Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Selections From The Collection II – Blog #174

This one hundred and seventy fourth submission is a compilation of thoughts, small excerpts from each of this past years columns, #101 thru #173. They are presented here in descending order, most recent (#173) down to #101. Specific sections have been chosen from each, with no particular criteria other than that they seemed to be representative of, or introductory to, the individual blog. Scan the selections and, if you care to, go back to re-read, in their entirety, those that had some particular significance to you. Posting dates are located next to the Title. Then, if you just haven’t had enough, ‘Selections from The Collection’ #1 thru #100 can be found on the blog index to the right under ‘December 2008’.
Before reading, make sure you’re sitting down, and in a safe place.

Disclaimer: I cannot be held responsible, or liable, for changes in your thinking that may occur as a result of exposure to these meanderings.

173. Life Happens: 12/28/09
The man was facing a turning point in life, a change of direction, a bend in the road. It happens to all of us now and again. It happens sometimes with our consent, our intention even, and sometimes without it. But it happens. Some people end up being better off for it, and some do not. I don’t know all of what goes into that ultimate determination, only that it has a lot to do with character, and inner strength. Circumstances fall in place sometimes, and breaks emerge along the way, but inner strength seems to be the common companion of those who are able to make life work for them. It also helps to be flexible in one’s definition of ‘making it work’.

172. A Few Of My Favorites: 12/24/09
Some end of the year selections from ‘Musings of the Old Coyote’, the home of many of my random thoughts and dangerous insinuations.

‘Dignity’

No matter how old
I get

I will piss
standing up.

171. Pieces Of Jesus: 12/10/09
Never has there been a person divided into more pieces, for more purposes, than Jesus.
Never has there been someone as universally exploited, as loved and hated, as embraced and rejected. There is no other man, or woman, who even comes close. There has never been one who has elicited such contempt, and such sympathy, who has aroused such a volatile reaction, or provoked such personal change. And he disappeared, supposedly, over two thousand years ago. That’s a lot of emotion carried, uninterrupted, through a lot of years. You’d almost have to be God, or the Devil, to transcend time in such a profound manner.

170. Deja View: 12/4/09
-Sarah Palin, as you may have noticed, has been on her never-ending book tour. I actually kind of like Sarah Palin. I think she’d make a good Den Mother for our country. And God knows the country could use a good Den Mother. (See Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts). No emails about sexism, please. I’m serious.
On the other hand, I also think Joe Biden would be a good Den Mother,
just not as good as Ms. Palin.
There you have it.
-I think Obama would be a good contestant on ‘Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader’.
He certainly sounds smart the way he reads all those grandiose cliché laced speeches. However, he does need to work a little harder on trying to hide his arrogance with fake humility. Doesn’t come easy for him, I know.
-I like Obama too. Actually, I’d like him on his own never-ending book tour.
Anywhere but in the White House.

169. Afraid To Face The Preordained: 11/29/07
We’re born, we grow up, we get old, we die.
We’re uninformed, we learn, we teach, we leave.
Why is it that so many people have so much trouble with that concept?
As if it were a sentence, rather than an opportunity?
Chasing the brass ring of youth has become the biggest business in America, and the greatest social indulgence. Don’t take my word for it, do your own research, open your own eyes.

168. Where Mountain Meets The Sky: 11/17/09
My wife and I worked together yesterday around the property, dragging branches to the burn pile, cutting, hauling and stacking wood for next years winter. It was a beautiful sunny day beneath miles of clear blue, a small corner of paradise where mountain meets the sky, gateway, to be sure, to an equally profound, but still mysterious universe. It was cool at 3,300 feet, but not really cold. A storybook crisp autumn morning, ushering in, by design it seemed, a warm lazy afternoon.

167. Shapes And Shadows: 11/6/09
It’s foggy here this morning, overcast and cloudy, gray as the shade of my own perspective. The sun has yet to rise, with this thick generous shroud reminding me of a down blanket having been thrown lovingly across a quietly emerging sky. The trees, however, otherwise green and brilliant gold, are silhouetted now, dark against the sky, illuminating the private side of their mysterious existence. They reach heavenward, as all living things do, but loom menacing in the darkness when reduced to only shape and shadow.
Night creatures tend to reduce themselves to shape and shadow in order to co-exist with the darkness.

166. Against The Wind: 10/30/09
As has been said, “Kites rise against the wind, not with it.”
Against the odds men (people) find strength. . . . . .
In our culture, it has become very difficult for many of us to tap into our own essence. Some of us have been brought along pretty comfortably in life, without the kind of challenge, or misfortune, that these folks have had to face. In a way, we can count ourselves lucky to have avoided such happenstance, but on a deeper level, maybe we’re just a little weaker for having done so.

165. A Bitter Wind: 10/27/09
A bitter wind has come up this afternoon, a gusty, blustering blow from out of the north.
It arrived unexpectedly, without the courtesy of a formal warning. Caught unaware in the chill of its grip, I was suddenly conscious of being very naked beneath my light autumn clothes. I could feel my skin as if it were a thin layer of ice encompassing the rest of my brittle body. And I was feeling very cold. If the chill had wandered in slowly like a vagabond meandering through time, rather than rushing in like a bandit, I would have worn clothes under my clothes, and maybe even more clothes beneath those. But I didn’t.
Even my dog was shivering.

164. I Am Being Guided: 10/19/09
Sounds egocentric. Delusional even.
If you don’t recognize that life speaks to us in a myriad of ways.
Ears do not provide our only means by which to hear,
and eyes do not constitute one’s only source of vision.
To believe that would be delusional.
I am being guided, not by voices, but by signposts, by circumstance, by conscience,
by that still small voice.
And yes, by the Divine.

163. A Complicated Tree: 10/10/09
Intertwined with others that are not a good fit for them, or influence on them, I’ve watched people get torn down in much the same way, falling apart limb by limb from the top down, ending up on the ground, wondering what happened. Some people are called to a higher standard, and do not exist well in the stupidity of the crowd. They sacrifice their own beauty, and wellbeing, to grow among the clutter.
Oak trees need space, room to spread out. This one was growing amid a small grove of tall, straight Conifers, crowding its growth. Having to reach straight up for the sunlight, rather than being able to spread its branches, it became top heavy, and began to lean in a direction uncharacteristic of its nature.

162. There’s A Slow Train Comin’: 9/29/09
I was driving through the mountains the other day just going from here to there.
I put the Bob Dylan CD “Slow Train Comin” in the dash and sat back to enjoy the ride. Dylan is an artist who always takes me back to my roots, to beginnings, to my less than subtle introduction to some of the most amazing music ever performed, or recorded. It got me to remembering so many of the major musical artists I had the good fortune to have seen and heard live, in their prime, and in the full scope of their influence; artists who have not only changed the course of music, but who have melded their own style, and their own thinking into the stream of our continuing consciousness.

161. Trust: 2/23/09
We need to find a balance between trust and mistrust. Too much of the former can get a person killed. Too much of the latter can make a person feel dead inside.
But the thing about trusting is that it makes you feel good, like chocolate does.
That’s why we want to do it.
But too much chocolate, well, you know,
it has its repercussions.

160. Honesty: 9/17/09
But what the hell does honesty really mean anyway? Does it mean to live in a ‘tell-all’ world, where we have no secrets of our own? Does it mean to answer every question whether the answer is anybody’s business or not? Does it mean to confess to every shortcoming, failure, or indiscretion? Does it mean to challenge every standard of interaction and behavior? Does it mean to supplant wisdom and common sense with irresponsible nobility?

159. The Hard Working People: 9/12/09
We in this country owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the hard working people. I’m not talking about the ‘white-collar’ people, and I’m certainly not saying that those folks are not hard working, but I’m referring specifically to the ‘blue-collar’ workers here, those who get their hands dirty and break their backs on our behalf that we might have the goods and services that continue to enhance our daily lives.

158. The Mercy Of God: 9/6/09
The Mercy of God is not a mystery, unless of course, one does not recognize it as part of life. It is, however, the part that brings balance, it is the part that brings relief, and a sense of reprieve from the struggle.

The Mercy of God is in the morning light, without which the darkness would go on forever. The Mercy of God is in the warmth the light brings with it, that we might not suffer in the cold. The Mercy of God is in the rain following a dry season, and in the rainbow following a storm. The Mercy of God is in the new growth, in gardens, on farms, and in the wild, enabling creatures, great and small, to be free from hunger.

157. Mental Chronicles 3: 9/1/09
-There is no such thing as original thought.
There is only original expression of pre-existing thought.
Some would say that, in itself, constitutes original thought?
But I don’t know, I’ll have to think about that.

-If there is no order in our world then we have learned to live amid the dangerous
and the unpredictable.
Might be good to create a little harmony for ourselves once in awhile.

-If there is no disorder in our world then we have learned to live amid the safe,
and the predictable.
Might be good to create a little chaos for ourselves once in awhile.

156. The Pleasure Of Knowing Pain: 8/29/09
The pleasure of knowing pain. It is not a masochistic indulgence, or a pretentious concept, as one might conclude from the phrase itself. It is, however, for one who can bring perspective to the scream, the echo of hope coming back to rejuvenate the downtrodden. It is, I might add, an esoteric pleasure, rather than a measurable impression.

It has been said about life, “No one gets out alive”, but as a prelude to that, no one gets through life unscathed either. It is what we do with our grief that matters, that makes it ‘profitable’ pain, rather than just tragic circumstances.

155. I No Longer Need To Be Quiet: 8/24/09
I have always lived in an alternate space, in a boundless expanse of the unspoken, the unbroken, and certainly the unannounced. It’s just that not everybody knew that. People have always mistaken my quiet for agreement, my tolerance for affirmation, my moderation for timidity, my compassion for weakness, my modesty for apprehension. And they have always been wrong about me.
They have, also, always been afraid of me.

I do not live there any longer. I no longer need to be quiet.
People are still afraid of me, but for a different reason now.

