599. In Dig Nation

Image result for groundhog and mole pictures“Can you dig it?” Said the Republican ground hog to the Democratic mole. “It’s cool down here in our bunker holes. I mean, out in the blazing sunlight of truth we’d cook down to the last tooth, but down here we’re as good as mossy covered stones.” Image result for groundhog and mole pictures

“Oh no you don’t”, said the eagle swooping down. “Your clown show is over. There’s a new sheriff in town.”

“What the hell! What the hell! Have the Capitol Police ring the fire bell.”Image result for heroic bald eagle

“Too late, you lazy vermin scum. The party game is over; I’m throwing out the bum. The blood of a million patriots drips from his lying, narcissistic lips. Or have you all suffered a massive concussion? Donald is leveraged by a rat poisoned Russian. ”

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Image result for indignant sculptureIndignation, to begin with, requires dignity that is then negated. And what is that, you ask?  Here’s a taste. It might startle you because we haven’t seen or heard much from dignity in years. It has been missing in action and presumed dead.

dignity, the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect.
“a man of dignity and unbending principle”, from Latin dignus, meaning worthy
Bob Dylan wrote a song about Dignity a long  time back. These three verses will have to represent the total…Related image
Searchin’ high, searchin’ low
Searchin’ everywhere I know
Askin’ the cops wherever I go
Have you seen dignity
Someone showed me a picture and I just laughed
Dignity never been photographed
I went into the red, went into the black
Into the valley of dry bone dreams
So many roads, so much at stake
Too many dead ends, I’m at the edge of the lake
Sometimes I wonder what it’s gonna take
To find dignity
To lack worth, then, is to be undignifiedappearing foolish and unseemly; lacking in dignity, say, for instance walking in front of a foreign Queen while reviewing her troops at her royal palace while being entertained at a level one does not deserve, to begin with. Yep, he did that. Absolutely unconscious of others and protocol. He needs no stinking primer in how to behave. It’s a freaking miracle that he didn’t grab the queen by her pubic hairs, because, “When you’re a star, you know, they let you.”
But even more telling of his putrid gracelessness was the NATO shove of the dude from Monte Negro last year. Totally classless and grasping for stage center. Image result for trump shoving leader of montenegro gifPig, pig, pig in a hungry race for his ego pie.
So now we have one nation under Don, the nation of in dig. Crude, crass, mendacious, petty, hypocritical, and so on. Words fail to capture the nauseating revulsion in the nation’s guts; we are reduced to dry heaving. There is nothing left to upchuck. He meant what he said in the campaign,
“My people are so loyal, I mean, I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and  shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”
I have to agree with the man.understand donald trump GIF Oh, look! Vlad has him in a walking wedgie hold. So, I guess Vlad could shoot all his supporters on Fifth Avenue and not lose any votes either. Man, where do I sign up for that team? Makes sense as much as anything else the troll has uttered in the last two to three years. Make that a lifetime.
Image result for jim jones photosTrumpeteers, for God’s sake, what more do you need to see, hear, feel, reason out, process? Wait, what am I saying? For the true blue believer in the MAGA hats and tee shirts, no proof is ever enough to break the cultic bonds. They will die in the bunker with their Fuhrer. Burn in the house with Waco Whacko David Koresh. Drink the Kool Aid with Jim Jones in Jonestown, Guyana.  Forget that. What was I thinking? What nation was I digging into? Trump nation is not so different from North Korea without the big Chrysler hubcap general hats. Don not so different from Kim, Vlad, Erdogan, Duterte, and other dictators, just not as clever or strong. His problem is the underlying inconvenient deep state democracy of this country and that pesky free press. Down below the sycophantic hogs and self serving Congressional moles, we have a Constitution that supersedes the man holding the office of president. Somewhere in the fractured red and blue states dignity is rising from its grave. Outraged and indignant at the circus clown who escaped from the New York zoo to run the U.S. government… and those who should have known better.
In Fascist states after the fall of the Great One, the once rabid fascists change the subject to the lovely weather and away from their previous alliances. They move to South America, change their names, deny facts. They say things like, “Those were different times”. Time is what we make of it, folks. If we listen to dark, divisive urges and practice victim politics, we reap the harvest of chaos, which always ends with bloody hands. Hosea 8:7 is familiar and haunting,
“They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no head; it will produce no flour. Were it to yield grain, foreigners would swallow it up.
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Donald’s claim to fame was The Disrupter, like some WWF pro wrestler’s name. In a viral gif his image slammed the characterization of the free press, CNN. But those were the heady days of campaigning where anything goes to please the rabid crowds, the scared, the shrinking, the huddled asses at the foot of Indignity. His favorite and only tool in negotiations? The hammer mace of Chaos. Attack the other, and then at the hairpin turn, praise him/her after achieving precisely nothing. Relabel unwanted old ginger ale as champagne and jack up the price. His beloved, deranged followers will not know the difference. “Heck, he said it was champagne and that’s good enough for me.”
Image result for trump as puppet gifAnd now we have the uncaged baboon nodding as our country’s snake eyed adversary denies any negative actions toward us. The Don makes his simian grin and announces in gibberish talk, “Heck, he said it was champagne and that’s good enough for me.”
Dig that, nation.

 

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598. Bald Eagle Perched

Image result for bald eagle on a post pictureYesterday on the way in to my office, maybe 8:00 a.m., I noticed a large bird on top of one  power line pole at Norlo Park, to my left as I drove west on Route 30, the section that is elevated where a stream runs underneath. So I was pretty high up, not 8 miles high like the Byrds song that was censored in the pornographic days of  Vietnam, but a good twenty feet above the parkland. This large black bird had a pure white head, so I knew it wasn’t one of the ugly turkey buzzards I see occasionally waiting for carrion carcasses along highways in central Pa. Nope, this bird was fit and trim, poised, and majestic. Yep, an honest to God bald eagle. Not a raven with a styrofoam cup in its beak, like Ed from my peer group reported mistakenly identifying as a bald eagle, to his wife, another avid birder, recently. Wow, that’s as bad as misidentifying one of your grand kids at an amusement park. He might have to turn in his Audobon Society card or at least do some supervised probation, a minimum of six months I would guess.Image result for far side cartoons about birders

“This is a robin. What is this, Ed?”

“It’s a robin, Bob.”Image result for robin pictures

“Good, Ed. Now moving on…this is a blue jay. What is this bird, Ed?”

“It’s a blue jay, Bob, but look at that goldfinch over there!”Image result for blue jay pictures

Crack!

“Ouch. Bob, why did you hit me with that truncheon? I thought we were friends.”

“Unauthorized practice of birding, Ed. Get in line, man. We cannot be friends until you are rehabilitated.”Image result for far side cartoons about birders

The majestic eagle perched facing west, with an unobstructed view of groundhogs and mice below. I could not tell if it held olive branches in one talon and arrows in the other. I was past in a flash and did not turn around to take a picture. It’s actually not my first local experience with a bald eagle. I saw a pair flying way high above the reservoir at Lone Pine Dam. And then one flew over head at my buddy Gary’s farmette while I was hunting the wily groundhog. Still, it was a majestic moment to see the symbol of our country in the wild.Image result for bald eagle on a post picture

Reassuring, too. You see in eighth grade I had a melodramatic science teacher who proclaimed to us naive students that “the Great Lakes are dead”. He was a real downer dude, as were many of my teachers in the late 60’s and early 70’s. One English teacher told us about the young men who went blind on LSD from staring into the sun without sunglasses.  He failed to mention that they were also naked and got a nasty sunburn in paler regions, but no matter. They were blind from sun spotting and could not see how awfully red and shiny their hineys were.

