The Day Howard Johnson’s Died*, Part 1 December 31, 2016Posted by skypigeon in Uncategorized.
Tags: 3 A.M., Chevy Vega, HoJo's, Howard Johnson's, life, New Year, radio, three a.m., U-Haul
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It’s surprising how big round numbers of historic significance can sneak up on you. The day I wrote this–December 31, 2016–is the thirtieth anniversary of my first major move as an adult. It was a cross-country move from Indiana to Virginia. It was career oriented. It was a game-changer and a life-changer. It opened my eyes to cultural differences I was unaware existed. All it required was the sacrifice of a Chevy Vega.
I have no pictures of me from that time. I wish I did, especially of the Vega. Fortunately the Power of Google allows me to show you a substitute for the Vega. Here it is:
Imagine this car with a dark-green vinyl top and about 47% more rust, especially around the driver’s side front wheel well, and you have my first car. I called it the Flaming Turtle. For the ’73 year a two-barrel Holley carb was offered as a performance option, kicking its horsepower into the three-digit zone at a whopping 110. The combination of that two-barrel carb and the natural weight decrease of excessive oxidation made it a delightfully ass-hauling machine. It hauled my ass quite well over the ten hour drive.
It didn’t haul my ass without some assistance, of course. Unable to pull a trailer of any kind, I had to settle for mounting a U-Haul rooftop carrier to it. You don’t see those much anymore. The Power of Google produced only one picture of the type I had, in fact, from a “Throwback Thursday” page on U-Haul’s website:
Too bad I couldn’t have a VW Bus to make the move with as well. In the ’80’s, nothing would have set apart a budding young air personality quite like having a VW Bus. Alas, the Vega was all the character I could afford (free, from my parents, for driving to college a few years earlier).
The move was from my first job in radio to my second, back when I still believed a successful radio career for an iconoclastic loner was a practical, possible thing. I’d grown up in Indiana, gone to college in Bloomington, had plenty of family still in the state or close to it, and had no desire to leave it. So I happily accepted a radio job inside my home state to begin my career, figuring if it was good enough for Sid Collins–original Voice of the Indianapolis 500, look him up–it was good enough for me.
Where I had started was the property of a man who preferred things done a very certain, very specific way. He would have you believe this was his unique way, time-tested, infallible, and needed by a wayward nation without moorings; but in reality it was spelled out in The Blue Book of the John Birch Society, and after having read it, I decided this was not the direction my life needed to go. So I looked for opportunities elsewhere in Indiana.I found none. My employer’s reputation preceded itself. It was possible to escape it in-state, but you had to know someone else, and I was young, and did not.
So I researched and found there are companies who, for a fee, will work with talent of all levels of experience. Somehow, without anyone figuring out what I was doing, I managed to produce a passable demonstration tape and send it to one of these companies. They had me placed within a month’s time. I gave two weeks’ notice. The owner reluctantly let me go, noting where I was going was a scant 40 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., “The Disneyland of the East.” Being one of two others leaving, the staff threw us all a “Has-Been” party. This would be our tie to the stuff of legend this station, and this owner, really was, having its origin from a popular on-air personality who engaged the owner constantly in philosophical discussions over what was right and proper for a personality to discuss over the air. The personality left not only the station, but radio altogether, for something with more sound economic potential so he could feed, house, and clothe his family.
“Looks like you’re a has-been now,” the owner said to him upon receiving his notice. “Too bad. Oh, well, I’m sure we gave you a few fond memories.”
The staff threw him a party and gave him a T-shirt with “W— HAS-BEEN” stenciled across the front. Ever since, all who left the station received the same. I may still have mine someplace.
The same weekend a brother with a pickup truck came to get the furniture I couldn’t take with me, and a few days later I rented the rooftop rack for the Vega, stuffing it full of personal belongings, then stuffing the trunk full of personal belongings, then stuffing the back and passenger seats full of personal belongings. Finally I stuffed my person into it and aimed the car towards I-70. I was off. I was out.
I’ll write more later. Right now I want to kiss off 2016, much like I wanted to kiss off 1986. Let’s hope this next one is better than we have any right to expect. Excelsior.
A few thoughts on the Big Inevitability April 12, 2014Posted by skypigeon in Uncategorized.
Tags: 3 A.M., change, death, faith, grandbaby, Grandpa, life, meaning of death, meaning of life, older, Palm Sunday, three a.m.
