Fartin’ Through Silk

So the multi-level-marketing messiah I’ve been following is out of the womb with his sketchy cell cleaning product. He says the miracle he’s hawking will cross cell membranes and clean out all the accumulated metals in your system.

He doesn’t say how you will know, or even if it can be measured. It can’t. You just have to trust him and the two unemployed overnight infomercial docs he has on board.

He won’t post specifics for fear of attribution. Maybe because he just squeaked through a huge bankruptcy a few days ago.

To be included, (because time is running out and you might be tossed onto the trash heap of loser-hood), you have to have a long “Come-to-Jesus” with him on a secure line. (He uses God, a lot.)

I got fascinated when I saw his tagline: “I empower people.” Right there, ya got me.

This is an admittedly tough sell and he knows it. So he makes your inability to get a “yes”, a character flaw. You are so not worthy, you scum.

When I watch him post his hurried little pep talks to his peeps, I roll around my carpet and hug my dog.

Here’s the deal: He needs more followers. Is that you? You have to be brave, you have to be chosen and undaunted and have a passion for Kool-Aid.

If that is you, you will receive a free head scarf like this, and a whole bottle of saki. You’ll need it.

May the farce be with you.

A life time in between

When you think about it, we’re all serving life. I don’t know exactly where I come down on the religion thing, it’s confusing. Some of it makes sense, and some of it doesn’t.

The part that doesn’t, came from people who had their own problems, serious problems. The part that does, came from an opium den in Singapore. 🙂

If this is a one time opportunity, and it’s win-lose-or-draw at the gate, then that’s that. But if it’s a revolving door, and you keep getting thrown back like an undersized trout, that presents a whole list pf problems for moi.

I’m not lyin’ folks, I’m tired. I’ve had way too much fun. I’m a rolling catastrophe. My daddy told me once, “Son, you could fuck up a steel ball.” I’m starting to feel his insight.

If you’ve ever driven to Tucson in heavy traffic with cops and accidents all the way down, and had to turn right around and come back, I think you’ll know where I’m heading with this.

Maybe you should spend the night before heading back is what I’m saying.

After a full life of sex, drugs, rock n’ roll, bad marital choices, catchin’ stuff you can’t wash off, and having the IRS waiting in your bushes next to the Repo man, I can say with total conviction, I’ll take a room with a single, please.

When I go, it will because my endorphin supply ran out and my mojo stopped workin’.

So if It’s all the same to you, and if I have to come back, I’d like to wait a life time in between.

Please.

Sincerity, once you learn to fake that…

Whippin’ up the troops is what it is. I have whipped up hundreds of CEOs to get them ready to move the masses in a two dimensional universe.

I’m watching a half a dozen of them trying to do that right now online. Some got it, some don’t.

The ones who don’t interest me more than the ones who do. The ones who are leading by Facebook are the funniest. They load up the most saccharin, benign and overused dreck from a “dopey sayings” web site then foist it on their “suspecting” victims.

Back in the day, we had one guy who used to put up quotes for 90 minutes. (He drank a lot of Lipton’s). Some will go to any level to reach their victims. I had a VP that I was coaching decide to tear up for effect. I guess he couldn’t think of anything sad enough to produce the water needed, and a big, awkward, honk came out.

He just stood there with a look on his face he could never reproduce for a million dollars.

If I could have transported myself….

When you’re coaching someone on camera, you get the opportunity to get in their head. When I’m doing that, you can take me off the payroll right then, because I’ll pay you.

I call it the Rasputin/Svengali moment. You are then, whispering in the ear of a seven figure nudist.

You have no secrets between you. At that moment, he needs you more than you need him.

No one is not insecure. You two have a bond.

So recently,  I’m watching these two online poseurs trying to whip their MLM troops into a frenzy using every lame tactic from fear to fantasy to fanaticism.

They’re trying to convince their neophytes into thinking that fleecing unsuspecting clients out of their money is a noble cause that entails bravery, dogged determination and a winner’s attitude.

Qualities for which they will surely be rewarded for in Heaven.

One guy holds live Facebook meetings saying “short and sweet, “right to the point”. Doesn’t happen. He keeps saying “Hi” to people that pass him as he’s walking that somehow don’t show up behind him. He needs me.

Now launch is nigh and he needs his liegemen to put their big girl panties on. This Mofo is getting intense.  His eyes are narrowing and he’s getting white stuff in the corners of his mouth. Sounds Koreshian.

