Thursday, June 29, 2006
I must strain hard to define what my young eyes saw in my infantile days. The inside of the house on Rosewood Terrace; I only remember patches of wallpaper, the beautiful dark trim wood inside that I now know as gumwood. The tall ceilings, and dad using a ladder to trim the upper stretches of the Christmas tree. There was a stack of firewood along side the garage, and to me it was a stagecoach. I would sit on top up front, and a team of imaginary horses would dash me off to distant places that opened up to my senses. The inside of the small garage, with the smell of old wood, cobwebs, dad's tools hanging here and there, and on the inside wood framework makeshift shelves. Everything seemed terribly old, the tools, flashlight, oil cans. Tobacco tins holding nails and such. I seemed to be witnessing the ushering out of an era. Watching the rag man come down the street with horse and wagon, the delivery of milk to the box built into the side of the house, and walking to the Italian deli down the street. Even outside the door, the aroma of the hanging cheeses and meats would arrest your senses, as I gazed round the counters with their huge jars of olives, and cans of olive oil.
I know I walked to school, but I don't recall the route, or the first school at all. By the time I hit the second grade, we moved from the city proper of Rochester, NY, to Irondequoit, less than three miles I guess. We moved in the middle of the school year, and they could not fit me into the closest school to us. The next school was not that much farther, but It sure seemed like it when you are six years old! There was the issue of crossing the busy Empire Blvd. to get home, and my grandfather would be waiting there sometimes, and help me with the crossing. He spoke no English, and I very little Italian, but somehow, we managed to live with each other for years. He smoked those Italian crooked cigars, which burned with a silvery ash, and gargled with a shot of whiskey, each night before bed. He loved to garden in the warm weather, and had managed to bring a few fig trees from Italy, which he wrapped in burlap each year, and buried to protect them from our harsh NY winters.
My neighborhood was at the top of a big hill which lead down to Irondequoit Bay. It was heaven tramping through those little woods leading down, and surrounding the bay. There was so much to see and hear; the turtles, sunning themselves on logs, dragonfly, flitting and hovering around the water, the red wing blackbirds, perched in the tall reeds of the bay, finding paths and learning their secrets. There was an indescribable allure to those wood and water lands, that has been re-enforced and continually instilled throughout my life.
About the same time I was living in Irondequoit, my uncle Jimmy bought a plot of land right on Lake Ontario, several miles east of Rochester. At the time, this was only farm lands and orchards. There were no expressways, and the drive there took forever (especially to an impatient little rug rat wanting to get his feet in the lake) He started building what turned out to be quite a magnificent cottage. When the shell of the dwelling was up, we started spending the weekends there, while the construction continued. It was sorta roughing it for a while, but I was in my glory, with lots of room to run, and one of the Great Lakes lapping at our doorstep. It was outdoors heaven.
To try to convey proper perspective on how simpler the times were 50 years ago, I was allowed to take the bus downtown by my self at age 8-12. The trip included a swim or other activities at the YMCA, and a stroll down Main St. window shopping, a soda at the Five & Dime store, lots of people watching. And then there was the music stores. I was beyond fascinated by all the instruments, and overwhelmingly disappointed when the clerks would not let me touch anything!
I was drawn to the showier things like drums, the hardware gleaming, the cymbals so shimmerry, the big bass fiddle (which I took up) but as I was young, so was the newest musical craze, rock n roll. The guitar invoked feelings and emotions that words will not convey properly, so lets just say, I lived, dreamed, and craved a guitar. Nothing, I mean nothing had any significance close to the compelling drive to play. At 10 years old, I celebrated my communion, and a little party and some gifts ensued. Someone had given me a twenty-dollar bill; all in one piece! I'll bet a dollar to a doughnut, that my mother had intension of putting the $ 20.00 in savings or something to steer me in that direction, but I must have ducked, and weaved, and even my ten year old resources led me to a used guitar for $ 20.00. Oh the joy. Of course, the mere procurement of the instrument only gave way to the self evidence that I had no idea what to do with it, and in fact handled it upside-down for some time! I had no direction, no instruction whatsoever on even tuning it. I was devastated when the high E string broke ( a common calamity, I learned later) That put me at my father's mercy to take me to procure a replacement string. Only the Lord knows how much I appealed to him, but eventually, we went to an appliance store that sold guitar strings, and I got my first glimpse of a paper envelope with Black Diamond printed on the front, and the shiny steel string revealed under the flap. The next hurdle was putting the string on and tuning it. Of course, not knowing how to allow for some slack and a few turns around the gear post, when I cinched the string up and started to tune it, it broke with a resounding pop, and half of the thing slapped me in the face! My disappointment knew no boundaries, and mortified, I realized that I had to notify dad of the developments.
