584. Idjioting

Image result for guy on cell phone gifThe phone message was strange. A mutual friend had given this female author my phone number after she has asked him if he knew anyone in the mental health field who could also give reliable feedback on her unpublished novel. Well, he thought I was the guy because I used to teach English; I’m in the m.h. field; and I write a blog. Wow, just wow. I’m glad she didn’t need a surgeon. I can sew in a pinch but not human skin or organs.

I’m not suggesting that I can’t give decent feedback to an aspiring novelist. My concern is that the review will be like a new mother showing me her baby and asking, “Do you think it’s pretty?” Aaarrrrgggghhhh. “Uh, on a spectrum of divine cherub to gargoylian imp, your baby is definitely in there.”Image result for gargoyle pictures

“Have you ever seen such dimples like those?”

“No, I can’t say that I have.”

“And that crimson birth mark that looks like New Jersey on its nose. Why it’s enough to take your breath away.”

“Yes, Ma’am, my feeling exactly. And that pustule must be Asbury Park.”

“And a full set of sharp, pointy teeth.”

“Yeah, you could saw white oak with those teeth. A shark would be proud.”Image result for shark teeth pictures

“And the wiry red hair goes well with all the orange freckles, dontcha think?”

“Absolutely. Very Southwestern landscapey.”Image result for orange and white southwest landscape

And then the inevitable inescapable question, “Well, how did you like it?”

Of course I’d struggle, no, I will struggle to not poop down my pantsleg and step in it all at the same time. “Um, it has its points. Like the part where the one identical twin kills the other and then is overcome with remorse during the courtroom scene. Very real. I felt like I was looking at the one while listening to the other claim that they had simply melded back together, and without a body there was no crime. It was an out of body experience for me around page 89.”Image result for spooky girl movie characters

“Oh, my. No one has ever read that far before.”

“No! Why not?” (And why hadn’t I thought of that exit strategy?)

“Well, my pastor told me he had a heart murmur and gave me a note from his doctor to prove his claim. But his doctor has been dead for twenty years and he never sought a second opinion. Not very responsible, if you ask me.”Image result for elderly bishops pictures

“Totally. Makes you wonder if some folks go into ministry for their own fame and glory instead of serving the Lord and others.”

“My thoughts exactly! I can see that we are sympatico fellow travelers, senor. But tell me more about how you admired my work. I can take healthy criticism, you know.”

“Oh, uh, the symbolism of the anaconda slithering through the town was powerfully challenging, even disturbing like an old Godzilla movie.”Image result for godzilla movie stills

“Yes, yes!! Totally yes! You got that allusion to the End Times and when the Vietnamese cooks attacked it with boiling oil, steaming pho, and their butcher knives, you of course saw the seven plagues of the Revelation, right?”

“Uh, I was struck by the name of the restaurant, Levi A. Than’s Authentic Vietnamese Grub. It stunned me.”

“I so wanted to stun my readers. I’m exhilarated like a high school girl with a crush on her hunky English teacher. When I write, I like to think of my pen as a taser that stuns the unwary.”Related image

“Wow! That is a good line, ‘stun the unwary with a taser’. You need to incorporate that somehow into the narrative, Marie. Perhaps one of the cooks could utter that in broken English just before the denouement of the huge serpent winding down Main Street.”Image result for vietnamese chefs pictures

“I’ve got it. Oh, this is magical brainstorming with a man of your genius!

‘Phan Nyguen turned to the sous chef Giang Chi and nodded to the dragon passing the picture window that looked onto the street. Phan spoke with utmost purpose, ‘We must stun the unwary with a taser’. To which Giang responded, ‘Is New Year float?’ Only to face the enraged blood thirsty eyes of Phan as he strode toward the door with his cleaver in hand, repeating in a trance,’We must stun the unwary with a taser’.”

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“Brilliant, Marie!! I feel like I’m in the last booth by the door, sensing the very foundation of the restaurant quaking as the serpent grinds cars and parking meters in its coils. I can see Phan striding by me, full of purpose and chicken grease on his apron.  I know the great snake will turn toward the scent of gutted chickens, unleashing the Battle Royale in front of the shuttered Capitol Theater. Phan versus the Leviathan at Levi A. Than’s Authentic Vietnamese Grub! Oh, it’s about to get greasy and gory. I just know. Are you ready to RUMBLE?”Related image

“Oh my! This is so exciting! I feel I should sell tickets and have Hulk Hogan introduce the combatants in silk tights.”

“Yes, Marie. Work it through. Challenge mundanity. Push your genius to the very doorstep of insanity!!”Image result for hulk hogan in tights pictures

“My goodness gracious!! I taught writing for 30 years, but I never had such a creative transportation of mind, body and spirit as this. I am at the very edge of what I can withstand. I feel I must hurl myself into the abyss of art or explode.”Image result for cliff diving pictures

“Yes, yes, yesssss, Marie!! When your words tase the readers, they become warm brie cheese on garlic toast with a little bacon and sweet mustard. Silly, sloppy putty in your creative toaster oven. Serve up each syllable slowly with a spoon.”Image result for dripping brie cheese pictures

“I don’t know what to do, Mr. Burrito. I am speechless like a flake of iron being pulled helplessly toward a powerful electromagnet. Forget the novel. Take me!! Tase me. Proofread me.”

“Marie, get control of yourself, woman!  You can never mix pleasure with work. It’s one or the other. Forever.”Image result for stern bald man face

“I am torn. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine editing could be so intimate and revealing.”

“I know, Marie, but you must choose.”Image result for blue or red pill pictures

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583. Poof Sans Proof

These days there is much smoke and haze without any visible fire, though the old aphorism reminds us that “Where there is smoke, there is fire”. However, aphorisms are not always true; they are simply handed down as generally true statements, most of the time, depending on circumstances, might be useful, maybe not. Don’t take my word for it. In all disputable cases, Google it.

  • aphorism, noun, a pithy observation that contains a general truth, such as, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Related imageIf you have ever seen a smoke grenade or flare, a fog machine or dry ice vapors, then you know sometimes there is smoke without fire. In fact these are intentional devices that help obscure troops in danger or define a landing zone in combat. Fog is used to set a mood in stage productions or movies. I’m not telling you anything new here. Smoke, fog, and haze are used to manipulate the observer away from what is in some cases; in other cases, the smoke delineates a safe zone for a helicopter to land safely.

Smoke grenades are used for several purposes. The primary use is the creation of smoke screens for concealment and the signalling of aircraft.

