Friday, January 31, 2014


So, back when Eagle-Eye Cherry was a thing, I was more intrigued by his pedigree and image than any particular song on his first album. The material left me completely unmoved, save for this beautiful tribute to his father, Don Cherry.

I've managed to work myself into a melancholy tonight, such that I want to write, but by my own rules, there isn't a song with words I want to listen to, or can evoke the mood I'm feeling.  It's a wordless recognition.  Of what?  Of the place I've created in my life to shelter myself and recover from the mental and emotional strain that comes from the ups and downs of living, of engaging with other people and investing in them, and their investments in me.

In a sense I'm feeling my solitude for what it is. I have to ask myself, is it a choice or a necessity, a consequence or an indulgence?  It's a little bit of all of that.  It's ambiguous and amorphous.  What I choose to do with it defines its impact on my feelings. I can make it a glorious time of self actualization, or I can put things in perspective and be contemplative about my past and my present, possibly my future.

I spend a lot of times just settling into myself, reconciling what I am, how that makes me feel, if it has or can ever evolve? I'm a curious person, a private person, and ultimately, a person who is wary of gambles, and more so, defeats.  One consequence of having a good long term memory is a recollection of every blow to the ego, every flight of fancy that crashed and burned.  Those upheavals, humbling moments that bring you down to earth... have a way of tempering your thoughts.  It doesn't take fear to keep you from making the same mistakes over and over, just a little disappointment is enough.  I've never been one to entertain an unpleasant experience for an after-effect that rang hollow.  It's this attitude that informs my state of mind at this moment.

The inquiry I have to stomach is this:  What is there that I am so greatly satisfied by, so enraptured by, that I would be willing to take a risk to have it in my life?  What am I willing to suffer for, and put above myself to have it in my company?  There really isn't much when I think about it.  If I'm being honest, the two things that win out above all others are Personal Freedom and Peace of Mind.  There are many ways to achieve these aims.  My actions have betrayed my convictions and my loyalties and passions are inward.  It just so happens that they are so deeply felt that they radiate outwardly and help me connect with others who seem to be of like mind.

If this is what it takes for me to be a well-adjusted, decent human being, I can't really complain.  When you can predict a future, you've got the freedom to choose different, if you want different.  I still don't.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

BANG YOUR HEAD!!! - A series of shared videos from my youth.

  1.  I didn't know Soundgarden was "grunge" or "alternative", which was all about REM as far as I knew. For me SG bridged 80s metal to the 90s.

  2. Soundgarden - Rusty Cage: around that time theBox started promoting this one heavy. Their Close Encounter riff got me
  3. So yeah, I didn't buy any of those albums, but I turned up the TV when those videos came in in those Pre-Internet days.

  4. BODY COUNT on Arsenio Hall (early 90's) THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD ICE-T: Ice-T was the one who bridged the divide.
  5. Skid Row - Monkey Business : It was the late 80s, so along with a ton of Rap & Michael Jackson I dug this stuff.
  6. Megadeth - Sweating Bullets: This was a the most cutting age video I'd ever seen other than Peter Gabriel stuff.
  7. Suicidal Tendencies Send Me Your Money: This one was a trip, I didn't know what to call it back then.
  8. Suicidal Tendencies - You Can't Bring Me Down: The chorus had the closest thing to hardcore punk i'd heard then.
  9. Danzig - Dirty Black Summer: The hook is pretty much Born On The Bayou's changes & rhythm & he's Jim Morrison + Elvis
  10. Here come a few tweets of videos for music I first heard via The Video Jukebox in the late 80s-early 90s that changed my taste in music.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"Tutti (That's what my mama calls me).

I guess it must of been playing a lot back around the time she had me. Little Richard you know?"

It was around 12:20PM on my fourth consecutive day off from work due to inclimate weather. I had already been shuttled to my home and back by a passerby driving a bluish late model Pontiac. She had gone so far as to suggest Kitty Litter to help get my car out of the mass of snow I'd gotten myself stuck in.  But the snow was about 7 inches deep, and the rock salt I had wasn't gonna do the trick.  I normally keep my shovel in the back of my wagon, but I'd bent the plastic one I had with the aluminum handle last spring in the mega snow, where each shovel load weighed nearly 20 lbs.  My go-to was an aluminum shovel with a 2" thick wood handle. I'd used it on my driveway the previous day, and after that workout, I just opted to leave it next to the front door.  And that's just where it was.  The Pontiac driver offered to take me to get it, and I leapt at the opportunity.  But how did I even get stuck?