Yeah, did I mention this is all online?

Simply delicious.

 

 

Lust Before Logic

I’m down to it. I could use one of my very hard earned insurance licenses to keep me out of the soup kitchen, but, ” not gonna do it, wouldn’t be prudent.” I’m a creative entrepreneur and that’s what’s going in my obit.

I’ve tried numerous straight gigs over the last few years with disastrous results. Squelching contempt causes funny noises to emanate from my throat during job interviews.

I’m starving at the moment but I’m going to hold out for work, no, self expression, that satisfies my lust for the creative. Anything less would be a disservice to the Good Lord and the nice folks at Wells Fargo.

I have a wealth of knowledge and experience in work and life without any of the overly hyped, balance. Because that’s the way ,”uh, huh, uh, huh, I  like it”.

I can sing, dance, write, cook, play, hustle, ideate, create, sell, market and deliver. And none of that belongs on a team.

Because…..great minds think alone.

Running On Diesel

At 1:00 am, as I was running past the Sun City Fire department, a ladder truck and an EMT vehicle were disgorging themselves from their resting place.

There were no sirens to break the night.

A mortality run, most likely.

As they passed me on my left, a large plume of exhaust enveloped me and filled my nostrils with a very familiar smell.

Diesel.

Smell has a memory and it filled my head with mine. The memory of burning shit and 5 gallon cans.

The memory of incredible uncertainty, burning charcoal, spent rounds and faded jungle fatigues.

Of long days, drunken nights, trash bags full of weed and loaded, unguarded, weapons. Of smokey hooches filled with an odor NCO’s couldn’t detect. Yet.

Of “short timers” calendars, erratic behavior and sad stories. Of disappointing mail calls, wily hookers and vengeful First Sergeants. Of Bob Hope.

The memory of the body bags at graves registration. Of bloated, dead enemy.

It was the wild west…..in spades.

What a hell of a time for a young man to be alive.

An M-16 with a full clip could change your personality in a heart beat, while taking someone else’s.

Uncertainty will always change your priorities.

As it does today.

 

Handle This!

I don’t know what I’ll be doing next in my career, but I’ll tell you what I won’t be doing, handling objections. I will never be in a room again talking to someone who doesn’t want to talk to me.

Who will take my free lunch then hide in the bathroom until I’m gone. Someone who only refers to me as “vendor.” Why would I want to do that?

Why would I want to talk to someone who can’t wait to get away from me, and doesn’t want to listen to anything I have to say? It’s like walking a drunk home.

I remember that puny little cardiologist looking over the top of his glasses at me like someone left the back door open. That little shit tried to get me to pay for a new wing of the hospital.

Every time I had to come in and discuss the contract, I had to wade through all the new construction. This guy had more objections than Clarence Darrow.

You guys can give out your valor badges and purple hearts for weathering the storm of rejection, while banging your head on the steering wheel all the way home. No thank you.

I’m not some old whore. (I don’t think.)

I’m going with what the Marvellettes put out in 1962, “I don’t want nobody that don’t want me, there’s too many fish in the sea.”

Oh, look, there’s another objection over there, someone wanna handle that?

The definition of pure risk.

Now, I’ve had some tough jobs in my storied career. I was once a bouncer at Chuckie Cheese’s until my shins gave out and I didn’t last long at Stickney & Poor, where I was relegated to picking fly shit out of pepper with boxing gloves on.
 
But since I’ve been out west and got certified as a Life & Health and Property & Damage agent, I have come to have many contacts and near misses with the lowly and morbidly desperate independent insurance recruiter.
 
These jobs suck so much they should give you a free vacuum just for sitting through the interview.
Some even have the cojones to ask YOU for money to buy leads from them. Feeling the love yet? If Colonial Penn calls, don’t.
 
Your first clue on the phone is they push the work-life-balance angle. Because you will have plenty of time at home not making any money while your being charged for virtual office space.
 
I have 19 e-mails from a guy named Jack Katz, who is now trying to shame me into taking the gig.
He wants to know what I’m afraid of.
It’s you Jack, it’s you.

The Fix

I’ve been around a lot of gyms in my life. You have your usual cast of characters. Some of them have watched too many prison movies, some of them are suffering from I.L.S, (imaginary lat syndrome) and most everybody has “gym face.”

Gym face looks like a scowl with a touch of irritable bowel syndrome. But nobody pays any mind, it’s all for show.

