Monday, October 29, 2012

You Know What I Mean?

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What is it that we can’t talk to each other without repeating or redefining the statement we just made?
“Did you hear what I’m saying?” or “You know what I mean?” or even just “You know?” seems to be thrown into the conversation as if we were speaking a foreign language to the person who is listening to our vain expression to communicate. 
Why don’t we just repeat what we are saying as if the other person has a hearing aid? Why don’t we just repeat what we are saying as if the other person has a hearing aid?
Perhaps we believe the other person is too stupid to comprehend the before mentioned sentence insulting their intelligence and perhaps personality. 
Sure it is one of those street phrases we pick up to copy making us hip but we don’t have to repeat it.
“You know what I mean?”


There was a time when people didn’t touch each other. Gentlemen would shake hands to seal a deal and possibly kiss a woman’s hand on introduction but most acknowledgements was a tip of a hat or a shy nod.

Then handshakes turned into fist smacks and chest bumps and people started getting a lot more physical with each other.

Hugs have now become the norm. You see it on all the television talk shows. Guest have to hug as if they were best friends to the host.  You can’t go to a party without hugging a bunch of strangers.

Perhaps it is just I protect my personal space until I physically know the other person and have become more familiar with them than just a hug.


The other day I was waiting for the truck to come by and pick-up my washer and dryer. I had no estimated time of arrival or a pre-phone call so I just waited. And waited and waited.
We seem to be waiting for everything through our entire life.
We wait until we are big enough, we wait to grow up, we wait for her to say, “Yes”, we wait for the phone call, we wait for the next flight, and we wait for the end of the day. We wait to be recognized, we wait for a raise, we wait for computer support, and we wait for the job interview.
There is even a special room for waiting.
So what are you waiting for?

Remember Me?

As usual Sunday I got up at daybreak, checked the overnight post, had a bottle of water, then went back to bed for those rem dreams and woke up to listen to “This American Life”. (I probably ought to sponsor them for it is the only program I follow regularly.)
And also as usual the entire hour was impressive. Then again it was on a subject that is always on my “top 10” lists.
A brief synopsis would be how do we “remember” those who are gone. You know, passed away, died, croaked,.. Whatever you want to call it.
One story was about a nice guy who was remembered by being a ghost. Another was about a guy who got paid to sit with dead bodies as a watcher. There was a story of a mother who had a retarded child and when she found she had cancer made videotape on how to take care of her child when she is gone. The best story was about a guy in high school who as a prank and sat in on club pictures that he didn’t belong to for his high school yearbook. I know, it was my big laugh of the day too. Yet these were all ways they will be remembered.
After feeding the chunky monkeys and the little scooters a vast amount of seed and nuts and checking for what will cause concern to us who know what a big blow can cause, I move outside to watch a team in their jailbreak pajamas, make a sandwich, pop my first beer of the day and ponder my thoughts.
As you walk in the front door of one friend’s house, black and white photos of their parents greet you. Another has photos of family members along the stairway. Albums of former participants having the same last name stack up on tables.
To some there are tales of adventure and to others the fame in their chain of continuing the line, but some just have a name and a face.
Today with all the cameras and videos every silly moment can be captured and captioned and sent around the world. What people don’t realize is these will be the memories of their next of kin.
I don’t think about myself because I will be forgotten as soon as I rot, but going through all the photos and clothing and books and favorites of another only as the “remember me” remains.
I wonder if she haunts the house that she spent over half her life in? How am I going to sell this place with a ghost? Shoot maybe I’ll haunt this house.
Maybe the immediate children will cherish the clothing or accolades or pictures, but will the grandchildren? Then again that is about “family” which I will discuss later.
So as a friend tells me, your legacy is the memories of others.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Before the storm gets here