Image result for naked hippies in sunglasses

I pondered the great bird all the way in to my office. Pleased that our environment is now more suitable for sustained eagle population growth. Back in the hinterlands of my memory I recall DDT affecting bird shells and endangering many birds in the 1950’s and 60’s. Rapid micro research led me to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, c. 1962. Image result for rachel carson pic

THERE WAS ONCE a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in
harmony with its surroundings. The town lay in the midst of a checkerboard of prosperous farms, with fields of grain and hillsides of orchards where, in spring, white clouds of bloom drifted above the green fields.

Then a strange blight crept over the area and everything began to change. Some evil spell had settled on the community: mysterious maladies swept the flocks of chickens; the cattle and sheep sickened and died. Everywhere was a shadow of death.

There was a strange stillness. The birds, for example— where had they gone? Many people spoke of them, puzzled and disturbed.

No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world. The people had done it themselves.

Now sure enough, the one negative article on banning DDT came from none other than Fox News. But what else would you expect from perverted peddlers of poison pablum?Related image

Anyway, I’m pleased that the symbol of our country is healthy in fact. However, I am concerned that our country is in a helluva mess these days. The Environmental Protection Agency that protected the bald eagle is being dismantled, no, imploded by the fox in charge of the hen house. Replacing one environmental rapist (Scott Pruitt) sheep turd with another, slicker goat turd (Andrew Wheeler) seems like a great way to continue the dynamiting of the agency. Nothing like a coal lobbyist to run the EPA. Next we’ll get a former KGB agent running our CIA. HMMMmmmm. Let me think about that for a second. Is this Helsinki meeting with Putin a job interview?  Or a surgeon running HUD, whoops. Already been done. But, let’s see, a totally unqualified politically connected billionaire’s wife running the Dept of Education. Check for Betsy DeDunce. Or a physician buddy bragger with boundary issues to run the Veterans Administration.  Oh, you get the point. How many clowns can get into the mini-Cooper at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?Related image

Irony gets old after a while. An unexpected, contrary outcome that is often humorous, isn’t humorous after too many repetitions. A. because it is no longer unexpected. B. it’s too damn serious to be funny.

Image result for ironic images

Isn’t it ironic that Rick Perry runs the Department of Energy, the dumbest guy who ran in the Republican primaries? Isn’t it ironic that Ben Carson’s only qualification for running HUD is that he lived in public housing? Isn’t it ironic that Elaine Chao is married to old Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and that she has to provide security for old Mitch when hecklers harassed them in public?  Isn’t it ironic that the HHS Director Alex Azar, grandson of a Lebanese grandfather who emigrated to the U.S.A. from Lebanon, speaks so blithely about modern immigrant families being carelessly ripped apart?

Maybe our eagle should look away from this latest shameful poison, aka, DJT.Related image

597. Peace Capsule

Image result for man on a raft in swimming pool pictures

Not the absence of conflict but  freedom from disturbance; the presence of quiet and tranquility; mental calm, serenity. Floating in the pool on a soft raft with the sun toasting your toes as the birds flit overhead and a slight breeze lilts by…relax and feel the pax pulse through your every cell. MMMMMmmmmmmm, recharge to live large. Peace like a river or a pool pump or your own calm blood flows….

Image result for wild cherry tree pictures in meadow

Amber sap flows through every inch of an old cherry tree, sometimes oozes out of nicks and breaks in the bark’s shield, healing wounds while discouraging pests. We suburban hoodlum boys picked sap balls off the old trees at the edge of what we called “the woods”, a few acres with a stream bed running through it behind and below Dorset Drive circa 1965.  An old apple and cherry tree or two were abandoned there for older kids to nail board steps on the trunks and then attach a rope swing to a sturdy branch. Peace like a tree swing pendulated with a small smiling child floating in the shade of a hot summer day in Virginia, as sticky as the sap we hurled at one another before central air. Did we chew it? Sure. Try to ignite it? Of course. Boredom was the enemy, though, not the sap balls.

Image result for balls of cherry sap pictures

Amber balls of sap, so I found in micro research, were used to make cherry brandy and as chewing gum by Native Americans. [I don’t recommend either and will not be held liable for any tomfoolery you engage in after reading this post. You were unstable before you met my words, so don’t give me that! I am the victim of your prying eyes here. I am not click bait.] No, I like to think of the eternal peace offered by insects or objects trapped forever in amber.Image result for bugs in amber picturesHow did that even happen? Excellent question, and here is the convenient answer, kids…

Amber is sticky, like honey or glue. The insects land on tree sap either intentionally or by accident, and can’t exert enough force to remove themselves from it. The tree sap continues to flow and coats the insect. The sap hardens into amber, preserving the now dead insect forever.

Pretty darn cool, if you ask me.

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I find that eerily charming somehow. The bugs are attracted to the feast they desire and then suffocate in it. Seems like a pretty peaceful way to go, like death by chocolate, pizza, beer, circus peanuts, Twizzlers, cheesecake. Pick your favorite and prepare to be embalmed. Balm is a nice concept too, a fragrant healing ointment slathered all over your body to renew your skin. Sounds good, right? So being embalmed seems like a good deal, times infinity, and you have the sap ball existence, frozen in amber time and space.

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How can you go on? Floating, lighter than water, swirling along the river of time. Bouncing in and out of whirlpools. Encapsulated till the end of time. Imagine an eternal carousel made of such creations going round and round and round, no weirder than unicorns and tigers.

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Epicureanism is what results from such a path. Epicureanism is a system of philosophy based on the teachings of Epicurus, founded around 307 B.C. It teaches that the greatest good is to seek modest pleasures in order to attain a state of tranquillity, freedom from fear (“ataraxia”) and absence from bodily pain (“aponia”). This combination of states is held to constitute happiness in its highest form, and so Epicureanism can be considered a form of Hedonism, although it differs in its conception of happiness as the absence of pain, and in its advocacy of a simple life.Image result for epicurean images

Simple desires fulfilled but not to excess, because excess would be a new problem to solve. That seems like a good description of childhood. As we grow into our abstract moral compass we use to map out the world, we swing on ropes and blow blooming dandelion heads into the air, and follow creek beds wherever they lead. Back in my childhood day we caught birds with shoe box traps and wrapped up bumble bees inside Rose of Sharon flowers…only to release them unharmed. In those brief moments we gained amusement and amazement in our mastery of animals.Related image

We walked between damp bed sheets on clotheslines to feel the cool air between.

“Don’t touch those!” sweaty mothers would shout. “I just washed them. Go play in the woods.”