In all the years I’ve been going, I can’t honestly say I’ve seen any dramatic change in someone over a short period of time. Unless it’s a drastic weight loss. When you look, you think you don’t see their bodies changing.

But they are there every day. Taking their iron pills.

What gives?

In my special mirror, I see amazing things. Some days I want everyone to look the other way just for a second, so I can flex my muscles so hard while the blood is in there, I could pop a vain in my neck.

We all think of muscle in terms of what it “looks” like, not giving much thought about what it “feels” like.

When that pumps gets here and your body engorges with blood, there’s no feeling like it. That’s why those muscle heads (me included) are in there everyday enduring someones else’s body odor while they’re getting their fix.

That’s the payoff. The fix. And worth every grip pf the bar.

So when you see some well muscled Adonis hogging a gymnasium mirror, preening to beat the band, yeah, he’s lookin’ it, and you can bet your ass he’s feelin’ it, too.

 

 

“Lay down, you’re tired”

I’m so sick of these armchair warriors who keep telling us that if we want to be a success in life we have to work “really, really, hard.” Just plot your course, put your head down, and work, “really, really, hard.” At what? What if your goal isn’t clear?

What’re you supposed to work “really, really, hard” at? Doesn’t sound appealing to me. I think they got nothing else to offer. Just grunt along mindlessly?

It’s no secret that the Mafia would be running the country, (if they aren’t already,) because they sit in those little social clubs, drink annisette, brainstorm all day and come up with the most incredible ideas to enrich themselves while the rest of us working stiffs are working “really, really, hard.”

Obviously, none of those guys want to work, “really, really, hard.” If they weren’t crooks we’d be saying, “Steve, who?”

I believe in putting in maximum effort. But to something that I’m really driven to do. Then it doesn’t feel like work. Then you have to explain to me that it’s work. Because I ain’t feelin’ it.

But the way these guys are pushing it out, it sounds like they’re reading it off a cereal box. Like I said, They got nothin’.

I’ve had careers I’ve exhausted myself in and loved every minute of it. Didn’t feel like work to me. I had problems I loved having.

Reminds of the time Cardinal O’Connor looked out his office window and saw Jesus Christ walking up the street. In a panic, he called the Pope and said “Jesus Christ is walking up Fifth Avenue, what should I do?”

The Pope said “Look busy.”

 

“Turn that racket off up there.”

I’m a musician. I read it, I write it, and I create it. Music has its place. But sometimes you have to curb the racket upstairs and let some spirit in.

The spirit, that higher form of intelligence that solves our problems, gives us great ideas, brings us peace, and maybe even one of those epiphany things.

They usually come wrapped in the form of good old fashion silence.

You’re going to have to deal with yourself at some point, so how about during a strenuous bout of exercise, when your endorphin damn is most likely to break, or a long refreshing run, or a wondrous walk with a loved one.

Join the world before you miss it. Combined with your iPhone, not only are you blind, you’re deaf too.

C’mon, Captain, why not give up control of the cockpit to your higher form of intelligence? The world awaits.

As your landlady might say, “Turn that racket off up there.”

Can the cans, man.

 

 

Am I On?

Would you attend a high level promotion interview after a three day drunk? Would you go to meet a potential life partner in your bathrobe? Before your bath?

Well, this is what some of these delusional douchebags are, in essence, doing when they introduce themselves to you in a video on their own company web site.

To sell you on the possibility of working there?

The video usually opens with the presenter looking like he’s waiting for a bus and then acts surprised when he is cued. Which doesn’t get edited out?

Then he plays connect-a-thought for five minutes on your dime. And you’re thinking, “Oh sure, I could spent the next 40 plus years with these guys, easy.”

I’ve shot thousands of these spots and it takes a lot of time to make these things look conversational. Unfortunately, the higher level of education of the talent, the higher degree of difficulty, if you catch my drift.

I’ve made my share of “hostage tapes” that I’ve had to doctor up in post. When the talent sees it, they usually ask why their voice sounds so high.  🙂

There was no hope for this guy, though. I’m thinking he drew the short straw on this company effort. His medication probably wore off and he babbled off into another high level meeting.

He was trying to sell me on the benefits of working at the company but he dribbled the ball then fumbled it completely, leaving me hopelessly confused. So I just went back to watching porn and forgot all about it.

Just because you have a camera in your phone, it doesn’t mean you have to use it.

