Sunday, January 31, 2016

And Now Paul Kantner

Paul Kantner died at the age of 74.

One of the founding members of Jefferson Airplane.

This is getting to be way too much. I don't know what the hell is going on. I don't like it. I am uncomfortable.

In one month - Lemmy, Bowie, Frey and Kantner.

Too fucking much. Too many cool lives coming to a end.

The myth is that death comes in threes. Paul Kantner is number 4.

These people, along with an entire generation, tried to break things up, to change the unnatural order of things.

That myth, however, the 3 death thing, is enough.

It did not have to be re-written.

This really sucks.

Hateful Admission

In the month of January, I did absolutely nothing to change my life.

Not one fucking thing.

Almost Eternal Life

Planet Mikey is the one.

The sports talk show on radio that I love the most.

I spent a massive amount of time listening to sports talk radio in 2015. This is a major departure for me.

I need music. I crave it.

The pattern is, as long as I am functional, I must listen to music during the commute. It lifts me up and helps me to forget those things I wish to forget - much like books do, much like movies do.

When I listen to music I am complete.

When I am not functional, when I am really down, I do not listen to music at all during the commute.

I drive to and from in complete silence.

It can be a dangerous thing to be alone in my mind in that mood, but it is what it is.

Last year I got into sports talk radio. Keith turned me on to some good stuff and I dig it.

Now I have opinions.

I think most sports talk guys are obsessed with sports to the point where they lose perspective. They beat topics to death; they go over and over them from ever angle and then return to the same angle over and over again. The initial discussion is usually interesting but quickly becomes so repetitive it becomes boring. And they argue over the smallest points that to my mind mean absolutely nothing.
Mike Adams is a naturally funny guy. Planet Mikey is his show (the name says it all) on 93.7, WEEI. His sense of humor is perfect for me and he wields it relentlessly; sometimes it is hard to keep up.

There is no doubt he is obsessed with sports but somehow he doesn't overwhelm you with this impression. He keeps things lively, he keeps them interesting and he makes you laugh. A lot.

He is also well informed about a lot of stuff especially the music from my era. I cannot believe the details he knows about obscure bands, which he references off the cuff.

The other station I listen to is 98.5, The Sports Hub.

The morning guys are Toucher & Rich, the mid day guys are Gresh & Zolak, the afternoon guys are Felger & Mazz.

Toucher & Rich are the funniest. They play of each other well and their take on the sports world is irreverent and amusing. I had to cut Toucher some slack, though. One day he was trying to prove he is not one dimensional, saying that he had recently read Gregg Allman's autobiography. Then he said "Wait, which one didn't die? Gregg or Duane?" Everyone agreed Gregg didn't die, so Toucher said "So that's the book I read."

I was not impressed.

Gresh & Zolak, and Felger & Mazz are obsessed with sports to the point of smotheration (I made that word up). The Zolak show can be mean spirited, and Felger is incredibly annoying.

All of these guys are incredibly knowledgeable about sports and they do have interesting discussions that open me up to points of view I would not normally consider.

This is good. I need to grow.

It just works better for me if there is some insanity and intelligence. These are two things I strive for in my own life.

I got the insanity thing down; not so sure about the intelligence (however I keep trying).

Anyway, Mike Adams is superb.

Check him out.

He will temporarily lighten your load, which will help you to live longer.



Toucher and Rich come in second. They are the morning team on 98.5, The Sports Hub. There is definitely a thread of humor that runs through the show. The way they react to things, the way they play off each other and to events in the sports world.

They make me laugh.

The mid day guys on 98.5 are Gresh and Zolak. I didn't even know who Zolak's partner is; I had to look it up. Zolak spent 7 years as a backup quarterback for THE PATS and 1 in Miami. He played in a total of 55 games.

Still, he is treated like a superstar. Everybody on the show kisses his ass, except to a certain extent, his partner. I guess in the name of dignity this Gresh guy has to appear independent.

The tone on that show is kind of mean spirited. Zolak is a no nonsense black or white type of guy; very judgemental. he can, however, be pretty funny too.

The late afternoon show on 98.5 features Felger and Mazz. Felger is intensely annoying, Mazz is OK.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Hesitant Squirrel

I was driving to work yesterday and came across a hesitant squirrel.

Not literally. As much as I hate squirrels I do not enjoy killing them under my wheels. I guess it is a combination of that animal lover thing I have in my soul and an aversion to the idea of snuffing out a life.

Although there are some people..........................

Anyway a squirrel hesitated right in front of The Big Ride and the whole scene played out in slow motion.

It ran out to the street from the right side of the road, the right side of my car. There were no cars approaching in the other direction.

The squirrel stopped right in the middle of my sights - directly in line with the understated yet tasteful Lincoln ornament on my hood. It turned back to the right and in that instant I knew if it continued back in that direction I would crush it.

It took one step that way and then spun back around and ran across the road to my left.

The squirrel made it happily into the woods; I was relieved not to have blood on my hands.

Here comes the deep stuff kids so strap on your hip boots.

It occurred to me that scene was a metaphor for my life. My life at the age of 62.

All the pressure in the world is on my shoulders to make the right move right now; albeit pressure applied by me.

Got to retire - I have no choice. I cannot play this game anymore. I am so burned out on living a lie and having to comply with other peoples' rules and being judged by other peoples' standards - people I have zero respect for - that the top of my head is fixing to blow right off.

I have to find a part time job that makes sense to me; one that I can live with and, ultimately, hopefully, enjoy.

I have to build for myself the life that I owe to myself.

If I retire and just end up working some half-assed part time job that is beneath me, accomplishing nothing else, I will be condemned to misery until I die.

I have to retire, snag a reasonable part time job, and then craft my one and only, my final exultant resurrection.

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes.......................

I must make my life something I can be proud of; I must satisfy my soul that I finally lived in a way and accomplished at a level that is in perfect sync with who I truly am.

Even in what is with out question the final chapter of my existence.

If I go right, I will be crushed.

If I go left, I will triumph.


"I am not as crazy as you think I am, baby. Then again, I am not as sane as you would like me to be."

Joe Testa

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Trump's Success (For Now)

Trump chose the exact right time to run for president.

He stepped directly into the crossroads of stupidity and frustration that exists in this country right now.

The frustration is real and it is huge.

The citizens of this country are viciously angry and ready to rebel. They are angry that the harder they work the less they get. They are angry that their employers are out to screw them and take advantage of them in every way possible and they do it openly; they don't even try to hide it.

They are angry that the all-american blueprint for life has been turned upside down; that their house is worth less 30 years down the road than it was when they bought it; that they have no retirement, no way to retire; that the social security administration wants them to work longer; that the politicians they elected don't give a good goddamn about how vicious and hard their lives are, while those same politicians live large on graft and bribes and kickbacks, getting all the sex and money and power and fat steaks and expensive cigars they can consume.

That anger is justified. It is real and it makes sense.

