Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Jesus Hates Me, The Fucktard

Jesus hates me. He fucking loathes me.

That is the only thing that has prevented me from driving an ice pick directly into my brain all these years.

My toughest swear, the go-to of all go-to's, when I am really fucking over the top pissed off is Jesus Fucking Christ.

If there is a Jesus guy lounging around in the sky, I guranfuckingtee you he does not appreciate it when I cut loose like that. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, and all that shit.

I am sure I have uttered that phrase approximately 16 trillion times in my life.

So if I did decide to put the ice pick to good use and had to stand before Jesus' dad to be judged, his kid would be on the sidelines whispering "stick it to him good, Daddy - send him to hell for nine eternities".

Finally fucking picked up The Big Ride yesterday. Timeline: Car breaks down on July 7. Car gets fixed on July 18. Finally get it back.

I'm driving home and I get a little melancholy; I am going to trade it in this week - period. I fucking love this car.

Low on gas; stop at a gas station five minutes from my house, put in just enough gas to get me to Concord, where the dealership is located that I plan to visit today.

The car won't start. Did you fucking hear me? THE FUCKING CAR WOULD NOT START. I had the car back less than half an hour and it broke down again.

Of course it couldn't be something simple like a dead battery. Tried to jump start it - no luck. Had to get it towed right back to the place I just fucking picked it up from.

Timeline:  I had to wait 45 minutes for the first AAA guy to show up (neither me nor Carol has cables) to try to charge that puppy up. That didn't work so now he has to call for a tow truck. I originally called around 4:30. Around 6:00 Carol and I finally went home, leaving my car and the keys behind. The car did not get towed until 8:00. It was a whole fucking comedy of errors and miscommunication on AAA's part. A few phone calls back and forth between me and them.

I just called my mechanic this morning. Told him I do not want to spend one more dime on this car. Please just get it started so I can drive it to Concord. PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE!

I have an appointment to see a urologist this morning. The PSA count was up a bit at my physical a few weeks ago. You know, the supposed indicator of potential prostate cancer.

I am not that worried because Dr. Feelgood did the manual check while I was there and did not find anything alarming. It ain't the size of a grapefruit yet.

But I woke up this morning - somewhere around 4:30 ( I got up around 5:15 because I am so fucking irritated) - remembering the only other time I saw a urologist, he stuck a cue tip or a piece of fucking lumber up inside the tip of my dick.

It was the most excruciating pain I have ever experienced. Except for the twenty some odd years I spent as an accountant.

I am hoping that does not happen today. That would just be the fucking icing on the cake this week.

So I gotta see the doc this morning, then check the status of The Big Ride, then make a trip to Concord to buy another car. Carol took the day off so we can get this shit done.

I have family members who have lost spouses. I have family members who have lost children. So lately when I vent in here I realize that my problems pale in comparison to the suffering of others. So I try to lighten up a little bit.

So here we go. I am the kind of guy, when I get furious, I need to break things. I need to punch, I need to express myself violently. But society dictates that when you have a spouse, you should not disturb said spouse through violent action.

So I kept it all in yesterday. As all this was going on and my anger built and grew and just fucking metastasized to gargantuan proportions.

I went to bed shortly after 10:00. Couldn't sleep. Tossed and turned. At one point I rolled over on my back and spontaneously started to bang my fists into the mattress. I beat the shit out of that thing. It came out of nowhere. I just exploded. Must have looked like a drooling madman.

Or a child.

Fortunately, we have one of them fancy foam mattresses. That thing took a beating and just bounced right back. No harm done. To me or the mattress.

Shit, man it is pure joy to be alive in 2017.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fractured Hip, Broken Car

Say good bye to The Big Ride, ladies and gentlemen.

My amazing car blew up on me. July 7 was the day. A day that will live in infamy.

Got it towed on July 8. Today is July 18. Still don't have it back.

How do you feel about that?

Needs some air bladder thingy, which apparently is being walked over to the U.S from Australia. Or maybe it's like getting a liver transplant. Maybe I have to wait for somebody else's 2004 Lincoln Town Car to expire before they can remove the bladder, pack it in ice, and ship it to good ole Henniker.

Doesn't fucking matter. I'm just waiting to get it back so I can trade it in.

When I bought this beauty I made the assumption that, because it is a Lincoln, it will last forever. Figured I would drive it for a bunch of years and when it finally gave up the ghost I would run right out and buy another Lincoln.

I was wrong. The car has not been a pain in the ass but the pace of repairs has accelerated over the last two years.

I don't want to deal with it anymore. I'm tired of it.

Breaks my heart.

I am not in the position to buy another Lincoln. My dream of riding in luxury until I am laid in a luxury casket is shattered.

Now I just don't give a shit. Just want a car. Any car. Preferably something that runs.

I'm thinking of making an ironic statement. Thinking about getting me a Ford Pinto. The one that was famous for bursting into flames in the seventies. Gotta be some fucking low life criminal that has one or two of those hanging around just looking to sell it to a guy like me.

I will drive it like a madman too. Tempting fate. I'll set it up with a secret compartment that can hold a 1.75 liter bottle of Crown Royal. With a hose. A hose I can suck on and easily conceal if the coppers come around.

So I'm just waiting. Not waiting on a friend, as The Stones sang about. Just waiting. Just fucking waiting.

Waiting to see some goddamn specialist dude about the hip. Got an appointment for this coming Thursday.

Fucking medical community. They get all up in arms. Holy shit - you got a fractured hip. We gotta get you in here. You gotta get a cane. You gotta be careful. You gotta ride in a car with a luxury air bladder in it.

Then they keep me waiting three weeks.

Meanwhile, unfortunately and disconcertingly, the pain has increased.

I am riding a bubble of negativity. Unfortunate. But that's the way it goes. You know the feeling. I know you do.

But I am a very positive guy. Always looking on the bright side. Cheerful and encouraging. With me the glass is always half full. Especially when it has whiskey in it.

I know that in a couple of weeks I'll be riding around in my Pinto and the hip will have been dealt with.

I will win Powerball to the tune of $675 million bucks, I will buy a second home in Arizona, a third in Hawaii. I will join a health club, lose twenty pounds and get a call from Johnny Depp asking me to co-star in his next flick. I will finally take Carol to Niagara Falls. I will be invited to tour with The Stones.

Yeah, baby, life is a thrill-a-minute joy ride, ain't it?

My future's so bright I gotta wear shades.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

This Allman Brothers Thang

I work with a VNP.

Very Nice Person. Amanda.

We just started working together in May. For Father's Day she gives me a book about The Allman Brothers.

"One Way Out. The Inside History. The Allman Brothers Band." Very cool thing to do.

And an excellent book. Of course I already have it and have already read it, but I did not tell her that because I appreciated what she did.

At first I was going to slip it into the book case, but then I got to thinking that this was the perfect time to re-read the book.

So I did.

The book was written by Alan Paul, a guy who has been following and writing about the band for 25 years. The thing I like about the book is that it is an oral history based on hundreds of interviews over the years.

What I really like about it is that when he gets conflicting stories from different people about the same situation he just puts them right out there side by side, instead of trying to get at the truth (a concept that doesn't exist).

"Yeah, that's when Gregg bought me a plane ticket to get back from the west coast."

"Yeah, that's when Gregg sent him gas money so he could ride his bike back from the west coast."

"Yeah, that's when the crazy son of a bitch hitch hiked all the way back from the west coast."

Let's face it - memory is subjective - especially when you cloud it with a whole bunch of booze and drugs.

Anyway, reading the book was the right thing to do. I read it reverently and with a totally different perspective, given the finality of the situation.

It reiterated the fact that I loved the whole package about this band.

The music, obviously. But the rebel image too.

They looked wild, they looked tough. They were insane. They traveled throughout the south in the late sixties with a black man in the band. And took a lot of shit because of it. But they always stood up for Jaimoe - they never backed down. If he wasn't allowed in a restaurant then none of them ate there.

When they weren't making any money they established a rule that the roadies got paid before the band did. Who the fuck does that? The only other band I ever heard of doing that was The Grateful Dead.

They were a pure democracy. Come decision time every member got a say. Duane was the unacknowledged leader but he never imposed his will against that of the group.

They started what came to be called Southern Rock, a description they hated because they felt it pigeon-holed them. But they did start a movement, a genre of music that wasn't there before and that inspired a lot of other bands to follow.

I loved the book, it inspired deep emotion in me (again) and I'm glad I read it.

Then I decided to take it all the way and re-read Gregg Allman's autobiography next.

Excellent. He has his own story to tell in some ways, apart from the band's history.

He was such a sensitive and vulnerable guy who was thrust unwillingly into a leadership role when his brother died in 1971. Duane was the tough guy and a natural born leader; Gregg was shy and inward directed and it was tough for him to have to carry the Allman Brothers' mantle.

He did the best he could.

I am glad I re-read the books. The timing was right and I was emotionally raw enough to get a different feel, a different perspective this time around.

I would like to now declare a moratorium on the deaths of musicians who feed me soul. I need some time to regain my balance.

Unfortunately that reality is out of my hands.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Marsellus Got It Right

In Pulp Fiction, Butch asks Marsellus Wallace: "You okay?"

Marsellus says: "Naw man. I'm pretty fuckin' far from OK."

Solid quote.

Universally applicable.

I Never Know What Will Save Me

Robert Klein. "Still Can't Stop His Leg". Just watched it. A documentary about his career and his life.

If you don't know where the title comes from, please don't bother me. In fact, turn off my blog.

If you don't know who he is, kill yourself.

You ever get your mind moving in the wrong direction?

I do. Happens a lot.

Got me a new job a couple of months ago. I dig it. I was happy to escape the thrift shop and the withering stares of the wealthy patrons of O's Steaks and Seafood across the street.

