Friday, August 22, 2014

DON'T STOP BELIEVING

We have a real divide going within my Senior Class of 1975.
It seems that our class song is “Forever Young”, from Dylans 1974 release, "Planet Waves". We voted on it in 1975.
Yet somehow more than half of the class has adopted the Rod Stewart version. They are convinced, as only true Republicans can be, that our class song "Forever Young" is written and sung by Rod Stewart.
The thing is while he did do a song called "forever Young" it did not come out until 1988.
But we graduated in 1975.
So, either we are experiencing some kind of time travel, or some form of revisionist history, or else my entire class sucked at math even worse than I did.
It doesnt add up, but they insist the Stewart version is OUR version.
I have offered $100 cash and a steak dinner to anyone that can produce a Pre-1976 Rod Stewart version of the song. That no one can has not deterred their belief at all.

The debate gets quite heated sometimes, and someone from the Stewart camp invariably will claim that Stewart and Dylan share the royalties for "Forever Young".
Yes, they share the royalties for Stewart's largely plagiarized 1988 version. The lyrics are almost identical, and Stewart claims he does not know how he subliminally managed to rewrite Dylans original with only a few minor changes, but to his credit his lawyers contacted Dylan and offered half credit and royalties for the Stewart version. 
To mention this only cements the notion in that camp that I am a know-it-all asshole.
So, I have taken a new approach:
“I never voted for Forever Young anyway. I cast my vote in 1975 for “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey.”


They look at  me all glassy-eyed and I’m sure it does not occur to them that “Don’t Stop Believin” didn’t come out until 1981, but at this point, what’s the fucking difference? 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

TO THE BATMOBILE



"Show a man what he expects to see, and he won't look beneath the surface." - Catwoman 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I AIN'T BLACK

I've walked down the street my whole life, sometimes smack dab in the middle. I've played football, baseball, kick the can, rode on bikes with my posse', you name it, in the middle of the street. Never, not once had a cop tell me or my buddies to get out of the street. Had some swerve to keep from hitting me, or wait until we finish our football play to pass.
But then, I aint black.


I am little suspicious that this kid didn't give the cop a hard time, maybe even belly butt him and go for his gun. But I'm equally suspicious of the lack of info the cops are rolling out here. The first shot fired in the car, then as he attempted to flee, shot in the back (autopsy disputes this), then on his knees, hands in the air when the last shots fired 35 feet away from the cruiser?(some witnesses seem to dispute this)
I'm not sure at this point any of the details even matter any more, seeing some of the images of a city blowing up on itself.
Explain it to me in terms where I don't sense excessive force was used.
The Detroit riots of 1967 started over less. I know, I was there.

Then, a heavily Militarized Police Force takes the street. All that does is turn the volume up.
I have some friends that up till now I thought were a little paranoid about a police state.
Not any more.
If I can't see your face and badge, you aren't a cop. 

"We rolled lighter than that in an actual war zone."
Veteran of the 82nd Airborne, commenting on police gear in Ferguson Missouri.
When I was a boy I watched 10,000 National Guard move into Detroit. They "rolled lighter" than this too.

“One Riot, One Ranger”
When I was a boy my daddy marched me to see this statue at Love Field at least twice a year when we flew back and forth to Detroit, and told me the story of Captain Jay Banks, and how black folks had rioted in Mansfield Texas, and the Rangers were called in. Jay Banks walked down Main Street and unlocked the Mayor and the Sheriff from out of the jail, while the wide-eyed negro rioters looked on
Funny thing though.
The story my daddy told me was not the real story. The real story is that The Supreme Court ordered Mansfield School District to desegregate in 1956, and the white folks rioted, even hung 3 negro dummies up over the entrance to the school. Peace was kept by sending the 3 black students to Fort Worth School District. Mansfield took another 9 years to desegregate, and only did so after losing federal funding.
The south, and my daddy, sure was funny about that kind of thing.


I don't have permission to print this image, but I'm doing it anyway. This is Captain Jay Banks, protecting the peace and dignity of Mansfield High School, while a negro dummy hangs in effigy over the entrance to the school.

