Thursday, March 31, 2016

70 Degrees and Counting

What do you do when it is March 31, 2016, you have the day off from work (Thank You Jesus Christ) and it is 70 degrees?

You dig it, baby - you dig it.

I am sitting on my screened in porch as Maka, curled up in her porch bed, keeps an eye on me. Sitting here wearing only a T-shirt.

Wait, sorry to scare you - I am wearing pants as well.

I never understood that guy thing where they walk around in boxers. What the hell is that all about? I'm sure it is comfortable but it looks ridiculous.

Of course I am currently wearing blue plaid wool sweat pants kind of things. I am not sure I am making a respectable fashion statement, but who the hell cares. I have not been around one other human today, have not even spoken to another person and there are many days when that is exactly what I require.

Sweet solitude and peace.

 I got a feeling. (Love that Beatles song. Are you really surprised?) "I got a feeling, a feeling deep inside, oh yeah." Another one of those songs where John and Paul each had half a song done, so they mashed them together and came up with a great song.

They were so goddamn talented.

I got a feeling that Carol and I, and hopefully my entire family, are about to fall into a sweet, soft, fun-filled, eventful, soul- nourishing summer. I'm going for the music, the barbecues, the family get togethers, the day trips and the night soul.

I have dug this time of year in the past, tried hard to appreciate it. This year I am going to attack it, wrestle it to the ground and put my own personal stamp on it.

Count on it.

Winter treated me right this year. I like the feeling of gliding from a mild winter into the truth and beauty of easy living.

Spring and summer, baby.

Spring is a sweet precursor to the weather I love. It is a lively season when things grow and the body comes alive. Alive to aromas, and warmth and breezes and birds. Carol was already scraping in her garden when I got home from work last night. What a beautiful sight to behold.

You become grateful (if you are lucky and then aware, in that order) for the life that you have. It may not be much but, son of a bitch, you can dig it outside.

Your world has expanded. You are no longer stuck in the house, hunkered down in hiding, waiting for the next day to come around and kick the ass of your hopes and dreams.

You can pour yourself a glass of wine and walk out into Carol's Garden (oh wait - that's my reality, not yours) and just be.

Just be. Free and easy. Comfortable and uncluttered. Like an evolved human being.

There is great solace in warm weather and beautiful birds who sing their freedom to you and a fountain in the garden that gurgles peace of mind and reflection.

There is a strong breeze blowing right now and I am not cold. It feels so good.

I know it will get colder this weekend but it doesn't matter.

I got me a taste today.

My soul stood up and took notice, like the gopher in Caddyshack.

And as Clubber Lang said in Rocky III: "I can't be beat. I won't be beat."

I am on my way, baby.

I cannot be stopped.

A Strange Yet Beautiful Analogy

 I was bopping to work recently listening to NHPR instead of wringing my hands over the sorry state of my life.

A much more constructive use of my time.

Brief aside: That word time, that intimidating word time, four letters long, has taken on a lead heavy symbolism for me. It ticks, it tocks, it is inexorable in its march forward and it drives me crazy.

I grab on to a day that means something to me and no matter how desperately I hold on, no matter how hard I squeeze, it slips through my fingers and I am back to work, back to this alternate reality that sucks the life juices out of my soul and wastes my time.

Strange reality.

OK - NHPR. They are conducting a mosquito experiment in Piracicaba,Brazil in an attempt to strike back against Zika, which has reached epidemic proportions there.

By the way, I cannot pronounce Piracicaba the way the NHPR nerds do. Ever notice how precisely they pronounce foreign words and names, with the correct accent and emphasis?

I find that pretentious, but what the hell do I know - maybe I am just jealous.

Anyway, they release genetically engineered male mosquitos into the wild to mate with the sexy female mosquitos. Social and inter-species commentary: Just as in the human race, the males do not bite; the females bite with a vengeance.

Anyway...................the males are genetically engineered to carry a self-destruct gene. Apparently the lab geeks do this at the egg stage, separating males eggs from females eggs, hatching them and then messing around with them genetically to create flying time bombs.

Can you imagine the precision and patience it takes to do that kind of work? And I thought Carol's crocheting addiction was infuriating.

As a result of the genetic tinkering, the baby mosquitos will die before they ever get a chance to fly.

In this story, the NHPR journalist was traveling in a van with a guy who releases these mosquitos at various points in the rainforest, 1,000 mosquitos at a time, every day. On this day the dude is scheduled to release 300,000 mosquitos.

During the summer I believe I have 300,00 mosquitos in my backyard, and I don't live in the rainforests of Brazil.

