Sunday, February 28, 2016

How Life Can Suck Sometimes

Ashley Guindon, a police officer working her very first shift, was shot and killed today by a loser asshole.

Ashley was 28 years old.

Dig (and learn)

"Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you."

John-Paul Sartre

Wanna Know What I Hate?

I am an emotional man.

I wear my emotions on my sleeve and on my pants ( I did not say "in my pants") and on my face and in my writing - my emotions see more of the light of day than my soul or my tortured personality or my truth.

Goddamn advertisers know exactly what they are doing and this pisses me off. They compromise my intelligence by superceding my defense mechanisms.

Even as time passes me by, many commercials are still aimed at my generation. I can be seduced by beautiful women hawking products that I think I need or want, but in my heart of hearts I know the message is not directed towards me.

I can tell by the women, I can tell by the product, I can tell by the music.

Yeah, the music.

Brief aside: I have been a fan of Playboy for most of my life. You can read whatever you want to into that and it doesn't really matter to me - I don't give a damn about your opinion. I have always been a fan of the culture of Playboy - the lifestyle the magazine represented.

It was always a bonus to look at these gorgeous women, but you get to a point in your life - very quickly - where you are older than they are. And you keep getting older while their age remains the same.

You can appreciate the beauty, but if you have half a brain in your head you understand that their reality can never be your reality.

I feel the same about the women I see in ads - if they are too young and too beautiful, they are not trying to sell me a goddamn thing.

However, the music is more important.

If they are playing music that I grew up with, music that I love - they are trying to connect with me.

And I get sucked in.

I hear a song that I love, a song that I can connect with and - kaboom - I am there. My brain connects with my past, my emotions respond appropriately and I am lost.

Until reality sets in, I get to the end of the commercial and it is some goddamn monolith of a company trying to trick me into understanding how badly I need to spend my money on their product.

I hate that moment.

In 1968, Jim Morrison blew a fucking fuse when his band mates sold "Light My Fire" to Buick for $75,000 for a commercial selling the Buick Opel. Jim was out of the country at the time and had no input into the decision.

He contacted GM and told them that if they ran the commercial he would sue them and destroy an Opel in public with a sledgehammer.

As far as I know the commercial never ran.

The first time I heard a Beatles song in a commercial I was stunned. It seemed like a horrific betrayal.

However, I understand Pete Townshend's opinion on the subject when he was criticized for selling his music for commercials and TV shows. He said: "They are my fucking songs, I wrote them and I will do whatever I want with them."

Brief aside: I have not done the research but I firmly believe that "Eminence Front" by Pete Townshend is the most frequently used song in commercial TV.

Anyway......................I have a difficult time reconciling my emotional connection with the music I love with commercial whoring and artists' right to make money.

I want my relationship to the music I love to remain pure.

Saturday, February 27, 2016


If you truly love your cats, nothing can be accomplished.

You have been reading since eight a.m. You plan on getting up at 11:00 to get your day moving, to get things done, to create positive movement..

One of your cats jumps into your lap at 10:30 and, after circling around for five minutes, curls up and goes to sleep.

11:00 comes and goes; you cannot disturb this precious animal that is sleeping so peacefully and so trustfully in your lap.

You read until 12:30 and now your day is shot. All ambition is gone.

You cannot get yourself to exercise, you cannot get yourself to look online at job listings, you cannot get yourself to remove all the superfluous clothes out of your armoire in your quest for organization.

Yet somehow, even as you feel like a sloth, a loser and an uninspired fool, you know in your soul that those two hours actually extended your lifespan.

You know, intuitively, they were worth it.

Friday, February 26, 2016


Today is my brother's birthday.

He is 61.

I called him and inevitably the conversation drifted into this aging thing.

It sneaks up on you and suddenly becomes a concern, even though it has taken many decades to get you there.

We agreed that 60 seems to be the line of demarcation.

Ed said that 30 didn't bother him and 50 didn't bother him, but 60 did.

I took a more stressful path towards getting there - at 30 I started thinking about dying. At 48, believe it or not, I freaked out because 50 was looming in my future.

50 didn't overwhelm me but the fact that the 10 years between 50 and 60 went by in a heartbeat, did.

At 50 you can kid yourself that you are still youngish. Sixty just sounds older, especially knowing that when the next 10 years fly by you will be 70.

Heavy duty, baby.

We are both young at heart; most people do not guess us to be as old as we are. That is a good thing and it means nothing.

What matters is what is in your head. And your head knows that the years you have left to you are seriously numbered and frighteningly small in quantity compared to the years you have lived.

There is no getting around it no matter how healthy you are or how positive your attitude.

The cliche is true - life moves at faster miles an hour and the older you get the faster it moves.

You can dig your heels in and all you get is bloody heels.

It is such a strange phenomena; even though it takes 60 years to get to sixty, once you are there it feels like 10 seconds. And your mind just cannot grasp the reality of where you are in life.

Ed and I are lucky. Neither of us has had a major health concern to date.

But we are walking through the mine field. I feel like bombs are dropping all around me and somehow, someway, I have not been touched.

So many friends have had major health problems; so many relatives have died.

You gotta keep punching. You gotta re-wire your mind or learn to ignore it.

