Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Last Word?

As I walk through, this wicked world, I have to admit I am pretty well amazed by it still. I know that I am a writer but what is happening right now is a mystery to me.

Everyone wants to shout down the other side, with invective, smugness, odd behavior, straight out hatred, and just plain dumbness. I know that I have a lot of people in my life, which makes it unnecessary to, feel the need to create a life story, for any person.

Yes, I sat around listening to Mick Jagger records and bad mouthed the country a bit. If you really believe that one side or the other side is going to fix this mess, you are deluded. No one person can fix anything.

You can fix you. That's me. I fix nothing and try and learn. Between the lines is where I look. Try it, instead of screaming. Save your screaming for the war. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Let's Be Clear

Talk to anyone who has been under fire and ask them: "In a firefight, what's the thing you need the most?" Not one will answer, "As many untrained, untested, and ignorant civilians as possible." 

Not fucking one. 

Got it? Leave your gun in your pocket before you shoot yourself or an innocent person. Sit with your finger on one of these buttons, and then we will talk about security. Until then, stand a post, or shut the fuck up! A vet thanks you. And to answer your unasked question? No. I have never been innocent. 

At least not at since the last time I actually, physically saw you. Has it been 39 years for you. It has been for myself. It's called seclusion, and I am returning there very soon. Before I go.

I have a story. 

I think.



Monday, June 13, 2016

Blame John Steinbeck

A normal good day for me starts out with going to the news stand, and getting the paper. That did not happen today.

Instead, I cried in the bank, on the bus, and now back in my home. I find my self in a precarious position. I know history, the law, have served, have protected others, and I have seen death. It's not something I am proud of but I understand it. Very well.

I was at the site of a nuclear missile incident on 1-11-1985, while guarding an international border. 3 friends died there. 25 more injured. Everyone hated us and I don't blame them. I hated us too sometimes. But even after ending my military career somewhere between the Bay Islands and Amatitan, I still believed in this place. The USA, I mean.

I mean, I went a lot of places and even though the USA makes giant mistakes, we still try and lead the way. I believe that eventually we will overcome our problems. We're a baby still. 240 years is nothing. I lived in places in Germany that were hundreds of years older than our whole country.

But when I was 1 year old my dad held me on his shoulders in Oxnard, California, where I now reside, so we could watch JFK go by. We killed him not long after that. Mick was right. It was you and me. This was his brother. We killed him too.

But I am personally, not taking anything personally. I am left with no feelings. None. My biggest sorrow is for the loved ones. Even the ones, where I made them the loved ones. But I pay penance every day. So my heart is troubled but I will survive, and so will the USA.

It may take more than 50 souls to make the world change, the USA world change, but I would pray not.

Friday, June 10, 2016

I Personally Blame Canada

Staff, Santa Paula "Cardinal" 1975


"...I have nothing to do on this hot afternoon/but to settle down and write you a line/I’ve been meaning to phone you/But
from Minnesota/Hell it’s been a very long time………”

"You Wear It Well"
Rod Stewart

Sarah Shields was the smartest girl in Complex II.

I figured this out about 2/3rds of the way through the play that was being performed at our 6th grade talent show, the play Complex II was performing. It was a play that Sarah Shields had written.

For the 6th grade talent show; all by herself, in the 6th grade.

Don’t get me wrong. She did not write “Twelfth Night,” or “The Cherry Orchard,” or even some crap like, I don’t know, name whatever marginally talented writer on the NY Times best flavor list that you know, and I mean them too. As I recall, and I recall everything, I cannot recall any of the particulars of the production.

What I do recall is that it met the requirements of a play, as I knew them to be at that time. It had a script, that Sarah Shields had written by herself. It had a cast, that Sarah Shields selected herself. I later found out that Sarah’s fellow classmates were required to audition for parts. This meant kids were auditioning for another kid, in the 6th grade, and getting bummed out when they were not chosen for a part, in that play, written by another kid, in the 6th grade.

In Complex I, we put on the play “The Wizard of Oz,” at that same talent show and while we did have to audition for parts, we auditioned for the teachers, who had the final say as to who was going to play what, and we did not audition for each other. I ended up being the Scarecrow and I believe Danny Ramos was the Lion.

