Thursday, July 24, 2008

Scary Business ...

I saw a photograph the other day of one of my favorite musicians. He looked like a bloated caricature of a cartoon monster. He’s a few years older than me, but has been a music icon in this country for forty-plus years. We kind of grew up together, he in the public eye and me in total obscurity. We’ve never really met, but have rubbed elbows a couple times. After looking at the picture I just want to go slap him and yell “What’re you doing? Is this what forty million dollars does for a guy? Go look in a mirror! Have some respect for yourself.”

Okay, so it’s one picture and it could’ve been a bad angle and my reaction might be over the top. But I am horrified and I wonder why. After examining my reaction I realize that what the picture really does is scare the hell out of me. That could be me looking like a melted meat-and-cheese sandwich. I don’t ever want to look like that and any notion that it might be inevitable is terrifying. The notion of aging gracefully and the photograph of my clay-footed hero are diametrically opposed.

What I’ve taken from this little experience is some very strong motivation to slow down on my bad habits and put some more oomph into the few good ones that I’ve managed to develop over the years. In that sense, the cartoon guy is still working as a role model. Sure, it’s a reverse kind of role model, but he’s still doing some good, in my life anyway. Maybe I should tell him that instead of yelling at him. Just because he’s got forty million bucks doesn’t mean he’s a really happy kind of guy.

That’s a fundamental truth, I think. Developing and maintaining a positive attitude about most everything really works to ensure a clear head and a healthy outlook. Think healthy, be healthy. Or something like that. It seems very simplistic, but maybe that’s part of the life lesson we should all pay attention to and learn from. Simple doesn’t necessarily mean limited. It also doesn’t always mean easy.

I think what I’ll do this evening is go find a recording my reverse role model made years ago, put it on, and listen carefully. I’ll contemplate the vagaries brought on by time on the planet and how they manifest differently for different people. Fate, whether real or not, is an interesting concept. Where were we when this music was recorded and how different are our lives now? Who’s to say if there’s a “better” to be understood? All I know is that I really don’t want to end up looking like that photograph. My ego won’t stand for it and has fueled a positive response that might serve me well for years to come. Wisdom is learned and, more importantly, invariably earned.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Life of Wryly

A wry smile has come to live on my face over the past couple days. Some buddies and I split and moved somewhere in the neighborhood of three cords of wood last Sunday. The wry smile came because without ibuprofen, I’d probably be a crippled wreck. Even with a bloodstream full of anti-inflammatory drug I can feel the lactic acid begging for release in my tight hamstrings. I can feel the tight pain along both triceps and my goofy left elbow burns white-hot if I move just wrong.

And speaking of neighborhood, I’m guessing my neighbors weren’t too pleased with the constant roar of the hydraulic splitter going on from ten until three-thirty or so. None of us intrepid workmen even wanted to consider what it might have been like had we not had the modern marvel of that splitter with a Honda engine. These were big rounds of Doug Fir and a splitting maul just bounced off. It would’ve been a half-hour’s work to split just one of the rounds, and brutal work at that. Well, at least for us city boys. Okay. At least for me. Even twenty years ago I might have been more inclined to swing the maul. But this time. No way, Jose. If you figure the cost of renting the splitter and the gas it took to run it, we still came out ahead on the firewood.

Now I get to remember what it is like to be physically sore from exertion. I, as do (I assume) many men my age, like to think that I am still at least mildly athletic, with some muscle memory of past prowess. Is it true, or am I in absolute denial? And do I really want that question answered?

I don’t know. I’m beginning to recognize myself in those advertisements about the typical American gut. You know the ones, some faceless tummy waddles by and a serious voice intones something about how Americans are hopelessly obese. Shocking! Hey, I might be one of the poster boys. But I’ve never thought of myself as obese. Am I a fat guy? Yeah. I gained thirty pounds when I quit smoking and haven’t jettisoned it yet (two years later). I keep talking about it, but , so far, I’ve left it where it is. I’m probably waiting for somebody to lose if for me. What an interesting delusion.

Americans use 25% of the current fuel resources on this planet. That’s where we’re truly obese. The bellies are just a symptom (mine included). If you haven’t yet, go Google T. Boone Pickens, or check out The guy’s a pretty smart guy and he’s got a bee in his bonnet about how we can make a difference. If we just sit on our fat asses and keep the denial working overtime, we will deserve whatever ignominious fate that comes. I believe it’s high time we all started paying a little more attention to ourselves and our immediate environment. As good things happen, one will rub off on the other.

See you next time.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Ah, the Fourth of July. Rather than creating a rant, I'll just offer this poem. I'll get back to the goofy stuff after a while. But now, the real world intrudes.

Reminders in Early July

Who wants to remember
the stench of the dead,
smoking skeletons of bushes
festooned with body pieces.
Dali meets Bosch.
This bod’s for you.

Who can forget
our most uncivil war,
atoms and flash burns blinding a generation.
A minuteman, cocked hat askew,
plays big cop on the corner of the world.
The freedom to revel in
politically correct enmity.

Desert sand to glass and
a million spent rounds of depleted uranium.
This rad’s for you.
The blood spoils and the children
are eaten by god who praises their hatred.

We celebrate a history of war,
mimicry of small arms and cannon,
young eyes alight with power,
smoke and flame in the streets.
Dangerous delight.
Living on Old Glory.