Related imageMy regular readers already know where I am heading. I don’t need to signal them with smoke and mirrors. Our Smoker in Chief is at it again and again and again, like a madman 5K powder race organizer, blowing smoke everywhere to create a screen of plausible deniability or a cloud of impenetrable chaos wherein everything is obscured and therefore suspect. Traction is lost in the distortions of distraction. Truth is intentionally covered in contorted mists and dusty doubts. Trust is intentionally dissolved according to the KGB dictator playbook. Then, in the midst of all this dissolution, an authoritarian despot declares martial law and uses the Constitution as toilet paper.

distraction, noun, a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else.Image result for googly eyed cartoon gif

You see, traction means to draw or drag something along. A tractor does this on fields until it gets stuck in a slippery swampy spot. Then the tractor is dis- tracted. No matter the gear or the size or psi of the tires, it merely spins in the lowland muck. The wet ground cannot support the weight of what lies floundering above it.Image result for tractor stuck in mud pictures

Some will look at this image and see Trump, stuck in his greasy lies. Others will see Mueller and the Deep State wading knee deep in conspiracy. You are free to project whatever meaning you like. I’d like to look at irrefutable facts first.

All politicians have practiced the art of lying until they get caught, at which point they lie about their previous lies or take issue with the tone of the interviewing journalist. Eventually they default to “no one is perfect” or “politics is a rough and tumble business”. Never admitting fault or offering apologies.  The great deceivers go the extra mile of conspiracy theories to wiggle out of tight spots. Nixon was “practiced at the art of deception” to quote Mick Jagger. He created the infamous and mythical “Silent Majority” whose mandate he pretended to protect in 1968 until his resignation in disgrace. His trick was to turn the media’s focused attention away from the anti-war protests and the illegalities practiced by the Nixon Administration and on to this stable conservative group of patriots who were remarkably mute. He spoke of law and order and deep patriotism, pre-chewed pablum for mass consumption, so easy to thoughtlessly swallow.Related image

Magically Richard Millhouse Nixon was the mute whisperer. Only he could channel the silent messages sent into space by millions of mute Americans. And surprise! They all supported his agenda. Surprise! What an amazing revelation from the rabid anti-communist who slavered at the back of Commie Hunter, Joe McCarthy. Joe liked a good conspiracy theory too, and he didn’t mind destroying lives in the process. He knew and taught Nixon that fear is a tool to maintain power.Related image

Bill Clinton developed “a vast right wing conspiracy” theory to explain away his lechery legacy. Hillary ran point for him, pathetically in the end. However, with enough manipulation of fog and smoke, anyone can look like Superman. [This video clip is actually Ed from the loading dock with CGI clouds racing over  him. Cool, huh? Don and Darwin did that down in graphics in thirty minutes. He is actually standing on a milk crate with a cape. Those guys are wizards!]Related image

We live in a precarious time when the cry of fake news is just as loud as real news, maybe louder. It’s up to the conscious citizenry to be able to tweak out truth from all the competing voices. How do we know what is true? Well, so often we don’t immediately know and therefore have to weed through competing narratives to arrive at what we believe is true until it is verified indisputably. We need critical thinking skills to ask questions that can deconstruct the tone from the rhetoric from the proposed facts. We can use logic and experience/history to check the facts. What we can’t do is rush to conclusions, which is what the lying car salesman wants us to do…”Hurry up and sign at the X down on the bottom. My manager might change his mind cuz’ you are stealing this car, Buddy! It’s the end of the month and the quarter, so we’re letting them go for cheap. You lucked out today.”Related image

So much smoke and so many mirrors. What’s real and what is a reflection of reality?  You don’t know until you reach for a glass of wine and hit the plate glass mirror. Doink!

What’s true? We don’t know all of the truth. We do know some Trumpisms have been proven false.

The Central Park Five were guilty without a trial and therefore needed to be executed.

The Obama birth certificate scandal.

The Deep State Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower during his campaign.

The Deep State FBI planted a spy in his campaign.

There was no collusion.

He never paid off the porn star.

Women love him.

Smoke. No fire, Don. No matter how many times you repeat your lies, they remain lies. They can’t burn true because you have sucked all the oxygen out of the lab, and there was nothing of substance to ignite.

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And what’s wrong with a little pathological lying, you ask? The horrific consequences.

Banned Picture Of Hitler

 

582. Serial Noodleist

Image result for noodle making machine picturesAfter ruminating about my last post and sifting through a bunch of old cartoons, it has dawned on me that I am a serial noodler. Blogging is just the latest activity I’ve fallen in to and kept at feverishly. I have a tendency to get excited about something new and pour energy into it, like the old neighbor’s dog Dusty, who used to chase cars down The Parkway when she was young and spry. She never actually caught her teeth on any of the tires she snapped at. I guess the chase was all that mattered; it provided purpose and exercise in her decade of mindless dog years. The dog years of my morning cartoons were minor efforts by comparison, a mere distraction from the repetitive nature of public school’s structured routine. I quit caring which lunch kids wanted. I felt a patriotic pull to entertain our forgotten servicewomen in the office, Nancy and Sandy. A sweet pair of ladies if ever there were such a pair.Image result for two older ladies smiling

A few years ago I got into shooting the devilish groundhogs who burrow into the bank at the end of my yard and sometimes boldly strut right up to my deck. At first I settled with impersonally eliminating them. I tried to poison them with paint thinner and gasoline. Then I tried cyanide pellets. One time I tried flooding them out with a garden hose. After a couple of hours a family of skunks came crawling out of the hole. I chased ground hogs with a machete, a pitchfork, and various rocks. No success… until I bought a .22 rifle a few years ago. Once I got familiar with the open sights, my kill rate soared. I cleaned up my yard and yearned for more carnage.Related image

My buddy Gary invited me to his 12 acre farmette to kill as many groundhogs as I liked. In year one I killed 46. I was fervent, blood thirsty. My success worked against me, however. The living groundhogs got smarter as I became a DARK, dangerous fixture in their ecosystem. Eventually my opportunities for shots were all beyond 75 yards, and my open sights weren’t suited for long distance. That’s when I splurged and bought a .22 magnum with an 8 x scope for $300. Suddenly I felt like a Marine sniper. I could and did shoot 150 and 200 yards with some success. I could still use a bipod to steady the heavy gun, though. My kill total went up to 48, and then down to 36 the next year or so as other things competed for my time, while Gary’s house was built on some prime groundhog ground. Success led to failure over time. I needed to let the herd repopulate.Related image

Perhaps this summer will bring new totals since I did little or no hunting the past two summers. I’m saving on ammo anyway.