This play that Sarah Shields wrote had costumes that she had designed, and then talked her classmates into actually assembling. It had a director; Sarah Shields. The only thing this play seemingly did not have was an appearance by the woman herself. Sarah Shields never appeared onstage, as I recall.

That is until the cast took a bow, the house lights came up, and they brought her out. I remember that Mr. Bob Berg grabbed a microphone and said:

“This is Sarah Shields, she wrote this play.”

Mr. Berg went on to say a bunch of other stuff about Sarah Shields, and while I am sure my writer’s ears, which hear and remember everything, heard him, I cannot recall another thing Bob Berg said that day. It was a real life; my memory went to sleep moment. The first of many incidences, both fortunately, and unfortunately.

It was because as soon as I saw Sarah Shields for the first time, I started to better understand why those books by Shakespeare were important. Tennyson seemed like much less of a wimp. Elizabeth Barrett Browning suddenly mattered. Sarah Shields looked like an angel to me. A Jennifer Jones in “Song of Bernadette” beautiful sort of angel, as my adolescent mind recalls.

Yes it was the worst case of puppy love at first sight since puppies were invented. I know a lot of stuff about puppies but in a dead tribute, in a dead language, to the, mostly I assume, dead teachers of Complex I who taught me to read, well Latin, of all things, I will say only this; Cave canum.

Sarah Shields was dark-haired and mysterious to me, as were all women at that time in my life. Mostly the girls in Complex I, as they were the ones who I saw every day for 2 years straight. 

However, the 6th grade talent show was the first time I had ever seen most of the Complex II students. It was certainly the first time I had laid eyes on Sarah Shields.
Unfortunately, for her, it would not be the last time I laid eyes on her.

She went on to be my art partner in Mr. Colvard’s class in 7th grade. I am the worst artist in the world, and I was dreading art class like the plague. When I saw I was sitting next to my secret love, I did not care about flunking art class, or anything else for that matter, except using a lot of deodorant.

Sarah Shields was queen to my king when we won the 8th grade talent show the next year. She was “Peppermint Patty,” when I played “Snoopy” in “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown,” in high school. The poor girl seemingly could not get away from me.

I am so positive she does not want to see me again. I could be her worst nightmare really. If she knew I was writing this she would probably rip my guts out with a bread knife, and I could not blame her. What is funny is:

I know where she is.
I know what she does.
I know what she has done.

I didn’t find out by stalking her or by hiring someone to track her down, no, I found out purely by accident. I must admit that being a “Zen Catholic,” I am inclined to believe that nothing is “purely” anything. Everything for a reason, and in its own time, I guess.

What she does now is amazing and she is amazing, and has been amazing, ever since you lost touch with her, as I did. I am never going to contact her, ever. Some angels sleep better in your memory, I have found.

As I think about Complex I and Complex II, the times we were there, the lessons we were taught, and the way we learned them, and the fun, heartbreak, and education we experienced, I realized something.

I realized that everyone in those classes, whether they lasted 1, 2 or 3 years, was changed in ways they may not remember or recognize. I know that I was and I think Sarah Shields was too. So were Cheryl Winkler, George Molina, Mike Reider, Arlene Garcia, Penny Trego, Paul Berkley, Joe Garcia, Beth Watts, and so many others who live on in my heart and mind. People who may not have realized it, but their classmate was taking notes.

At the talent show Cheryl Winkler was Dorothy and I remember being the scarecrow. Since no one in Complex I had written a play, we decided to go with the old tried and true, and mounted a production of “The Wizard of Oz.” Even in the 5th grade Cheryl Winkler was already starting to run the show.

I was recently in contact with Cheryl Winkler Baudizzon Johnston, as she is now sometimes called by those who can manage it, and she informed me there were 5, count em, Dorothys, in the production; one for each scene. I was shocked by this and told her I only remembered her as Dorothy; such was the force of her personality, even in the 5th grade.

At this time I would like to stop and offer my sincere apologies to the other 4 Dorothys included in the production. I know that all of you were excellent, and you should also recall that many portions of my memory banks were destroyed by small puffs of blue smoke right around the time they released “Physical Graffiti.”

Because of this serious deficit of brain cells I am unable to remember if I was one of 5 Scarecrows or if I am just blocking it out. Since I was already starting to get an attitude about being in plays, I think I would have remembered that. If I had been one of 5 Dorothys, someone would have accidentally fallen down the stairs, I am sure.

