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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

I'm not sure where to start this tonight, and my limited gifts as a writer and orderly thinker may hinder what I'm about to type, but here's my best attempt.
I just turned off the Sundance Channel. There was a movie I was watching that from what I could determine from the first ten minutes was going to be one of those movies where people in their twenties overthink romantic relationships. These movies used to define my existence, mainly because much like the characters on screen, I kept striking out in the worst way possible.
To briefly recap, my romantic life to this point has consisted of my high school sweetheart who rightfully dumped me because I grew up too slowly, a telekinetic hypochondriac art chick, an emotionally unwound actress type, a second fly-by (which led to an eventual crash) of the previously referenced telekinetic hypochondriac, a live-in country girl, a college student who was probably too young for me, a Puerto Rican divorcee who listened to dance music, a hardcore catholic, my first wife who never listened to me and FINALLY, FINALLY, Lovely Lady Leslie. Interspersed into the above list are roughly 4 other passing liaisons that flamed out for various reasons.
Love's a great thing, but every night, when I lay next to Leslie, thinking about soon being her husband, I think "What took me so long to find her?". I probably don't tell her enough that when I drift off to sleep, I get to smile at her in the dark for about 5 minutes. We've lived together just over three years (it was three last Wednesday the 22nd), and it's still wonderful.
Love is about positive release. For me, I know that for the rest of my life, the love that I show for the human race goes out in concentric circles from a single point. Leslie is Ground Zero.
So to recap, I have Leslie, Autumn, music, water and food. What else is there?

Well, there are songs.......

I owe the loyal reader(s?) a song from the now-infamous Writ Of Common Wisdom.

One of the invented raging topics currently of the American news media is the issue of gay marriage. I for one am a proponent of gay marriage. It's about time our friends in the homosexual community got a chance to see what the sting of divorce feels like. Remember fellas, its all in fun until Chip packs a moving van with all your shit and takes off.
I wrote this song about four years ago. I guess that makes me a visionary, and I have no idea why the issue of gay marriage was in my head. It may be because my first marriage was in such a horrible place and my first wife was becoming such a shrew that the little gay man in the basement of my head was saying, "Gee, is there anything I can do to help?". Luckily, I met Leslie and the rest is history.

Georgia Says

Georgia says, “I’m gonna marry my dear lady”

Georgia says, “My lady suits me fine”

Well, Georgia says, “I’ve been around

And this true love is what I’ve found

I’m sorry if it’s stranger than it sounds.”

Georgia says, “I became aware in college

And since then there has been no turning back

‘Cause I know what is right for me

I wish you would just let me be

A woman in love with a woman in love with me.”

Love comes in many colors, shapes and sizes

And life is full of one-gender surprises

Georgia says, “It’s good to love somebody

‘Specially when you know they love you back

So raise your glasses, toast our love

And even if your god above

Don’t care for it, my lady and I…

Go hand in glove.”

So there. To my friends in the homosexual community, I support you in your struggle. Good luck.

And now I leave the good reader and bid him/her peace and love.

Friday, September 24, 2004

In this early morning, I have nothing to add to the dialogue of the world. I just thought that it would be somehow important to tell the world that I'm bored. Have a nice day.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The Autumnal Equinox is here. The season of quiet begins. The seasons of Spring and Summer are for humans; more traffic, more sounds of children playing in the sunshine. The Autumn and Winter is the time for Nature to make the noise. How I shall revel at the sounds of leaves flying down the street in the wind! The stiff winter winds will burn my ears with their speed and cold, and it will be a sweet fire. The snows will come, more silent than a whisper and touch the tip of my nose and turn to water. One would think them tears if not for the smile on my face. Let the sun worshippers hide if they must. This is MY time. I look forward to that moment when I come inside from walking in the snow and remove my shoes and socks, soaked through and through from knee-deep snow. I shall succumb to winter and in my surrender, I shall find peace. I shall become bullet-proof. The remnants of Summer will try as best as they can to hang on, with a few warm days left, but Summer is just leaving the door open as it leaves. Summer sun has no sense of the rest of the world. In the same way a child will litter a room with toys that have grown tiresome, so too does summer like to leave pieces of itself for all to see. Is it the bumper sticker on the car from the vacation spot we visitied in the past months? Is it the snapshot of frozen smiling people wearing beachware in a time when the problems of the world, if only for a moment, didn't matter? Is it a lost baseball in the bushes destined to be found by the family dog? We never truly know until we decide to look.