Well, the roads are treacherous and my car is prone to fishtailing. I've gotten used to it after 5.5 years.  What I won't ever get used to is driving tired.  I usually just sleep where I am rather than drive a little groggy.  This morning I'd already driven downtown and back, narrowly making it to the Greyhound station in time to get my nephew on his bus back south.  It was a triumph considering how my last trip to the Bus/Train station went (check out my blog title K. C. Jones).  On the way back I took the long way home, Market, to Grand, to 70, because 40 was backed up westbound from downtown.  I stopped over at my Mom's on the way home since it's right on the route, greeted my fam, and had a little to eat,, and laid down for a few minutes.  I took out their trash and hopped in my car, homeward bound.  Less than a minute from there, at the stoplight where I make my right, I neglected the fact that they'd only partially plowed the turning lane, and drove straight into a drift of slush mush that shouldn't be there.  My fault totally.  I got out, surveyed the situation, and went to digging with my hands.

A couple was walking by, and suggested cardboard boxes in lieu of the shovel I'd left at home.  I walked over to Dollar General which was on the other side of the intersection.  I was going to buy a shovel, but they'd been sold out since the last snowstorm.  The gladly gave me boxes to use.   I tried the boxes, but there was just too much snow under the chassis of the car for it get any traction on the boxes.  I broke out my window scraper, and then a two wheel cart that we use at work to move stuff around to pummel the snow away.  One man came walking by and said he wished he could help, but couldn't. I thanked him.  Another guy walked by silently, avoiding looking in my direction.  No big deal.  Walkers deserve more slack than all the drivers that drove by.  I just kept digging and trying to move the car. I was able to move a few inches.  That's when the driver stopped and I got my ride home.

That drive, whose name I didn't get, told me about how she's hit her head yesterday because she slipped on her porch.  Her daughter had been playing with Hot Water outside.  I used Gary Coleman's story to broach symptoms to look out for.  The good thing was she hit her had on the house, not the ground, but she thinks she may have been knocked out for a second.  She let her family know to keep an eye out for her if she zoned out.  We talked about the affect the weather was having on people working, and landlord's wanting their money regardless.  I mentioned how I'd been off all week, thankfully because I work in the school system, and she mentioned she had a couple of daughters in our district, so I told her if she ever needed help with anything to ask someone on staff there about me, that they should know who I was, or someone who did.

Shovel in hand I went to digging my car free, and  inches became feet, though progress was not as fast as I expected.  My strategy was to turn the car 90 degrees because I was about 15 feet into the muck, but only maybe 6 feet from the pavement if I cut perpendicular.  I was about 45 degrees into the move (with each turn I had to excavate more snow) when another car stopped after passing me.  The guy didn't have on a jacket, but I even felt warm today after the last couple of days.  Feeling warm when it's 28 degrees is just silly, but it is what it is.  He was in good spirits, and I let him know I was close and had gotten some help from the driver who'd hit her head.  He still offered to shovel since he'd figured I needed a break.

My pivot move had managed to get the entire front 3/5s of the car in as much slush as when I started, so he went about clearing it.  As I thank him, he explained that he didn't do anything but drive people to get their medicine and appointments because he's been on social security since 2003.  Now, the man didn't look to be older than his mid to late 40s, but there's an explanation, that he shared almost immediately.  He'd won a settlement because he was struck by an unmarked police car doing 70 mph with no lights or sirens on.  His neck was broken in two places, he had brain damage, and another injury I can't recall.  He didn't mind helping because he needed the exercise.  I mentioned how I got stuck, and I knew better, I'd been blessed to have strangers help out of the kindness of their hearts.

We talked a little about faith and he mentioned that when people hear that voice in their head telling them the right thing to do that they ignore, it's not a voice in their head.  "Man something was telling me I should..." that is the voice he means, the one that is always right, when your judgement is wrong.  Given his story, I imagine some people would say, "Consider the source." At the same time, here's a man who had his neck broken in two places shoveling snow for me.  I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.  He earned my good will by merit of his own, and what he was saying, in essence, even for those who don't believe in any kind of theistic God, it does at least provide a way to qualify a altruistic moral compass within yourself, for those looking for a subjective internalized authority.  That's what becomes God in the absence of Theism anyway, so in the broad philosophical sense he might be right no matter how you look at it.

