Saturday, March 28, 2020

Heart Like a Wheel

 I was doing a guided meditation late yesterday afternoon. I found myself with a little story based loosely on certain memories that I had as a child. I just kind of let it play out in my mind's eye. So, the following is not a "gospel" according to Steve. It's an exercise in watching my thoughts and then just following them down the rabbit hole.

  The old man know's that this is the day. He's had a long life. But, it's had it's share of bitterness and even violence. He's lost more than he care's to think about along the way. He's upstairs and looks at his empty room. It has a bed which he refuses to die in. It's not empty of furniture and memories of the past. It just seems empty of any useful company or hope in recent years. It still has the wardrobe and the dressers and the mirror. That was their bed. He walks out on the landing and starts down the stairs.

The house is old now. Everything is old now. The giant grandfather clock is ticking. It's loud. When did it get so damn loud and why has he let it tick all these years? Oh well, she liked it. No, don't go there. Impatient all his life. He just had to have what he wanted when he wanted it. Now look. Damn loud clock!

There is the chair he must have been sitting in everyday for the past nine or ten years. A little fire in the fireplace. He likes a fire. Fires are violent and consume anything that gets in the way. He settles in the chair and know's his wait isn't going to be long. He finds himself floating. He floats above the old man in the chair. Strange because there is some connection to that old man. But, now it just looks like a dead body. Anyway, floating is so much more peaceful and honestly it feels natural. As if he has always had this ability but just didn't use it.

  Hey, where am I? I was just seeing an old man. Who are you? My what? Who? You are so bright but that light is so peaceful. I want to go home. I don't want to leave. Hey, where is she and where are all the others? I came here with them you know. I remember now. What? But, that will take forever if they are going back I don't want to wait here.

 I know. I have not shown much patience. But, I have none to show! I need to see  all of them now. I will go back. If they are late then I'll wait for them. Just let me go back.

They will be my parents? Her and him? Really? They don't care enough for each other. They won't care enough to nurture me or at least one of them will try but it's not going to be easy. That body? Wait. I'm strong and tall and I get what I want. That body won't do. Well, if I have to I guess it will have to work won't it? Them as my grandparents? Well that makes more sense. We have had some good relationships. Anyway, it's awfully early. You're sure?

  Patience? I will learn patience? That shouldn't be so hard. I'll remember. No? Why not? I understand. How will I meet up with? No? You mean the relationships will be different and that I might now even live around my tribe? Then what's the point of patience? Oh, that is the point.

Alright, I'm ready. But, I'll tell you one thing. I'm going to remember at least some of it. Good luck? What does that mean?

  So warm and secure now. I feel the rhythm of her breathing. The beating of her heart. I'm not so sure about the physical structure of this body but right now I don't have to worry. Her's will sustain me for some months now. Time again! What a joke. There is no time. But, right now I'm going to sleep. I think I'll let the body take over. After all there will be plenty of time to remember once I come out of the womb. It's not my first rodeo and I need to get started. But, first. I think I'll kind of lie back here and let the process take over. To sleep. Perchance to dream.

So, as I meditated and noticed my breathing I had the thought. I'm old again. It went so fast. But, here I am again.

That was based loosely on a memory I had as a child. I can barely remember details now. But, I would ask my mother "Who was that old man?" She would always say "Stephen stop talking crazy and go out and play." After all I was raised by my very devout Christian grandmother for the most part and my grandfather who loved me more than his own kid's. But, the concept of reincarnation wasn't a part of my upbringing.

  These days I have room and time to wonder. I don't absolutely know what happens at death. If you want the truth and I know it's hard to swallow. Nobody from Carl Sagan to Billy Graham ( except now. Maybe they both know now) But, nobody walking the earth really and truly knows. But, these are things I've pondered my whole life. So, I just kind of let my thoughts go yesterday and today I wrote it down. How much is fiction? Most all of it. But, how much is based on reality? I'm still on the journey. I'll find out. Again?

Maybe life is a dream and when we die we wake up!



Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Just one more thing.

  I"ve been watching old reruns of Columbo lately. I dvr them and then I can skip through the commercials. Watching Columbo reminds me of how fun TV can be when it's not worried about converting you to a cause or preaching politics at you. Also, Peter Faulk is a perfect Zen character as Columbo. No ego. Doesn't come bursting in yelling LAPD Freeze! Doesn't even yell about being LT. Columbo. He has this cool frumpy trench coat and a chewed on cigar and he slumps and grins and puts himself down.

One episode he walks into a soup kitchen and the nun just assumes he's in need of a meal. He takes the bowl of soup and a piece of bread and sits down in front of one of the men he wants to question. He never whips out the badge. Doesn't get insulted that the nun thinks he's a bum. It just doesn't matter. He comments on how good the soup is and talks to the man he needs to talk with and leaves. Now I don't do guru's and if I did it would be Willie Nelson. But, you could do worse than Columbo.

I think there is a great lesson to be learned here. Just breathe and give people room to be human and don't try to convince everybody else that they need your brilliance or beliefs to function properly. This also works because I've seen some social workers that had a little bit of Columbo in them. Of course I've also seen some that had a little Napoleon in them too. Ouch.

When I was working on my degree I did an internship in Honolulu, Hawaii at a place for severly mentally ill folks who were on the street. The Social Work Director of this particular facility dressed like a street person. She rarely combed her hair and wore little makeup. Frumpy dresses and was very down to earth. She didn't have a desk and didn't sit in an office. She was out among the clients all day long. A rare person in that she checked her ego at the door and demanded nothing from others that she didn't give them.

I remember later as a social worker once I was back home in Alabama being mistaken for a client in a church one day. I wasn't wearing a suit and I guess I looked pretty casual. I was asking if they had a food pantry for  the public. I was doing it on behalf of a client. The person there asked me if I needed food. Now I wasn't trying to be as humble as Columbo and I wasn't as graceful as the director from Honolulu. But, I didn't get insulted either. I am thankful for food and shelter and I hate to see people hurting. I've seen times when I wasn't sure I could afford to eat or pay the rent and it's a hellish thing. Think about that before you condemn poor folks walking across the border with their families or people who can't afford health insurance. When you can't breathe or pay your rent it's hard to be a good upright citizen.