I struggled along for the first two years, with no real knowledge, only hit and miss, when I procured a book from somewhere. I don't really intend to say that I remember, but after that, I seemed to inhale the knowledge, and the secrets were presented as more self evident. I still had no formal training, but once in a while, I would "stumble" across something that would take me to the next level. The biggest revelation was having a basic chord book depicting the fingerings for chords. One day, I must have made the realization that the chords A, B, C, D, E, and G, had distinctive fingerings. They were all formed at the end of the neck, or the first three frets. I was curious as to how I could play those fingerings farther up the neck scale, with any logical conclusion. I discovered that by fingering the same chords using fingers that would keep my first or index finger free to "trail" behind the others, and sliding up the neck, I was forming the same chords anywhere I wanted to, and the same fingerings produced different chords depending on which fret I started out on. That realization, put me into outer space! In one day, it seemed,. I found paths never explored before, and I was playing something meaningful.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
June 28, 1968 The day I married my first wife. Today would be our anniversary. 38 years. Wow, where DOES the time go? And why am I even aware that it is this day? We were married 11 years, I haven't seen or heard from her in 27 years. Yet this morning, as I glanced up at the calendar, the day still stood out in my mind. Would I even recognize her, should I chance to run into her? Will she remember today, or even reflect on our past life, the kids whom she never has seen since they were children. Will she understand how she ripped all of our lives to smithereens with her abandonment? Does she feel even a twinge of guilt for her actions? Does she not wonder what the kids grew up to become, and their kids? These burning questions I'm sure I'll take to my grave.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Ahh, memories of a bygone generation.
St Valentines Day, 1968 Off to take my physical for the Navy! Let the games begin. The weather was horrid by any standards, but I managed to plow my 57 MGA through all the snow drifts in the upstate NY country roads to catch my bus to start my long new adventure in life. The Vietnam "conflict" was of course in full swing, but at 18 years old, its just as well that all the implications did not sink in. Anyways, I was drafted, and would have gone into the Army, via personal invite from my buddy Richard M. Nixon.
On April Fools Day, I caught a train from Rochester to Buffalo, repeating my oath back to the recruitment officer, the train rocking back and forth, and creeping slowly west, my past life slipping away at one quarter impulse power. Reaching Buffalo, all a blur now, I somehow got on a airplane to Chicago, my first of many flights to unknown destinations!
A train in Chicago (faster than the one to Buffalo) propelled me to Great Lakes, Ill. where a bus was waiting, a guy screaming everything at me from then on. I think by the time I got to Boot Camp, I realized that all I had to do was listen, and act like I was enjoying myself, and I fit in fine. Thus beginning my new career in Drill Company 5920. Oh Boy!!!
Monday, June 26, 2006
I found the 66 Yearbook from Wayne Central High, in Ontario NY, where I grew up. This was my senior photo, taken the summer of 1965. I think it was the best time of my entire life. See the photo caption? "A real wild child"
What that meant, was I played guitar, had a band, wore my sweatshirt inside-out on occasion, two different colored sox (Mostly from dressing for school in the dark wintry morns) and was more inclined to set the trend, rather than follow it. Of course, back then, if you sang "Louie Louie", you were under immediate suspicion, anyway. "A Real Wild Child"
Youd'a thought I was a trouble maker, if one was to mark my "visits" to the principal's office! In fact, I've never even been in a fight in my life. I never stole or vandalized anyone's stuff. Maybe my open smile gave way to that Eddie Haskel aura, only I really meant it! Luckily, between the school nurse living across the street, and giving guitar lessons to the gym teacher's son, I managed to keep my teenage head above the proverbial drink, though there were a fair amount of "threats" of expulsion.
The summer of 65, I managed to have a few bucks in my pockets, from guitar lessons, I didn't have a car yet, or any expenses, no real responsibilities, two long legs to carry me, a beautiful girlfriend (or two) and the living was easy. Louis Armsrtong had knocked the Beatles off the Billboard no 1 place for a couple weeks with "Hello Dolly", but I was inhaling the Beatles, and could care less about Satchmo (at the time).