As far as success goes, the numbers seem overwhelming to me and the plan seems like a bizarre fantasy.

That is how they expect to defeat Zika.

In a related story, and on the same day I learned about the mosquitos, the United States was bragging that we had killed another key member of ISIS.

Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli, the terrorists' top financier. You are kidding me, ISIS has a top financier? Jesus Christ - do they have corporate retreats and boring seminars too?

By the way, once again, NHPR people no doubt pronounce this guys name flawlessly. I am just going to call him Al.

Anyway, we were making a big deal out of this killing, saying that we are systematically destroying the leadership of these scumbuckets.

Killing Osama bin Laden was immensely satisfying but it did not even slow down the terrorists. We have killed many terrorist leaders since then and yet the entire world continues to live in fear.

This feels like Viet Nam hype to me. We kept insisting we were winning that war right up until the time that we lost it.

The government does not know how to ease our fear of terrorism so they make it sound like a big deal when they kill one man.

It's kind of like releasing 300,000 mosquitos a day into the wild to defeat the 50 billion mosquitos that are spreading a fearful disease.

Am I missing something here?

Sunday, March 27, 2016


I never understood the Easter holiday.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years - these are solid holidays, rife with meaning, release, relief, and maybe even some hope.

Lots of people make a big deal out of Easter even though, generally, they are not observing or celebrating any religious ritual.

It is a great day for family dinners and I dig that. Family get togethers are everything, especially as you age. Being surrounded by family is a deep and meaningful experience. Especially when the day is full up with conversation and laughter and, especially, a complete absence of phoniness, agendas, backstabbing, vicious mayhem and evil.

But I ain't tinkin' 'bout Jesus, mon, when I am digging on this day, belly stuffed and drink in hand.

Although I dig the whole Jesus on Easter weekend shtick. The fact that he was crucified on Good Friday.

By the way, why the hell is it called Good Friday? If, on a Friday, I had nails driven through my hands and feet into a wooden cross, and that cross was subsequently raised so I could suffer and bleed for hours until my death, I would not call that a good Friday.

Three theories. One, that it is considered a good Friday because it led to the resurrection of Jesus. Two, that it is derived from God or God's Friday. Three, it derives from an old tymey meaning of good, which is holy.

Take your pick.

Jesus supposedly died around 3:00 p.m. on Friday. I have always wanted to experience supreme insanity at that moment.

If the skies darkened, if thunder and lightening occurred, if there were earthquakes and hurricanes at 3:00 p.m. on Good Friday, I would become a convert. I would clean up my act, my life and my mind and prepare for entry into heaven.

Of course it would have to happen on eastern standard time (the daylight savings version.)

I dig the concept of resurrection too. The idea that Jesus rose from the dead, rolled that rock away and ascended directly up to heaven to sit at the right hand of his dad, is a very cool story.

If that were (was) me, this is how it would go.

I die.

"Oh my God, I can't believe that Joe is dead. He was a sweetly sensitive guy and he treated everyone as equals. Our lives will never be the same without him although we are richer for having known him. Our hearts are broken."

I resurrect.

"What, Joe is alive again? He came back from the dead? Are you kidding me? We have to put up with that jerk all over again? We have to pretend to like him again, at least to his face? This sucks."

Anyway..............I am sitting in the anti-ambition chair, laptop in lap, cup of tea by my side, waiting for my family to arrive.

Eddie, Keith and Craig,

Paula & Bill couldn't make it; Emily and Karen couldn't make it. The day is lessened for those absences.

However, we will be rocking it old school. Kind of like going back 17 or 18 years. Getting down to the roots of this thing that has grown to something so remarkable.

Gonna be a big day.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Slipstream, baby

Stumbled across a very cool movie last night.

It was Joe Tuesday Movie Night. I always look for something a little off center because I am alone on Tuesdays and Carol does not enjoy twisted movies as much as I do.

I have been doing the Redbox thing because the movies are more current and I have more control, but I had to jet out of the house early yesterday morning, I was pressed for time and I wasn't able to reserve a movie.

Trolled through Starz and came across Slipstream. This is a 2007 movie written and directed by, and starring Anthony Hopkins. I figured how the hell can you go wrong if it is Anthony Hopkins' baby?

I was right.

By the way, my sense of time is so warped now that I don't even know which millennium I live in. Time truly does speed up as you age and your body and brain slow down. I saw 2007 and thought "This is a fairly current movie."

2007 was 9 goddamn years ago. What the hell is going on here?