I wonder about the people who wrote Columbo though. Did they intend to make a Zen like character? I really don't know. But, Peter Falk played him beautifully. He would always seem to play to the ego of the villian. Telling him or her how crafty they were and how perfect the crime was and then start to walk away. But, then he would pause and touch his head or his face and wave his cigar and say "Oh just one more thing." Then kaboom. They would be wrapped up and delivered to justice.

I decided once that I was going to do the Zen meditation at the local Unitarian Church in Tuscaloosa. There are a lot of smart people that go to the Unitarian Church. University of Alabama Professors and transplanted folks from the Northeast that want to express themselves spiritually but don't particularly follow the bible belt fire and brimstone religion of the local population.

 That's okay everybody has to find their own path. Anyway, I decided that since I love to meditate and it clears my mind I would sit "Za Zen." Now, the only thing is I found that Zen Buddhism is just as religious as any other religion. It's just a little different but it still isn't free from dogma. Now, personally I have no problem with Buddhism but I'm not Buddhist and wasn't looking for a new religion. The teacher or meditation leader kept having us read out of a Zen text and kept talking about "Right Thinking." It occured to me that her "right thinking" was her own dogma and understanding based on her religion. Nothing wrong with that but I wasn't looking for a new religion. I'm no longer an evangelical and I don't feel the need for a religion one way or the other personally. But, I still "Identify" with my Christian upbringing.

So even though I (and I'm not going to go into it) left the dogma of "The church" as we say in the south. I still in my mind and spirit have an image of God as personal. You don't have to agree with me. We can still be friends but I wasn't looking to start, change or modify to a new religion. That includes the secular religion of atheism which masquerade's as "science" which it's not. Anyway, I'm just trying to find my way through this universe and I honestly have no interest in old testament vengeful angry old men or in the meat puppet view of secular humanism. If you do that's fine. I honestly don't think it matters much in the long run. I do think it matters how you treat people.

But, anyway. I read about a Monk named Thomas Merton who was a very prolific writer. Like him I had decided that even though I wasn't Buddhist I did have a lot of respect for the discipline of Buddhist meditation.

He wrote that he came to the point where he realized that he didn't need to meditate as a Buddhist. He could meditate in his own spiritual tradition which was Christian. I used to call myself a Christian Agnostic which Cindy (my wife) said was silly. You can't be an agnostic and Christian at the same time. I have come to think she's probably right. Like Columbo talking about Mrs. Columbo I've come to think that Mrs. Snead might have some points about stuff. Not always. But sometimes.

But, even though I don't really believe in religion these days I do think treating others as you would like them to treat you is a good way to live. I'm also partial to the Christian concept of the Divine becoming flesh out of love for us naked apes. So, I don't think I'll be joining the Baptist Church again but I'm not into the hopelessness of everything being based on a sperm lottery either.

Anyway, I try to be a little more like Columbo these days. Listen more and talk less and allow people to be human. Being human to me means that I make mistakes. I can be vulgar and lustful and self centered. Greedy and deceitful and hurtful. Being human to me means I can be self sacrificing and giving. I can be forgiving and love without expecting anything in return or demanding anything in return. In other words being human is being able to calm myself and try to understand how the other person might be feeling.

So, I try to give people room to be human. I try not to hate or get so offended that I have no regard for the other persons well being at all. It's not something I always manage. But, I have found that if you just go on with your life and don't wait on a chance for revenge that it makes you life better. That way you can get on with living instead of being stuck looking over your shoulder waiting for the jerk that hurt you so badly to get paid back.

I have lived over six decades this time around on earth. I personally do have spiritual beliefs and they are hard earned and still evolving. I can also well understand how someone can have no belief at all in anything or anyone. But, in my experience there is a purpose for this experience. I'm not sure how to put it in a neat little one size fits all package. I don't even want to do that.

I remember many years ago when Cindy and I were dating or just married. I don't know it's been so long. But, I made an ass out of myself once at a restaurant. Anyway, not long ago I read something on the internet where somebody said a certain celebrity was rude once when they saw them in public. I remember thinking that I'm certainly not famous. But, I am a nice person. I try to treat people the way I want to be treated. But, if long ago you had asked a waitress at that restaurant about me she would have said "Him? He's a jerk." That's because I had a bad day. I'm not a jerk and I wish I could go back twenty five years and apologise. But, maybe that celebrity isn't really a jerk either. Maybe they were just having a bad day when that person who posted on the internet saw them. I guess I say that to say this. Give everybody room to be human and give yourself room to be human. You can get back up if you fall down. It's allowed.

Oh, and just one more thing.
Don't forget to Breathe.


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

I saw a deadhead sticker on a cadillac.

    I know times change and I don't like to judge people when I'm not in their shoes. It seems to me that my generation might be the last one that defined itself with Rock and Roll. Or good old Motown Soul. I know, I know. Those under 45 or so can say it. "Okay Boomer!" But, in a way I think it's true. In the days before social media and a world connected by the internet our hero's were godlike. You  didn't really see Mick Jagger or James Brown unless you caught a late night TV edition of Don Kirchners Rock Concert. Or a new album cover or an edition of Rolling Stone at the newstand. 

All I ever really needed to know I learned by listening to the radio. Trips to the record store to buy the whole damn album just to get one or two songs that I really liked. Unless it was the Eagles. I never met an Eagles song I didn't like. So in these days of political and religious turmoil and people yelling at each other and talking over each other I thought I'd list some things that I like. Things that help me find my inner Zen. My comfort. My center. 

 I have a different relationship with music though. When I listen to it then I really listen to it. Crank it up and go. I'm not one of those people that like things in my ear all day long. So, even though I can define my youth with certain songs. I get distracted with something playing in the background all day. I'm an introvert and I love to be quiet at times and just meditate, pray or think. Or read a good book. Watch a movie. Man, once I start listing I can go on and on. But, back to the subject.