Another streak that I ran was making water color greeting cards. I had a fairly straight formula I followed. I’d draw images in pencil on a quarter sheet of heavy watercolor paper. From start to finish I’d have maybe two hours in each card. I gave them away or sent them as Christmas cards. I have some copies in a binder that bring me some moments of contented satisfaction. Every once in a great while I will still do a card, but it takes a lot more to motivate me that my life is less stressful.Related image

There was chess a long while ago. I played whenever I had a chance.  The problem was always finding a suitable partner. Eric moved to Florida. Mohammed drifted to another coffee shop. Ron quit on me. I still love playing when the opportunity arises. Call me.Image result for chess game photos

Then along came blogging. I had to ask my oldest daughter what a blog was years ago. She told me the facts of cyber life and it seemed simple enough. I had a lot of unprocessed mental sewage backed up. So I began this voiding enterprise in 2012, I think. Yeah, over six years ago. Some time after establishing the world famous Coffee Nation Summit that meets on Thursdays at 8:30 a.m.Image result for men's coffee group photos

I think all these noodlings come from the same deep spring of inspiration– not to be forgotten. I recall parenting my three daughters and wanting them to have unforgettable Dad memories. I may have tried too hard, which likely comes from a feeling of not mattering enough in my original family. Back then I think my m.o. went something like this:  “Pay attention, damnit!!” Which didn’t help much. I suppose that lack of recognition or affirmation drove me outward toward others for their acceptance and esteem. I got a lot of that in the various jobs I did in high school and college. Most of my employers welcomed me back and granted unsolicited approval. I suppose I worked harder where I sensed there was a level playing field and still do.Related image

So now it’s blogging all over the blank white screen in front of me. More for my own purpose than anything else. I’ve talked to a few other guys who wrote blogs for a while and then quit. They said the same thing, “When the numbers of readers weren’t there, I quit.” So, I surmised, they were writing for others. Even if they had succeeded, they would have failed. To continue anything long term you must do it for the right reasons. And not to sound like the guru of insight and wisdom, I think if you are content with your own self expression, that’s enough. If anyone bothers to appreciate your work, that’s a bonus not a destination.Image result for crowds at an art museum photos

Noodle, noodle, noodle along… without the desire to be the best at any of these activities. Nope. When I was a teacher, I tried to be the best teacher in my classroom. It was futile and delusional to think beyond my domain of control. In counseling I try to be the best counselor in the room, and no more. Some days I was taught by my students; and some days I am counseled by my clients, and we both gain in the process. It’s hard enough to pilot your own helicopter; trying to fly your neighbor’s is a good way to crash, burn and die. To your own noodle be true.Image result for helicopter crash photos

 

 

581. Weather and Traffic with Ira

Image result for middle school kids in class room picturesLong ago in my previous lifetime I was a middle school English teacher, which I would describe as part cat herder and part crash test dummy. Twenty three years were spent in two classrooms with 130 plus kids each year spread out over 7 or 9 periods daily. I figure I directly taught 3,000 students and had contact with another 1-2,000 in clubs and other connections, such as lunch duty or bus duty or in school suspension. Lots of little stories are linked to those contacts, beginning with homeroom.Image result for pictures of ink drop art

Homeroom was the start of each day. There were several activities that had to take place each morning. Attendance, lunch count, announcements, the flag salute, and the occasional handout or delivery. Kids sat in alphabetical order for fifteen minutes and were counted present or counted absent. Sometimes it was hard to tell if a kid was truly there. He/she might be sleeping or dodging any eye contact.Image result for shy boy faces

By the first or second week of school I had students do the roll and lunch count after demonstrating what was involved in the simple task. They usually enjoyed doing it, and I could then concentrate on my daily cartoon for the office ladies, Nancy and Sandy. [Usually one of them would be eaten by a snake or carried off in a tornado plume, a la The Far Side. Unbeknownst to me, Sandy made copies of many of my cartoons and gave them to me in a folder at my retirement party. I was touched.]Image result for far side cartoons

At the start of another new year we were humming along in the first row of students, at the end of which sat Ira, withdrawn and depressed. On the day it was his turn to do the routine, he ducked his head. The other students said to me, “Ira is too shy. He doesn’t talk out loud.”Image result for shy boy pictures

“Oh, Ira. Come here.” I asked him to stand next to me and mark who was absent. He was visibly nervous and unsure of himself.

“How can I tell who is absent?” he whispered.

“See the empty seat?  Just match that with my seating chart and strike a line through the kid’s name on the attendance sheet.”

“Okay. Uh, let’s see, Shelly and Ryan are the only ones absent.”

“Did you strike their names?”

“Yeah.”Image result for shy boy pictures

“You are a natural! I can retire. Now let’s look at the lunch options. Just ask the kids which they’d like.”

He whispered now. “uh, A lunch, anyone?” I barely heard him. So I leaned over to hear him and then yelled, “Ira wants to know who wants A lunch!”

Image result for will ferrell movie shotsChuckles rose with hands. We continued through B lunch, salad bar and sandwich bar. Most importantly Ira began to smile and chuckle too. I think I said something like, “Ladies and gentlemen, the homeroom show has been brought to you by IRA and the Dairy Council of Franklin County. Milk does a body good.” Fun applause burst out; the bell rang; and all the kids left smiling.

You can’t know every student’s back story and issues. All you get as a teacher is the demeanor and attitude of the kids in front of you. You figure out the rest a day at a time… or not. Some stay under the radar and enjoy their invisibility. Not everyone is willing to be known.

Related imageThe next day I was about to have the first student in row two come up and do the lunch count routine, when a mutiny broke out. “We want Ira to do it again.”  Others followed, “Yeah, yeah. Ira, Ira.” The kid in row two looked relieved as Ira came up to repeat his previous performance. With little affect but more volume than the day before, Ira carried out his appointed duties. I played the comic to his straight man.

“Ira, how about the weather? What can we expect today?”

He looked out the window and offered, “Well, sunny, uh warm, maybe in the 70’s?”Image result for sunny view through window

Again, the kids appreciated Ira’s effort and giggled and clapped. A star was being born. For the next few months it was his show, and it expanded every so often. Some days I’d introduce Ira as the weatherman or “It’s time for traffic and weather with Ira.” He’d say something innocuous and bland like “Traffic is backed up on second street, Bob.”Image result for traffic helicopter pictures

Some days I’d add the helicopter report with a “Flub flub flub, I’m here in the Channel 6 helicopter over Waynesboro, (flub, flub, flub) Ira, and I gotta tell you, it’s a mess all the way down Route 16 to the Summit.”Image result for kids giving speeches pictures

Ira might respond with “Okay, thanks for that sky view, Bob. And now who wants A lunch?” The morning show got to be a lot of fun with jokes and gags and unsolicited details about the food.