A cool breeze at this very moment is hitting my ankles. I don't have the heart to poison this wonderful moment with one of my songs. Let's enjoy the parting of Summer and the promise that Autumn always brings to me; human silence, natural color and the removal of my allergies.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

September 20, 2004
Shank Hall, Milwaukee, WI

The year was 1983. I was 17 years old and just beginning to submerge myself into my lifelong addiction for music. I lived in the Overbrook Park section of Philadelphia, just off of Haverford Avenue and City Line Avenue. I used to take any money I could find and I would go down to Finyl Vinyl Records on Haverford. It was a record store that was run by a guy who was into jazz who never quite knew what price to put on rock records. I was into anything between the years of 1965 and 1973. I was flipping through the rock section when I came across an album with four men standing in what looked like a short forest. On the bottom of the front cover was the name of the album:

If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You

How could I pass this record up? Upon flipping it over, not only was it made in the early '70's, but among the "instruments" played on the record were "worn leather strap", "hedge clippers" and (my personal favorite) "impersonation of a friendly gorilla and assorted ashtrays". I decided that THIS was a band I could welcome into my home.
Caravan is/was a starstruck band hailing from Canterbury, England. In the short lifespan that was progressive rock, Caravan operated under the radar both due to the fault of indifferent record labels and a lineup that to this day just can't keep its butt in the throne. Like almost every other progressive rock band, they were unfairly assassinated by punk rock and disco in the late '70's. Most bands of their ilk never recovered.
When I saw the advertisement in the newspaper a few weeks ago showing a double-bill at Shank Hall consisting of Caravan and their prog-rock brethren in Nektar, I felt that this would be one of my few chances prior to the afterlife to see a unit that has become one of my favorite all-time bands.
Tonight the boys in Caravan satisfied my dreams. With original members Pye Hastings and drummer Richard Coughlin, along with erstwhile members Jim Leverton, multi-instrumentalist Geoff Richardson, lead guitarist Doug Boyle and a keyboardist with a very European name that I didn't catch that was once in the band Camel (research it yourself; this guy was amazing!), Caravan played the set I always dreamed of, and then some. All the perennial favorites were here: "Golf Girl", "And I Wish I Was Stoned (Don't Worry)", "9 Feet Underground" and the closer "For Richard", along with other songs old and new that left my ears ringing, my inner child doing an interpretive dance, and my bladder in dire need of emptying from the Guinness draft and the bottle of Newcastle thank I drank before and during the show.
I was hoping to meet some of the members of the band after their set, but they never came out from behind the magic black curtain at Shank Hall. No problem. For one night, without even knowing it, they made an aging man's dream come true.
I only have one fear now. I truly though I would never see Caravan play a concert while I was alive. They are one of the bands I figured I'd see in the afterlife. Could it be that all of my dreams on this planet have finally come true? Is it safe for me to die now? What's left? Should I be questioning my entire existence now that Caravan has played "The Dog The Dog He's At It Again" while I was still drawing breath (albeit smoke -saturated breath)? As I go to sleep, I go with the knowledge that this may be the night that I don't wake up as I'm falling in my dreams. If you don't hear from me again, it's been a great ride. Love always.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

1 AM. Leslie and I went and saw "Garden State" tonight at the local art house. I was really into the soundtrack, but unfortunately, the story line doesn't allow me to get too close to the movie. The main character went home again and all his problems were on the way to being solved. My home is here. My family is a burden to me that I would much rather keep at a distance. As the lady says, "And so it goes".
Yesterday was my exciting day. I went to buy tickets to see Robyn Hitchcock live (FINALLY!!) and Caravan (my prog-rock guilty pleasure) in the very near future. I have people coming from out of town to see Robyn with Leslie and I. That's extremely exciting. For now, I loaded up the CD changer with some selections from the Harris-Spencer Collection. I'm currently listening to "Volunteers" by the Jefferson Airplane. Man do I miss Nicky Hopkins!!
I'm enjoying the last cool night for a while. It's supposed to heat up for about the next week. I'm not looking forward to it. My allergies are wreaking havoc on me right now. It's getting tiresome for all who surround me, let alone myself. all I can do is drink lots of cold fluids.
The CD changer has moved to "In The Land Of Grey And Pink" by Caravan. I'm using this as a warm-up for the show I see in a week and a half. I love their instrumentation.