Also, I play guitar (not well, but I entertain myself) and plunk at chording the piano. So, music is a little bit interactive to me. I always want to play (not that I can) everything that I hear. But, I started to think today after reading another internet post or several about the (Inbred Trumptards and the Idiot Libtards that are ruining our nation.) The people that love Jesus but have no problem slandering and not checking sources before posting crap. The people who love tolerance but want to silence all old white men and conservatives. Yeah, y'all know who you are. So, I thought I'd kind of chill and list some things I like. So, I thought I'd start with songs that influenced my youth or made me smile. Not my absolute favorite songs. But, songs that had an impact because of where I was or what I was doing at the time I first heard them.

1. Hotel California: Not the first song of my youth. I was already getting ready to graduate or maybe I already had. I really don't remember. It's not even my absolute favorite song. But, I love the guitar runs and when I did learn to at least play it where it was obvious that I was playing it. It made me smile. It's also the  title track of the first album the Eagles released after Joe Walsh joined the band. 

2. Midnight Train to Georgia: Again, not my all time favorite song. But when Gladys Knight hits those notes. That little soulful hmmm Y'all. Then you know you are in the hands of a true artist. The Pips are backing her up and everybody's moving and that train is rolling. It's the song I want played at my funeral or memorial if I have one. Cause I don't know about Georgia but I'll be on a train to another place and time.

3.Day after Day: I love this Badfinger song from the early 70's. I went to General Forrest Junior HIgh which of course fed into Emma Sansom High School in Gadsden, Alabama. Back then people didn't lose their minds every time ....No, I'm not going there. Anyway, I understand the arguments and political correctness isn't always wrong. But, this is a happy place. Anyway, there I am in the gym and this song starts playing. " I remember finding out about you." Then I'm looking across the gym and my sisters best friend and one of my best friends (same girl) all of a sudden looks kind of different. Something interesting was happening. But, that couldn't be. We had played as kids together and I had no romantic feelings for her. Anyway, this song stuck with me.

4. Hang on Sloopy: The McCoys.  Now, this one is really old. I was a little kid and I didn't buy records or even really know much about music. I mean I knew who the Beatles were and I could have named Elvis Presley. But, this song was playing one day while I was at my friends house and I think we may have even been in a tree house in the back yard. Memory is fuzzy. "Hang on Sloopy, Sloopy, hang on"

5. Dizzy: Tommy Roe: I was in Walnut Park Elementary School when this one came out. It was the first song I can remember calling "my favorite." No, it's not now. But, it was then. 

6. Slow Ride: Foghat: I can remember a beer and pot fueled summer of my wasted youth. Riding around with this one turned up. Anyway, yeah it brings back memories. Some I can't and wouldn't share here. "Slow Ride, take it easy."

7. Good Day in Hell: Eagles: Similar to Slow Ride in that it brings back memories of my youth but not in a real fun way. I wanted out of the small town of my grandparents and I wanted to be anywhere except where I was. Funny, because I miss that small town now and I think it's not so bad a place to live. It all depends on your mindset. But, anyway this one was my anthem for a little while in my wasted youth.

8. God of Thunder: Kiss: Man, I thought this was so cool back in the day. I listened to my Kiss "Destroyer" CD not long ago. But, it doesn't  hold up. It sounds a little silly and the band wasn't that good and the vocals are not really tight. But, if you were a stoned teenager in the 70's it was kick ass man. 

9. Ahab the Arab: Ray Stevens: This was an old novelty song by Ray Stevens that was old by the time I was a teenager. I mean at least 14 or 15 years old by the time I was listening to it. For some reason a local radio station played it for a little while one summer in my youth. Stoned and stupid is no way to go through life. Thankfully, I found that out before it was too late. But, for a little while and for other reasons I won't go into this song was on my hit list.

10: The Highway Man: Stevie Nicks. From the Belladonna Album. I was finally growing up a little bit. Escaping slowly from a youth that was hard to grow out of. This song connected with me in lot's of ways. I was starting to consider some different spiritual opinions and this song spoke to me of "Life already lived before." I learned to play it and I didn't play it well. But, like most amatuer guitar players I play for myself anyway. Love Stevie Nicks.

 So there you have it. I would urge you to take a break from the just so stories of your politics and don't forget to breathe. 


Sunday, February 16, 2020

Of all the gin joints.

She gave me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket....Robert Mitchum as Philip Marlowe in Farewell my Lovely.

  I love Film Noir. I'm not sure why but I do and especially as I get older. It's the fedora's the men wear. The broad shoulders and fashions on the women. The black and white backgrounds and the stark shadows and light play. I started this though with a quote from 1975's "Farewell my Lovely" that was at least 20 years after the heyday of Film Noir and Robert Mitchum was past his prime but a natural in the role even then. The film was in color but the period sets and shots worked. 

But, maybe that's why I enjoy the old gangsters and flatfoots (police) The gun molls and the wise guys. The world weary detective that has seen it all and tried it at least once. The bad girl with the heart of gold and the good girl that will split your throat and go on to the next thing. As I get older I get less romantic and more realistic. I don't expect everybody to agree with me or see the world just the way I do. I don't preach at people and don't really tolerate being preached at.

Different actors have played Raymond Chandler's creation Phillip Marlowe. From a world weary older Robert Mitchum to my favorite Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep. Robert Montgomery in "The Lady in the Lake" to Dick Powell in "Murder my Sweet." Then of course there's the Sam Spade character played by Bogart in The Maltese Falcon and other actors who tackled that role. I love the tough guy with a heart of gold detective's of those old books and movies.

Doesn't it bother you at all that you're married? ....Glenn Ford 
What I want to know, Does it bother you?...Rita Hayworth...from "Gilda." 

Of course one problem with these movies and fantasy in general is you don't see the blood and gore when a human is actually shot. You also don't see the unwanted pregnancy and the toll on others in the free sex scenes. It's fantasy. It's what we want the world to be. Cool and easy and cynical without all the messy fallout of real life. Maybe that's another reason that some of us love it. All the fuss without the muss.