Worry and anxiety are a waste of time. It would be a crime against humanity to sacrifice your remaining years to fear of mortality.

Ed is 61. I am 62.

We got a lot to offer and a lot to accomplish.

No sense in giving up now.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

No Dream Indeed

Inspiring night on Tuesday night.

Popped down to the state of Massachusetts to spend some time with my brother.

He associates with a higher caliber crowd than I do.

My friends are typically morons, psychopaths, mental defectives, drug dealers, thieves and alcoholics.

My brother hangs with the members of Symphony Pro Musica out of Hudson, MA. This is a group of musicians who perform classical music out of the sheer passion for it and the joy of expressing themselves through their instruments.

These people are exceptionally talented and perform at a very high level. This ain't The Ramones in the garage.

They had a dinner/fund raiser type thing on Tuesday night which I attended with my brother Ed.

The restaurant was excellent and the company was even better. We shared a booth, intermittently, with four other people, all of whom play in the orchestra. (My brother plays with them as well.)

It felt  so goddamn good for me to spend time with people of this caliber and with people who are a cut above, intellectually.

The conversation was interesting, there was laughter, there was some down to earth.

You get stuck in a rut in life, associating with the same people in the same way ad infinitum. This keeps you stagnant as a human; no room or opportunity for growth. No room to even consider that maybe you are hanging with the wrong crowd.

When you get around a whole different set of people and when your reaction is "Holy shit I feel so alive" that, perhaps, is a sign that you are living the wrong life.

I was fascinated by the fact that I was in the company of people who are doing exactly what they love in life. Performing in an excellent orchestra and, for many of them, teaching music during the day.

What a foreign concept.

Imagine spending every day doing what you love all day. As opposed to dragging through every day with your head down and your spirit tortured, only to stagger home to the apathy-enabling comfort of a cushy recliner and a bottle of booze.

Please do not misinterpret - my close friends and my family are quality humans of a high caliber. Unfortunately, the people I work with and those who ripple out from there are just not my kind of people.

One of the many reasons I prefer complete silence to any form of communication.

Anyway, that's it - no great revelations here. I was happy to be exposed to a different world, one that operates on a higher plane, one where people actually like their lives.

I am fairly certain I did not dream it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Coming At It From Yet Another Angle

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other peoples' thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

Steve Jobs

You have probably heard this or read this before; it is an excerpt from the commencement address Jobs gave at Stanford University in 2005.

I am always hammering away at this "living your own life" thing; that is because it fascinates me that so few people are able to do it. It saddens me to know that the vast majority of people in the world are deeply unhappy because of this inability.

Life is structured in a way that almost guarantees you will become trapped.

Most people don't know what they want to do at a young age; so many people don't even know who they are at a young age; so many people never figure out who they are.

But you gotta work. You gotta make money.

So you take a job thinking you will figure something out. That is if you bother to think at all.

A lot of people mindlessly accept that "this is just the way life is"; that you will work for forty or fifty years and if you are still alive at that point you will retire to a meager existence.

No matter how it happens, you fall into a "career" or a succession of jobs. Most likely in a situation or situations that you despise.

If you buy a house and have a family, the hole gets dug deeper.

Financial obligations are crushing, they are fearful - you don't want to lose your home so you keep the shoulder to the wheel and your head down.

As life, real life, passes you by.

Another excerpt from Jobs speech: "..................for the past 33 years I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? And whenever the answer has been "no," for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."

That is an excellent approach to life, but for most people there are no options. They despise what they have to do every day but because of lack of education, because of lack of job opportunities, because of lack of guidance or good advice or courage or willpower or honesty on the part of employers and employment agencies.......whatever excuse or reality you can throw into the mix - they are trapped.

In the very next paragraph Jobs says: "Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool that I have ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

That to me is the key to all this. Getting to a point where you feel you have nothing to lose. Getting to a point where you are not hanging on to security or routine at the expense of your soul.

This ties into something I read about Buddhist philosophies that resonated with me.

Drunken monkeys. Buddha talked about drunken monkeys in your head, those voices that bounce around in your skull preventing you from thinking clearly, the loudest of which is fear.

Fear of making sweeping changes because you might lose all your money, you might lose your home, you might lose your security.

But what if you do? What if your entire life comes crashing down around your head but you find the serenity of being exactly who you are? That most likely is a sign that the life you were living was the wrong one; that that life was not your own.

You will get an apartment, you will find another job, you will survive.

I feel Carol trembling as she reads these words.

The point is not to be reckless. The point is not to be afraid to dream big, to take big chances, to take any chances.

Shake things up, baby. You only have one life and it passes at faster miles an hour.

You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

Monday, February 22, 2016

With Apologies To Jack and Marley

The Ecology Global Network estimates there are up to 600 million cats in the world.

How the hell did it work out that Carol and I ended up with the two best cats in the whole goddamn world?


And they are not even #1 and #2. They are tied at #1.

The truth is that it is Carol magic that made it happen.

After we had to put Lokai down we went to the SPCA to pick out a friend for Max.

Carol was drawn to a cage with a couple of gorgeous tortoiseshell cats. She tried to get the attention of one of them and the cat turned her back on Carol. The other one came right up to Carol and said hello.

She is the one we took home; she became Lakota.