Went to work my first day and realized this was a job and these were a people I could dig.

Had the next day off. Motored my way into Concord and my car broke down. Got it towed, and fixed up the next day but I was late for my second day on the job.

I of course called apologetically and it was no big deal.

But a seed was planted.

Coupla months later I find out I got me a fractured hip. Last week, actually. Been playing telephone tag with the fucking doctors regarding follow up and so far I have gotten no where.

Pisses me off.

Driving into work yesterday, the car makes a strange sound as I negotiated "Keith's exit" off 89. Call it that because it is the exit we take to get to Keith's house.

Definite something breaking sound. I drove slowly for a couple of minutes (something I rarely do). Could feel that the Big Ride was not driving right, not quite as smooth as usual, but nothing really scary going on.

Drive home last night. Pull onto my road, go over a bump and literally heard an explosion. Sounded like a gunshot or bomb going off.

I said "What the fuck?" and slowed way down. Car started bouncing like a red rubber ball. I nursed that baby home, the car bottomed out as I pulled into my driveway. Rear end was way low.

Then I noticed this thing lying in the driveway. A piece from underneath my car. About a foot and a half long with a hunk of rubber flapping loose. A severely torn piece of rubber - the victim of the explosion.

Bummin' last night. Bummin' even more this morning. This afternoon got The Big Ride towed to Danny's for a Monday morning rendezvous.

Too much negative shit on my mind. Which I stretch all the way back to last summer's cancer bullshit. Start thinking about all the negative shit that has happened since I semi-retired.

What the fuck.

Just an average life keeping me from getting cocky.

Get back from Danny's and my brain is severely bruised. Looking for release. Distraction.

Got me about 300 things saved as favorites on the magical X1 Infinity machine. So many that I don't remember what I have saved.

Troll it and come across Klein.

Yeah, baby - I could use a laugh.

Fucking spectacular.

He is a funny dude, man, and a comedian routinely mentioned in the same breath as Richard Pryor and George Carlin as a pioneer.

By comedians like Jerry Seinfeld,  Jay Leno, Billy Crystal, Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Ray Romano, Larry Miller, and David Steinberg, all of whom admit Robert Klein had a major influence on them.

Made me feel good. Made me laugh. Got my respect vibe working.

I never know what is going to save me. Today it was Robert Klein.

Christ I was down. I feel better now. Not cured, but better.

Not half bad, baby.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Stupidest Thing In Sports

A third base coach giving signs.

Run the hand along the bill of the cap, touch the nose, swipe across the letters right to left, swipe down the right arm, tug on an ear, swipe across the letters left to right, go to the belt, tug on the other ear, swipe down the left arm, clap twice and spit.

You have to be fucking kidding me.

Gotta keep the opposition from stealing signs, but that is serious overkill. I believe they still do it that way because it has become ingrained in the sport - it is a thing - and because they think it looks cool, and they feel cool doing it.

And the batter has to stand there for two and a half minutes squinting down at the coach to pick up the one gesture or combination that means something.

I think it is fucking hilarious.




Qualifying The Rant

Obviously I became emotionally invested in "Winter Passing" yesterday, and connected that in my brain to the Chris Gethard special, which also touched a nerve with me, and jumped out of my recliner and ran to the laptop to emote.

Actually I am not jumping out of anything these days or running towards anything either, but you get the picture.

When my emotions run deep, what comes out is the truth - but it is a little raw, a little unfocused.

I do hunger for emotional release, emotional connection, but it really is not practical in life. The characters I connect with in movies tend to be broken people connecting with broken people - that seems like pure honesty to me and the ultimate expression of what it means to be human.

But of course, it is the movies. That shit does not happen in real life. Can't do it. Gotta keep on keeping on.

People are too afraid to expose themselves emotionally. Too damn dangerous.

People who are consumed with emotion typically become writers. Or actors. Or musicians.

Or accountants.

Because there is no other way for them to express themselves; to be themselves. Society does not allow that.

If you travel in the bubble of creativity you are somewhat insulated from the "real" world. Although it is a harsh and a difficult way of making a living. Ironically, if you try to make it creatively you will face 100 times the rejection an average person faces. But for some people there is no other choice.

Because if you try to survive as a deeply emotional person in the every day world you will get eaten up. No emotions allowed. No vulnerability. Suck it up.

So yeah, every time I come across an emotional experience that resonates with me I fly away to "I wish" land, because I detest superficiality.

Because of this hunger that will never be sated.

And I bet I have done it 777 times in here. After a movie, after reading a poem, after devouring a book. I cannot help myself. Because as I am experiencing those things, everything else about me is stripped away.

And what is revealed is so powerful to me and so honest that it trips a breaker in my brain and I go berserk.

Small example: I was recently in the company of a friend. We had music on in the background. "I Am A Rock" (Simon and Garfunkel, if you are musically challenged) came on and I mentioned that this song has one of my favorite lyrics of all time. When asked what it was I recited: "I have my books and my poetry to protect me."

He replied something like "OK, I don't get it, but if it makes you happy...."

There are very few people, if any (at least in my life) who would say "I know exactly what you mean" and go on to have an animated discussion of the lyric, and then books and then poetry with me.

And yet to me, those words are powerful. They mean something to me. Deeply. They spark emotion in me; a response. Every fucking time.

And that is a very small example, tip of the iceberg type stuff. There is so much more that resonates with me deeply and meaningfully that cannot be expressed in every day life. At least not in my every day life.

How bizarre, how bizarre.

Apparently I have chosen the wrong friends. Or not enough friends. Or maybe I am not putting myself out there forcefully enough. Or maybe I have tried to put myself out there forcefully and been consistently rejected.

This is hilarious. I came in here to try to explain yesterday's rant because I felt like it was a little skewed.

Feels like I am bending it even further away from where you are.

I won't lose sleep over it.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

EMOTION - Pure and Simple

The central paradox of my life is that I am pure emotion.

It starts at skin level and penetrates down to and through my heart and my soul and my essence.

And yet I cannot live my life in that way. Openly. Honestly. Emotionally.

Gotta put on the show; gotta deal with everybody else putting on the show.

It feels so disingenuous to me, such a waste of time. And life.

Because so many people are sensitive and deal with emotional pain and insecurity and doubt and confusion. I want to sit down with these people and talk - honestly. No fucking bullshit.

I want to open up. I want them to open up. No fear of retribution. No fear of ridicule.

It just doesn't happen.

There are many things about my life that frustrate me but, suddenly I realize, that is THE thing, the truth, that keeps me off balance and prevents me from feeling any peace at all.

Two recent experiences have sparked this violent reaction in my brain.

I watched a "comedy" special on HBO featuring a guy named Chris Gethard called "Career Suicide".

Heavy fucking duty.

The guy is a deeply sensitive, insecure guy who attempted to commit suicide in a spontaneous and somewhat bizarre way.

Obviously he survived. He decided to put together a performance where he airs out all his insecurities; where he talks about the suicide attempt.

There are long periods of time during the performance where you are not laughing. Where what is being said is raw and personal. Then he makes you laugh.

I love stuff like this. I do not need a laugh a minute riot. I need deep and thought provoking stuff that makes me uncomfortable - and then makes me laugh.

This is the kind of show where many insensitive assholes would describe Gethard as a fucking wimp. People who would say "What the fuck is this?" As he bares his soul.

Fuck them.

These are people who cannot admit to their own insecurities. Bluff and bluster. Actors.

I have no use for them.

Exactly ten minutes ago I finished watching a movie called "Winter Passing".

Fucking emotional.

I am not even going to bother summarizing the plot.

All I can say is that it dragged me in immediately, emotionally, and kept me there until the end.

Personal relationships. Family. Fuck ups. Unconventional connections and lifestyles.

Ed Harris is one of the characters. I love Ed Harris. If you want a real treat it also features Will Ferrell in a deeply emotional and vulnerable role.

Every fucking time I come a cross a movie like this - a performance like this - a book like this - a play like this - a poem like this - it breaks me down to exactly who I am.

And increases my sadness at not being able to live my life within this reality of who I am. Not being able to spend time with people who are willing to be brutally honest about who they are, what they are afraid of, what they genuinely feel, how they deal with their life and how they want to change it.

People who are not afraid to speak their dreams aloud.

I don't know what to do about this.

Words To Live By, Baby

"Quality of life is important. Time is as important as money at a certain point in your life. Maybe more important."

Oteil Burbridge, bass player, Allman Brothers Band

Wait A Minute...........What Did You Just Say?

Had a physical last week.

That is one thing I am pretty good about. Get checked out every year; been doing it for a long time.

That way I can keep track of how my health is deteriorating. That's how I know I gotta deal with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, and acid reflux.

Poppin' the pills, baby - every morning. But, what the hell - they are doing the trick and I have not experienced any nasty side effects. And the prescriptions I take have not been increased for years, so at least I am maintaining.

Which is good. Helping me hang around a little longer to drive Carol crazy and perfect methods of embarrassing my sons.

My right hip has been paining me for about a year and a half now. Typically a low level, annoying kind of pain. But it does spike every once in a while to a level that makes me grimace. And limp.

Mentioned it to Dr. Feelgood at last year's physical. She was going to set up an x-ray to check it out, but that was also the physical that led to the whole cancer diagnosis, so the x-ray got lost in the shuffle.

I brought it up again last week because it is a lot more annoying now. Got x-rayed that day; she called me later that day to tell me my hip was fractured.

What? Fucking fractured? How the hell did that happen?

I should have been suspicious when the x-ray technician asked me, while he was checking the x-rays to make sure they came out all right - "Have you had an accident or some kind of trauma to the hip?"

I didn't even think about it because I have been assuming it is arthritis or some other old person type thang.