After getting in to the movie I was amused by the brief listing in Starz - "starring Anthony Hopkins and Jeffrey Tambor." (Google Tambor - you will recognize him immediately.)

But it also starred Christian Slater, John Turturro, and S.Epatha Merkerson (Law & Order, baby - how can you forget a name like S.Epatha?).

This movie was so goddamn good it blew my skull wide open, resulting in my brain splattering all over my goddamn pizza.

(Movie memory: "My father made him an offer he couldn't refuse. Luca Brasi held a gun to his head, and my father assured him that either his brains, or his signature would be on the contract.)

But I digress.

Here is the website description of the movie: "Aging screenwriter Felix Bonhoeffer has lived his life in two states of existence: in reality and his own interior world. While working on a murder mystery script, and unaware that his brain is on the verge of implosion, Felix is baffled when his characters start to appear in his life, and vica versa."

The movie was all that and more. Moving back and forth, weaving in and out, bouncing from reality in and out of Felix's brain, I was riveted by the story, by the insanity and by the characters.

In particular, Slater and Tambor play a couple of really evil guys, and Turturro is completely insane.

Hopkins used a lot of jump cutting (cool industry term, eh?) and flashbacks and time perversion to keep me off balance, which he did marvelously well.

When I troll HBO or Starz for twisted movies I am let down as often as I strike gold. But I was truly rewarded last night.

Slipstream fascinated and entertained me, challenged me and surprised me.

For a guy who is eternally bored, that was a supreme treat.

If you would like to actually feel alive for an hour and a half, go find this movie.

It will reshape your mentality.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Question For You

Is anybody cool?

Or is everyone a fool?

Music Appreciation

Just made a call to the social security administration.

After answering myriad computer generated questions (although the computerized voice was surprisingly friendly and sounded like someone I could go have a beer with) I was told the wait time was 55 minutes.

It is Tuesday night. Carol is bowling her heart out. I got home at 4:45. It is just me and the cats. I cannot wait 55 minutes. I got a dark movie to watch and some pizza to eat.

I hung up.

Before I did, I hung in there for a minute or two just in case that 55 minute wait time was computer incorrect.

The hold music the social security administration plays is exactly like the background music that graces soft porn flicks.

I hope I don't get pregnant.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Inspiration, Not Heroes

I came across this quote that I had to think about.

"One way to remember who you are is to remember who your heroes are."

At first it made no sense to me because of the use, or the overuse, or the miss-use of the word heroes.

Heroes are extraordinary people, people who accomplish amazing things, things we ordinary folk could never even conceive of accomplishing.

The meaning of the word hero has been diminished by inappropriate context.

Most of the people we call heroes are not heroes; they are people who inspire us through their lifestyles or personalities or careers. They are people we look up to and often people we wish we could be.

In that context the quote makes a lot of sense to me, although the word inspirations should be substituted for heroes.

The people I have worshiped in my life share strong similarities. If I listed them all it would fill this page. Over the years I have collected a large group of people who mean something to me, whose lives I wish to emulate.

I read a lot, I listen to a lot of music, I watch a lot of movies. Creativity is the thread here but my inspirations are not limited to artistic creativity. Maybe creativity in living a life is the key.

For purposes of avoiding boredom I can limit the list to a few essentials.

Muhammed Ali. Numero Uno for sure. I was ten years old when this man came in to my life and he blew me away.

As I think about this, 1964 was a big year for me. It marked my first memory of watching football, my favorite sport in the world, with my Dad. Jim Brown is the guy who grabbed me then. Blew me away. He is on my long list.

1964 was The Beatles. Rattled my brain like no other group ever did until The Allman Brothers came along. The Beatles changed my life in my mind, but unfortunately not for real. They are definitely on the short list.

In some ways I deeply wish I could go back to 1964 and re-live the past 52 years holding true to my inspirations and passions.

But I digress. Ali was flamboyant. He was an intellectual and creative genius in a sport dominated by thugs and morons. He stood out.

And he was a supreme fighter.

He was intelligent, funny as hell, and ballsy. After winning the heavyweight title in 1964, he changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali and revealed that he was a member of the Nation of Islam.

Talk about guts. This was 1964, for Christ sake.

Keith Richards. I have always loved this man. He came in to my life around the same time.

Again, he was flamboyant. He definitely has his own style. He has always been his own man and he does not take any shit from anyone. He is a leader and the heart and soul of the Rolling Stones. He is a musical scholar and a supremely respected individual in the world of music.

He is also a big reader. He has a library in his Connecticut home that I would die for. The kind of library with a rolling ladder to access the books on high.