My sister had a little basket shop, complete with a Coke machine outside. It served short cold little bottles of Coke, Tab, and Fressca for a dime. The ole Coke machine was the normal meeting place and jump-off point for my other "wild" friends. None of us legally "drove", but growing up in the country, we all had a vehicle or two at our disposal. We had a 1948 Oliver tractor, but my first choice of cool, was a 1953 Ford Pickup, with the doors removed, every nano-inch of the body telling a story of my early driving escapades, and the affectionate name of "The Beetle" (This had nothing to do with the band, The Beatles)
When I think back on how our parents gave us kids a pretty wide berth, I guess I have to realize how simpler things were back then. We left our ignition keys in all the vehicles, hitchhiking, was fairly common place, though we spent many a late night, walking down Lake Rd. From a dance at Sodus Point Beach House, with no cars coming by at all. A few of those walking sessions and there wasn't anything that my buddy Tom & I didn't know bout each other.
I was picking up guitar pretty quickly, and taught Tom as I learned along. It wasn't too long, and we were playing parties, school dances, and the legend Hall. We both plugged out guitars into an old "hand-me down" guitar amp. Later, someone donated a microphone (also plugged into the same amp) We tried out a couple drummers, and the Chillers were born. That summer of 65, we added a bass player. He couldn't play, but he sang great, and he had a car!
And then, there was Kathy Keeley..........
Saturday, June 24, 2006
We are never going to get it right. Lets cut our losses, and get out of Iraq. More than 3,000 people died on 9/11, more than 2500 Americans in the Middle East since then. More innocent Iraqis each day. Meanwhile, we argue our political strategies with vigor. Stay the course, cut & run, pull out within a year, pull out when Iraq can handle its own affairs. One doesn't know what or who to believe anymore. I believe our President got us over there under false pretenses, lied, used the American public's rattled 9/11 horror to sway us to invade Iraq, when Iraq, had nothing to do with 9/11. Scores of innocent folks are being murdered in the most brutal ways known to mankind, and Republicans and Democrats alike are arguing over whatever political agenda moves their party to the next rung up the ladder of political anarchy. Up until only monthes before 9/11, America was backing and funding the Taliban. The very Taliban that struck the Twin Towers. We have put more bogus regimes in power than Carter's proverbial liver pills. All in the name of Democracey. The only certainty is that these idiots are going to make a big imprint in the history books. The biggest question burning at my mind is how many generations from now will it take to sift all the lies, and misleading deceipts out of history? And how many more innocent people die for nothing? How far can we twist the Constitution to suit the evilness of our brave and pius leader? Will we allow him to pull so much wool over our eyes that black will seem white? So that 2 plus 2 = 5? Am I the only enraged person in the world? How much thinner can we spread ourselves out in the world, before we are destroyed and ruined? Our response to Katrina was a perfect example. We cant take care of our own affairs, let alone spread our inaptitude throughout the world. Frankly, I see little difference between communism, and what we define as democracey. I did not get to elect our leading official, democracey has mutated to such a joke, that Bush stole the election, and got away with it in the most supreme fashion. If we woke up tomorrow, and learned that all the oil in the Middle East dried up, how long do you think we'd have an interest in Iraq, or Iran? I am sadly amazed by the number of Americans still stupidly supporting this senseless and perverted war, and the poor misguided soldiers who seem to believe that the cause is so just that they are willing to die for it. I served in the military during the Vietnam conflict. I was drafted, and went to serve my country as told. I did not believe in that cause then, but, had it been now, I'm sure I would have balked to the highest degree. If the draft is enacted today, and my 23 year old son is drafted, I will do anything in my power to keep him out of this senseless conflict. I am not speaking as a coward, but as a man with stronger beliefs than to go along with a corrupt president who should be tried for war crimes himself. As a Christian, I am supposed to pray for our world leaders. It boils my blood to think that I should be praying for such a band of thieves, and murderers. Sleep well tonight, George W. Bush, and remember, your judgment day will come just as all of ours will.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
I flunked math on every level. My science skills are nill. I am a musician. I run on emotion and feeling. Music is self evident to me, though the math behind it, and make no mistake about it, music is math; never enters my mind. I seemed to find another dimension I enter. One where there is no key signature, no time signature. The big room, some have called it.
Pure emotional energy. I'm sure the Newtster would have come up with a mathematical formula for just that. Anyway, what I'm getting at is I must be the complete opposite from Sir Isaac.