Jeff Bailey: " that's not the way to win"
Kathie Moffat: "Is there a way to win?" 
Jeff Bailey: "There's a way to lose more slowly." ....Out of the Past

That above movie with a younger and stronger Robert Mitchum and a very pretty Jane Greer is from 1947's "Out of the Past" Almost thirty years before Mitchum did Farewell my Lovely. So, maybe he did figure out how to lose more slowly.

 I've been blogging for awhile now and I do enjoy it. I enjoy the blast from the past. But, I'm quite aware that my funny stories of my wasted youth often make me seem a little cooler and a lot more together than I really was. Maybe we all do that in our own heads. Cast ourselves a little cooler and little more worldly wise and a little less ignorant than we really were back in the day. But, maybe if we avoid jail and early death and either avoid or survive addiction we do come out a little wiser on the other side. Or at least calm down so that we lose more slowly.

That's life. Whichever way you turn,fate sticks out a foot and trips you...Tom Neal (Detour)

I've always said God doesn't balance his books every Tuesday. But, sooner or later everything seems to balance. Maybe now, maybe in another life. But, I totally get the world weary noir view of the world that I seem to be in sync with these days. The problem is that in my head I might be as cool as Humphrey Bogart and as big and tough as Robert Mitchum and as good looking as Dick Powell. But, in the mirror I keep seeing this little fat, balding 60 something year old that's had surgery on his ticker. Still, in my mind I'm still a rock star. 

What do you know about anything? You probably had your bread buttered on both sides since the day you were born...Raw Deal

I don't know why some people are born blond and blued eyed or tall dark and handsome while others are born with a hunch back  or a scar running down their face or to parents who don't give a damn. I honestly don't know. But, you have to get up and be better than you were yesterday. Life got a little better when I realized that I didn't have to compete with the richest or the strongest. I just had to be better than myself and at one time in my life it seemed I had nowhere to go but up. So, I got up. Well, at least I got up enough to "lose more slowly."

Didn't you hear about me Gabe? If I'd been a ranch, they would've named me the Bar Nothing. ...Rita Hayworth (Gilda)

Maybe it's the snappy comebacks and devil may care attitude of the guy's and dames of Film Noir. We all wish we were that cool don't we? I know I do. I have been able to spend more time on my interest now that I"m retired. I'm in the midst of watching old movies with plenty of wise guy's and beautiful dames and coppers and dark streets and jaded one liner's. 

You know, I don't see what there is to be cagey about, Mr. Marlowe.And I don't like your manners. 
I'm not crazy about yours. I didn't ask to see you. I don't mind if you don't like my manners. I don't like them myself. They're pretty bad. I grieve over them long winter evenings. "The Big Sleep."

 Well, in Bama we haven't had many long winter evenings this time. We had some I guess. Maybe there is something to this global warming after all. But, i still gotta put on my old fedora and tilt the brim. I'll pass quickly past the mirror though. That little old fat guy might still be around. Until next time "Here's looking at you kid." 


Oh yeah, one extra that I was thinking of:

Curly:" I smell something awful"
Moe: You're telling me. Why don't ya take a bath sometime?

I know it's not Noir but it's one of my other passion's. A sense of humor. I try never to leave home without it. 


Sunday, February 9, 2020

Why I will vote Democrat

  First let me say this is not an argument to win you over to my side. It's not a right or wrong. It's simply my thoughts on why I intend to vote the way I intend to vote. We live in an echo chamber these days. People have lost or it appears to me we have lost the ability to really look at each other. Instead we go to Fox News or MSNBC or political and religious sound bytes to tell us what the other person is really like. So, we have a distorted view from the start. One of the things that I found once I got on social media was how little some folks had spent the past 40 plus years since high school not thinking or really even remembering me. Gasp! The other is how little I have thought of certain folks and how few damns I really care about what some people think that I used to grovel, bow and beg for attention from. So, all of us are in our own inner world and have that feeling that things revolve around us. When in actuality things affect all of us and we are all on our own journey at the same time through life.

Most of us me included. Tend to look at other people as extra's in our own movie. Of course we have to in some ways. I mean if you got excited every time a person wins the lottery but then got crushed every time a human is suffering on this planet then you really couldn't function. So, I try to be a good person in that I try to treat others as I would want to be treated. It ain't always easy. But, that's why it's the Golden Rule instead of rule number five million and sixty six. If it was easy it wouldn't be exceptional.

Anyway, below is why I will vote Democrat the coming election. Please note I didn't say why I'm a Democrat. I wanted to.  But, then I realized that there is a difference in how I view the world and how Antifa views the world. On the other hand there is a difference in how Franklin Graham views the world and I view the world. So, I decided to say Vote Democrat instead of being Democrat although I'm a little left of any Republican that I know. So having to put on a hat in this society I wear a moderately left Democrat hat.

  Abortion: This is the hardest one for me because I see such hypocrisy on both sides of the debate. On the right you have people saying all life is sacred until they get out of the womb. Then no social services and if they are illegal then we should turn our backs on how they are treated and for God's sake don't feed em or treat them as if they are important. If they become Democrats then it's okay to label them and curse at them and make fun of them. They are Godless after all and not part of the frozen few.

 We can't expand Medicaid to help the poor momma get her child to the doctor and keep rural hospitals open. We can't worry that nursing homes are underfunded and over worked and elderly are treated like crap. After all we never get old do we? Our momma will never be in a nursing home. Right? Yeah,  it's a stupid way to act but hey it's how many act. What about the left? Refusing to even admit the being in the womb is a  human or a being. Keep calling it a fetus and never under any circumstance call it a child or a potential living being. Call out hysterics when saying what about the life of the mother. The truth is the life of the mother is and has always been first when on the operating  table. But, jailing doctors for performing a medical procedure? Telling a 12 year old that she will have a baby that also belongs to the man who molested and raped her? Really? If men had babies then you could get an abortion in a vending machine. You know it and I know it so get real.

Still it's a heart wrenching thing to go through and it leaves a scar and I don't think all things being equal there are many women who would choose it. Ironically it's the Republican cuts to welfare programs that make abortion more attractive to some.

