent picture that captures the love and respect they had for each other.

It has been a year. There will be many more years, but my heart tells me the emotions will not change.

That is a testament to the man that Sarge was. He was larger than life and he is larger than death.

I am grateful and proud to have called him brother-in-law.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Total Immersion - Part 1

I was going to create one post summarizing my current total immersion in two different directions, but as it played out in my head I realized it would run so long that we would all be dead before reaching the end.

And that is assuming anybody has the interest, the commitment and the endurance to even try, which is a pretty large assumption in and of itself.

Hence part 1 and part 2.

On Thanksgiving Craig mentioned to me that we should see the new Star Wars movie together. He is determined to get me to experience a brain exploding movie in 3D.

Star Wars is obviously the perfect choice.

Carol and I, Craig and Karen, and Karen's dad took in The Wizard of Oz in 3D in days gone by and it was pretty cool. But Craig assured me it wasn't a real 3D experience since the movie was obviously not filmed with 3D in mind.

Craig assigned homework. He suggested I watch all six Star Wars movies before seeing the new one so the saga would be fresh in my mind.

I was all in.

If you have read me consistently in this lunatic blog you know that I don't finish anything I start. I make all kind of plans, make all kind of booming announcements, promise this and talk about that, and then proceed to undermine my own determination.

It's a problem.

However this time I threw myself into the task. I got help from our friend Jason (strange boy who wears a kilt to work) who owns all six movies. He gave me the three originals and kept the three prequels, which we would then swap.

I was working late shift at the time leaving my mornings free. I watched Episode IV on a Thursday a.m, V on Friday, and VI on Monday. Three movies in five days. Stunning.

The bonus was that I really enjoyed them. I forgot how cool it is to lose yourself in complete fantasy.

I typically watch dark movies, independent movies, foreign movies and other things that categorize me as a movie snob. But whenever I watch a Mission Impossible or something quite like it, I totally dig it.

Why do I limit myself so? Apparently my brain has atrophied.

Another bonus was that it was really cool to start the day with a cup of tea and a movie.

Morning is my reading time, when I have the time. It is sacred to me. Suddenly, I realized that a movie in the morning is also a great way to disconnect your brain from reality.


I learned stuff this time around, obvious stuff that I should already have known. Like the fact that (and you will kill me for this one) Princess Leia is Luke Skywalker's sister. I thought she was having a hot menage a trois with Luke and Han Solo.

I don't remember seeing Darth Vader's real face just before he died. I didn't remember how stunning Princess Leia looked in that gold bikini in Episode VI.

I don't remember realizing how powerful the concept of The Force is, how zen-like and cool it is.

I am committed to learning about The Force and to making it a part of my life. My only chance for redemption at this late stage of my life is to become a Jedi warrior. 

I don't remember experiencing the pure joy of watching those cute little Ewoks dancing in celebration. I was all smiles this time around.

The original movies came out in 1977, 1980, and 1983. I was probably drunk and/or high when I saw them. That is my defense for the unknowing of such critical plot information.

The point is...........................I really dug these movies. Enjoyed them without reservation. Got lost in the story and found myself experiencing it emotionally.

Very cool.

I also held true to my commitment. Kilt Boy and I swapped trilogies. I will be watching the first prequel today.

I feel quite mature. 

Total Immersion - Part 2

The Allman Brothers Band played their final concert on October 28, 2014 at The Beacon Theatre in New York City.

My friend Phil, the only other pre-eminant Allman Brothers scholar that I trust, bought the live CD documenting this legendary night and told me it was supreme.

He mentioned it to me on more than one occasion, telling me I had to buy it.

I did.

He did not lie.

This band was an exceptionally talented band. They rocked us from heaven to hell and back on a musical and emotional roller coaster that would just blow your mind.

When they were inspired, your jaw would just drop in disbelief at the gorgeous music they created.

The virtuosity they displayed on their instruments, the incredible tightness of the band that could go off on an 11 minute jam and then circle back around precisely to the point of take off without blinking an eye, the dedication to the blues and the worship of the original masters, all of this came off the stage in waves and raised you up to a holy musical place.

On October 28, 2014 they were inspired to the point of perfection.

I have been listening to the album on my rides to and from HELL and I have been overwhelmed.

Laughing, smiling, tearing up here and there, singing along inexpertly and deferring to the master - Gregg - when the song demanded it - I have been lost in forty minute mini-concerts of ecstasy.

Even the filler riffs played by Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks in between vocal phrases - 10 second explosions of guitar - are just mind blowing.

The version of "Black Hearted Woman" on this CD, all 13 minutes and 17 seconds of it, might be not only the greatest version of that song I have ever heard, it could very well be the most stunning piece of Allman Brothers virtuosity I have ever experienced.

And I have had hundreds of transcendent Allman Brothers moments.

Melissa, baby. Whenever you saw Gregg stroll to the front of the stage with an acoustic guitar in his hands, you knew you were going to be treated to "Melissa."

When I heard it on this CD, the tears trickled. I was thinking how many times I have witnessed this situation and how many times I have been moved by it.. I was picturing Gregg standing front and center on the stage of the Beacon Theatre, where I have been lucky enough to have attended three Allman Brothers concerts, and thinking I may never see that again.

BUT..............maybe I will. Gregg is now touring with his own solo band. I don't see him abandoning his signature song.

Whipping Post, baby. Could very well be the band's signature song. From their very first album. I have heard that song in encore many, many times in concert. The ominous bass rumble that kicks it off and the emotional build to Gregg's tortured words at the end - "Sometimes I feel like I've been tied to the whipping post...."

The band absolutely kicks ass on "Whipping Post" on this CD. I got the scars on my back to prove it.

There is a 4 minute and 10 second chunk called "crowd noise" on this CD just before the Allman Brothers launch into "Whipping Post." I'm assuming the band had walked of stage in preparation for coming back to do "Whipping Post" as an encore.

I listen to that noise - people clapping, whistling, shouting - I can close me eyes and be there at the Beacon. I can be there at every Allman Brothers concert I have ever attended. I feel it, I remember it, the anticipation, the appreciation for this band that has brought so much happiness into so many lives for forty five years.

And the explosion of applause as the band walks back on stage.

I've been there, baby and I will miss it for the rest of my life.

Before they play the last song of the night the band bids a farewell to the audience. Heartfelt words spoken humbly, as is this bands style. Tears, baby - tears.

They end it all with "Trouble No More", which Gregg says is the song that kicked it all off 45 years ago.


One line that is eternally linked with The Allman Brothers Band is "the road goes on forever", from "Midnight Rider."

The road, unfortunately, does not go on forever. But I have this CD to ease my worried mind and soothe my battered soul whenever I need it.

That, and my memory of having been at the Beacon on October 27, 2014 for the second to last Allman Brothers show, will sustain my love for the music of this band for as long as I have the capacity to appreciate it.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Sad Commentary

Driving home tonight listening to Planet Mikey on the radio.

It is a sports talk show featuring Mike Adams.