Hunter S. Thompson. I do not remember exactly when HST came into my life but he did it in a big way. When I started reading him my brain leaked out of my ears. I could not believe that a guy could write in such an intelligent, informed and completely original and insane way.

I gobbled it up. I loved the man.

His lifestyle was beyond belief. The drugs, the booze, the disdain for every rule and every convention. He had huge balls.

He had his own style. He almost always wore shorts. He famously drove what he called "The Red Shark." A 1971 Chevy Impala and he drove it like a madman.

Charles Bukowski. A poet like no poet you have ever read before. His poetry was in your face, real, down and dirty. He wrote about people who were down and out, suffering and struggling. He wrote about the hypocrisy of our lives. In tough, no holds barred language.

That was the lifestyle he chose to live. He was a drunk living in flophouses and spending time in dive bars, until later in his life when he finally gained a measure of respect and could afford his own home in California.

He was also a mailman.

He was a tough cookie, he took no shit and spoke the truth in his poems.

Joe Namath. Came into my life in 1965 and blew me away. Talk about flamboyant. This man wore mink coats and white shoes. He had long hair, wore a Fu Manchu mustache for a while and he spoke his mind.

This was 1965, man. A time when football players sported crew cuts and the mentality to go with them.

He had guts. He lived a NY city celebrity life style, and lived it to the max, and did not apologize for it. One of my favorite Joe-quotes, when a reporter was questioning him about his womanizing: "It seems almost un-American to me for a bachelor not to go around having a drink with a lady now and then."

Spoken with his cool accent and that sly smile.

Joe's career stats suck BUT he beat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III and that was huge. It brought legitimacy to the AFL. AND he predicted the win.

Talk about balls.

David Bowie. The King of Flamboyant. This guy experimented with his life like it was his toy to do with as he pleased. Which it was. Which it is for all of us although few of us recognize that truth and fewer do anything with the knowledge.

Bowie tried on various radical personas in his lifetime and essentially lived them on and off the stage. When he was done with one, he was done. That was it. He moved on.

He trusted that his audience would move on with him, which is an amazing leap of faith for the type of performer that he was. Good bands, good artists evolve and their fans dig the progression. But Bowie exploded into new ideas and challenged people to accept them and by doing so, to evolve also.

He was soft spoken, open to new ideas, experimental in his music and in his life, and fiercely intelligent.

He was a forward thinker in so many surprising ways. In 1997 Bowie raised $55 million by promising investors income based on his back catalog of 25 albums. He sold his rights to future royalties from music recorded before 1990 to a group of investors, who then issued a 10 year bond.

It was nicknamed the "Bowie Bond." It was the first time an artist had sold intellectual property rights through a bond. Bet you didn't know he had that side to him, eh?

OK, so here we go. The people who inspire me are flamboyant (did you pick up on that?), they are fiercely independent, completely comfortable in their own skin, creative, ballsy, and unafraid to rock the boat.

I believe our inspirations are meaningful to us because they are people we would love to emulate. Deeper than that, I also think we often possess the traits of those who inspire us but we are too weak or too cowardly to fully develop those traits. Or we have locked ourselves in circumstances that don't allow us to develop those traits.

So there you go. As I wrote this I decided to create a list of everyone I can think of who inspires me.

I am sure that will thrill you.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

That Sun Again

Another early morning commute yesterday.

Low sun slanting into my life.

Passed a graveyard and the sunshine was glancing and dancing off the tops of the headstones.

It was a little unsettling. The natural beauty of the scene in contrast to the natural order of life.

Was it a sad commentary? Those underground missing out on a beautiful day.

Was it a message? The headstones bathed in light as if to say "Hey, I lived my life. Make the most of yours. Do not mourn for me. "

I don't know.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Jarring Juxtaposition

Got the day off today (Yes Thank You Jesus) and was settling into the recliner for some tea and reading.

Morning Joe was still on the tube. Carol has it on every morning over her morning cereal and I stumble across it depending on my wild and varied work schedule.

I hadn't shut down the TV yet, and as I nestled myself into the anti-ambition chair they were doing a piece on SXSW.

The South by Southwest Music and Media Conference.

2016 marks the 30th year this event has been held and it has grown into a worldwide phenomenon. It is huge and attracts a diverse audience of free thinkers guaranteed to rip your boring little world apart.

In a nutshell it is all about showcasing creativity.

Music, film, forward thinking in a wide variety of disciplines.

From the SXSW website: " A large multi-industry trade show exhibition, Music Gear Expo and daytime stage performances round out the day while evenings are devoted to the SXSW Music Festival, which showcases over 2,200 acts ranging from the unsigned to the iconic."