Image result for honeysuckle vines pictures

And we boys would revel in the faint smell of fragrant detergent or bleach that lingered in the cool sheets’ dampness. Delectable peace hung in the honeysuckle vines that covered our rear neighbor’s hedge line. Following the bees, we’d pluck a blossom and lick out the tiny droplet of sweet nectar, wondering how we could find a real honey hive.

Image result for bee hive picturesOn the edges of our development were some old timers who kept bee hives. We didn’t dare risk the stings to invade them like Black bear cubs do. No, we threw rocks and stirred up the bees just for the thrill of seeing a swarm of honey bees come out to defend their hive. Off we’d run lickity split through familiar woods and shortcuts, alongside a creek or ditch, in and out of hidey holes in order to avoid “aponia” and increase our “ataraxia” moments. Life then was richly inexpensive.

Related imagePeace again is lying down laughing in moist grass after not getting caught for some minor vandalism. Listening to your own heart beat as your chest heaves up and down in relief. “That was fun!”

Walking along the shady trails, watching for any wildlife to chase…

“Now what?”

“Catch rusty lizards on the edge of the gravel pits.”

“Oh, crap!”

“What’s wrong?”

“Look at this sap on my pants. It’ll never come out. My mom’s gonna be mad.”

“Nah, turpentine is the thing. It melts the sap.”

“Cool.”

“Hey, what are you gonna do when you grow up?”

“Nothing.”

“Whatdyamean?”

“I mean I’m not growing up. That’s all.”Image result for boys walking along a trail images

Peace out.

 

 

596. If not for me…

Image result for trump singing pictures

If DJT does not get the Nobel prize for Peace, perhaps he can get it for a mash up of Bob Dylan’s song “If Not For You”. Remember that one? I think Olivia Newton John covered it later on. Never mind copyright infringement or plagiarism. He’s been playing the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” despite their protests for the last two years plus. Keith Richards in particular would like to B Slap him for many infractions. You can bet the Donald will never be within 300 yards of Keith without becoming instantly incontinent. Sort of like facing Robert Mueller at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. For reasons we have yet to learn, Don gains intestinal fortitude around Kimba, Putin, Duterte, and other dictator toughs. Delta Dog Don feels safe when the dark side alphas wag their tails in his face and let him sniff their butts. “You are one of us, Don.” He-he-he…. “until we barbecue you on the spit of your own grandiose delusions.”

Image result for vomiting cartoon gifDylan had the audacity to focus on someone else, which we now know is totally wrong in our post modern, narcissistic sociopathic era. Dylan didn’t put America first and make america great again like Donald is doing with all the winning he’s been up to. I mean, we are all projectile vomiting from his excess winning. It could be food poisoning. Hmmm, what did all of us eat recently? Yes, the rainbow stew.  He is truly a gift like ipecac syrup, steroid infused prune juice, or electro shock therapy. Convulsively wonderful. Biological geysers erupt spontaneously. The Chaotic beauty of a rabid squirrel running through L.A. rush hour traffic.Image result for squirrel in traffic gif

Anyway, thinking of yet another of his village idiot claims, I wondered how it might play with the rest of Dylan’s lyrics. The Donald whips up solutions for which problems never existed, and then rides in to fix them as only he, the Strong Man, can. Reminds me of the evil priest in Angels and Demons who creates a false threat in order to take over the Papacy and mimic Jesus rising from the dead after saving the Vatican from the bomb he constructed, but he flies away from the populace in a fake act of self sacrifice, only to return three days later. Like Stalin, Mussolini, Duterte, Putin, Kim Young Fool, Erdogan, Hussein, Assad, Castro, you get the picture. Quite a frightening fraternity: Mega Lo Maniacs. Imagine their Rush Week.Image result for assad and putin pictures

“Uh, I wanna join the frat house, you know, get babes and be politically incorrect in the comfort of my own silo with like minded sociopaths.”

“Okay, Donnie. You have to bankrupt ten innocent people in your real estate game. Then plunder a shit hole country. Run a scam university. Break up two faithful couples. And then pass a lie detector test at the end.”

“Oh man! This is gonna be fun!”Related image

All have the gift of hypnotic lying. Like criminal advertising, “This beer will make bikini clad super models adore you. This beer will make bikini clad supermodels adore you. This beer will…” repeat the lie until it is the new Gospel. Hit it Don…

If not for me,

we’d have a Korean nuclear war

Be overrun by rapist poor, 

Have Obamacare and even more

If not for me.Image result for trump singing pictures

 

If not for me,

The night would see our allies sigh

The Russians would have to say good bye

Porn stars would not be in view,

If not for me.Image result for trump singing pictures

 

If not for me,

Wild eyed Muslims would call

MS Thirteen too

Without me you’d be nowhere at all

You’d be lost if not for me.Image result for trump singing pictures

 

If not for me, 

Canada would invade in spring

Trade deficits would be crippling

You just wouldn’t have a clue,

If not for me.

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If not for me, 

Decency would have a place

Our country wouldn’t be disgraced

We could practice diplomacy

If not for me.Image result for trump singing pictures

 

If not for me,

Women could breathe easier

Politics would not be sleazier

Crowd size could be ignored

If not for me.Image result for trump singing pictures

 

If not for me,

You wouldn’t need a knife in each back

Or lie and lie to counter attack

The village would get its idiot back

If not for me.Image result for trump singing pictures

 

I’m DJT

King of hypocrisy

White trash aristocracy

Killer of democracy

yep, it’s just me.

All the chaos that you see,

If not for me.Image result for trump singing pictures

After his faithful clap themselves silly and cry for an encore, Don will pass the hat for his legal defense fund because his taxes are under audit and cannot be revealed at this time. Because he cannot be bought, being a really rich guy and all, he will make that gorilla smile/shoulder shrug shimmy move of his with both palms up, as if to say, “You guys really love me” and then authorize a second offering be taken for his reelection campaign because he knows that it would be rude to stop sucking the last cent out of the zombie crowd who can’t distinguish chicken salad from chicken shit.

Where to honor him, oh where?  Earlier I speculated that he needed the Pentagon to house his ego, but that is too far from the heart of D.C. It’s shabby and undeserving of  his brand. Mt. Rushmore is crowded with losers that beat him there simply because they died first. Hmmm, where or where can Donnie go? Oh where can he get his due? Let’s see… Image result for mt trumpmore pictures

In the Greek myth of Sysyphus, this arrogant petty trickster king was condemned to push a boulder up a hill for eternity. Once he managed to reach the summit, the boulder rolled down the other side. If he didn’t exert himself, the boulder rolled over him or else the birds of Hell would peck at him.Image result for sisyphus images gif

Sisyphus was the founder and first king of Ephyra (supposedly the original name of Corinth). King Sisyphus promoted navigation and commerce but was avaricious and deceitful. He also killed travellers and guests, a violation of xenia, which fell under Zeus‘s domain. He took pleasure in these killings because they allowed him to maintain his iron-fisted rule. 