At the same time the american public has become stupid. I'm talking stupid like a cretin. I'm talking real lowlife idiotas who live for reality TV, who worship vapid celebrities with no redeeming qualities - celebrities who could not even justify their existence as fertilizer - if you planted their corpses in your garden, everything alive there would die; I'm talking people who walk around with "smart" phones glued to their ears who don't have sense enough to wipe their own asses.

Trump comes along, raging idiot that he is, juvenile menace that he is, and he is embraced by these people who are soul-deep angry and simultaneously embarrassingly stupid.

People at his rallies who drool and spit, whose dentures fall onto the floor; people with wild eyes rolling up into their skulls, people with american flags tattooed on their asses and flying in the back of their pick up trucks.

Full size flags symbolic of the gargantuan size of their ignorance.

This is a potent combination, this anger and this stupidity. Trump could actually win the republican nomination.

Can you imagine if the founding fathers saw this fool in action? After they vomited, they would tighten up the constitution to make sure a clown like this could never even think about running for president.

It is the greatest of blues legends. The one where Robert Johnson goes down to the crossroads to make a deal with the Devil assuring him of fame and fortune as a blues singer, for the price of his soul.

Trump didn't even have to go down to the crossroads. The crossroads came to him.

But you just know that the Devil is still involved.

Oh For Christ Sake

I get home to an empty house last night around 6:30 looking forward to pizza, a cold Coors (not Coors Light; the original Coors, baby) and a movie.

Settle into my illegally cushy recliner with a plate on my lap and a Coors to my right and zap on the TV. Just to entertain me while I eat. Everybody knows you can't search for a movie and enjoy pizza at the same time; it just isn't right; it just doesn't work.

Too many goddamn choices, too many places to go. HBO, Amazon Prime, Netflix. If you don't have a specific movie in mind then you must troll. And trolling takes time; it takes attention.

I would rather enjoy my meat lovers pizza (each slice weighs about 8 pounds) in peace.

The tube was tuned to the NFL Network because I had scoped it out a little in the morning before heading off to work.

They were running a replay of THE PATS/broncos game, for Christ sake. It was in the fourth quarter and I watched it. I watched it, goddamn it.

Allowing myself to sit there and watch this thing was like, for instance, say I was in an action-suspense movie and somebody from across the room fired a gun at my head. Say all of a sudden everything was in slow motion. The bullet was coming straight for my skull. Suspend disbelief and assume I could have moved. I could have ducked. But I didn't.

And the bullet entered my skull, which exploded like a ripe melon.

That is how it felt to watch this thing and I sat there and watched it.

Right now I feel like a guy who lost a bar fight. I got a couple of broken ribs, a black eye, a broken nose and a mild concussion. What I need is rest. Peace. What I need is to stay away from that bar.

What do I do instead? I watch THE PATS lose again. I go right back to the bar.

I extended my convalescence by three days last night.

AND it poisoned my night. I chose to watch The Loft. Sounded like an interesting premise.

The movie sucked. I shut it down after an hour.

Unrequited, I looked around some more and came across a documentary about making Scotch in Islay, Scotland.

It was pretty damn interesting and salvaged my night.

Still, from now on I will power up the TV warily. Who knows when the next time will come around that I stumble upon THE PATS spiritual beating again.

I am fragile right now. I just can't handle it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

THE PATS, The Improbability, The Depression

Goddamn it I love football so much that it is killing me.

In my tender and sensitive heart I kind of took for granted THE PATS would defeat the broncos and slide right on in to Super Bowl 50.

It was destiny. It had to be.

I expected a tough game; Peyton has been taking a beating all year about his weak arm and failing faculties - he's a competitor - I knew he and the team would rise to the occasion.

But THE PATS are THE PATS, and after all the deflate gate bullshit and the ridiculous number of injuries they fought through to get to the AFC Championship game, I just knew they would win.

They didn't. And they tortured me right to the bitter end.

I don't understand some of Belichick's calls, just as I did not during the last two regular season games of the year. There was an un-PATRIOT-like vibe to those two games; there was an un-PATRIOT-like vibe to aspects of this game.

Still, who am I to question Belichick?

The man understands football at a level I can never approach. I have been loving football for 52 years - I think I understand the game - it has seeped into my bloodstream and my soul inevitably. I have watched thousands of games, listened to millions of hours of commentary and analysis, read books and revolved six months of every year around this game.

Still, we are talking about Bill Belichick here.

Still, there is a nagging feeling in my heart that he did not manage the game well.

I am always amazed at how deeply it affects me when THE PATS lose a critical game. Earlier in the day the plan was to watch THE PATS at Keith and Emily's home and then jet home to catch the panthers and the cardinals.

After THE PATS loss I did not give a damn about the second game.

I should have - it was the second to last game of the year. After the Super Bowl I will enter that no man's land of no football.

I am always uncomfortable there for a while until Carol rallies me around to digging on The Red Sox.

I wallowed in my depression yesterday. Listened to sports talk radio on the ride in to work and the return. Allowed my emotions to be shredded by the words I was hearing. Even Planet Mikey's show did not make me laugh very much.

I am still depressed today. Will be for a while longer.

The thing I love about football is the thing that kills me. The suddenness.

Baseball is more like life. If you live 70 or 80 years, in some respects your life drags on by. I know it flies but it also drags. It disappoints you and the disappointment you experience feels like 160 years worth.

162 games.. Minimum. That is a lot of goddamn games. Night after night, day after day. Relentlessly.

The playoffs are best of five, best of seven. If you lose a game you get another shot.

The most regular and post season games you can play in football is 20.


And if you lose in the post season you are out.

The worst thing they ever did was to adapt the sudden death overtime rule. Adding in that "But if you kick a field goal" thing.

I liked it the way it was. You score in OT, boom, you win.

Maybe football is the way I want life to be. Intense and exciting. Every game has meaning just as every day should have meaning in life.

Getting kind of deep in here. Strap on the hip boots.

Anyway, I am depressed and guaranteed to remain so for at least 5 more days; I don't have a day off until Sunday and my job is not conducive to promoting a cheery disposition.

But what the hell; it doesn't really matter does it?

The only thing that matters is that you eat your vegetables.

Sunday, January 24, 2016


"You will lose someone you can't live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn't seal back up. And you come through. It's like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly - that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp."

Anne Lamott

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Setting The Record Straight

I was rambling a bit about Viktor Frankl yesterday.

I get that way. When I come across something that excites and/or inspires me I start moving at 375 mph into emotional and introspective oblivion.

I am not sure that sentence even makes sense but I like the way it sounds.

What blew me away about the guy, and what was so evident in the video, is how positive he is. In 4 short minutes he displayed a sense of humor a couple of times. Got the audience to laugh. Got me to laugh.

This is a guy who spent three years in concentration camps. A guy whose parents, brother and pregnant wife were killed in concentration camps.

It is not surprising that he would be interested in exploring the meaning of life. You would have to wonder what the hell it is all about after experiencing the human to human horror that he experienced.

What fascinates me is that he does it with a sense of humor and an air of positivity.

Talk about the triumph of the human spirit. That is the ultimate example.

I expect to learn a lot from this man.

That's where I was coming from yesterday. Thinking about Viktor Frankl's strength, his intelligence, his willingness to pass on to others the  lessons he has learned from the harshest circumstances life has to offer.