  Anyway, at the end of the day I find myself leaning left. Not because I think Abortion is a sacred right of womanhood. But, because women are the ones who have to decide to bring life into the world. Men have made it harder for a single woman to do that and yet I find myself struggling with this. On one hand I truly think women have the right to decide over their own body. On the other I would hope they could understand that life is gift and at the end of the day it's the children that will be your rock and your hope one day as you age beyond jobs and sexuality and career. Still, how could I pretend to tell a woman she should be a mother. Who the hell am I to say that to another human. Now, late term abortion? Honestly? Most Democrats don't like late term abortion either. But, the left and right have both decided on a scorched earth policy of all or nothing. Leaving most  of us in the middle without the bullhorn of the far left and far right. So, yeah I'm reluctantly pro choice.

Finally I have to say this on the stupidity of or at least how stupid the politicians think we are. Many years ago while working in my hometown of Gadsden, Alabama a person was running as pro life for the Etowah County Commission. Really? You will be in charge of the potholes and the Kiwanis meeting on 2nd Avenue. What does pro life or pro choice have to do with it? Still, it gives you the jist of Bama politics and what they think of Bama voters.

Alabama: I was born and raised in Alabama. Some of the most kind people I know are from Alabama. Some of the meanest and lowest people I know are from Alabama. In other words it's just like any other place in most ways.

 But, being from Alabama I have a unique perspective in seeing what a right wing conservative republican majority looks like. Ya know what? It ain't pretty. Now, I often see the mess Democrats have made in California or Detroit as an excuse made by southerners when these kind of comparisons come up. But, I'm not from California or Michigan. So, I can only speak from my own perspective.  We keep electing people that make big statements on God and Abortion and Socialism. But, once in office they play nepotism with state funds and jet mistresses and cuckhold (meaning the gov'na was screwing the dudes wife) hubbies to Vegas at state expense for the weekend.

They refuse Medicaid expansion (not takin' no federal money from them yankee democrats) while rural hospitals leave the state and we suffer one of the highest if not the highest mortality rates of new born's in the nation,

They operate prisons for profit and put people in jail for smoking a plant but let politicians walk who steal from the state. They pay homage to a horrible president who says people in the south talk like they have marbles in their mouths and has allowed Mexico to absorb jobs from my hometown Gadsden Goodyear plant that has been there since 1927.

 I guess that wall has a hole in it when it comes to Donny's cronies lining pockets. When a man votes his conscience like Doug Jones did then he's a traitor. But, when a man like Sessions has his nuts cut off by Trump and then rolls over and praises Trump then he's a brave man. Let's face it Jones isn't going to get reelected in this state so he shouldn't listen to the far right's voices. They are never going to consider him. He won because the Republicans ran a pedophile against him. And he barley won then.

We can't have a lottery because it would be a sin. Yet we can fund Mississippi schools and Jawja schools all day long by crossing the state line and getting tickets. But, as long as a Republican politician only has to say the word abortion to get your vote then he or she has no other worry because he or she knows the average voter in Bama is stupid enough to vote over and over again for anyone who yells abortion no matter how much they lie, steal and throw state money away. So that's one more reason I'm voting Democrat. The republicans have had free reign over my state since the seventies and they have run it into the ground economically.

Guns: I was raised in Alabama. My family hunted. I can remember my uncle going out on frosty mornings in Altoona, Alabama and bringing back a squirrel or a rabbit and cleaning it and handing it to my aunt to fry up with the eggs and biscuits. I remember the first time I shot a 12 gauge. It kicked the snot out of me but I hit what I was shooting at. Now later I of course learned that shotguns spread so hitting a close target wasn't that big of a deal. But, you can't tell a 8, or 10 or even a 12 year old that. I felt like I was Dead Eye baby.

 So, unlike many liberals from other areas of the nation guns were not some evil thing that only bad people had. Still, I don't see why anybody minds registering a gun. Honestly having a gun doesn't make you a big man. Any idiot can and often does pull a trigger.

 But, it also doesn't make you an idiot to have a gun for protection or just because you like to shoot or hunt. I think most Americans are okay with registering a gun the same way you register a vehicle. Just common sense.

Automatic weapons? Well, honestly even President Reagan wanted some control over those. But, we seem to be yelling at each other over what an automatic weapon is these days. But, if we stop bowing down to the NRA in a knee jerk fashion and also stop acting as if the average gun owner who registers their weapon is a criminal then maybe we can have an honest conversation.

  So, at the end of the day I'm for private gun ownership but also for registering and having restrictions on firepower when a person is a felon or mentally unstable. I'm not for open carry. Most people aren't.

I have seen y'all when somebody cuts you off in traffic. My God, I'd hate to see some of you with a freakin six shooter at your side when somebody looks at your woman's tits peeking out of her halter top or bumps you in the street. Sorry  but my momma always told me plain talks easy understood so I am just talking honestly and plainly. We also need to be honest about the violence that black folks are doing to black folks in the inner cities and stop trying to be political about it. We need all people of all colors to engage honestly on controlling violence. But, instead we shout each other down and retreat to our echo chambers.

Health Care: This is the one thing I will never understand. I have seen people living in rentals and mobile homes and working two jobs and cursing Democrats. Why? Because Frankie Graham and Rush Limbaugh and Donnie Trump told them that the Democrats are evil and want to socialize medicine. That good health isn't a human right like clean water or shelter.

These same people who can't afford to go to the doctor but vote for people who have lifetime healthcare provided for themselves while denying your right to be treated without it being tied to a job that you are lucky enough to have. But, if you get laid off or the company decides to stop coverage then you are shit out of luck.

If you have a heart attack or get cancer then you will gladly go to the ER and get help and if you can't pay for it let the taxpayer eat it. But, you would never vote to allow someone else the same opportunity to get help. I honestly know people who have done this and then get behind a pulpit and rail against healthcare on Sunday morning.

We don't have to be a socialist nation and go third world in order to make health care affordable. Obama Care on one hand gave me the opportunity to retire after heart issues from a very stressful job. On the other hand I have friends that Obama Care nearly broke with it's demand of penalties and rates.

But, surely we could either fix it or come up with something that will take care of those who are vulnerable and yet not break people who are working hard to stay above water. I think we can. I think Romney and the Republicans had a plan at one time. But, the Tea Party has done to the Republicans the same thing the far left has done to the Democrats. They have bastardized it to special interests.