Now, I did fall twice this winter in my fucking skating rink of a driveway, BUT I have been experiencing pain in the hip for a year before that. So who the hell knows what is going on.

So Dr. Feelgood wants me to get a cane or a crutch until this thing gets dealt with. Which of course I am not doing. I've been walking around on the goddamn thing for a year and a half; I don't think it is suddenly gonna snap now.

Except it does change the mind set.

Before, I dismissed it as arthritis. When you get old enough you deal with pain every day. I have learned to ignore it.

But now, every time I get a twinge or the pain spikes, I get a little worried. And of course the responsible voice in my head is saying "Get a goddamn cane, idiot." And, you know, if I do get a cane it is going to be one funky motherfucker.

So now I wait. I will be scheduled for an MRI to assess the extent of the damage and I have to see an orthopedic dude to figure out what comes next.

But of course the 4th of July holiday has put everything on hold.

In addition, Dr. Feelgood told me to stop exercising. That fucking sucks. Another thing I do religiously is ride an exercise bike, and she knows this. I average four days a week; sometimes I hit five on a good week.

I am already morbidly obese.

Carol and I stole a shopping cart from Shaw's just to get me out of the house. Shaw's sucks; we would never steal a shopping cart from Market Basket.

The way we work it is I roll off my recliner onto the floor, where Carol has the shopping cart tipped over on its side. I roll forcefully into the cart so it begins to tip upright; Carol guides it the rest of the way. She then wheels me out of the house and tips me into her trunk.

It all works just fine.

Anyway, I will have to live on carrots and water until this thing gets figured out, so I don't begin to resemble Jabba The Hut's long lost brother.

How does a fractured hip heal? I am probably going to have to use a cane or a crutch, keep the weight off, until I am whole again.

I am not happy about this.

But what the fuck - at a certain age you gotta roll with the punches as your body begins to betray you.

Another chapter, baby - another chapter.

This Should Have Been Me

Willie Perkins, telling the story of how he became the Allman Brothers Band road manager.

"Butch called me from Cleveland and said Twiggs was in jail and they needed me. They were on their way back to Macon. About a week later, they had a gig in Atlanta, at Georgia Tech, and I met them there. I got onto the Winnebago and Duane came and sat down in the lounge and said  'Man, we are a handful. We will sure enough drive you crazy.' I knew that he was shooting straight and telling me the truth but I was in. I told him I needed two weeks to give notice and then I'd start.

I was a suit-and-tie-wearing auditor for the Trust Company of Georgia in Atlanta and everyone thought I was absolutely insane. My colleagues and friends and families could not understand what I was doing. They all said 'You are throwing away a promising career to go run around with a bunch of crazy hippies who make no money.'

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

My Secret Weapon

"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 Baretta. They believe every fucking word because you're super cool."

Mr. Orange, from "Reservoir Dogs".

I stole these lines from him and I use them. To pump myself up when I need it. To protect myself.

It's the scene where he is about to go downstairs to the car to pull the jewelry store heist. As you remember, he is an undercover cop. He is trying to psyche himself up for what he has to do, hoping to remain safe. He's about to walk out the door, hesitates, closes the door and looks into the mirror and recites those lines.

Unfortunately he ultimately winds up dead. I ignore that detail in my preparations.

I really do this. Usually in the mirror of my car after arriving at a new job or any other situation that makes me uncomfortable. I sit up, look in the mirror and recite my lines.

Sometimes I do it at home before leaving, if the situation demands it.

When I started the new job I did it a few times until I got comfortable. One day I was walking from my car to the job reciting the lines out loud when I realized someone was walking behind me.

Don't know where he came from but I hope he enjoyed the show.


Better Get Your Shit Together, Children

Remember when I waxed eloquent about the Memorial Day weekend? What I forgot to do was to issue you a warning.

Memorial Day weekend rolls around and you come alive. Yeah, baby - summer is here and the living is easy.

In a way that is deceptive because other than those three days your life doesn't change that much. Still gotta get up and go to work, worry about paying the fucking bills, go food shopping, make dump runs; you know, same old same old.

Still, the weather is better, you don't have to shovel snow or scrape ice off your windshield, so I guess life is a little easier.

Problem is, life moves faster miles an hour when summer hits. And it doesn't help that weather can be such a ball buster.

April sucked. Right? But what the hell, April has a right to suck. April is like a non month. It shouldn't even fucking exist. It is unpredictable and is often cold and rainy.

April showers bring May flowers my ass. April showers bring May showers - and more cold.

May sucked too. Right? Lots of cold, lots of rain.

AND FUCKING JUNE SUCKED TOO. For the most part. I believe I read that the average temperature in June was 88 degrees below normal. For Christ sake, I had yesterday off, I have today off - and both mornings when I came downstairs I had to turn the heat on.

Are you fucking kidding me? On June 26 and June 27 I had to turn the heat on?

Do NOT tell Carol. Carol has a weird thought process that says you don't turn the heat on in June, July, August - even if you wake up to 23 degrees. Like yesterday and today.

I have a weird thought process that says I refuse to be cold in my own fucking house - ever.

So I am sitting there yesterday and today, with the heat turned on and a blanket on my lap as I read.

That ain't right.

Here's my point. We are staring down the barrel at the approach of the July 4th weekend. You better put the pedal to the metal, baby.

Because there is exactly one half of a second between July 4th and the Labor Day weekend. That time will fly by so fucking fast that you will feel like you did one of those Star Wars time warp jump thingys.

Better hit the ground running, baby and you better start today. Tumble kicking, screaming and laughing into the July 4th weekend. Crazy go nuts.

'Cause you gotta make hay while the sun shines. Recent history supports the theory that summer doesn't really begin until July and it tends to extend through September now. That's just the way it is.

So you better be ready.

Make your plans, dream your dreams, think big and go after it. Because if you don't, when it starts snowing late in September you will be consumed by so much regret that you'll wish you were dead.

If you don't have the money to go after the fun you want, go out and get it. A quick drug deal can often finance an entire summer's fun.

If you are like me, summer is it. There ain't nuthin' else. So you are morally obligated to squeeze as much fun and happiness into those two months plus one (September doesn't qualify as summer even though the weather hints otherwise - September is month 1 of winter, baby) as is humanly possible.

I am so lucky to be in the situation I am in right now. Plenty of time off to enjoy, plenty of time off to plan. Christ, I even like my job, which makes things so much easier. I am working on July 1 and July 3, maybe even July 2 and I don't even care. Used to be I would be suicidal having to work a holiday weekend.

Not anymore. I will do what I have to do and I will still squeeze in some summer fun.

Consider yourself warned. I am a sage. I am a prophet. Your life will improve immediately when you finally decide to follow the word of The Joe.

Let's meet on September 30 over a high end whiskey or two and reminisce about the great fun we had this summer.

I expect thrilling stories. Don't let me down.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Waldo Was Pretty Fucking Smart

"If I have lost confidence in myself, I have the universe against me."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Just A Conversation

Spent Sunday of Memorial Day weekend with Paula and Bill.

Always a great time; we get along and we do it comfortably. The beauty of family.

Our conversations are always free flowing and wide ranging, we laugh a lot, debate a lot; no one is afraid to say anything to anyone else.

We get to the end of the night, sitting around the kitchen table, talking about life. I don't remember how we got there but at one point I said that if I died right now my epitaph would have to be "He pissed his life away".

It is a line that has been rattling around my head for years, and I believe it is appropriate.

Paula immediately and passionately went on the attack, asking "What the hell are you talking about? You have a beautiful family" and stuff like that.

This is the response I most often get when I talk epitaph and I understand where it is coming from.

I do have a beautiful family. Carol, Keith & Emily, Craig & Karen, my brother Ed - I cannot believe how lucky I am to call these people family. They are extraordinary and they bring me immense happiness.

My extended family - Paula and Bill, Cori, the Testa clan, the Sargent clan - they all mean a great deal to me and I do not take them for granted.

But when you come right down to it, you only have yourself.

I worship my sons, but the time I get to spend with them is minimal compared to the time I spend living my life. I cannot define my entire life by the limited moments I spend with them.

I love Carol deeply and cannot imagine life without her; she is the absolute definition of partner. But she despises her job and carries that unhappiness home with her every night. I, as you well know, am unhappy with myself and that truth hangs heavy.

So as much as we mean to each other, we cannot give each other perfect peace of mind.

That can only come with a satisfied sense of self.

I made the comment at Paula and Bill's that "I am too smart to be living the way I do, that with my intelligence I should have earned a lot more money in my lifetime, that our life should have been easier and our retirement secure".

The obvious irony there is that I am obviously not too smart to live this way.  The truth is in the living.

Paula then said something along the lines of "you need to accept that this is your life and stop torturing yourself."

BOOM. That comment has been rattling around my head ever since.

This has been the essential conflict of semi-retirement. I believe I need to use the extra time to change my life, to shape my life more in the image I have in my head. As a result I have not enjoyed semi-retirement as much as I should have. I see every day off as an opportunity and a challenge to me to do what I have to do to be reborn as The Real Joe Testa.

Of course I fail almost every time.

I have wondered over and over again if I am just pissing in the wind. Thinking that maybe I should just sit back and enjoy this extra time by indulging in the things that I love and letting the chips fall where they may.

Accepting that this is my life.

But reality is a bitch, baby. I know that Carol and I are only going to get older and more frail, and that we don't have enough money to live in dignity. And I will not become a burden to my sons. No fucking way.

So who the hell knows what is right?

Paula's comment twisted my guts up a little tighter. I know I am lucky to be in the position I am in, to have three or four days off a week to enjoy. And we are getting by, although it is at the expense of Carol working full time at a job that she hates, which is something else to consider.