One morning I offered the idea of a pre-chewed menu. Naturally the kids asked, “What’s that?”

“Well, it’s the same food only it has already been chewed for you so that you can save effort and time in the lunch room. It comes with a straw like a smoothie.”Image result for spam smoothie pictures

“Who chews it?”

“Trustees at the Franklin County Prison.”

“oooooohhhhh, that’s gross.”

“What? They’ve had all their shots and blood tests. Same as cows chewing grass and making milk.”Related image

“No it’s not!”

“Sure it is. Only the prison trustees don’t swallow or digest their food. They simply masticate and regurgitate.”

“Ahhhh. Those are bad words!!! I’m tellin’!”Image result for kids faces of shock and surprise

“Please tell someone you have learned two new multi-syllabic words.”

And so it went with variations on a theme of goofiness and having a spot of fun each morning to start the day. Ira seemed to stay out of his shell, as I recall. We never probed why he was in one to begin with. It’s a no brainer that hurt preceded the need for a thick shell and the social camouflage of quietness and avoiding eye contact. Fear of being known negatively can prevent one from being known at all.

Image result for huge tortoise picturesI sometimes ask over-defended counseling clients if they’ve heard of the turtle with the 100 pound shell. “No, what about it?” they often reply.

“It died four inches away from its food dish. The shell was so heavy it could not move.”

“Oh. I get it.”

A man must be here to eat and enjoy the weather despite the traffic. I learned that in homeroom.Image result for traffic jam pictures from helicopter

 

 

580. Greatest Hits

Related imageMy FB buddy and former neighborhood friend Mickey Marche posted his top 10 most influential long playing albums from the 1960′-70’s over the last 10 days. I did not disagree with his choices except for Mitch Miller, even as an honorable mention. I mean, really? Where is the hippie/counterculture turbulence in M.M? I mean Mitch Miller not Mickey Marche. Mick’s top ten would mostly be in my top 30 or 40 lps.

Image result for vinyl record pictures For the young ones reading along with their grandparents, an l. p. was/is a vinyl recording usually played at 33 1/3 rpm’s or revolutions per minute on a machine called a phonograph or turntable, invented by Thomas Edison originally. They came in album cover sleeves that were light weight cardboard with pictures on the front and credits somewhere else. Inside was a paper dust sleeve that kept dust and other crud off the tiny grooves where the recorded music lived. Often the dust jacket was where the lyrics could be found, if you were lucky and the artist offered them.

Image result for boxes of records picturesLPs were heavy, let me tell you. A few under one arm were no problem, but often they were stored in milk crates or fruit boxes; then it was a problem to run a fifty pound box up a flight of stairs, because in your late teens and early twenties you move a lot, mostly to second and third floor apartments. It was not unusual to have 100 or more albums in your collection. Weightless and wait less I-pods and Alexa and Pandora were not even ideas then. Which is why old guys like me are so buff now.

Image result for meet the beatles album coverSo Mick had the Beatles’ Meet the Beatles, the Stones’ Big Hits and Zeppelin’s first with the burning Hindenburg cover. Hall of Fame first ballot all three. Then Dylan’s Volume 2 Greatest Hits, Hendrix Are You Experienced?, Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow, no argument here. He rounded out his hit parade with James Taylor, Jesse Colin Young, America and the Eagles’ second album Desperado. Okay, they are all in the horse race to your musical heart. Started strong with the British sound and then finished all American. [I am a little shocked that he did not include a Carpenters album since he had a thing for Karen Carpenter that transcended time. ]

Related imageEveryone is entitled to his/her own top ten of anything, shellfish, for instance, or great baseball players. Just don’t mix the two… “On the mound we have Bob the lobster Gibson facing Brooks the razor clam Robinson. It’s a full count. Here’s Gibson’s fastball, Brooks lays down a perfect bunt to first base. Swallowed up by Johnny Oyster Bench, for the put out at first base, covered by Willie not a shrimp Stargell.” It could get stupid fast.

Image result for iron butterfly album cover in daMy mind is not a rank order sort of mind. I’m far more impressionistic. For instance, the first time I saw Mick’s top ten album idea, I thought of his googly eyed Enfield Drive neighbor Mark somebody. Mick was kinder to him than anyone else in the neighborhood was. Not sure if the kid’s parents paid him a quarterly stipend for child care. Anyway, I recall Mick telling us that Mark rushed him with excited news from his CCD class at church that he or they or someone somewhere played Iron Butterfly’s classic “In the Garden of Eden”. Well, he was close. That massive 17 minute musical monstrosity was actually called “In a Gadda da Vida”, which apparently came from a drunken slurring of the title Mark offered to Micky on that fateful day. The song was the entire B side of the album and pretty trippy stuff.

Image result for santana evil ways picturesSantana got an honorable mention, though I would rank him above America and Jesse Colin Young. Just sayin’.  Again it’s a memory of association that threads through music and relationships and time. Mick and my next door neighbor Richard were lifting weights while listening to Santana, as I recall. Mick was intentionally butchering the lyrics to Santana’s “Evil Ways” while one of us was trying to bench maybe 75 pounds. We were young, pre testosterone. “You’ve got to change your underwear, baby. Before I stop lovin’ you.” That line was delivered just sincerely enough to boys who were just immature enough to get us belly laughing for ten minutes. I’m sure millions of other adolescent boys butchered many other songs in their inimitable ways, and they still chuckle quietly over these memories while listening to the oldies station.Related image

Somewhere is a memory from Harry Chapin’s Taxi song, a long ballad of broken dreams with plenty of lyrics to exploit. I cannot recall the verbal bastardization trick Mick pulled on that song. It might have been the very first verse…Related image

“It was rainin’ hard-ons in Frisco, I needed one more fart to make my night, the lady up ahead waved and flagged me down. She got in at the light.” I’m sure it was a silly mix of potty language and sexual allusions. Standard stock for teen boys left unsupervised.

Image result for billie holiday picturesNow I still own some vinyl. I gave away a lot of great ones since I no longer played them. I lack a functional phonograph machine, but I still love these souvenirs of my youth. On my shelf I have Billie Holiday’s Greatest Hits vol. 2. Keeper forever. Van Morrison’s St. Dominic’s Preview. Derek and the Dominoes Layla album. Sentimental favorites Aztec Two Step and Jackson Browne’s Saturate Before Using. Finally the Dead’s Europe ’72 triple album was the heaviest of all my records and provided hours of jams and internal voyages. All old friends I can’t part with.