When we had to put Max down we went back to the SPCA to get a friend for Lakota. That move was prompted by a night when we were leaving to go visit Paula and Bill.

As we walked out the door Lakota was sitting in the middle of the living room floor - all alone - watching us leave.

It broke our hearts.

I decided I would pick out the cat. I pointed one out to Carol, she scooped up the little bugger who promptly scratched Carol's nose when there was a commotion in the place.

We sent that one right back to jail and I backed off, ego deflated.

Carol picked out this little doll of a calico cat, picked her up and the cat put her head on Carol's shoulder and closed her eyes. I was standing behind Carol and was blown away by how immediately content the cat was in her arms.

Carol is the cat whisperer.

We took that precious cat home and she became Maka.

If we are ever again in the position to pick out another cat, I am staying out of it.

Carol has the magic. Carol has the touch.

I am eternally blown away by the depth of solace and peace and contentment I get from Lakota and Maka.

They make me feel so peaceful and loving and just so goddamn happy. It is pure magic and a source of sweet release for me.

You would think I would experience that type of peace from Carol, my wife of 38 years, but it just isn't so.

Everyone thinks she is a sweetheart, and she is, except for the cricket bat that she keeps hidden in the pantry.

When she is frustrated or just plain bored, she breaks that weapon out and beats me mercilessly with it. Usually right after I have passed out in the recliner.

She'll whack me in the head and then pummel me with body blows after I fall to the floor.

I refuse to take my shirt off in public and everybody believes it's because I am a flabby old man.

Not true.

I don't take my shirt off because my body is covered in bruises.

Deep, purple, blood gorged muscle bruises.

My ribs poke out at strange angles because they have been broken so many times. I look like a Jenga stack.

Still, I love the woman deeply.

I do experience peace after the beatings. When I am lying quietly on the floor, blood trickling out of my mouth and nose, and I look up at her with a crooked smile as she says: "Wanna watch 18 more episodes of NYPD Blue?"

It is then that I am certain of her love.

A Cool Line

I was reading "Carsick" this morning and came across this line, which stunned me in the starkness of its truth:

"They looked stunned by the grim routine of their lives."

A Friendly Plea

Please watch "Baskets" on FX.

It is a new show written by and featuring Zach Galifianakis.

It is fucking hilarious.

It is only five shows old, so you can catch up right quick.

Please do so.

Extremes Make The Man

I finished reading "Man's Search For Meaning" by Viktor Frankl and dove right in to "Carsick" by John Waters.

You want to talk about opposite ends of the spectrum.

This is what makes me so fascinatingly diverse.

By the way, if you don't know who John Waters is, Google him.

You'll learn to love him.

Thursday, February 18, 2016


Viktor Frankl, in talking about how prisoners of the Nazi's handled going from "being somebody" before imprisonment, to being treated as complete nonentities:

"The consciousness of one's inner value is anchored in higher, more spiritual things, and cannot be shaken by camp life. But how many free men, let alone prisoners, possess it?"

The Meaning of Life (or something smaller)

Wow I really blew it on that last entry.

My intention was to get into the whole "go to" concept. My intention was to express exactly how I feel about "Reservoir Dogs."

I failed on both accounts.

I was feeling kind of flat last night when I got home. The juices were not flowing.

I am staggering through this week trying to get to magic vacation time.

Ten days off beginning on Saturday, February 20. A day that will live in infamy.

Every day this week feels like two days. Even the fact that I have today off is not soothing my soul.

All I gotta do is stagger through 8 hours tomorrow and I am free as a bird. Still, anxiety floods my engine.

More proof that my perspective needs changing.

Of course I will be using those 10 days to entirely change my life; rearrange it, blow it up and re-direct it.

No pressure there.

Anyway, this morning I finished "Man's Search For Meaning" by Viktor Frankl.

It's that kind of book where, when you wrap it up you know you just had greatness in your hands but you are not sure you can apply the lessons to your own life.

You are not sure you are strong enough.

The man survived four Nazi concentration camps and his message, the school of psychology he founded - logotherapy -  is all about finding a meaning to life and cultivating a positive frame of mind.

As summarized by William Winslade (philosopher, lawyer and psychoanalyst) in the Afterword to the book:

"Frankl's wisdom here is worth emphasizing: it is a question of the attitude one takes towards life's challenges and opportunities, both large and small. A positive attitude enables a person to endure suffering and disappointment as well as enhance enjoyment and satisfaction. A negative attitude intensifies pain and deepens disappointments; it undermines and diminishes pleasure, happiness and satisfaction; it may even lead to depression and physical illness."

Kaboom. Those words hit home with me.

Frankl says you may not always be able to control what happens to you, but you can control the way you react to what happens to you.

That is the only thing that cannot be taken from you.

He points out that you make choices every single day that affect your outlook on life. Decisions that impact whether you feel connected to your own life or disillusioned by it.

If you feel connected, if you believe there is a purpose and a meaning to your life, you are happier and healthier and every day, every moment, means something to you.

If you are disillusioned, you are unhappy and directionless, and that emptiness leads to depression, anxiety, ill health, alcohol, drugs and whatever else seems like a good way to deal with a meaningless life.

I am delving into this whole mind thing, been reading up on Buddhism, and Frankl's philosophy plays right into my hands.

I like it.