But from a selfish perspective, maybe I should just lighten up and dig the moment. Stop torturing myself with worry and anxiety. I am getting older and time has become precious. Other people survive, why shouldn't Carol and I?

I don't know if I am capable of that shift in thinking. It kind of feels like giving up.

But it also feels like a simple key to happiness.

No small thing.

Monday, June 5, 2017

They Actually PAY Me To Do This? (Are You Fucking Kidding Me?)

Worked my first show last night.

George Thorogood and The Destroyers.

I was the point man in the box office. For a big show like that we have two people just handing out will call tickets, and one person selling last minute tickets and resolving ticketing issues.

I was the latter.

A bit intimidating but not overwhelming. Get to the joint at 5:30, do a bunch or pre-show stuff, then open up the box office at 6:30 - the show is at 7:30.

At 6:30 the lobby is already filled with people who come at the windows in a mad rush, wielding machetes and shotguns. (My recollection may be inaccurate or melodramatic - I cannot really be sure).

Pretty wild but also pretty cool - you got a bunch of happy people all revved up for the band that they love. I can identify with that quite easily.

A few issues here and there, a few mistakes on my part, but then again I have only been on the job for 3 weeks. In 3 more weeks I will own the fucking joint. 3 weeks after that they will rename the place The Joe Testa Center for The Performing Arts.

One humorous incident - a dude comes up to my window and asks about ticket availability and prices. A bit sketchy looking but I kind of dig sketchy. He finally decides he can afford a $44.50 seat in the balcony. He hands me $44 and tells me he is 50 cents short. Asks if that means he cannot buy a ticket.

I tell him no, I am not going to worry about fifty cents.

After he walks away my boss asked me what that was all about. I told him the guy was 50 cents short but I sold him a ticket anyway, told him I would kick in the 50 cents, is that all right?

Boss man said "Hell no, that is not all right" but he was laughing as he said it. Half serious, half not.

Apparently I will have to be a little tougher from now on.

Anyway, I fight off ticket buyers and try to solve problems until we close the box office at around 8:15.

Run through the closing routine, finish up and then at 8:45.....................my reward.

I walk into the lobby, buy myself a beer and then walk into the theatre where George Thorogood and The Destroyers are up on stage.

For free. I got to walk in for free.

Who the hell has a job like that? Oh, yeah - I do.

And they were rocking that hall. It is the loudest I have heard since I started working there, with the most animated, enthusiastic crowd I have seen so far.

Fucking fantastic.

I stood up back, sipping on my beer, shaking my head in disbelief at my good fortune, and rocking out with everybody else. Stuck around for an hour before I reluctantly left.

I am amazed at my situation. I dig Thorogood but would not have bought a ticket to the show because Carol forces me to set money aside for food and mortgage payments. It has been a lifelong torture for me - skipping concerts I would dig because, well, I just can't afford to go to every concert that I want to.

Now I can. I can work my gig in the box office and when we are done - I can buy myself a beer, walk into the show for free and feed my musical addiction.

I am still giddy today.

Man, sometimes in life (and not too often) a situation comes along that is just too good. Too unbelievable, too damn tasty, too amazing to pass up.

When that happens you gotta grab it by the balls and hold on for dear life.

That is my plan for this job. I am all in. I have really thrown myself into it and will continue to do so until I am King of The Box Office.

Catch myself some beautiful moments along the way.

Feels good. Feels right.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend Is So Fucking Cool It Is Hard To Believe It Is Really A Thing

I was going to write this last weekend but I got sidetracked and ended up writing an obituary instead, just the other day.

I say this every year. I love long weekends. Not just for me. For humanity in general.

Driving home last Friday night I saw pickups with canoes in the back, people towing pop up trailer/tents, campers, RV's.

People bursting free; throwing off the bonds.

I don't see it as an act of desperation. I see it more as a big fuck you to the world.

Working people whose lives revolve around their hated jobs and the fucking bills and the mortgage payment and home repairs and cars that break down............................and an occasional pizza.

Officially sanctioned 3 day weekends roll around and people get happy crazy. They do stuff.

Camping, barbecuing, going out to eat, sleeping late, hosting parties, going to parties - the sense of relief is tangible. You can feel it. You can see it on peoples' places.

You can hear it as people tell you what their long weekend plans are. Smiling. Excited.

People who walk through life dead, suddenly come alive.

And why not? Jesus Christ, the only thing life should be about is having fun.

Unfortunately, most of us spend 99% of our time burrowing like gophers, heads down, teeth clenched, anxiety ruling. 1% trying to get to happy.

A 3 day weekend is a free pass. It is only one extra day but it is the world.

I feel so good about people. Happiness actually becomes a thing, you can release it, let it flow, express it unashamedly. Whatever you are doing that weekend becomes the most important thing in your life, and drudgery be damned.

As always, I have to acknowledge the people who do not get a three day weekend. A slice of our population that has become huge and keeps on growing.

Many years ago, most of the people I knew were lucky enough to get three day weekends. Now I know more people who do not get them.

People working service industry jobs, people working two jobs, people working three part-time jobs.

This is a sad commentary on our society. Employers content to exploit working people so the company does not have to pay insurance. Happy to treat their employees like human resources instead of people; companies who do not give a shit about their employees' lives - how hard they have to work to survive, how much they have to sacrifice to get a small shot at dignity.

It sucks. It really sucks.

Three day weekends are a mixed bag. But if you are lucky enough to get them....................fucking go for it.

Make them count. Ease your mind. Laugh. Dig your family, dig your friends.

The fun that you experience is what life is all about.

Period.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Gregg Allman

I have a line I've been using for decades. It goes like this:

"1969 was the best year of my life. I got laid for the first time, I got drunk for the first time, I got high for the first time. It has been downhill ever since."

The one thing I leave out is that 1969 is also the year I discovered The Allman Brothers Band.

Gregg Allman's death knocked my feet out from under me. Took my breath away.

Not that it was a surprise - he has been sick for a while and I have been expecting it. Still, the man means too much to me - I do not want to accept that he is gone.

Been taking some body blows lately. When Leonard Cohen died last year I was devastated. I worshiped the man. He was a whole different animal from Gregg Allman but I loved his words - his poetry, his books, his song lyrics. And the songs themselves.

The way he lived his life. He was a fascinating man and an inspiration to me.

Butch Trucks - another founding father of The Allman Brothers - committed suicide on January 24, 2017.

That one crushed me too. My friend Phil and I had just seen Butch's band in August of 2016 in a small venue and they rocked the house. We both agreed it was every bit as good as any Allman Brothers concert we had ever seen.

I could not tell you the exact moment I first experienced The Allman Brothers Band.  But I can picture it in my head. I am sure I stopped whatever it is I was doing and said "Who the hell is this?" Because their music communicates directly with my soul.

I have been trying to explain this in here for a long time because I am sure there are many people who just don't understand. The Allman Brothers music is not just entertainment to me, it is not just something to enjoy - The Allman Brothers music is me.

Somehow, someway, it connects with who I am and releases my emotions, my humanity, my essence. They expressed my feelings better than I could myself.

They opened up a whole new world to me. I bought that first album and, after experiencing an epiphany of pure joy from listening to it, I checked out the songwriting credits and noticed that "Trouble No More" was not written by ABB. It was credited to McKinley Morganfield.

Who the hell is McKinley Morganfield? Turns out he was a blues dude nicknamed Muddy Waters. Also turned out his version was a re-working of a song written by a dude named Sleepy John Estes. Another blues dude.

I checked these guys out, loved what I heard, and just kept walking down the road to the blues, which I continue to love deeply today. Everything you love connects you to other things you can love.

Very cool fact: I wanted to make sure I had my facts straight and remembered I have The Allman Brothers first album in a frame upstairs. I brought it down, and took it out of the frame. Held the album cover in my hands. Pulled out the album and held that in my hands.

I held this album in my hands when I was 15 years old. I am now 63. It is blowing my mind. I have it sitting next to me right now. A direct connection to my youth; a direct connection to the birth of my love for this band and this music.

Fucking unbelievable.

I have been to many Allman Brothers concerts. I estimate somewhere around 30 or 40. I have so many memories of those times, so many stories, so much happiness.

One thing I always loved about the concerts was the pre-gaming in the parking lot. There were people my age and older, and a lot of people 20 years younger. We connected with those young people who wanted to know what concerts we had been to, who wanted to know how we got into the band, who wanted to know what the band meant to us.

We shared beers and joints and talked and laughed. And I was happy to know that another generation of fans dug the band for their legacy and their chops.

I have introduced people to The Allman Brothers in concert many times. Nephews, friends, my brother. A swirling network of people in my life that I have attended concerts with.

But there was a hardcore group of guys who went to Allman Brothers concerts every summer for a long time. Sometimes 10 or 15 guys, sometimes three or four. Always complete madness and joy.

I once went to a concert in Manchester NH alone because I could not get any of my friends to go. I sat next to some young people and we got along so well. Talking, laughing, digging the music.

Anyway, the die hards of the core group were me and Phil Camerlengo, a friend in my life since the second grade. Almost all of my concert memories are connected with Phil. Including two trips to New York City to see The Allman Brothers at the Beacon Theatre, which was a holy experience for true ABB fans.

We would usually gather at Phil's house for a pre-concert barbecue, and then motor on down to Great Woods for the show. We always had one friend who was the DD and thank God because we partied like there was no tomorrow.

The last trip to the Beacon was on October 27, 2014 - the second to last show The Allman Brothers ever played. Phil and I were able to go because my sons - Keith and Craig - bought me two tickets. For which I am eternally grateful - it is one of the greatest musical memories in my life.

Two old friends, Allman Brothers fanatics, set loose in NYC to worship in The Allman Brothers church and then party our way through the night in The Big Apple.