It is held for one week every March in Austin, Texas. Oh so cool, oh so eclectic, Austin, Texas.

I should be there. I yearn to be there and have ever since I began hearing about it many years ago

It is one of a few destinations that my soul pines away to attend.

The Burning Man Festival is another. Burning Man is a little more extreme.

This is a one week gathering running from the end of August into September and is held in Nevada's Black Rock Desert.

From the Burning Man website: "Once a year, tens of thousands of people gather in Nevada's Black Rock Desert to create Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. In this crucible of creativity, all are welcome."

People from all over the world come together to build a city out of nothing and tear it all down after it is over. The festival culminates in the ritual of The Burning Man - a giant man-like creation that is set on fire.

One more soul-destination for me is New Orleans. I don't necessarily need to be there for Mardi Gras. In fact I think I would prefer not to. I would rather discover the soul of this magical place on my own terms and at my own pace.

Anyway, once again I was wistfully watching the coverage of SXSW wishing mightily that I was there.

The piece ended and Donald Trump's fat, orange face came up on the screen and Mika and Joe started with Trump saturation.

I immediately shut down the tube.

My emotional reaction was fascinating to me.

I was lost in the beauty and freedom and creativity and forward thinking and hope and fun and music and film and art of SXSW, completely in sync with what they are doing there, feeling it in my heart and in my soul and in my longing.

Suddenly the purity of those emotions was destroyed by Trump and his campaign and the vile stupidity of our political process.

I was angry.

Thank God that SXSW and Burning Man and New Orleans exist. This world has become so cold-hearted and cruel and viciously stupid that human beings need a reason to let go. They need a reason to step away from the soul crushing nature of their lives so they can try to regain the sensation of being human.

The magic and the gift of being human.

They need to regain the sensation of just feeling.

I will make it to one of these dream destinations one day. Maybe I will hit the trifecta and hit them all.

My soul demands it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Thank God For Dreams

I was a rock star this morning.

In my mind.

Shortly before the alarm went off I was deep in a dream. I was a member of The Doors and we were giving a concert on a lake somewhere.

Absolutely gorgeous setting. The sun was setting, it was sparkling off the water, it was right in our faces.

We were coming to the end of the concert and had just started to play a slow moving typical Doors kind of jam filler - bluesy, ominous and deep. The crowd was chanting "Light My Fire, Light My Fire."

We were looking out and around the lake at the huge crowd that was assembled all around the lake chanting and clapping.

I leaned in to our lead singer - who for some strange reason turned out to be Steven Tyler instead of Jim Morrison - and said "Can you believe this? This is unbelievable. This setting, all these people. This crowd is going to explode when we play Light My Fire. We are so lucky."

Steven was smiling that big mouthed grin of his and nodding his head.

We started in on "Light My Fire" and the crowd erupted.

The point is that I felt all this.That is the beauty of dreams.

I felt the overwhelming sensation of thousands of people throwing their love at you. I felt grateful for my life. I felt excited.

I felt the words exactly as I said them to Steven Tyler.

I was almost in tears looking from the stage around this beautiful lake on this gorgeous day at all these people.

I felt these emotions as if they were real.

I want to live in my dreams.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Kevin Sargent

Kevin it has been a year since you died and I still have not accepted it.

I just re-read your obituary and I don't know why. I did not like it. The emotions came roaring back to the surface.

I miss you, man.

Two things I immediately go to when I think of you are racing and The Allman Brothers.

We went to a lot of races together and a few Allman Brothers concerts. I was especially glad that you dug the Allman Brothers with me - those were some crazy nights but they were filled with amazing music that lifted us up and above the every day bullshit.

That is what is supposed to happen when you dig special things with family and we did that.

We had a blast. We always had a goddamn blast. Insanity, laughter, excitement, intensity.

We had many conversations over the years, deep conversations, personal conversations. Quietly talking about life and you and me and family and every other goddamn thing.

Soul nourishing, meaningful stuff. The stuff of life.

You lived with Carol and me for a while after you got back from that drug rehab/outdoor healthy refocus in the desert thing. We spent many nights watching movies, you and I - usually violent movies, movies with drug related themes, insane movies. I was a little uncomfortable about that but it was who we were and, ultimately I dug it.

I really dug it.

Another great memory is Sarge and Cori's memorial day cookouts. After Sarge got sick and you and I manned the grills.

Barbecuing side by side, sipping on beers, talking and laughing.