His sense of humor.

I love the way he latched onto Goethe's quote, the fact that it means something to him. Advancing the concept that if you treat another human being as if they are capable of being more than they are, they will become more than they are.

The exact opposite of what Frankl experienced in Nazi Germany, where humans were treated like less than animals, as meaningless life forms deserving of nothing more than extinction.

That's where I was coming from yesterday. I am also wondering where this new found knowledge and wisdom will lead me, once I get to digging in.

That's all.

I just wanted to set the record straight.

Friday, January 22, 2016


"What is to give light must endure burning."

Viktor Frankl

Stunned to Come Across

I am always stunned to come across colossal inspiration.

I have spent hours today doing research regarding publications on line and in print that appear to be a good fit for my "style" of writing.

Randomly I came across a publication I used to subscribe to - The Sun Magazine - a publication that I loved.

It is gritty and real - some would say dark - I un-subscribed because at the time I had no foundation of belief in myself and allowed my mind to believe the stories were too dark.

I now believe that in certain respects I am who I am and I love specific things that make me unique.

I began to read The Sun on line to re-acquaint myself with the writing. Came across the quote from Viktor Frankl that precedes this post.

Loved the quote, did some research on Frankl and came across a short video, TED Talk style from 1972, featuring Frankl explaining where that quote came from.

It is 4 minutes and 22 seconds long and is mind blowing.

Viktor Frankl was professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at the University of Vienna Medical School. During World War II he spent three years in concentration camps including Auschwitz and Dachau. His parents, brother and pregnant wife died in concentration camps.

It was in these horrific conditions that he began to formulate his key ideas.

He wrote 39 books, the best known of which is "Man's Search For Meaning." The Library of Congress called it one of the ten most influential books in America.

It gives a firsthand account of his experiences during the Holocaust and describes the psychotherapeutic method he pioneered.

Many people who read it say it changed their life.

I was lead to another Frankl quote: "Challenging the meaning of life is the truest expression of the state of being human."

In the video, Frankl talks about a study that was done that indicated that 78% of the young people who responded felt that figuring out the meaning of life is the most important thing a person can do.

This lead him to a discussion of how people should be treated in order to inspire them to achieve at their highest potential.

Which lead to this quote by Goethe: "If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be."

There is a lot to chew on here but the good news is that it is all inspirational.

Potentially life changing.

In short, I have ordered "Man's Search For Meaning" through Amazon and will have it in my hot little hands by Tuesday.

I will renew my subscription to The Sun.

I may even change my life.

All of this happened randomly.

Or did it?

Anyway it is all pretty damn cool.

Glen Frey

I was blown away to hear of Glen Frey's death.

His death took on more weight coming so close on the heels of the deaths of Lemmy Kilmister and David Bowie.

And 67 is an unacceptable age to die.

I never saw The Eagles in concert and wish I did; I have some of their albums; you better believe I can sing every word to many of their songs from heart and with emotion.

I love going to a dark place in my diseased brain when listening to "Hotel California". That song suits me perfectly.

I am not a Glen Frey expert. He never had me over for dinner and regularly spurned my invitations.

I assume he was a busy man.

BUT...............still, he was a part of my life.

Sometimes a person can have an influence on your life in an indirect way. Glen Frey and Don Henley are the heart and soul of The Eagles, the founding fathers.

They wrote music together, which I consider a spiritual and magical thing, not to be taken lightly.

That music is a part of my life. It makes me feel good, it forces me to sing out loud and the lyrics often challenge me to think, and they inspire introspection.

I didn't go out of my way to attend Eagles' concerts, I don't own a lot of their music and I did not follow Glen Frey's life closely.

Yet his death leaves a very definite hole in my life and emphasizes with painful clarity the impact he and The Eagles had on me.

Some music is good for getting your frustrations out; some is good for your soul.

The Eagles music is good for your soul.

The music world has lost another sensitive, expressive, intelligent and creative person.

The Other End of The Spectrum

Lemmy Kilmister dead at age 70 on December 28, 2015; David Bowie at age 69 on January 10, 2016; Glen Frey at age 67 on January 18.

In a weird way it brings me back to the deaths of Jimi Hendrix on September 18, 1970; Janis Joplin on October 4, 1970; and Jim Morrison on July 3, 1971.

All at the age of 27.

I suppose that thought process comes from my obsession with the fact that many of the people who influenced my life are dying.

It feels weird. It puts me in my place and reminds me of where I am in life.

Jimi, Janis and Jim did themselves in, "living" the rock cliche and dying prematurely because of it.

I am not sure that is a bad thing. It begs the eternal debate - is it better to live a short interesting life or a long boring one?

We all have to make our own decision about that, although most of us never do. Instead of thinking about it and acting upon whatever decision is made, we slither along indecisively until there is nothing left.

No choices, no fun, no alternatives, no life.

Lemmy, Bowie and Glen lived their lives. They achieved fame and success and money yet they too died young.

It feels to me like the other end of the spectrum.

An end I'd rather not deal with.

Cold as it is to say, when Jimi, Janis and Jim died I could say "That sucks", but I could also say that ain't gonna happen to me.

I mean for Christ sake, I was 17 years old in 1971. I was invincible.

I cannot say that ain't gonna happen to me in 2016. I am 62 years old and I have a yellow bruise on the back of my right hand where the IV drip was inserted on Wednesday to knock me out for an endoscopy.

These deaths represent an abrupt end to pieces of my life. They are a nasty reminder that life moves inexorably towards death and no one is exempt.

Selfishly, they feed my obsession with making a real life for myself in 2016.

(Editor's note: I was trying to express my reaction to the deaths of these three men. I found someone who did it better, talking specifically about the death of Glen Frey. The man's name is Marc Eliot, he wrote a biography on The Eagles called "To The Limit: The Untold Story of the Eagles." The following quote is from a tribute written by Eliot and published on the CNN web page.)

"For people who came up in that time, the death of Frey - and earlier this month the death of David Bowie - comes as a reality check, a resounding reminder that the days of "Take It Easy" and the promise of "One of These Nights" are long behind us. Instead music, the blood of our youth, has somehow been replaced by mortgages, credit cards, spouses, children, divorces, alimony, expanding waistlines and diminished dreams."


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Endoscopic Revelations

Yesterday, I had a camera shoved down my throat.

What did you do?

Had my second endoscopy. The first one was ten years ago and that was a double duty doozer.

On that day I had a colonoscopy and an endoscopy. A twofer.

My fondest memory of that day is the gentle high I enjoyed upon regaining consciousness, and for the next few hours.

It wasn't really a high, it was more a sense of altered consciousness, a mildness, a calmness.

I hoped for the same today and was not disappointed. It is truly a delicious feeling.

If I could recapture this feeling every day of my life I would rule the world. I don't know what the hell drug they use, which is good, because if I did I'd find a way to obtain it and I would hoard it until I had a three lifetime supply.

It destroys anxiety and introduces an artificial peace of mind, which in the absence of the real thing, is quite comforting.