154. Footprints: 8/2/09
I’m sitting on the deck now, between bear time and sunrise, there’s just a glimmer of light beginning to come over the hills to the east. I’m waiting for the coyote’s early morning visit to the water trough. Call me an insomniac, I don’t care, but I live for moments like these. Special times, intimate times when nature reveals itself unbeknownst even to itself. The birds are waking up, calling quietly to those still lost in slumber, the early risers prodding the late sleepers to get up before they miss the very best part of the day. I think they call it anthropomorphism when one gives human traits, behaviors, and characteristics to animals. But hey, at least I can spell anthropomorphism, and if I can spell it I ought to be able to indulge in it.

153. An Astonishing Rebellion: 7/29/09
There was a magnificent sunset this morning. Reminded me of some of the early mornings I experienced traveling through Europe many years ago. Austria specifically, and the Swiss Alps. We’re privy to so many spectacular, and miraculous, moments when awake before the dawn; there is an anticipation of the grandeur, with an expectation of brilliance that never disappoints. It is a time of day where there is only a welcoming, there is no conflict, and there is never a discordant note. Goodbye has been reserved for the darkness. There is a newness, there is a hopeful rising from within, there is the graciousness of another harmonious beginning.

152. The Man I Am Becoming Is The Man That I Will Be: 7/25/09
You’re probably already asking, “Whadaya Mean? Aren’t you about sixty years old by now, and fully who you’re going to be? Yep, that’s right, I am sixty, and that’s why I’m called The OLD Coyote. But to think that a man becomes who he is at an earlier age, and then remains there, presupposes that one stops growing, changing, and developing. Truth is, what I did, and how I lived, yesterday still influences how I am, and who I am, today. That’s both the beauty, and the curse, of life.

151. Phony Angels Of Light: 7/6/09
“Sometimes Satan comes as a Man of Peace.”
Bob Dylan said that.
Now, Bob Dylan is not the ultimate authority, far from it I would presume. But he bears paying attention to by virtue of the fact that he is a well read, self-educated, and very well traveled Troubadour. Dylan has a gift of words, but besides that, and most importantly, he has developed the gifts of honesty, of seeing, and of understanding, to enhance his ability to communicate. They are, what has become, his human, and artistic brilliance. The gift of words, without honesty, without seeing, and without understanding, is just a shallow imitation of wisdom. It would make him a pretender, rather than a sage. Dylan has wedded these gifts like light is connected to the break of day.

150. What God Has Enabled: 7/13/09
Sitting at my computer early yesterday morning, writing the next installment of ‘Coyote Tracks’, I looked up from my work to see a beautiful young coyote playfully loping up the path outside my window, as if he didn’t have a care in the world, as if nature were his birthright. Something we have all but forgotten about ourselves. It was a moment in time, but a special snapshot to file with a growing collection of other images I’ve been given to make my time on earth more enjoyable.
Gifts left on the doorstep of life.

149. One Hundred People In The World: 7/10/09
Sometimes I think there are only about one hundred people in the world. One hundred people, but duplicated many times over. Could be one hundred and ten, or twenty-five, or something like that, but you get the point.
I notice people. I notice them everywhere. I notice them all the time, I notice people like some men notice cars, or breasts. In fact, there is never a time when I’m around people that I do not actually notice them. And one thing I’ve noticed is that there do not seem to be any people who do not look just like someone else I’ve seen, or known.
Even myself.
I really think there are only about one hundred people.

148. Mental Chronicles 2: 7/6/09
-Was channel surfing the other night and passed by an ET promo for a segment on Mary Kate Olson (of the Olson twins). Didn’t stick around to watch it, but the emphasis of the tease for the segment was that Mary Kate had survived a bad hair day. I thought, as I went past the program, that in her world that was comparable to a young woman in Darfur surviving another day of brutality, thirst, starvation, homelessness, and separation from family. It’s a tough life for the Olson’s. Those spoiled, and privileged Darfurians should have it so bad.

147. The Death Of Our Own Self Respect: 7/3/09
Is anybody but me getting just a little sick of all this idolatry of Michael Jackson? When is enough going to be enough? He was not a saint. He did not cure cancer. And he did not change our lives in any way, shape, or form. Let’s get real here, people.
What he did do is legitimize pedophilia (I mean man/child love), denial, and dysfunction. Not to mention setting an example of fraud, duplicity, dishonesty, and deceit for all his young followers to learn from. And they did.

146. In My Mind I Was In England: 7/1/09
Jim and I were best friends in, and just out of, High School. As was the case with so many young people at the time, we were relatively troubled souls. Mind you, this was the 60’s, and the beginning of a mass personal, and cultural, revolution. Because of, and in keeping with the times, we were in the habit of taking a lot of LSD. And with our ever-increasing use of the hallucinogenic it was becoming, predictably, difficult for us to differentiate between Wonderland and that other world some people often referred to as Reality.

145. How We Failed Michael Jackson: 6/26/09
He was five years old when we began to pay attention to him, and we’ve been paying attention to him ever since. That about sums it up.

Could you live to fifty with that kind of constant attention? Sure, the lonely, isolated, and eventually pathetic man that had become Michael Jackson craved the attention, he sought it out, he even orchestrated much of it, but every parent knows that the best way to kill the purity of a child, the good nature of a developing human being, is to either smother him with adulation he could never live up to, or to constantly reinforce negative behavior with undeserved praise and reward. We have, as a culture, been complicit in raising Michael by that same toxic formula.

144. Fear Of Our Own Defense: 6/25/09
You may be opposed to private citizens carrying guns, because that’s what you’ve been conditioned to think, but if someone walked into your office and started shooting up the place, you’d kiss the shoes of the guy who pulled a weapon out of his desk drawer and stopped the carnage before it got around to you. Where the rubber meets the road, that’s how we know what we really believe, regardless of what we may profess. The rest is just psycho-babble.

143. Being A Father: 6/21/09
Being a father is something it would be good to have a trial run at. Unfortunately, whoever designed the rules for life didn’t build that option into the equation. You are either a father, or you are not. It’s not like the Olympic time trials, or anything like that. They don’t give you a qualifying meet, or a practice run to hone your skills, your timing, or your understanding of the event. You’re just not a father one moment, and then you are. It happens that quickly. Oh sure, some men practice by getting a dog, or by sitting for an hour with a friends baby while she gets her hair done, and that’s helpful, but lets face it, that’s not even pretend fatherhood. That’s really just pet ownership, and momentary baby watching.

142. Sake’s Bones: 6/17/09
I dug up my cat’s bones yesterday. His name was Socrates. I called him Sake. I’d buried him a couple of years ago, a few feet from the place where he died. He’d gotten too old to defend himself against the pack of dogs that had hounded him for years. Sake was not afraid of them, but they were always afraid of him. Sake slept in the sun with one eye open, while they never quite mustered the courage to get too close. But finally, in his weakened condition from age and arthritis, the dogs ended their long and frustrating struggle wrestling with the bravado of their own nature. They moved in like a carload of gang bangers. They killed my cat, and left him laying there, their compulsive mission finally accomplished.

141. The View Is Different: 6/13/09
Different environments create different responses in different people. This setting creates an optimistic one for me, and a thankful one. The happiness quotient is at optimum. I can breathe here, I can think, I can hear the proverbial sounds of silence. And when the silence is gone, it is only because the birds have joined together in song, a natural choir, in perfect harmony, and in perfect pitch. Unlike my feeble efforts at communicating my own songs, there is no struggle in their sound.

140. Mental Chronicles: 5/27/09
-You’ve all seen and heard the endless commercials for ‘Male Enhancement’ products,
haven’t you? By the sheer volume of them you’d think every male in the country needs enhancing.
Well, I’d have to agree with that in one respect. With the continuing feminization of our men, and our boys (see above), it does seem like what this nation needs more than anything else is some good old-fashioned Male enhancement.
C’mon men, get a grip!

139. The Madonna Diatribe: 5/24/09
Funny, how if you or I were caught buying a child from somebody else it would be a felony punishable by imprisonment. But when Madonna buys a little boy, I mean ‘makes a donation’ to build a Caballa Center, I mean a ‘school’ in Africa, she’s given a child in return, and it’s called an ‘adoption’.
Even though, I might add, the boy was not even an orphan.
And now she’s trying to buy a little girl?

Have you noticed how the Madonna’s of the world, who’ve purchased about everything there is on earth to buy, including men, invariably seem to turn their attention to buying children to add to their impressive collections of ethnic art.
Oooh, did I say that?

138. I Need For You To: 5/20/09
“Emory, I need for you to come here.” “Ashley, I need for you to put your coat on.” “Damon, I need for you to stop talking like that.” “Jacob, I need for you to get in the car.” “Christopher, I need for you to get off the swing.” “Abby, I need for you to have a drink of juice.” “Taylor, I need for us to leave now.”

You learn a lot about the culture of a place on the children’s playground. You learn a lot about the mind-set of the current crop of parents, and you learn a lot about what the new generation is going to grow up to be like.
Now, I could be wrong, but it occurs to me that by the time these kids are 12 they’re going to be so friggin’ sick of their parents needs that they’ll be telling them “I don’t give a shit about your needs. I’ve got my own needs, or haven’t you noticed? Life’s not all about you, y’know.”

137. Falling Tree Kills 5-Year-Old: 5/17/09
That was the headline in the paper on Wednesday, May 6, 2009.
It happened not too far from my house, on a beautiful country road after a rain.
An old oak tree, snapping off at its base, fell across the road crushing the pick-up truck that little Nicholas Kirby and his family were riding in. His name was Nicholas, but they called him Bobby. The rest of the family, along with Bobby’s best friend, Elena, survived the horrific ordeal.

They were just a few minutes from home when it happened, running an errand like families do.