I was out of my league; you were a professional cook, Sarge was THE professional cook. But I held my own with you and survived Sarge's supervision and we had fun.

You were 34 when you died. Way too fucking young.

Technically you were Carol's nephew but I never made that distinction in my mind. You were my nephew too.

Thanks for the memories, man.

We did have fun and we were real and honest and close.

Can't ask more from another human being.

Love you.

Miss you.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sometimes Things Come Back Around

Two years ago Carol and I spent a perfect summer day at a local blues fest called Barnful of Blues.

Outdoors, gorgeous day, excellent music. We had a quietly spectacular time, just the two of us sitting side by side enjoying each others' company and the music.

Carol brought her crocheting and was working on a bedspread that she recently completed. It is intricate, delicate and beautiful.She had the bedspread across her knees as she worked on it and people kept stopping by to admire it.

Very cool.

I had a cooler with me holding a couple of beers and a little whiskey. I was a very well behaved boy, consuming just enough alcohol to perfectly complement the scene.

I have a friend, Skip Philbrick, who has been playing the blues all his life. Just to give you a feel for his lineage, there is a guy who is still around named Luther Guitar Jr. Johnson. Luther played in the Muddy Waters band.

If you are not a fan of the blues you have no idea how huge that is. Muddy was born in 1913 and is often described as "the father of modern Chicago blues".

Skip toured for three years with Luther. That makes Skip one step removed from Muddy Waters, baby. I have a great deal of respect for Skip and am grateful to call him friend.

Skip's band played at this blues fest and they played a song that Skip wrote called "When Judgement Day Comes."

Goddamn song knocked me on my ass. The words, the music, the everything. I fell in love with it.

Skip visits the liquor store I work in and I began to pester him about the lyrics to the song but it is hard to get it all down on the run. I tried to find it online but it was invisible (although now, if you Google Skip Philbrick, you will stumble across a link titled: Skip Philbrick Blues Band Live @ Barnful of Blues 2014 - YouTube. Go there immediately and enjoy.)

Fast forward to 2016. Skip recently recorded a CD with some lifelong blues musician friends of his that includes "When Judgement Day Comes." I bought one. My love for the song is now requited.

Some lyrics:

"You been cheatin' on your woman, you been lying to your friends, stealin' from the people you know. You just don't do no right boy, your soul is dark as night, tell me, how can you stoop so low.

Your father tried to reach you, ah your mother cried in vain, the preacher even said a prayer for you. All you ever done boy was run and cheat and hide now tell me, what makes you do the things you do."

There are two more verses and this magnificent chorus: "What you gonna do when the judgement day comes, the devil he comes looking for you, how you gonna hide boy from Satan's evil eyes, when Jesus turns his back on you."

BOOM. Fucking fantastic.

The words are right in your face and the music creates the perfect mood for what is being said.

I have always said that "Like A Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan is one of the greatest fuck you songs of all time. I gotta put "When Judgement Day Comes" right up there.

AND the song is without a doubt one of my favorite songs, ever. A song written by a friend of mine, Skip Philbrick.

How very, very cool.

The day of the blues fest Skip wandered over to shoot the shit with me and Carol and to sip a little of my whiskey.

A little while later he was up on stage.

It was like a scene out of a blues documentary.

Man, I got me some cool connections.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

This Morning

Walked out the door this morning to fetch Carol's paper.

Stopped on the porch to take a look around; drink in the day.

It was brisk but damn sunny; I noticed ice on the windows of Carol's Peace Mobile.

My eyes wandered over the yard, eventually focusing on Carol's beautiful garden, now lying dormant but giving off a healthy vibe of expectation.

The small, red, VW bug that Sarge had given Carol with the directions to always keep it in her garden, caught my attention.

I wandered over, bent down and touched it.

There was ice on its windows as well.

Just Your Typical Monday

"What's shakin', mama?", Jake said as he walked into the house at 6:15 on a Monday night after his one hour drive home from work.

Sara jumped and said "I didn't hear you come in" as she continued to wash the dishes.

Sara was a teacher. She loved the job and the sense of accomplishment that came from inspiring a student; loved the feeling when an indifferent student became an exceptional one, as rare as that reality was. The trick was identifying those students who were worth the effort. The trick was in making the magic happen.

Still, her life did not feel whole to her.

Jake walked over to the sink, wrapped his arms around his wife and kissed her on the neck. She turned around, took a look at him and said with concern and not for the first time: "You look exhausted."

"I am. All I want is a beer and a shot, and a little rest. I'm gonna sit in my recliner for a while before supper and watch ESPN."