God: This is personal to me. I was raised a Christian. I will always be Christian in many ways. I no longer believe in an angry old man on a throne. I don't recite the creeds and have a religious test or consider the bible a single flawless book. But, I still have a relationship with Spirit and I still feel there is meaning in my journey on this earth.

But, I don't think we need a big granite Ten Commandments idol in front of the courthouse. I don't think we can go back to a teacher reciting prayer over the intercom. Prayer is still allowed in school It was never taken out. You just can't force a person to listen to your prayer over the intercom.

 I"m so sorry to have to tell you folks but everybody doesn't thump the same bible or take 2 to 6 thousand year old Jewish dietary laws as the rule for living. Grow up. I have my faith and my journey and you have yours. Go to church and pray and read your bible and love your neighbor but stop trying to politicize Christ.

You absolutely have the right to vote and speak up about your faith. But, so does everybody else. By the way. Do an honest search of history and not a Moody Bible Institute search. The founding Fathers were not of one accord born again Christians. Jesus wasn't an American and this land was stolen from the Indian people by hook and by crook. So stop acting like you have the moral high ground. You don't.

Love of Country: Really? When you let a president who can barley articulate above the level of a 10 year old throwing a temper tantrum attack disabled folks and war hero's and even make disparaging remarks about POW's then you say you love the country?

Y'all would have tarred and feathered Bill Clinton or Obama for some of the same stuff you give Donny a pass on.

 You hate democrats and you are for the troops. But, did you know many if not most of our troops are black and Hispanic and loved Obama? Did you know that many of our troops are on the street and don't get decent health care? Do you love Chicago and L.A.? Do you love Iowa, Alabama and Maine? Do you love Democrats and Republicans and Atheist and Muslims? Do you love our gay troops or only the straight ones? You love the flag? Really? Which part? The one at the VFW? What about the one at the San Francisco City Hall? Do you love it more than you love the baby on welfare? Do you think God loves it more than he loves the Mexicans across the border? I don't. I'm sure he doesn't. But, if you love your nation then stop selling it our to Donnie Trump or Hillary Clinton or any other powerful person.

One reason the flag is special to me and I would never dishoner it is because we allow protest in the U.S. that is what makes us different than China or North Korea or Russia. We don't put people in jail for burning the flag. Not because we agree with them. Hell, we would beat their ass over it. But, because we are a free people we have the freedom to protest the flag. It says more about the protester than it does the flag but that is what being in a free nation is about. Having personal freedom as long as you are not hurting or robbing others.

Bottom line is I vote my wallet. I don't vote abortion or climate change. I don't vote at the end of the day for the self proclaimed party or man or woman of god.

 I vote the same way I choose a dentist. I vote for the one who can give me the most relief with the less pain.

 Right now health care wise and Social Security wise and Medicare and even Medicaid wise that's Democrat. If I were in a higher tax bracket I might change my mind. I might not. I don't know. I do know that I would find Trump a very low class human being and that's no lie. Trump said he fought to get rid of pre existing conditions while at the same time his administration was fighting the Democrats in court to maintain pre existing conditions. He lied. Gasp!

The republicans have been trying to dip into and cut Social Security for decades and they are still trying. Yet, some of y'all just blindly accept them because they are so called anti abortion. You need to wake up. You've been had. Now, at the end of this I doubt I've changed anybody else's mind. That's okay. There are plenty of things I could say about liberals and problems I have with Democrats. But, right now I just wanted to put down the reason that I am voting Democrat in the national election.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Hotel California

  I grew up in the era of rock. Long hair and loud guitars and gravely vocals. I also grew up in the era of the Country/Rock Crossover and loved groups like Poco and Pure Prairie League and vocalist like Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne. But, my favorite group was the Eagles and Hotel California was and is my all time favorite album. So, I decided to take a little trip down memory lane by listening to this album from my youth. My Senior year in high school and now in my "senior" years some forty four years later.

   I have often wondered about my youth. It seems like I was so young just yesterday. I still remember hearing the title track "Hotel California" for the first time. I was at my cousin's house in Oneonta, Alabama and heard it on the radio. Back then we were surprised when anything came on the radio. No blogs, internet or twitter. No social media at all. Hotel California by my favorite band just came on and I knew the Eagles had a new album. They had recently parted ways with one of the original members Bernie Leadon and this Joe Walsh dude from The James Gang was now playing with them. This was my first listen to the new sound. I bought the the new album as soon as I could get to the record store. I should say the new 8 track because that's what I bought. I was blown away. I didn't have to be told what that warm smell of Colitas was although I had never heard it called that before. I can still hear the drums and the steady guitar. I didn't realize just how well Walsh and Felder were blending until I saw video of it.

Then came "New Kid in Town" which was more of the old Eagles crossover style. Country Rock. The feeling that the old was about to be replaced with the new registered with my young mood. It always seems as if there's a new kid in town and you can't keep up. I really was a hopeless romantic back then. Hearing it now over 4 decades later I no longer have the view of the innocent youth. I still think the song holds up. It still highlights the final days of the California Sound to me. "They will Never Forget you Till Somebody New Comes Along." 

"Life in the Fast Lane" this one said that the band could rock and get a little jaded when it wanted too. I was really into the way Henley sounded on this. Now, all these years later as I listen to it I'm reminded of a Quetin Taratino movie. Back then I really loved the guitar and the slide and the double barreled shotgun sound of the guitar at the pivotal moment. Now, I find myself thinking this really is a great album. I know some people snicker when they talk about the Eagles in relation to Zeppelin or even the Dead. But, while I agree that Led Zeppelin was genius I had just as soon listen to opera music as Grateful Dead. It's about the same in excitement for me. "Eager for Action Blinded by thirst. They didn't see the stop sign took a turn for the worst.

Wasted Time. Now this was different. Full orchestra in the background. Henley doing the soulful jazzy blues singer. I really liked it and the range of Don's voice on this shows out. He had the pipes and was really underrated as a great voice. These days I find this song has so much more nuance and depth than the stuff you hear today and most of what you heard back then. You can't beat Hank Williams for a story song but you could do worse than Henley singing about Wasted Time. "The hours go by like minutes and the shadows come to stay."