Hmmmm, getting warmer.Image result for trump in hell cartoons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

595. Family Fabric

family:  a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not…Image result for 1950's black and white infant photos

The or not part piques my interest. Many folks have dwelt apart from their parents and/or siblings for a variety of reasons, some forced and others by choice. As I reported in earlier posts last year, my lovely wife grew up apart from her biological family, cloaked in the shadows of sealed adoption records. Her adoptive family moved all over the world with her CIA operative dad, beginning in Kabul, Afghanistan, while her biologicals stayed Stateside, mostly in Pennsylvania. However, thanks to the intersection of affordable DNA testing and the internet, she found and was found by the remnants of her birth family at the tender age of 60. The timing may seem tragic in that she will never meet her birth mom and dad, but it is also poetic in that there seems to be no drama left to fuss over. All the growing pains are over, I believe; there remains only the joy that comes with creaky joints and wrinkle-laden smiles.

Related imageHer recent  journey has been enlightening as we have met living Uncles, an Aunt, cousins, a sister and a brother, plus their spouses and children. There are photos and videos as well as taped music in the family archives. Her birth father was a very accomplished jazz trombonist. Her mother was a reserved and much loved smiler. Sister Susan and her hubs Dave are just across the Bay Bridge, one of my wife’s most feared pieces of architecture on the planet. Love births courage, though, and across the BB we have gone several times without incident. Ah, courage, the ability to do something that frightens one.  As Brene Brown says,

Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.”

Related imageFabric… is what you make from fibers and threads. In the old days people recycled their rags, so I heard my Boston Irish parents tell. A rag picker in Cambridge, Massachusetts named Edsy Finucane used to call to the housewives, “Rags. Bring out your rags.” I suppose he paid a few pennies for a pile of old cloths. No matter. We used to laugh at his name while playing penny poker on long summer nights. I’ll bet he was a boozer, but I’ll never know for certain. There isn’t all that much which we know for certain come the later years when memories and senses fade, as well as futile drama.Related image

And so when loose family ends comes together, as they did at the Hotel Hershey this weekend, it is a magical bit of weaving that comes out while four generations mingle. My two year old grandson Max was fist bumping two Uncles who fought in World War II. Later Max did some serious floor surfing instead of taking his nap. Uncle Phil is a sparkling 93. Uncle Werner, 88, grew up in Nazi Germany but served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Their very different threads intersect through marriage: Werner married Biagina, Phil’s little sister. And so instead of travesty, the family tapestry grows in forest green, ivory, and robin’s egg blue strands.Image result for italian tapestry pictures

Biagina, is a lovely retired schoolteacher from the Philly area who always wears a hat, usually a fedora or a trilby. What?  I just learned the difference a minute ago.Image result for older woman in a fedora hat pictures

She’s in the trilby camp for sure. Cute and spunky and short, but not short on love and intellect. Her husband Werner said, “Some women are pretty sharp, you know?” while we were waiting to join the rest of the party. “Really Werner, sometimes you say the darndedest things.” He replied, “No, some are. One engineer we had was a woman, and man, she knew it all! Sharp like a tack!”, missing the point yet again. They fuss like couples of long standing do with a mix of tart vinegar and honeyed words.Related image

Uncle Phil and his lovely bride Desi came down from Clearfield, a three hour drive. Phil was proud that he drove down solo, unassisted. If I make 93, I’d like to make the same claim. They fawned over my grandkids, which helped me realize that I never had a real relationship with my grandparents. The grandpas died before I was walking, and the grandmas were in diminishing bonus time. They had lived through both world wars and the extreme changes that came with radio and television. Figure skaters were scandalously unclad in their opinion. Fortunately for them neither Miley Cyrus nor her father had been born yet when they checked out of Hotel Earth.Image result for miley cyrus wrecking ball images

The cousins, Michael and Nick, solid guys with chunks of real Italian charitable chutzpah, like a pair of amicable linebackers, ready to hug anyone within arms reach. Grab, cuddle, then take them to the mat. Not really, but something in that description resonates with my warped mind. I imagine both men as wrestlers of affection.

Image result for camel picturesThe closest of closeness, of course, is brother Joey, the man behind the camera. He has both a smooth, quiet charm and fifty grit humor. His lovely fiancee of twenty some years is Karen, mother of Chelsea and fiancee of my wanna be son-in-law, Chris. Little does Chris know that the road to achieving the Big Burrito’s son-in-law status is wide, but the gate is narrow. It is easier for a camel to pass through that gate than an elephant to inherit the kingdom of BS.  It is that narrow. Karen gets a free lifetime pass because she insists on pre-tasting Caesar salad dressing in fine restaurants. “It can’t be too fishy.” She will read to this point and say, “When is this gonna end? C’mon.”  Jersey driver talk.Image result for narrow gate images

Gather round, my children, and it will end soon: There once was a pretty little girl with round brown eyes who could not stay with her parents, and the kingdom grew thorny for six decades, until Prince Deoxyribonucleic Acid touched the princess’ lips and lit up a data base in faraway Ancestry. Com. And that made all the difference. Distant hearts were woven together into the finest silk vision– strong and beautiful.Image result for ancient art silk weavings pictures

 

 

594. Chief Maka-Bucka

Related imageLast week at the Nation we were discussing the high level of esteem in which my wife holds Joel, our coffee group’s in-house attorney.

“Joel, she believes you are not only a raconteur, but a chanteur and menteur as well. ”

“Oh, my French is a bit rusty. I know a raconteur is a story teller, and a chanteuse/eur is a singer, but what is a menteur?”

“Uh, a liar.”

“Oh, my. I walked right into that one didn’t I?”

“Yep. Once again the banana hits the blender blade. Purrreeee.  She puts you on a pedestal, no, a desert plateau, far above mere humans. In fact, she has erected a statue of you in New Mexico on a high plateau that can be seen for 100 miles on clear days.”

“Even at night”, chimed in Doug.Christ the Redeemer statue, Rio de Janeiro.

Joel took the bait, “You mean, like Christ the Redeemer in Rio?”

“No, Joel. More like the Roadrunner in Taos. Majestic in its own way, however.”Related image

“Well, as long as people treat my monument with respect I’ll be happy.”

“Of course, my good man. Tremendous respect. Littering and loitering are strictly prohibited. Signage is prevented. So is sinus drippage as well as silage storage. In fact, the Parks Department has installed sensors around the base of your monument to detect folks who hang around more than 20 minutes. An alarm is sounded at ICE headquarters just in case these are illegal immigrants who have mistaken your monument for the Statue of Liberty.”

“Really? But, I am not interested in the poor huddled masses or justice. I only want to make a buck, that’s my name after all. Can’t they read any English?”

“Joel, think about your last statement for a moment. Okay? Now, moving on… since the possum cannot exist in the desert climate, the road runner fills its marsupial niche. Let me enlighten you, Great White Southwest Possum.”Image result for roadrunner pictures

The roadrunner eats almost anything that moves–insects, spiders, scorpions, lizards, rodents and small birds. It is also famous as a snake killer. Legend has the roadrunner building a fence of cactus pieces around a snake so that it cannot escape, and while that technique is fictional, the bird’s quick agility lets it capture even highly venomous prey. Darting in to stab a snake’s head, it then grabs the squirming reptile in its powerful beak and thrashes it on the ground. About 90 percent of its food is animal matter, while fruit and seeds make up the other 10 percent.

“Sounds like your dissertation on opossums from last month, yes Joel?”