Anyway, I have been having throat problems for four months now. I have progressed from a general practitioner, to an ear, nose and throat guy, all the way up to the big leagues - The Earl of Endoscopy.

Needless to say I have been concerned. A sore throat that lasts for four months tends to unnerve a person.

Bottom line: All is cool. The exact quote on the piece of paper they gave me is: "Normal exam today, everything looks great."

So that's good. Except for the fact I still have a sore throat.

The general attitude I have experienced from the medical community as I squirmed through this four month process is one of perplexity and little else. "Hmmm, a perpetual sore throat."

No alarm bells, no panic, no push for a solid diagnosis.

I am not going to get into that today. I want to talk about yesterday.

Carol and I arrived at the Endoscopy Emporium at 10:15; fifteen minutes early. I was finally wheeled in for the procedure at 11:50.

The waiting, What the hell is up with the waiting?

Phase one: I progressed from the reception area to a cubicle at 11:15. This is where I took off my shirts and put on that purposefully ridiculous backwards, paper thin pretend bathrobe thing.

They jabbed an IV into the back of my right hand and asked me 376 questions exploring everything from my mental health to my relationship with street drugs.

Then I waited. Fifteen or twenty minutes more.

The only good thing about phase one was that they draped a heated bed sheet over me. Heated.


I want Carol to do this for me every night between September and June for the rest of my natural life.

As I lay behind the curtain it struck me how odd it is to be lying there in anxiety as the people on the other side of the curtain walk back and forth, chattering, just doing their jobs. A little joking, some conversation (one woman was getting ready to take off for Florida on vacation), typical co-worker to co-worker interaction.


Phase Two: The Trip.

They wheeled me to the room where the endoscopy would be performed.

Odd feeling. Rolling through the halls in a bed, past clusters of hospital employees talking, who throw a casual glance my way just to see what is up.

Phase Three: The procedure.

Dr. Feelgood walks in and says to me: "So why are we doing this again today?"

What? Are you fucking kidding me? Are you incapable of reading your own file?

This is the same guy I saw back in November, a guy I talked to for about fifteen minutes, a guy who appeared to be taking notes, a guy who performed a rudimentary exam on that day, a guy who agreed to an endoscopy and told me he'd be performing it.

I repeat: I do not trust the medical community in this country.

Phase Four: Post procedure fun.

Carol and I grabbed a bunch of Kentucky Fried Chicken (neither of us had eaten anything yet), went home and binge watched NYPD Blue. For SEVEN hours.

The only thing better than binging on NYPD Blue, is binging on NYPD Blue in an artificial state of eunphoria.

Highlight of the hospital visit: The singing employee.

As I was lying in the waiting room under a heated blanket behind a curtain, alone with my thoughts during Phase 1, the song "Sugaree" by the Grateful Dead was playing on some magical musical device.

A woman right outside the curtain was singing along.

I don't know who it was, but she made me smile.

Saturday, January 16, 2016


"I suppose for me as an artist it wasn't always just about expressing my work: I really wanted, more than anything else, to contribute in some way to the culture that I was living in. It just seemed like a challenge to move it a little bit towards the way I thought it might be interesting to go."

David Bowie

David Bowie

When I wrote about the death of Lem Kilmister I said the world has become more complacent.

The death of David Bowie leaves the world infinitely more boring.

I was shaken by this one. I knew he had a heart attack in 2004; the cancer caught me by surprise, which is as he wanted it. He had been sick for 18 months and kept a low profile about it, which is pretty amazing in this intrusive world that has to know everything about everybody all the time and finds ways to do it.

I was not a huge Bowie fan. I have some of his music, I like it a lot, but I did not follow his career closely. I have the early stuff, obviously, but from time to time I would pick up something new just to see where he was at. I would react like an inquisitive dog, cocking my head to the side. What is this?

He forced me to reconsider who he was and what he was saying. In other words, he engaged my mind as well as my soul.

There are few in this world who can accomplish that.

There are many Bowie songs that I sing every word to when I hear them on the radio, sing them jubilantly, but I was not a fanatic.

About the music.

I was completely absorbed by his persona.

The man re-invented himself over and over again throughout his life. Completely changed who he was, drastically traveled from one personality to another. True fans would go to concerts expecting to see one David Bowie and they would be surprised by the new David Bowie.

This is one of the things they loved about him.

He had guts. He didn't care what anyone thought. He was all about exploring life as he lived it and through his music.

He threw himself into life. Bowie quote: "I mean, my whole life is made up of experimentation, curiosity and anything that seemed at all appealing. I really had a hunger to experience everything that life had to offer, from the opium den to whatever. And I think I have done just about everything that it's possible to do."

From harmless looking singer-songwriter at the beginning of his career, to Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, The Thin White Duke, just a singer in the group Tin Machine, to the sophisticated suit wearing cool dude he ended up as, and everything in between that I have missed, this man changed personas effortlessly.

The line dividing the character and the man was blurred at best; sometimes not there at all.

He lived his life as art. He treated death the same way.

I watched two videos from the album he released on his birthday, a couple of days before he died.

They are haunting. He meant this album to be a farewell to his fans. The cynical will say the lyrics and his death are not connected. His producer, who has worked with Bowie for decades, admits that Bowie intended it as a farewell.

He faced death fearlessly and created art in the process.

David Bowie experimented with his life. We should experiment with our lives.

Most people do not know who they truly are. They adopt a persona early on that is comfortable to them and ride it to the grave, ignoring that all important voice in their head that keeps repeating: "This is not who I am, this is not the life I should be living, the words I am speaking do not come from my soul."

What an unforgivable waste, what a horrific mockery of life.

I know. I have been doing it for 62 years.

Life is all about living, life is about experimentation and learning. We should try on any persona that appeals to us. If it doesn't fit, pick another and give that a shot. Eventually, the search will lead to you.

Breaking out of a lifelong charade is not an easy thing to do. You have worn grooves in your brain and all your reactions, thoughts and responses come from those places.

But you have to try.

Bowie died knowing in his heart and in his soul that he lived his life.

Most of us die in cowardly shame.

I spent two days working on this post. It was important to me. I wanted to get it right. To capture what David Bowie meant to me, and a little of what David Bowie meant to the world.

I failed.

I will say this. David Bowie was a remarkable man. Extremely talented, fascinating and bold. He laid down a blueprint for life. He was intelligent, witty, charismatic and quirky.

He died the way he lived. On his terms and with an artful flourish.

David Bowie made a lot of people happy with his music and he challenged their intellectual curiosity with his approach to life.

I am thankful I was around to experience him.

Requiescat in pace, David Bowie.

And do it with a smile.

Friday, January 15, 2016

As I See It

"Mind is the forerunner of all evil conditions.
Mind is their chief, and they are mind-made.
If, with an impure mind, one speaks or acts,
Then suffering follows one.
Even as the cart wheel follows the hoof of the ox.

Mind is the forerunner of all good conditions.
Mind is their chief, and they are mind-made.
If, with a pure mind, one speaks or acts,
Then happiness follows one.
Like a never departing shadow."