It kind of boils down to that old line about "if you want to change yourself, change your mind." Sounds so simplistic but it is harder than it sounds.

No reason not to try, though.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Reservoir Dogs

"Reservoir Dogs" is one of my go to movies.

I get home last night looking for some movie action. Tuesday night is Joe's night in - the wife is bowling, me and the cats have the house to ourselves.

I love movies.

Problem is selecting a movie to watch is excruciating and difficult. You would think with all the options - I have Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO and others through Roku that I haven't explored enough yet - you would think with that many movies at my fingertips, finding something tasty would be easy.


You gotta plan ahead.

As long as you are the kind of person that just can't settle for any goddamn movie - and I am - trolling through hundreds of titles will drive you crazy.

When I am organized I check Redbox to see what the newest releases are, then (and I don't know why, because Redbox obviously gets movies a lot sooner)) I check the streaming channels to see if I can get them free.

99% of the time I cannot, but sometimes I find an interesting movie on Redbox that is a little bit older and I can snag that up from one of the streaming services.

Still, not a problem because Redbox is only $1.50 and I can reserve the movie I want online and just go and pick it up.

I was not organized last night and I really needed something heavy.

So I dialed up "Reservoir Dogs."

So much I love about that movie.

The opening scene where they are all sitting around shooting the shit at breakfast. The whole tip or not tip discussion. The deal with Joe reading the names in his notebook and driving Mr. White crazy.

Mr. Blonde dancing to "Stuck In The Middle With You" before he cuts off officer Marvin Nash's ear. That is without a doubt the most evil scene in any movie anywhere.

Mr. Orange writhing in pain in the back seat of the car after being shot in the gut - I mean writhing in pain - he looks so uncomfortable it makes me uncomfortable, it makes me squirm.

And the blood. Jesus Christ he is soaked in his own blood there and it gets worse when they get to the warehouse. If the average person holds 1.2 gallons of blood in their body, Mr. Orange loses at least three gallons in that movie.

The scene when Mr. Orange gets picked up to go rob the jewelry store and before he walks out of his apartment he looks in the mirror and says: "Don't pussy out on me now. They don't know. They don't know shit. You're not gonna get hurt. You're fucking Beretta. They believe every fucking word 'cause you're super cool."

Love that.

The scene in the warehouse when Mr. White is giving Mr. Blonde a ration of shit and Mr. Blonde says: "Are you gonna bark all day ..........(pause), little doggie, or are you gonna bite? " Said as only Michael Madsen can say it.

The scene where Joe is assigning everybody their names and Steve Buscemi objects to being called Mr. Pink and a whole discussion ensues.

The final shoot out always drives me crazy.

I know Joe shoots at Mr. Orange, Mr. Orange kills Joe, Nice Guy Eddie shoots, Mr. White but how the hell does Nice Guy Eddie die?

The scene is controversial because it is confusing.

Supposedly Mr. White shoots Joe and Nice Guy Eddie, but I don't see that.

Who cares. It's a cool ending.

Anyway, I dug on "Reservoir Dogs" last night and it delivered, just like it always does.

Goddamn movie was made in 1992. I must have watched it 25 times by now and I still love it.

That is what a go to movie is all about, baby.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


"Life is too short to be living somebody else's dream."

Hugh Hefner

The New Playboy

Sweet Jesus what's going on.

Got up this morning - it was 20 degrees - went out to clear out some snow - it was ice encrusted and a fairly heavy workout.

I was a tad surprised but what the hell, exercise is exercise and I definitely got me some this morning.

Got me thinking about age mentality - you hear those stories about some 82 year old guy who drops dead in his driveway shoveling snow.

You ask "What the hell is an 82 year old guy doing shoveling snow? What a fool."

Yet I am out there at the age of 62 huffing and puffing - stopping to literally feel my heart pounding in my chest - I believed it bruised the inside of my rib cage - and thinking nothing about it.

I can see myself doing it at 82 - maybe it's a guy thing - I don't necessarily believe it is about not giving in to age, I think it is more about not thinking about age in certain circumstances.

You don't think you're old when you have to shovel snow - you just do it.

Anyway...............I drive home tonight and it is 50 degrees and raining like Noah should be preparing the ark again.

20 degrees and ice encrusted snow at 6:30 a.m.; 50 degrees and torrential rain at 4:30 p.m.

Tell me our weather patterns are not fucked up.

But that is not why I am here tonight.

I have the new Playboy in my hands. The new Playboy - no nudity - and I like it.

First of all I like the way it feels in my hands. It is much wider and the material of the cover is different - less slick - more tactile.

Tactile is not the right word but I like it. The material is more like a high quality cardboard - that is the best that I can do.

Seems like there are a lot more articles and features in the magazine, which is good - I actually read it, you know.

Playboy to me was always about the lifestyle, not the flesh.

High end everything, things that I coveted, from cars to suits to shoes to jewelry to vacation spots to colognes to cigars to actors to novelists to poets to musicians.

A lifestyle. A lifestyle I could aspire to in my dreams.

I loved the liberal attitude and lifestyle espoused by the magazine and those who contribute to it and are featured and interviewed in it.

You cannot say there is no nudity in the new version. There is nudity but the women are covered up - either in poses or camera angles - so there is no pubic hair, no breasts, no vaginas.