Mike Adams is hilarious. Keith introduced him to us a thousand years ago. Had a show on the tube - all about sports - but filled with insanity. Hilarious.

His radio show is just as good. The guy is a nut and he makes me laugh.

Anyway..................on Monday nights his show cuts out early to segue into Monday Night Football.

They cut over to the football announcers and the guy opens with "It's Monday night football featuring the  5 and 7 NY Giants and the 5 and 7 Miami Dolphins. A game with playoff implications."

There is no planet in any universe where a game between two loser football teams should have playoff implications.

This is a sad commentary on the state of the NFL this year.

But, goddamn it - I still love football.

I have a problem.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Christmas Spirit and Perspective

Just got home from work.

Shortly before I left, a woman and her kid came through my register. As they walked toward the register they were singing "Santa Claus is Coming To Town." You better watch out, you better not shout and all that.

Singing it. Openly. Boldly. In a liquor store.

It was beautiful.

Her son has Down Syndrome.

Got to the register and mom stopped singing. A short moment of silence and then her son started belting out the chorus like Bruce Springsteen - "Santa Claus is coming to town, Santa Claus is coming to town, Santa Claus is coming to town." Really rocking it out and accentuating it like Springsteen does.

When he finished it I told him it was really cool. I told him it sounded like he was having fun and he said he was.

I said this is a good time of year to have fun and he lit up and said "Yeah, it's Christmas time and it is a very good time to have fun."

Mom told me he is nineteen years old and would I mind if she bought him a lottery scratch ticket. She bought it and he scratched it right there.

Slowly, neatly and meticulously.

Mom checked it out and told him he didn't win anything. I told her I should check it in the lottery machine just in case.

I did and it was a loser. I told him I was sorry, he did not win. I worried that he might be upset but he looked at me and said "Oh well, we tried our best."

Then he and his mom walked out singing.

This entire 2015 Christmas season and Christmas day happened in about five minutes right in front of my eyes at that register tonight.

How delicately beautiful.

Thursday, December 10, 2015


"To pursue the American Dream is not only futile but self-destructive, because ultimately it destroys everything and everyone."

Hubert Selby Jr.

A Very Murray Christmas

You never know where inspiration will come from.

I had no Christmas spirit going on. None.

It was not a negative thing, no sense of anger or depression; I just wasn't feeling anything.

Thanksgiving is spectacular here at Testa central and I typically feel a little lost after it is all over. The return to drudgery overwhelms.

Usually the Christmas spirit thing kicks in on its own. It seeps, it oozes, it makes its way into my diseased brain. You got your lights, the music, the people obsessing about the upcoming holiday. Eventually my emotions realize that it is, once again, Christmas.

Not this year.

I think part of it stems from the precarious situation I find myself in. The decision has been made - I will be retiring soon. I have done the research, had my questions answered and I feel comfortable that I can pull this off.

Of course I need a part time job to make it work but I think that is do-able. All I gotta do is pull the trigger.

The hesitation comes from the fact that I feel like this is the final roll of the dice. The final gamble, the last chance to DO something with my life.

I will not be content to collect SS and work part time. If that is all I do then I become an eternal loser.

What I expect from this final phase of my life is the chance to excite and discover myself. To shed the disingenuous persona I have worn for forty years and burst upon the scene as me.

Pure and unadulterated.

The prospect is daunting because I have not been able to do that - ever - in my entire life.

So I am dangling in between right now and believe me it is disconcerting. Especially at work, where it is worse in my head now more than ever before because I have an escape clause.

I go to work, climb into the meat grinder, come home in pieces, sleep myself back together and return to do it all over again. And the entire time I am in the store I have to fight the impulse to punch cases of wine, smash cases of booze, kick displays over, throw things around the store and drive my fist into peoples' faces.

Probably not a good state of mind for work in retail.

My brain is scrambled, Christmas cannot get in.

Until Tuesday night. Bill Murray saved me.

Randomly, I came across "A Very Murray Christmas" on Netlix.

It is a quirky, inventive, comical, cooly original Christmas special starring Bill, along with Paul Shaffer, George Clooney, Miley Cyrus, Chris Rock, David Johansen, Amy Poehler and other younger personalities that I don't know but you crazy kids will recognize.

I loved it for it's uniquely skewed perspective. It is a different take on Christmas specials complete with a story, spoofs of typical specials, great music, and understated humor.

Please watch it immediately. It will add a fresh, new twist to your Christmas that, admit it, you sorely need.

It is only an hour long so you can watch it over and over again. Which I plan on doing.

It connected with me and instantaneously ignited Christmas feelings in my soul.

Wednesday morning I was called in to work on a day I was supposed to have off. I rushed through my scattered CD collection looking for all my Christmas CD's.

Insanely impatient as I am, I was piling CD's on the floor until I came across the Mariah Carey one. Happily listened to it last night on the ride home from HELL. Still have Elvis, B.B. King, Willie, Diana Ross and others waiting in the wings with their Christmas song offerings.

Christmas is here, baby.

Of course with Paul Shaffer involved in the Murray Christmas, the music is excellent. I especially dug "The Christmas Blues."

The one you really have to hear is "Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'", featuring Bill Murray and George Clooney. It is hilarious.

You never know, baby -  you never know.

I came home from work Tuesday night feeling nothing and ended up exploding into Christmas 2015 thanks to one Bill Murray.

Take it where you can get it.

I was thinking last night on my ride home from HELL that the reason I like the lights

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

John Lennon

John Lennon was murdered thirty five years ago today.

Decades before killing people became the recreational sport it is today.

He was forty years old.

I was stunned at the time and I still can't believe it when I print those words today.

The man fought for peace. He stood for peace, for Christ sake, and he was gunned down by a low life piece of shit outside the Dakota as he and Yoko were returning home from a recording session.

A recording session that was part of the process of delivering two albums, Double Fantasy, and Milk and Honey.

Double Fantasy was fantastic. Emotional, personal and reflective of where John's head was at at the time.

The man had just spent five years outside the limelight,"baking bread" as he put it. Taking care of his newborn, Sean. He had a new perspective on life and he expressed it in his lyrics.

I remember seeing some footage shot shortly before he died where Lennon is walking and talking to the camera and asking his audience "How are you doing? We survived the seventies and now we are into a new decade." Other things that I can't remember.

What I like about it was that he was recognizing his age and the age of his audience. He was saying we are all older now. Things are different. How are you feeling about that? What are you doing about that?

He was always challenging his audience.

My favorite Christmas song, bar none, is "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" exactly because it challenges you to reflect.

"And so this is Christmas, and what have you done, another year over, a new one just begun". It ain't about unwrapping presents - it is about unwrapping your life. Examining it to appreciate it and to make it better.

That is what everybody should be doing at this time of year.

He also hammered home that everybody deserves a good Christmas. For "the near and the dear ones, the old and the young, for weak and for strong, for rich and the poor ones, for black and for white, for yellow and red ones."

"A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, let's hope it's a good one, without any fear."

Thirty five years later we have nothing but fear.