"Wasted Time Reprise" Kind of an odd selection for a rock album with a new bad ass guitar player named Joe Walsh. But, it's a nice interlude in the middle of the album. Even now years later I see rainy evenings and falling leaves and can almost feel the fuzzy alcohol buzz of my youth when I hear this.

"Victim of Love" Here we go. Crank it up Joe. Don is in full throat and I was picturing the girls I knew. Especially one from my misspent youth. "Well I heard about you and that man. There's just one thing I don't understand. You say he's a liar and he put out your fire. How come you still got his gun in your hand." Listening now over four decades later I still think this song rocks. I can see faded jeans and cruising cars when I hear this.Great song.  I could be wrong. But, I'm not. 

"Pretty Maids all in a Row" This one is the first one with Joe Walsh on lead vocals as an Eagle. This one is special for me. Back then I knew Three young ladies from West End High and they were ladies. Don't let my talk of my otherwise misspent youth confuse you. But, we spent some times in the small town of Altoona, Alabama running up and down the roads in our youth. Two of them passed way to soon. I was able to finally tell my remaining friend from that trio that I always thought of them when I heard Joe Walsh sing this song. So, now 44 years later I think of Cindy, Donna and Sharon.

"Try and Love Again." Randy Meisser reminding everyone that he had a killer unique voice and the Eagle were never the same once he departed them. They were still good and my favorite band. But, they were different. Back then I was so young and crazy and this song was resonating with me. It still has a pull now mainly because it's the last great stand of the voice of Randy Meisner in the Eagles lineup. "Right or wrong what's done is done. It's only moments that you borrow." 

"Last Resort" Haunting piano opening and the tightest vocals you can find. Back then I don't think I thought as much of the polticial views and the ravages on the Native lands that we had. But, Don Henley put it well. Now over forty years later I've actually been to Lahaina and I've seen the West and the scrub land the government banished the Navajo to in Arizona. This is a beautiful song and it still holds up. "They ever brought a neon sigh that said Jesus is Coming." They brought the white man's burden down. They brought the white man's reign." 

I really love this album. I have certain albums that I can remember where I was at various times when I heard the album. "News of the World" by Queen, "Rumors" by Fleetwood Mac and "The Grand Illusion" by Styx hold a special place in my little rock and roll heart. But, this "Hotel California" is the album I would take with me if I had to be on an island with no other music for the rest of my life.


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

I'm not saying it was Aliens

  But, it was aliens.

I was watching a show on History Channel the other night with Cindy and my son Fox. For all you X-File fans if there are any left. He was named after the lead character. Anyway we were watching the History Channel show called Ancient Aliens and I love that stuff. Not because I'm a true believer. I'm not. But, I've always been fascinated by so called "fringe" stuff. From my childhood I loved reading about ghosts. In my teen and young adult years I loved reading about past lives and flying saucers and psychic abilities. I can remember loving comic books and superhero's and sports. But, there was something about a ghost story that I loved. So, there I am with my wife and teenage son both who are really and truly not as interested as I am in this stuff. Oh, okay. They not only are not interested they flat out don't believe in it. Still, they humor me when this particular show comes on. I think my son thinks I'm a space cadet. I told him I was thinking of attending the meditation classes at the Unitarian Church. He said "Attend it?" You could teach it. Anyway, I have to admit that made me proud. I'm glad I've impressed him in some way.

  Hey Mr. Spaceman. Won't you please take me along. I won't do anything wrong...The Byrds "Mr. Spaceman."

I was watching the show and people were being interviewed and mentioned and I was familiar with them. I mean familiar the way I'm familiar with the classic rosters of the Atlanta Braves or the 70's legends of the Crimson Tide of Alabama. It's a little nitch that I've found over the years and as I watched I realized the names meant nothing to my family but I was completely literate in the culture of the so called fringe and strange. Names like Jacques Vallee, J. Allen Hynek, Phil Klass the cranky skeptic, Barney and Betty Hill and Stanton Friedman. Whitley Strieber and Doctor Jeff Kripal, Grant Cameron and Stephen Greer and Bob Lazar and George Knapp, Skin Walker Ranch and Coast to Coast AM and Art Bell. I thought "wow, I'm a nerd in this stuff." I'm in my sixth decade of life but I'm still awed by the night sky and the possibility that we are not alone. As the ancient alien announcer would say "We have never been alone."

I thought that they were angels but much to my surprise. They climbed aboard their star ship and headed for the skies...Come Sail Away...Styx

 Now before my more skeptical friends call the men with the butterfly nets to  take me away. I'm not a true believer in UFO's. I love the pop culture and I have read enough to know there is something more than hoaxing going on and yet I'm not at all convinced that flying saucers are real. But, like I said. I love reading and watching and talking about this stuff. I haunted the Gadsden Public Library in my youth reading stuff and browsing authors on these subjects. From Edgar Cayce to Ruth Montgomery and later Shirley Maclaine. Not because I was a true believer but because I enjoyed it and also because I was searching for the thread. What was real and possible? Mixed in was a healthy dose of bible belt religion and honestly I know I sound flip. But, I'm not. The prayer and discipline of my Christian upbringing has seen me through some hard times and although I don't identify with any religion these days I still have a foundation from my youth that gets me through the night. But, this isn't going to turn into a serious religious discussion. At least I don't won't to go there. Not in this post.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. ..."Hamlet."

One of the coolest books I've read this past year was "American Cosmic" by D.W. Palsulka. Doctor Palsulka is a professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is also the chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion. She relates talking with scientist who have actually found metals and materials that have extraordinary makeups and she also relates a visit to the Vatican library and archives that was really interesting. She recounts Carl Jung and even Saint Teresa of Avila. Also, the work of John Mack and others and comes to the conclusion that the UFO movement is actually mimicking the rise of a new religion. Technological and modern but still has religious elements such as guru's and authorities and myths. Really interesting stuff.