Christ, the fold out features a woman wearing a shirt and panties.

I was never interested in any other "girlie" magazine; Hustler, Penthouse etc. They were graphic, they were  in your face with female nudity; that is not what it is all about.

Playboy was - and is - all about class; all about lifestyle, all about beauty.

The magazine did this in part as a response to the fact that nudity is readily available anywhere and everywhere today; you can dial up some lusty porn on your "smart" phone in the bathroom at work.

There is nothing novel about a naked female body anymore.

Truthfully, they are also responding to slumping sales.

I think it is a pretty bold move for Playboy to cover up, considering the legacy of the magazine, in an attempt to attract new devotees.

I an all for it. I haven't even read a word yet and I love it.

Playboy was ahead of the curve when Hef introduced a magazine that was all about the good life, the better life, the successful life, that also happened to celebrate and worship the female body tastefully.

Playboy is now ahead of the curve in covering up the female body as a new way to celebrate and worship it.

If you can't afford to live life in the classy way you would prefer, you can at least immerse yourself in it and dream.

Playboy allows you do that.

They always have.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Precise Moment

I ranted about the thrill of voting last night.

The exact moment I decided to vote for Bernie was thrilling as well.

As I previously informed you, I had been struggling between Hillary and Bernie for a while. Back and forth. Back and forth.

Bernie was saying everything my heart wants to hear but I wondered how the hell he was going to make this happen.

Hillary is eminently qualified to be president, more so than any other candidate, but she is so wrapped up in big money and the status quo that I don't trust her.

I was having a conversation with a 20 year old woman/child at work. She is a Bernie supporter but was working her way through the same doubts as I was regarding the Bernie vs Hillary scenario.

I was offering sage advice as the wise elder. I told her you have to go with your heart. You have to vote for the person you want to be president, the one who represents the things that matter to you, the one who connects with the emotions in your heart.

The second those words left my mouth I realized I had to vote for Bernie. I realized I had to take my own advice.

As I was convincing her I was convincing me.

It was a supreme moment.

What made it even better to me, what made it truly meaningful, was that I was having a conversation with a 20 year old. A woman/child who was voting for the first time in her life.

How very cool.

We were working together again this morning.

She came in two hours after me.

We high fived and celebrated Bernie.

How very cool.

A Wise Man and A New Favorite

I am sporting a full white beard this year for the first time.

A full beard for the first time; not a white beard for the first time.

My beard has been white long enough for me to feel that age has been dogging me longer than I would care to admit.

I have sported many beards in my lifetime and all of them were kept groomed close to my face like a phony Hollywood type.

The reason was that for some reason when I let the beard grow, as it got beyond a certain point, it would drive me crazy.

So I played it close to the bone.

I decided to grow yet another beard this winter just for the goddamn hell of it and to shake things up.

I let it go and it did not drive me crazy.

I do not know why.

So I let it go and go and go.

Now it is thick and luxurious.

And white.

Everybody keeps calling me Santa Claus.

Cute but unoriginal.

Today, a customer came through my register, one of hundreds that I have a relationship (sort of) with.

He said "The beard looks good. You remind me of Hemingway."

He is my new favorite customer.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

How I Have Changed

I voted tonight and I am excited about that.

Prior to 2008 I had not voted in quite a long time. I cannot remember what my voter participation was like when I was younger but I have to believe it was spotty at best.

I think I voted but I don't really know. Most memories are foggy in my brain; time and life has dulled my senses to the point where if you bashed me in the head I probably wouldn't feel it.

Then again, if you bashed me in the head maybe it would resurrect long lost memories and reconnect me with my own life.

Who the hell knows.

I am pretty sure I voted when I was younger, and I think I cast some ballots that would embarrass me if I admitted to them.

For sure there was a long dark period of not voting.

You have to realize I was a child of the sixties. I was jolted wide awake to the fact that this country is run by greedy sons of bitches who lie to get my vote and then laugh at me once they ascend to office.

I lived through Richard Milhous Nixon for Christ sake.

I got back into voting in 2008 and it felt pretty goddamn good. I kept a notebook - I compared in detail the promises of Barack Obama and those of John McCain, point by point right on down the line.

Eventually I realized I had to vote for Barack Obama. It felt good. It felt right.

In 2012 I kept no notebook. There was no need. We are talking about Mitt Romney, for Christ sake.

Tonight, as I was driving out of work and past a town hall or two, I was excited to see groups of people holding signs for their candidate in the cold. I was excited to see people filing in to vote; it felt deep to see voters walking out of these buildings with the satisfaction of knowing they cast a ballot for what they believe in.

When I got to Henniker, when I parked The Big Ride, as I walked towards the small New England country-ish school where I was to cast my vote in the primary to decide who would represent my side in the election for President of these United States, I was genuinely excited and genuinely proud of myself for participating in this process and expressing my opinion on how I want my country to be run.

This is not small potatoes; it is the real deal, the whole enchilada, it is a really serious and meaningful thing to do, to cast a vote for a person you trust to run this country and hope to have a profound affect on your life.

I could never vote for a republican. The current crop of candidates are the scum of the earth.

I was indecisive between Hillary and Bernie.