136. The Nobility Of Confidence: 5/13/09
My friend Curt gave me a pair of spurs several years ago. I didn’t have a horse at the time, but he wanted to give them to me anyway. Now I know what most people are thinking, ‘that spurs are a cruel and abusive device to use on a horse just to get him to do what you want’. Most people don’t understand anything about spurs, or horses for that matter.
Most people don’t understand anything about self-protection either. They think that banning handguns will reduce murder, robbery, home invasion, and other violent crimes. They think that is how we can protect ourselves.

135. The Man Club: 5/7/09
After the park we came home to get some lunch and rest up a bit before our afternoon outing. I went into the bathroom to relieve myself of one too many cups of morning coffee. I was standing at the toilet quietly, when I looked down to see my grandson standing beside me dropping his pants to the floor. He then joined my stream with his own into the toilet bowl, got a big smile on his face, looked up at me and said “We’re peeing together grandpa.”
I laughed and said “Yeah, we’re peeing together, grandson.”

134. The Road To Where We’ve Never Been: 5/5/09
Every road leads to somewhere we have never been before. That makes for a lot of places yet to be explored. Sure, we’ve driven on some roads several different times, and several roads many different times, but no road goes to the same place twice. Ever.

Let me explain. Travel to a previously visited destination, over a road already driven, is a duplicate experience, but duplicate only in the fact that the road doesn’t move, and the place we’re going to doesn’t either. They remain constant. They remain exactly where they were the last time we traveled. But nothing else is the same. Everything else changes. Everything else is different. And that is what makes for an interesting life.

133. I Saw The Virgin Mary In A Cracker: 4/30/09
It was not the first time I saw the Virgin Mary. But it was the first time I saw her in a cracker. I understand she’s been seen in Dorritos, tortillas, on toast, and even in a biscuit. Partial to snacks, I guess. I’m not going to say anything here about women and food. Maybe the Virgin Mary figures appearing in snacks is the best way to communicate with Americans. I understand that in England she appears in tea bags.

132. Social Justice: 4/27/09
They are getting you used to the idea of the re-distribution of wealth with a seemingly benign, harmless, and even attractive term that appeals to the sensibility, and conscience of good-hearted people everywhere. “Social Justice”. Who wouldn’t want social justice? What the term really means is “Things are not fair. Some people have a lot of money and stuff, and some people don’t. So we’re going to take the money from them, those who have earned or inherited it, and we’re going to give it to those who haven’t. They are now, and will be doing it, on an individual, on a National, and on a Global level. Watch out folks. There is nothing just about “Social Justice”.

131. Everybody Feeling The Pressure: 4/22/09
Most of us would be able to live our lives just fine without the constant drum beat of the media, without the 24/7 coverage of the economy, with its politics of fear, emergency and global catastrophe coming down from on high, but with just enough ‘don’t you worry though, the government is coming to your rescue’ thrown in for good theater. How much of this propagandist disinformation do they think we are willing to take? Does anybody but me want them all to just shut up and go away? The truth is that our government is in bed with the global power brokers, the democratic dictatorships (which we are fast becoming), and the major financial institutions of the world, to subjugate our country to the will of a One-World-Government. C’mon people, we all know that, but we are in such shock, such mass denial, that we refuse to believe it. Does anybody hold our independence in any regard anymore?

130. The First Step Is The Steepest: 4/18/09
Never know what’s going to come out the ends of my fingertips when I sit down to write. Never know if I’ll even agree with what I have to say. I just listen, and type what’s coming through my implant.

129. Throw Away Thoughts: 4/15/09
-Needless to say, not a day goes by that I do not become a day older than I was the day before. I wonder if that’s true of everyone, or if it’s just me? Seems like everybody over the age of 40 just keeps getting younger looking.

-Ever notice how often people will preface what they have to say by saying ‘needless to say’? I think if it’s ‘needless to say’ it should probably not be said, so please disregard my opening statement.

-When I alluded to the fact that we could all benefit by elevating our consciousness, somebody said to me “Ah, you just have some kind of ‘Jesus complex’.” I replied, “Funny, that’s what they said about Him”.

-Isn’t it about time somebody crawled up to the bar, and said “Hey, can we raise this goddamned bar back up to where it used to be”?

128. Who Is Sandra Cantu?: 4/11/09
Sandra lived in a Mobile Home Park in Tracy, California with her mother. They did not have very much money, and consequently, mom had very few life options from which to choose. But, like any mother, she had the hope and expectation that her child would be happy, and that with inspiration, motivation, and some fortuitous breaks, she could find her way to adulthood, and a satisfying life. Sandra would never realize her mother’s dreams, or the dreams she had of her own. Her life was taken from her prematurely. She did not die, however, in an accident, or of a childhood disease, but at the callous hands of someone who steals the souls of children because he does not have a soul of his own.

127. Life Review: 4/6/09
I have always been mindful of the importance of life-review while still alive. It is a means of governing ones own life and actions. It is an encouragement towards integrity in ones way of living. If one accepts that he will be facing himself in the figurative mirror each morning, one tends to want to be OK with what he’s going to be seeing there. In my life, I have been as unkind, at times, as the next person, as intolerant, and as imperfect, but, because of a continuous life-review, I have been less unkind, less intolerant, and less imperfect than I might have been otherwise. That’s my only point here. What can it hurt? It can only help.

126. Moderate Hysteria: 4/2/09
Surrounded by one-way phone conversations, the frantic click of computer keyboards, patience-trying kids vying for their moms attention, and the counter help calling for pick-up of a double-shot-espresso with chocolate sprinkles (or whatever), I had to just withdraw inside myself, set the slow-mo switch on my brain, and absorb my surroundings for what it really was; a fascinating, but full-functioning dimension of hot-wired dysfunctional actors waiting for a more significant part in the play.
To put it mildly.

Made me wish I could have spent the time in The Last Café,
from my novel “Wilderness”.

I didn’t get much of the morning paper read.

125. Hand Crafted Lives: 3/29/09
Nothing of the un-natural world just happens, except deterioration. Anything, if left alone, will degrade, and deteriorate. It will not prosper, it will not multiply, it will not eventually manifest itself as more perfect than at the time of its creation. That is unless it has been constructed out of something taken from the natural world. A piece of furniture, for example, a hand crafted guitar. They will begin a process of deterioration, but they will eventually become richer, more well-regarded, and more valuable with time if cared for properly. The ageing of natural elements, people included, enables their depth, and the nature of their character to more fully emerge. People deteriorate physically, and mentally, but the true spirit of an individual, the essence of somebody, becomes more manifest with the passage of time.

124. The Little Ones: 3/18/09
The little ones, they remain with us. The not yet fully formed who have had an incomplete entry into this formidable world. They do not cease to exist as one who may not be paying attention might imagine. They exist along with the rest of those of us who made it safely. Whether they be under-developed, injured in their formative stages, forcibly taken from the comfort of the womb, or inadvertently neglected by their spiritual caretakers, they join hands with the soulful, to lend purity and balance to an enigmatic world. These saints of God have eternal substance, and they have purpose.

123. If I Had One Day Left To Live: 2/07/09
If I had only one day left to live I’d probably take a quiet walk in the woods, below the snow line, but above the timberline. I’d follow an old path along a living creek as it made its way over rich earth, across ancient ground, through granite rock, spilling softly out into a generous meadow. A missing piece of heaven, standing still, glistening in the early morning sun. I’d watch the light dancing on wet green moss, young blades of grass, and the new growth branches on young pine trees lining the edge of the field. I’d walk on those little fallen pinecones that congregate beneath the tallest of the trees. I’d step on them just for the sound of the crunch.

122. Thoughts On Golf: 3/3/09
Somebody once said, when asked if he enjoyed playing golf, “Why would I want to ruin a good walk in the park?” I actually love playing golf. I’m a pretty bad golfer compared to a good golfer, but for just playing every two or three years, I can usually find the hole with the ball before it gets dark. I’d probably be better if I got some of those golf shoes with the spikes so that I could actually walk on that beautifully manicured grass without slipping, sliding, stumbling, tripping and falling down all over the place. Get a good grip on the lawn, y’know. Hazardous ground, those golf courses. And maybe a pastel shirt and pants outfit to complete the look.

121. People Really Like To Say Fuck: 2/28/09
Kids say ‘Fuck’ to check other people’s reaction, and to help determine their own parent’s boundaries. Teens say it to act savvy, experienced, in the know, to express their independence, or just to get attention. Parents say it so their kids will think they’re cool. But the kids don’t think they’re cool, the kids think they’re idiots. The kids think the parents are stealing their words. Funny, the parents don’t want the kids using those ‘adult’ words, and the kids don’t want their parents using those ‘kid’ words. Females seem to use it as a sign of their personal liberation. Liberation from what? Decency?

120. The God Column: 2/25/09
Ever hear somebody say “The god in me loves the god in you, brother”?
Translation: “I hate your ass, and it’s a good thing that my god loves your god or else you’d be one messed up mother f***er.”
Don’t you just love the spiritual heights to which we climb?

119. The Wolf In Somebody: 2/22/09
Now, I told my friend that the woman should not be judged for her weakness, nor should one think less of her for wielding her feelings as a weapon. It’s unlikely that she intended to. It’s more likely that it was just the most comfortable, and familiar, place for her, the place she has always gone when she has felt threatened. People have a lot of pain in their lives, from a myriad of circumstances, much of which has been beyond their own control. And I am smart enough to know that the weapon, more often than not, actually chooses the individual. The individual becomes compromised to the point where whichever weapon most naturally, and comfortably, fits their grip is the one that will settle into their hand. It is more a ‘Pavlov’s Dog’ response than of a malicious, or retributory intent.

118. Organizing The World: 2/19/09
We have successfully insulated ourselves from many aspects of the world around us. I understand why we do it, and I do it myself more often than not. Who wants to hear the sound of traffic, motors racing, horns honking, stereos blaring from other cars, or people in a hurry who just cannot contain their own anxiety? We roll up our windows, turn up our own sounds, and turn on the climate control. Enables us to control our environment when we can control so little else of what goes on around us these days. It’s good to have this kind of control, but we’re really missing something along the way.
“Technology is mans way of organizing the world so that he never actually has to experience it.”