I watched rock 'n rollers die when I was young and they were young. Foolish people who pushed the limits too far. Hunter S. Thompson said "The only ones who really know where the edge is are the ones who have gone over." Too many of them found that edge. I'm thinking Hendrix, Joplin and Morrison but there were many others as well.

I am 61 now and I have seen so many more of the people who brought magic to my life dying. Too many too fast.

But none of them were gunned down. Assassinated. Incomprehensible.

John Lennon was all about peace and he was entering the most peaceful period of his life. It is horrific that that was snatched away from him.

And from us.

Consider the songs on Double Fantasy. "Just Like Starting Over; Watching The Wheels; Woman; Dear Yoko; Hard Times Are Over."

All about hope and perspective.

"Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)". The song that always makes me cry. I used to sit and listen to that song with tears rolling down my cheeks, thinking about my own sons.

Lennon relocated to new York City because it is such a vibrant and creative place. He liked the possibilities and the energy of the place.

And he felt safe there. He could walk the streets without being mobbed.

He was murdered in the city where he felt safe. Everything about his death was cruel because the vicious way he was murdered was so completely opposite to the way he was feeling.

The son of a bitch who murdered him had asked John to autograph an album earlier in the day.

 I am thirty five years down the road and my emotions are still raw when I think of John's death.

That is the impact this man had on so many people.

His contribution to the world was a gift.

His death was a vile waste of hope and promise.

And peace.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Why Most republican and Some Democratic Politicians Suck

December 14, 2012. Newtown, CT. 20 children and 6 adults massacred at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

December 2, 2015. San Bernardino, CA. 14 people were massacred, 21 were wounded at The Inland Regional Center, a facility that serves individuals with developmental disabilities. The shootings took place at a Christmas party, which makes the massacre horrific on two levels.

San Bernardino is the deadliest mass shooting since Newtown, in case you are keeping score.

Both cases inspired a spirited outcry demanding tighter gun control laws. Of course nothing has changed.

After both incidents I listened to republican scum dance around the issue of tighter gun control laws, relying on semantics to confuse the argument.

They said that the expression "assault weapons" is too broad and needs to be narrowly defined.

I listened to one spineless weasel this week reminisce about  a previous congressional debate, years ago, about assault weapons that he said devolved to an argument about the design of these weapons, how they look, as opposed to what they can do. He also pointed out if you use the term semi-automatic weapons instead of assault weapons, then a ban on semi-automatic weapons would include his shotgun, which he uses to shoot, without having to re-load, quail as they fly overhead.

Another favorite diversion revolves around mental health. They say we need tighter control and tracking of people with mental illness, to prevent them from purchasing guns.

These scum suckers intentionally divert the argument away from the truth, which is that we need stricter gun control laws. They do it because the NRA pays them to do it.
In a just world, the low-life mutants who utter these words would immediately burst into flame as the words escape their mouths.
Apparently the deal struck with the NRA as a politician includes accepting their money, having your balls surgically removed and allowing electro-shock treatments to erase morality from your thinking process.

They are willing to guarantee future massacres rather than stand up to the NRA. That is how powerful the NRA's influence is in this country.

If they at least demanded a list of specific weapons to be banned it would make sense. But they don't. They don't want any weapons banned.

Tighter gun controls will not solve the problem, but common sense says they will at least reduce the scope of the problem.

I was prepared to use this latest incident as fuel for an indictment of the citizens of this country. When I found out San Bernardino most likely was a terrorist attack I hesitated. Upon further review I decided to go ahead.

I am currently immersed in the Star Wars movies. I will explain why in a subsequent post.

There is that great scene when Obi-Wan Kenobi takes Luke Skywalker into that wacked out bar looking for Han Solo. Obi-Wan warns Luke before they walk in about how dangerous the bar is.

He says: "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy."

Considering the frequency of massacres occurring in this country, that might be an accurate description of our society.

At the very least, it is a dead-on perfect description of our esteemed politicians.

A Peaceful Awakening

At 7:00 this morning I was lying in bed with Lakota stretched out on my chest, Maka curled up between my knees, and Carol peacefully sleeping on her side by my side.


Friday, December 4, 2015

Sad Commentary

News coverage of mass shootings raises bile into my throat.

TV "personalities" babble on incessantly because they have air time to fill. Long after the horror has been reported on, long after everything relevant has been laid out, these talking heads drone on and on and on, tripping all over their words because they are saying the same thing over and over and they know it.

"The fatalities here are dead, bereft of life, unable to respond to our questions because they are dead. Not that we would ask a corpse a question but what I am trying to say is that there are a lot of bodies here and they are definitely dead. Some are wounded and they are receiving treatment in area hospitals. Apparently when they were shot, they bled. The blood cannot be rinsed away because we are dealing with an active crime investigation. Although, in the hospital the blood can be washed away because it accomplishes nothing to allow the victims to continue to bleed and besides, hospital laundry expense is soaring in this country." 

They do this because they have sunk their fangs into "breaking news" and/or "what's trending now."

They are competing against other networks to see who can earn the highest ratings for coverage of the "event."

I was watching MSNBC yesterday. A journalist was interviewing a woman in San Bernardino.

He was obviously trying to bait her into Muslim bashing and he was really sucking at it because he was trying to come across as politically correct at the same time.

He said something along the lines of "this community has a high percentage of Muslim residents. Have they been able to, ah, er, um, adapt to life in this country, ah, in a way that indicates they, um, fit into our culture?"

Unbelievably unprofessional.

To her credit, the woman did not rise to the bait. She said something along the lines of " I don't think any one religion can be automatically targeted as perpetrators of violence. All religions believe different things and it is wrong to say that one religion might be more prone to violence than another."

Then she got a little goofy, saying something like "I don't know what is in peoples' heads, why they think the way they do or do the things they do, I cannot understand what this person is thinking or that person is thinking, nobody knows what is in peoples' heads."

THEN she turned the tables and it was excellent. She asked the reporter a question and he was totally flustered.

She said something like "We have a big problem with gun violence in this country and it is disturbing and I don't know what is the reason for it. Do you know why we have so much violence in America?"

Journalist boy stammered and stuttered and muttered and eventually said some thing like " well, I don't, um, what I think is, ah, what I want to do is to get people in this country to think about that."

Absolutely lame.

It was refreshing to see him so shocked that an interviewee would ask him a question. It was even better that she asked him such a meaningful question on live TV and he knew he had to say something weighty.

He was on the spot and he blew it.

TV talking heads should have tears rolling down their cheeks when they report on horrific events like what just happened in San Bernardino. They should report on the events and then move on instead of mining the spotlight for ratings.

Even better, they should report the facts and then lapse into extended periods of silence to hammer home the shocking nature of these killings and what it says about us as Americans.

We can't stop these killings and we can't even report them honestly, without agenda.

Sad commentary on the state of this country.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Treacherous Co-Workers

It occurred to me yesterday that retail co-workers are the most dangerous and potentially treacherous to be around.

We are pathological liars and accomplished actors. That is what we are paid to do.