I think Hillary is the most qualified experience-wise to run this country. Bernie connects with my heart; he says everything I want to hear, he gives me hope that us wee folk can recapture the essence of what this country is about.

I was still undecided up until today. As I talked about the pros and cons with co-workers today, I suddenly realized that I had to go with my heart.

I voted for Bernie Sanders.

I have no regrets or second thoughts about that.

I hope he wins. I hope he goes on to become the 45th President of The United States.

However if he doesn't make it I have no problem supporting Hillary Clinton.

The bottom line to all this is that I was excited to vote today. I will be excited to vote for the rest of my life.

Voting is a magical and a mystical thing. It carries weight, it is meaningful, it gives you a chance to speak your mind, to put your money where your mouth is, no matter how corrupt the process, no matter the cretin-like level of intelligence most candidates display.

I am content tonight. I gave it a shot.

Now I will sit back and see how it all unfolds.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

This Is Spinal Tap Quote

Marti DiBirgi: "David St. Hubbins..I must admit I've never heard anyone with that name."

David St. Hubbins: "It's an unusual name, well, he was an unusual saint, he's not a very well known saint."

MD: "Oh, there actually is, uh .................there was a Saint Hubbins?"

DSH: "That's right, yes."

MD: "What was he the saint of?"

DSH: "He was the patron saint of quality footwear."

(Editor's note: It is even funnier with the accent.)

A Study In Opposites?

Reading books can be an emotional experience.

Yesterday I finished a biography on Paul Nelson. Nelson was a strange and interesting individual; a rock critic back in the early days who wrote for a few magazines, the most prominent of which was Rolling Stone.

His writing is magnificent.

There was more leeway in those days, which allowed him to write lengthy essays about albums or groups and to inject his well informed opinion into the piece. He incorporated references from many genres of music, as well as books and movies, which he also worshiped.

He began his career when the music industry was loose, when record companies and music magazines were free form, when the music was the focus. When everything became corporatized, when the soul went out of the industry and the bottom line became the focus, Paul Nelson was lost.

He was too genuine to deal with that kind of bullshit.

He was a perfectionist and obsessed with getting it right. He often missed deadlines and actually blew many opportunities when he was contracted to write a book and just couldn't deliver.

His personal life was sad. After blowing his gig at Rolling Stone he kind of fell apart. He increasingly withdrew from friends and business acquaintances, wrote very little and lived so very alone that when he died it was a week before anyone knew it.

When he died he was working in a video store.

Yet musicians like Dylan and Springsteen and Warren Zevon and Jackson Browne talk about what  a great writer he was, how literary and informed his pieces were and how much the music meant to him; how passionate he was about music.

As I read the book there was a definite vibe of sadness running through it. Sadness that a guy so talented and so dedicated could blow a promising career because of his refusal to compromise and his overwhelming obsessions.

Sadness because he shut his life down to such a small perspective that nobody could get through to him.

I also felt strong respect for this man who was so talented as a writer, and so true to himself that he refused to compromise his principles no matter what it cost him.

This morning I picked up "Man's Search For meaning" by Viktor Frankl. I raved about this book previously in this blog when I discovered that it exists.

The first part of the book is Frankl's account of the years he spent in concentration camps during World War II.

He tells his story from an interesting perspective in that he doesn't get graphic but still manages to clearly convey the horror of what it was like to be tortured by Nazi's, with the threat of extermination hanging over his head every day.

He explains how those who survived had to develop an inner strength, a way to focus their minds on something, anything - a fantasy, a narrative, the expected reunion with loved ones - that would justify fighting for survival under such harsh and mind blowing conditions.

His theory was that the way a prisoner imagined his future affected his longevity. Those that gave up, died. Those who believed they could have some sort of future had a better chance of making it.

The power of the mind, baby - the power of the mind.

The second half of the book (which I haven't gotten to yet) explains his theory of logotherapy, which in a nutshell says that the search for meaning is the primary motivation of humans, that a sense of meaning is what allows people to overcome painful experiences, that meaning can be found even in brutal circumstances.

I did not expect to tie these two books together, I intended to lay out how each very different book affected me emotionally.

But as I was writing it occurred to me that Paul Nelson gave up; that when life did not conform to his expectations he withdrew to the point where he was dead before he was dead.

I do not judge or condemn him for this; each life is what it is and what you do with it is for you and you alone to understand.

Viktor Frankl survived Nazi concentration camps and came out with a psychological theory for survival, an attempt to find meaning in life and to use that meaning as a reason to keep on living.

Both books got me feeling and they got me thinking.

Well worth the price of admission, baby.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Small Flame

I was motoring to the dump on Thursday - had the day off and I like to fill it with excitement - when I was reminded that I live in a college town.

New England College is located in the small town beauty of Henniker, NH.

A quick aside on Henniker.

We moved here in 1986. I came from a quiet seaside town known as Winthrop, Massachusetts; Carol came from an armpit called Billerica, MA. In all fairness Billerica was not an armpit when Carol moved there as a child.

I describe it as an armpit because that is what it was when we bought her parents' house in 1979 and moved right on in. Our kids were born in 1980 and 1983; it was not a comforting town to raise children in.

When we escaped to Henniker in 1986 it was like being reborn. It immediately felt like home and we knew instinctively that it was a safe and beautiful town for our sons to grow up in.

