Jazz and Assassins


1. Children make the arduous, terrifying, expensive journey from hundreds of miles away to come to the USA. They immediately give themselves over to the authorities. They face the wrath of sign-waving, epithet-shouting adults who, themselves, benefit from every soul who agrees to do their labor for 1/4 of the price that they would demand. They forget. No one is trying to sneak in, now. They are seeking a form of asylum.

2. The children make this journey why? Because they crave American freedom? No. Because they have witnessed the scene of their teacher back home forced to acquiesce to their removal from class at the behest of a drug cartel “employee” about the same age, and probably under the same frightening “contract” that they are politely being asked to agree to. OR they, if female, have been informed that as soon as they reach puberty they will be someone’s boyfriend. And their parents are terrified. More than you can possibly imagine. But put away your stupid Obama-blaming bullshit. Under an anti-trafficking statute adopted with bipartisan support in 2008, minors from Central America cannot be deported immediately and must be given a court hearing before they are deported. A United States policy allows Mexican minors caught crossing the border to be sent back quickly.

3. The drug cartels are trying to usurp power from elected officials why? Because they are the new center of commerce between manufacturer and customers in the USA.  Because drug trafficking used to go by a different route. But rest assured, there’s almost no way to make money or even hope for a career in Central America unless you’re covered in duct tape and bubble wrap at some point. If your kids were subject to violence, rape and generally horrible, pernicious coercion at every step in their development, you wouldn’t be so quick to blame them for still believing in the American Dream.

4. Because no matter what anyone says, drug use will never abate. It’s not right and it’s not wrong. But it’s never going to stop. But as we know, taking something people want (need) and making recovery difficult and indulgence illegal only makes the market blacker. That’s all it does. Nothing more.

5. Because if drugs were legal everywhere, no black market would exist. This is a humanitarian crisis that Obama is trying to solve. Yes, he’s been a huge disappointment to me and others, but now he’s facing congressional Republicans pushing back, saying that the border crisis is a result of Mr. Obama’s policy problems and lax enforcement at the border. Because they’re either myopic fools or terrified of other people’s freedom. Republican lawmakers are pushing to amend that 2008 law that George Bush shortsightedly signed into law, which currently makes it difficult to return the children quickly to their home countries. Which they would fucking do if there wasn’t a guy with a gun bullying their teacher.

6. Because booze and every other drug should be treated as the same thing, same laws, same safety concerns, same recovery choices.

7. Because booze is ok. But pot isn’t. Because black people were alleged to have liked it. I blame Roosevelt.




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Jersey Boys…I won’t go. Here’s why.



If they did the movie about this album, I’d go. But I doubt they even mention it. Just like “I Walk The Line” never mentions “The Junkie and the Juicehead Minus Me”.

I keep seeing reports that sitting is bad for you. Putting a big wrench in my plans.


It’s “Toyota”.



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Ethical question.

If I hit a dog with my car, I’d get out and try to identify the dog’s owner so that I may inform them that Duchess is now a pile of goo. 

If I hit a cat, I would think the owner would be in that vicinity so getting out of the car and looking around would be appropriate. 

If I hit a family of ducks, people would be aghast. It would be, in some ways, worse than hitting a cat. If my aim is off and I only get one or two, i’m still gonna have hell to pay. 

But if I hit an opossum, a rabbit, a vole, a mouse, a skunk, it would be ok to keep going. If I hit a deer, no one would mourn, but really, a deer is as cute as a duck. So I could keep going and no one would be too judgmental. 

So why is hitting a duck with a car worse than a deer? Is that the line? 

I once hit a squirrel. Sadly, I was on my way to drop off the kids at school, so I couldn’t stop and back over it. It was still twitching. It didn’t matter, though. When I got back 20 minutes later it was just about done twitching. 



What is it?

A female at work offered up the theory that women are more apt to internalize their struggle, whereas men tend to strike out. My term is impotent rage, and as we see, it’s becoming more and more of a problem. 

I have always believed that if people want to own guns legally, they should. Consenting adults should be able to do whatever they wish as long as they don’t hurt anyone. And I don’t really, in my heart of hearts think that more guns equal more senseless crime. Just more…efficient crime. 

I think that we are more apt to cave in to the fear. I, an “older man”, feel the fear well up sometimes if i’m exposed to too many commercials poking gently at my deepest fears. Impotence. Cancer. Retirement. Jon Bon Jovi. Look at the ubiquitous nature of those inescapable insurance ads. There’s Flo. But there’s also a subtle subtext. Fear. You’re gonna get sick. You’re gonna get hurt. You better get ready, fucker, for the judgement day. It’s coming, fatty. Take your pills. I dutifully do. And I’m not the smartest man, but I’m sophisticated enough to know when I’m being manipulated. I don’t cave in too much. Moreover, my feminine side takes over. I internalize my fear. But I also have the added advantage of already having procreated, married, domesticated. Sullen but safe. And I think that these kids, these boys, probably don’t have the perspective or the outlet they need. 