I understand that every workplace is filed with anger, hatred, murderous intent and deceit. However I think retail employees are better equipped to hide true emotion behind the well rehearsed customer service facade.

A guy walked into the store yesterday, a typical clueless customer with no connection whatsoever to reality or logic.

He wanders around aimlessly until I finally ask him if I can help him find something.

Bad mistake. This was his cue to babble like a lunatic who has his iron face restraint removed for the first time in twenty years.

"I know what I want but I just can't pronounce the name. I don't know where it is in the store but I will find it. I really like it, it is delicious in my coffee, last year at this time I bought 2 bottles a week but this year I am cutting back to just one." And on and on and on.

Of course I am smiling at him the whole time while simultaneously thinking to myself "You are on your own, idiot-boy. I am not going to waltz around the store with you, asking questions, trying to narrow down your choices from 775 to 1."

And, every time he was outside of sight range, I dropped my smile like it was a virulent disease that would eat my face.

He made a small attempt at a joke as he passed Wes, a co-worker, and I saw Wes laughing  quietly as he walked away.

The joke was not funny. Wes's reaction looked so sincere.

That's when it hit me.

If this is what we do with customers, then we must do it with each other as well.

I think I have decent radar as far as differentiating between people who want to see me dead  and those I can trust. (There are many more in the former category.)

Suddenly, though, I was faced with the possibility that the Shakespearean actors I am surrounded with on a daily basis might be stealth assassins. Flying below my radar, evading my bullshit detector and endangering my existence with their black thoughts.

And why not?

That's exactly what I do in this environment. It is what I have to do to survive.

I must be more careful from now on. I will respond to every smile with a pained grimace, every feigned expression of camaraderie with verbal venom.

I have no choice.

By the way, idiot-boy was looking for Amaretto di Saronno. You do not need to be fluent in Italian to pronounce the name. It is pronounced the way it is spelled. Although there is a fairly good chance this blockhead cannot read.

He bought a 1.75 liter bottle. If he was drinking two of those a week last year, the medical community will not be harvesting his liver when he expires.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015


"The landscape is littered with damaged souls. And damage is a kind of love. Because what's more destructive than seduction, whether it's one's own or someone else's?"

Jerry Stahl

I Can Work With That

"I must remain tough while surrounding myself with delicate things."

Joe Testa

Popped in here today to write up some stuff about a Chinese beauty, now living in Canada, who wanted to compete in the Miss World contest being held in China.

She was denied access into China because of her outspoken views on that governments approach to religion. She practices a religion called Falun Gong, founded in 1992, which is banned in China. Followers are persecuted by the government.

A couple of days ago I did some research on the religion, admittedly through Wikipedia. It sounded pretty cool until I got to the part that said the founder believed aliens have infiltrated society and are working to destroy the world.

I instantly made the connection to our country's republican party and had a whole dissertation planned in my mind.

I went back in to Wikipedia this morning and the alien reference was gone. I checked out some other references on Falun Gong and none of them referenced a belief in aliens.

Apparently somebody was having fun in the Wikipedia ranks. I am guessing that the blurb got deleted because of increased curiosity about the religion brought about by the recent banning of the Chinese beauty.

What the hell was I going to write about now? I have to write today. It is boiling in my blood.

Reached down to an old notebook I have lying around up here and that phrase was in it. The delicate things phrase.

I like it.

I don't think I worded it properly though. I am not tough. I try to be tough in order to slog my way through the slime that is daily life. I guess I possess some measure of toughness just to have survived 61 plus years.

Truthfully though, I am delicate. Delicate in the sense that I am all about emotion. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I am proud of that because it makes me more human than those who don't.

I believe that if you have evolved (?) to a place where you mask your feelings convincingly and always, you have lost something.

The delicate things? Literature. Music. Paintings. Pictures. Poetry. Honest relationships.

These are the things that open up my soul.

My soul is like a creature who is imprisoned and only allowed to experience life in small doses.

Cautious. When the cell door opens the creature only peeks outside, blinking at the light. It does not rush headlong into what it does not trust. A lack of trust born of a lack of experience, a limited interaction with that which gives it life.

I take what I can get, and in the right moments it satiates my desperate need for sensitivity.

I live for those moments.

So, a few years down the road from when I wrote those words I need to revise them.

"I must continue to try to be tough  for the sake of survival; I must continue to indulge in and reward myself with the delicate beauty that keeps me alive."

By the way I love the the concept of republicans as aliens infiltrating society with the goal of destroying it. Makes perfect sense.

I think I can work with that.

Sobering Reality

There is something unsettling about ripping November off the calendar and realizing the thinness of what is left to the year.

Monday, November 30, 2015


"Don't talk unless you can improve the silence."

Laurence Coughlin


Lately, I have been taking my tea with pumpkin flavored creamer.

Does this make me unrefined?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

George Harrison

George Harrison died fourteen years ago today.

I cannot believe it has been that long.

He was the coolest Beatle.

Dry and wicked sense of humor, a well respected musician and songwriter, a deeply spiritual man and a dedicated gardener. He was proud of the garden he maintained at his home. It was a source of peace for him.

He was an enormously talented man who was held down by John and Paul. He made up for that with a vengeance when he went solo.

He was killed by brain cancer at the age of 58.

I could go on one of my typical Beatle rants but I won't.

I will only say that the world lost a lot when it lost George.

I will only say that all Beatles are sacred.

In Your Eyes

In your eyes I see the reflection of thirty seven years.
Thirty seven years of marriage. Thirty seven years of life.
And love.

I see the beginning, the spark, the reason.
A spectacular winter wedding that even a blizzard could not kill.
A sign of resilience to come.

The first and last apartment, underground with a heated
garage, a stolen cat named Bandit, an upstairs neighbor named Bunny.

In your eyes I see our first home. Quirky and familiar; the home
you grew up in.
I see two small boys and feel pure joy again.
Hear the laughter and miss the innocence.

I see their comfort in your care, your wisdom,
your insight.
Knowing they were safe, physically and emotionally,
brought me peace.

In your eyes I see our second home, the one we share
alone together now.
I see small boys becoming men, eventually leaving. 
Proud college graduations and lives begun, as aspects of our life ended.
The sudden shock of a quiet home.

In your eyes, sometimes, I see anger.
Disappointment and pain.
I see tears and the evidence of tears and wonder how
often I am the cause.

Life reflected in its unpredictability, folly and cruelty.

In your eyes I also see resilience.
Love redefined. Shaped through experience.

I see the future.
Decades to come.
New perspectives, realities, and challenges.
Happiness grown deeper, love more powerful.

I know my eyes reflect much the same, but it's
not my eyes that I love.

Will NFL Players Begin Wearing Skirts?

I watch Inside The NFL.

I do it to gain knowledge to be used in the football pool I compete in.

Fat lot of good it has done me. I currently stand 6th out of 10 participants. That sucks grandly, especially considering that I just moved up one or two spots in the pool.