These are the opening lines of the Dhammapada, and were supposedly spoken by Buddha 2500 years ago.

I don't know. I wasn't around 2500 years ago.

Or was I?

I like the words. They express perfectly where my head is at in 2016.

I am looking for ethereal change. I am looking to get happy by fixing my mind. These words sum up exactly what I already know but have been eternally unable to practice.

Quieting the mind. It is all about quieting the mind.

My mind is like torrential rain on a tin roof. My mind-voice is so loud and so persistent that there is no room for me in there.

I have been crowded into a corner of my brain so my mind-voice can run the show.

This is no longer acceptable. Obviously, it has gotten me nowhere.

I have flirted with Buddhism over the years, but this year I am going to make love to it.

I am drawn to it precisely because when I read words like those above, they connect with me deeply. They provoke an emotional response and inspire an awareness.

I began exploring Buddhism and quieting the mind this morning and this was the first thing I came across.

Bullseye. Not a bad start.

2016 for me is all about family, all about simple pleasures and appreciation associated with family, all about one drastic real world shift - retirement, all about feeding my soul and fearlessly expressing what is in it and especially all about making myself happy through real change, the only change that matters - "changing" my mind.

If I am to succeed in 2016, I have to travel from the first stanza above to the second stanza.

I don't think it will be easy. But I am talking about my life here, talking about being no longer willing to create my own unhappiness, talking about an acute awareness that my life is severely limited in longevity at this point.

I am talking about changing the man I have been and the life I have lived.

I am better than that. I have the intelligence and the desire to become fully who I am.

It all comes down to doing the work.

I'll keep you posted.

(Amusing editor's note: If you have the energy to read the post, the quote, that follows this post, you will say "Hey, what the hell is going on in your mind, Bubba? Aren't these two sentiments diametrically opposed?" Why, yes they are. And that lays out the central dilemma of being a human. I like the movie quote, I like the Buddhist quote. The contradictions in my mind are a twisted lot; unraveling them will be challenging. But what the hell, who knows what I will discover when I shine a light into my brain.
Ciao, baby.)

Words To Live By

"There was a student just the other day, who said that my problem, if one's nature is a problem, rather than just problematic, is that I see things in terms of victory or death, and not just victory but total victory. And it's true: I always have. It's either victory or don't bother. The only thing worth doing is the impossible. Everything else is grey. You're born as a man with the nerves of a soldier, the apprehension of an angel, to lift a phrase, but there is no use for it. Here? Where's the use for it? You're set up to be a philosopher or a king or Shakespeare, and this is all they give you? Twenty odd years of school which is all instruction in how to be ordinary..........or they'll fucking kill you, they fucking will, and then it's a career, which is not the same thing as existence. I want unlimited things. I want everything. A real love. A real house. A real thing to do....every day. I'd rather die if I don't get it."

Mark Wahlberg as Jim Bennett in "The Gambler."

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Boot Ritual

Got up a little early this morning so I would have time to go out and clean up the snow so Carol could enjoy her morning ritual in comfort.

I was putting my boots on. I have a great pair of work boots that I bought when I went to work for a food distributor eight or nine years ago.

That job was a failed attempt to escape the low paying bartending gig I had at an American Legion.

I loved being a bartender but I was in the wrong place. When people consume eight drinks and leave you a one dollar tip, chances are you will not be contacting Edward Jones for investment advice any time soon.

"Twas a shame because I loved the job. I am fond of telling anyone who will listen that tending bar was the only job ever in my life that I loved.

It is true.

In my heart I am a performer and a faux celebrity. Being behind the bar is like being on stage; it fed my ego and I ate it up like a glutton.

There was a member there who owned a food distribution company. We got along well. He saw something in me and offered me a manager's position. He thought I was the right man for the job.

He was wrong. I was miserable there and the relationship was short-lived.

The good thing is I had to buy these boots.

At some point the laces broke and I bought rawhide laces to replace them. About two feet too long.

A normal human would cut the laces down to size, but I am not a normal human.

When I put these boots on I wrap the laces around the boot once or twice until it is a manageable length to tie off.

I enjoy that ritual.

As I do this, inevitably, Lakota wanders over and grabs at the laces as they fly around the boots. She always snags them and I have to gently extricate the lace from her paw or her mouth. It takes me two or three attempts before I actually get the laces set.

I enjoy that ritual as well.

It was cold this morning, it was windy, there was snow on the ground.

Not a recipe for contentment from my perspective.

But I had the boot ritual.

And that was comforting.

Predisposed To Be Merciful

Finished a book Monday morning called "The Presidents Club."


It detailed the relationships between sitting United States presidents and former presidents. How they overcome differences personally and politically to work together to get things done.

They really do consider their fraternity a club, the reason being that no one else in the world knows what it is like to be president other than a former president.

The book started with the relationship between Truman and Hoover and worked its way up to the relationships between Obama, Clinton, Bush, Bush and Carter.

Over and over and over again former presidents said that no matter how long you are involved in politics, no matter what your accomplishments, no matter what you campaign on, you have no idea what the hell you are walking into until you actually occupy the office.

George W. Bush had the best quote. He said you have no idea what you are dealing with until you get your first national security briefing.

Can you imagine how overwhelming that must be?

I was amazed to learn just how much influence former presidents have and how much sitting presidents rely on them.

There is a lot that we see publicly, but there is a hell of a lot more that happens behind the scenes.

They have their differences, some petty, some meaningful, they bicker like married couples sometimes, but eventually the bond between them and the enormous weight of the office cuts through the bullshit and they learn how to help each other.

I could go on for hours because the book was fascinating and there are many great stories and historical situations.

However, you do not have that kind of time and neither do I.

The last sentence of the book summed it all up perfectly and knocked me off my recliner and on to the floor, where I curled up in the fetal position while my cats licked my forehead compassionately.

The sentence summed up how presidents and former presidents interact.

"They are the jurors who will not pronounce a verdict, because they know they have not heard all the evidence - and they are predisposed to be merciful."

My mind being what it is, the thought exploded in my head that that sentence, that approach to life, is exactly the way all of us should live our lives.

There is so much pettiness in the world, so much viciousness and selfishness. We humans are so cold to one another, so calculating and hurtful, yet we are all in the same boat. Today more so than ever.

Our lives have been compressed into a desperate struggle to survive against all odds, the odds being stacked heavily against us, as the rich and large corporations rape us and the economy and tirelessly plot and plan to make it harder all the time for the little man to "get ahead."

Still, we hurt each other. Even though we know we have not heard all the evidence.

There are people who are pure scum; evil to the core. People who will take advantage of you at every turn and sleep well at night with a twisted smile on their lips.

These people deserve your hatred. They deserve whatever evil punishment karma can dish out.

But most of us are all over the map. Up and down, evil and good, selfish and generous. We hurt each other one day and care about each other the next.

We don't know what makes the other person do what they do. What pressures they are under, what psychological and emotional burdens they carry.

We have not heard all the evidence.

We need to cut each other some slack.

We need to be predisposed to be merciful.

I will never understand why we humans go out of our way to hurt each other when most of us are fighting the same fight.