“Why, yes, it really does sound like the bird version of my favorite marsupial. Again, I am amazed at your genius, Burrito.”Related image

“It’s nothing, Joel. Really. I happen to know a little bit about a lot. And nothing much about any one thing. I’m a generalist, as in general anesthesia.”

“I see. I am nodding off as you speak.”

“Okay, you have packed for you trip to Switzerland, right?”

“Oh yes. I can’t wait to go mountain biking on the Matterhorn.”Image result for the matterhorn pictures

“Joel, do you think you should do such a dangerous activity at your age?”

“I’ll be the judge of that, son!! My yoga teacher says I am limber for a man knocking on the door of 70. And my spinning class teacher said I have good form even if I have no hope of growing abs.”

“Joel, I’ll bet your barber tells you that your hair is that of a celebrity, right?”

“How did you know?”Related image

“It’s flattery, brother mucker. Each of these relationships is vested in you paying them for their time, just like when your clients come to see you. If they don’t flatter you, you are less likely to return and pay their fees. What do you do with your clients?”

“Well, I dodge and bifurcate, hypothesize and speculate, dance around and…”

“And what?”

“I nod a lot and say u-huh…”

“What comes when all else fails you?”Image result for confused old man gif

“Pray?”

“No.”

“Lie.”

“Yes! They are lying to you.”

“That’s harsh.”

“Look, I’m not here as your friend and mental health consultant to indulge your fantasies of youth and sexual prowess.”

“Why not?”

“Article 3 of the Geneva Convention clearly states that in times of war,

outrages upon dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment are not permitted.”Image result for swiss guard pictures

“But we’re not at war. And the Swiss guards look like court jesters.”

“If you touch me we will be. I will weaponize your little mini laptop there and beat your celebrity hair into your abyoulessness while keeping good limber form. And a good kick for the Swiss guards to boot. Is that clear?”

“Well, gosh, you don’t have to go all ballistic.”

“No, maybe I do. You are rushing off to Switzerland like a kid in a chocolate factory, throwing caution to the wind. What if you got hurt or, heaven forbid, died while mountain biking in the Alps? What about your survivors? Especially me? I want you to get the napkin will out and make sure it is safe, and that I still have exclusive claim to the Spyder Cycle.”

“Oh, I was being thoughtless and egocentric, wasn’t I?”Related image

“Ya think?! Joel, your beneficiaries have put up with you all their lives so that they can cash in at the end, like your barber, and your spinning and yoga teachers. And now, now look at you!! Carelessly ignoring your fiduciary responsibilities. I’m shocked. What if your antecedents had treated you so ignorantly, like some random, undefined pronoun? Huh?  I can’t hear you!”

“I, I wouldn’t have a statue in Taos.”

“Louder.”

“I WOULDN’T HAVE A WOODPECKER MONUMENT IN NEW MEXICO.”

“SHEESH!! IT’S A ROADRUNNER!!!”

“You know what I meant.”

“Joel, I feel like the patient telling the dentist about plaque and flossing here. Law is the practice of precise language, microscopic clarity, my man.”

“But, but I’m off the clock. This is not a billable hour.”

“Nonsense. I am billing you. That will be fifty dollars.”

“And if I don’t consent? What then, Brutus?”Image result for brutus and caesar pictures

“Then I lock you in this room to think longer about your freedom while Swiss Air boards for Geneva.”

“You wouldn’t!”

Through the glass french doors, “Uh, I did.”

Yelling hysterically, “Kaitlin, help me. That madman has locked me in here and I need to get to the Matterhorn for my mountain bike class.”

Kaitlin, knowingly nods to me and dials 911. “Yeah, I’m at the coffee shop on the square, and we have an elderly man with nice hair and no abs here who seems to be in a psychotic state. Uh huh, yeah, like biking in the Alps? Okay, I will. Click.”

“No! No! Kaitlin, you can’t believe him. He will steal your mind and then your soul.”Image result for psychotic screams in movies stills

Requiescat in pace, dear Joel.

 

 

 

 

593. Hypocrisy

Oh what is hypocrisya feigning to be what one is not, or to believe what one does not : behavior that contradicts what one claims to believe or feel.

And a hypocrite? Image result for greek actors in masks pictures

The word hypocrite ultimately came into English from the Greek word hypokrites, which means “an actor” or “a stage player.” The Greek word itself is a compound noun: it’s made up of two Greek words that literally translate as “an interpreter from underneath.” That bizarre compound makes more sense when you know that the actors in ancient Greek theater wore large masks to mark which character they were playing, and so they interpreted the story from underneath their masks.

The Greek word took on an extended meaning to refer to any person who was wearing a figurative mask and pretending to be someone or something they were not. This sense was taken into medieval French and then into English, where it showed up with its earlier spelling, ypocrite, in 13th-century religious texts to refer to someone who pretends to be morally good or pious in order to deceive others. (Hypocrite gained its initial h- by the 16th century.) merriam webster

Image result for nixon picturesWell, we still  have stage actors pretending to be what they are not. Washington, D.C. is remarkably similar to Hollywood, CA in this respect. A lot of pretending going on. My oldest child once told me that ‘Washington is Hollywood for ugly people’, which I find  profound and disturbing at the same time when I think of Richard Nixon and LBJ and DJT. Ugly people indeed on many levels, starring in their own debacles. Image result for lbj pictures

So I was reading about the journalist/genealogist lady, Jennifer Mendelsohn at #resistancegenealogy. She has been combining her skills to push back against the anti-immigrant party line from the Trump Administration by directly revealing the immigrant history of some key players pushing against immigrants.

Starting with Stephen Miller, Miller was an architect of the administration’s poorly-received “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, as well as Trump’s controversial 2017 “travel ban” that affected some Muslim-majority countries. Miller also raised eyebrows that year for the extended debate he held with CNN’s Jim Acosta during a White House briefing.Image result for stephen miller pictures