All the weather guys and all the news guys are scaring the be Jesus out of the community by telling us there will be hurricane winds and rain and power lost.
Of course we all know they are in cahoots with the grocery stores so there will be long lines at the store for milk and bread and cereal and can mushrooms and spices and frozen pizza and all the other essentials needed to make it through the weekend.
So like everyone else in the burg, I decide a list of things I can consume if the power is out and proceed to the store. During the ride I look at all the Halloween spider webs and tombstones decorating all the yards and wondering what happens when the wind picks up to 40+ mph. Then I wonder what will happen to all those political signs that dot the neighborhood. Then again there has been a lot of construction in the neighborhood so maybe there will be boards flying about. I’m looking forward to the Tuesday or Wednesday ride to see where all this stuff lands up.
So the local grocery isn’t too bad but there are the usual folks who stare at the shelves as if deciding if they needed any of those items they are looking at or just staring at the packaging hoping they will talk back to them.
There is a certain feel in the store of impending doom so I figure all the bread and meat and cheese and a couple cans of soup and chef boy are dee will tie me over until the world settles back to normal.
I guess all the other white haired old guys driving around the parking lot had the same idea. Thankfully the diversion of the ladies from the local gym must have finished their palates class and decided to load up on carbs.
I knew not to go near the local alcohol store since the weather reporters were already saying stock up on booze and party food. I bet they said the same thing in Haiti.  A load of guys were checking the beer aisle so I reminded them a storm was coming and they got a laugh. I’ll load up tomorrow, maybe two runs, because nothing says “hurricane” better than “alcohol”.
Candles? Check. Batteries? Check. Cash, in case I have to wander out and forage for food stuffy? Check.
And when the power goes out? I’ve learned to entertain myself with battery headphones or acoustic guitars or if the wind blows really, really hard maybe bang on the drums or even writing with pen and paper or maybe just sitting on the porch and enjoying the natural show or just taking a long nap for there is nothing else to do.
Hopefully everyone will come through what is called the “Frankenstorm” with minimal problems and we can all comment on Facebook how you survived the big blow.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Looking for a Laundromat

Have you ever been looking for a Laundromat? They used to be on every corner but it seems they have gone the way of pay telephones and mail boxes.
So after passing on the fourth washer /dryer I started thinking about how will I wash my few meager clothing and pair of towels and sheets during the time the kitchen is being redone?
It may only be a few days but I’m sure it will be weeks so I figured I would look for the closest Laundromat. I goggled Laundromat and the map showed only a few sites. So I hopped on my bike and went to the ones in my neighborhood that I remember from childhood. One was closed and being refurbished into a corner fern bar and another one was just taking in laundry from another site. Do they still have machines you can fill with change and wait for it to churn through the suds?
I remembered the Laundromat from college where I would spend Sunday afternoons. It was a grimy place on a corner. A few years earlier it was a drug store with a soda counter but someone bought it, moved in some washing machines and a coin dispenser. Some ashtrays were scattered about and some left over magazines scattered the small flat space everyone used. There was no heat except from the dryers and no air-conditioning except leaving the door open.
Then again the Laundromat did have some positive qualities. You could smoke whatever you wanted in there, you could drink beer, you could meet girls and check out their underwear, and some say you could catch up on your homework. There was always someone there when you took your laundry in. The winos would wander in just for the crazy conversation and the homeless would sleep on the benches. The floors were sticky but you didn’t want to know why.
Not too far away I found a neighborhood Laundromat. It looked pretty clean and wasn’t packed with people but it was 3 PM on a weekday. I’ll have to go back because I didn’t even go inside to see how much those machines cost now.
In the meantime of getting the floor replaced and cabinets installed and purchasing a stackable fifth washer/dryer unit, I might just stand in the shower fully dressed. That is true multi-tasking.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Living in Seclusion


So I’m sitting on a deck enjoying the sunshine, a cup of coffee, and the conversations going on around me.
 I usually don’t come this way but since I’m tearing the kitchen apart I am doing without hot water for coffee so since I was going to the post office to mail my jury duty acceptance information I decided to stop by the grill.
 Now coffee is coffee to me. It is just dirty water. I don’t go those fancy shops that sell cardboard cups and cost more than it should but instead try to accommodate my desires at the local mom and pop.
 This place used to be one of the last true mom and pop places in the neighborhood but was sold last year and cleaned up and revitalized with still good prices, a little more room, reasonable menu so it can reflect the yuppie west end college crowd and still feel comfortable.
 Overhearing the conversation going on at the next table it reminds me of the “This American Life” that I woke up to. Between checking their electronics they laughed about the music they heard yesterday at the Richmond Folk Festival. That brought a smile.
 Yesterday I too went to the festival hoping to hear some of the music that is only played Saturday night on NPR. Unfortunately I forgot about “the people”. This festival is probably the biggest event in this small burg so everyone (and I mean everyone) comes out on this warm fall day to drink overpriced watered down beer, eat fried foods, and listen to performers they would never buy or listen too again. So I left.
 Now people in themselves are bad. Some are interesting, some are exciting, some are boring and some you don’t need to bother about.
 Yet it is much more comfortable to be back home in my sweats, college football on the screen, critters running amok in the sun splattered yard, and a cold beer.
 Now if this is reclusion then this is what it is. I remember hearing “I’ve lived within walking distance of this place all my life.”