Fucking fantastic.

Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident in 1972, one year after the band finally made it big time. So fucking sad. Since then Gregg has carried the mantel of The Allman Brothers on his shoulders.

Gregg's death closes the door on The Allman Brothers history with finality. That is what hurts so much. After they broke up in 2014 I held out hope that I would see them in one form or another. Then Butch Trucks died. Now Gregg.

The man with the ultimate blues voice. The ultimate in soulfulness. A voice that got better with age. Whiskey soaked. Reflecting the scars of a life hard lived.

Duane was the tough guy. Gregg was the sensitive one. Gregg did not want to lead the band, he did not want to make the decisions. That role was thrust upon him.

He protected the legacy in style.

Please know the six original members of The Allman Brothers Band: Duane Allman, Gregg Allman, Dicky Betts, Berry Oakley, Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny Johanson ( known as Jaimoe).

These six men came into my life and changed it. In 1969. When I was 15 years old. They made my life deeper, made it more enjoyable, they inspired me and made me feel alive.

Over and over again.

Dicky Betts and Jaimoe are the only surviving members. May they live forever.

To the rest I say requiescat in pace.

And to Gregg Allman I say thank you, man. For the passion, the commitment, the dedication to the blues, for continuing to get up every time you or the band were down, for reinventing yourself and the music continuously.

For keeping the music relevant and mind blowingly intense. For maintaining such a high level of quality in the songs your band performed.

Thank you Gregg for giving me something in my life I will never have again.

I will never love another band the way I love The Allman Brothers Band. No band will ever mean to me what The Allman Brothers Band did. It's impossible.

Thank you Gregg for coming into my life. I have always appreciated you and I will never forget you.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Monument Valley, Arizona

Recently bought a print of a road running through Monument Valley in Arizona. Had it mounted, hung it on the wall opposite my recliner.

I love the desert even though I have never been there. I wanted to mount that love on the wall where I could look at it every day.

This picture really gets to me; it brings me peace.......................and longing.

It hit me yesterday. I was looking at it and my body settled into this place of wistfulness.

I wanted to be on that road. I wanted to drive until I found a little town with a broken down bar with warped floors, where I would get hired on tending bar. A place where the men are hard, straight shooters, and the women are tough and sexy in an over the hill kind of way. A place where I could pour myself a shot to chug with my favorite customers.

A place where I could make just enough money to survive in my little shack on the desert.

Truthfully, I am tired of fighting. I want what I want. Which I will probably never have.

Even though I have entered a new phase, I would prefer to settle into something simple, something that fits comfortably.

Do not get me wrong. I am happy with the new job. Very happy with it. Even though I was tortured last night for two solid hours.

Tickets for the new season went on sale to the public for the first time. The Capitol Center does it right - they have a barbecue that is open to the public, beer and wine for sale, and people can order tickets for the shows they want to attend.

There are typically three of us in the box office. Last night there were four more people set up in the lobby to sell tickets also. That's how crazy busy it was.

I got there at 4:30. People were already milling about the lobby even though the sale didn't start until 6:00.

It was Day Five for me on the job and there were a lot of customer questions I just could not answer. Each time I had to flag down the boss man - "LORNE!!!!!!!!!!" - who was running around like a maniac trying to stay on top of things.

I hate being in that position - it's like a little kid crying for mommy. But there was no way around it.

It was a rough night but I survived it. Not rough like working in a warehouse or being a roofer, those are real jobs, but still...rough. And I still like the job. Got an internal vibe that this is going to work out beautifully.

My point is that everybody has a desert print in their life. Something or somewhere that, if they could make it part of their life, would bring them peace.

Or maybe we are all just dreamers. Always believing that a change to something or somewhere would make our lives perfect.

I have noticed that sometimes I look at the picture and it brings me peace. Sometimes I look at it and it makes me long for that broken down bar.

You gotta fight to survive. That is the reality for most of us. And we all will be fighting right up until the very end.

But if a little dreaming brings you momentary peace, even if it is tinged with longing or regret - what is the harm in that?

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Peak Behind The Curtain

Let's discuss.

A woman I worked with at the thrift shop - a volunteer - wrote this in the good luck card that she gave me: "You have changed the pulse of this place. Your incredible humor, sensitivity, and brilliant sense of human awareness have contributed to a wonderful working environment. Kudos to you; the Capitol Center will love you also."

I worked with her one day a week.

What could these words possibly mean? Could there be a kernel of truth in them? Or was she sucking up - attempting to gain access to the vast fortune Carol and I have amassed over the years?

Because we gotta be rich, right? Me and Carol? Carol has been working for 46 years. I include the years she spent at home with our sons because, as beautiful a thing as that was, it was also a lot of work and an enormous responsibility.

I have been working for 40 years. I got a five year reprieve when I went to college and spent my time wisely, drinking excessively and playing pinball.

Truth be told we ain't got nuthin', so if my co-worker is after the dough she will be frustrated.

She gave me a bottle of Crown Royal. This woman I worked with one day a week and is a volunteer, gave me whiskey. I thought that was extravagant.

Another volunteer - again, a woman I worked with one day a week, wrote me a nice card and gave me a $20 gift card to the liquor store. Again, something I felt was extravagant.

Here's my point. I have been getting positive comments from co-workers for a long time. I am not trying to sound like an egotistical bastard, I a merely examining a phenomenon.

The first time it happened I was floored. I was leaving The Mitre Corporation, it was 1983 and a bunch of us were heading out for dinner and drinks. One of the guys I worked with said to me something like "You don't see it, do you?" When I asked what the hell he was talking about he said something like "the reason there are so many people here is because people want to be around you. There is something about you that draws people to you."

I never felt that, never noticed it, so I was surprised at the comment.

The next occurrence that hit me was when I was leaving YPB Library Services in 2005. I started out in the warehouse there after the business Carol and I bought went down the tubes and our life was almost destroyed. Got to know the warehouse crew.

Through a weird fluke I ended up in the accounting office, dealing with the "professionals".

On my last day, a friend from the warehouse came up to my cubicle and said "I respect you a lot because you speak to the executives the same way you speak to us on the warehouse floor."

Personally, I consider that to be the highest compliment I ever got from a co-worker.

I left the liquor commission in 2016. My co-workers gave me a $300 bottle of scotch. Three hundred fucking dollars. They gave me an oversized card signed by them, by most of the liquor distributor reps and by a lot of customers.

I got home that day, and it was a beautiful June day, poured myself a helping of scotch and sat on the screened in porch to read the comments on the card. Some of which brought tears to my eyes.

Here's the heart of the matter. I never took too much of this stuff to heart. Never let it get in my head; at least I don't think so.

BECAUSE I never believed I was being honest about who I was. I put on so much of a show to survive, that I thought people were liking me for the wrong reasons.

This time around, at the thrift store, it feels different. I exposed a lot more of who I really am. Through some strange thought process in my head it seems easier to relax in these part time situations. Maybe because it doesn't feel like our very survival depends on the job. I can probably pick up part time work anytime I want to.

So I got to thinking that maybe there is something to what these people said to me. Maybe I have something in me that people like, that makes them feel good.

Maybe I am not the phony I always thought I was.

All I know is that I feel more confidant now than I ever have.

Starting to think it is OK to like myself.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Lakota Had A Nightmare

Lakota was sleeping in my lap the other night. Sound asleep.

Suddenly she jerked her head up and hissed.

I was startled but obviously not as deeply as she was.

She kept her head up for a minute or so and then settled back down in my lap and back to sleep.

I felt bad for whatever was in her head; I felt good that she felt comforted in my lap.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Feelin' Groovy

Holy Christ my brain is silly putty.

Week 1 of the new job is under the belt. So bizarre how a new experience speeds up time. The week blew by even though my time under the gun seemed to take forever. You know how it is at a new job - your mind is reeling while your heart is feeling (love to rhyme).

A new job also makes you feel like it is the only thing going on in your life, like nothing else matters, like there is no routine.

I like to make a good first impression, so on my first day on the job I ripped a computer monitor off the wall.

It was fucking hilarious.

There are three of us ticket sales impresarios situated in front of three ticket windows. Each of us has a computer on the floor and a monitor mounted on the wall next to us. Half way through the day I tried to re-situate the monitor to be more comfortable to look at.

It is attached to an arm that is attached to the wall - the arm moves in and out and side to side but does not move up and down. I tried to move it down to align it with my tri-focal glasses adjusted eyesight - the monitor came right off the wall. The bolts ripped right out of the wall, leaving raw, gaping holes and I was left standing there with the monitor in my hands.

How bizarre, how bizarre.

That was Tuesday - I had Wednesday off; they had a staff meeting that day. I was told on Thursday they had nicknamed me "The Hulk" at the meeting.

Anyway, I survived three days of "training". I always hate the word training - makes me sound like a fucking pet. But training it was.

My brain, my brain - whoooeeee baby. Going from tending bar to the liquor store, and from the liquor store to the thrift shop, I was dealing with different systems but still, essentially, cash registers - different but the same.

This job requires me to learn an online ticketing system. Pretty complex stuff. You know how it goes. "OK - to process this transaction all you gotta do is this. Unless this happens - then you gotta do this. But if that happens, you gotta do this.  Or............you can actually access the information in this way and from this screen. And don't forget - if they are a member you gotta do this, if not, you gotta do that."

Still, on Day Two I was waiting on actual living human beings - not real smooth but not too bad.

On Day One they have a tradition in the office. After the boss bludgeons you with information for hours and after you spend some time watching your co-workers handle ticket orders, the boss man emails all the administrative people and invites them to come down and pretend they are customers so the new guy can get some practice in.