“I challenge any news organization here: Do a poll, ask these questions,” Miller said, after saying he thought voters would want the immigration system changed. “Do you think we should favor applicants to our country who speak English, yes or no?… Do you think we should prioritize people based on skill?”
Turns out, Miller is a descendant of immigrants who did not speak English, according to Mendelsohn’s research. She unearthed that tidbit after said press briefing, when she found a 1910 Census record that she said notes the language skills of Miller’s immigrant great-grandmother, i.e., Yo no hablo Ingles. [CNN]Image result for old jewish immigrant photos
Oh, but Stephen Miller rails on about the undesirability of people who are not a dollop different from his ancestors. And I think it would be great if he self-deported in order to prove the righteousness of his position, since his ancestors obviously produced at least one full blown idiot of hatred who proposes these policies of national cretinism.
Image result for jennifer mendelsohn pictures
Mendelsohn’s own U.S. family came from Jewish immigrants, not all of whom emigrated from Europe and were murdered in the Holocaust. Policies have consequences, intended and otherwise. I hope to God that we don’t have a Guatemalan refugee’s descendant telling this same story over in one hundred years. You know?  Like the end of Robert Frost’s famous poem The Road Not Taken,
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
There are intersections in roads and deserts, at borders, in railways, airports, and in history. We seem to be at a moral crossroad these days. For the past few years the “us versus them” narrative has been promoted by King Con Don, maybe the greatest hypocrite in the history of the Universe. I mean, he’s huge and ignorant, despite his oft repeated claim to an enormous I.Q.
Image result for king kong trump pictures
Of course, the Con Don lies about his ancestry or so thoroughly floods the atmosphere with hyperbole that it doesn’t matter in the end if he is from Ipswich or Bangladesh. Just like his politics, he has been a Democrat, a Libertarian, and recently a red dog Republican. Remember when he threatened to run as a self funded independent? Oh, yeah.
Donald Trump’s paternal ancestry is traceable to Bobenheim am Berg, a village in the Palatinate, Germany, in the 18th century. Johann Trump, born in Bobenheim in 1789, moved to the nearby village of Kallstadt where his grandson, Friedrich Trump, the grandfather of Donald Trump, was born in 1869. This German heritage was long concealed by Donald Trump’s father, Fred Trump, who had grown up in a mainly German-speaking environment until he was 10 years old; after World War II and until the 1980s, he told people he was of Swedish ancestry. Donald Trump repeated this version in The Art of the Deal (1987) but later said he is “proud” of his German heritage, and served as grand marshal of the 1999 German-American Steuben Parade in New York City. [Wikipedia]
What? wait– Don’s granpa didn’t speak English? No way. How did he get in?
Image result for trump campaign pictures
No matter where one looks in Don the Con’s life, you find duplicity, pretense, scams, contradictions and hypocrisy. We all have our flaws and make mistakes. The difference with Don the Con is that he has made a flaming four star career out of flaunting his hypocrisy and wiggling out of being held accountable for his uncountable lies. The man who liked to say, “No one respects women more than I do” often groped women and kissed them without consent. Likewise he was quoted as saying to a reporter, “I am the least racist person you have ever met.” As we have seen repeatedly, he likes white people like himself. So perhaps he meant he was very accepting of white men.
Image result for trump properties pictures
Now when a businessman fails to succeed in his endeavors, our laws allow bankruptcy proceedings to relieve him of crushing debt and to keep him out of debtors prison. Our system of capitalism and the legal system that parallels it encourages risk taking. I like that fertile combination, and I admire entrepreneurs. However, Don the Con, self professed business genius, has filed for bankruptcy many times… not personally, of course. That would mean his money went bye bye.
Here are a few of his failures,

Donald Trump has undertaken a number of business projects that ultimately failed (or failed to live up to his lofty projections) without resulting in bankruptcies, including:

Trump Steaks
GoTrump (online travel site)
Trump Airlines
Trump Vodka
Trump Mortgage
Trump: The Game
Trump Magazine
Trump University (Settled out of court for $25 million in damages)
Trump Ice (bottled water)
The New Jersey Generals (pro football team)
Tour de Trump (bicycle race)
Trump Network (nutritional supplements)
Trumped! (syndicated radio spot)

Image result for trump university pictures

Genius at work here. I have no objections to his failed businesses. It is his moral bankruptcy that eats at my marrow like leukemia. Certainly his unethical and illegal business practices are legendary, but when you do business with the devil, it is your choice. His moral bankruptcy is like Nixon’s cancer on the Presidency and affects millions who did not choose his putrescence. Yet we are left with the stench of his moral decay.

Image result for white house on fire pictures

Our “interpreter from below”, which sounds like a description for Satan, is burning down the house. God help the Republic.

592. Driving With Miss Donald

Related imageI was embarrassed to not have a driver’s license at age 34, but growing up in New York City, it was not unusual to be without a license because of the lack of parking and the presence of adequate mass transit. I rode the train from Brooklyn to Manhattan and back five days a week from age 12 on up past law school and more. What’s that? 22 years, right? But every so often I felt like a terminal teenager when I was in need of a car or out of town. Then I really needed my own wheels, ya know? So I called my buddy Don.

Image result for michael cohen on phone picturesI said, “Yo, Donald! I need to learn how to drive and you are such a smart guy. Remember me from back in Queens and then military school?” I said. And he said, “Sure, Michael. Michael Cohen, old butt suck. How are you? I’ll do it for free. I’ll send a guy over to show you. No charge.”

I was a little put off by Mr. Trump’s lack of validating our brotherly bond. So I says, “Hey, Don, I’d really like you to show me the ropes, ya know?” That’s when he shifted into that smooth voice of his, not the almost yelling voice he uses in front of airplanes and helicopters. He says to me kinda whispery like, “Michael, I need you to do something for me, for the family. You know what I mean?”Image result for don corleone pictures

And I says, “Sure, you want me to knock some heads and dump some bodies, right?” And he says, “That’s it. We’re gonna be huge again, buddy. But, and I mean this sincerely, Michael, I need loyalty. I need one of your testicles as a sign of your good faith. It’s what I do.”

And me? I says, “No problem, I was born with an extra set, ya know. Ha ha ha ha ha.” Cuz I knew he was kiddin’. Mr. Trump is like that, always dodging and blowing stuff up.  A master of chaos. He plays three dimensional checkers backwards in a mirror, so he does. Always a step ahead. I says, “What are you gonna do with these loyalty nads, go golfing? Ha ha ha.”  Image result for trump golfing pictures

Oh, and he played it straight. Said, “Actually, I take a bucket of them to the driving range and hit them into the river at Bedminster. It’s a way of symbolically and literally emasculating men, turning them into half eunuchs so they can never challenge me as king of the pride.”Image result for lion faces

Oh I laughed so hard at him and his straight face. It was great, lemme tell yuz. He cleared his throat and said, “Excuse me. I have a call to return.” I mean I fell out. He seemed dead serious and all. Hysterical. Oy ve, what a comic!

Related imageBut a week later I got a call from Mt. Sinai Hospital for my testiclectomy. It really shook me. I knew my drivin’ lessons were gonna cost me sumthin’, but then I realized it would be more than I could ever repay.

Image result for michael cohen on phone picturesAfter my stitches healed up, Mr. Trump showed up in a silver Jaguar, a real British one with the steering wheel way over on the right side. It was cool. He said, “Get in” and before I could click my seat belt we were flying down the streets headin’ for Jersey like a bat mobile outta hell. I could feel the G forces pushing my head back into the fine Corinthian leather headrests. I said, “Mr. Trump, you’re a genius.” He smiled and looked at himself in the rear view mirror and gave me a thumbs up. “Yes I am.”

“Michael, you’ve passed your first test of loyalty. Now I need you to repeat after me, the Omerta oath.”

That’s when I got scareder. I said, “Uh, uh, Mr. Trump, uh, that’s the mafia code of silence, isn’t it?”

“Yes, Michael. You are astute, my man. It is the original nondisclosure agreement.”

“But, Mr. Trump”, I says, “isn’t that ill, illle, illegal?”

He turned at me and glared into my very viscera. Without any words exchanged between us I knew he now owned my soul forever. “Michael, I’ll need your other testicle one day when I call in a favor. Omerta?”Image result for don corleone pictures

What else could I say? I felt hypnotized by Mr. Trump’s overwhelming presence at 85 miles per hour. “Omerta, sir”, I replied.