Welcome to Stockholm

I have my ways:

Along with my ex-wife, there are people who think they are going to fuck me over. I can’t let that happen. I have been treated so poorly out here in Arizona, I’ve started to develop “Stockholm Syndrome,” where you sympathize with your abuser.

A few weeks ago, a recruiter was giving me the old “reach around” and in my desperation to pay the rent, I went along with it.

This process went on for thirteen days. In the end, he cold-stiffed me and attempted to laugh me off. He froze me out just before a big interview and left me for dead. Dropped me cold and went on to lower hanging fruit.

He abruptly, and for no apparent reason, disregarded any communication from me from that point on. At the time, I was thoroughly confused and bewildered. Business as usual for him, I later learned.

Until I wrote a blog about my visit to his office and how unprofessional and unprepared he was. What a fat, chain smoking piece of shit he was. Didn’t want to be too rough on him.

In a few days, his secretary called me in tears telling me he was a husband and a father and his office in New York was threatening to terminate him for besmirching their reputation.

Being a repeat victim, I found that extremely satisfying. I left him a text saying, “Next time, instead of blowing me off… just blow me.”

A funny thing happened on my way to the poor house…

….I dropped my iPhone.

Yup, if I wasn’t screwed enough, I just got screweder. Now, how was I supposed to enjoy those job rejection texts?

When I called to cancel my service, I was made aware that I could get an upgraded phone for 30 more bucks a month on my AT&T bill. Why not?

While I’m waiting, I do some research and I’m blown away by the capabilities of these things. They shoot 4K resolution, slow motion, time lapse and you can even make a phone call if you have to.

Plus, they have every kind of accessory you can imagine. I bought a mic and a green screen, moved some chairs in my kitchen and shot my first show. I use a laptop as a teleprompter when I run out of things to say.  🙂

Now, I am a “hard core” video producer. To the bone. I love it. I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years, mostly successful until the end. I lost some big clients, had some personal problems and had to take a dive.

For the last two years, every time I heard a video production term, I would change the channel. Literally and figuratively. It hurt too much to even discuss it. Such was my loss.

Half of my million or so dollars worth of equipment I had to sell, and the other half is sitting in a PODS container in Nashua, New Hampshire and will probably air on this year’s “Container Wars”.

Just typing that causes internal bleeding.

In my mind, I needed serious bucks to get back in the game. “Au contraire, monsieur.” I realize now I can do serious damage with one of these little gadgets and don’t even have to check it at the airport.

Corporate, small business, Youtubing, and vlogging are back in my sights. Video production has no re$trictions on me now. With my sales, marketing, and in house video production skills, I can keep my costs low and my profits high.

I am on it now, people. If I can make me some money, I’ll see you on “Container Wars”.

 

How To be Successful Telling People How They Can Be Successful (When you’re not)

My bullshit detector is going off.

Ugh! I am so over this personal training business. It’s just a kabuki dance disguised as a workout session. When you look at the trainer and the client, it’s hard to tell who’s more disingenuous.

I busted my butt to get certified, only to find that almost everybody in the business, isn’t. One guy told me he took a weekend course. Hope he has a good lawyer.

Anyway, I’m done. I just have to be grateful for the knowledge I gained going through the learning process just to keep my own skinny ass healthy. At 73, I look twice at green bananas.

So now I have all these prepubescents hooking up with me on LinkedIn trying to tell me I could be spending the weekend in Dubai with my family and life is just so grand. But it’s not just personal training as you know. It’s everywhere.

When I was studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston, most of the teachers were actively gigging at night. They were some road dogs I’ll tell you. Hard as nails with nasty habits. One of them said, “You’re either a musician or a musicologist.” The second one’s a phony.”

Now, there are 30-year-olds on LinkedIn that want to help me face life’s obstacles, make me a better public speaker, and get me to an eight digit income in six months. I tell them I don’t think I have that much time.

I’m thinking these people forked over a lot of dough to get certified in something, found out they will soon starve to death, then started enlightening the world on how they can make all the money they never will.

There’s two guys on LinkedIn both named Chris that are so absolutely full of shit, the could blow any minute. They’ve got a multi level marketing scam going on and they’re only letting a few select individuals take part. Makes you salivate, doesn’t it?

I wonder if they take musicologists?