A recluse is a person who lives in voluntary seclusion from the public and society. The word is from the Latin “recludere”, which means, "sequester."
 There are many potential reasons for becoming a recluse:
* A personal philosophy that rejects consumer society
* A mystical religious outlook that involves becoming a hermit or an anchorite
* A survivalist may be practicing self-sufficiency
* A criminal might hide away from people to avoid detection by police
* A misanthrope may be unable to tolerate human society.
 It can also be due to psychological reasons, such as posttraumatic stress disorder, apathy, an autism spectrum disorder or avoidant personality disorder.

Friday, October 12, 2012

On Memory Lane

While on memory lane I collect my thoughts of ole friends who passed through my life. Some say we may be remorseful with our ancient purchases but I consider it a part of the life experience.
We find an object that will teach us, maybe even train us, and we can purchase it and take it home and continue to learn.
So through the years, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to touch some of the finest and some of the worst.
Some were traded, some were broken, some were sold and some were acquired in the most devious manners. Some were terrible purchases and some were jewels.
Now only a few remain but they were all teachers creating an appreciation for the finer ones that are now within reach.

Just Another Project

After a morning of avoiding bad traffic while riding with the flutterbys, then going for another visit to a bad music store and leaving empty handed and wondering why I went at all, I started on another project.
I’ve already sent a note to having the washer and dryer removed next week and already have the estimate for replacing the floor and realize the weather is getting colder so the kitchen replacement must get started.
This is what happens when you retire. You have to have projects to keep you going everyday.
Past couple of years has been house repair projects and this is the last one on the to-do list, thought there will probably be more that I don’t know yet. There are still plenty of projects for “me” that I’ve avoided but are still there.
And I’ve rewarded myself with too many toys after a project is complete.
But all work and no play makes…. well you know.
So I created another project just for myself.
Through the years I’ve written some music.  Nothing real good but it is sort of a musical diary.
So to keep myself playing, I’ve decided to record them all. Not for any money but just for myself.
This project was easier with the technology available and having all the instruments and all the time to record, I’ve decided to break them up by the years they were written and make records.
Taking a break from the dust and the stress I can pick up a guitar, pull out the old blue notebook with all the words and started the computer recording. Thought still rough the idea comes out sometimes with surprises I hadn’t anticipated.
Some were written for bands and some were solos. Some are historical pieces and some are dreams. Some are outrageously funny and some are personal.
So between the destruction of the floor, awaiting the delivery of the cabinets, listening to the installation, placing the appliances, installing the plumbing and of course painting, I can waste away the winter with recording and burning CDs.
What some boys will do to be distracted.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Burning Down The House


Watch out, you might get what you're after
Cool babies, strange but not a stranger
I'm an ordinary guy
Burning down the house
Hold tight, wait 'till the party's over
Hold tight, we're in for nasty weather
There has got to be a way
Burning down the house
Here's your ticket, pack your bags, time for jumpin' overboard
Transportation is here
Close enough but not too far, maybe you know where you are
Fightin' fire with fire
All wet, hey you might need a raincoat
Shakedown, dreams walking in broad daylight
Three hundred sixty five degrees
Burning down the house
It was once upon a place, sometimes I listen to myself
Gonna come in first place
People on their way to work said, "Baby what did you except?"
Gonna burst into flame, go ahead

Burning down the house
My house is out of the ordinary
That's right, don't want to hurt nobody
Some things sure can sweep me off my feet
Burning down the house
No visible means of support and you have not seen nothin' yet
Everything's stuck together
I don't know what you expect staring into the TV set
Fighting fire with fire

Burning down the house

Burning down the house

Burning down the house

What your favorite album during college?