SHE ROLLED HER EYES

I went through the Burger King drive through yesterday.
“I’d like the #1 Whopper with, no cheese, no ketchup, and extra veges. And a diet coke.” “Would you like cheese on that?” they always ask.
Always always always.
Sometimes they will interrupt me between “no ketchup, and extras veges “ to ask.
I try to remain polite and repeat for them:
 “No cheese, thank you, and no ketchup, with extra veges. And a diet coke”
They will repeat the part about the cheese and ketchup, but usually they get hung up on veges.
“Is that like the pickles?” they ask.
“Yes, pickles, tomato lettuce and onion”
They repeat back “ Pickles, tomato and lettuce”
“And onion” I remind them “with a diet coke and fries.

But by now I am a little worn out and I’m starting to lose patience. So when there is a 10 second stretch of silence as they ponder what a vegetable is, and then ask me again “Would you like cheese on that?”
Even though I know they are hard-wired programmed to ask me that,I’m probably not all sweetness and light when I scream “NO!”.
Then when they ask what kind of drink I’d like that just about does it for me.
But I’ve learned to take a deep breath, and in the softest most angelic voice I have “Oh! I would love a diet coke”.

But yesterday. After going through this exercise and getting to the window they weren’t done with me yet.
She handed me the bag and I asked if she had put ketchup in there for me.
“I thought you said “NO Ketchup” she says.
“Right. No ketchup on the burger.”
“So you want ketchup NOW? she says.
“Yes please, for my fries”

And that’s when she rolled her eyes. She really did.

But that’s OK. I figure I deserve it.

All those times at the Jack-in-the Box on lunch break with your 3 very stoned friends, 1975…
 Jack: “Can I take your order?”
Driver: “Ummm, yeah man, what did you want?”
Backseat #1:“A coke, a taco, and some fries”
Backseat # 2 “ Lemme have a Whataburger with no pickles and a shake and onion rings”
Driver “Dude we are at jack in the Box”
Backseat #2 “Huh?” (muffled laughter)
Driver: “Dude, I’m trying to order, we are at Jack-in-the Box, get a fucking grip”
Backseat #2 “Is that where they have the big Macs?” (car explodes with laughter)

And it just goes downhill from there, right?
Once you started laughing, that was it.
How we didn’t starve, I don’t know.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

SHE BLINDED ME WITH SCIENCE, FAILED ME AT BIOLOGY

Back when I was married, my wife would ask me every now and then if we could have a baby.
Finally one day she asked and I said “Well, OK, go ahead and stop taking your pills”.
She was so happy!
Then I got home from work that day, and she had all these books, and calendars, and thermometers and stop watches and big Q-Tips and stuff.
Man, she was a real go-getter! I’d be having a cigarette after, ya know, and she would look at her watch and say “Ok, time to go again!”
It sure didn’t take very long to make a baby.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

THE GRIEVING PARENTS

"The Grieving Parents", a sculpture by artist Kathe' Kollwitz who lost a son to WWI.
I saw this sculpture 20 some years ago on a documentary, and was moved by the amount of grief the artist has rendered without much detail. It stuck with me, and over the years I tried to find it again. I just found the artist and this image last week.


The way the father holds himself, and the lack of any emotion on is face reminds me of my own father.


They say the face of the mother is that of Kathe'.



"

Kathe Kollwitz was informed of her son’s death in action on 30 October. ‘Your pretty shawl will no longer be able to warm our boy,’ was the touching way she broke the news to a close friend. To another friend she admitted, ‘There is in our lives a wound which will never heal. Nor should it.’
By December 1914 Kollwitz, one of the foremost artists of her day, had formed the idea of creating a memorial to her son, with his body outstretched, ‘the father at the head, the mother at the feet’, to commemorate ‘the sacrifice of all the young volunteers’. As time went on she attempted various other designs, but was dissatisfied with them all. Kollwitz put the project aside temporarily in 1919, but her commitment to see it through when it was right was unequivocal. ‘I will come back, I shall do this work for you, for you and the others,’ she noted in her diary in June 1919.