C’est Lavie

 

 

Hoodies In The Moonlight

Every night, every week, every month, all year. I’m out there. Running. When I see my moon reflected hood shape against the tarred road, I know I’m putting the work in.

The work that will help me stay in shape to deal with the mountain of problems I face. The work that will calm my evil intentions and feed my soul.

Like the protagonist in a B rated boxing movie, I move to overcome, to return, to prove.

But it’s more than that.

My cathartic ritual uses no outside stimulation, no music, no phone, no useless, repetitive thinking. Just silence.

It’s when the answers come. It’s when the ideas come. It’s when my spiritual connection gets connected.

Just the padding of my Nikes.

It’s way beyond the physical. It’s the moving aliveness in my body that pulls me to the street.

Creativity gushes like a fire hose. It takes my breath away.

Every night.

I’m a reel phonee!

Have Phone, Will Travel

I used to own and worry about more than a million dollars worth of video production equipment. I would drag it all over the world in order to make the much sought after corporate “hostage tape”.

I even had to speed up some of my talent in post to inject a little uh, enthusiasm.

So enamored was I of the corporate video world, I poured my savings and my 401K into living in the state of that art. I had so much equipment I could barely keep track.

But you know what they say in Vegas, “No balls, no blue chips.” Now I have neither.

Recently, I had to upgrade my phone. I couldn’t believe what they’re capable of now. These little puppies shoot 4K resolution. Without the “01” in the middle. They can shoot anywhere, anytime and anybody. They can do slow motion, time lapse and can be accessorized out the wazoo. The quality would have cost me $10,000 back in the day.

I shot this little mess right here and had the most fun I could have with my clothes on.

I am definitely getting back into the game. I lost everything my last time out but I learned me some valuable lessons. I am a seasoned video producer with a lot of sales and marketing notches who had to lay his pistol down on account of finances. No more. I am back.

Now I even get to shoot my favorite subject, me.

You look like shit!

Eight jobs in a year. Or should I say, attempts. I needed fast income so I aimed low and was appropriately rewarded. There was Caring.com, Verizon, CVS, United Health Care, Clearlink, Health Plan One. TTEC and I.C.E, International Cruise Excursions. (I’m getting depressed.) At each onboarding, the dress code gets spelled out by someone who is violating it.

Garish and gruesome are the two words that come to mind.

I was at CVS when Halloween went off. I think. I can’t imagine coming to work looking like that and not expecting to offend someone. Green hair, hoodies, sandals with no socks, tight, tight, clothing on fat, fat, people, and jeans that have a mind (and a personality) of their own. The guy with the green pony tail had the same clothes on for my whole 30 days.

Coming from the Mad Men era, it’s a shock to my system. How does anyone expect to be chosen for a leadership position when they can’t manage a facecloth and an iron? I always wonder if management looks the other way because they think it’s all their gonna get. Maybe I’m just old fashioned and I ought to loosen up a bit on my world view.

One day at I.C.E., amidst all the sideways, oversized, baseball caps, the bling, the tattoos, the mindless chatter and the sagging drawers, this well composed, nattily attired, rather serious looking young man made his way through the crowd. The contrast was blinding.

I was stunned. Was he just passing through? Interviewing? I had to investigate. So I followed him outside and into a sister building. Then upstairs and down a long hallway which led to his elegantly spacious corner office.

I think I’ve made my point.

Where’s the decline?

Where’s the decline? I’m experiencing my 73rd year on the planet and I ain’t seeing it. Is it just gonna spring up on me on the way to the bathroom some morning? Or will I just not get up?

As I train myself, I only get better, leaner, harder, more flexible, more resistant and more resilient. Needless to say, more determined. My on is on and keepin’ on.

I’m more like a can in the morning than a can’t. I am present and accounted for…..totally.

Sure my wrinkly, receding and world-wearied grandpa face is still staring back at me in the mirror, but my body has news for me. And it’s good.

This whole transformation isn’t just aesthetics, I haven’t had so much as a sniffle in more than 30 months. I always feel like feeling like it. I’m working with a brand new me.

Hate to say it folks, but these days, I’m a fuckin’ animal.

You Left The Water Runnin’

In September, 1978, I was a busy boy. I opened a restaurant with my partner and cut a sponsored demo tape with my band. At the time, I was drinking heavily, snorting coke and gobbling up pharmaceutical speed. Anything that would move the needle. For me, being horizontal more than four hours was a coma.

Phil was my partner, my friend.