You will be happy to know I have cut down on the weekly research. I was way over the top for most of the year. Inside The NFL, plus a show on the NFL network called Aftermath or something quite like it, plus all the goddamn highlights and commentary I could find in random moments.

It is possible I suck in the pool because my brain was overloaded. My brain is tiny - if I am buttering a slice of bread and you ask me what day of the week it is, I will butter my arm.

But that is neither here nor there.

So now it is just Inside The NFL. It is worth watching that show if only for the fabulous NFL Films footage. Footage that gets you right down on the field, right down on the sidelines, on the line of scrimmage, in the huddle, right in the middle of running plays and passing plays etc. etc. etc.


Typical commentators are Adam Schein (host), Phil Simms, Boomer Esiason and Brandon Marshall.

Simms was QB for the Giants for fourteen years and retired in 1993. Esiason was QB for the bengals, jets and cardinals and retired in 1997.

Marshall represents the current breed of NFL players. He is currently a wide receiver for the jets.

Brandon Marshall should wear a skirt.

Recently he was talking about the jets flying over to London to play a game. He mentioned that the team brought along a sleep coach to help the players adjust to the time change.

Simms and Esiason almost fell off their chairs. Me too, although it is a lot harder to fall off a recliner than a stool. I don't consume as much whiskey as I used to but it might be worth it to find out exactly how drunk I would have to get to fall out of my recliner.

But I digress.

A sleep coach. A fucking sleep coach.

Marshall defended the practice while Boomer and Phil tried really hard to hide their smirks.

The last two episodes of Inside The NFL have featured segments, instigated by Marshall, dealing with the frosty relationship between players and the media.

Marshall is not happy with how the media treats players and apparently he is attempting to bring about detente through these segments.

Two weeks ago they had a journalist on and Marshall laid out his complaints, the journalist responded and they had a discussion.

Marshall came across as The King of All Whining.

This past week they had three journalists on, and Marshall and they went at it again with Esiason mediating.

This segment was pathetic too.

Marshall came across like a little kid who is crying because Blockhead Jones is calling him names.

I don't know, man. Is our culture's weakness and whining and excessive sensitivity infecting the NFL?

A game where the average player stands approximately eight feet tall and weighs 475 pounds?

The perfect football player to me has today's athleticism combined with old school football mentality.

Dick Butkus: "I'm not so mean. When I played pro football, I never set out to hurt anyone deliberately -  unless it was, you know, important, like a league game or something."

OK I admit I threw that in there for levity. I despise players who try to injure other players. I think Ndamukong Suh should be executed. I also think Butkus was quoted tongue and cheek. Maybe.

Anyway, I think Marshall comes across as weak and whiny on the show. I hope his attitude is not indicative of the general attitude of today's players.

My gut tells me it is not.

That's it. I'm done. I'm off to watch some late afternoon manly man football.

And tonight - PATS/broncos.

Perfect ending to a slow-moving, nerve soothing, Thanksgiving weekend.

Ciao, baby.

Friday, November 27, 2015


"Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else."

David Foster Wallace

Last Year, This Year

Thanksgiving, 2014 we enjoyed a typical amazing family day.

Innocently and honestly taking great comfort in the magic that is this family.

We did not know that before Christmas Sarge would die and Jonathan would die. The shock and sadness was enormous, and deeply affected Christmas and the onset of the new year.

A new year that two and a half months later would bring about the suicide of Kevin.

That reality has weighed heavy throughout this year.

Yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving 2015.

I sat at the dinner table, looking at my amazing wife, my sons, at Emily and my brother, and thinking about Karen, with a love in my heart that was overwhelming.

Sometimes life feels like dodging bullets.

That is reality, that is life, and there will be enormous and heartbreaking loss and sadness. No getting around it.

The pain that I (we) suffered over the loss of Sarge, Jonathan and Kevin shaped me. It changed me.

How could it not?

Losing three people you love in such a short time changes your definition and expectation of life. It shifts your perspective and wakes you up to the fragility and unpredictability of our relationships. It gets in your face and shames you out of apathy.

I sat in my recliner yesterday, I sat at the dinner table yesterday, and reflected.

I considered the fact that this is my family, and what a magical, deeply loving, exceptional and amazing family it is.

I considered the fact that Carol and I are getting older and that there is nothing we can do about that.

I considered the fact that things will change over the next five and ten and fifteen and twenty years.

No stopping or avoiding it.

That being said, I relished the special nature of this day, a day set aside to give thanks. To give thanks for whatever it is that is meaningful to you.

Nothing is more important to me, nothing touches my heart more gently, nothing nourishes my soul more than my family does.

You can take everything else away from me and I will still have my family.

And my family is everything.

It was a spectacular Thanksgiving, even considering how much has been lost.

The day was about what has been lost, what we still have and what lies precious before us in the future.

It was a beautiful day.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


"The lust for power is not rooted in strength, but in weakness."

Eric Fromm

After The Holidays

Of course, standing at a cash register off and on this week, Happy Thanksgiving wishes are bludgeoning me to death.

I don't mind. I love Thanksgiving. At least the way my family does it. Laid back, true and joyous.

What I do hate is "Happy Turkey Day."

I prefer depth. Happy Thanksgiving means something. Happy turkey day is kids stuff. And just imagine the fear that phrase inspires in any turkey that overhears it.

Why must Americans dilute everything? Other cultures have volatile emotions worn on the sleeve. We have the Kardashians.

It's almost like we fear depth. Meaningfulness. Everything has to be juvenile and superficial.

Thanksgiving is almost a sacred holiday. Most people I talk to much prefer Thanksgiving to Christmas. And it is obvious to me, as I humbly wait on people in the booze emporium, who genuinely digs Thanksgiving and who has no clue.

The real Thanksgiving people look me right in the eye and offer a heartfelt "Happy Thanksgiving."  It makes me feel good. Inspires me to turn on my phony retail charm and dazzle them with my sincere personality.

The clueless drop turkey day references and/or whine about how they have to travel or entertain the in-laws.

Part of what I need at this time of year is genuine emotion. If you can't give me that, stay the hell away from me. I drown in superficiality every day. During the holidays I need proof that you are genuinely human. I want to connect with you soul to soul. I need to know that there are real people out there who care about real people.

Xmas. I fucking hate Xmas.

Say Merry Christmas. Happy Christmas is even better. Much more genuine. I don't give a damn if you are religious or not. At this point, the word Christmas has no religious significance unless money is your religion. So lighten up. You don't have to take Christ out of Christmas - he was never there in the first place.

Another expression I hate is "after the holidays."

We'll get together after the holidays. We'll get back to normal after the holidays.

No matter what the holidays mean to you, at the very least they are a break from the norm. Why the hell would you be in a hurry to get back to your "normal" life?  The holidays are a temporary get out of jail free card. A gift that society bestows willingly.

From Thanksgiving through New Year's Day you are given carte blanche to party, to laugh, to eat too much, to drink too much, to dig your family in peace free from the constraints of deadlines and commitments, to break out of your routine and expose your soul to the world if you have the balls.