Another book that I got into this past year is "Forbidden Science 4 the Spring hill Chronicles, The Journals of Jacques Vallee 1990-1999"
  Jacques Vallee holds a Master's Degree in Astrophysics from France and a PhD in Computer Science from Northwestern University. He was the character the French scientist in Close Encounters of the Third Kind was based on. I have found some really good stuff for my Kindle this year and these journals of Dr. Vallee are really interesting. He kept a journal during his travels around the world pertaining to ufo and other paranormal topics. He tends to think the UFO phenomena and other anomalous events fall into the interdimensional and multi world realms. These journals are an interesting inside look at some of the events and topics that he has interacted with over the years.

I also recently read "A New World" by Whitley Strieber.
This was a really interesting account of Strieber's intense meditation and interaction in visions and dreams and he says actual experience with people and creatures that are part of a larger reality. He lost his wife but talks of a spiritual connection with her that has survived death. No matter what you think of his experiences you have to admit his intense love for her and his intense belief that they are still connected. He has some interesting confirmations provided by other people that you either believe or you have to accuse him of lying. I don't know about his experience but I'm pretty sure he isn't lying.

I'm also in the middle of a book on Ingo Swann by Raul daSilva about the friendship between him and the physic Ingo Swann. Fascinating account of remote viewing and intuition about Ingo Swann. Mr. Swann was a wealthy person but lived in an apartment in New York City in a building that he owned. Yet he would go out and live in the streets to experience homelessness for weeks at a time. He worked with scientist in remote viewing and was a really fascinating person. It's a quick read and gives a lot of background on a person that claimed to remote view the moon and described Jupiter in 1973 at the Stanford Research Center with Doctor Hal Puthoff and Russell Targ. Swann was able to describe the planet Jupiter three months before the Pioneer 10 and 11 in 1973 and 74 and Voyager 1 and two in 1979, The information was accurate and you can find some of the results on and other sources on the internet and in books.

Are you awake? Or are you asleep?...guided meditation on my space cadet journey.

  Sometimes. Not often but sometimes. I have lucid dreams and flying dreams. The other night I was dreaming and I needed something up high. I simply floated up and got it. It felt completely natural and when I woke up I felt like I really had the ability to float up. Now, I understand it was a dream. I get that. I could float in this life if it weren't for that pesky gravity. But, I really do think we are more than this life. I've said I'm not religious and I'm not. Not anymore. There are reasons for that and this isn't the time or place for me to go into them. But, I still maintain that Christianity has the most awesome proposal of any religion bar none.

By that I mean if you think about it. For God the creator of the universe to actually put on flesh and participate in this crazy dance of life and death. Horror and disease. To actually do that out of love? Maybe that's why even though I can't hang with the fanatisism and self rightous b.s. and the angry blood lusting God of the fundamentalist I still consider the spirit of Christ to be awesome. Awesome in a way that the cold fatalistic religions of the East and the crazy blood thirsty god of Islam and the cold sterile scientism of the modern age can't match.

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians...Mahatma Gandhi.

I know the feeling Mahatma. I really, really do. But, I digress. This is about fun stuff and odd stuff and even possible stuff that seems too far out to be real and yet has real evidence that it might be real. On some level.

I read a book about a child who remembered (allegedly) being the baseball great Lou Gehrig. Now, honestly I'm not sure I buy it. But, I do think some of the child's statements and the way he knew some details of old time baseball were provocative. There are better cases and stronger cases for sure. But, I'm a baseball history nerd so reincarnation or not I enjoy the old stories and history of the game. I also found the Gehrig story interesting because the child remembered being a player that while a great name had a tragic death. He died of a disease that was later called Lou Gehrig's disease. It is actually called ALS and it is a horrible debilitating death. It destroys the body and traps the person in a prison of their own flesh until they are finally released at death. There is still no cure. I found it odd the child would  remember "if he actually does" that particular player's life. There are easier and more exciting and longer past lives to remember especially if you are making one up. Of course a two or three year old child is more than likely not trying to fool anyone for fame and fortune. That doesn't mean I buy the story. I have reasons that I don't buy it because I know someone by way of the internet that has some knowledge of that particular case and they have backed away from it. Even though they absolutely feel that reincarnation is real.

Not in entire forgetfullness, and not in utter nakedness, but trailing clouds of glory do we come. From God who is our home...Intimations of Immortality...William Wordsworth

  I can remember as a child we would get the Weekly Reader. We could order books and I was always ordering either something like 13 Alabama Ghost or some other "scary" themed book. Either that or a sports hero book such as Jim Thorpe or Wilt Chamberlin or Babe Ruth.

I remember one book about Wilt Chamberland and it was called "The Gentle Giant." I think the writer was trying to make people appreciate Wilt back in a time when America was even more ( hard to believe) racially divided than it is now. So, he tried to make Wilt into an angel. Which wasn't fair to Wilt who was a human being just like the rest of us. Anyway, he said that Wilt would sometimes not dunk the basketball in order not to hurt the fingers of his opponents. Now, it didn't take long for even my innocent young butt to see through that one. Wilt was a competitor and he would flat out slam that ball into the goal and you fingers be damned. As was only right by the way.

I say that to say this. I understand that we all have things that we like to believe in. Things that keep up from going crazy with fear and grief. So, I can only hope that I'm willing to face the honest truth about life. But, I don't think the honest truth is hopeless or soulless. I don't think the universe is insane or an accident.

The arc of the moral universe is long. But, it bends towards justice. ..Martin Luther King Jr.

So, yeah I will keep watching the skies. I will keep dreaming that I can fly and hoping in the possibility of a world and existence where I can. That doesn't make me deluded or silly. It's something that fully agrees that I'm a flesh and blood human or at least that I am in a flesh and blood earth suit in this physical environment. But, in my deepest being I'm still me and I Am a part of the eternal and so are you. All of us and everything has meaning. So, I choose to see this as an adventure and a journey not a destination.

Two lizards on a rock in the desert. One says to the other "There it is again." That feeling that I was someone called Shirley Maclaine in a past life...Farside Cartoon.

 Your only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it...Robin Williams.

I think I'll let my little spark shine.