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So thanks, Mick, for this brief trip down memory lane, over the hills and far away, from Harrison Lane to Telegraph Road, to King’s Highway and Franconia Road. I haven’t seen those roads in decades, but I can walk alongside them again when the right song pumps out of my speakers. My five year old grand daughter’s jam is Sheryl Crow’s cover of Aerosmith’s Life is a Highway. Not a bad closer…

Life is a highway
I wanna ride it all night long
If you’re going my way
I wanna drive it all night long.

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579. Soggy Biscuits

It’s a beautiful day in England as the latest Royal wedding takes place across the pond, also known as the Atlantic Ocean. Those Brits! So regal and still quaint at times. Pageantry knits together previous pageants in the same way but in the opposite direction that grief knits together previous griefs. My wife and I noted this morning that long, long ago we watched Diana and Charles’ wedding on a black and white television early in the morning in an upstairs apartment while our now 37 year old daughter squirmed about in her pack and play foldable crib.

Image result for princess diana haircut picturesAll the young girls in school had Princess Di haircuts back then. Everyone pretended not to gag at Charles’ gaunt rodent-like appearance next to Diana. She was radiant; he was not. We know the way that fairy tale turned out, tragically. Still, here was Diana’s second child and presumably Charles’ second son as well, smiling at his bride walking down the main aisle of the chapel at Windsor Castle. Bring on the angels in the architecture; let them sing out epiphanies… love conquers and transcends time…grief scars over… change comes slowly.Related image

A gospel choir sang Sam Cooke’s “Stand By Me” gloriously. I wondered what the Beatles would have made of that juxtaposition in a royal wedding in comparison to the time they had to coerce Dixieland Florida to allow integrated concerts in the 1960’s. And here is Harry marrying a mixed race beauty from the bloody colonies!!!  Amazing and lovely.

Wendy Vitter, wife of former Sen. David Vitter, testifies during her confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana on Wednesday, April 11, 2018.While back on this side of the pond we have federal judges up for confirmation who won’t go on record saying that Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, c. 1954 was the correct decision, and therefore the foundation for ensuing related rulings. Very strange that the Brits are moving forward in race relations while back on this side of the pond we are seeing the sort of hate driven divisions that burned up the 1950’s and 60’s.  Then again, it was the Brits who gave rhythm and blues and rock ‘n roll back to American audiences in a white wrapped package. Black music was infectious when skinny white boys with mop head haircuts scammed it and sold it back to us. Related image

Sam Cooke also sang “A Change is Gonna Come”. Verse 3 goes like this…

I go to the movie and I go downtown
Somebody keep tellin’ me don’t hang around
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

Sam, I believe also, but I get disappointed at the ignorance that tries to rewrite and thus repeat history. We watched and listened to the Kingdom Choir so physically and aurally beautiful. My wife commented, “African people are so beautiful. How could anyone demonize them and enslave them?”PHOTO: Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir sang during the royal wedding on May 19, 2018.

I thought a minute. Hmmm, “They were simply different, and we are wired to fear what is different.” Native Americans are likewise beautiful, and so are the many faces in Asian countries. Why their faces inspired fear first speaks to the cultural construct of the explorer/conquerors. I believe they expected trouble and conflict and produced it if it did not materialize. Always err on the side of genocide just to be sure you survive.

Different is a threat. Even adorable E.T. was seen by adults as a threat. The kids allowed him to be a full being. I guess that’s always the story– children will lead us into purer forms of humanity. They haven’t learned all the obvious hateful lessons of bigotry and the subtler ones of superiority and nationalism, elitism and condescension. Trust is given more easily by the unjaded young.Image result for E.T. stills

Our royal family equivalent is the one in the White House, which is leased for four years at a time, usually, unless your  last name is Bush, Adams, Harrison, or Roosevelt. The last royal family in the White House were, of course, African American. Rather than uniting our people, their eight years saw more and more racial division and the continued rise of hate politics with the concomitant downward spiral of public discourse. Down deep in the guts of millions of Americans, I believe, the old dormant dragon of racism lurks, ready to come awake when the circumstances are ripe. Fear is one of the keys to demonizing the other– the alien, the foreign, the dark one, the poor one. Some insecure megalomaniac focuses on the differences and accentuates them as dangerous instead of delightful. The drum beat grows faster and louder as folks are forced into competing tribes. Before you know it, genocide erupts.Image result for hutus and tutsis conflict pictures

I remember reading once that Britain’s social moral conscience arrived 100 years after the horrors of its imperialism did irreparable damage in India, China, Africa, Australia, and South America, etc. Perhaps that is our situation in the U.S.A currently, 100 years behind the Brits when it comes to social justice. The British have an old tradition of serving tea at 4 pm and then again at 10 pm. Alongside the tea are crisp cookies that they call biscuits, another quaint Brit thing.  Fresh tea and fresh biscuits are enforced by tea matrons across the former empire. Never would a decent British bed and breakfast matron ever serve less; it would be treasonous to do so.Image result for british middle class woman pictures

On this side of the pond, however, we have soggy biscuits served with tepid brown water. Traditions fall and fail in the face of primeval emotions, spewing lava language across the republic. Our thin veneer of civilization has been peeled back by the heat gun bombast and manipulation by foxes who know better. Shepherds are not supposed to lead their sheep to the wolves. Image result for apocalyptic imagery

The Second Coming, 

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

William Butler Yeats

Say Amen.Image result for apocalyptic imagery

578. The Retention Nightmare

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We all have bad dreams, at least those of us who have been bad in our lives and have a conscience have them. I was a bad kid at times in junior and senior high, which may be why my buddy Clark says I was not beaten enough. I wasn’t beaten much, just enough to know I wanted to avoid further beatings. Is that wrong?  I’d call it survival. My particular bad dream always places me back in 9th grade geography class in Mr. Dillard’s room on the southeast end, second floor of Hayfield High School. He was in the Virginia House of Delegates so we always had substitute dudes, guys who would tell you smoking pot would drive you insane and turn you into a psycho killer who would then cannibalize your victims. That was more interesting, I suppose, than teaching us about mineral deposits, natural resources and advanced map reading.

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In reality I had that class as a junior due to an oversight of some sort. So I sat with all these freshmen and squirmed at the obvious humiliating differences. I was in cruise mode by then– homework free evenings, donut rich tardies, cigarette smoking class skippings, bust out for extended lunch runs, and just plain all day road trip avoidances. It made no sense to me that many of my friends signed up for hard classes with research papers to write and finals to pass. They focused on the shiny golden tree top apples while I was content with drops on the ground. I figured an apple was an apple. They were gonna eat theirs later anyway; I was eating mine now.