To break out of your routine. That is huge. Routine is the thing that sucks the life out of you and turns you from Frankenstein the gentle into Frankenstein the monster.

In other words, the holidays offer you the chance to live your life the way you want to and to be the person you really are.

"After the holidays" triggers a return to routine. To a you who peers out ashamed and afraid from behind the shadow of your own essence.

So don't rush it. Grab the next month and a half by the balls and give it a good twist. Turn your inhibitions into exhibitions and see where that takes you.

Something Is Happening Here But You Don't Know What It Is, Do You, Mr. Jones?

I have been drinking green tea and listening to classical music lately.

What is happening to me?

Feels pretty peaceful. Think I'll just go with it.

Monday, November 23, 2015


"We could improve worldwide mental health if we acknowledged that parents can make you crazy."

Frank Zappa in conjunction with Keith and Craig Testa

Please Be Very Careful (And Enjoy This Holiday)

Thanksgiving is 3 days away.

November 26, this year. The most magnificent holiday of them all.

Christmas is bullshit. It is hard work, it is expensive, it is stressful, it has become perverted into crass commercial orgasm overload.

Jesus Christ - I saw my first fucking Christmas commercial in early October.

How absolutely disgusting.

A large segment of our population spends more money than they can afford on presents nobody needs because they have been brainwashed into believing that this is what this holiday is about. And they are too stupid to question the wisdom of this madness.

They stagger around malls like sheep, lured into shops and stalls by lying, thieving merchants who mask their greed with green and red tinsel, blinking lights and "Happy Holidays" on their lips.

Like they care about your holiday. They care only about your wallet.

What the hell happened to the birth of Christ? Or if you do not care to be religious, what the hell happened to peace on earth and good will towards man?

New Year's Eve is amateur hour. Inexperienced drinkers getting hammered and wearing stupid hats on their heads, blowing on horns and breathing stench into your conversation and throwing up on their cats on January 1.

New Year's Day is melancholy. Most of us wishing with all our hearts and all our souls and all of our being that our lives will improve in the new year. And simultaneously knowing deep down that this is as good as our lives will get and no new year is going to change a goddamn thing.

Sorry. Getting pretty heavy in here. Let's perk things up.

Thanksgiving is pure. It is a family gathering to chow down on a home cooked yet extravagant meal, to watch football, to talk, to laugh, to revel in each other's company no strings attached. To drift in and out of alertness, sometimes dozing on a couch or a recliner or an overstuffed chair, maybe dreaming and then  slipping right back in to honesty and love and respect.

A slow moving, natural, peaceful day of family comfort.

So don't let it blow by. Don't let it escape your attention.

Focus. Look around. Dig the smiles on the faces of those that you love. Feel the peace, the release from work, the natural beauty of a day set aside to give thanks. Give thanks, if only in your mind, for the company of those that you love and those that love you.

That being said, I will close with a poem Carol gave to me, printed in the Concord Monitor, that blew me away. Because it forced me to think about something I have not previously thought about. Age related. Nevertheless, it is something that could become a reality in the life that Carol and I share, as much as we would hate for that to be true.

Written by Marge Saiser.

"Thanksgiving For Two"

"The adults we call our children will not be arriving with their children in tow for Thanksgiving. We must make our feast ourselves, slice our half-ham, indulge, fill our plates, potatoes and green beans carried to our table near the window.

We are the feast, plenty of years, arguments. I'm thinking the whole bundle of it rolls out like a white tablecloth. We wanted to be good company for one another. Little did we know that first picnic how this would go.

Your hair was thick, mine long and easy; we climbed a bluff to look over a storybook plain. We chose our spot as high as we could, to see the river and the checkerboard fields.

What we didn't see was this day, in our pajamas if we want to, wrinkled hands strong, wine in juice glasses, toasting whatever's next, the decades of side by side, our great good luck."

Happy Thanksgiving to you.

I hope it is a truly peaceful and fulfilling day. I hope the love and trust and comfort you experience brings you exploding alive and opens your eyes to the sweet beauty that is available to you in your magnificent family.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Literature vs Fiction (Plus The Thrill of New)

Been on an insane roller coaster vis a vis the books I have been reading lately.

"Narcisa", an insane book about a guy obsessed with a crazy brained crack whore. A wild female with amazing insights and wacky delusions about human beings and life. A woman who turns this guys life upside down.

"Me and The Devil", a book about a successful but bored writer who hooks up with a wide open woman who broadens his horizons, leading him to discover truths about himself that are indeed bizarre. Very dark.

I stumbled upon a book titled "Thirteen Ways of Looking" by Colum McCann. It's a collection of short stories.

Actually it's only four stories. Is that a collection?

I read a review on the book which piqued my interest. The book did not disappoint me. I just finished it this morning.

The author is new to me and I love his style. He writes literature.

This is where the debate comes in. A debate that drives Stephen King crazy. He is eternally pissed off that his writing is not considered literature.

For lack of a better definition, literature is a high brow version of fiction. Literature commands more respect from the literary community. Doesn't mean it is better, though.

Literature will leave you hanging. The first story in this book is about an 82 year old guy, a retired judge, who goes out to lunch on a snowy New York city day with his son. His son leaves the restaurant early. When the father leaves a guy walks up to him and punches him in the face. The judge falls to the ground, cracks open his skull and dies.

The story winds its way through suspects and motives, leads you to the guy who appears to be the killer, and dumps you in the courtroom, where the story ends.

You never find out if he is really the killer, you never find out what the jury decides.

That is literature in a nutshell. It is exceptionally well written and captivating but resolution is not a requirement.

Immediately upon finishing the book I picked up "Jesus Out to Sea", a collection of short stories by James Lee Burke.

Burke writes a series set in New Iberia, Louisiana featuring Dave Robicheaux, an ex New Orleans cop now working as a sheriff's deputy.

I love the series, love the location, love the characters.

These stories have nothing to do with that. However, I read the first story this morning and it was excellent.

My whistle has been whetted and I look forward to devouring the rest.

Thrill of The New: I gave Carol, as a pre-birthday birthday present, Adele's new CD - 25. We listened to part of it on the way into Concord Friday night. It is excellent.

I was thinking how great it is to hear new music. Songs that are brand new, lyrics you cannot anticipate, music that surprises you.

What a delicious indulgence.

My mind wandered to new authors. Someone you have never read before. A person who will put words together in a new way and introduce new stories into your life.

Little things. Meaningful things.

Experiences that shine a light into your soul.


It was 10:01 this morning when I closed the book I had just finished reading.

I put the book down and picked up what was left of my cup of tea which was, thankfully, still warm.

Lakota was asleep in my lap. Maka was sleeping on the couch. Carol was in the bathroom.

The house was silent.

I stared at the cats and dug the realization that their peacefulness makes the peace more peaceful.

Such a warm feeling knowing they feel completely safe, warm and loved in this home - not a care in the world.

Experiencing their contentment deepened my own.

There is no end to the beauty that pets bring into a life.