117. I know, I Promised: 2/17/09
OK, we’re going to flood the nation with construction jobs, getting the infrastructure built back up to par and putting people back to work. That would be a good thing.
But let’s see now, when the construction jobs dried up with our economic crash, the illegal immigrants who were actually working those jobs fled back home to Mexico. So now that money is going to be made available again for construction jobs, I guess that means they’ll be flooding back into the United States to take these jobs so they can resume sending the wages back to their families in Mexico.
And exactly how does that benefit the American people?
Oh, I get it, the President will make them all American citizens.
Yes, and that would also assure that they, and their families, vote ‘Democratic’ for the next several generations. Of course.
But hey, that’s better than actually buying votes, don’t you think?
I’m really growing to love this Country. We’re getting so clever.

116. Who Said That: 2/15/09
“. . . . . . The project, if approved, would be built over the top of blades of grass, stones, and such that perhaps used to be people.”
Yes, that’s correct folks, the statement was made by Marsha Vas Dupre, the Vice-Mayor of the City of Santa Rosa, California. The statement was given as her reason for voting against the proposed construction of a new Retirement Community.
Like I have always said, “AAAARRRRHHHH!”
God help us all. These people are managing our communities, and our tax dollars!
Just kill me now.

115. My Last Thoughts On Politics: 2/13/09
My last words on social politics. It’s become too corrupt, and too filthy, to even pay attention to anymore. From now on, with my blogs, I’ll be commenting on that which is true, and that which is honorable, like. . . . . oh. . . . . uh. . . . . ummm. . . . . . . hmmm. . . . . . let me see. . . . . . . . . damn, there must be something!

114. Speaking Of Thinking: 2/11/09
Speaking of thinking, does anybody take the TIME to think anymore? I mean like sitting under a tree and considering a problem, or a situation. Or being quiet in a chair, reflective, contemplative? Or do we do all of our thinking on the run now, or in front of the TV?
I don’t know, I’ll have to think about that.

113. A Confluence Of Forces: 2/7/09
It hadn’t rained in awhile, before the other day. Been raining in other ways though. A confluence of forces has been pummeling many good people, and their good intentions. Those who have only wanted to raise their families, live in harmony with life, and leave a positive imprint on this earth before finding their solitary way down the road. The hammer of politics, the social engineering, corporate greed, and the personal ambition of ruthless people have been working together to cripple the lives of the honest, of the innocent. As it has always been, really. As it has always been. But never, in my lifetime, like today.

112. Feelings: 2/4/09
Males were crying all over the place, wearing tears and feelings like badges of entitlement, like signs of their humanity, like the little boys some mothers, prima-donna fathers, and society, had hoped they would grow up to become. Males (not men) ruled by feelings, males who would be no threat to the status quo, males who could be controlled. Otherwise unarmed males, having not been armed with confidence, honesty or courage, now armed only with feelings, the weapon of the weak. Oh yes, and the accompanying anger that can be wielded when their feelings don’t get them what they want, or think that they deserve.

111. Implants: 2/2/09
That’s right, implants. Just as the inundation of cameras began with ‘security’, making us all scared of terrorists, and of shadows, and of the dark, and of muggers, and Mother F***ers trying to kidnap or molest our kids, the implant thing has begun it’s fear campaign as well. It started off with animals. Don’t want to lose your dog, do you? You’ll need an identity implant, comes with the license and vaccinations. People are stealing dogs, y’know? Or what if it gets lost and can’t find it’s own way home? Moved on to children. That’s right, don’t want to lose your kid, do you? Wander away at the mall, get taken from your house, or car, or get lost on his own? Better get him ‘identity implanted’ so we can locate him, and get him back to you if you lose him. Kids will need to get implants to get into school, or to get medical care, or to be claimed as dependents on your taxes. It’s already begun happening folks.

110. Opening Doors: 1/29/09
I don’t worry about opening doors. They’re doors, they have handles, and hinges. They’re made to open. They’re not walls. Walls are made to hold you in, or to keep other people out. If a wall’s got a door, I’ll open it. If it doesn’t, I’ll leave it alone. I don’t make a point of crashing through walls, that’s why they have doors. A door will let you in a room, or a closet, if you want to be in there, but it will also let you out if you’re not afraid of the outdoors. I guess the point here is that a door gives you options. Why be afraid of having options?

109. Survivor: 1/26/09
The show is about appearing to be transparent while actually being opaque. It is about duplicity, and it is about deceit. It is about kissing the ass of those deemed to be useful to you as a player, but it is also about keeping your lips stuck on their ass without them knowing that you’re kissing it, or the ass of everybody else as well. Takes a special skill to pull that off, but I’ve noticed that an increasing number of people have become quite proficient at the practice, particularly those lacking the courage, the self-confidence, or the motivation, to accomplish anything on their own. They will always find someone else’s rear-end to ride.

108. He’s Not God: 1/23/09
Speaking about me, a friend recently told another person,
“He doesn’t know everything, he’s not God.”
I thought it interesting that she felt she had to defend God. Or was she just alerting the other person not to confuse me with Him. Nevertheless, from my perspective it didn’t seem necessary. I’ve always been a very poor imitation of God, and never felt anyone would be in danger of mistaking me for Him, although I have been told I was created in His image, and in His likeness, if that counts for anything.

107. American Idol: 1/20/09
Hey people, they’re putting his likeness on everything from napkins to lampshades,
t-shirts to tennis shoes to flags. Fine china to coins to crystal goblets to commemorative plates, from Frisbees to kites to guitars to bikes to basketballs. They’re tattooing his mug on their backs and bottoms and belly’s and biceps and breasts. And there’ll be soda and beer and candy and gum and chips and dips and doughnuts sold in homage to his name. Just wait and see. You just wait and see.
Celebrities are tripping over themselves to get on his speed dial. And drooling over the possibility of masturbating in the Lincoln bedroom.

106. A Welcome Blunder: 1/18/09
This time my friends couldn’t help but acknowledge the blunder. We all laughed. It put me in a different light, made it possible to relate to one another more equally, and cast a relaxed shade of commonality across the rest of the evening.
It’s important for all of us to see those we look up to, or admire, as who they really are. People just like ourselves, with strengths and weaknesses, with passion and indifference. In spite of our gifts, talents, abilities and contributions, we are all truly just humans with our pants having sometimes fallen down around our feet.
I was happy to have enabled those two people to know that about me.

105. This Old Hotel: 1/14/09
On the other side of things, if I ran into good fortune along the way, not only would I get out of the car to shake his hand, I’d give him a ride to where he was going, and then I’d go back and visit him on occasion to make sure we stayed connected.

104. Yesterday Is Gone: 1/10/09
Yesterday is gone. Don’t know where it went, or how it got away without my noticing.
It never left a note to say “I’m leaving”, just decided it had to go, and was gone. When it had first arrived, in the very early morning, it came with a bag full of promise, and a box of possibility, dropped it all at my feet and said “I brought you some things to sort through today, use anything you care to, anything that might suit your purpose. Some of it may be useful to you, and some of it may be just for fun. But use whatever you’d like. Only has a shelf life of 24 hours, however, and I can’t take any of it back”.

103. The Gifts We Have To Give: 1/7/09
I am struck by the simplicity, and the importance, of the act of giving. A gift received becomes a gift given. It is the reception of the gift that enables it. If my grandson had not accepted my patience he would not have experienced it. It would not have become his own. A gift should be given without expectation, but accepted with an acknowledgement of its authenticity. It is the transference of something one person has and another person needs. That is the value of giving. I am reminded that each of us possesses a quality that another lacks, and likewise, each of us has need of a quality that someone else might have in abundance.

102. Osama bin Laden Is My Brother: 1/3/09
We do not have the luxury to pick and choose who is a member of the human family, and who is not; who we would like to sit next to at the banquet, or stand behind in the food line. Unkindness comes dressed in superlatives far more often than it ever comes dressed in rags, but it comes, dressed in every pair of pants imaginable. If our exclusion of some, and inclusion of others, in our love is based on faith, ideology, political party, country, color, or social grouping, then we really amount to little more than a college fraternity rather than the supposedly enlightened and ever-evolving citizens of the world that we have all become so fond of claiming to be.

101. My New Years Revolutions: 12/30/08
#7. Have a good look in the mirror.
On second thought, if I were me, which I’m not, I wouldn’t advise that.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Life Happens

The man was facing a turning point in life, a change of direction, a bend in the road. It happens to all of us now and again. It happens sometimes with our consent, our intention even, and sometimes without it. But it happens. Some people end up being better off for it, and some do not. I don’t know all of what goes into that ultimate determination, only that it has a lot to do with character, and inner strength. Circumstances fall in place sometimes, and breaks emerge along the way, but inner strength seems to be the common companion of those who are able to make life work for them. It also helps to be flexible in one’s definition of ‘making it work’.
Some are afraid of turning points, changes in direction, or bends in the road. They do whatever it takes to avoid such an eventuality. Some consider the implications and become frozen in time, and, unable to proceed in life, they hunker down in a safe and comfortable place to ride life out like one would take refuge from a blizzard in a basement. But some face change with courage, head on, without reservation, or they embrace it like a hibernating bear might welcome the spring. Not to say that change is not hard, only that it is often welcome relief from something needing to be different. For whatever reason.

The man wrestled with change for a long time, and knew that he could no longer entertain the status quo. He made the decisions that he determined his life required of him. It was not easy for him, it never is. Other people are affected by those kinds of decisions, hurt even, but he was mature enough to know that what is best for him is, ultimately, best for those closest to him, whether they might agree with the direction or not. It is a sculpting of his own life, and future, apart from the expectations of others, and it enables them to consider their own lives in a framework that is independent of his. Though, undoubtedly, painful for those affected by such conclusions, the future holds opportunity for them that it had not revealed before, that would have been unattainable were it not for the mans change of direction.