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OK. Good news first: my oldest brother Brad and his wife Cindy just found out from eldest daughter Erin and son-in-law Joel that sometime in October, they too will become grandparents. They are thrilled, as they should be and is most appropriate. It means one day, someday, they’ll have a little critter to come visit who may look something like this:
And who can resist something who looks like that? Not you, certainly not me; that’s my grandson right there and let me tell you he is a blast. I worked with someone who became a grandmother in her mid-30’s, had four of them by the time I worked with her in her early forties, who said there was nothing better on this earth than being a grandparent. She was right. Quite right.
So I’m happy for them, and looking forward to adding “great-uncle” to my multiple hats, and look forward to meeting the star of future Butterfield Fishing Shows. As there is nothing better than being a grandparent, there is nothing more inspiring than seeing the future right before your eyes. It is the reward of age. The good Lord’s way of saying, “You’re not done yet. All those mistakes you made with your own? Here’s another chance. Good luck.”
It’s good to think of birth right now. Lately, I’ve been thinking an awful lot of death. My oldest cousin lost his wife unexpectedly a few weeks back. A high school friend lost his mother unexpectedly just a few days ago. While I’m not worried about either of them because both of them have the most fantastic support network of family and friends people can ask for, I’m still praying for them because both of them are in shock. They don’t have to say it. I know it. Neither of them are that old. My cousin’s wife wasn’t that old. My friend’s mother wasn’t that old. This wasn’t supposed to happen this soon. Yet it did. Tempus fugit, memento mori, but not yet, not now!
No. Sorry. It’s yet. It’s now. There is no way of knowing how much that hurts until you experience it. I’m not about to claim I know how they feel.
But here’s the reality I do have to face: This is going to happen more and more often to people I know, because that is the lesson of age. The great inevitability of life is on our way to death, people we love will die first and the older we get, the more this will happen until it finally happens to us. It’s no one’s fault. It’s not part of a divine plan. It’s just pure cold logic, frankly. Mathematics. The branch of such called probability. The older we get, the more people we know, that simple. The realization doesn’t really hit you until your late 40’s to early 50’s, though, because that’s when it starts happening more often. It’s no longer this rare event that occasionally disrupts your life. There’s a reason your grandparents read the obituaries in the morning paper every day.
So what can you do about it? Not much. Be supportive. Show in some way how much the lost soul was loved and the survivor still is. Give your heart and your shoulder. Pray. Lather, rinse, repeat.
This weekend is Palm Sunday. If you’re Christian, let this weekend and next remind you as well that death isn’t the end and this life is not all that we live for.
And hug those children and grandbabies while you can. 🙂
Lenten thoughts while listening to a pleading cat March 9, 2014Posted by skypigeon in Uncategorized.
Tags: 3 A.M., Catholic Church, cats, character, honeymoon, Lent, life, marriage, meaning of life, suffering, three a.m.
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We have four cats in our humble home, as disparate a crew of felines as one can imagine: one shelter kitty picked out at a pet store to replace another who’d passed on, one adopted from a friend at work about a year later because he was just too cute for words, and two passed down from my late father-in-law after his wife became injured and could no longer care for them and him too.
You can see them right here if you want. They’re all young cats, they haven’t changed in appearance or personalities much, except the first one–Junebug–has picked up a fierce case of feline asthma. We squirt prednasone–think that’s how you spell it–down her throat every night so she can at least eat and breathe without passing out. But she still gags, and she’s learned how to strategically time the gagging to get us to pay attention to her. She also gets cut-up turkey slices just before her medicine. She seems willing to endure the medicine for the turkey slices.
OK, then–what hath that to do with Lent, my brothers and sisters? Well, I guess it touches on the right attitude to have towards suffering and reward, though in my kitty’s case she’s gotten it backwards. The reward comes first, then the punishment. Paraphrasing Fulton Sheen, “Never forget that there are only two philosophies to rule your life: the one of the cross, which starts with the fast and ends with the feast; the other of Satan, which starts with the turkey and ends with the icky stuff shot down your throat.” Meaning to her, we’re Satan? Wow, this is going to be a long Lent.
Seriously, though, the traditional way of looking at Lent–some in my chosen faith, Catholicism, would argue of looking at life–is as a time of suffering. A chosen purification from what is not necessary, to prepare for the gift of the Ultimate Necessity. I’m not here to argue pro or con on that. I’m just thinking about it because of what a visiting priest said at Mass during the homily today–that as the forty days in the desert of Jesus were His honeymoon with God, so we should think of Lent as the same between God and us.