So the above tortured imagery was based in conscious reality. I recall drawing psychedelic images on my class notebook that resembled the cover of Yes’s Fragile album… with song lyrics spinning around like comets in wild, trippy trajectories.Image result for yes album coversI think I was fragile back then but had no idea who I was or what I should be doing. Getting high with friends as often as possible was my raison d etre, which replaced my previous phase of raisin in d’ ear. At least it was more interesting riding on psychological music trips behind my eyelids, which was my second priority. School was deadly and meaningless to me, so I wound up going to night school to escape one more year of desiccated, mummified purposelessness. I was no jock, no fully wasted druggie yet, no preppy, no nerd. I was just another bored kid goat in the herd. That’s me in the fourth row center with black head and white hind quarters. Image result for goat herd pictures

Anyway, I didn’t go to my high school graduation because technically I graduated from night school with a bunch of green card Central American guys who worked days, and some stoners who wanted out of a free education system for one reason or another. Funny how motivated we were to get out of school that we went twice a day to achieve that end. By so doing, I got off my natural life rhythm and fell into a psychic no man’s land. It was 1973 but my class graduated in 1974. I managed not to belong to either.Related image

I worked at construction sites for the magically free year off. I also took a trip to England to see my first girlfriend who had moved there at the end of junior year. She had been a strong reason for me attending my stultifying high school as often as I did. It was a nice trip and a coming of age sort of experience. Not a Hallmark movie ending, for which I am eternally grateful now. The whole leaving home to find out who you are thing, well, something began to click. Education finally looked good to me.Image result for Bury st edmunds pictures

I then went to college for one year and took another year out to contemplate my navel. I just wasn’t too sure of the path I was on, though I enjoyed it thoroughly. Finally I got back on track and finished my useless B.A. degree in English Literature. However, as in high school, I did not go to my graduation. I knew I’d graduated and didn’t want the hassle involved. In fact, two months later I got married without a wedding ceremony or real reception.  I know, I know. There seems to be a non-celebratory, hassle avoiding pattern here.  Who does not celebrate such achievements? A man named for a rolled Mexican tortilla meat wrap combination. Burrito actually means “little donkey”, so I am beginning to see the connections now. Donkeys, even little ones, are also called “asses”.Image result for donkey pictures

So the nightmare came on many years ago. I am stuck in the last seat of the last row by the windows in 9th grade geography class. My modern day adult brain is telling the neoNazi substitute teacher that I have, in fact, already graduated high school. Furthermore, I have a college degree, a master’s degree, and two decades of credentialed teaching. But you know how it goes in bad dreams, right? These words come across as so much delusional ranting from a pimple faced 16 year old in a shiny polyester shirt.Image result for 1970 men's fashion shots

Disco had not erupted yet, so the look was much more hippy like, say like Jesse Colin Young without a mustache.

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So the dream repeats every so often with my modern adult truth trapped inside my dreamer head as the School Authoritarian Deputy Chief chides my 16 year old self for being inadequate or undesirable or unworthy. Now I’m not saying that if I’d stayed in the duckling line and graduated at the expected time with my classmates that my dreams would be any different, but I can’t help but believe that they would have taken a different thematic turn. Maybe if I had followed Substitute Dude’s dire prophesies, then I could have been a serial killer and eaten my victims for midnight snacks. Without a conscience I would have slept like a baby instead of gurgling and gagging through a retention nightmare.

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577. She’s Someone’s Daughter

No humor here, if I can help it. I’ll do my best to report soberly and accurately. Well, within reasonable limits.

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Dear Andrea, who used to manage the world famous coffee shop that is home to my Coffee Nation Headquarters, moved on two or three years back to run a ministry that is close to her heart… helping women and girls exit sex trafficking, called She’s Someone’s Daughter.  She is a pretty amazing young woman with a very strong heart, which I attribute to growing up in Needmore, PA, made famous in 30 Rock as the hideout for Tracy Jordan. It was Kenneth’s cousin’s hometown and off the grid enough for a big shot from New York City, who was being pursued by the Black Crusaders while waiting to launch his own television show, to hide in. Andrea confirmed for me that buses did not run to Needmore, and that the entire set in the episode called “Hiatus” was a fraud. “There is no downtown square in Needmore”, she reported sadly, knowing that I had parodied her hometown in the post entitled, “Christmas in Needmore”. Worse yet, her subordinate at the time, Jake, laughed and said, “That is SOOO Needmore, man.” I attempted to comfort her bucolic melancholia… “I know. I know, Andrea. Bless your pure heart.”Related image

Now I can sense that you, my favorite and perhaps only reader, are already beginning to question the seemingly unnecessary detail about Needmore. I hope to make the connections crystalline in the paragraphs below, so that by word 1,000 you will join in a Hallelujah chorus with me when all the threads come together like a verbal Persian carpet. For now, proceed cautiously with a helmet, flashlight, and a divining rod. 

Due to the nature of this ministry it has to be discreetly hidden and yet easily accessible, without glaring lights or signs, i.e., quite the opposite atmospherics from the points of origin for trafficked women. No strobe lights or lasers or poles or neon signs hyper-sexualizing women’s intimate parts. Nope…Warm, welcoming, and comforting instead… right in Andrea’s wheelhouse. White, teal, and goldenrod walls. No window treatments, just sunshine gushing in freely, beams of pure light..Related image

Before this space could be utilized, however, it needed to be transformed from a dark, dismal, musty, skanky office suite into a sunny, soft space that was above all SAFE. Many folks threw down on wallpaper removal and plaster repair; funky glued down carpet removal; broken light fixture replacement; and general random repairs.  Throughout a few weeks’ time, I helped remove wallpaper, repair plaster, and paint the aforementioned calming colors.  Every time I showed up, Andrea had different volunteers who worked cheerfully and vigorously for women they’d likely never meet. Sunday School classes, youth groups, and small groups from various churches all helped out. It was exhausting fun.Image result for exhausted marathoners pictures

[That’s me before the race. EMT: “Get up sir. The race hasn’t started yet.”]