Life happens.
As it has for him, it does for the rest of us as well.

His name is Everyman.
Perhaps you know him.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Few of My Favorites

Some end of the year selections from ‘Musings of the Old Coyote’,
the home for many of my random thoughts and dangerous insinuations.



'Kisses'

The creek rises up
to tickle my feet

Like a lap dog
licking my face.




'Tulips'

The first time I kissed you I knew,
Tulips are better than one lip.




'A Warm Heart'

A warm heart cannot be broken.
A heart only breaks if it’s brittle.




'LoveHate'

He said
“I never had the chance
to hurt you
because you beat me
to the punch.”

She said
“I never had the chance
to love you
because every time I tried
you ducked.”




'Conflict Of Interest'

There’s nothing I would like more
than to grow hair on my back
to keep me warm for the winter.

There’s nothing I would like less
than to have to shave it
for the summer.




'Eleven Stars'

There were eleven stars
above my head last night.

Some might say there were
several billion more
that I could not see.

But to me there were eleven stars.
And I saw every one of them.




'I Asked For Shade'

The tree has grown up over my head
while I’ve been sitting on this rock.




'Bird Bath'

Quite active today.

Sparrows splashing around
like children
in a summer puddle.

Like adolescent boys
in a backyard swimming pool
trying to impress the girls.

Like men bragging about
conquests they never really
made.

Like those women
flapping their lips every morning
on “The View”




'Selective Hearing'

The people lost their way
when they followed the sound
of their own echo.




'Delegation'

Leave it to me
to leave it to you
to leave it to somebody else.




'Still Working Shifts'

I walked around outside of
this old factory, abandoned,
falling down from years
of neglect.
I sat beneath a shredded awning
on a weathered deck
to observe, and absorb
the ghosts still working shifts
on ancient lathes, machines,
and other equipment
long-ago rusted,
but left to do what they had
always done.

Like a heated disagreement
between neighbors
I can hear the metal on metal
in need of grease.




'For The Rest Of My Life'

Your voice on the phone,
like velvet
in my sandpaper world.

I could stay on the phone
with you
for the rest of my
life.




'Vines'

lined up like soldiers
on parade, a full company
waiting for inspection.

Vineyard stretching wide,
like an army spread miles
across the otherwise barren valley
of Armageddon.

Grapes to be plucked by hand,
then crushed by feet stained red.
The vines will then be plowed,
buried like soldiers, once proud,
beneath the very earth where they
once stood . . . . . . . . . but now
have fallen.

The soldier for the liberation
of our nation.
The grape for the liberation
of our soul.




'Shadows'

casting themselves long
behind trees,
leaning away from the morning sun,
making shapes of their own,
expressions of themselves
on sparkling grass
still wet with dew
from the rain.

Like we shape ourselves
each day we are alive.




'While I Ride Herd'

Clouds laying up gracefully
in an amber sky,
mountains tracing the
un-ambiguous horizon,
cows moving quietly
about the meadow

while I ride herd
from my hammock.




'At Your Window'

You buzz me,
like the best espresso,

or an overly ambitious
libido.

Like the shock of a young nun
dancing naked in a midnight mass.

Like lightning striking water
where I’m standing

peering thru the frosted glass
at your window.




'Writing Her A Poem'

I didn’t know it
at the time,
but she was drawing
my portrait
while I was writing her
a poem.




'It Made Me Wonder'

She sat on the grass
filing her nails
with a big emery board
closer to the size of
an ironing board
than an actual nail file.

And she had a bag
full of other stuff
in a support role.

It made me wonder
how men manage to get through life
with just a Swiss Army knife.

And a remote control
to change the channel.




'Valentines Day'

How did Mr. Valentine
get his own day
when I can’t even get
a window table
at the Broken Heart Café?




'Moving Earth Around'

An old red tractor
tearing up the field,
digging up the rocks,
filling holes,
moving earth around,
turning it over.

Like your therapist does
for 50 minutes
twice a week.




'Left Unspoken'

There’s something
to be said
for not saying
anything at all.




'An Autumn Day'

An old red barn
standing in a field.

An old chestnut mare
leaning on the fence.

An old oak tree
providing her shade.

An old creek bed
winding it’s way by the barn,

by the horse,
by the tree.

An old farmer
sitting on the porch,

half asleep.




'While I Was Watering The Roses'

A spaceship landed
in my front yard
while I was watering
the roses.

I gave the windshield
a squirt with my hose,
a good wipe with a squeegee,

and they were on their way.




'Two’s Company'

I got out of both sides
of my car.

Imagining I had arrived
at the party
with a friend.




'The Last Time You Walked By'

If I had
just a couple of minutes
left to live
I’d close my eyes
and breathe in the fragrance of
the last time you walked by.




'They Will Stand Together Gladly'

I watched you gathering weeds,
and cuttings, from the overgrown
stream bank,
choosing carefully the wild,
but dying, stalks and stems
knowing, by your movement,
by your style,
that you would somehow breathe life
into an arrangement to be made
of these otherwise forgotten
and decaying
shapes.

They will stand together gladly
in a glass vase, in the sun,
on the floor, in the corner
of your day room.




'If You Follow In My Footsteps'

I left footprints
on the beach,
then walked backwards
in the same impressions,
leaving no trace
of where I went.

If you follow in my footsteps
you can only walk
to where they end,
then you’ll have to figure life out
on your own from there

my friend.




'Henry and Leopold'

The old bulldog
did a practiced imitation
of his ageing keeper,
but he still had a jump or two left
in his hind legs.
And a few frolics percolating
in his otherwise tired disposition.
Whereas the old man had all but
exhausted his own.

What they still shared, however,
was that common, but uncanny
physical resemblance
honed quietly, but carefully
through years spent living alone
together.

And barking at the TV.




'4th Of July'

Everybody loves a parade.

Nice to see people all moving
in the same direction

for a change.




'The Demise Of Vanity'

She left herself
too long under the
tanner

And died an ignominious
death.




'Illusion'

She did a Google search
on herself

And discovered she didn’t
exist.




'In Poor Taste'

I was looking at
the back of your head
imagining it was attached instead
to someone else’s face.




'Dismissal'

He said “You’re getting better.”
She said “Whatever!”
He said “Don’t say “Whatever”.
She said “Don’t say ‘You’re getting better’.”




'Moss On A Rock'

A soft exterior.

Like a down coat
on a hard man.




'Afternoon Nap In The Grass'

Babe,
you just relax.
Sleep peacefully.
Don’t worry about a thing.

And I’ll keep my eyes peeled
for snakes.




'Looking For My Brother'

I’ve been wandering around this graveyard today
looking for my brother.

I knew I wouldn’t find him here.
They burned his body
down to ashes,
and scattered them to the wind.

But I thought I caught a whiff
of his cologne.




'Silly Reasons To Smile'

Your teeth might like some fresh air.

The frown police are in the neighborhood.

Your life could actually be an audition
for a network anchor job.




'The Vultures'

A single engine plane
chased all the vultures away.

I was just beginning to enjoy them.

Even though they were hoping
I would die.




'Dignity'

No matter how old
I get

I will piss
standing up.




'In Your Shoes;

It would be difficult
to walk a mile
in your shoes

since your feet are stuck
in the mud.




'Protest'

I didn’t brush my teeth
before bed last night.

It was my small way
of saying fuck you

to the world.




'Newspapers'

We can’t believe
everything we read
in the papers.

What we really need
is a newspaper
that tells us
what we can believe,
and what we can’t

in the other papers.




'Hope'

doesn’t give much
notice,
or turn to offer
some pretentious resignation
upon it’s departure.

It just walks
quietly through the door
with a furtive glance

and is gone.




'Strangers'

The ubiquitous stares
of strangers
hunt me down
and stab me
like an arrow
pierces deeply
the tender
and vulnerable
breast

of a disconsolate
deer.




'Obituary'

He died
at the end of his life.




'Affordable Truck'

Shopping cart.
Rusted from the weather.
Utilitarian companion of the
dispossessed.

An affordable truck
on it’s route across town
in the morning fog
in the emerging dawn,
in the anonymous cloak
of solitude.

The early riser
the 4 wheel driver
in search of sidewalk treasures
discarded like bad fruit
by those of us

who own too much.




'Life'

I’m alive.
The wind stirs my soul
at times.
The beauty of life
extracts
an occasional

tear.




Read more at the "MUSINGS" page of The Old Coyote website

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pieces Of Jesus

Never has there been a person divided into more pieces, for more purposes, than Jesus.

Never has there been someone as universally exploited, as loved and hated, as embraced and rejected. There is no other man, or woman, who even comes close. There has never been one who has elicited such contempt, and such sympathy, who has aroused such a volatile reaction, or provoked such personal change. And he disappeared, supposedly, over two thousand years ago. That’s a lot of emotion carried, uninterrupted, through a lot of years. You’d almost have to be God, or the Devil, to transcend time in such a profound manner.

Some call him a Pauper, and some call him a King. Some call him the Lord, and some call him a Servant. Some call him a Blasphemer, and some call him a Truth Teller. Some call him a Political Subversive, and some call him a Prophet. Some call him a Mystic, and some call him a Martyr. Some call him the Son of Man, and some call him the Son of God. Some call him a Sinner, and some call him a Saint. Some call him a Visionary, and some call him a fake. Some call him a Preacher, and some call him a Puppet. Some call him a Teacher, and some call him a Student. Some call him a Man of the People, and some call him a Man of God. Some call him Religious, and some call him Spiritual. Some call him Self Righteous, and some have called him Humble.