Yes. Honeymoon. The very word he used. He took some time at the start to talk about the word as we’ve come to perceive it, tying in its similarities, generally calling it the period in which we “rejoice in each other’s mystery, learning in that mystery to reject the temptation of any thing or any one lesser.”
I suppose that’s fair. I’m not theologian enough to say, or say not. You can certainly think for yourself on that one, I’m sure.
But the bad boy in me couldn’t help but imagine some poor doof on one knee, ring with rock in hand, saying to his desired, “My love, will you reveal your mysteries to me, that we may suffer together for the rest of our lives?”
Hardly the kind of question to get an “Oh, YES! With all my heart!” kind of answer, huh?
Yet think about it: Isn’t that exactly what marriage is?
And is that not a good thing? If it weren’t, why stay together, why bear or adopt children, why raise children, why watch them marry and do the same, why do it if we know we’re both, we’re all, going to suffer?
Because “after the fast, there is the feast,” no?
Because after the blowup, there is the makeup; after the misunderstanding, better understanding; after the punishment, the pride, after the raising hell, the raising up.
Because we are not perfect and if we’re wise enough to learn from them our mistakes make us better, not worse, as individuals and as couples and as people.
And with that Junebug is crying and gagging for her medicine. Who am I to deny a fellow penitent? ‘Til next time, friends.
SPEED BLOGGING!! February 15, 2014Posted by skypigeon in Uncategorized.
Tags: 3 A.M., Golden Corral, Grandma, Grandpa, grandson, life, older, reading, Sheer Arrogance, three a.m., writing
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Sorry, I just had an overwhelming need to get your attention… 😉 I’m writing this entry under deadline this morning. The grandson and his parents are on their way up to celebrate Valentine’s Day belated, Dad’s birthday right on schedule, and in Bryce’s case just the pure unbridled joy of life only a fourteen-and-a-half-month-old can experience.
So, before I get too distracted by that, I want to let you know of some new Sheer Arrogance posted on the blog today, called “Something all writers SO need to do.” In which Your Humble Blogger gives a most valuable writing tip and pays tribute to his first fair crush in honor of Valentine’s Day at the same time. Pretty darn versatile for a old guy, no? Hey, I even cook up a new word in this one. Enjoy.
Now, back to the grandson report: Young Bryce has been walking for three months now and can go most anywhere he sets his mind to. Grandma has rid the house of ninety percent of cat hair just for him. Once he and his family arrive, we will set out for lunch and partake of some of the finest chain-store buffet Olathe has to offer at Golden Corral.
All I’ve got for now. Maybe a little more to come tomorrow, once my brain recuperates from the gluttony to come. If you’re looking for something a little more meaty, my entry from last week could stand a few more hits. Until then, be blessed!
Big round numbers colliding in kismet January 15, 2014Posted by skypigeon in Uncategorized.
Tags: 100, 3 A.M., 50, birthday, books, change, Edgar Allan Poe, fifty, life, narcissism, older, one hundred, reading, Robert M. Pirsig, three a.m., writing
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I hate writing about myself. I envy anyone who can do it and not make himself look like a narcissistic ass. I certainly can’t.
Sometimes one has to recognize milestones reached, however, even at the risk of narcissistic assery; and this is one of those times. Two of them, actually. The first is my fiftieth birthday January 19. The second is my hundredth post on this blog–this one.
Fifty years. One hundred posts. Big round numbers colliding in kismet. Not often you see a fiftieth paired with a hundredth. Gotta mean something. So I’m going to go with the “personal enlightenment” angle.
When I was a kid I was one of those little dorks who read everything he could get his grubby hands on–cereal boxes, calendar trivia, newspaper clippings, even his mother’s Reader’s Digests. One year I stumbled on something called “Ten Things I’ve Learned in a Half Century of Living.” I don’t remember who wrote it, and so far the Power of Google reveals nothing.
Coming up to my half-century-hundred-post kismet, I catch myself thinking that would be a good exercise–to come up with ten things I’ve managed to learn, then impart them to you, so you can read them and think “Holy Mother of Creation, what a narcissistic ass.”
So here are mine, written pretty much on the fly with not a whole lot of thought behind a one. Some of them are my own lame observations, others–in quotes–are ones which I think “yep, they got that right.” They’re in no special order. The first is from that Reader’s Digest article I mentioned above:
1). “A beautiful woman is one who loves me.” I love you too, Karen. God bless you. Enough said.