They had been married for twenty eight years. Long enough for the passion to shrink to familiarity.

Sara resented this. Used to be when Jake wrapped his arms around her she felt loved and appreciated.

She felt happy.

She used to look forward to their easy expressions of love. Now she felt nothing.

Sara felt that Jake took her for granted, and this made her feel like a piece of furniture.

He was sixty two and worked in the warehouse of a food distribution company. It was hard work and he was proud that he could keep up with guys who were twenty and thirty years younger than he was, but the job was taking a toll.

He spent his entire shift loading the trucks that would drive all over the state delivering meat and vegetables and candy and canned goods to massive supermarkets whose requirement for product was insatiable. He was in and out of coolers all day, lifting heavy loads - he felt the wear and tear in his joints, in his muscles and in his soul.

He knew he was breaking down. He knew he should find another line of work.

But what the hell else could he do? He had been doing the same thing for thirty two years.

At his age, there was no where else to go. There were no more options.

When Jake got home all he wanted to do was to get off his feet and give his body a chance to bounce back. All he wanted was a chance to relax with a beer, a little whiskey and his cats.

He worshiped his cats.  On the surface it seemed ironic because he was such a big guy, a tough guy in every sense of the word. Seemed like more of a dog guy.

But the cats brought him so much peace. They were gentle and loving and so goddamn cute. They made him feel human, made him feel alive - the exact opposite of how his life made him feel.

He named them Gregg Allman and Keith Richards and he always used their full names when he talked to them or about them.

It never took long for one of the cats to curl up in his lap once he hit the recliner. Sometimes, Gregg Allman would curl up in Jake's lap and Keith Richards would lie across his chest, as long as he pushed the recliner back far enough.

They loved to be around him as much as he loved them. His relationship with his cats was proof to Jake that pure love actually existed, the kind of love that was so real and so natural that it forgave a man his weaknesses.

The kind of love humans are incapable of achieving.

Tonight, Keith Richards jumped up into Jake's lap; Gregg Allman considered the possibilities and decided to curl up in one of the cushy cat beds Sara and Jake had lying around the kitchen and living room. The one directly over the heating vent.

Keith Richards was old but vital, just like the real deal. He kept on keeping on, even at the age of eighteen. He still chased Gregg Allman around, still played with pens and balls and eyeliner and and every other goddamn thing he could get his paws on.

He had a little trouble getting around but it didn't seem to bother him, although tonight he seemed a little slower, a little on the listless side.

Maybe he was bored.

Jake switched on ESPN and took a sip of his beer, ice cold just the way he liked it. He picked up his favorite whiskey glass, the squared one, heavy with a solid bottom.

As he raised the drink to his lips the thought occurred to him that he used to drink his whiskey out of a glass made from Waterford crystal, a beautiful piece of art that made Jake feel a little more special, but that glass was long gone.

Like a lot of things in Jake's life.

He took a sip and sighed.

His thoughts turned to money as they often did. He thought at this point in his life he would be financially set; ready to settle in to a peaceful and fulfilling retirement.

But he and Sara made some mistakes and questionable decisions along the way. They didn't have a nest egg, they didn't have a retirement fund; what they had was an endless road ahead of them of work and sacrifice and worry.

Sometimes Jake felt like that truth wore him out more than the job did.

He sipped the last of his beer, downed the whiskey and rubbed Keith Richard's head, saying: "Maybe someday I'll get lucky. Maybe someday I'll hit the lottery."

Jake fell asleep.

An hour later Sara called that supper was ready. She had made his favorite, a sausage and potato casserole with extra onions. Jake loved his onions.

He didn't answer immediately and she knew he was sleeping. This happened a lot.

Sara scooped a heaping helping into a bowl, sprinkled it with a little salt, a little pepper, grabbed a paper towel and walked it over to Jake.

She gently touched his shoulder, which typically woke him up, but he didn't move.

Jake was dead.

Sara staggered back and dropped the bowl, which shattered on the hardwood floor, dumping the casserole in a steaming heap. Keith Richards did not jump up startled.

Sara reached out with a trembling hand and touched Keith Richards' head.

He didn't move. He was dead.

Sara's eyes glazed over and her body shook as she stood in front of the recliner taking in this macabre scene.

They both looked so peaceful and so content.

A thought struck her like lightening and with what felt like vicious clarity - the only peace anyone ever finds is in death.

Five minutes later, she reached down and picked up the cat. She sat on the floor with her back to the wall unit that held the TV and Jake's lucky elephants and absent-mindedly stroked Keith Richards' head.