What other person in history, besides Jesus, has his own anti-character? There is Christ, and there is the long anticipated anti-Christ. What other historical figure’s name is used as an expression of anger, hostility, resentment or exasperation?
With whose life did time, as we now know it, begin again? We are living in the two thousand and ninth year ‘of our Lord’.

There have been many people who purport to represent Jesus, who profess to speak for him, or who even claim to be him. There are those who follow those who claim to be him. There are many who run to him, and even more who run from him.
And there are those who cannot even bear to hear, or speak, his name.

Is there another child in all of history who’s birth was so feared by the powers that be (King Herod), that he ordered all the male children, in and around Bethlehem, under the age of two, to be murdered to ensure that the baby Jesus would also be killed?

His birth has been celebrated, exploited, and reviled. The commercialism that has grown up around its remembrance has surpassed any expectation that even the most jaded Madison Ave. executive could have embraced. The credit card debt accumulated by average families around the occasion continues to give testimony to our having gone terribly off track in the supposed commemoration of his arrival on this earth. Ironically, the Christian belief system is based upon Jesus dying to pay our spiritual debt so that we could be reconciled with the one to whom we are in arrears. And we are now leaving Jesus completely out of the celebration of his own birth. Imagine, if you will, not being included in your own remembrance. True, nobody seems to know the actual date, but that is not even germane to the issue.

Jesus life, on the other hand, has been studied; it has been examined, scrutinized, and minimized; it has been stated, related, inflated, debated, imitated, devalued, debased and denied. His words have been used to support a particular point of view, and to refute that very same point of view. They have been printed in the bible, and on a plethora of posters and other Jesus junk that you can pick up in churches, or religious bookstores in just about any city or town in America, the world even, with the exception of a few countries that dictate certain religious expression to be anathema to the laws of the state.
His life and works are used as examples to be emulated; his parables are used, to this day, to communicate basic spiritual truths, laws of nature, and codes of behavior. His wisdom is quoted endlessly by those who know it belongs to him, and by those who don’t. Churchgoers use his early years in the church as evidence of the church’s importance. Non-churchgoers cite his teachings about the Pharisees, or his turning over of the moneychangers tables in the temple, as reason to avoid the institution altogether. But, people of each belief point to the importance of the underground church of the New Testament, which was formed secretly around the teachings of Jesus. It continues to this day. It is something the Institutional church acknowledges, but really knows nothing about. It’s funny though, how the small, invisible home gatherings of Christians (the underground church, if you will) aspire to grow, but in so doing inevitably, and predictably, end up joining the ranks of the existing institution; further evidence that man has a difficult time even getting out of his own way.

When Jesus was alive, some people were attracted to him, and some were not. A group of men, individuals really, began wanting to be with him, sometimes at great personal cost. They came to be known as disciples. He did not go around looking for these men, finding them and then appointing them as disciples. He just went about his life and people followed him, enthralled by his teachings, and the spirit he embodied. Many people were envious of him. Some pretended to know and love him, and some really did know and love him. Just like today, I guess.

He told the truth to people. He did not placate, assuage egos, or indulge dishonesty. He always spoke to the core of every situation, sometimes directly, and sometimes in parables. Many people did not like that about him. It made them uncomfortable, and it left them with no place to hide from themselves. As least that’s what the New Testament seems to indicate. Many people worship him today, in songs of praise, in the raising of hands, and in the speaking of tongues. Some people want nothing to do with the Jesus drug, but embrace him in spite of it all. Some people want nothing to do with him. Many people take parts of him that they need, or can use; his character, his persona, his imagined spirituality, but reject the totality of who he was (is). They do this because they have nothing of their own that compares. They pretend at spiritual, they play Jesus, rather than actually emulating him, rather than facing the vacuum of their own lives. They mix his teachings with their own compromises. They find it to be more comfortable than what his teachings actually require of them. They want the love, but not the selflessness. They want the enlightenment, but not the path to its attainment. They want the blessing, but not the sacrifice. They want the glory, but feign humility to acquire it.
People choose which pieces of Jesus they can live with, and which pieces to discard like leftover bones from a plate of well marinated spare ribs.


Some say Jesus Died and has been Resurrected, and some say he Has Not.
If the truth be known, however, he IS alive for some, and he is DEAD for many others.

Never in history has there been a person divided into more pieces, for more purposes,
than Jesus.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Deja View

-Regarding Tiger Woods, as you know by now I’m not someone who has worshipped at the altar of golf, and even though I have been critical of Tiger’s narcissism and mega-ego, I have wished him no harm. But he seems to be taking quite a beating lately because of his supposed extra-marital relationships. And quite frankly, I don’t really like to see someone get beat up when they’re already down, whatever the reason. Nobody knows his relationship with his wife except him and his wife.
I just have one comment, however, on the whole unflattering situation.
‘It seems as if the Tiger is lost in the Woods’.

-Global Warming. If you recall, I have been telling you since the very outset that this whole global warming fiasco is nothing but a fraud, a means for very wealthy and powerful men to accumulate even greater wealth and power, internationally. It is also a protocol to bring the UK, the US, and other wealthy progressive nations, to their respective knees. Look at the treaties we have, and are, being pressured to sign. Look at all the new taxes on products and services that you are being forced to pay to ‘accommodate’ global warming. Then take a look at exactly who has their hand in your pocket. Take a look at Al Gores recent Gazillion dollar income from his Carbon Credits business. Anybody willing to get their head out of the sand would be able to see the deceit, the manipulation, and the greed associated with the whole movement. They have even conditioned the children to believe that they need to save the world.
And now some in Congress want to investigate the leaking of emails that have partially exposed the fraud, rather than investigating the perpetrators of the fraud itself. But if they were to really look into things wouldn’t that mean that Congress would actually need to investigate itself?

-Well, Obama promised ‘transparency’ in his administration, and it is becoming quite apparent that he is interested not so much in what the people want, as he is in what HE wants FOR the people. He has become very transparent in that respect.

-Sarah Palin, as you may have noticed, has been on her never-ending book tour. I actually kind of like Sarah Palin. I think she’d make a good Den Mother for our country. And God knows the country could use a good Den Mother. (See Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts). No emails about sexism, please. I’m serious.
On the other hand, I also think Joe Biden would be a good Den Mother,
just not as good as Ms. Palin.
There you have it.

-I think Obama would be a good contestant on ‘Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader’.
He certainly sounds smart the way he reads all those grandiose cliché laced speeches. However, he does need to work a little harder on trying to hide his arrogance with fake humility. Doesn’t come easy for him, I know.

-I like Obama too. Actually, I’d like him on his own never-ending book tour.
Anywhere but in the White House.


OK, I think I’ve angered enough people by now.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Afraid To Face The Preordained

We’re born, we grow up, we get old, we die.
We’re uninformed, we learn, we teach, we leave.

Why is it that so many people have so much trouble with that concept?
As if it were a sentence, rather than an opportunity?

Chasing the brass ring of youth has become the biggest business in America, and the greatest social indulgence. Don’t take my word for it, do your own research, open your own eyes.

What if everybody in America quit spending money on ‘Youth Enhancement’ products and procedures, and donated those billions (yes, billions) to a general fund (not the government) that would provide education, health care, and other social services to the general population? Seems like everybody is always complaining that there is never enough money for those necessities, but Americans always seem to have enough money to get their hair colored, their teeth whitened, their faces stretched, their lips plumped, eyebrows plucked, nails done, bodies tanned, breasts enhanced, cheeks implanted, wardrobes updated, personal trainers paid, and gym memberships extended. When it comes to trying to look as young as we once were, the sky seems to be the limit.
Women carry the torch of this phenomena, always have, but men are just as vain, and just as compelled as women to morph their own reality into a look and image that has long ago passed them by (the ‘red sports car’ syndrome). There are just as many products and procedures for men these days as there are for women. And men take full advantage of their availability. Hair implants, calf and peck implants, facelifts, hair dye, male enhancement pills, creams and pumps. Moisturizers. MOISTURIZERS. Please!
The list goes on.

In this bourgeoning youth culture, everybody is so afraid of being left behind that they jump on the wagon as quickly as a life-long-alcoholic might fall off it. But hey, I got an idea. How bout’ if everybody over forty stand up, and in unison, throw a middle finger in the face of the creators and marketers of this ignorant and fallacious belief that youth is greater than age. Throw a finger in their face, then take your cupboard full of Youth Enhancement products and throw them on a collective bonfire in the middle of Madison Ave., and in a similar pile on Hollywood Blvd.
Then, take the middle finger on the other hand and throw it in the face of all the people under thirty who actually believe that they’re smarter, more experienced, more valid, and more valuable than those who are older. People need to stop acquiescing to the stupidity, the inexperience, and the ‘potential’ of youth. Youth is just that, ‘potential’. Just because a twenty four year-old, or a five-year-old, can text, send a picture of himself from his cell phone, and pick his nose at the same time does not negate his disturbing inability to engage in critical thinking or meaningful self reflection. Just because he’s technologically connected 24/7 does not necessarily mean he’s able to connect with another human being in any kind of meaningful way, or that he will even understand that he is actually just being led around by the technological ring in his proverbial nose.
For those of you over 40, (or 50, or 30 even), how about having the courage to accept your age, embracing it with dignity, realizing the privilege of your experience, and wearing it proudly without apology?

Does anybody get that when parents are competing with their children in the ‘youth and attractiveness’ arena that the children are building a continuing resentment towards those same parents? When parents put self-emphasis on the external, rather than the internal, do they not understand that they are subjugating themselves to the myth of youth, rather than embracing the dignity of age? Do those parents expect their children to admire them, or want to be like them? The natural evolution of family is that children grow up wanting to be like their parents . . . . . . . . . . . if, in fact, they respect them. When a child sees the parent wanting, and trying, to be like the child, what is there left for the child to respect? Mothers competing with their daughters produce daughters competing with their mothers, rather than giving the child a mother she can rely on for wisdom and guidance. What’s so good about that? We’re robbing the children of the traditional role models they would have, otherwise, been able to trust . . . . . the parents. And what does it say about a 40 year-old parent wanting to look like her own 15 year-old daughter? I won’t even get into that.