What they really do is torture you - they create the most bizarre situations, asks the most complicated questions, throw you the most challenging curves. It is actually kind of fun. And a good way to learn.

On Day Three I got to work a show. And.................on the day of a show there is a whole new set of rules and procedures.

It is pretty cool to experience "the feel" on the day of a show. Typically, the place is pretty quiet, pretty laid back. On show day, things start to heat up around three hours before the show begins. More activity, a little more intensity. Then two hours and one hour before the show - increasing activity, increasing intensity.

Suddenly people are filing in, picking up tickets, asking questions, shuckin' and jivin'. The box office has a "phone", more of a walkie talkie that picks up everything that is going on. You know, behind the scenes stuff, stuff the production crew is dealing with, stuff that maintenance is dealing with, stuff that ushers and house managers are dealing with.

You realize just what is involved in pulling off a show and the problems that pop up and have to be immediately dealt with.

And then...................the show starts. The box office stays open 30 minutes after the show starts so the music is pumping and shit be happening. Last night it was a Michael Jackson tribute performance so the place was really rockin'.

Pretty cool.

MAJOR PERK: I can attend any show I want to, FREE. As long as I am willing to stand up back (and sometimes get a seat if it is not filled after a while). AND I can bring Carol.

Pretty fucking cool.

Man, just walking up to the place is a blast. Walking under the marquee, looking up at it, thinking about all the very cool people I have seen here and all the very cool people I have yet to see here. Walking the walkway towards the lobby. Walking into the lobby. This ain't no corporate job, baby - no cold, impersonal corporate building. It has character. I am all about the vibe, baby and I ain't diggin' on no fucking phony, shallow vibe. I need the real deal.

The Capitol Center for the Arts is the real deal. Dripping with sincerity, history, and promise.

So I survived my first three days in show business, but I gotta tell you my brain was fried when I got home last night at 8:30. Leaking out of my ears. 24 hours this week of learning entirely new shit. Being put on the spot with real, live customers. Running reports, learning closing functions, getting to know the building and the people, soaking up the vibe and spreading some of my own around.

IMPRESSIONS: Gonna like this job. I already do. And the people seem to be very cool. Easy going. And the atmosphere is laid back and informal.

So there you have it. Another chapter in my life. Getting off the ground with a positive vibe.

I may figure out this life thing after all.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Act 369 (at least)

Jesus Christ, I lost a whole week? How the hell did that happen?

It was an eventful week - my last week at the thrift shop. I was breathing a major sigh of relief on the drive home Friday night. In fact I engineered my own private celebration for the famous final commute.

First of all it was a sunny, relatively warm night, which we have had precious few of in May. Delicious.

I brought along an Allman Brothers CD from the last concert they ever performed - October, 28, 2014 at the Beacon Theatre in NYC. Smokin' hot performance - the band understood the significance of the event and how very much it meant to their fans, and they were up to the task.

I still shake my head at parts of it in awe and disbelief.

I also brought along a nip of Crown Royal, which I snuck into the freezer at work so it would be properly chilled.

Before you start lecturing me about sippin' on a nip behind the wheel, save your breath. There have been times in my life (stupid, I admit) when I drove with a 750 ml bottle of Crown in my hand, merrily sipping it as I went. A nip ain't nothin', baby. If you get stopped you just chug it down, slide it into your pocket and say "Good evening, officer - how is your day going so far?"

Anyway, got the Brothers blasting, I'm leisurely sippin' away on fine whiskey, got the windows cracked a couple of inches, and I am feeling released, free as a bird, light as a fucking feather.

The thrift shop gig did not work out. It quickly became a burdensome weight, dragging me down into an ocean of despair, Mafia execution style, like a concrete block tied to my ankles.

(Editor's note: Wasn't quite that bad; I keep telling you I love words - just love to throw words together that sound good to me).

So here I go again. Starting tomorrow. Act 369. One more chance to reset my life.

Everything is apocalyptic to me. I don't see shades of grey, or stepping stones or neatly planned out life-moves.

I look at every move, every change, as this major fucking thing in my life. "Holy shit - I gotta make the most of this, gotta handle this right because if I don't I am positively screwed".

Truthfully, I have probably wasted chunks of my life with this kind of thinking.

Generally, life doesn't work that way - you bump along getting into this, trying that, little by little, no major nuclear explosions, and hopefully somewhere along the way you find this thing called happiness.

However, when you are suddenly sixty three years old, semi-retired, "shorter of breath and one day closer to death", to quote Pink Floyd - the challenge of getting it right does take on a little more weight.

I think I am making the right move with this job. The Capitol Center for the Performing Arts. I like the sound of that. I fucking love the sound of that.

I will try not to be apocalyptic about it. I just want to be happy there; I just want to be invested in and interested in and very good at this job.

I want to settle this work thing for a while so I can fiercely concentrate on making my soul happy, baby. Not hating my job will go a long way to opening up my diseased brain to possibilities.

Things I can do that emanate from my soul, my spirit, my essence, that will make me happy and bring a little more money in this house to make our lives easier and inspire hope of a dignified retirement.

Oh shit - did that sound apocalyptic?

Monday, May 8, 2017

Lonely At The Top

Man, I recently discovered a country singer/songwriter named Jamey Johnson.

He's been around for about 12 years and I am just getting around to him. That's the way it works sometimes with me - especially with country singers.

Today's country singers suck, I mean they really suck - they suck big time. As long as they use the words pick up truck, beer, gun, girlfriend, and dog in their songs they think that makes them authentic country singers.

Bullfuckingshit.

You want to talk to me about country you talk to me about Willie, Waylon, Kris and Johnny - Merle Haggard, George Jones - Hank Williams. Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton.

You get the picture. These people lived their songs and it shows. That, my friends is authenticity.

They have depth. And they are oh so cool.

Anyway I don't pay attention to today's country singers so that's how I missed Jamey Johnson. But I am glad I found him.

Love this dude. Kind of reminds me of Waylon, kind of reminds me of George Jones.

Fucking delicious.

Got a song called "Lonely At The Top". He's sitting in a bar whining to the guy next to him about how lonely it is at the top. As he says, kind of bragging, kind of whining.

He asks the guy if he wants a drink and the guy says:

"Thanks, I'll have a double, I've worked up a powerful thirst just listening to all your troubles, and while he makes that drink I'll smoke one if you got 'em, it might be lonely at the top but its a bitch at the bottom".

I love this guy. Jesus Christ, man, when I find new music to dig, especially when I find a new (to me) singer/songwriter to dig, I get delirious.

Love this guy's music. Something new to keep me happy.

Music is everything, baby.

Hope Doubled Up

Nothing like the prospect of a new job to fire up the hope gene.

You try to make changes in your life - gonna lose weight, gonna choose happiness, gonna learn new stuff, gonna treat yourself better, gonna get positive.

You know how it goes. You enjoy a burst of change-ness and then slip back into the routine.

Same old life. Same old you.

Change is hard. Because we are all hard wired to be who we are, even if who we are isn't who we want to be. Which is truly ironic. And tragic.

But over a lifetime you develop survival mechanisms, ways of reacting, faces you put forth, and these things become who you are even if they are not who you are. They become so deeply ingrained that thinking is not required to pull off the act.

And therein lies the problem. It takes thinking to effect change.

Changing jobs jerks you out of complacency.

Next Tuesday I start at a new job. I will be doing something completely new with people who are new to me in an environment that is new to me.

That is fresh, that is precious - that is a catalyst for change. I refuse to take it for granted this time around.

I am hyper-aware of my existence now - more so than ever before. Aware that I am alive and am living something called a life. Aware that I have pretty much pissed it away up to this point.

Aware that last year, when I semi-retired, was diagnosed with cancer, and took on a part time job, did not work out the way I thought it would.

Apparently it is not enough to sit back and say "Hey, I am semi-retired now - my life is about to get better".

I am going to attack this new job with a smile. Gonna learn it, gonna own it, gonna take full advantage of working in a creative environment that will lay every type of entertainment under the sun at my feet.

I am all about resuscitating my soul and it begins now.

Since I gave my notice at the thrift shop I started playing my guitar again. My theory is that this is the perfect time to rewire my brain. While I am hopeful, while I am positive, while I am jazzed.

I will dive into other pursuits as well, pursuits I have started and failed at before, things I know will make me whole.

The point is that I am immersing myself in hope. I am seizing on this change in my life to spark other changes in my life. Things I can control, things I can make happen - things that will make me happy and proud of myself.

And it is the time of year that some people describe as spring. You walk out of the house and the buds on the trees are ripe and ready to burst. There is pregnant beauty all around you, right on the edge of exploding into pure delight. You walk out of the house and you smile.

In another week you will walk out of your house and laugh, stunned at the amazing way nature keeps being reborn. Forcing you to realize that you too can be resurrected, rescued from the prison you have made for yourself into a life that satisfies you. A life that you feed and that feeds you back.

Hope bubbling up from my soul, hope provided by the beauty of nature - man I am getting such a strong and positive vibe that I feel so alive. So fucking alive.

At some point in your life, no matter how late it gets, you gotta give it your best shot. Otherwise your life trickles away in a sad, meaningless, waste of existence, which is the most heinous crime any human can commit.

I am jazzed, baby. I like who I am right now - at this very moment in time.

Gonna try to etch that me into stone.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

A Sad Story Indeed

I decided I was going to bet on The Kentucky Derby yesterday.

Earlier this year I got to thinking about new things I could do that would be radically different than anything I have done before. I am looking to exponentially change my life and make it more interesting to me.

I thought about horse racing and looked into racetracks in NH in my naivete. Thought it would be cool to visit a track from time to time and lay down a gentleman's wager.