That last fella saw therapists and he fooled them. His parents knew he had problems but all the love in the world didn’t stop him. I don’t think he was lonely. I think he was afraid. I think something inside wouldn’t take another minute of uncertainty. When i was a kid i prayed to the stars that I would find someone, anyone, some girl to hold me and kiss me and love me. I remember those nights. So what kept me from getting a gun and shooting people’s faces off? Who knows? But i don’t think guns are the problem. 

In my limited understanding of the female, they seem to internalize these insecurities, punishing themselves for perceived inadequacies. My friend at work told me that this is what women do. And that’s why there aren’t many girls shooting up classrooms and shit. 

I’m not blaming TV, It’s a combination of things, including mental disease. But  don’t think the constant bombardment of young psyches via impossible images of what they think they should be can be ignored in this equation. Every new TV show features groups of thin, attractive, well-groomed characters staring dolefully into the camera. Only comedy can accommodate we fatties. Only Mike and/or Molly feel our pain. And it’s constant. And it’s unrelenting. Online. On TV. In music videos and shit.


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2nd amendment is the best amendment. Are there other amendments?

It’s called the “Second Amendment” because it takes a “second” to dismiss all rational debate regarding it’s relevance circa 2014. And those of them that wish to couch this latest latest latest bad apple run amok as a mental health issue (oh NOW you care about health care…I bet the ACA would be good for that), I’ve decided that the abnormal and rigid canonization of the second amendment uber alles is in and of itself a mental issue. You’re a ticking time bomb, Cletus. 

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Bumper Stickers.

Why, if you think about, do you have bumper stickers on your car? I was forced to buy a new car a month ago after Cletus gave me the ol’ “what fer” regarding my 2002 Saturn Vue’s incessant whining and thumping. It might make it to work. Might not. Might last a month. Might not. Gon’ cost ya. How much? Hard to say. Don’t rightly know.

Desperate is no way to walk into a dealership. But desperate was I. And I came out of the fracas with a shiny new Ford Fiesta. YES, foor the hundredth fucking time, they STILL make them. Or  should I say they “again” make them. Whatever.

Last time, flush from a 2008 victory by me ‘n’ Barack, I had one of those “We did it” bumper stickers sent to me, and I placed it proudly on the right ass of my black mariah. He looked more like a pensive robot than anything else, but still, it was my first political adornment of the vehicular variety.

This fucker was hard to remove, after my disillusionment at his failed drug war policies and continued surveillance acquiescence. But it wasn’t worth it after a while, and besides, I still like the guy.

The thing is, what was I trying to say? And to whom? Why would anyone behind me care about my political leanings? Was I gonna change anyone’s mind? If Hitch couldn’t do it, I sure as hell wasn’t going to. So why bother? Do you have bumper stickers on your car? Why? When I see a stick-figure family, I think “abduction”. I don’t know why. But the one that really makes me cringe is this one:

Why? Is someone behind you going to curb their seething hatred based on a number of fictional characters based on having to sit behind your fumes? Seriously, not to be glib, but what are you thinking? Are you smug about showing off to the world that you do, in fact, want people to not take up arms based on some crazy book? NO ONE wants that. The others want you to lay down and renounce. Violence being a messy byproduct of non-assent. But I just wonder if you think you’re going to change someone’s mind. I guess I’m as bad as anyone, having been caught up in the sweet zeitgeist of 2008, so maybe I should just shut up.

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Nancy Ann Neal Lee


Nancy, like me, was the subject of merciless taunting in school. Because of her weight, and because we both were forced to hunt for the cleanest dirty clothes in the never-emptied hamper in the bathroom. My mother didn’t do laundry because she never bothered to get the washing machine fixed. So I know exactly what I went through and I can only imagine how difficult it was for Nancy. I’d ask her occasionally in our adult years, but Nancy wasn’t the kind to reflect on the bad times. See, she had this one quality that I and almost everyone else who grew up in that shithole neighborhood lacked. And that was grace. She never hurt anyone. Even though she had every right to be bitter and spiteful. She never hurt anyone.

She met one guy who cared deeply about her and there were no games. As if the two of them realized quickly upon meeting that that was the anchor they both sought. That had eluded them in the past. She and Ken got married and never stopped loving each other. I can’t tell you if they were good parents or not, but I CAN tell you that through good times and bad, Nancy never changed. Somehow, through her terrible childhood, through the relentless taunting and perpetually shifting earth beneath our feet, she had escaped drug free, alcohol free, and bitterness free.

Nancy and I had a couple of spit fights when we were teens.  Spit fights. Owned an Osmonds album or two, Grand Funk, and, inexplicably, “Head” by The Monkees. She sang. I have a recording of her, Paul and I doing “Never Ending Love”. I forgot that she got me and my band our first “paying” gig at a CB party. I talked about that elsewhere. She had rhythm. She could play “I Love Coffee, I Love Tea” on our living room chord organ. My father taught her how to play it. It was her go-to. All black keys! I wonder if she ever showed her church friends that song.