2). To kill a dream stone dead, demand it come true just the way you dream it. I could have been a talk radio host–something I’ve always wanted to do–twice. The first time, I was offered the opportunity by the author of a self-help book I interviewed on the air a couple of times. He was impressed with my skills and said he “knew some people” in Colorado. I turned him down because at the time I barely had enough money to keep the heat on. The second time was my boss offering me my old job back at a station where I’d worked two years before. He’d heard me doing a part-time gig and called to make the offer. Thinking it was the same station I’d left and remembering why I left it, plus wanting to stay close to a major market, I turned him down. I didn’t realize he’d planned to flip it to talk. Had he said that, I may well have gone back, but he didn’t say, and I didn’t ask, did I? I just assumed the worst and acted accordingly.
Two opportunities that will never come again, opportunities that both came when I was responsible for no one else but me, and I let fear of the unknown steal them from me. That’s not how you win, kids. Carpe diem. I can’t emphasize enough, if you are young and single, and someone offers you an ethical way to achieve your goal in life, TAKE IT. No matter what.
3). Every decision you make, forever, hinges on one thing. Do you believe in God, or not? That’s it. That’s the question. How you answer it defines everything you think and everything you do. It is the most important question you will ever ask yourself, and only you can answer it. No one has the right to answer it for you. Ask it yourself, answer it yourself, and not just once; do so constantly, do so seriously. The other decisions you make will become much better if you do.
4). Navel gazing is the biggest waste of your time there is. If you really want to know who you are and why you’re here, make yourself available to other people and learn both fast. Easier for some than others, I know, but even introverted people need to do this. People are what reveal your strengths and weaknesses, your joys and sorrows, your skills and failings. You think you know them already? Then you’re delusional. Get out of your head and into the world.
5) “The years have a way of dulling a man.” That’s my favorite line from The Broken Blade, William Durbin’s story of a boy who comes of age with a group of late 18th-century fur traders canoeing the St. Lawrence River in Canada. Boys’ Life serialized an illustrated version of it around 1999 or so when my son was a Cub. Quite an educational tale in that–spoilers!–the “bully” of the group has good reason for being who he is and the “nice guy” who helps our hero learn the necessities of life on the river winds up killed by the river. But the truth of that one line is what stands out most to me. It helps me cope with what I can’t control.
6) “We must be careful about who we pretend to be.” Kurt Vonnegut, God rest his soul, whether he believed he had one or not. I’m sorely tempted to just use everything in this list to finish mine. Stop and think how right he is with the one line above alone: How many people in your life, who like you and care about you, think you really are what you say you are? Damn near all of them, right? Because who has time living their own lives to pay so close attention to yours that they know the real you? They’d rather believe the illusion. It’s easier. It’s prettier. It’s safer. So you become who you claim to be–and that’s not always a good thing. Scroll down to #15 here to see what I mean.
7). Now is where we live. No quotes around that one, because that’s how I think of it and like to say it. I’ve blogged about it before so I’m not going to beat it to death: The past is done and said. The future is not guaranteed. Now is the only time we can do anything worth a damn. So do it now.
8). “Start with the upper left-hand brick.” One of Robert M. Pirsig’s most oft-quoted lines from his classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a book I like so much I’ve read it nine times. It’s something he said to a student in a freshman comp class who was having trouble with an assignment. You’ll find oodles of stuff about what great advice this is for overcoming writer’s block, and it is, but that’s like choosing to chug a can of Coke when there’s a glass of champagne on the table. This is more than advice, this is how to live your life. This is real, substantial philosophy summed up in six words! Think it through, you’ll see it. It’s not hard.
9). “Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.” Edgar Allan Poe, whose birth date I share. To me, this means if one is to write at all in an age of attention-deficited instant everything, he should pick the clearest and simplest words to convey his meaning–something not so simple as it sounds. It certainly is not how Poe himself approached his writing, but Poe wrote in a very different time for a very different audience. Today, we must keep it simple for our reader because our reader has much more competition for his time and his mind. The trick is to do it without it being so simple that it inflicts blunt force trauma, and Poe remains a valuable teacher of how to avoid such.
On a personal level, Poe’s words remind me that all the eloquence in the world will not hide lack of personal experience. “I know how you feel” is an insult if you really don’t. Better to just be there and let people feel however they need to around you. In the long run it is much more rewarding and appreciated.
10). You don’t need this list. Everything on here, you either have already learned, or will already learn, by yourself. All you’ve gotta do is pay attention.