The question was asked and I had to think somewhat about it. I asked my friends and got varying replies of unknown. So I decided to find an answer to this befuddling question.
Since college started in 1967 and ended in 1971 I made a list of the top albums of those years. Then I scanned what I have left of my record collection looking for that one album that stands out from all the rest.
Being that college is the time to grow up or at least experience freedom for the first time and that the music of that period was pretty powerful this was going to take some real research.
By the beginning of college, the summer of ’67, the Beatles has already released “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” which ended the British invasion pop.
The Stones answered with “Their Satanic Majesties Request” while waiting their drug charges and The Who stopped playing James Brown covers and produced the mini-opera in “The Who Sell Out”.
New psychedelic sounds were making waves. The Small Faces released the trippy “Itchycoo Park” and Pink Floyd in “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” presented strange echo sounds in long drawn out songs. Album production was becoming much more intense and the sounds produced were not like anything heard before. An American guitarist who went to England and came back as the Jimi Hendrix Experience producing “Are You Experienced?” with sounds that could only be felt live the next year.
From the west coast came the sweet harmonies of the Jefferson Airplane “Surrealistic Pillow” and rhythmic changes that Love introduced in their jazz-fusion “Forever Changes”. I was introduced to Jim Morrison’s poetry in “The Doors” as a birthday present.
New York brought the raw city sounds of the Velvet Underground and their leather feedback under junkie lyrics.
As hair grew longer and new people brought new elements and experiences the music was the background soundtrack.

By 1968, the music was getting more powerful and maybe a little darker due to the politics of the time. Elvis was still king. Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash were leaning from the country sound to the pop sound.  Fleetwood Mac and Them were still covering the blues sound, but the horn sound of Blood Sweat and Tears was enlarging the sound. Frank Sinatra and Duke Ellington were singing together.
While Blue Cheer broke the sound barrier and had to be recorded on a pier for “Vincebus Eruptum”, Vanilla Fudge did long covers of “The Beat Goes On” and The Mothers were “Only In It For The Money”.  The United States of America came out with an interesting sound in an album “The United States of America”. I don’t think I still have that album. The Electric Flag with Mike Bloomfield’s bluesy guitar and sleepless nights presented “A Long Time Comin’” and The Move were still a strong bass and drum mover when they released “The Move” while Joni Mitchell had a “Song to a Seagull”. Moby Grape, an unappreciated band turned out their second LP “Wow/Grape Jam”. Sly & the Family Stone started a new groove with “Dance to the Music” and the Amboy Dukes continued the drug groove with “Journey to the Center of the Mind”.
Frank and the boy’s gravy became lumpy so I’m glad they didn’t pour it over “Ogden’s Nut Gone Flakes” by the Small Faces.  Great album and great packaging but never hit the billboard chart. Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass was presenting light jazz with covers of girls in whip cream and two men and two women from California presented “The Mamas and The Papas” and Monterey Pop.
Iron Butterfly did a sloppy drunk song for “In-A-gadda-Da-Vida” as Pink Floyd continued their mystery music journey with “A Saucerful of Secrets”. Pentangle was bringing back the English folk feel and a Californian songwriter was becoming present with “Randy Newman”. The Grateful Dead was doing some trippy experimentation on their second album “Anthem of the Sun” as were The Moody Blues with “In Search of the Lost Chord”. Some live albums were taking form like the “Super Session” of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper and Stephen Stills.  Then a strange broadway soundtrack hit that tried to capture the feeling of the times called “Hair”.
The Byrds had become cowboys, Donovan wasn’t sure where he was, James Brown was burning up the Apollo, George Harrison was experimenting with “Wonderwall” soundtrack and electronics that were being produced by the synthesizer.
The Beatles put out a conglomeration of the “White Album” , The Kinks were at the “Village Green Preservation Society”, The Nice covered classical with a punch in “Ars Longa Vita Brevis” , John Mayall wandered into “Blues from Laurel Canyon”, Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band had “The Doughnut in Granny’s Greenhouse” and the Mothers of Invention went “Cruising with Ruben and the Jets”.
James Taylor brought his sweet baby face and Stevie Wonder brought a funk “For Once in My Life” and the Stones were having a “Beggars Banquet”. The Monkees were trying to be hip(py) with “Head” but they were too cute and it was too late.
The Soft Machine, an early jazz-fusion band that front Jimi Hendrix, made an album of the show I saw and took about 40 years to find another copy.