He got his father-in-law to front us the money, and we started the fiscal plunge even before the doors opened. We were stroking though. The place was packed on the weekends because we were sucking the foam off of Fantasia’s beer, their business. Fantasia was a legendary restaurant back then. Phil and I were their chef and sous chef, respectively.

Before.

Phil wanted to be famous and so did I. He, a world renowned chef, and me, an Allman Brother.

Phil had a problem with my band. It was taking too much away from the restaurant and his screaming Sicilian wife, who didn’t care for Irish drunks who snorted that white stuff on her nice new chopping boards. He also didn’t care for some of my more callous band mates. Callous, for sure. And very talented.

So there was some friction.

One night after a gig at the Hofbrau in Brookline, outside of Boston, Phil invited us all back for a real late night breakfast to show he was cool with everything. A nice gesture considering the amount of work he had to put in that night. Without me.

We all show up at 2:00 am. Phil opens the bar and dining room and starts cooking breakfast for everyone. Roadies included. There was manicotti, gnocci, eggs any style, wine, grappa and all those Italian cookies that look like Christmas ornaments. And he wouldn’t let me help. I felt blessed.

At 4:30, it was time to go. Phil was so tired he could hardly stand up. He started drinking the previous morning as I did. Poor guy, he had no pharmaceutical help.

Phil opened the overhead door at the back of the kitchen and told the band to slip out that way.

We went back in the kitchen and stayed cleaning up until almost sunup, talking, laughing ….and drinking.

I was at the bar getting myself one for the road, when I heard him scream. I ran out in the back and saw him standing up past his ankles in dirty water. All the freezers were open and food was missing.

The good stuff, Prime Rib, veal, chicken and steak. There was frozen cow tripe in a big sink and the water had been turned on to gush. After it was plugged.

It was the drummer who did it. A coke dealer from Natick. He stayed behind and left some evil. Not only did he steal the goods, he shut the restaurant down for the whole following day by flooding it.

We almost drank ourselves into alcoholic shock over that. I was inconsolable. I felt like a fool.

Phil said, “Not only did he rob me, he left the water runnin’.”

40 years later my wife divorced me without telling me. Told the judge I was “parts unknown.” She took most of my valuable possessions and she left me with a mountain of IRS and marital debt. Half of which was rightfully hers. I was shocked.

Then she placed a restraining order on me for good measure. Like a thief in the night.

So I would say to her, as Phil might say, “You not only robbed me, you left the water runnin’.”

And it’s still runnin’.

 

 

Missed Opportunities

I am a 72 year old man who lost 45 pounds over two years. After being detoxed from benzodiazepine and alcohol and almost suffering a stroke.

I now have the heart and lungs of an athlete. My cholesterol and blood pressure readings are perfect. I have no arthritis, diabetes, gout, or depression.

I run 5 miles every morning and can bench, squat and jump with high school athletes.

I have tremendous energy, vitality, and sleep like a kid with no prescription help.

I didn’t biohack, fast, or Weight Watch my way into this condition.

Alas, I have no ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting, special powders, enemas, hormones, exotic foods or Foreman grill to thank for my recovery.

Or one of my publicists would be typing this.

If I did, I would be on the talk show circuit promoting my books, TV show and new line of senior workout clothing. Instead of eating less, moving more, using resistance, and stretching.

And to think, I left all that ^%$%$# money on the table. Where did I go wrong?

If things were different..

This is Freddie O’Connor of Union Square, Somerville, Massachusetts. He slid in behind me on the bus leaving the Powder House Draft Board and heading to the Boston Navy Yard induction center. It was Friday, September 16, 1966. It was a beautiful fall morning.

A good day to prepare to surrender your life.

That night we would depart South Station in Pullman cars for the three day slough into Columbia, South Carolina. Fort Jackson. Hell with red clay.

Freddie was a goof, I thought. This fool had kids. What is he doing? As he sat behind me, screaming obscenities out the window and spraying my ears with remnants of last night’s Ripple, he reminded us all more than a hundred times that he was “at the gin mill all night.”

He was loving this shit.

Sunday night, when we arrived at the Fort Jackson depot, Freddie was already drinking Mennen’s after shave and quoting from the Jack Webb movie, “The D.I.”.

That’s when the riot gas went off, the clubs came out, and the decorum departed.

It was the largest draft of the Vietnam war. And Freddie was its most eager conscript. You could hear his froggy bellow up in Charlotte.