There you have it. My hundredth post, for my fiftieth birthday. Yay me. Here’s a song to celebrate.
Oh, just one more thing: Dignity in age is a good thing, a blessed thing, a graceful thing, a sign to all that no matter the circumstance all of life is good and to be lived. Not just the first, for that turns the rest into drudgery. Not just the middle, for that denies one both learning joy and sorrow in youth and appreciating such learning in age. Not just the last, because it may not be long enough to do all we need. Live all of it, right now. Every moment. All of it.
Now can we please move on? 🙂
Now, then! November 29, 2013Posted by skypigeon in Uncategorized.
Tags: 3 A.M., aging, books, Facebook, life, media, older, three a.m., writing
Been a long time since my last post, for good reason–projects! Lots of them!–and it may be a long time ’til my next post for the same reason. I’ll go into that later, right now just consider it’s good to keep busy with what we do best. If we don’t, the vapid among us happily will let us impoverish ourselves making them very, very rich (I’m talkin’ to YOU, makers of Candy Crack, er, Crush). It may be good thoughtless fun in short spurts, but it is no way to live.
On that note, my grandson has something to say to you:
He says, “I sincerely hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving, full of family, good food and good cheer. Huzzah.” Well, he would, if he were older than one.
Hard to believe the little man hits his first anniversary of existence next weekend. Hope Mom and Dad realize that now the fun really begins. This year was just basic programming. In the coming year, the code starts to compile. By the time he’s three his personality will be set and other than good old fashioned discipline there will be nothing on Earth they can do to change it. Seriously. Scientific fact. Look it up!
So, for those of us whose code has been compiled for decades and have had to deal with both the grace and curse of our hopelessly set personalities, what are we to do? Well, here’s my little suggestion: Join Facebook.
You may have noticed the national media, in its ongoing effort never to see the forest for the trees, has had something to say about Facebook lately: The teenagers and twenty-somethings who built it, are now rejecting it! They deem it unworthy! They are moving on to other social media because they seek to escape their parents, not witness them confront their mortality; and therefore Facebook is doomed, doomed, DOOOOOOOOMED!
Not hardly. In fact, Facebook may have stumbled upon the thing that will ensure its existence forever. A friend of mine from high school unwittingly tipped me off on it. She posted:
I have absolutely no memories of some events in my life that should have been memorable. Like both proms, and graduating high school and college.
I’ll confess here that my first reaction–considering some of my memories with her–was “oh, thank God.” 🙂 (Read nothing evil into that!) Then I got curious and pried a little, and she said:
The crazy thing. . . is that I remember tons and tons of useless details from my childhood, but not a lot of the major events. I remember Randall the cat’s hiding place in [a neighbor’s] coat closet and what the crabapples tasted like off the tree in their front yard (I still taste crabapples when I run across them, but the [neighbor’s] tree grew the best ever). I remember where I sat in trig and physics and calculus and chemistry in high school. I even remember some particular zits I had over the years for goodness sake! But not one thing about prom or graduation other than what I see in pictures.
National media–if you are paying attention, here you have why Facebook’s audience is getting older, and why that’s a good thing for both its audience and Facebook, and if Facebook gets this and adjusts the service appropriately, it will exist forever. Why those kids its supposedly losing will come back eventually, too.
It’s this: Memories stick. For better or worse, what we choose to remember, sticks; what we don’t choose to remember, does not.
Facebook performs the valuable public service of unsticking those chosen memories and letting us put them in the proper perspective.
I’m a bit different than my friend in that I remember what feels like a metric ton of the events of my childhood, including the people involved in them and how they treated me, what they were like when I knew them then, and inevitably if I linger on those memories they depress me because either I couldn’t live up to those people or they couldn’t live up to me, and there those memories and impressions would be stuck, forever–if not for Facebook giving me the opportunity to see who they are now, how they are now, and from that perspective where they were coming from then.
I am a “now” person. The past can’t be changed, the future is not guaranteed, the time where we must live is now. Facebook helps tremendously with doing that.
Two other Facebook friends on my mind, from my high school class, to help make that point clearer: One about to turn 50, who says he dreads old age because nothing good ever comes from it; another already 50 and fighting the struggle of her life.
To the first friend, I would suggest this, something I’ve learned from my parents, in their mid-eighties and while not running marathons, still vital as ever: The one way to fight the aging process is to embrace it.