Twelve years later, she kept her word: in April 1931 she was at last able to complete the sculpture. ‘In the autumn – Peter, – I shall bring it to you,’ she wrote in her diary. Her work was exhibited in the National Gallery in Berlin and then transported to Belgium, where it was placed, as she had promised, adjacent to her son’s grave. There it rests to this day.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

EMERGENCY ROOM 2000

I went in for a swoll up leg. I had no insurance. The bill was 2200. The Taxpayers had to eat it.
It’s a good thing they didn’t admit me that night. No telling what the bill would have been.
I wasn’t going to let them admit me anyway.
After 14 hours the doctor said “We may need to admit you”
 I told that doctor “No one is getting admitted.”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“I mean, if you are going to fix me, do it now, right here, but I won’t be going upstairs tonight.”
“Mr. Bulletholes, you could die. You could have a blood clot, and if it breaks free and hits your heart, you could die”
“I’ve been in this waiting room for 14 hours doc, and I haven’t died. Whats the sudden urgent urgency?””
“If you go to your car and try to drive home, it could break free”
“I’m sure you are right doc, but no one is getting admitted tonight. I’ll come back in the morning if I have to. But I won’t be staying tonight”
I'll never forget the look on his face.

I cant really tell you what my problem was other than just being an idiot. I just didn’t want to be admitted that night.
They ran a test and let me go.

Luckily, it wasn’t a clot.

Addendum- TWIKIWDBI has some great information on ER Room visits that might save your financial ass.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

LUMINARIAS AND THAT LONG LONELY STRETCH OF ROAD

If you ever went to Luminarias, the restaurant I worked at for four years right after High School, you might remember that there was a long lonely stretch of road, Ben Street,  just before you got to the restaurant. It was about two blocks long, no houses, just rugged terrain and grassland that is common to what they call “The Tandy Hills” along highway 30 between Beach and Oakland.
In 1977, I was a cook at Luminarias. I’d worked there about 2 years. I came in one morning with a billfold full of cash because when I got off I was going to buy  a plane ticket to go to Rapid City to see my brother. There was a small dressing room where I changed into my chef uniform, and a locker where I kept my clothes. This particular morning, I took off my clothes, set my billfold in the bottom of my locker, and stepped into a stall to take a piss. 
As I was taking a piss, the dishwasher came in. His name wasOC, and he was about half blind, and loved to sing the blues while he washed dishes.
This morning he was singing “Got to find me a part time love, hmmm, lord, I just got to find me a part time love” as he came into the dressing room.
”Good Morning OC” I said from the stall.
“Good morning”  he said back. I heard his locker open and close, and out he went.

I finished my piss, came out, finished getting dressed and then…shit…my billfold! It was gone! I looked in the locker, I checked my pockets, and then…SHIT!
OC! That damn OC! 
I went running out of the dressing room, past the dish room, and then to the back door where OC is now out on the dock by the dumpster.
“OC, you bastard, gimme my billfold back!”
“What you talkin’ ‘bout?” was OC’s reply.
Well, I checked the dumpster, I looked down the hill, I did everything but search OC. Now-a-days, it might have made sense to call the cops, but back then, it just didn’t seem like it would do much good. I was out a hundred bucks, big money for a guy making 2.75 an hour back then. Shoot, its big enough these days.
Anyway, I made it to South Dakota, and when I got back I made it a point to turn OC’s life into a living hell anyway I could. I came in one morning, and I started messing up pots as quick  as I could, taking them to OC and telling him I needed them NOW!

I’m writing it down right now, and I got to tell you I’m not real proud of it,but its my story, right?

It took a while, but poor half blind OC finally reacted. Sometime around lunchtime, he had had enough of me.
He pushed me, and I pushed him back. Then he swung at me, and I dodged the punch. Then he come at me, the way a half blind deranged mad as hell professional wrestler might come at you and I went to kick him.
But poor blind old OC was too fast for me. He grabbed my leg! Now He’s got me by the leg, and he’s running me into the wall backwards! A shelf got knocked over, dishes flying everywhere, and me flat on my back on the floor, my glasses off! Now I’m just as blind as OC, and even more helpless because I’ve never been in a fight in my life, but in a blurry haze I see him reach into a dish tray and pull out a steak knife.
A STEAK KNIFE!
What did I do? I went running breathlessly,  straight out into the middle of the dining room, customers looking up from their lunch, and I’m right next to a table where the Chef and General Manager are eating. They looked up at me, and I’m GASPING for breath.
“Whats  wrong Steve?”
“OC…OC… he come at me with a knife!” I tell them.