I don't personally see how its possible for the world to continue on its course for another 54 years. The rate of the violence, the wars, the immorality, how could we last that long? Newton's formula has got to be wrong. The past 54 years have brought changes that I never would have believed possible. I don't mean the technological advances; I mean the voracity of the evilness. In spite of all the history we have analyzed, we have corrected nothing from our previous mistakes. I grew up as most Americans, believing that our country was the most wonderful place on earth. I now realize, the wonders I have appreciated over the years have come at a great cost to the entire world. All through history, each civilization, has plundered, captured, capitalized, and raped the world of everything available to feed the greed machine which poisons every society. The United States of America is no exception. And we named other small potato regimes the "axis of evil!" Have we not become the United States of Gomorrah? Are we not the axis of the "doomsday" process, ourselves? We twist the facts, create our our own laws to correlate our agenda, send the cream of our crop to its doom; all in the name of Democracey. All in the name of protecting our freedom. I now understand that our freedom comes at so great a cost, that we are slaves to the entire process. We have bombed, polluted, exploited, poisoned, murdered, and alienated ourselves, as we sweep the entire world into our evil cauldron of apocalistic lurching. It wont be long before we genetically alter our civilization into oblivion. Was Orwell way off the mark with his futuristic novel "1984"? He just got the year wrong! Everything is now controlled by our evil pandemic pace; the news media, our sick perverted so-called laws, indeed, our own personal thought control. We have managed to take barbarity to new levels in our disengaged, inhuman evolution. As all the great ruling civilizations of history, we will fall as Rome, Greece, Sodom, Gomorrah; only this time dragging the entire world to its apocolistic doom.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Was at church rehearsing with the band for the Life Teen service about to start within the hour, when a strange man entered the church. He knelt in a pew, and prayed. He then moved to the alter, and knelt for a bit. When the band took a break before the service, he came up to me and asked to talk, moving to the back of the church. We sat down, and he introduced himself, and then I noticed his head was all black and blue. He told me his car broke down, and he was mugged afterwards. He explained that he was trying to get to his home about four hours away. He asked for money, and a ride to meet someone who was going to give him a ride home.
I have heard countless sermons about helping those in need, and how we are all called to live our faith throughout our lives. I must confess, I did not ponder his peril all that long; and found myself giving this guy money, and a ride. My friend, and band director, showed trepidation about what was taking place, but I left the church with this man, and away we went.
He did con me into taking him farther than we bargained for, but I took him, and dropped him off where he asked. He did not fill in all the pieces to his plight, and I nervously joked that I did not have to worry about him robbing me, for I gave him all the money I had. He told me that several doors were closed in his face, when he asked for help.
I did not tell him that I was unemployed myself, or the hours I put in the day before earning that money helping a neighbor with his haying operation in the 90 degree sun. If he was deceiving me or not, I told myself that he needed the money a lot more than I. One thing for sure, if he deceived me, he surely did not deceive God. If we enter into acts of kindness with suspition and trepidation, no one would ever get a helping hand.
I returned to church, and my friend expressed his fears for my safety, recounting stories from the past about those who he encountered under false pretense. My answer to him was centered around the question, what would Jesus do? I told him it was all in God's hands, and that I felt I had to help. We are constantly called to live out our faith as we go through life. Yes, my pocket was $ 40.00 lighter, but my heart was lighter beyond measurement. Did a small part of me experience the joy of commiseration over someone else's trials larger than mine? I'd like to think that I did receive a much greater appreciation of the evaluation of my blessings. We go through life, only too much with great disregard for the things we should be grateful for.
If this snake bit me, only God knows for sure, but I know that I am still the better for it.
Friday, June 09, 2006
The continuing adventures of Ugly
To the best of my recollection, it was in 1975, but what does the date really matter!
I was living in Norfolk, Virginia since I discharged from the Navy. How I ended back
up here in upstate New York, is another story. Anyway, one night, I got a phone call
from Ugly. "I'm in Suffolk" he said; "and how do I get there form here?" I instructed him
to the Portsmouth tunnel that would bring him into Norfolk. I would be waiting on the other side of the tunnel in a yellow MGC. He laughed; "I wont be able to miss that" he retorted; "I"m driving
a 72 Lincoln MK something or other"
I gave him time to get there, estimating for his lead foot, and left to meet with him. I parked on the Norfolk side of the tunnel, and waited for him. Sure enough, the unmistakable bulk of a
Lincoln emerged from the tunnel, and I flashed my lights. It was dark, and light traffic. The car pulled up next to me, an electric window slid down, and there was Ugly grinning from ear to ear.
He said something about, "where's the beer?" and we laughed. I pulled ahead in the MG, and
we did our best to expend an exorbitant amount of rubber on the road, as I observed his car
in my mirror, leaning in the tight curves, as he punched the Town car to keep up with the C.
We got to my apartment, and he explained that he was coming from his mom's in Florida, up to New York. The Lincoln was being shipped up to Rochester, and Ugly was the shipper. We talked
till early morning, and caught up on news. Ugly had been all over out west, and one story led to
another! His hair was down to his butt, and he asked my first wife, Sue if she would cut it.