Start with simple acceptance: We’re finite beings. We enter the world to replace someone leaving it. We leave the world so someone can replace us. This is normal and healthy in all living things. Science and religion often conflict but here they agree, this is nature’s will for us, this is God’s will for us.
A funny thing happens when we accept that and live accordingly. We stress out less. As we stress out less, we get sick less. As we get sick less, we stop doing things to excess to forget for awhile that we’re sick. We don’t “need” to drink as much, smoke as much, eat as much. Life naturally becomes more moderate, without losing the fun. Our bodies recuperate easier from whatever sickness comes. We may or may not live longer–again, the future is not guaranteed–but we live better, less painfully, less strained from existence.
This, I believe, is the philosophy of my second friend, fighting cancer right now. You would not know from her Facebook posts that she is in any pain, because as she fights for her life, she still lives. She accepts that this is part of it and deals with it accordingly. She cannot lose, no matter the outcome. Her friends, me included, pray the outcome leaves her with us a great while longer; but whether the good Lord wills that for her or not, she will have run the race, fought the good fight.
Life’s great irony: Embrace your struggles, and you will suffer less from them.
OK, about those projects… My oldest brother sent me home from a trip to see him a few weeks back with some old VHS tapes containing our infamous Butterfield Fishing Shows from the early ’00’s. They’re now on my computer and getting edited down to suitable family viewing for future generations. An artist friend of mine likes to preview his work on a private YouTube channel, I may look into that and see if once these are done I can share them with the world that way. WordPress has an option allowing direct-to-site video posting, but it’s expensive, at least for lil’ ol’ me.
I’m also working on a complete rewrite of my first self-pub novel, The Rain Song. Once finished, it will be available for free on Kindle under a different title, and the original book will go off the market. Why? Because after looking at the original book, I firmly believe it should never been have been “published.” I’ll go into that some other time, right now, consider it a collector’s item you can purchase before it’s gone forever–if you can endure its weaknesses, there is a decent story inside of it. The updated Kindle version, I hope, will eliminate the weaknesses and show off its strengths.
Thanks for slogging through all this. 🙂 Blessed Holidays!
All I got in a paper bag October 28, 2013Posted by skypigeon in Uncategorized.
Tags: 3 A.M., life, Lou Reed, Magic and Loss, Power and Glory--The Summation, three a.m.
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Not very much to say this week. The reason for the title is it sounds to me like something Lou Reed would write. You’ve heard by now he’s passed, of course. Lots of tributes to him I’ll have to be careful not to steal subconsciously.
I’ve been a fan of Lou since the late 80’s. Back then I was playing deejay for KIUL in Garden City, Kansas. Our sister FM at the time, KWKR, was a Westwood One affiliate and on the weekend played a lot of their feature artists specials, one of which was all about Lou Reed. New York had just come out, they played “Dirty Boulevard” to close out the special. It kicked my young ass. I bought a copy of the album. Start to finish, it kicked my mind’s ass. Up to then all I knew of him was “Walk on the Wild Side,” his elegant dopey one-hit-wonder about life in Andy Warhol’s Factory. I had no idea there was this much more to him.
For some reason all the tributes are giving his best work short shrift and I can’t understand why, especially considering the last months of his life he lived it: Magic and Loss. Released in 1992, it’s an elegy for two friends lost to cancer. It also is the purest distillation of Lou Reed himself ever committed to an album. It aches, ponders, screams, soothes, rocks, shocks, and survives. If you let it, it can even bring you closer to God, though I’m sure that wasn’t Reed’s intent. Here’s a taste.
He wanted all of it / All of it / Not some of it / But all of it.
A fitting epitaph. Godspeed, Lou Reed.
Moral Conundrum Monday October 7, 2013Posted by skypigeon in Uncategorized.
Tags: "the right thing to do", 3 A.M., change, character, choices, conscience, conundrum, life, Monday, Mooresville Indiana, moral, older, opinion, three a.m., trust, walking
Sounds like a pop hit, doesn’t it? Moral Conundrum Monday… wish it was Sunday… ’cause that’s a lot easier to explain than all the crap I’ve been dealing with lately in both the physical and spiritual realm that I really don’t want to think about… yay!
I never said I was a songwriter. 😉
Anyway, I got a couple for you, one so minor it’s ridiculous, the other, well, is just ridiculous. Think I’ll start with the easy one: In the name of energy and tax savings, you buy new windows from a big-box store whose name sounds vaguely like Household Depository.