It strikes me that I owe the reader (do I have a reader) another song. Let's see what the Writ has for us tonight....
This one is strange. Did you ever pass someone on the street, or take a look around your office at the people who surround you? I do it all the time. I think often about just how many people I never come anywhere near again who pass me on a given day. That guy in traffic? Forget it, I'll never see them again. That co-worker who's leaving? Maybe, but anything past a few compulsory " how ya doin' " is something of a pipe dream. This song addresses that a little bit. In my last insurance job, there was a temp worker named Heather who, while not knockdown dragout beautiful, had something from afar than my mind's eye fixed on. It's very hard to explain with the passage of over 8 years time, but I had this idea of regretting not meeting everyone in the world. I wasn't romantically interested in Heather, but the song comes out sounding that way. I write a lot about the idea of courage. I don't have much really. About the most courageous thing I ever did was walk out on my first wife to try to build a better life for myself with the time I have left in existense. My lack of courage really stems from being shy around people I don't know. At a party full of strangers, you can usually find me somewhere near the dish of honey-roasted peanuts. I tend to think in ideas and facts and not in the interpersonal.
So to sum up, this song isn't about Heather so much as it is about my lack of ability to introduce myself to strangers. I'm getting better, but not by much. I spent too much damned time on the East Coast.

For Lack Of Courage

They tell me that you’re leavin’ without bein’ introduced

Now my heart’s a little heavy, and my soul a bit reduced

This face of yours is magic and your hair the wind itself

And these massive aching feelings, I’ll just keep them to myself

But why then am I happy that your door should open wide

Could it be that way deep down I know these feelings will subside

And then I look at you again and I knew that I was wrong

And I’ll never find the courage to walk up and say “so long”

All the times you passed me by and you didn’t say hello

You made me smile by bein’ there and you didn’t even know

But enjoy the road ahead; I hope it gives you everything

Even though to you, I know I just don’t mean a thing

Let the sun cast giant shadows back to every step you take

And I’ll laugh a little louder with my shyness my mistake

Damn, what I might have missed in this world if only for a little forcefulness.

And now it's time to move on into the night. Such beautiful winds I get here from Lake Michigan. It's almost nice enough for a seat outside.....

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

We're often told from our earliest moments of awareness that there are good days and bad days in life. The catch, as I always understood it, was that these days were supposed to be mutually exclusive of one another. Someday, I'd love for someone to tell me what this day all meant.
12 Noon - I had my annual salary review, which resulted in a raise of half a dollar an hour. The owners of my company were equal parts supportive and reproachful of my efforts over the last year, but the main thing I walked away with was the raise. I went home after my review, had a Boca Bagel (my own creation; a light bagel, with two Boca burgers, habanero sauce, jalapeno peppers and Tabasco; it never gets old) and reveled in my raise.
2:16 PM - I have been fighting with MBNA, one of my credit card companies who was stupid enough to extend enormous amounts of credit to me at the same cosmic moment that I decided that my CD collection needed expanding, for a lower interest rate. Get this; I entered a debt management plan with them six years ago. I dropped out of the debt management plan three years ago because I could finally afford to take over the payments by myself. In addition, I have been paying them a few extra dollars a month above and beyond what they have been asking for. I decided when I got my bill from them in the mail last week that enough time had passed and that I could finally tell them that I am out of the debt management plan. All of a sudden, the flunky CSR on the other end of the phone (the only redeeming quality being possessed by this operator being that she wasn't in India, unlike Capital One, whom I have dumped as a creditor because I am firmly against outsourcing American jobs) tells me that due to the fact that I am no longer in the debt management plan, my interest rate is going up 3 percentage points. After a week of pleading my case to numerous happy-sounding surrogates on the phone, they have finally reneged on that threat and my interest rate will stay the same. They informed me of this by leaving me a voicemail on my cell phone. A footnote: MBNA said I skipped payments to them way back in 1998 for six consecutive months. This is not my fault, but the fault of MBNA, who took four months to respond to the pleas from my debt management company to accept a fixed monthly payment. In summation, MBNA sucks harder than a toothless prostitute and NO ONE should accept their credit cards under any circumstances. The worst part? They are incorporated in Delaware, which is roughly the same from a tax-paying standpoint as the Cayman Islands. Delaware can offer the consumer tax-free shopping because virtually every American corporation has a dummy office in Wilmington and the suburbs of Wilmington.
4:15 PM - I met Leslie at the vet. Our cat Sadie has been deteriorating lately, so much so that she became extremely dehydrated and wasn't eating. The vet gave us an outline of a very expensive convalescense involving fluid pushes and thyroid medications for the rest of our lives, but she was 14 and that it was probably time. Leslie and I were by her side as she was put to sleep. Leslie had her longer than I had her, but from the moment that Leslie and I moved in together, Sadie became my cat. Our dog is Leslie's dog, as he prefers the company of women. Sadie could be a pest and as stubborn as any human, but she was mine. About an hour ago I could have sworn that I saw her turning the corner from the kitchen to come into the office. It turned out to be a tissue, still in the box, moving from the breeze coming in my window. I was going to start a diet today, but I talked Leslie into a pizza to salve my depression. It helped a little. What probably didn't help was watching an episode of "Dead Like Me" on videotape which involved taking a cat to the vet. We should have stuck to the World Cup Of Hockey, but Leslie prefers virtually anything but sports.
We came home from the veterinarian's office to a letter from my professional organization telling me that they had turned down my proposal to speak at their next conference this coming Spring. There goes money and accolades out the window. It would have been a nice feather in my cap, but it will have to wait another day.