No Word of A Lie

I was driving home from HELL on Friday afternoon/evening.

What is the line of demarcation between afternoon and evening?

(Blogger goes away for 1 minute). OK - I just looked it up. Got two definitions. One very specific - evening starts around 6:00 p.m. and extends to bedtime. The second definition was vague - "the latter part and close of the day and early part of the night."

I was on the road at 4:45. I'll call it late afternoon.

I was visualizing crucifying my boss.


I was picturing me driving a nail through her left hand into the cross that would bear her weight and ultimately result in her death.

I came to a stop behind a car with a bumper sticker that read: "Be Kind" in large letters. Followed by smaller print referencing mankind and..........

I laughed out loud.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Load Off My Back

I dumped my primary care physician.

It was cathartic.

What a strange and unwonderful relationship we had. She was a brick and I was drowning slowly. (I've always loved that lyric - courtesy of Ben Folds Five.)

Used to be my doc was a guy around my age. He understood my problems and we spoke candidly. He did not push anything on me. I knew we were talking the same language when he asked me "Do you have to stand closer to the toilet when you urinate now?"

When he retired I got a new doc - a woman, which I have no problem with except that she approached medicine like a used car salesman.

Our meetings were combative. She did not like to be questioned, and when I did or when I contradicted her she would get defensive and angry. She would exude that "I am the doctor here and how dare you question me" vibe.

First of all I do not like the term "primary care physician." Makes it sound like you have someone dedicated to the singular pursuit of your health and well being. What they are really dedicated to is writing as many prescriptions as possible, getting whatever kick backs are available to them and keeping insurance companies and their peers happy.

The new doc would push flu shots on me every winter. I mean really hammer it home. She would use scare tactics about how it can be dangerous for "someone my age" to get the flu. Scare tactics were her go to approach. That is embarrassingly unprofessional.

I don't believe in flu shots. Something about the hype makes me suspicious. I refused, we argued.

She switched blood pressure medications on me from one that was working to one that decidedly did not work. And then she wanted to prescribe a second medication to go with the new one that wasn't working.

I pushed her to go back to the original medication and she argued with me. What a dimwit. I stuck to my guns and eventually prevailed. My blood pressure is now a thing of beauty.

I recently had a throat issue that shook me up a bit. Her sage advice was to wait - the symptoms would probably go away. No concern for trying to pinpoint the cause. I had to fight with her to get her "referral" to see an ear, nose and throat guy. I got the impression she did not want to disturb one of her peers - a "specialist" - with a situation she felt was unnecessary.

Surprise, surprise - the specialist told me I was doing the right thing to get checked out.

This lowlife, loser, wombat, quack represents proof positive that the primary concern of the medical profession is not your health. That comes in about fourth or fifth on their priorities list.

Make you feel comfortable?

I am starting fresh. New doctor, new medical group.

If I do not receive the care I expect, if I get the impression that my health is a secondary concern, that is when I revert to the type of health care that resonates with my soul.

That is when I invoke the spirit of Marie Laveau.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Ole George Jones (Worth A Million)

Ole George Jones did it again.

I was making my way to HELL last Saturday morning with George performing on the mobile CD machine.

Around 7:15. 7:30.

It was strange - there were very few cars on the road. This is atypical.

People don't have weekends anymore. Everybody works shitty retail jobs or two jobs or three jobs.

People don't look forward to a weekend off. Now they say "I have Wednesday off. Can't wait."

It sucks.

So usually there are a fair amount of steel beasts on the road even on Saturday morning. But I was OK with the peaceful drive. It peaceifies me to look ahead to an empty road; to glance into the rear view and see no one

I like to be alone.

Especially if I am alone with George Jones.

First up - "You Couldn't Get The Picture". He comes home from work and the wife is gone. She left a bunch of post-it notes on the walls and around the house. The message being if you couldn't get the picture maybe you can read the writing on the wall.

Sounds hokey but it's not. You want hokey? Listen to one of your pansy ass country boys who supposedly sing country now. That shit is weak, it is derivative, it is diluted, it is formulaic and it just plain sucks.

But I digress.

The messages: "I love you but I can't live on love alone. I cried all night but you weren't there to watch the teardrops fall. The lonely nights were hell (that was on the pillow). Take a good look at yourself ( that one was on the mirror - that one is my favorite and pretty heavy duty). I waited long enough for you to call."

The song is a heart breaker. A guy who did not treat his wife right and did not even think about it until he came home to an empty house and a bunch of post-it notes.

A couple of songs later - "Finally Friday". "I got a hundred dollars smokin' in my billfold, I know I oughta save it but it's burnin' a hole, right through my pocket and into my skin, come Monday mornin' I'll be broke again.

It's finally Friday, I'm free again, I got my motor running for a wild weekend, it's finally Friday I'm outa' control, forget the workin' blues and let the good times roll.

Monday I'll be hurtin' with my head in a vice, Tuesday I'll be wonderin' if I'll ever survive, Wednesday and Thursday I'll be slowly tunin' in, Friday I'll be revvin' up my motor again."

The music matches the lyrics and the whole damn thing captures that Friday feel beautifully.

An image came into my head, unbidded, of me and Sarge singing that song together in a broke down bar somewhere funky. I guarantee you we would have sung that bastard with conviction.

Next up: "I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair." I already went off on that one in a previous post. It is a great song, but what got to me this time was that the first time around I didn't really tune in to "Finally Friday."

The songs are back to back and they complement each other perfectly. They set a "kiss my ass" mood and bring it home with a vengeance.

I didn't really notice "Finally Friday" first time around. Sometimes you are tuned in; sometimes you are tuned out.

I still have a Friday night mentality even though Friday nights now are usually my ass in the recliner, fighting to stay awake long enough to tune in Bill Maher. I still want to be in a smoke filled bar chasing shots with beers and rockin' on out to soul crying blues.

And trust me, I am not done with that yet.

I was making my way to HELL, early on a quiet Saturday morning, feeling kind of down when Ole George Jones lifted me right up.

Got me juiced, got me singing, got me forgetful about my closed-in life.

It was a moment. A sweet moment of peace, abandon and soul expression.

Worth a million bucks, baby.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

I Am A Complete idiot

I had grand plans for October 27th and I just let the day slip on by.

On October 27, 2014 I attended my last Allman Brothers concert in the history of my life with my longest running friend, The Great and Mighty Phil. It was their final run at The Beacon and 10/27 was their second to last show before they split up.

Phil and I were there because my sons - Keith and Craig - bought the tickets. I couldn't afford to go and I couldn't get any of the concerts on line, so Keith and Craig stepped up and surprised me with two tickets to paradise.

It was an incredibly amazing thing for them to do.

Understand - my sons don't have to do anything for me. Nothing at all. I love them more deeply than is humanly possible but, still, I pull it off.

I love them. I respect them. I love their company. I love our conversations and I love to laugh with them.

What they did went above and beyond, and it allowed me and Phil to enjoy a night that was mind blowing.