That was a mistake; she hacked it off to about shoulder level, and he left the next day with
a strange resemblance to the kid on Dutch Boy Paint cans!
Over the years, there many other un-announced visits from him. Once in a baby blue 35 Ford Pickup, another time in a mid-fifties Vette. The big grin never changed over the years; our hair
got thinner, greyer, but his eyes, and smile were un-mistakable!
Thursday, June 08, 2006
I sit in solitude, the music turned off, only the background drone of the computer hard drive, the clack of the keys under my digits, and my mind straining to form the theme for what I am about to say. I struggle with collective thoughts of times past, and perspectives present. I go into dark corners where I feared to tread before, coward that I am. Does time really make it easier to go there now? I don't think so. Broken bones mend, but the fracture is ever evident in the X Ray.
Do recollections of the past help mend the rift, or inject the agony with increased fervency? Is not the analysis of the history a pertinent part of the process?
I have tried blocking out the black past, but the energy expended to maintain the anisotropy, draws power from all vital functions.
No, no, this all has to be carefully examined from every angle. No detail should be left for dead. The entire puzzle must be put back together, even if the surface is completely black. Like a jigsaw puzzle, only one piece fits in its right alignment, and so, even all black pieces will fit into their designations.
It should be absurdly trivial to look back into one's own mind, and make perfect sense of everything. After all, who should know me better than me?
But you see, that's just it! I'm too doggone smart for me. I have managed to encode the message so completely, that now the code is un-breakable.
Am I digging too deep, or is not the information right before my blind eyes? Shall I be spending the entire balance of my life endeavoring to crack the code, or is it not the meaning of life itself?
WHO AM I?
I awoke today, a man in a strange body, in a strange bed, in a strange house. I rise, dazed, my legs unsteady as a new born colt, cognizant thought peeping through my consciousness, as slim rays of sunlight burning through riffs in a massive grey cloud. As I attempt to clear my head, shake off the heavy dream-like cords binding me to another dimension of time and space, gravity pulls me down into surreal bath of impenetrable substance, and binds me in a web of continual sedation. Am I awake and dreaming at the same time? Logical reasoning, and willfull control are altered to such a degree, familiarity, and opaque enigma totter forth and back on razor's edge, and I am removed completely from my body, and watch in worried fascination.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
As I read the news of the day, the kidnapping, beheading, the bombings, the nerve-bleeding tyrannical drums that never cease; Its hard to keep in perspective all the things to be thankfully for.
My day is blessed. The sun shines, The world still turns, and amid the violence, the heartbreak, armed with the morning Bible passage, and my grand-daughter's big deep eyes, large as dinner plates looking back from a photo, I start my day with renewed vitality and my eyes on the cross.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Outside the doors of Kathy-Jo's house, gardens abound before your eye. Every day since late winter, early spring; new fresh blossoms open to the most delightful display. Just today, I walked round the house, camera in hand, and between the butterflies, and the bees, blossoming flowers sprang forth from bushes, from annuals planted in ages unreckened now. Ferns, Wild Flowers,
bulbs, bushes and trees. Not that Kathy-Jo hasn't kept adding each year; a Dogwood tree here, a couple of Cherry trees there, Hemlocks, Barberries, just to name a few. Each year, she gives me the garden tour, and points out False Salamon's Seal, Jack in the Pulpit, lilies, Hostas, Day Lillies, whole banks of them, and on and on.........
So today, I got to enjoy these marvelous delights, while I mowed, weed whacked, swept, and smelled the most lushes aromas , especially, right outside the kitchen door. Mnnn.....
Saturday, June 03, 2006
PS After a few years, I fixed the clunk, and drove that car far!
Friday, June 02, 2006
I posted a poem about loneliness, and received an anonymous comment" Dude, Your mind is warped, and your thoughts so dark about everything you write. Your thoughts are as you were like Satan himself."
You are not without validity to your statement. The Loneliness poem is dark and void of all joy. I wanted to create a visual imagery to stimulate the emotions. Even your negative response proves that I have done that.
But I thank you for your response, and will try to be more aware of a balance between the joyful, and the dark. I have many things to be thankful for, (as we all do) and I will strive to bring out the good MORE.
On the other side of the coin, my dark expressions are my way of handling the loneliness, the betrayals, the heartache. Your comments are important to me, and thank you for taking the time to even bash me some! Read some of my other posts, and I'm sure you will not find my resemblance to Satan.