Two years later, you think, “Bleah–what unspeakably filthy dirty windows I have. Behold, here are some paper towels, a ladder, and Windex; I shall clean them.”
So you commence your cleansing, and attempting to remove one of your storm windows, notice it fits the scientific term used by builders and carpenters across the land, “bugger.”
As you wrestle with said bugger, the bugger bends so hideously, one side of it breaks in two.
“Lo, what is this?” you ask yourself, “why has this bugger bent so hideously as to render separate one of its sides, while the other non-bugger came out perfectly and goes back in perfectly?”
So in the interests of science and philosophic enlightenment, you lay the non-bugger on top of the bugger and find the bugger is a good half-inch longer than the non-bugger.
Experiencing revelation, you gasp: “Why of course the bugger bent under the excessiveness of my manly pressure, the bugger was made too darned big!”
So here lies the moral conundrum: Do you, in possession of a grave and catastrophic mistake obviously made at the factory, in the name of the thousands of dollars all these windows cost you, dig through your tax files, find your paperwork from the original order, call the manufacturer because you already know it’s what Household Depository would have you do anyway if you bothered to broach this delicate subject with them, and demand restitution be made for this obviously flawed and careless workmanship revealing at least one of their personnel to be thoughtless trash with no appreciation of quality, craftsmanship, or pride; threatening to call your attorneys unless this is dealt with swiftly and to your preeningly observant satisfaction, without cost to you in any form?
OR, do you take the thing to your local hardware store that still fixes screens and get it made the right size for fourteen bucks?
Bless Westlake Hardware. Bless them. Reasonable, practical alternatives to silliness are so hard to find these days. I may look up the manufacturer of the window and write them about this just for kicks, but… right now (in two weeks, anyway)… I’d rather have a screen window that fits. You know, that Winter thing coming on and all.
Okay, I promised you two moral conundrums, and here we have to get a little serious.
I was home visiting my parents for a couple of days last week. They live on the outskirts of the fine community of Mooresville, Indiana, Home of the Indiana State Flag–which the community is quite proud of–and John Dillinger during his late teens and early twenties, which it is not.
Anyway, while home, I took a walk. I’m guessing it was about five miles or so, up Landersdale Road and then west on Bridge Street into town, crossing Indiana 67 on foot (automatically qualifying me to appear on I Shouldn’t Be Alive), continuing across town using as many old shortcuts from high school days as I could remember until getting to The Village shopping center, then coming back pretty much the same way.
Lots of stuff has changed since I last did that. Lots of stuff hasn’t.
Including when I got back to Landersdale Road and some high school kid threw something out of his car window at me (and missing) while screaming “FAG.”
“Asshole,” I said outloud, not looking back at him, moving on, thinking “Well, that hasn’t changed…”
As mentioned, I spent a lot of my old high school days walking Mooresville and its outskirts and yeah, sometimes, I’d get stuff thrown at me out of a car while being called a fag or worse. Not every day, mind you, but enough to make me feel pretty sensitive about it. For the shallow reason that I’m straight–though I was involved pretty heavily in Drama Club, which at MHS got you labeled homosexual by default back in the late 70’s-early 80’s even if you were straight–and the human reason that nobody deserves to be treated like that.
Yet people got treated like that all the time, growin’ up in ol’ Mo-ville back in those days. I was far from the only one it ever happened to. Not the fault of the town, nor the parents, strictly the lack of character in the individual who would do such a thing.
Apparently some in my home town (and elsewhere), in these allegedly progressive times of the 21st Century, still lack enough character to treat other people like that.
Including people who aren’t teenagers, and haven’t been for some time, and have raised teenagers of their own, now responsible adults in no small part because their caring, loving parents would not tolerate such assholish behavior from them for a second.
So there’s your second Monday Moral Conundrum, folks–especially if you’re my age, pushing 50; do you just blow this kind of stuff off, figuring the world has always been thus, accept it? Or do you say, no? Not acceptable?
What do you tolerate? What do you think?
So today I went to WalMart and… September 28, 2013Posted by skypigeon in Uncategorized.
Tags: 3 A.M., Americana, character, dry sense of humor, evil, life, Saturday, sense of humor, three a.m., WalMart
Stop right there and empty your head, free your soul, clear your mind–I have no intention of ragging on the Biggest Retailer in All of God’s Universe in this entry, even though I’m well aware they allegedly kill small towns, bully manufacturers into letting them sell lesser-quality product, treat their associates like dogs while paying them dirt and have a customer base which daily shows those of us still on Earth a vision of what Hell must be like assuming all that fire and brimstone is just allegory. This is not a slam piece on WalMart. I’ve never worked at one, but I’ve known people who have, practically of all ages, and not one of them have or had any of the issues the media has harped upon since Sam Walton died. It’s a business, okay? It’s just a freaking business. Like any other. That sells a lot of stuff cheaply to a lot of people.