As I was driving to the dump on Thursday I was in just the right mood to admire the town appreciatively. The sun was out, it was quiet, and the small town New England charm of the place was slapping me in the face and infecting my perspective.

We have lived here for almost 29 years and we still love it.

Anyway............. as I passed the college I was watching young life moving to and fro with books and notebooks and computers and an effortless approach to life kind of attitude.

This always strikes me whenever I am in the vicinity, which happens more often than not when I am on my way to the dump.

There is so much going on here.

College is an exceptional experience. When you attend, you believe that you are separating yourself from the herd, that you are guaranteeing yourself a better future and avoiding the horrific nightmare of a dead end job that will torture you for the rest of your life.

This is true for some students. People who know exactly what they want, people who apply themselves and squeeze every good thing out of higher education.

These people are in the minority.

A lot of students spend a lot of time partying. College offers a reality-free zone; it is in between the horrors of public education and the reality of working for a living.

You can get drunk, you can get high, you can enjoy mindless sex. You can graduate with a degree in something meaningless and wander into a bewildering life of confusion.

A lot of students don't even know what the hell they want to do with their lives and end up choosing a major that has no relation to who they truly are, leading them into a bewildering life of confusion.

I think there should be a face to face confrontation required between a potential student and a representative of a college. A real down and dirty conversation to determine if this person even has a clue about who they are and what they want.

That would have to occur in a vacuum where tuition income is not a factor.

Hence, it never will. intent is not to paint a bleak picture of what college is all about.

What it really is all about is hope.

The vibe I get as I look at these students is one of happiness and hope. They seem lighthearted, they laugh a lot as they walk along.

There is enthusiasm there and it is tangible.

I like to imagine their conversations are intelligent and their questions deep and probing.

I enjoy seeing these people bounce around my town. They are the antithesis to the typical Henniker resident who is scratching out a meager living and wallowing in cynicism.

These students are walking talking proof of the potential for a fulfilling life.

And they come in waves. The hope never ends. The class of 2019, the class of 2020. Every year the sign in front of the school welcomes the new class in, and you can just feel the hope and positivity emanating from that welcome.

I like living in a college town.

It makes me smile.

It makes me keep a small flame of hope alive.

And a small flame is all that is needed.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Soon I Will Be Dead

I am desperate to catch fire in 2016.

It occurred to me - anybody drowning in apathy, lost in confusion, and looking for inspiration - should recite the following words five times a day:

"Soon I will be dead."

Doesn't matter if "soon" is five days or five decades. The words are sobering; they carry weight.

Soon I will be dead.

Rigorous Truth

Rigorous truth.

I came across this phrase randomly and it resonated with me.

I was watching "Top Five" on Tuesday night, a movie written by and starring Chris Rock. His character is a recovering alcoholic and he refers to the AA  guideline of rigorous truth.

The concept of truth fascinates me.

John Mellencamp, in his song "Coming Down The Road", writes the following (I have selected the lines that capture my attention): "Well I heard the truth call my name, and I followed that voice to the valley below, and it took me down a path where I was lost all the time, I found some truth but it could never be mine."

I love that last line because I don't understand it.

Shouldn't truth be a good thing no matter where you find it? Shouldn't any truth become your truth? How can the truth get you lost?

I often wonder how much time each of us spends in truth. Generically, I would have to say not enough. We are not truthful with ourselves, we are not truthful with the people we deal with every day.

In fact I would go so far as to say that lying is a major component to psychological survival, even though it comes from weakness.

That is why we love and are drawn to bluntly outspoken people, people who speak their minds in strength and without reservation; people who are not afraid of what others will think.

Truth is one of those concepts that should be so simple, along with the idea of living your life in strict accordance to who you are.

But we don't do these things; we don't live in truth and our lives are often a lie.

That's because it takes guts to do either.

I just did a little AA research and discovered that truth is a really big deal.

"No addiction without lies, no recovery without truth." Sounds simple but that is heavy duty stuff.

To survive as an addict you have to lie to yourself and to everyone else. To recover you have to be brutally honest with yourself and others.

Honesty seems like a delicate philosophy and yet it is the powerful driver behind recovery from addiction.

As I read statements from addicts in recovery it was a common theme that they had to learn how to tell the truth. That lying was so natural, truth became a foreign concept.

They also have to learn how to use shades of truth, or how to use truth properly. How to use truth in a way that is not self destructive and not hurtful to others.

One addict told a story of listening to a speaker at a meeting describe the use of heroin so graphically that it made the addict want to get high. His sponsor was sitting right next to him, asked if the guy was OK and he said Yes; yes because he was afraid to admit that he wasn't.

The addict went out that night trolling for drugs but called his sponsor instead who came out and talked him down.

He could have avoided the whole episode by telling the truth at the meeting.

I cannot tell you how many times I have lied about being all right, about loving my new job, about feeling good about myself, about my feelings towards others.

You have too.

Why is truth so hard? What are we afraid of?

Truth is a rock solid concept, it is a real thing carrying with it the potential for real results, maybe even offering the beauty of freedom.

Freedom from the self imposed prison of our own lives.

I am going to have to give this truth thing more thought.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Grinnin' In Your face

Driving to work yesterday listening to Son House.