It’s that force of character thing that this screed is slowing winding toward. It seems to me that nearly every person I have spoken to from either Complex I or Complex II has had an extraordinary life. Even if they only ended up being a doctor, or lawyer, or someone like me who tries to tell stories so the world seems perfect again for a moment, if that is still possible to be done in this day and age.

I guess with this story, I am trying to make the world understand that there was a time for each one of us in these classrooms, where our minds were freed, became expanded, changed possibly. It’s where dreams were born. 

It was where young men learned to form worlds in their heads, and young women carved out new roles for themselves. It was “Socratic Method” for farmer’s children, braniacs, and budding social deviants who managed to know how to read very well. It was where many of us began making that figurative journey to our own separate stars.

Some of us flew too close to the sun and burned up. Some flew to their heart’s delight, and lived happily ever after. Some crash landed, snuffed out, their lives taken from the rest of us. They never made it to the stars but to a place beyond the sky; that only God and they know.

Some of us learned to think and love there, beyond race, beyond religion or politics, beyond barriers. Some of us learned that their mission in life was to break people’s hearts, with words, and ink on paper.

And a story.

The name of the project was Complex I and Complex II. I was there along with 149 of my closest friends. The year was 1969. The place was Santa Paula, California.

This is our story.

Monday, June 6, 2016


The "Decline to State," voter in California is hounded to the last moment, because you do not know what we are going to do!
The mail; 6-6-16

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Message from Kurt Cobain

I currently own something called "An Open Letter From Kurt Cobain." Here is a small portion of that letter. Looking at you NC, right now.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Kennedy Center Honors and Honoring Our Own

On May 10th, 2016, songwriters extraordinaire, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, won the BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated)Icon Award. BMI is the basic twin of ASCAP when it comes to music publishing, and most recording artists have a contract with one or the other.

I saw this as a news item on Twitter, and said that Barry and Cynthia should win every award every given, and called out the Kennedy Center Honors folks for not having already honored these two amazing songwriters. They are truly deserving but 140 characters allows nothing but a joke and hopefully a coherent statement.

Well I can't do jack in 140 characters so I thought I would sit down at 2:45 AM PST to expound on the subject of them getting the Kennedy Center Honors, and the seriousness of it occurring quickly. Let's talk about this award.

It's normally given as an award for a lifetime of contributions to the performing arts, and their contributions to American culture through the use of these arts. Right there is the biggest opening ever made for mankind, and for Barry and Cynthia.

To say that Barry Mann and Cynthia have contributed to the culture, continuing culture, and future culture of America, is a gross understatement of facts and feelings. I have avoided talking about the songs themselves to this time, because I want everyone to be clear about the rules before we talk about meat and potatoes.

Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil wrote, had a hand in writing, or assisted in some way in all these tunes. They are: "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling," "On Broadway," "We Gotta Get Outta This Place," "Walking in the Rain""(You're My) Soul and Inspiration," "I Just Can't Help Believing," "Here You Come Again," "Don't Know Much," but to name but a few of their great tunes. There are many, many, many, more.

Any one of the songs I have listed above would be a career for most songwriters but not Barry and Cynthia. They flourished and worked at songwriting, but they also had soul and inspiration, and a great ability to get into your heart with words and music. I don't know how they did it, I am just glad that they did.  

The awards ceremony was in Los Angeles California at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. BMI honored Barry, Cynthia, and a young woman who was named Taylor Swift. She is also a great songwriter and only needs 480 songs to catch Barry and Cynthia, in terms of hits.
Cynthia Weil, Taylor Swift, and Barry Mann

So I saw they won and I said on Twitter that they deserved every award for music ever given. I also checked and found out they had not been awarded The Kennedy Center Honors. This sort of pissed me off on a few different levels.

I believe that everyone who has received the Kennedy Center Honors has been a worthy recipient. They are all, and in some cases were, very talented and worthy of recognition. But again, I think some clear thinking needs to be applied to the circumstances attendant to these two specific individuals, and their possible receiving of this prestigious award.

These two have lifetime achievement awards from nearly every important music organization on the earth, they have the written the most played song on the planet in "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling." They are members of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the list just continues and continues.