She talked on the CB radio and made so many good friends that way. Why was it so hard to meet friends in school but so easy thusly? I’m guessing that they didn’t judge her weight. Or her wardrobe. Or anything else. They heard her voice first, her smile and intelligent words second, and then they saw her body and didn’t give a shit. Her voice broadcasting from her bedroom cut through our house’s electrical thingie or something. All I know is that when Paul and I were trying to record our next cassette album, our rock and roll would be interrupted by BREAKER BREAKER THIS IS TOPAZ KQD8427 HOW BOUT IT PUDGE ?YOU OUT THERE ? Grrrr. We complained and we worked out a schedule whereby our “studio” time would not interfere with her CB time. She’d have her friends over and do the latest dances in our living room. Things like the LA Shuffle. KC and the Sunshine Band. Steve Miller. Slightly before disco.

And I do believe that some remnants of those halcyon days still ripple into our lives. One of her CB friends taught me how to play “Lyin’ Eyes” and do harmonics. One gave me cocaine. One of her girlfriends wrestled me to the ground in a delicious misunderstanding, making my husky plaid slacks fit poorly. But more than that, those times, I believe, gave her the confidence to forget those school assholes and remember that she deserved to belong. Deserved friends. Deserved fun. Deserved love.

And when she got married you sorta knew it wouldn’t be a tumultuous pairing, because she wasn’t that type of person. Unlike so many of us who grew up in Winchester, she wasn’t lost or scandalized, violent or drunk.

Many people knew her better in her adult years, but I can say that no one knows as much about what she went through in her childhood as I do. I can say also, happily, that she made it out and led a good life. Too brief, but who’s to say?

When people offer their condolences on Facebook and whatnot I remember the stories Nancy would occasionally tell about those people. She forgave them. She understood them.  But death or the perception of death somehow makes these folks forget what they did, as if death is the end of a game well-played. “Good game, Nancy. Sorry about mercilessly making fun of your body back then. No hard feelings?” Nancy wasn’t bitter, but I never said that I wasn’t. And the scars these little fuckers inflicted on me and her and probably you are ours to bear. Good game. Nice one. After all these years, let’s forget it and move on. To even talk about it would make us petty and strange. We’re the idiots. 

I always tried to make her laugh. And I always could. And she me. She knew me well enough to not talk about religion, even though it was a big part of her life toward the end. She sang his praises in health until the day she wasn’t healthy anymore. We never debated the existence of god or jesus, and maybe that’s another one of her graceful conscious choices. See, she prayed every day, and as far as I can see, god gave her a pretty inglorious ending. I won’t go into detail, but what kind of god would do that sort of thing to one of his best angels here on earth? She was terribly young and deserved better. Or maybe not. Her life was going to be a straight line of routine and comfort until the end anyhow. She was happy. What possible reason could there be to yank her from our world? There is no reason. There is no deity. There is no reason. No benevolent god would do this.

I honor her by making peace with the sasha. The tales of her goodness on the living earth are the best means by which to honor her. Call me cray cray but it seems to me that instead of picturing her with the angels playing Foosball and watching her stories, we best honor her by celebrating her humanity and wisdom. Her fidelity and grace. She’s not an angel. She was a woman and she died. My sister lives on in my memory, not in some hope we’re going to reunite at the big buffet table in the sky. With working washer/dryer.

I didn’t go to her funeral. Funerals are for the living. I made peace with Nancy after high school, and we sat and talked last summer in Gowanda and every time I was in town, on the phone birthdays and holidays and when someone died. It was how I want to remember her. I, her only brother, do not need condolences from people I haven’t seen in decades and probably won’t see again. In a very real sense, most of the family I knew in Buffalo have chosen to be or were chosen by me to be ghosts. What possible solace could they give? Was I going to go all that way to hold my tongue? I’m an adult and I’m not one to edit or censor myself. I have few friends, but the ones I do have have my eternal loyalty. The ones I chose and who chose me. I mourned, oh yes I did. Not being a religious person, I made the decision to do what I needed to do to get me through.

Play basketball with Holden and help with homework.


Rich Stadium

I heard some lady complaining about the economy. How all she could afford, after all her bills were paid, was formula and diapers. I think the formula is probably giving her diarrhea, which was why she….you know…

I was watching “Chisum” on TV. There’s a line in it that Jesse James killed a man at the age of 12. Sorry, but no twelve year old can be called a “man”.

When I get that tangy silver-tasting feeling of steady-pumping rejection from people I’ve never met, like today, I am taken back to a conversation I had with a really fine local singer/songwriter, half of a duo, who released what is one of the finer local releases I’ve ever heard. She told me that she would on occasion DJ at a local college station. Shortly after her CD was released, she looked to see if they had included it in their rotation. She found the CD with the words “don’t bother” written in black marker. I’m not sure if I’m heartened or even more sullen when I think about it.

I was there in 1990. Go to 3:30:

We were sitting in that end zone. And when Bruce Smith almost took off Cunningham’s head, the noise was incredible. And when he escaped and completed the pass down the field, we all sat in stunned silence for an hour. And even though the Bills won the game and continued what was a charmed season, and even though the team, our team, achieved what we had all prayed for for so long, only to rip our hearts out, that’s the moment that stands out for me.

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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,600 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


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