There are no fucking horse racing tracks in NH. You can go to places that televise races from around the country and bet on them there but that ain't the same, baby. I was looking to be the next Charles Bukowski; sitting in the stands in my thrift shop clothes, betting on the horses, spitting and cussing, drinking whiskey.

I got the whiskey part down. Turns out that is all I got.

So I am digging on the run up to the Derby yesterday, doing my homework because I dig the race and want to know what is going on.

First thing I notice is a horse named "Always Dreaming". Boom; that's my horse. I swear on a fucking stack of bibles I did not know how highly rated the horse was at the time. As I did the research I realized this horse was the favorite.

And my mind started churning. I decided I was going to bet on The Kentucky Derby. I have never done that before, have never even bet on a horse race before. Used to go to the dogs many years ago but that ain't the ponies, baby.

I was excited. Found a betting website associated with Churchill Downs, did some research, satisfied myself it was legit and went for it.

Tried to lay down a $20 bet on Always Dreaming - to win.

At first I tried it through Paypal. When I originally set up the Paypal account I set it to receive payments in anticipation of the millions of dollars that were to come my way rewarding my writing skills. So far I have received $9.41.

Apparently I did not set up the account to be able to receive money from my bank account, because I was not anticipating using Paypal to buy anything. Bottom line - I could not fund the bet through Paypal.

Fuck it - no big deal. I will use my debit card. Entered all the pertinent information and got rejected. Not because there is no money in the account - there is plenty of money in the account - come on, I am not a fucking lowlife.

The message said they could not accept that particular card. Even though the option was "Credit/debit card, Mastercard/Visa." My card is a Mastercard debit card.

Fuck it - no big deal. Everybody knows debit cards are the weak little sisters of credit cards anyway.

I go for my credit card - a straight up credit card. A Chase credit card with plenty of room on it.

Rejected. Fucking rejected. Same message - "we cannot accept this card".

WHAT? WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?

I read the fine print on the betting website to make sure there was no betting minimum. There is - $2.

Blood was running out of my eyeballs.

I never got the bet down.

Always Dreaming won the race.

I would have won $114.00. After deducting my $20 bet and the $5 processing fee, I would have walked away with $89.

In 2017 I am trying to look on the bright side. The bright side is I may have discovered a new diversion. Betting on the horses. Even if I can't be there I can still bet and gambling is exciting.

I will find out why my bet could not be processed, I will fix that and I will bet.

Definitely on The Belmont Stakes, definitely on The Preakness. Maybe on other races too.

Carol is very excited about this. Especially after I explained that this could be our new "retirement in comfort" strategy.

Everybody knows that betting on the ponies is a sound financial investment. AND, I would have won the first bet I ever made had I got it down.

So obviously I have a knack for it.

As The Pogues sang in "Fairytale of New York": "Got on a lucky one, came in at eighteen to one, I've got a feeling this year's for me and you...........................I love you baby, I can see a better time, when all our dreams come true."

2017, Carol. Our year.

With my solid accounting background and my innate knack for picking a winner, we are going to ride the ponies to freedom.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

I AM Getting Older, You Know

I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was Man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?

Rumi

The Intangibles of Being Human

I am not a basketball fan and probably never will be until somebody explains to me what a foul is in the NBA.

Many times it looks to me like a defender touches a shooters arm after he takes a shot - how the hell is that a foul? Then you have the phantom fouls - the no touch fouls that get called anyway. And forget about traveling or palming the ball, I don't even want to talk about that.

The only fouls that should get called are the really violent ones, like when a defender takes a baseball bat to the shooters head - just to distract him.

I enjoy watching basketball, I really do. I enjoy sports in general. Hell, I love watching bull riding. Don't you?

It's just that basketball is the only one of the four major sports that I don't understand. This is proven to me every time my sons are at the house and we watch the C's. They notice things that I completely miss; they see "fouls" before they are even called; they understand and appreciate the subtleties of the game.

When they discuss the game in real time as we are watching I feel like I am listening to play by play in Lithuanian.

Carol has been a basketball fan all her life. Went to the C's games when you could afford it and when you could just decide to go on a whim. She gets it too. Compared to the rest of the family I am a neanderthal when it comes to basketball.

However I have developed great respect for Isaiah Thomas.

His 22 year old sister, Chyna, died on the day before the NBA playoffs began. The next night Isaiah played and scored 33 points. In that first series against the Bulls, he averaged 23 points per game. He led the C's to a first round victory. They are now playing the Washington Wizards.

In Game 2 against the Wizards, Isaiah scored a career high 53 points. Fifty three fucking points. On his sister's birthday - she would have been 23.

He is demonstrating to the world what determination is all about; what focus and and dealing with adversity are all about; what it means to be an adult - what it means to be human.

This in a sport that I believe showcases many frivolous humans; I think the NBA employs more superficial athletes than any other professional sport.

I watched my brother show the same strength in 2014. On December 17, 2014 my brother's only son Jonathan died from a heroin overdose. On December 25, 2014 my brother was at my house with my family for the Christmas holiday.

He called around 6 a.m. on December 17 to tell me about Jonathan's death. Even then, in the middle of enormous pain and loss, he apologized to me for having to call with the news because he knew we got a call the morning before telling us that my brother-in-law Sarge had died.

On the day my brother lost his only son he was thinking about me when he gave me the news.

I have never seen such strength in my life and am not sure I am man enough to be as strong. It is difficult for me to consider that because it forces me to think about something I do not ever want to have to think about.

I can only say that from the day Jonathan died until today, my brother Ed has showed nothing but strength and grace, and determination. Ultimately he has been rewarded by getting a great job and a solid future after losing practically everything battling his son's addiction, trying to protect and save him.

I don't know how people find the strength to do what they do. I don't know how Ed does it; I don't know how Isaiah is doing it. It is an intangible human trait.

It makes me want to have faith in the human race, against all odds.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

All For The Best

This past Sunday was not a typical Sunday for me.

Instead of laying around the floor, drinking whiskey and eating Hostess cupcakes ("I can actually hear you getting fatter"), I decided to attend a musical based on a novella written by Voltaire and set to music by Leonard Bernstein.

Just to set the record straight - Voltaire and Bernstein were not buddies, they did not hang together; Voltaire wrote Candide in 1759, Bernstein wrote the score between 1953 and 1956.

Sometimes it takes 197 years for creative ideas to come to full fruition. I have been writing a whole hell of a lot of stuff since I semi-retired. I figure if any of it gets published by 2214 I will really have accomplished something. Please donate any proceeds from the sale of my work to the Whiskey Lovers of America Foundation.

My knowledge is spotty in some areas. In fact there are a lot of areas where I have only a passing awareness of stuff. Before Sunday, if you asked me if I knew what Candide was I would have said "Yeah, it is a play or a musical or some sort of theatrical production." But I could not have explained the plot (I still can't and I just experienced the goddamn thing) or told you who wrote it.

If you asked me who Voltaire was I would have told you he was a French philosopher.

Other than that I knew nothing.

I decided to dig a little deeper. Voltaire is described as "philosopher, historian, writer". Jesus Christ, if you tried to describe me you would be hard pressed to come up with one word. Dreamer, maybe.

I have a friend, Rich Gulla, who, when he introduces me to people says "This is my friend, Joe - he is a writer".

I love him for that. I don't consider myself a writer because I have not accomplished anything with my words. And I know there are millions of people out there who can write but are working in warehouses and on pig farms. Are we all writers? Or are we all dreamers?

Voltaire was quite an accomplished dude. He was considered one of the leading writers of the Enlightenment. He was imprisoned twice and spent years living in exile because he had the balls to speak up against the political injustices of the time.

He wrote Candide as a way to ridicule the prevailing philosophy of the time espoused by the Optimists, which essentially said "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds". Apparently the tipping point for Voltaire came after two devastating earthquakes that killed tens of thousands of people. Optimists comforted earthquake victims by saying the earthquakes had happened for "the best".

Voltaire's response: "The heirs of the dead would not come into their fortunes, masons would grow rich in rebuilding the city, beasts would grow fat on corpses buried in the ruins; such is the natural effect of natural causes. So don't worry about your own particular evil; you are contributing to the general good".

Does that not kick ass?

My initial intent was to compare Candide to the kind of stuff Monty Python did. The plot is absurd, intentionally so for reasons I don't have time to get into, but as I watched I thought about the Python boys.

Ultimately I couldn't do it; it is a bit of a stretch (although I still believe I could come up with something if I worked at it).

Anyway, the musical is fantastic. Absurd, entertaining, funny - it was different from any musical I have ever experienced. Which is good - I am always looking for different.

Voltaire was an impressive dude. Leonard Bernstein was an impressive dude; if you know the story of Candide, who the hell in his right mind would think he could set it to music?

Christ, man - you got people like this in the world, then you got me. My whole focus for the day is to write a little bit, exercise, eat some cereal, go to work, come home with a pizza, drink some beer, a little whiskey and find something offbeat to watch on TV.

Now that I think about it, maybe my words will not even be published in 2214.

But I suppose it's all for the best.

Friday, April 28, 2017

I Got The Gig, Man

Yeah, baby I got the gig. Me and the band are playing The Royal Albert Hall on Saturday, June 10 at 8:00 p.m. Buy your tickets now because they will sell out fast.

Wait a minute - that is not what I meant to say at all. I get so confused sometimes between my fantasy life and my "real" life. Actually I don't even know what my real life is. Is my real life the one I am living or the one I am not living but wish I was? Shit, kids it is getting deep in here.

In two weeks or shortly thereafter I will be a part time box office dude at the Capitol Center for The Performing Arts.

Sounds pretty cool, don't you think? Maybe not the box office part but at least the association with a giant creative force in the wintry state of New Hampshire.

So here I go again. Another change of direction in my life; another perspective, another opportunity.