This is my eternal rant, and I will take it with me to the grave in frustrated awareness that intolerance never ends.

Monday, January 11, 2016


"So they provided jails called schools, equipped with tortures called an education."

John Updike

Sunday, January 10, 2016


"We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody and they don't have books, don't fuck them."

John Waters

Perspective Changed

I am be-bopping to work yesterday, listening to TED Talks on NPR.

Trying to inflate my brain.

The speaker was Kasim Reed, the current mayor of Atlanta and he was speaking about how your perspective can be changed and the good consequences that can result.

In 2009 he was a Senator, running to become the mayor of Atlanta. He was getting his ass kicked so he decided to knock on doors in neighborhoods.

He went to a run down neighborhood, knocked on a door (with steel bars in the window) and was greeted by Miss Davis. She let him in and he went into his campaign spiel.

Talked about the great Fortune 500 companies in Atlanta, the amazing airport, and the great restaurants and told her that if elected he would continue to make Atlanta stronger.

Reed said Miss Davis looked at him like he "was a Martian", took his hand and walked him out into her backyard.

She pointed out a bunch of young boys shooting craps in a drained pool. She pointed out a gang of guys playing music in a gazebo covered with gang graffiti, a gazebo that used to be used for family picnics.

She told Reed that she was a good cook and didn't go out to eat, but if she felt the need she would have to take a bus and did not feel safe traveling in the city.

As for the airport she told him she didn't fly.

To his credit Kasim Reed's eyes were opened that day. He realized he was looking at his city from the wrong perspective and vowed that if elected he would focus on the needs of the real backbone of the city, the real people, the working class people, the people who truly shoulder the load.

He got elected and stayed true to his vow. He re-opened a bunch of recreation centers, 90% of which had been closed for years. He re-instituted the the Atlanta Senior Citizens' Ball, although his mother made him rename it the Forever Young Ball. He has done other things for the city, working from the bottom up and improving the lives of those who needed improving the most.

Got me to thinking............................................

I was driving to work. A place I call HELL.

It is HELL for me but that is true for you as well, no? You and most of everybody else you know.

I am no longer going to poison my existence with hatred of my job. I will never love it but I can stop obsessing about it and ruining every free moment in my mind.

I will no longer whine about it because there are people - lots of them - with no jobs, with jobs that pay a lot less than mine; people who work two or three jobs and still make less than me.

I am changing my perspective.

Changing my perspective to bring about change.

I am working from the bottom up. Changing the way I think, the way I look at things, will change what I do.

I will no longer refer to the job as HELL in here. I will be mature about it.

You doubt me and I don't blame you; you have heard it all before. But it is different this time. This is 2016 and I am deep focused on fixing my brain. Re-training it, re-directing it and using it as a powerful weapon against failure to change instead of against myself.

At the end of his TED talk Kasim Reed said that Miss Davis made a mayor and changed a city.

One person who changed a perspective with huge implications and measurable positive results.

That is gigantic.

I expect no less from myself.

I am putting it all out there this year for you to judge. I will tell you when and how I succeed, I will let you know when I fail.

I am not fooling around anymore.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Numb Surprise

The first week of the new year is coming to a close and things do not feel much different, do they?

Don't fall into that void - it is bottomless and eventually tumbles you into your grave, unremarkable, unrealized and unfulfilled.

"Your brain seems bruised in numb surprise." From "Soul Kitchen" by The Doors.

That is what you will feel on that day.

As a retail prisoner I talk to a hell of a lot of people every single day. I find the mute acceptance of the futility of life deeply disturbing.

I ask "How you doing?" The number one answer by far is "Living the dream."

I hate that answer for its irony. It is a brief, three word summary in naked truth of the life that the vast majority of humans live.

Broken dreams, no dreams, slogging through life working mindlessly like a beaten animal, bewildered, praying for a little peace at the end of the road.

This week I have talked to a lot of people about their holidays. I ask them how the holidays went, they reply "good."

With no conviction and no joy.

There are exceptions, starting with me. My holidays were spectacular and I let people know it. Others who come into the store answer me with a smile, and that warms my innards.

One guy I work with floored me. He said "Oh, you know - same old same old."

The holidays are the one time of year when you are permitted - encouraged, actually - to break out of the mold. To shatter your routine, to celebrate and to laugh. To get a different perspective on life - your life - that hopefully will provide such sharp contrast to your everyday reality that you will become unnerved. Inspired to change direction.

When the holidays become the same old same old, then nothing changes.

I did not detonate any bombs this week. I did not introduce dramatic change into my life.

Truthfully I was numbed by the return to the every day after such a memorable holiday season.

Tough six day week, including today, one day off, then inventory on Monday.

Not exactly soul inspiring.

But I am restless as hell. I feel it. I think it. I am it.

That provides some comfort to me that the seed has been planted deep and nurtured accordingly.

 I am fighting to keep the spark of a new year burning.

Kind Words

Got me a calender of Irish pubs hanging on my wall to track this new year - 2016.

Each month features an Irish sentiment.

From January 2016 - "In the New year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship but never in want."

Friday, January 8, 2016

Lost In The Shuffle

Gregg Allman's birthday was on December 8.

He turned 68.

I find that phrase weird - turned 68. Turned 62. Turned any age.

I don't know why. I'm sure it is a perfectly acceptable phrase, I'm sure it sounds normal to normal folk and is used exactly as it was meant to be used.

I'm prone to think he became 68. I became 62. Or he survived 68 years, he celebrated 68 years. He acknowledged 68 years.

Who knows what the hell is going on in my brain. I sure as hell don't.

Anyway, Gregg is one of the major musical interests in my life, a guy I have followed since I was fifteen in 1969.

19 fucking 69.

Musically he is a god to me as I am a god to myself.

Actually I am not a god to myself. Anyone who has read more than two words in here knows I have mixed feelings about myself.

But 2016 might be the right year for me to evolve into deity. Feels right to me.

Here's the point.

I neglected to celebrate Gregg's birthday in here because his birthday falls on the same day John Lennon was assassinated. I am always overcome with emotion on that day because I still cannot believe that a low life piece of crap saw fit to kill a creative giant like Lennon. Still cannot assimilate that truth even after 35 years.

Truthfully I could say in a certain sense that I am overcome with emotion on that day because of Gregg's birthday as well.

He has been a giant presence in my life, generously giving me many of the most intense, satisfying, uplifting and inspirational musical moments I have experienced in my time on this planet.

A man who has made me smile and given me goosebumps. A man who I prayed for many times with all my heart and all my soul that he would not die prematurely, which he certainly made sport of.

I have been to concerts where he passed out at the organ and the rest of the band covered for him. His lifestyle rivaled that of Keith Richards and I am grateful that he is still around.

I am grateful they are both still around.

Gregg finally got it all together in 1995 when The Allman Brothers Band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He got drunk as hell that night and when it was his turn to speak he could barely do it.

He saw it on tape a couple of days later and decided that was enough. He got himself clean and sober and has been gracing us with that magnificent quintessential blues voice in purity ever since.

I love this man and I hope he is around for a long time to come.

