My advice to the me of the past. Since the me of the future clearly cannot read.

The words you’re about to say. Remember, you’re there and they’re there for the same reason, and it’s extremely unlikely that if the circumstances somehow changed tomorrow, if the gravity holding you all together somehow set you all free, that you’d see even the closest of them together more than once or twice subsequently.

The words you’re about to say seem totally logical, even kind. Even generous and sweet, but no one wants to hear them. Don’t say those things. Remember I told you this in high school, and in college, and in job after job after job, and still, somehow, you just don’t listen.

The words you’re about to say, no matter how kind or funny you think they are…they’re neither to the audience you’re aiming them at. You’re coming off exactly as you have always, and always will, it seems until you learn that simple rule.

Shut up, sit down. Do what you’re here to do, WHEREVER that is. Be kind. Be blind. Be hard to find. Be simple of mind, and one step behind. But no more. But no less. But no more.

You are smart and funny but you’re also broken and sad. Remember that when you see a broken vessel, the less you move it, the less leaks out. You are what you are. But there is a time and a place to be what you’ve become. Some people never find that place. That’s just the way it is. Think of your gifts. How can you blame someone who can’t see them for not thanking you for sharing them?

Adrian Peterson and Led Zeppelin walk into a bar…

By all accounts (and there were exactly two, which was actually pretty good for the spanse of time), my Great Great Grandfather Lawrence Neal was a surly bastard. He was always angry, and he had one good eye. He married way above his station, as all the Neal men do. His wife, Lavina, came from a pretty good bloodline of entrepreneurs and soldiers. Lawrence was drafted by the wheel the week the war ended. The week the war ended!

A horse kicked him in the leg, leaving him infirm and probably in agony, alone on his big farm for a few days before he died of his injuries.

My Great Grandfather Carlton was a lumber man, putting his sons to work in same. This was in Brookville, PA. No one has ever heard of it. I ask people from Western PA if they had but they never do. I never met him or any of my great grandparents (or even my grandparents), but if one were to judge by the shifty, drifty lives of his sons, he was a shitty parent. He probably drank a lot. I know his sons did. And their sons. I won’t go into much detail here, but there’s been lots of sadness in my family. Infidelity. Abuse. You know, stuff NFL players do.

My dad and mom drank a lot. This I know for sure. And I can say without a doubt that, while being raised by alcoholics can inform your decisions during your formative years, it doesn’t make you put that stuff in you. YOU do that.

I have no sympathy for Adrian Peterson.  He must have thought that fame and fortune meant he didn’t have to practice birth control. Even the real Vikings that Robert Plant sang about knew more about birth control than AP seems to. In fact, in the first studio run-throughs of “The Immigrant Song”, he sang a since-discarded third verse about that very topic. Lost to posterity.

He shows himself (AP) to be a careless hedonist who probably thinks he’ll never have to pay for his boot-knockin’ ways. Well, Robert Plant probably did, too, but he was British. And white. Wait a minute……..

Oh, wait. I was talking about beating the shit out of his children and neglecting the other kids he fathered. He told the kid to get the “switch” because that’s what he learned from Lawrence Hilton Jacobs in that dreary Jackson Family bio-pic. But he didn’t have to hit that kid. It’s not that he learned that behavior. it’s that he never learned what it meant to be a real father. Now he’s tweeting this prattle:

I ask again: What god abandons his children?

I don’t drink. And I REALLY don’t drink in front of my kids. It’s a choice I made, as an adult, not to put alcohol in my system in their presence. You’d….ha…I get it…”Presence”….You’d think a fine college like Oklahoma would have classes on this to prepare their gladiators before they go on to professionally gladiate.

He had a choice. He made the choice to make his kid go get a stick to have himself beaten with. That takes a little time. Go ahead. Time your kids doing it. How much time do you have to ponder what it is that’s about to happen? It’s not impulse. It’s not learned. It’s a CHOICE.

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Writing and recording.

Hard to do in a vacuum, it’s true. Still, I have some people waiting to hear and perhaps invest some time or intellectual energy. Sitting in front of a DAW with my Les Paul and some pieces to glue together. I’ve also decided to keep pushing the last CD because it’s bloody good!

Blurred Lines and Infinite Choices

I’m all alone for the weekend. I suppose I should feel ebullient and free on some level, but in my heart of hearts, it only reminds me that I am bad at making choices when faced with an infinite array of outcomes, all written and produced and starring me. 

I set out to buy a lightning wire (probably the 5th I’ve bought due to attrition, poor craftsmanship or misplacement) at Best Buy. I still want to get that sound bar for the TV. They’re offering it up for $199, and I do have that credit card that they foolishly gave to me back when I used and returned that iPad last year. But I walk by and walk by and walk buy, but none of them jump into my arms, so I keep on going. Next time. 

I remember the girl at the cash register, as her small talk was a little more nuanced and cool than most last week when I contemplated that same sound bar out loud last week as a self-birthday present. She was very Nordic and nice. It wasn’t flirting. Wigga please. It was fun. But if she makes commission she won’t be getting much from me tonight.

I want Chicken Wings .In this area of the state there’s not much at hand. I check my phone and the nearest place is downtown Durham, about 5 miles away, but it’s raining and people are driving like twitching monkeys, so I stop into Barnes and Noble. Read The John Lennon Letters for a while. He was, in a word, impenetrable, it seems to me. Also sort of a jerk. Trying to find a good reference book, but they seem to sell less and less. 

I catch the eye of a woman I’ve met somewhere before. It turned out to be the kind girl who let me have my first CD release party at that particular B&N. She was a widow in her 30′s when we met. Her husband died unexpectedly and she was just recovering when we had done business. Now she was remarried and preggers. Due in November. I said I’d send her a CD. I’ll probably just deliver it by hand Sunday when I return the lightning wire next door.

I flashed back to the day my first CD’s arrived at my house. I raced out to give copies to everyone I saw. The first person was a terrified gal in that very parking lot. Who KNOWS if she ever listened to it. 

The treacherous negotiation of the intersection from hell, 15-501 and Mount Mariah, to maybe Five Guys? Hamburger and fries? Take them home? Maybe? Too many people in line. Get back in my car and think about having shitty pizza and wings delivered from Anna Maria’s. That will set me back $20 and there’s NO consistent quality. Sometimes it’s amazing. Sometimes it’s shit. The guy delivering the stuff seems to be operating on “Friend who’s always maddeningly late but you forgive him because you’re young and free” time, so maybe not that. It’s Friday and Harris Teeter has subs $2 off. 

The girl making the subs apologizes with her eyes as I approach. No rolls left. Only half rolls. Tomato slices swimming in their death brine. The dregs of sliced onion land. She nicely makes me two half-subs, one turkey, one meatball. I’m the last sub of the day. I just ate one. It was delish. 

Bought a baguette and a pizza crust for tomorrow. See, when left to my own devices, my choices are wild and not well-planned.

Then, just past the mixed nuts and at the hard cider end-cap I run into Nordic Best Buy Girl! What a meet cute it would have been, save for the hulking boyfriend bearing peperoncini and a rugged head of tousled black hair. Damn his firm handshake. But she’s really swell, and invites me to return my lightning cord Monday when she works again. 

Back home into stand-still traffic. 

The silence in the house is disconcerting and the infinite array of choices bear down again. If I had more friends here, I guess it’d be OK, but I don’t. Those were choices, too. Theirs. I’m supposed to be productive and motivated. But I’m not feeling that way. I sort of feel homeless. 

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”.

IMG_1150[1]

 

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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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