Finally the site was presentable and used for jewelry making, counseling, art, computer training, and fellowship. The women were recruited out of the sex trade– strip clubs, prostitution, and pornography of any type. These activities are sometimes called “victimless crimes” by idiots, when clearly the victims are the objectified and ruthlessly used women from unfortunate circumstances. Others mistakenly call prostitution “the world’s oldest profession”, instead of what it is– slavery. SSD is a refuge for those fortunate enough to hear of it and step into the lifeboat SSD and off the slave ship Tartarus. Later their rescue boat becomes comforting, then empowering. Finally it is freeing. Women are subjectified as daughters of God Almighty, and go on to glory in their worth in His eyes and perhaps even their own. Image result for woman dancing free images

Last week Andrea’s ministry held its first annual banquet/fundraiser. It was lovely. My wife and I went to be supportive and to glean ideas about the SSD fundraiser dance my wife is planning in August. You see, after our daughter’s wedding last October, my wife asked me what she should do with all the skills she had acquired while quarterbacking a wedding and reception for 200 folks, which is comparable to building a small business for just one day. I suggested She’s Someone’s Daughter, and something clicked in her head. “Yeah, how about a dance, you know, and an auction, like Michele does for breast cancer?” And away she went– inspired and impassioned. (Michele is a dance buddy who has raised over $200,000 for breast cancer research. And she is a hoot to boot. As a matter of remembered fact, I had suggested to Andrea that she get in touch with Michele long ago for fundraiser ideas. Well, I guess she has in a roundabout manner.)Image result for happy feet gif

At the banquet we learned that Andrea and the “church ladies” go to strip clubs and prostitution spots to develop and nurture relationships with exploited women. They provide meals and company for these marginalized ladies, who are usually treated like cuts of meat at the deli counter. Focusing on who they are instead of what their bodies look like opens up hard conversations that lead to opportunities for positive change. Not every woman responds. Failure is not a function of their batting average, though. Failure would be not reaching out at all. Never risking would guarantee a safe 100% success rate for doing nothing.Image result for les miserable stills

Every once in a while a stripper or prostitute believes and follows their North Star out of the industry, and SSD is a North Star. Just like Harriet Tubman led slaves north to freedom, Andrea and the “church ladies” usher modern sex trade slaves out in any direction toward freedom, safety, and integrity.Image result for harriet tubman pictures

Refugees wander aimlessly sometimes with the slimmest of hopes. Anywhere is better than the place they flee. Fugere meant “to flee or run away” in Latin and Old French. A refuge came to mean “a hiding place”. She’s Someone’s Daughter provides more than a hiding place for exploited women.  Indeed, it’s a launching place where freed slaves celebrate their delivery from bondage, and love vanquishes inhumanity.Image result for tracy morgan dancing gif

576. Taken

Image result for liam neeson taken shotsHard to believe. After 14 years of using my cell phones without any real gnarly incidents, besides washing one a couple of summers ago, someone stole my latest I-phone right off my desk this past Monday evening.  Unidentified someone just walked in to my billing office and walked out with my phone. I was with a client and made the false assumption that I heard my downstairs tenant paying the utility bill I’d left for him. Wrong. Instead of my good tenant, it was a bad thief, whose identity I will likely never discover.

I searched and retraced my steps, sure. I looked in the bathroom and in the refrigerator. In all my pockets several times. Nope, nope, nope. My wife ran a map app I didn’t know she had to check the location of my phone. Nope. “How long have you been tracking me?”

Image result for norad screens images“Whenever you don’t answer your phone, I check to see if you’re on your way home.”

“What else are you not telling me? Are you NSA, honey?”

“Never mind. You can’t handle the truth. It’s big and ugly.”

Okay, that sounded invasive in a functional way, like my prostate exams. However, you can’t get mad about the volcanic discomfort involved if the goal is to save your life or phone. Still, it’s not a pleasant exercise.Image result for pacman gif

As fate would have it, I could not get to the Verizon store for a couple of days, so I had to walk, no limp, technologically naked through life. I felt like a fifteen year old stripped of his umbilical cord to the outside world. No texts. No easy phone service. Never mind that a few years ago I fought against the idea of owning a cell phone at all. In life and in technology, you can never go back to what was. You can’t repeat the past; change is constant.Image result for naked and afraid stills of males contestants

I put the inconvenience and cost out of my mind. I knew I’d get torqued and steamed into ineffectiveness as I remembered my last trip to the red shirted phone store with the juveniles running the counter while talking on the phone, to each other, and to the customers interchangeably and randomly. So annoying. I wanted to grab the kid by his red shirt and say, “Just give me the phone, hold the nerd humor, and no one gets hurt.” I restrained myself as I envisioned wrestling with a piece of red licorice. He would have enjoyed it and I would have been in jail.

Not gonna go there. I’m too old to sit in jail with the other hardened criminals.  I can just imagine.

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“Pops, what are you doin’ here? Some Bernie Madoff deal?”

“No. I broke bad on a cell phone sales person in a red shirt. I snapped.”

“No way. You don’t look like the type to use violence, which is the last refuge of the incompetent, after all. Isaac Asimov said that. ”

“The kid had it comin’. He was snippy in a techie humor kind of way. All I wanted was a working cell phone, not a new plan or a fancy case or a dissertation on androids versus i phones. I warned him to stop as I launched my first punch into his voice box.”Related image

“Dude, whatz wrong with you? Kid was just doing his job, man! He probably gets paid by the word, you know, and his boss watches and records every sale for a Thursday morning meeting. Red shirtin’ is a tough gig even when old guys don’t lose their minds and pull you over the counter. Man, I used to sell vacuum cleaners and it was rough, old ladies pounding you about the price of this and how much Walmart’s selling sweepers for that. Man, it got old fast.”

“Is that how you wound up in the slammer? Did you break bad like I did, taking refuge in incompetence and all that?”Related image

“No. Violence. Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent. Git it right! No. I started selling… previously owned communication devices.”

“Really?  I’m not following the thread here. You sold vacuum cleaners, sort of. And then you sold used communication devices?”

“Yeah, the mark up was better. I could make a thousand bucks a day.”

“So how did you get caught?”

“I sold a cheap communication device to a dude in a parking lot. He was a cop, kind of. He looked like some anorexic Uzbekistan hacker who hadn’t been in the sun since he was born. Pale, I mean, like moldy moon cheese.”Image result for chris tucker selling drugs pics

“What did this guy look like? Maybe he was my thief.”

“Uh, you wearin’ a wire, man?”

“What? You mean like on t.v. shows, like a confidential informant?”

“Yeah, you workin’ for the cops?”

“No, no way. I’m just trying to figure out where my phone is. I want to go all Liam Neeson or Steven Segal on him. Hold him over a rushing waterfall and tell him I could let him go or let him live. Then, after he coughs up my phone, I let him go and he plunges into the foaming pool below as I say ‘Sayanora, Sucker.”Related image

“Man, you trippin’! Why don’t you just go behind K Mart and buy a new used one? I can hook you up with a guy.”

“No!! I want blood!! Revenge!! Expiation of the sin.”Related image

“Dude, what do you do on the outside, if you don’t mind my askin’? You a preacher?”

“I’m a counselor, you know, mental health, anger management, trauma, anxiety, conflict resolution mediation, stuff like that. Here’s my business card. It’s just sometimes life demands a vigilante. That fax number isn’t correct any longer, so you can use the email for documents.”