Something inside of me died that day. I already had my kids so I knew being a eunuch wouldn’t be so bad. I mean, at least I’d have my kids, but it was something else, like my humanity died. I felt like a porn star. I noticed all the other men around Mr. Trump were like me– adoring him, laughing nervously, talking too fast, rushing to fawn over him like generals in North Korea do with Kimba. We couldn’t help it, not one of us. We were tiny tacks of men and he was the big kahuna magnet drawing us whichever way he chose. We all just jumped to get closer to him, to serve his every whim. To lick his boots with tears of joy.Image result for kim jong un photos

When we pulled into Trump International Resort Spa Esplanade Concourse Palladium, he told me to get his clubs out of the trunk that he automatically opened. I ran excitedly to caddy for the great man. I was stunned to see only putters and a bucket of “balls” in the boot, as the Brits call trunks.

“Mr. Trump, I’m afraid there’s been a terrible mistake, sir. There are only putters here.”

“It’s okay, Michael. Today we’re playing putt putt. Bring the bucket.”

I did as I was told, so thrilled to be paling around with the Boss. I felt like, well like a prom queen.Image result for michael cohen as a drag queen photo

When we got to the first hole, he said to me, “Put Sessions’ nad down. I hate that inexcusable recuser.”  I looked through the balls until I found one with JS imprinted on it. Mr Trump teed off and launched that nugget right through the metal clown’s mouth obstacle for a hole in one. Amazing controlled rage.

Image result for anthony scaramucci photosHole 2 he asked for Scaramucci’s nut. I placed it gingerly on the tee. “That stupid jerk could not keep his mouth shut for a New York minute”, he said and began beating the nad into the astroturf, while screaming, “Loyalty. I need loyalty!!”

Hole 3 and all the rest were the same, score settling with anyone who failed him in any way. “Rudy!!” “Manafort!!” “Flynn!!” “Spicey!!” “Stormy!!”

I felt squeamish but had to correct him that there was no Stormy nugget to hit.636546450726430840-AP-TRUMP-PORN-STAR-66092104.JPG

He wheeled around on me and stared into my soul again. “Then use your own. Now!! It’s all your fault, Michael.”

I bowed down to do the deed, from far away I heard the theme song to Branded play…

Branded! 
Scorned as the one who ran. 
What do you do when you’re branded, 
And you know you’re a man? 

And wherever you go 
for the rest of your life 
You must prove … 
You’re a man! Related image

 

 

591. Thunder Road

Image result for born to run album coverSpringsteen is on Pandora this a.m. plinking on piano keys from yesteryear’s Born To Run album. “Thunder Road” builds like a summer storm with guitar, drum and bass, a lot like last night’s rumblings across the valley and over our raised rancher house, while Jess and Zach visited as they do on Wednesday evenings.

The screen door slams, Mary’s dress waves
Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely
Hey, that’s me and I want you only
Don’t turn me home again, I just can’t face myself alone again
Don’t run back inside, darling, you know just what I’m here for
So you’re scared and you’re thinking that maybe we ain’t that young anymore
Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night
You ain’t a beauty but, hey, you’re alright
Oh, and that’s alright with me

As rain began to fall slowly in fat drops, my wife asked me to switch out the propane tank on the grille so we could finish sizzling the sweet potatoes and pineapple. Well sure! I jumped to it. Five minutes later the sizzle returned and I came in off the deck. Sizzling myself.

Image result for dark skies images

Zack asked me if I’d blown up the grille, an obtuse reference to an old story I have reported here from my college apartment living days when I blew up a gas stove and the kitchen/bath/living room nook surrounding it. “I guess not, since the windows haven’t blown out, and no one is covered in horsehair plaster.”

Related image

“That happened 42 years ago, my good man.”

“Okay. But it’s a classic story.”

Zach likes a good joke, pun, or funny story. He has a crystalline memory and likes to tweak me at dinners when he can manage to penetrate my invisible vest of chain maille. We actually share a strange resemblance in that area, which may explain why he fits in with my daughter and wife so well. He is riding on my abundant coat tails woven of wit, charm, and genius. Image result for ancient golden fabric pictures Or is it self delusions of grandeur?

In any event the thunder rolled on as it does on humid summer nights. I can recall sitting on the steps outside 218 E. Main Street in Richmond,Virginia on obscenely hot and humid nights, smoking a cigarette while watching the one way traffic move west, which was to the viewer’s right. Our second floor flat was hellishly hot. Our window fans merely moved hot air in and through our overheated rooms, mercilessly like industrial hair dryers. My roommates Sam and Mark would hope for an evening shower to cool the furnace. Even if we received a shower, we knew the humidity would start to rebuild as liquid water was reabsorbed into the nearly solid air, which felt like jell-o on one’s sweaty skin.Related image

Maybe out of helplessness or hopelessness we’d buy some cold cheap beer and crank up Springsteen’s Born To Run. Now I know Richmond was not Jersey, but the bleak tapestry of the pre urban revitalization sights, smells and atmospherics were enough to push us into desperate psychic places.Image result for springsteen head shots

Hey, what else can we do now?
Except roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair
Well, the night’s busting open, these two lanes will take us anywhere
We got one last chance to make it real
To trade in these wings on some wheels
Climb in back, heaven’s waiting on down the tracks

One night we were pondering navel lint and other such worldwide problems when we decided to liberate and relocate an old refrigerator from an abandoned gas station at the corner of Main and Belvidere Street. We figured there was at least a chance it might work, and you can’t steal what has been abandoned. So it was a legal move. Anyway three or four of us carried that dirty old ice coffin two blocks downhill; up two flights of external concrete steps; and then finally up a long flight of wooden steps to an alcove in the hallway. We stood back and plugged it in. “Gentlemen, a moment of prayer.” Hummmmmm. It worked, which was a good thing because we were not going to repatriate it to the debris strewn building ruin from which it came.Image result for four guys carrying a fridge  photos

“Great! Now we can store our beer in the hallway, thirty feet closer to our mouths.”

“Whoopeee! That sucker was born to run!”

“Crank up Springsteen and rattle the plaster, boys.”Image result for springsteen head shots

Oh oh, come take my hand
We’re riding out tonight to case the promised land
Oh oh oh oh, Thunder Road
Oh, Thunder Road, oh, Thunder Road
Lying out there like a killer in the sun
Hey, I know it’s late, we can make it if we run
Oh oh oh oh, Thunder Road
Sit tight, take hold, Thunder Road

When you are young and desperately powerless, it’s nice to feel vicariously what risky wild passion must feel like. Bruce tapped into that longing for some vague redemption that existed, had to exist somewhere else. We didn’t have a car or money for gas and insurance.  We walked into bars backwards to avoid the $3.00 cover charge or claimed to be with the band. Once we got in to The Back Door or The Pass, we’d sit close to the band. “See?” one of us would claim pathetically, “we are WITH the band”, using the preposition in a very broad spatial manner, because in no way were we affiliated with the band.A street art sign for Handlebar in the

Ah, but we had Bruce on the turntable giving us inspiration for some undefined, very secular promised land blasting through the speakers.Related image

Oh oh, come take my hand
We’re riding out tonight to case the promised land
Oh oh oh oh, Thunder Road
Oh, Thunder Road, oh, Thunder Road
Lying out there like a killer in the sun
Hey, I know it’s late, we can make it if we run
Oh oh oh oh, Thunder Road
Sit tight, take hold, Thunder Road

Downstairs on the worn concrete steps with weeds sprouting out of the cracks, the Wonder Bread store’s neon light glowed like a psychedelic sun that would not set. Cars and trucks swooshed by on Main Street as the dead air rumbled our sweaty butts into torpidity.