I did another pivot move and we neared freedom.  As we did another car pulled by, then over.  This guy, a tad younger suggested  that a push was all that was needed to clear the final hurdle.  I gave it a go, and they pushed and that pretty much did the trick.  He gave us both the "Bro-hug", wished us well with a smile and pulled off.  I didn't get to ask his name, but I made sure to mention my name to the man who'd done the shoveling, and asked him his.  And that brings us back to the Title of this blog, and the first line.  Those where his responses.  I thanked him and wished God's blessing on him and he did likewise and home I went.

What is so poignant about my experience is, when I first took my car out after clearing my driveway on Wednesday, I left the house without a shovel OR my cell phone and drove to the grocery store.  This was when it was at its coldest and the roads were garbage. I realized how dumb it was, but rolled with it.  When I dropped my nephew off at the Greyhound, I had to double back with his luggage. The parking lot was just slush everywhere, so I had to carry this massive pullman he had. We had arrived a minute after the bus was scheduled to depart and he was afraid the bus pulling off was his.  When I came in he was at the counter and had found out his ticket wasn't paid for.  I HAD my phone, and he was able to call and get it taken care of. When he came into town 2 weeks ago as a surprise, he sat at the North Hanley Metrolink station in the freezing weather in a spring jacket (he'd come up from Alabama) he sat there for 3 hours because no one would let him use their phone (he didn't have one).  Here's hoping his ride home is uneventful and safe and he doesn't need a cell to use.

The other thing that struck me right after I realized I was stuck was that I didn't really have anyone I would immediately call to help. The family I see regularly are all getting up in age. They're at that point in life where people call them for money, not labor.  The friends I have my age that I would lean on, those were my college friends, and most all don't live in the state, or if in St. Louis, not close. Once I was of means (bus, bike, car) I did my best to not call on them for anything. After a while, when you don't have those extensions of friendly good will and support as part of your relationship with people, it feels out of place or intrusive to ask.  The thought that follows is, "What kind of friendships do I have if they fall short or what I feel were the prototypical friendships of my past?"  I guess it comes with a sense of community, and I don't have any personal friends that are part of my community proper.  That's something that churches used to provide, a sense of community and shared values. Ironically, partly because of my upbringing and life experience, I would feel bad if I went to a church just to get to know people in my community.  Ironically, the church I frequented the most had a large number of people who didn't live in the community. 

What this hammered home for me was that, circumstances provide opportunities to witness the power of  faithfulness and kindness and thus friendliness. In these moments, in the person of strangers you will find true friendship in the absence of your true friends.  When Jesus said the world will know him through how his followers treat one another, and the greatest commandment was to love God with all your heart and treat your neighbor as you would like to be treated he laid a foundation for unimpeachable moral character so that anyone aiming to obey those commands sincerely is predisposed to be a boon to others.  Because of that, the song title, I Have A Friend In Jesus rings pretty true right now.  Those that know him, took a moment to know me, and help me. Even those who don't know him, but know what it means to pursue love and kindness altruistically and give of themselves selflessly for the benefit of others because they've seen what good it can do in the world through the example of others, well, in those actions, they have come to know him, Jesus, vicariously.  At least that's my take on it. I've been bless with those who have done Good, and shared Love, and what is God if not Good and Love?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Ahead By a Century

Has there ever been a better band name than the Tragically Hip?  i firdt heard them in the great musical flood of 95' on St. Louis's own KPNT and dug what i heard. i sat on the for a few years and then went headlong in. To date i donmt know of a stronger 3 album run than Day for Night, Trouble at the Henhouse, and Phantom Power, which features this song i, if i trust my memory, or maybe it was on Trouble at the Henhouse?  Either way, it's a great song  and the idea of being ahead of one's time is resonating withh me. i feel like part of a generation born in an age where a large population have renoved themselves from the gene pool and focus their lives on self-actualization or some approximation of it. A generation predisposed to occupying themselves independently g experiencing community from afar through shared ideaologies instead of direct interactions, thereby removing some of the power that comes with group think g peer pressure. this generation creates amalgamted cultural identity instead of embracing one to which they are ascribed & has a utilitarian attitude regarding elective emotional attachments.  we have no use for people who shut us down. I used to think i was a throwback, but maybe imm a flash forward?