My heart is broken that I can no longer see him perform with The Allman Brothers Band, who split up in 2014.

But he is still touring with his solo band and you best believe I will be seeing them a few more times around. I have enjoyed them in the past and as a fan benefited from the fact that quality musicians attract quality musicians.

His solo band rocks.

So Happy Belated Birthday Gregg.

Keep on keeping the blues alive in your own inimitable style and with that remarkable voice.

I look forward to many more smiles and goosebumps.

Monday, January 4, 2016


"The world is full of people that have stopped listening to themselves or have listened only to their neighbors to learn what they ought to do, how they ought to behave, and what the values are that they should be living for."

Joseph Campbell

Hey Hello

Had a spectacular week last week.

That is exactly what you want as you roll into a new year.

You want momentum.

On Monday night last, I went to see the new Star Wars movie with Craig. He bought the tickets in advance, we got there half an hour early and still it was touch and go that we would actually be able to sit together.

We shuffled around and scouted possibilities for quite a few minutes until we settled into a couple of side by side seats in the very last row of the theater.

The movie was shown in an Imax theater - you know, one with a screen 110 stories high - and in 3D, so we had to wear goofy glasses.

What a goddamn spectacle. It was amazing.

Carol and I had a fantastic New Year's Eve at Jason's love nest in the woods, we had a fantastic New Year's Day at home with family and friends.

Then we had Saturday and Sunday off from work. Which was quite fortuitous because Keith and Emily gave me a Roku stick for my birthday and Keith  hooked the thing and us up to a whole new world of movies, shows and etc.

We went crazy.

We watched 10 episodes of NYPD Blue, season one. We watched two episodes of Jerry Seinfeld's show, "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee", which is a show I have long wanted to check out. We watched "Danny Collins", an Al Pacino movie we have wanted to dig.

Jesus Christ we had an enjoyable and relaxing weekend.

Then today rolled around.

I am quite vulnerable going back to work when I have multiple days off; I just can't make the transition.

I fought the impulse to punch people in the face all day long and limped home disgusted.

And inspired anew. I will get myself out of this dunghole I have fallen into; I am more determined than ever.

That contrast between my true life of family and friends and the exquisite horror of such a meaningless and repetitive and boring job really jolted my cojones today and turned me into a raging change-a-holic.

"Tis time for change with a capital C, baby.

I tried to use the beauty of last week as a weapon against the suffocating torture of the 8 hours I wasted in that Hellhole today, but it was a struggle.

Still, I don't want to get negative on Day Four of 2016.

That would be silly.

Last week was extravagant and intensely soul-fulfilling.

Gonna get me more weeks like that in 2016.


The Truth

"Most of us spend so much energy getting back up after being knocked down - repeatedly - that there is no energy left to fight to get the life that we deserve."

Joe Testa

Sunday, January 3, 2016

In Retrospect

Christmas boiled down to Frank Sinatra and Mariah Carey.

I don't know how that happened but that is just the way it went.

I own a bunch of Christmas CD's. Willie Nelson, B.B.King, Elvis, Diana Ross, Mariah Carey and others that I am sure I'm forgetting.

For some reason about two weeks before Christmas I grabbed the Mariah CD. Actually as I think back about it, it was nothing more than laziness.

I went searching for all the Christmas CD's and hers is the first I came across. I have all my CD's in boxes and piles on the floor outside this room. They are in no discernible order and it is a royal pain in the ass to find anything.

Especially when patience is paper thin, as is mine.

I was pissed because I expected to come across all of them in one pile but of course that did not happen. So as soon as I came across Mariah I decided to settle for that and find the others at a later date.

Of course that never happened.

That same morning I was in a Sinatra mood so I grabbed " The Reprise Collection" boxed set that I have - four CD's.

Those two musical selections remained in my car throughout Christmas and on into the new year week.

I dug them.

When it comes to Christmas songs I like the emotional ones and the ones that rock or get rocked up. Hate the kiddie stuff.

So with my girl Mariah I listened to the first four songs over and over. "Silent Night, All I Want For Christmas Is You, O Holy Night, and Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)."

I would pop in the CD in my driveway, listen to 1 through 4, and then repeat 1 through 4. That would deliver me to the doorstep to HELL in grand fashion and in high spirits.

With Frank I listened to Disc 3, selections 1 through 8.

"I've Got You Under My Skin, The Shadow Of Your Smile, Street Of Dreams, You Make Me Feel So Young,  Strangers In The Night, Summer Wind, All Or Nothing At All, and That's Life."

"That's Life" was the key, the defining moment of every ride, the wave of emotion I rode in to retail torture.

I would have time to replay "That's Life" one more time before I reached the doorstep to HELL. Two consecutive performances of the song ended my commute in grand fashion and in high spirits.

Can't tell you how many times I belted out "That's Life" right along with Frank. I cranked that sucker like it was Led Zeppelin and roared along with it at high volume.

It felt great.

Those two CD's fought back depression and hatred quite admirably. No matter how much the spectre of retail beat down the holiday spirit, for the ride to and the ride from, I was feeling pretty good.

Retail beats the Christmas out of you. You need weapons to fight back. Mariah and Sinatra were more than up to the task.

I only listened to "The Winter Song" by Angel once or twice, which is a felony crime. It is entirely possible that that song is my favorite Christmas song of all time. I don't even know if it is a Christmas song but I absolutely love it.

I only listened to "Happy Xmas (War Is Over) a few times, which is a felony crime. That song is probably tied with "The Winter Song" on Joe's favorites list.

Christmas bum rushes you and leaves no time. No matter my intentions I end up rushed and missing out on things I want to experience.

But Frank and Mariah saved the day. They had me rockin', they had me rollin', they had me emoting, they had me singing and smiling.

It was a great two weeks (at least in The Big Ride).

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Worthwhile Changes

So here we go.

January 2, 2016. Doesn't quite have the ring or the weight to it that January 1 does.

This is where the hard part comes in. Trying to keep the shine on.

It is so easy to slip back into the same old same old immediately after the holidays. This is the mistake that all of us make and it is a fatal one.

Five weeks of explosive celebrating - Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's - and then what?

I had to run out to Shaw's yesterday to pick up last minute supplies for the dinner gathering, and as I walked into the store I felt like a selfish ass.

I was looking at all the people working in the store - on January 1 - and thinking how awful that is. To ring in a new year and be forced to work the very next day.

It is a reality today but it is bad for the soul.

Some - like myself and Carol - have the weekend off, and that is precious.

Somehow you have to find a way to keep the magic working, to nurture the spirit of change and newness towards survival.

It is all about change.

I am thinking hard this year. Committing hard.

I feel a strange sense of power and inspiration; a solid sense that time is wasting, moving faster than ever, that my life hangs in the balance.

Might be coming from the huge sense of loss that has been stewing in me since the end of 2014 and March of 2015. Might be coming from the fact that I just completed my 62nd year on this planet, and 63 is already humming along.


I have thoughts and decisions swirling. No resolutions. Resolutions are cliched.

I am considering in a more philosophical bent; bigger ideas instead of black and white measurable goals.