Sara stared at Jake in his precious recliner.

She shed no tears.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


"In life man commits himself and draws his own portrait, outside of which there is nothing. No doubt this thought may seem harsh to someone who has not made a success of his life. But on the other hand, it helps people to understand that reality alone counts, and that dreams, expectations and hopes only serve to define a man as a broken dream, aborted hopes, and futile expectations."

Jean-Paul Sartre

My Own Existentialism

I have been doing a lot of reading of philosophy lately, specifically around the concept of existentialism.

The dry definition of existentialism is "a philosophical theory or approach that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will."

I prefer the more generalized definition, which is that existentialism is a 20th century philosophy concerned with issues about how and whether life has meaning, and why we exist.

The concept fascinates me. I think about it a lot.

Why the hell am I here? How has my life turned out the way it has? What is the point of struggling, struggling, struggling, only to die?

Recently I have scaled back my ruminations.

I will never know why I exist, and I will only discover if there is some reality greater than myself, on the day that I die.

I am not in a hurry to get that answer.

I am now defining the meaning of my life on a personal level by what I do with it from here.

Carol, Keith, Emily, Craig, Karen and Eddie are the meaning of my life on a very deep level. But I do believe that I exist to "do" something with my life. It would be a shameful waste of my time on earth to not do what I was born to do.
I have the advantage of knowing what I was born to do. Many don't. I am lucky that way.

Many - I would argue most -  wander through life in abject desperation knowing that all they have in store for them is decades of meaningless work, financial struggle and death.

The only meaning for their life is to stay alive, even though that approach defies logic. I question the wisdom of enduring a sad and painful and hopeless life only to avoid death, which is inevitable anyway.

That is not enough for me.

I know what I was born to do. I just haven't done it yet.

The belief that I can still achieve what I was born to achieve is the only thing, on a soul-deep level, that keeps me going.

Of course I want to stick around to see how my sons lives and the lives of their ladies unfold; of course I want to spend as much time as possible with my magical wife; of course I want to be around to see my brother rebound and ultimately triumph as he deserves.

But in my heart, in my mind, in my soul - relative to my own life as it stands alone - between now and the grave - I have to make my mark as it was meant to be made. Otherwise I will have pissed it all away.

That would be embarrassing. That would be the worst sin a human can commit.

I am not in the mood for that.

Feeling Glorious

I was driving to work last Saturday and I was feeling glorious.

A rare and inspirational occurrence.

I work retail so my schedule is all over the map. Early, late, mid-day, weekdays, weekends, holidays. It is a truly strange existence. Your life and your rhythm are not anchored to anything.

One benefit to that is that you get to see the world from different angles.

Saturday, March 5, 2016 was a gloriously sunny day. Not so warm but brilliant in illumination.

I like mornings because the sun is low; it comes at me over my left shoulder - it hits houses and cars and trees and people and animals a different way.

I love the sun high in the sky in July when life is real, but there is no drama there. A low angled sun reflects life back to you with a different perspective. It offers you a chance to see a different reality.

Typically, I hate working Saturdays and I really despise working on Sunday, but this particular morning had me feeling loose and free.

I walked out the door that morning and stood on my porch for a minute or two looking at my yard, listening to the birds, absorbing the sun and its promise of magnificent spring and summer to come.

Five minutes later I was driving by a car dealership on my right; the sun was blasting right into the windshields of a bunch of trucks and making art out of the clean beauty of vehicles vying for the consumer dollar.

That was when I really came alive.

For a moment I was taken aback by the scene; the day was so pretty, car dealerships are the work of the devil.

I got over it.

I spent the rest of the drive swiveling my head around, taking everything in that my senses could handle, in bold disregard for the rules of the road.

How hazardous could it be? Although many people work on weekends now, traffic is still lighter on a Saturday or a Sunday.

This gives me hope. I despise the fact that our lives have been chopped up and disrupted by the job situation and the economy, and by corporate vultures who treat the lives of their employees with disdain in current day america. The fact that traffic is lighter on weekends gives me some faith that there are still those who work Monday-Friday and get to actually enjoy weekends with family and friends.

However I propose that the word weekend be stricken from the dictionary. In general, weekends no longer exist for working stiffs. There is only the week.

I survived the ride. I made it to work. I walked through the doors with a bounce in my step.

I didn't even shout out "FUCK!" at the top of my lungs as I usually do when I open the store and I am alone.

March 5, 2016 only existed for a moment. There will never be the exact same set of circumstances converging in the same way ever again.

I am glad I was awake for it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


"Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend."

Lao Tzu