You say, “But I don’t have any kids, what’s wrong with wanting to look young?” And I say “What’s wrong with looking your own age? What’s wrong with not deceiving the people you meet? Why does that scare you so terribly?” If you want to continue contributing to the age, and mentality, reduction of our culture, fine, then you will continue to live with the personal frustration of your search for the unattainable Fountain of Youth. And you will continue contributing to the dumbing down of America for the rest of us. Maybe that’s where you’re comfortable, I don’t know. But some of us have more respect for the rest of us than that.

Don’t be afraid of how you look. Be afraid of not being yourself.

“We’re born, we grow up, we get old, we die.
We’re uninformed, we learn, we teach, we leave.

Why is it that so many people have so much trouble with that concept?
As if it were a sentence, rather than an opportunity?”

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Where Mountain Meets The Sky

My wife and I worked together yesterday around the property, dragging branches to the burn pile, cutting, hauling and stacking wood for next years winter. It was a beautiful sunny day beneath miles of clear blue, a small corner of paradise where mountain meets the sky, gateway, to be sure, to an equally profound, but still mysterious universe. It was cool at 3,300 feet, but not really cold. A storybook crisp autumn morning, ushering in, by design it seemed, a warm lazy afternoon. My dog, Chica, was darting about, jumping over logs, running the length of them, on top of them, like a squirrel on a Conifer highway, then leaping to the ground like she were auditioning for the lead role in Adventures of the Amazing Log Dog.

In the evening, after a satisfying meal, we sipped wine, and soaked our weary bodies in the hot tub on the deck, absorbing the starlit night sky while it worked its ethereal magic like a private light show just overhead, barely beyond reach. A blanket of blinking, pulsating luminescence as far and deep as is humanly possible to even realize, beckoned our attention, and captured our imagination. We counted shooting stars until we ran out of numbers. I looked back through the window, into an otherwise dark house, to see a quaint fire crackling romantically in the wood-burning stove throwing red and amber hues around the room.

Throughout the day, and well into the night, I would stop for brief moments to reflect, to try and understand how I had landed here in such a place, how it became entrusted to me, how it has all been laid at my feet like treasure being brought before a king. I do not, did not, feel like a king, ever. Life was never easy for me. And it was never about the pursuit of pleasure, never even about the pursuit of comfort. This place, however, gives me pleasure and comfort beyond what should even rightfully be mine.

When we first found this home, I remember telling someone that I had done nothing to deserve this. I did (do), however, acknowledge that no blessing, or gift, is ever really deserved anyway. Good things are given out of love, to the deserving, and to the undeserving alike, just as how the rain continues to fall on both the just, and on the unjust.

I am thankful for this gift.
And I am humbled by its impact on my life.

The sun is rising slowly this morning, just beyond the ridge, bathing the sky in warm color once again, like the fire did last night on this side of the window.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Shapes And Shadows

It’s foggy here this morning, overcast and cloudy, gray as the shade of my own perspective. The sun has yet to rise, with this thick generous shroud reminding me of a down blanket having been thrown lovingly across a quietly emerging sky. The trees, however, otherwise green and brilliant gold, are silhouetted now, dark against the sky, illuminating the private side of their mysterious existence. They reach heavenward, as all living things do, but loom menacing in the darkness when reduced to only shape and shadow.

Night creatures tend to reduce themselves to shape and shadow in order to co-exist with the darkness.
I bet you think I’m going to make some comments now about human nature.
Who me?

All things become self-evident in the light. Trees display their color, their texture, their leaves or needles, their bark, their acorns, their pinecones or buds. They exhibit the most general, as well as the smallest detail of their species, their structure, their age, their personality even. The light glistens and dances off the leaves when they’re damp, and reflects their brilliance like the sound of the trumpet echoes the passionate breath of Miles Davis. Every scar is revealed in the light, every new growth, every bend from the wind, every broken branch, every area of death or decay. The health of the tree is made manifest by its patent visibility. You cannot see the tree and not see its condition.
But even the humbled, the broken down, the splintered, the fractured, the diseased and dying, they retain an inexplicable splendor.

And so it is with people.
It is the innate character of God.

The night hides that character like a burka hides
the beauty of a woman.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Against The Wind

As has been said, “Kites rise against the wind, not with it.”
Against the odds men (people) find strength.

I recently spoke with a middle aged woman who had survived a battle with cancer, and now, at a most inopportune time in her life, is needing to sell her home because of the accumulated medical bills. As we all know, it is not an ideal time to be selling ones home. It will mean a major change for her, a change that will most likely take her out of her own familiar community, and a change that she will go through alone, without the help of a supportive spouse.

I have recently been getting to know a middle aged man who, after a multitude of misfortune, self-inflicted, and otherwise, finds himself to be his own best resource for getting by. A man who survived a horrible accident, and the succeeding ravages of drug addiction, he has been an inspiration to me in the few short days since making his acquaintance. This man is not interested in placing blame, or in complaining about how different his life might be were it not for the accident. He is a man who has had a hard life, but a man of gratitude for the life that he does have. It is the difference in his world. His attitude and perspective, I must say, make a difference in mine.

I did not know either of these people before their circumstances, but it is clear that they have risen like a kite against odds that would provoke many others to just succumb to the wind. The wind has enabled these people to discover who they are beneath the surface, they have tapped into the essence of being that kite, into the fullness of being themselves.

In our culture, it has become very difficult for many of us to tap into our own essence. Some of us have been brought along pretty comfortably in life, without the kind of challenge, or misfortune, that these folks have had to face. In a way, we can count ourselves lucky to have avoided such happenstance, but on a deeper level, maybe we’re just a little weaker for having done so. I do know, that were I ever again in a challenging life situation that I just could not seem to manage on my own, I would try and tap into the strength, and the courage, that these two individuals have so clearly demonstrated by their continuing lives and attitudes.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Bitter Wind

A bitter wind has come up this afternoon, a gusty, blustering blow from out of the north.
It arrived unexpectedly, without the courtesy of a formal warning. Caught unaware in the chill of its grip, I was suddenly conscious of being very naked beneath my light autumn clothes. I could feel my skin as if it were a thin layer of ice encompassing the rest of my brittle body. And I was feeling very cold. If the chill had wandered in slowly like a vagabond meandering through time, rather than rushing in like a bandit, I would have worn clothes under my clothes, and maybe even more clothes beneath those. But I didn’t. Even my dog was shivering.

Life encourages us to be prepared for whatever endeavor we choose to undertake, but it also teaches us that we ought to be prepared for the unexpected as well. We cannot predict every eventuality, but we can prepare for the unexpected by our experience of the past. There is almost always a lesson from the past, our own, or somebody else’s, that we can draw upon as a likely predictor of things to come. It’s just that we don’t always take the time to consider the totality of our existence. Too busy with the day to day, the moment to moment demands of carving out our own lives. But I don’t think we were designed to live this way. It’s not that we can’t, or even that we don’t, do a relatively good job of it, it’s just that I think we were meant to have more contemplative time, to observe, to ponder, to learn, to awaken, and to appreciate.

I’ve been very busy lately preparing my house and property for the coming winter. So busy, in fact, that I was caught unaware by this bitter wind. But there actually had been signs of its coming. Not profound signs, and not the usual blather from the meteorologist on the local news, but there were signs, nevertheless. They were subtle signs, they were invisible to the unaware, but they were there just the same.

Had I been paying closer attention to the bigger picture, to the understated indicators, I would have known it was coming, and dressed a little warmer. Life is like that.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Am Being Guided

Sounds egocentric. Delusional even.
If you don’t recognize that life speaks to us in a myriad of ways.

Ears do not provide our only means by which to hear,
and eyes do not constitute one’s only source of vision.
To believe that would be delusional.

I am being guided, not by voices, but by signposts, by circumstance,
by conscience, by that still small voice.
And yes, by the Divine.

I believe that we are all being guided by the Divine. Some of us pay attention, however, and some of us do not.
There is an element of trust involved in the process that is not dissimilar to trusting that the roads drawn on a map will actually take you to where the map indicates they will. One must trust the map, as one follows its indicators. And when you think about it, why would we use a map, or even have one, if we did not first trust that it would, ultimately, do us well?
And so it is with guidance, in life, with direction, with moving through any situation, or set of circumstances. A humble recognition of the guide is sometimes all that is required of us to move into the slipstream.
That, in and of itself, is an acknowledgement of trust.

There is a significant difference between being ‘guided’, however, and being ‘seduced’.
There have been many times in life when I have wanted to, even chosen to, embrace a seduction, when I have wanted to believe that it was actually guidance. That, after all, would enable me to feel better about being seduced. I’m not talking about sexual seduction, although that could certainly be included in the equation, but about the kind of seductions that present themselves as ‘for our benefit’, as ‘just what we need’.

They usually come appealing to our ego, to our sense of financial or social insecurity, to our need for appreciation and recognition, or our desire for wealth and success, to our desire to ‘be somebody’. Seduction also often comes in response to ones perpetual craving for independence. Seduction always recognizes human need and presents itself in a form that promises to meet that need. Seduction, however, is a dishonest lover who never keeps her promises, who never lets on that she is not working in our own best interest.

Besides the times in my life when I have embraced seduction, there have also been many times when I have actually mistaken seduction for guidance. It is easy to do, particularly at an early age, at a stage in life when we are more driven by our needs than by our intention to get things right.