Son House was an old blues dude. Old blues dude is my affectionate term for the true originals, the ballsy men and women who blazed a trail for all blues musicians to follow. The people who decided that in a viciously racist society, they could make a living singing their music their way, no compromise.


Son House lived from 1902 to 1988. I won't get too deep into blues history here because you probably don't give a shit, but I do need to impress upon you the major influence Son House had on the blues.

A lot of people go right to Robert Johnson when they dig for the roots of the blues. He lived from 1911 to 1938; a short life steeped in legend. He is THE guy who is storied to have gone down to the crossroads to make a deal with the Devil, selling his soul for the privilege of gaining fame and fortune through the blues.

He died young, supposedly poisoned by a jealous husband.

He recorded only 29 songs in his life; they are considered to be a definitive blues statement for that time.

Eric Clapton called him the most important blues singer that ever lived.

Son House inspired and influenced Robert Johnson.

Along with Charlie Patton, Son House is one of only two or three people who are considered to be the true pioneers of the blues, the original giants.

People who came along before Robert Johnson.

Back to 2016. I'm listening to Son House and "Grinnin' In Your Face" cranks up.

Timeless lyrics, which I will paraphrase.

"Don't you mind people grinnin' in your face, you just bear this in mind, a true friend is hard to find; you know your mother would talk about you, your own sisters and your brothers too, they just don't care how you're tryin' to live, they'll talk about you still; you know they'll jump you up and down, they'll carry you all 'round and 'round, just as soon as your back is turned, they'll be tryin' to crush you down."

I talk about this all the time, how people are just goddamn cruel to each other and how I don't understand it.

How you can go all the way back to the origins of mankind and the story will be the same.

But somehow when you hear it in a blues lyric, when you hear it within the context of blues music, somehow the message goes right to your heart.

When it comes from one of the giants in the entire history of the blues , it should occur to you that you really have an obligation to listen.

And to reflect.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Can't Lie To You

As I sit here writing, I am looking at the issue of Rolling Stone that was delivered to my home today.

I am looking at David Bowie's face - large - taking up most of the cover - staring back at me.

To the left, at the bottom, it says David Bowie, 1947-2016.

I think of all the recent rock 'n roll deaths, his is the one that disturbs me the most.

I want to read the article, the tribute, but I probably won't tonight.

I get that way sometimes, I can't explain it.

His death touched me so deeply that I don't want to lend credibility to it.

I have read many obituaries about him already, many tributes, many quotes from his "peers", although I am not sure he had any peers.

But, looking at this magazine cover, at Bowie's face and his life summarized on both sides of the hyphen, it feels too final to me.

I don't want to deal with it.

Most likely I will deal with it tomorrow night when I am home alone, when my candles are burning, when it feels like I am alone in the room with David Bowie's spirit and his enormously fascinating life.

That's just the way it is.

I cannot give you any better explanation than that.

Tiny People Getting On Busses

I was on the last leg of my commute to work today.

Last stretch of road before I hook to the right, come to a stop where traffic merges, and then proceed a small bit down the road to the entrance to the plaza on the left where the liquor store is located.

I always flip off the liquor store when I come to a stop after hooking to the right. That spot looks down upon the plaza and affords a direct line of vision to the building where I will spend the next eight hours.

It is immature, I know, but it makes me feel good.

Anyway................I was driving down that last stretch of road and was forced to a stop behind a school bus. There were three cars between me and the bus but I had a clear line of vision to the family drama that caused the bus to stop.

A mom, a dad, and a tiny human were waiting on the porch by the side of the road. When the bus stopped the tiny human walked down off the porch, lunchbox or something quite like it in hand, and boarded the bus.

Took a minute for the bus to move, no doubt waiting for the child to sit. Before it moved, mom was heading back into the house, dad was hanging on the porch.

My impression was that dad is more emotionally invested in the kid than mom, but I could be wrong. Maybe mom had to get back inside to dress for work or make her lunch or sneak a quick shot of tequila.

Anyway...........the bus began to roll and dad stood in place until the window with his kid's face in it rolled by.

He waved energetically; I imagined his kid waving back.

He watched the bus for a moment and then trudged down off the porch, heading to his car, lunch bag in hand.

You know, one of those insulated bags that people take to work today with sandwiches and drinks and snacks in them.

So much fancy stuff. Crazy ass water bottles. Who designs these things? These ridiculous water bottles that everybody has to tote around these days.

I bring a sandwich and two plastic bottles of water to work every day in a plastic Shaw's shopping bag.

Apparently I am old school. was climbing into his car as I drove by.

I could go on one of my typical rants about the pain of working for a living or about the bullshit that passes for education today along with the vicious need to destroy creativity and independence in children.

But I won't.

That scene seemed so pure to me.

A mom and dad on a sunny, unseasonably warm February day, waiting for the school bus with their kid, watching the kid board the bus (except for mom), waving goodbye and heading off to work.

I imagined tonight around the dinner table. Mom, dad, the kid, talking family stuff, eating a family meal, hopefully laughing a little bit, living their lives together in their own tiny, private world.

Kicking back a bit before the whole scenario repeats tomorrow.

This is not a bad thing.

This is how people find peace and love and release from the world in small doses on a daily basis.

This is called survival.