Anyway, so today I went to WalMart, and it was Saturday, and like any Saturday at the two WalMarts in beautiful Olathe, Kansas, the joint was jumpin’. Packed with the people of real Americana, all sizes, all shapes, all sexes (and yes, there are more than two; but let’s not go into THAT right now). My sweetie, busy with other things, sent me there to get a brake light bulb replaced on our vehicle and to buy roughly $75 worth of groceries.
The process took about two hours. Apparently brake light bulb replacement on a Suzuki XL7 is a delicate surgical procedure, as one of those hours went solely for it. I’ll find out someday when the other brake light bulb goes out, as they kindly let me have the spare bulb from the pack of two they come in. Not like I’ve never done it before, replace a brake light bulb; but today I just didn’t feel like it because I didn’t want to do it in the rain and there wasn’t enough room in the garage.
But that’s really not what I’m blogging about. What I’m blogging about is the strange sense of humor one must develop to work at WalMart. I saw it on display today.
Let me elaborate: as I said, the joint was jumpin’, packed with the people of real Americana, all sizes, all shapes, all sexes (ibid), all bouncing off one another like steel balls in a psychotic pinball machine because the overall design of WalMart stores SUCKS.
No, really: Have you ever noticed that, for the Biggest Retailer in All of God’s Universe, the layout of your average WalMart is SENSELESS? I’ll put it this way: If your town has a Target big enough to include a grocery store, how far do you have to walk, from the groceries, to the other stuff most people need when they also buy groceries? Like pet food, for example? Or Miralax? In any Target, you will find both these common, oft-purchased things in aisles right next to the food, where they belong, because it’s reasonable, logical and sensible, not AT THE OPPOSING END OF THE STORE HALF A MILE AWAY FROM EVERYTHING ELSE YOU NEED!
Now, that’s not ragging on WalMart as a business, mind you, just as architecture; but on an ergonomic level it makes people CRAAAAAAZY because to get everything they need or want in a reasonable amount of time they have to run like panicked hyenas from one end of the store to another and on weekends where one must add a multiplier of 700 to the average number of souls inside the store, well, you can see why it becomes a psychotic pinball machine of all-sized, all-shaped, all-sexed Americana.
And it explains why the associates are walking stress bombs, for sure–to the point where in order not to be overwhelmed by shock and/or to better absorb the trauma, they deliberately, subconsciously, slow down all normal human response to it. Ever notice that? Rarely, occasionally, you’ll see a WalMart associate pop his cork–but always at another associate, never ever at a customer, and even then it will be a generic cork-popping aimed not at the other associate so much as an inanimate object with a rolled-back price.
Or, they’ll develop a unique sense of humor one will experience no where else but from a WalMart associate. Like I did today.
The deal was this: Some of the groceries I was to procure included a pound of corned beef and a half-pound of Havarti cheese. Neither of these were available pre-packaged, so I had need of the store deli to provide them. Hence I got in line behind two people whom the twenty-something behind the deli slowly, carefully, almost catatonically sliced meat and cheese for, taking great care to wrap the remaining blocks of meat and cheese sliced from slowly, and carefully, and replacing back in their spots behind the glass, and twenty minutes later I finally got to him with my request.
He pulled out a large block of corned beef and said to me, slowly, carefully: “Now, this corned beef has beef in it; is that going to be okay?”
I gave him my best Walter White “I am the danger” look.
“I suppose,” I said, slowly, carefully, “seeing it’s corned beef, having beef in it will be okay.”
He smiled at me. “I was making a joke,” he said slowly, carefully.
“No worries,” I said, closing my eyes.
Like I said, this is not a slam piece on WalMart. Their layout may suck, their customers may bounce off of one another like pinballs, but they do give an awful, awful, awful lot of people jobs, and those jobs ain’t easy for one minute.
So when the slow and careful soul at your WalMart’s deli warns you that the corned beef you’re ordering just might have beef in it, rise above people like me, and laugh like it’s the funniest joke you’ve ever heard.
Because trust me, that soul needs your laughter. With him. Not at him. 😉