By 1969 politics had taken over the music and the media. The Beatles were riding their “Yellow Submarine” and working through their last studio album “Abbey Road”, Three Dog Night brought an early disco sound, Led Zeppelin brought the heaviness, while many bands couldn’t figure where to go so they came out with “Greatest Hits” albums. The Byrds and Bob Dylan went country with The Band, the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Hollies offered up Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The Who extended their rock opera theme with “Tommy” and the theatrics of rock started cross-dressing with Alice Cooper, David Bowie and Elton John? The Nice continued the classical organ sound with “The Nice”, Zappa did a solo jazz album called “Hot Rats”, Elvis moved from Memphis to Vegas, Pink Floyd produced a double LP “Ummagumma” which is probably the best trip album, and King Crimson came onto the scene “In the Court of the Crimson King”.  Southern rock started changing the forms with The Allman Brothers Band and the Grateful Dead started recording live concerts with “Live/Dead”. John Lennon showed the split with his former group on the “Wedding Album” with Yoko Ono. Steppenwolf called out to the “Monster” and Jefferson Airplane shouted out for “Volunteers” but finally the Rolling Stones wrapped up the years with “Let It Bleed”.
Then Diana Ross presented the Jackson 5 and Merle Haggard called for the “Okie from Muskogee”.

By 1970 the music industry was in a fog of what to do next. They presented crazy people like Syd Barrett’s “The Madcap Laughs” while hanging on to old favorites like Loretta Lynn. The Mothers were back singing about hot dogs with “Burnt Weeny Sandwich”, while the music started to mellow with James Taylor “Sweet Baby James” , Joni Mitchell’s “Ladies of the Canyon” and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Uncle Charlie & His Dog Teddy”. Paul answered John with “McCartney”. Jefferson Airplane broke into acoustic blues with “Hot Tuna” and the Grateful Dead went country with “Workingman’s Dead”. Steeleye Span, an English folk/rock group, started bringing back the old mountain songs with “Hark! The Village Wait” and Pentangle joined in. Former front man for the Faces, Rod Stewart, brought his rough voice to “Gasoline Alley”.  The jazz-fusion “Supertramp” came out and Traffic made the memorable “John Barleycorn Must Die”.
The Rolling Stones were getting their “Ya-Yas Out” (which is what they learned to do, one studio album then a greatest hit album then another studio album then a live concert album) and Mick was making another movie “Performance” while Frank was getting his “Chunga’s Revenge”. George Harrison thought “All Things Must Pass” and the Kinks thought that “Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround” was the best way to fight the industry.
Slade, the first English punk band if you bypass the Who, said, “Play it Loud”. Kraftwerk took the electronic keyboard to new heights and a forward thought into the 80’s sound while Miles Davis was playing at the hippy places like “Live at the Fillmore East”. Even a slide guitar player like Ry Cooder started to make an impression on Mex/Tex sound.

In 1971 I was trying to get my footing. I wasn’t going to be drafted before women and children, I was about to graduate college, I was getting my first real job and I was getting married. I was trying to find some stability in my soundtrack.
Some artist like Janis, Jimi, James, and Brian were leaving but Elvis lived on. Other originals like Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis kept pumping out the sounds that were familiar but there was this new funky dance beat coming from Kool & the Gang “Live at the Sex Machine”.  Stevie Wonder grew up, The Jackson 5 danced, and even the Temptations joined in.
Carol King came out with “Tapestry” and all the ladies felt the beginnings of the women’s movement. Yes brought out a huge sound that wasn’t a guitar band or a keyboard band in “The Yes Album”.  The Soft Machine turned from jazz-fusion to a jazz band. Even Mary Travers of the old Peter, Paul and Mary folk days tried a single album called “Mary”.
The Rolling Stones did another compilation “Stone Age” until they got “Sticky Fingers” then another compilation “Hot Rocks 1964-1971”, Jethro Tull breathed through their “Aqualung” and Harry Nilsson found “The Point!”. John Sebastian put out a wonder single live show called “Cheapo-Cheapo Productions Presents Real Live John Sebastian” and The Nice ended their career with “Elegy” until Emerson, Lake and Palmer presented “Tarkus”.  What was left of the Move turned into The Electric Light Orchestra?
The Pink Floyd did a compilation “Relics”, former Beatle Paul McCartney and his wife Linda started what would be Wings in “Ram” and television was full of the Carpenters, Partridge Family, the Osmonds, Cowsills and Jackson 5 all presenting a commercial none-threatening sound. Music was getting soft.
Everyone from Aretha Franklin to the Mothers of Invention were recording at one of the Fillmore halls while the Who wondered, “Who’s Next”? The Mahavishnu Orchestra brought a faster jazz-fusion sound while Gentle Giant calmed us down again.  Dolly Parton had a “Coat of Many Colors” and Frank Zappa had “200 Motels”.
Then Elvis started singing Christmas music with “Elvis Sings The Wonderful World of Christmas” and Bob Dylan came out with “Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Vol. II”.

So what was my favorite album from those years in college? You’ll never guess.