Image result for 1970's guys sitting on city steps

Oh, Thunder Road… where have you and Bruce and Mary gone?

 

590. The Price of Everything; the value of nothing.

10 lb. Clear Plastic Drawstring Ice Bag with Polar Bear Graphic - 500/Case

We all know someone who is the penny-wise but pound-foolish accountant of all things material. You know the guy who can quote the cost of a 10 pound bag of ice at WalMart who refuses to pay for ice, so he makes it and stores it at home in his $450 freezer. Nobody is going to take advantage of him, no sirree, and make him pay $1.49 for ten pounds of frozen water.

Related image“Why that’s $.15 a pound for goodness sake! You start with two gallons of water, which is essentially free, and then you’re gonna charge me $1.49 to freeze that into cubes and bag it up and store it until I come to you and buy it? Sheesh. No way, Mr. Scammit. Not when I can buy my own freezer for $450 plus tax and delivery charges and run it for around $53 per year in electric.”      You know a guy like that, right?

Image result for antiques roadshow picturesI enjoy watching The Antiques Roadshow. If you have not seen it, the deal is that expert appraisers set up in a hall of a town, let’s say Cincinnati. Locals bring in old stuff and get it appraised for free. The show cuts to the most interesting objects– often pottery, china,  art, rugs, furniture, jewelry, books, etc. Usually the local person has no idea what the object is worth, i.e. the price. Naturally they hope for a high appraisal.

Image result for bob dylan imagesIn one memorable episode a guy had a song written on the back of a NYC nightclub flyer from the early 1960’s. A songwriter whose name escapes me had written three verses in ink, which impressed the expert. He put a value/price on that side of maybe a thousand dollars. (Don’t hold me to firm figures here, folks; it’s all memory work.) The owner was pleased with the estimate, but there was more. The appraiser said, “You may find it interesting that the other side of this flyer advertised Bob Dylan playing a small club in Greenwich Village. Such memorabilia are rare since they were usually stapled to telephone poles and left in the rain. This one, however, is in good condition. Any guess what it’s worth?”

“Uh, no. It never occurred to me that the other side had any worth.”

“Try five thousand dollars.”

Mind blowing to say the least. Monetized lightning hit the same spot twice, so to speak. Image result for lightning hitting the ground photos

Not always, but usually the owner of the appraised piece says something like, “I’ll never sell it. It’s a part of me/my family.” And there is that price vs. value theme again. The appraiser is keen on figures and comparatives, sort of like a real estate agent. He/she knows the price of objects in their expertise areas. Value, on the other hand, is subjective. It’s in the heart of the owner or not.

Every so often a person will state that they hate the object and brought it to the Roadshow hoping to get rid of it. “My wife bought this hideosity at a garage sale.” When the appraiser gives him/her a high estimate, the excitement of selling and parting with the object rises up in the wink of an eye. You know they’ll sell it as soon as possible because they don’t value the now pricey item. They value its price.

Then there is the occasional over estimation by the owner of a fraudulent antique. In this case the expert has the unenviable job of telling the collector that he/she was duped and overpaid for the fake sword, gun, piece of pottery, or fake Tiffany lamp. Once again, price and value are not in alignment and someone leaves with a sore butt. The fake Pre-Columbian bowl above was bought for $1800 but worth only $200. Had it been real, oh and how the defrauded owner salivates at the prospect, it would have fetched $6-8,000. Bummer times forty.

Related imageIn my business I see devalued folks all the time. Low self esteemers who present as broken, mundane, run of the mill folks. They can’t stand a compliment and suffer from impostor syndrome. This is a combination of downplaying any successes as mistakes or luck, while always over blaming themselves for any mistakes or perceived failures. LSE’s wander around looking for swords of shame to fall on. They do not have any idea of their worth. In the absence of proof they assume the lowest possible estimate…less than zero. Their life experience validates their guesstimates.

Image result for empty glass picturesI try to explain where self esteem comes from. We are not born with it. We are empty vessels, so to speak. Our initial caregivers pour this precious liquid into us by words, noises, touches, and taking care of all our baby needs. Later on we get more esteem in preschool or kindergarten, on sports teams or at dance studios. By the time we get to elementary school, the larger world that includes academic and social evaluation comes into play. Slowly, ever so slowly the big world molds and hardens our sense of self through endless repetitions– “you are fat, smart, fast, funny, sassy, good looking, a leader, a loser, dumb, hopeless, helpful, etc.”

Self esteem hardens through adolescence and crystallizes in young adult life. Unless epiphanies or insights break through the hardened beliefs, the young person carries this self belief template forward into the rest of his/her life… for better or worse.

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I recall a student I had long ago in middle school. He was caught up in immature, imitative goofy behaviors with his not so bright peers. The thing about Dean was that he had intelligence and wit. He didn’t know it, however. One day I called it to his attention.

“You are smarter than you behave”, I told him.

“No I’m not. I’m stupid”, he replied.

“Dean, truly stupid people don’t know they are stupid. If they suspect that they are stupid, then they’ll avoid the subject not own it.”

“You’re wrong. I’m dumb.”

“Well, here’s what I’d like to suggest: I’m going to buy all the Dean stock I can acquire now.”

“Why would you do that?”Image result for confused teenage boy face

“Because I think I can get it for a nickel a share.”

“You’d be paying too much. And why would you do that? I don’t get it.”

“Well, I believe if I sell my Dean stock when you graduate high school, I’ll make millions on my investment. Then I can retire and buy a tropical island.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. What are you saying?”

“You tell me. Come back to me when you figure it out.”

Image result for guys playing chess picturesSeveral years went by. One day after school Dean came by to play chess. He said casually, “I figured out what you meant back in seventh grade.”

I’d forgotten quite honestly; lots of kids had come and gone in the intervening four years. My face twisted into a question mark.

“You said you wanted to buy my stock and resell it at a profit. Remember?”

“Oh yeah. That was back when you tried unsuccessfully to be a moron.”

“Yep. Those guys I hung out with in middle school are hall of fame imbeciles now. I finally realized it. Now I’m reading smart guy books. Do you know Machiavelli’s The Prince?”

“Uh, yeah. I read it in college not high school.”

“Well, I really enjoyed it. I’m reading all sorts of books these days. I’m hungry to learn. I’d like to join the Army and see if I can get into med school….”

I’d like to say this Hallmark movie story ended in a harmonious manner. It was headed that way when the truly stupid others in his life sabotaged his dreams. He slipped on the grease in his life and wound up working the swing shift at McDonald’s.Image result for mcdonalds drive up pictures

Value and price. They mix to make a Happy Meal, don’t you know? The guy at the pick up window wanted to be a doctor. I lose my appetite every time I remember this tragedy.Image result for the burgher of calais sculpture