But all that having been said, there has, for me, never been a more clear indication of the difference between guidance and seduction than with a series of events that transpired around me almost forty years ago. I have never forgotten it. I had just begun singing my songs publicly when a man appeared in my life out of nowhere. He came bearing promises of recognition of my music, record deals, tours, and royalties. A means to make a living was no small part of the seduction. He booked studio time, we did a session, but then he took the master tapes and disappeared. From the beginning I had wanted to believe that I was being guided, but I had actually known all along that something was not right with this guy. I had an inclination that he was a liar, and a user and manipulator of people. My internal barometer indicated that the barometric pressure surrounding him was off the charts. I was actually being guided in another direction at the time, but chose to ignore that still small voice, the signposts and the circumstances. I chose instead to embrace the seduction, hoping it would lead to some satisfaction down the line. Of course it never does. Seduction requires too great of a degree of personal compromise to ever return the kind of fulfillment one would hope to find.

I recovered from the situation by recognizing, and admitting, that I had compromised my own integrity in search of some recognition. I’m much more careful today to pay attention to what enhances my life, rather than to the constant lure, and empty promise of temporal gratification. It’s a much better, a more satisfying, and, ultimately, a more fulfilling way to live.

Guidance never leads you to a spiritual level beneath that which you have already risen to. It always leads you toward the light, and away from the darkness. It is never followed by regret, or recrimination. One way to differentiate between ‘being guided’ and ‘being seduced’ is to understand that guidance never comes with a carrot. It presents itself, internally, and often confirmed by circumstances, as simply the right thing to do.
The reward comes in the satisfaction of being in the slipstream.

I don’t know what ever happened to those tapes.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Complicated Tree

I watched a man (Ric) climb a tree the other day. It was my tree, and it was an old Oak (he said ‘maybe a hundred and fifty years old’). It was well over one hundred feet high, and leaning precariously towards my house. It was a complicated tree in that it was intertwined with some other trees nearby; one of its limbs was even growing through the trunk of a Douglas fir (Conifer). It had to come down. Either that or I was going to wake up dead one night with my house crumbled down around me like so many worthless matchsticks.

Ric had been up in the branches for over thirty years, so he knew what he was doing. He was an artist, and a magician. It was a pleasure watching him work. Still, it made me very nervous. He had to dismantle the tree little by little from the top down. Too dangerous, and too messy to fell it from the base. Probably would have taken three or four other trees down with it. He hoisted himself up about fifty feet in a bucket, and then climbed up and out onto the limbs from there, using ropes and a harness.

Intertwined with others that are not a good fit for them, or influence on them, I’ve watched people get torn down in much the same way, falling apart limb by limb from the top down, ending up on the ground, wondering what happened. Some people are called to a higher standard, and do not exist well in the stupidity of the crowd. They sacrifice their own beauty, and wellbeing, to grow among the clutter.
Oak trees need space, room to spread out. This one was growing amid a small grove of tall, straight Conifers, crowding its growth. Having to reach straight up for the sunlight, rather than being able to spread its branches, it became top heavy, and began to lean in a direction uncharacteristic of its nature.

Although a skillful climber cut the branches, and ultimately felled the tree, you could say that this Oak was really brought down by being made to conform to the narrow, one-dimensional, growth-patterns of a crowd of less formidable trees.

I will miss that old Oak tree, just as I have missed the company of some who have fallen under the influence, and idiocy, of the status quo.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

There's A Slow Train Comin'

I was driving through the mountains the other day just going from here to there.
I put the Bob Dylan CD “Slow Train Comin” in the dash and sat back to enjoy the ride. Dylan is an artist who always takes me back to my roots, to beginnings, to my less than subtle introduction to some of the most amazing music ever performed, or recorded. It got me to remembering so many of the major musical artists I had the good fortune to have seen and heard live, in their prime, and in the full scope of their influence; artists who have not only changed the course of music, but who have melded their own style, and their own thinking into the stream of our continuing consciousness.

One of the most powerful shows I have ever witnessed was the trio Cream at the height of their brief, but profound affiliation. Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Ginger Baker. Musical Gods joining forces to will the world into existence. They nailed my head to the roof and pummeled me into a willing submission.

I attended the Who’s first American performance of ‘Tommy’, the seminal rock opera.
Pete Townsend, John Entwhistle, Keith Moon, and Roger Daltry. A stunningly emotional, and profound performance, accompanied by all the wild-man theatrics they have become so well known for. The Who would not be denied their place in the pantheon of rock royalty.

I saw Pink Floyd perform the rock opera “The Wall” in its entirety while, over the course of the night, an actual wall was being constructed from each side of the enormous stage, eventually meeting at center stage to completely obscure the band from view as the final notes of the performance wafted out over the wall, settling disturbingly over a captivated and, to say the least, stunned audience.

I absorbed Jimi Hendrix, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience on many occasions prior to the world getting clued in to his transcendent talent, prior to Monterey Pop even, and his explosion onto the international stage. “Scuse me while I kiss the sky.” There was never a more indulgent performer, and never a greater artist at combining raw sexuality with dripping and blistering chops.

I saw Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company more times than I can remember. She pierced my soul like a double-edged sword, one side slicing deep to the core, and the other celebrating the incision. Janis didn’t just tug on the heartstrings, she grasped them tightly with both hands, and ripped my heart out of my chest with a violent tenderness never, ever, ever felt before.

Led Zepplin cranked the decibels to levels never known. They reached a vocal range I didn’t know existed, and a musical transcendence equaled, or surpassed, only by Pink Floyd. Phenomenal is the only word worthy of their performance. I could only stare.

I saw the Rolling Stones in their ‘Gimme Shelter’ days when they were at their baddest, when they were at their most narcissistic, when they were at their absolute best. The Rolling Stones at Altamont, perhaps the beginning of the end of the innocence.

I saw Little Richard. He started it all. Mick Jagger knew that. I saw him pounding his piano like a preacher making love to his congregation. Prancing, preening, shouting, screaming, the gospel of the rock, and of the roll. If Rock and Roll was Jesus, then Little Richard was John the Baptist, preparing the way of the Lord.

I saw James Brown gettin’ down with dignity. And with lots of sweat.
“I feel good”. The feeling doesn’t get any gooder.

I saw several Buffalo Springfield concerts, from whence Neil Young and Stephen Stills came, and then Neal as a solo artist. I saw the Byrds, originators along with the Springfield, whose members went on to form Crosby, Stills and Nash, later adding Neil Young to become CSNY. I saw all those guys. They enabled bands like the Eagles to eventually emerge. Singers, songwriters, musicians with something to say. I loved those bands, rooted, every one of them, in the inimitable Mr. Dylan.

I saw the original Animals with Eric Burden on vocals, later to become Eric Burden and the Animals. “Bring It On Home To Me”, “House of the Rising Sun”, “We Gotta Get Outta This Place”, and a host of other blues-based gems that shook our insides like jelly. They were the first band I ever saw live in concert. They opened for Leslie Gore. Leslie Gore. Are you kidding me? Everybody was there for Leslie Gore. I was just a kid, but I was there for The Animals. I understood the Animals.

I found Albert King as a young man. Purity of blues, not as visible as B.B King, but sweeter than honey, and pure as an underground mountain spring. “I’m gonna call up China, and see if my baby’s over there.” He led me to the blues.

Creedence Clearwater Revival with the original southern swamp rock attitude. Their shows were just flat out guttural. As pared down as rock can get. As straight forward as a shotgun brought to an argument.

The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Country Joe and the Fish. The roots of the San Francisco sound. I saw them all many times in their formative days, in the days when music was emerging in the City like weeds in the spring, or flowers in the hair of all the teenage runaways.

Canned Heat (On the Road Again), the greatest boogie band in the world.
Steppenwolf with John Kay (Born to be Wild), Arthur Lee and Love (My Little Red Book), Sky Saxon and The Seeds (Pushin’ Too Hard). The three greatest garage bands ever. The originators of grunge, the bands that made Nirvana (and everything that followed) possible. I saw them way back then. They were intense. And they were originals, all of them. Jimi Hendrix called Arthur Lee his ‘single greatest influence’.


I didn’t get to see Van Morrison until later in life, but he did not disappoint. Van the man can imitate himself better than anybody can.

I never saw the Beatles live, but I never wanted to either. They were a teenie-bop band in their early American tour days. And later on they were not really a live band any more.
I’ve seen a thousand other shows, but those I’ve listed are some of the most memorable.

I mention all these other bands to say this, that as many great shows, and as many profound artists as I have seen over the years, and particularly in the early days, there’s one concert that stands out far and above all the rest. Far and above all the rest. No comparison, no question. Bob Dylan, 1979 at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco. The live performance of his new album ‘Slow Train Comin’. I relived the experience the other day driving through the mountains.

The thing that made this concert different from any other I’d ever attended was the degree of passion. Other performances I’d seen had been passionate, but this one had the additional element of the performer actually believing, and believing in (perhaps for the first time) what he was singing. Other performers I’d seen over the years may have felt what they were singing, they may even have felt very strongly about what they were singing, and very deeply, but they did not necessarily believe, or believe in, what they were communicating. Good songs, heartfelt words, clever words, passionate intent, dynamic delivery, but missing was the personal imperative of inner truth that registered deep within their soul and psyche. It was not missing in Dylan’s performance at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco back in 1979.

And it is not missing on the album “Slow Train Coming”. It is, in my view, the album that Bob Dylan may have been put on this earth to make. It is honest, it is inspired, it is prophetic, and it is, perhaps, the most important album ever recorded.

Dig your old album out of storage, or if you don’t have one email me and I’ll burn you a copy of my CD. I don’t think Bob would mind one bit.
I might even send him a copy in case he needs to listen to it once again.

But be aware, listening to this work comes with a warning;
“It could reduce you to tears”.
Listen to ‘Precious Angel’, ‘I Believe In You’, ‘When He Returns’.
Whew.
‘Slow Train Comin’, Change My Way of Thinking’, ‘When You Gonna Wake Up’,
‘Gotta Serve Somebody’.
Cuttin’ through all the nonsense, and relativity, and straight to the truth, to the heart of the matter.

There’s A Slow Train Comin’, my friend.
It’s comin’ round the bend.