And that is how OC came to be fired on the spot,  dragged kicking and screaming from the dish room,vowing to “Kill my white ass”.
And how I came to dread that two block stretch of lonely Ben Street just before you get to the restaurant every morning for a while.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

THE BREAKTHROUGH

"Evening upon evening, I would weigh out bucketfuls of equal sized balls of clay.
Barbara would throw an item, say, a simple cylinder.
My task was to make many, exact copies.
I rather balked at this, I did not see myself as some sort of industrial machine! I was an ARTIST!
So this was my introduction to zen. I would do a full day's work, then, after everyone else had gone home, I would start my practice. And after a couple of hours she would come back into the pottery, and chuck all my work into the clay bin. Day after day, week after week. until, one night, she only threw about fifty cylinders out, and left three on the table. She sliced them in two, so we could see the thickness of the walls and base. "Those aren't too bad... make another twenty, and I'll come back"
...The breakthrough came on a day when I stopped thinking about what I was doing, and my conscious brain let go of the motor skills. When I came back to consciousness, there they were, lively shapes, not lumpen, but turning still."

My friend Soubriquet, on his introduction to Pottery.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

PURE POETRY

"“If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s.
There is no fixed path to enlightenment. Enlightenment is not a destination, a goal, the resting place at the end of a long journey -that’s the mind’s version of enlightenment. Enlightenment is the lighting up of where you are right now…
Take any moment. Any moment at all. This moment. For any moment is the access point.
There are never any blocks - only access points. You are not some separate entity on a long journey towards a future completion.
You are pure poetry.”

~ Joseph Campbell




Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"IT HAD GOTTEN PRETTY BAD, MAN"

Back in 1997 I was out in my driveway washing the car one morning. My wife had left me, the house was being foreclosed on, we had filed bankruptcy and I wasn’t working. I had no plan, no visible means of support, no prospects.
As I’m washing the car, I see a figure a block away, jogging down the street towards me. I can’t see his face, just his size, shape and the way he runs, and there is something familiar about this dude. The closer he gets, the more I am sure that it is an old friend of mine from High School.

Sure enough, as he approaches I can see his face,and its exactly who I thought it was. He see's me now, and there is that moment of recognition, and he stops for a chat.
We exchange the usual stuff, what have you been doing, how are you, etcetera. We hadn’t seen each other in about 20 years. I tell him the particulars of my situation, the separation, the foreclosure, the bankruptcy. He tells me that he has quit using dope, and found a new way to live.

“It had gotten pretty bad, man” he tells me.

He has about 6 months clean. He has been attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings regularly to stay clean.
“You should come!” he says. He looks me in the eye, then up and down. He can tell I’m using. I have that vacuous look in my eye, I’m fidgeting like crazy and slurring my speech. I have all the symptoms and affectations that come with being a dope fiend. Because even though I wouldn’t admit it, I AM a dope fiend.
“You should come to a meeting” he says again “”We meet at 6 O’Clock up on Brown Trail. You never have to do any dope again Steve.”

I remember looking at him like he was nuts, and saying: “Aw man, stop doing dope? You got to be kidding me. Man, I’m going through a divorce, a separation, a bankruptcy and a foreclosure. I have no job. I have too much bad shit going on here to even think about not doing any dope. Maybe when I get all this other crap settled, I can think about getting clean.”

“Ok dude, whatever” he said, and off down the street he jogged his clean no dope black ass away.

It would be another 11 years before I got clean. I would go from divorce foreclosure and bankruptcy to living in a burned out trailer and giving up entirely. And it would take the State of Texas stepping into my life 6 years ago today to get me to a meeting, and to accept what he told me that day in 1997. “Any addict can stop using, lose the desire to use, and find a new way to live.”

Funny, it was 17 years ago I saw him that day on the street.
I still see him regular, down at the group.
A friend sent me a message this morning, “Happy Six Years Birthday” she said.
Us dope addicts, we have two birthdays, one is the belly button birthday, and the other is when we get clean and get to start our life up again.
I’d forgotten all about it. I take that as a good sign, maybe.
Happy birthday to me!


Here we are back in High School during Chemistry Class.