So what are we going to do? Are we going to sit by and watch them get passed over again? I personally have no pull, no juice. I don't know anyone I could call, send a message to, or bother about this or I would. So all I can do is write this in the hopes that someone with some juice will feel the same way I do. I guess what I really have is a love for good music. So do Barry and Cynthia.

Also Barry Mann, just for the record knows who put the bomp, in the bomp buh bomp buh bomp. And that's gotta count for something. Please Kennedy Center honor these two real American heroes. I won't mention their work for saving animals, because they don't do it for fame or fortune, they just love animals. How awesome.

Please Kennedy Center Honors, step up and use this coming December to do the deed. These two deserve it while they can enjoy the fun, adulation, and recognition they truly deserve. They are one of the last ties to the Brill Building, Tin Pan Alley, and the great American songwriting tradition in general, and are American right down to their toes.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

96 Tears

No, this one is not going to be about ? and the Mysterians, of the titular "96 Tears." So if you are looking for that, then look somewhere else.

No this is a different 96 tears, for a whole different reason. This one is about football in England, It's what we in America call soccer, and it is a religion in England, not a sport. It's the reason why everyone knows the name of Leicester City.

Last week they overcame 5000-1 odds and won the Premier League cup for the first time. It's been called a "fairy tale," "miracle," and a whole lot of things that Cub fans will say if that day every comes to Chicago. It is, and was, truly an accomplishment.

What sort of got lost in all this coverage of Leicester City and their win, was Liverpool FC. On April 26, 2016, a jury found that 96 Liverpool fans, who died from a police caused crush, had been "unlawfully killed" and that the burden for this unlawful killing went right to the police doorstep.

What made it worse was when the disaster happened on April 15, 1989, the police, government, courts, and others in positions of power covered up the police actions, and continued to cover them up for over 25 years. They called the Liverpool fans drunken animals who killed each other, when it was clearly proven to not be true.

When I first heard about the incident in 1989, I just thought it smelled wrong for the dumbest reason imaginable. I still can't believe it was what jumped into my brain and is still one of the things I think of when I remember the disaster. What do I remember?

The Beatles.


Because Ringo was born in Liverpool, England, and I knew that any place where that great man came from, could not do this to themselves. I knew they did not kill each other, urinate on the police, or were drunken idiots. I just knew it could not be true, because of Ringo. How stupid is that. I actually bet on peace and love.

So 27 years later I was right, and so were the survivors, and families of those who went to a soccer match that day and never came home. I cried for joy, and I cried for justice, when I heard that verdict. It made me realize that England is still great, because they prize truth and justice over everything else, and will continue to look for it, even when the result is disappointing and discouraging.

Just like we still do in this country, at least for the time being.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Still On The Bus

Like I explained in my Earth Day post, I don't own a car. It's by choice and I have already listed the reasons I started. The reasons I continue are more complicated.

The first thing is you simply cannot be clinically depressed on a bus. You can be sad but you still have to pay attention, have the right fare ready, know which bus to take, what time it gets there. You need to be a little aware and that staves off that depression a bit. Bus riding also builds in walking, which is good provided you do not have to walk too far.

The other thing is no matter how bad off you think you are there is someone on that bus who is much worse off. I have seen people on the bus, who I knew the bus was going to be their home for however long it took the bus driver to kick them off because they are sleeping not riding.

I have seen acts of charity, kindness, and honesty. I lost both my house keys and an Iphone6 and both were turned in by other riders that never met me and never knew me. My father once told me that poor people can still have honor. I try and remember that.

My father also told me that when all a person has to keep, and sometimes give, is their pride then you accept that gift, and never shame the gift, no matter how large or small. On the bus the gift is a smile, getting up for someone older or infirm, or just engaging in conversation with a 38 year old man in footy pajamas who is wearing aluminum foil antlers.

If you think you are clinically depressed, crazy, mentally disabled or whatever, you will come away with a different take on your life, when you see the real sorrow people have to live in every day. It really makes you think a bit.

When I get off the bus, I know I am coming to a comfortable home, with food, warmth, friends, gadgets, guitars, and just everything I need. Everyone else on the bus? I don't know but I do worry. But being on the bus shows me there are still good people, working hard, and trying to survive.

So thanks to everyone on all the buses, trains, and other public transportation I have used in these past 2 years. I will never own another car, so people who keep offering me cars, thanks but no thanks. 

People need me on that bus, and I need to be there as well.