The concert was spectacular, we had dinner before, drinks after, we talked, reminisced and enjoyed one last Allman Brothers moment together. We have been to at least twenty ABB concerts together; probably more.

The night was spectacular. And it was intense. Phil flew up from Florida, I took a train from NH, we spent one night in New York City and turned around and re-traced our steps.

Bing, bang, boom.

We still talk about that night and probably will for the rest of our lives.

I wanted to commemorate it on the exact anniversary because it meant so much to me.

But I blew it.

I forgot.

I'm only human. I'll let myself off the hook.

The important thing is that I recognize once again the beautiful thing my sons did. Something I will be forever grateful for.

It is rare that you can give somebody a gift that makes their soul smile.

My sons did that for me and Phil.

I am an exceptionally lucky dad.

Want To Know What I Think?

I think the United States is a bloated military-industrial complex with a glaring inability to learn from its mistakes.

The lesson should have begun during the Viet Nam war. In the 1950's we had less than 800 troops in that country. By 1962 we had 9,000. At the height of our involvement we had 500,000 troops involved.

We lost that war. The United States doesn't lose wars. We win. We lost the Viet Nam war.

We lost because we had no idea how to fight that enemy. It was an entirely different enemy, an entirely different approach and we could not figure out how to adapt. 58,000 Americans died because of our stubborn stupidity.

Fast forward to Paris, France. Last night.

Cowardly terrorism once again sacrifices innocent lives. And people are talking about escalating our efforts against isis.

Are you kidding me?

We have continued to prove that we cannot adapt. In Iraq, in Afghanistan, against al-qaeda, against isis.

We continue to sacrifice thousands of American lives for no particular reason. Which suggests, among other things, a callous disregard on the part of our government and our military, for the lives of our troops.

That is criminal and disgusting. And immoral.

It has been forty years since we left Viet Nam and we still cannot figure out how to effectively fight these enemies.

Are we that goddamn stupid?

Insane might be the better word. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

We are like a heavy weight boxer going up against a feather weight and expecting that one punch to the head will win the fight. Except we cannot deliver that punch.

The feather weight dances around us delivering body blows, ducking, taunting us, wearing us down until we fall to the canvas. And we never knew what hit us.

Je suis Paris. That was painted on walls last night in France and it is true.

We are all Paris. We are all September 11.

Everyone who is not a terrorist and is not sympathetic to their cause is in this together.

We are all vulnerable. We are all afraid.

We are all dependent on our government to protect us intelligently. To make good decisions on how and when to deploy American lives.

I have zero confidence that we can prevent a Paris-like attack in this country. With all our military "intelligence", with all our military might, we cannot adequately protect the citizens of this country.

Because we still do not know how to fight these people. al-qaeda; isis.

We should not commit one more American life to this war until we figure it out.

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Severe, Quite Harsh, Truth

I was driving to HELL this morning.

A lone, wild turkey crossed the busy road in front of me. I was happy to see he made it to the other side safely.

However, I made a connection.

In November, the ultimate fate of a wild turkey, whether he is crossing a busy road or not, is no better or worse than that of the commuters mindlessly whizzing past him.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


"Morning After"

I was so sick last night I
Didn't hardly know my mind.
So sick last night I
Didn't know my mind
I drunk some bad licker that
Almost made me blind

Had a dream last night I
Thought I was in hell.
I drempt last night I
Thought I was in hell.
Woke up and looked around me -
Babe, your mouth was open like a well.

I said Baby! Baby!
Please don't snore so loud.
Baby! Please!
Please don't snore so loud.
You jest a little bit o' woman but you
Sound like a great big crowd.

Langston Hughes

More poetry


Tell all my mourners
To mourn in red -
'Cause there ain't no sense
In my being dead

Langston Hughes


You Gotta Have Goals

I have a fresh new life goal.

I aim to spend the rest of my days sipping delicate wine and reading fragile poetry.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

If You Are Considering Not Voting...............

"That is one of the key things I learned in these years, and I learned it the hard way. Anybody who thinks that 'It doesn't matter who's President' has never been Drafted and sent off to fight in a vicious, stupid War on the other side of the World - or been beaten and gassed by Police for trespassing on public property - or been hounded by the IRS for purely political reasons - or locked up in the Cook County Jail with a broken nose and no phone access and twelve perverts wanting to stomp your ass in the shower. That is when it matters who is President or Governor or Police Chief. That is when you will wish you had voted."

From a piece Hunter S. Thompson wrote called "Politics Is The Art Of Controlling Your Environment"

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Little Freaky

Got the TV on, muted, as I typed the "Something Evil" post.

Scrolling across the bottom of the screen I read that Allen Toussaint died.

I google the dude and his picture pops up - January 14, 1938 - November 10, 2015.

Just like that. You die in 2015 and the date to the right of the hyphen is filled in immediately.

Feels like it happens too fast. Feels kind of cold and unfeeling.

Death requires time to be absorbed.

We are no longer allowed that time.

Something Evil

What the hell am I gonna do about football?

What the hell am I gonna do with the NFL?

I'm diggin' on some football on Sunday. I gorge on as much football as Carol will allow. She lets me watch a whole bunch of it but when she finally reaches her limit she says "Go clean the toilets."

PATS, obviously. Switching over to the other game during commercial breaks.Then chunks of other games.

Four o'clock game. Sunday night game. And on to Monday night.

Anyway I'm watching Colts/Broncos. At the end of a play a little arguing is going on. I watch Aquib Talib calmly walk over to Dwayne Allen and stick his finger in Allen's eye. Right through his face mask, which takes focus.

Deliberately. Almost in slow motion.

I could not believe it. Allen was in so much pain he went down on one knee.

I was disgusted. I was actually furious.

The league suspended Talib for one game. The low life bastard has appealed the decision.

This is what Talib said: "I didn't initially poke him in his eye, but as you could see, I did get his eye. It was unintentional.......................Of course I'm going to try to get it to something more reasonable, just for the simple fact that it was not intentional. I didn't walk over there like 'I'm going to poke this guy in the eye.'

Yes he did. Yes he did. It was so obviously intentional he should be executed for doing it. And then he should be resurrected and executed again for lying about it.

Then, today, on two different sports talk radio shows I heard two different hosts say almost the same identical thing. Something along the lines of "Yeah, that was not a good thing for Talib to do, but I gotta be honest with you - that's kind of why I like him. He's a real competitor."

Are you kidding me? I don't care how much you love the game and the violence and insanity that goes along with it.

If you condone that kind of viciousness you are a low life, cretinous fool.

The mere fact that Ndamukong Suh is still in the league is the most disgusting indictment of how the NFL's greed trumps any sense of morality and justice.

I love the goddamn game. Can't live without it.

But the "corporate giant" mentality of the league office and owners, the disgusting off field violence that players engage in, the on field vicious and illegal violence that players engage in, the lying and denials, and the caveman-like acceptance of all this by moronic fans and commentators just shakes me to the core.

I feel the guilt of an observer watching an execution. Sure it's fun, but it feels like there's something evil about it.