“Yeah, no. I ‘m good, man. Hey, I never caught your name, but I think I seen you in court last week at my pretrial.”

“Burrito.”Image result for bryan cranston angry gif

“That’s it? Just Burrito?”

“Yeah, that means something on the Square, dude. What’s your name?”

“Bunny, just Bunny, the Bunny Man.”

“What were you doing in court, Bunny?”

“Oh, you know, man tryin’ to make a livin’ and the Man got to get in the way.”

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That scenario ended fruitlessly.  I went to the other Verizon outlet and got a jazzy new phone that my wife programmed. The techno nightmare is almost over.Image result for cell phone nerd images

 

575. The Bud Shuster Lullabyway

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Hey nah, hey nah, my coffee shop boyfriend’s back.

Yep, Joel rolled back into town but ever so briefly between institutional shake downs last week. He parked the cobalt blue Spyder out front and wore his shiny black leathers up to the favored table. (Obviously he ordered them pre-owned because they were creased by a man with formidable abdominal and pectoral muscles, neither of which Joel possesses.) Fresh from the nation’s capital banker and mafia mob boss/ lobbyist conference in D.C. to the University Foundation’s annual Snuggle Fest in historic Bedford Springs, he hauled the scuttlebutt and skullduggery involved in both professional deceptions like fresh raw milk that hadn’t time to separate. We hardly had time to catch up on his comings and goings and tales of Swamping the Drain in a post factual world caught in a dystrumpian nightmare.Image result for charlie chaplin on a motorcycle pictures

He had that familiar glint in his eye of another successful white collar bank job completed. “Shimmy shimmy shake down”, he sang to himself in a reverie driven by the rumbling road beneath his troika’s rambling tires. He broke off into a little Johnny Cash, “I’ve been everywhere, man. I’ve been everywhere”; segued into Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild”; and concluded with Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive”. His swagger was comparable to a puffed up boy pigeon during its first junior high mating dance: if you removed all the bluster and feathers and after shave, you might get one decent chicken finger out of the entire bird. He was pumped on high octane, unsweetened iced tea.Image result for puffed up pigeon pictures

There was no time to fully catch up until this morning when he sat opposite me in his black suit and purple shirt, with his white summer Panama hat on the table. “Don’t touch that”, he ordered me as if he were Don Corleone and I was some schmuck Sicilian stevedore, part time Uber driver from the docks. I saw right away that he was fully impressed with himself and had over-inflated his tubeless self esteem once again. For his own good, I knew I had to let some air out before he exploded from rooster poop induced spontaneous combustion… one of the leading causes of biker deaths while in a state of dismount. The old jokes goes like this: what do Harleys and Hoover vacuum cleaners have in common?  Dirt bags on the handlebars.Related image

“Joel, I can see you are feeling your oats again. You know what happens when you pop figurative wheelies in your imaginary Shriners’ parades, don’t you?”

“Well, I, uh, yessss. But while riding back on I–99 I made up a jingle to celebrate the Bud Shuster Byway. I thought to myself, ‘Why should Burritospecial be the only creative genius on the block? And why can’t non-Shriners pop wheelies?'”Image result for shriners on motor trikes

YOU broke into verse?”

“I most certainly did.”

“Well, let’s hear it, my good man.”

“Ummm, I can’t remember it.”

“Did you hit a jersey wall or a rock outcropping along the way?”

“No. I just forgot how it went.”

“I see. So, Michael Corleone, when you go to the bathroom I want you to come out with the gun in your hand, not your….”Related image

“I’ve seen the movie. I remember the gun behind the toilet.”

“Good! I was hoping to trigger a familiar long term memory that might get you to connect to your lost song ditty about another gangster.”

“Oh, I remember now. Ummm, let me get the touba bass line.”Related image

“You are gonna sing to a tuba solo?”

“It’s more of a rap.”

“Okay, I can’t take any more titillation, Joel. Hit it!!”

“Okay, okay, it’s set to the melody from “The City of New Orleans”.

“Good. Steve Goodman and Arlo Guthrie are hard to beat. Go man.”Image result for city of new orleans train pictures

“Riding on the Bud Shuster Byway

From Breezewood to Bedford, PA

Hardly any cars and nary any riders

My three wheeler and no one on my tail

“Joel, it gets better, right?”

“Oh yeah, I’m just getting my lips warmed up for the big chops.”

“Okay, chop, chop, then.”

“Ah, second verse…

There I am on my southbound odyssey

Fifth gear hums and I have to pee,

As I roll along past houses, farms and fields

Crossin’ roads that have no names

Thru junk yards full of oxidized tin

And graveyards replete with old rusted automobiles.”

“Joel, you do know what plagiarism is, right?”

“Of course I do. I went to law school after all.”

“Then you must know what BAD plagiarism is too?”

“You don’t like my jingle?”

“Getting warmer.”

“You hate my jingle.”

“Warmer.”

“You abhor my jingle with a virulent hatred most severe, and wouldst cut out my tongue rather than be subjected to verse three?”

“Bingo.”

“But I must continue, even if my life depends on it. 

Good mornin’ Breezewood, how are you?

Say, don’t you know me, I’m your native son?

I’m the man who rides the Bud Shuster Byway

I’ll be gone one hundred miles when the day is done.”

“Joel, if one of your mental health evals sang that to you, would you let them out of the State Hospital?”Image result for psychotic faces singing gif

“No. But what if I do a little soft shoe with my hat and cane? If you can’t sing, then you dance.” Reaches for the hat.Image result for panama hat and cane dance images

“No Joel. It’s over. Your schtick is beneath even Stormy Daniels on Jack Daniels while impersonating Jeff Daniels singing harmony with Charlie Daniels.”

“Hmmm. That’s a lot of Daniels. How about a round of Danny Boy? Oh Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling. From Breezewood to Bedford, PA, from glen to glen, and down the mountain side, the boys are gone and all their buttcheeks sagging, all along, along the Bud Shuster Super Byway…”Image result for irishman singing danny boy pictures

“Again, we have the entertainment equivalent of the Centralia coal mine fire. It never ends, the suffering never ends, my man.  As your ethical and spiritual adviser, I cannot in good conscience allow you to continue in the entertainment field.”

“But why not? I’m, I’m funny. I am the Jimmy Fallon of the nursing home circuit.”Image result for jimmy fallon pictures

“No, Danny Boy. You are humor porn. I’m so, and I truly mean this, sorry for my loss.”

[To listen to the full version of Joel’s rendition of “City of New Orleans”, go to your nearest Youtube railroad track and lie down. Wait until it hits you.]

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