I'm thinking Carol and I will spend more time with our sons and their women. Casual time. Unforced, unscheduled real time.

"Hey, it's Friday night - mind if we stop over with some pizza for a short visit? And please don't dust the end tables."

I'm thinking I am going to spend more time with my brother. We will find clubs and restaurants that are conveniently located between us, so we can enjoy live music with some regularity and go out for a quiet dinner of conversation.

I am going to retire.


I will find a part time job to augment social security and then lower the boom on this ridiculous, soul sucking job I now suffer with.

I will listen to music more often. Much more often.

I have an ipod loaded with  music I love and I hardly ever listen to it. How stupid is that?

Gonna watch more movies. Again, I love movies but I just don't watch enough of them.

I am toying with the idea of picking up the instruments again. Guitar and trumpet.

Why not? The music is in me and the talent is there - why not release it?

Yeah, I am going to lose weight and exercise more, but those are everyday commitments - not things to be embraced by my soul.

Gonna write more. Gonna try to find a way to make some spare change from writing as part of the retirement scenario.

How can I not? Writing is my number one release and it comes directly from my soul. Keeping it bottled up invites fatal explosions

If I look back at previous new year's commitments I am sure I would be embarrassed. Embarrassed to see some of (hopefully not all) of the same intentions captured in print.

Doesn't matter.

You have to be ready for change. You have to recognize the impulse and have the drive to act upon it.

Let me be honest here. Every birthday pulls me closer to the abyss. That is true of every birthday for every living thing, but it carries a lot more weight when that birthday is 62 as opposed to 21.

I am afraid.

Afraid to die having wasted my life.

I feel fresh in 2016. I feel inspired. The amazing New Year's Eve and New Year's Day/my birthday that Carol and I just experienced has a lot to do with that.

Jesus Christ - we laughed a lot and changed the routine - celebrated differently and enjoyed it all more.

I am kind of free flowing here today. Laying out some thoughts that are bumping up against the inside of my skull. If I come up with any other changes I want to make I will let you know. I realize you are just dying to know what I am thinking.

That's it. That's where I am at on January 2, 2016.

Thinking and feeling.

Pretty cool.

Friday, January 1, 2016

A Rockin' New Year's Eve

Last night Carol and I went out on New Year's Eve for the first time in at least fifteen years.

I remember ushering in the year 2000. It was a big deal but we did it at home. Had a fabulous meal and watched the new year arrive in many countries around the world, time zone after time zone.

I know we haven't gone out since so it has been at least fifteen years.

Last night we went to Jason's fun house in the woods and had a spectacular night. A goddamn blast.

Five minutes after we got there Jason said : "Joe - let's take a ride on my snowmobiles."

I haven't been on a snow sled for forty years.

I did not hesitate. He gave me quick instructions, then hopped on his and I followed him.

Powering through the woods at a decent clip, in the dark, in the cold I felt unbelievably alive. Powerfully, excitedly, happily alive.

Came back to the cottage and settled in for some drinking, eating and game playing with a crew of people (much younger than us) who are fun, insane, energetic and cool.

What a blast.

Shortly before 9:00 we all bundled up and headed down to the lake. Jason had put together a fireworks display that he transported in his truck.

We stood around enjoying the fun and beauty of his fireworks in a spectacularly beautiful and peaceful setting.

Back to the cottage for more games and laughter and camaraderie.

Ushering in the new year was informal, but cool. No TV to watch the ball drop so Jason monitored the proceedings on his tablet and gave us the countdown.

At midnight I kissed the woman who has been by my side for 37 years. The woman formerly known as Carol Sargent.

This woman who means so much to me. This woman who has been through everything with me, both good and bad, and has come out the other side of it all still by my side, still impossibly positive and strong.

No better way to experience the first few seconds of 2016.

Everyone wished me a happy birthday.

I cannot lie to you, I love it when that happens and it is one thing I do miss about not going out on New Year's Eve.

Everyone yells happy new year, then they wish me a happy birthday.

I consider my birthday to be a special day, more so than usual, because of the day it falls on.

January 1 is a very cool day to have a birthday.

Anyway, last night was spectacular. Fun, different, exciting - it made us laugh, it made us feel alive.

I am thinking that 2016 is going to be one hell of a year for me and Carol.

Duane's Wisdom

"This year I will be more thoughtful of my fellow man, exert more effort in each of my endeavors professionally as well as personally. Take love wherever I find it, and offer it to everyone who will take it. In this coming year I will seek knowledge from those wiser than me and try to teach those who wish to learn from me. I love being alive and I will be the best man I possibly can."

Duane Allman

Every single New Year's Day I re-quote these words and I will continue to do so until the day I die.

Duane wrote those words in his diary on New Year's Day in 1969.

The words are deeply meaningful to me, so much so that as I sat here typing them once again, a feeling like prayer came over me, something spiritual and moving, something tangible that felt like a direct connection to a guiding philosophy with the power to change a life.

That hasn't happened to me before, but I realized in the half hour that I have been awake this morning that I am experiencing today more powerfully, more emotionally, than I have for a long time; maybe more than ever before in my life.

Duane's words stand on their merit alone; they are beautiful and simple and powerful yet oh so hard to live up to.

They carry even more weight because of the man who wrote them.

Duane was his own man, a man who had a vision for his life and the band he wanted to form, a man who made it all happen against all odds.

He died in 1971 in a motorcycle accident but is still revered as one of the greatest guitar players ever, to this very day.

When you think about it, who the hell decides they are going to create a band with two lead guitar players, two drummers playing two full drum kits, a bass player, and a guy playing keyboards.

That is insane, especially in the days when the blueprint for a rock band was a lead guitar, a rhythm guitar, a bass guitar and drums. Period.

Duane made it happen.

The story is legendary, I have told it before and I will tell it over and over again: The band had gone through a few different permutations as it evolved until Duane finally had it to where he wanted it to be.

Except for one missing piece - Gregg Allman.

Gregg had given up on the band ever succeeding and moved out to California. He was considering a career as a dentist.

A fucking dentist.

Duane, driven as he was, convinced Gregg to give it one more try. Gregg made the trip to Georgia and walked into a house where the rest of the founding fathers of The Allman Brothers Band were practicing.

Gregg had no faith in himself as a singer but Duane convinced him to give it a shot.

These six men: Duane Allman, Gregg Allman, Butch Trucks, Jaimoe, Dicky Betts, and Berry Oakley jammed over a couple of songs and immediately felt the vibe.

When they stopped, Duane stood with his back to the door and said: "Anybody who wants to leave this band is going to have to fight their way out."

A man with a vision who worked hard to make his dream a reality.

This is the second year, as I quote Duane's words, that I will not be able to see The Allman Brothers Band.

They split up in October of 2014.

It pains me, it depresses me. They were in my life for forty five years.

It gives me perspective. Things change. Life changes, and there is nothing you can do about that.

I will always have the music of The Allman Brothers Band.

I will always have Duane's words as inspiration.

I have memorized the quote this year. I am going to put my heart and soul into living them.

A good start to a new year in this world and in my life.