We're often told that there will be good days and bad days. This day started out great and slowly deteriorated into a not-so-great day. For the first time in almost three years, I shall go to bed tonight without Sadie putting me to sleep by laying on my chest. I never believed the religious claptrap about animals not having souls. The animals are here, and they keep us company in the best and worst of times. Perhaps their souls are not as tortured as our own, but they're in there somewhere. I found one of Sadie's whiskers in the hallway after we got home tonight. I think I'll hang on to that for awhile.

No songs tonight. Just give the pets an extra rub for me. Rest in peace, Sadie.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

It's a BEAUTIFUL sunny September 4th in Milwaukee. I'm listening to Echo & The Bunnymen as I feel a soft and not-too-humid breeze flow through my window.
The Republican Hatefest wrapped up in New York this week. I watched it on TV for a grand total of zero seconds. I read enough of the news accounts of this dog and pony show to know that the Republican Party has slowly morphed into the most organized, efficient and corporately subsidized hate group in the United States. Poor misguided bastards.
I've been playing a lot of Literati on Yahoo lately (their version of Scrabble). As I meet more and more random women while playing, I find it just amazing how much more I love Leslie. I hold love in my heart for the entire world, but in order to share that with the world, I feel it is important to have a powerful example of love in your own house. I can say unequivocally that I have that now. The years of plaque and angst that surrounds my heart from being around people who made me feel OBLIGATED to love them is chipping away a little more each day. I could almost go outside and enjoy the sunshine, if not for my allergies.

And now, for the first time in far too long, I present another song from The Writ Of Common Wisdom. Now, where did I leave off...?
This is a crappy song I wrote about acid flashbacks. One of the biggest lies in America is that people actually suffer acid flashbacks. I agree with Hunter Thompson; I feel cheated that the flashbacks haven't come. This song can be viewed as my contribution to the Great American Lie and myth of what happens after you do drugs. This song also contains a lot of references to what happened to me personally when I was into acid that the reader may not understand. Feel free to ask me about all of them someday.

Flashin’ Back Again

I can’t look at that painting of the drunk clown anymore

I took him down, turned him around, and put him on the floor

Accordions are buzzin’ loud, and still they buzz some more

I’m flashin’ back again, please help me find the middle door

I’ve had an even dozen beers from the case I bought today

Nathan drank the other twelve, laughing all the way

In the August sky, I think I see a one-horse open sleigh

I’m flashin’ back again, but if I’m smilin’, I’m OK

The world is shaking madly, Lord forgive what I have done

With my pupils doing flip-flops and my sanity on the run

On Sundays when I go to church and get down on my knees

The stained-glass windows glowing there leave me ill at ease

Pontius Pilate winks at me, don’t crucify me, please

I’m flashin’ back again, God knows I’ve had a few of these

Night falls like a ton of cats since I dried out last year

I stare into the darkness waiting for a 13th beer

There’s Miles Davis in a swaying tree, and a modicum of fear

I’m flashin’ back again, I kinda wish I wasn’t here

That song is dedicated to my old friend Nathan Brodmerkel. I hope he's doing well. I may giv e you another entry later today. I've been EXTREMELY lazy lately, and for that I'm sorry.

Happy Labor Day weekend everyone. That you, organized labor, for the 40-hour work week!