This one feels different.

I grabbed the thrift store gig because it came along. Simple as that. As I might grab a $100 bill blowing past me on a summer breeze. It was just that reflexive.

I was riding the high of semi-retirement and feeling pretty positive. Didn't matter what the hell I did for employment.

Turned out to be a major disaster because it ended up being more of the same. One more fucking job I grew to hate. Reduced to being a retail whore once again subject to the whims of people who argue over a 50 cent difference in price on a fucking skirt. Humping large pieces of furniture into and out of the building like an underpaid mule.

I have been insane over the last couple of months because I was entirely burned out and feeling trapped. Ain't nobody hiring a 63 year old, tired, fat man. Why would they? Shit, I wouldn't - I would just shoot me and put me out of my misery if I applied for a job from me.

And now this. It feels different to me, and hopefully not just because I want it to feel different. As I have said before I do not trust myself in matters of employment. I have spent a lifetime lying to myself and everybody around me about the "wonderful" new opportunity I was about to enjoy. Lies that devolved into black and bitter hatred of the new opportunity.

And of course I am romanticizing this new job a bit. No apologies there - I am a romantic. I am a dreamer.

Pragmatically I realize the job is not glamorous. For all I know they are going to chain me to a chair in an airless, windowless room and force me to hand write concert tickets, beating me with guitar strings if my pace is slow.

I will still be dealing with the public and there will still be assholes. There are always assholes. Still, I see the job as different than a typical retail job. I am not stuffing things into bags, I am not standing at a cash register, and there will be other responsibilities besides ticket sales (hopefully not bathroom cleaning).

I have to believe the people I deal with for the most part will be enthusiastic and in good moods; after all they are going out to a show. I also believe that relative to shows that are in my wheelhouse I will be engaged in enjoyable and passionate conversations with the customers.

Christ, I hope I work the George Thorogood show.

And maybe, just maybe I will get to meet some of the performers. I am also assuming/hoping that my fellow employees are people who share enthusiasm for the performing arts. So conversation should be interesting.

And of course there is the exceptional benefit of being able to take in shows after the box office duties are met.

So here I go. Feels like another chance. I blew the whole retirement thing first time around. Did not accomplish much, if anything; ended up with yet another dead end job that strangled my soul right up to the brink of extinction.

The time of year is right. Hope and enthusiasm are high, the weather is getting warmer and I feel like I am coming into myself.

I feel good.

I have said things like this many times in my life; many, many times. And been proved wrong.

I need this one; I want this one.

My soul must be revived if I am ever to realize my own truth.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I Keep Coming Back 'Round To The Stones

Watched "Rolling Stones Havana Moon" last night.

Fucking blew me away. Man, I had the sound on the TV dialed up to epic levels as I surrendered myself to the majesty of the moment. The Stones in concert are an amazing thing to see; always have been, always will be.

On March 25, 2016 The Rolling Stones became the first rock band to play a massive free outdoor concert in Havana. Their music was banned in Cuba in years past; the people of Cuba have been historically denied access to music and art and all the things that make a life beautiful.

These people were going absolutely nuts. So many of them knew every word to every song. They were dancing and moving and shaking and smiling and laughing and shaking their heads in wonder.

Many that were interviewed said they never thought they would experience something like this, and you could just feel the sense of abandon and gratitude and joy.

I love the way The Stones respond to moments like this. There is joy in their eyes; they laugh and smile as they play, as they look around the audience; there is an intense focus to their performance because they take their music seriously.

There is a sense of awe there too; they understand what music means to people, especially in a setting like this.

I was a Beatles fan first and foremost. Loved The Stones, absolutely loved them but The Beatles were gods, descended from musical heaven to bring magic and wonder into my life.

Which they did.

Never saw them live, which is a heinous crime. I have seen The Stones twice; in 1989 on the" Steel Wheels" tour; in 1994 on the "Voodoo Lounge" tour. Both times in a massive football stadium where I was 40 miles away and had to watch them on the screen because they were only 2 inches tall on the stage.

And still, they were amazing experiences. Mind blowing.

I was overwhelmed last night because I have never seen such a perfect melding of band and audience before. They were truly one.

It is my humble belief that rock 'n roll and the blues are the two genres of music that cut right into your soul; they follow a direct path to your emotions and your essence because they are honest; they are raw, they are powerful in a deceivingly simple way.

This is what made this concert so special. The Cuban people got caught up in the music of The Rolling Stones, The Rolling Stones got caught up in the passion of the Cuban people, the barriers were down and the magic of being a human being, lost in a glorious moment away from worries and hardships, was on full display.

Many people had tears in their eyes. No doubt from the disbelief that the concert was even happening; no doubt from the sheer release of being allowed to feel; to be alive - unrestrained, expressing emotion in its purest form.

No doubt from their love of the music of The Rolling Stones.

I caught myself smiling over and over again and it occurred to me that I must have looked like a child watching a candle flicker for the first time.

But I kept smiling anyway. Couldn't help it.

There is an invisible thread there for me as well; the connection between The Stones and my youth.

Rock 'n roll was huge for me; music became a passion for me because of it. The connection is becoming more and more tenuous as many of the people who have inspired me over a lifetime are dying.

The break up of The Allman Brothers Band in 2014 and the suicide of Butch Trucks this year were crushing blows to me.

Keith Richards is 73, Mick Jagger is 73, Charlie Watts is 75, Ronnie Wood is 69. And they still bring it.

They are still out there rocking their asses off and doing it in style. I take comfort in knowing that Keith will know exactly when to call the whole thing off. He is the keeper of the flame; he demands the best from his band mates and he takes the responsibility seriously.

The Rolling Stones will never degenerate into a caricature of themselves. Keith will not allow that. And anybody who feels they don't rock like they used to can kiss my ass.

Great story: They were in concert somewhere and Ronnie drifted off and blew a solo or fucked up in some way because he was not all the way in. Keith walked across the stage and punched him in the face.

I don't consciously think about it when I watch and listen to them, but I am aware on an intuitive level that my soul exults in the fact that The Rolling Stones are keeping alive a precious link to my development as a human being.

Anyway, I got sidetracked as I often do when talking about music. Music is everything to me.

Check this concert out. This one is special. It captures the true spirit of musical connection. It lays bare the very reason human beings created and worship music.

It is a purely joyful moment.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

THE BIG INTERVIEW

Prostituted myself out again yesterday.

In a good way.

It went well.

Interviews typically are artificial scenarios that demean the job seeker. I have always despised interviews because they establish a pecking order where I am forced to grovel and prove myself to people who are in an artificially elevated position.

I have NEVER felt that anybody interviewing me was better or more important than me. I have NEVER felt that any boss I have had was truly my boss. So I always have an attitude about employment.

In addition, corporate interviews in large companies are the worst of the worst. Unbelievably pretentious. They really swing the superiority mallet freely, often forcing you to interview from your knees with your hands tied behind your back and the Sword of Damocles dangling over your head.

I have participated in many corporate interviews by virtue of the fact that I had no career plan, no identifiable path or commitment to guide my every move. So I bounced from job to job like a hobo hopping freight trains. Along the way I developed an insightful understanding of how the interview process works and it is indeed a joke.

I had so many interviews that I developed a fictional persona - "Interview Joe". I got really good at it. I knew exactly what to expect, I knew exactly how to perform.

Only one boss in my life called me out on it and it is a great story, one I have told in here many times and am about to repeat, so tough shit if you have heard it before.

I was never really an accountant, I only played one on TV. I sucked at it. Only went through the motions, never really contributed anything to the corporate environment. I don't even know how I survived twenty plus years of doing it (maybe it was the whiskey).

I even managed other people a couple of times as an accountant which is fucking hilarious. I had no business.

Anyway, I interviewed for a managerial position at Chubb Life in Concord, NH; talked to HR, the guy who would be my boss, talked to his boss. Bullshit all three of them and got the job.

Months into my tenure, in my boss's office one day when he was not happy with something I had done, he said "You know, you are a much better interviewer than you are an accountant".

That was the high point of my accounting career. I really admire the guy for having the balls to say that to my face. And he was dead on correct. It was hilarious.

Fast forward to old age, which is where I am now. I have interviewed twice since I semi-retired - once for the job I now hold and again yesterday.

Whole different ballgame. I don't break out "Interview Joe" anymore. I don't feel the need. As a result I am entirely myself in these interviews, which is an astonishing development.

Ironic thing is, when I filled out the app for the thrift store job while sitting in the thrift store, I knew it was the wrong thing to do. Got a negative vibe right off the bat. Negative vibe from the store, negative vibe from the woman I would eventually spend most of my time working with. But I felt I should grab the first thing that came along and here I am.

The last few months have been torture for me because I have come to despise the goddamn job. And I have been applying for other jobs - lots of them - with no results.

Yesterday was glorious. It was The Capitol Center for The Arts, baby - what could be wrong about that?

Immediate positive vibe. Fucking uplifting vibe, to be truthful.

I was awed to just be in the joint, taken upstairs to an unbelievably funky room where I was interviewed by the guy who would be my boss and a guy I presume to be his boss.

We sat around the table like three guys shooting the shit around the kitchen table. It was that comfortable.

Truthfully I have never had a more easy going interview in my life.

It felt right. Now I am waiting to hear.

Bonus fact: On nights when I would be working the box office, the box office closes 1/2 an hour after the show starts. At that point I would be free to wander into the theatre to enjoy the show.

Can you imagine the performances I would get to dig? Can you imagine my joy at being a part of that, to be so close to creativity in every imaginable form?

Jesus Christ, I might never go home.

Ironic connection: Chubb LIfe was a major contributor to the resurrection of the Capitol Theatre; the main performance room is named The Chubb Theatre.

This was meant to be, no?