The ass end of this train hook up was still blocking crossings in Newark N.J.

Every car was taken out of service at least temporarily, following this unholy pilgrimage. Windows were smashed, seats were yanked out and railroad workers were opting for early retirement.

Freddie went straight to the infirmary.

With a smile on his face.

He fared no better in basic. He was constantly being pulled aside for special punishment.

He had no sock to put in it.

One Sunday afternoon, when we legally weren’t supposed be training, but training anyway, Freddie got this bright idea to go to the movies after chow, instead of back to formation. He told Murphy, Pancoast and me, that we were in our rights under the Geneva Convention.

What a crock.

But we believed him and went to see “Tobruk” at the post theater down the road. What we didn’t know, between the popcorn and the cokes, was that 200 of our “used to be” closest friends were being tortured in the hot South Carolina sun.

Because of us.

The blanket party was scheduled for later that night. We were told to make our amends with Jesus and not to scream. Or it will be worse. They decided later to let us slide. Except for Freddie. I didn’t recognize him the next day.

Poor Freddie and his mouth, it was always getting him into trouble. It wasn’t his mouth that killed him though. It was the Viet Cong. I hear he died a horrible death.

He thought going to war was cool. Kids or no. It’s what a man should be doing.

Miss ya pal, you sure made it interesting.

 

“Ya can’t take it with ya.”

I have a recurring nightmare. In it, I imagine I’m watching “Storage Wars” and I see them enter my defaulted POD in Nashua, New Hampshire for the first time, and start laying my life out on the concrete.

All my musical equipment, my ’71 Les Paul, my Martin D-35, my piano, my Total Gym, my office equipment, my clothes, the dress greens I wore home from Vietnam, my computers, my video equipment, my personal effects, awards, pictures and books.

They pick the stuff up, make insensitive comments, even jokes and throw it to the side. It’s like live looting. It’s unbearable. And they have no idea. And they don’t care.

Those are the nights I run out of the house and into the dark, trying to burn the vision of that debacle out of my head.

I pump down El Camino in my Goodwill sweatsuit trying to imagine what it would be like to have the kind of money that could deliver me from that scene. I did once.

Early this morning, under that bright full moon, I wept into the reality that you really, really, can’t take it with you.

Maybe I won’t need it.

Cheap Bastard

I don’t know what happened to my parents during the depression that made them so averse to anything cheap, stingy, frugal or tight. But averse they were. They came from, and got, very little in this life.

They believed in “always go for your wallet first, never quibble, and don’t get caught dead trying to weasel out of anything”. They would always grit their teeth while sharing their views. Strange, I thought.

My mother’s favorite joke was about a large family at their parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. None of the kids chipped in anything for the celebration and were having a grand old time for themselves at their parent’s expense.

At the appointed time the feted parents took the stage to address the large, adoring audience. The father said he had an announcement, “I just want to tell everyone here that for all these fifty wonderful years, we were never married.”

Shock went through the audience. Then a hush fell. One of the children shot up and said, “You mean we’re all a bunch of bastards?” The mother leaned into the mic and said, “Yes, and a bunch of cheap ones too.”

My mother would roar at that punch line. “Yes, and a bunch of cheap ones too.”

The worse thing in the world my mother could call you was a “cheap bastard.” Strange sentiment from someone who had nothing.

When my marriage was ending there was a lot of selfish, cheap, corner cutting things I could have done because I held the purse strings.

I could have feathered my own nest…..but I couldn’t lower myself to the status of “cheap bastard.”

It’s not the punch, it’s the thought behind it.

I can take a punch. I’ve had practice. I’ve had my lights go out. I’ve had that fucking rainbow come up on the horizon more times than I can remember.

The shots that hurt the most are the ones that have intention. The ones that have hate behind them. I call them “bull droppers” such is the elevation, windage and velocity.

They are well thought out, hateful missiles from hell. When you start to feel your face crack, you feel the love. It hurts so much more with intention.

You can forgive someone who just hauls off in a moment of haste. But someone who’s been loading up…

I got into it one Saturday afternoon with my father in the kitchen. I was 18 and had a belly full of beer. I also had a belly full of him. He was always picking away at someone and I was his favorite.

This afternoon, thanks to Anheuser Busch, he was mine. My brother had given me a bloody nose earlier, (nice house, huh?) and my father told me to quit being a baby and clean it up. I told him to fuck off.

He told me he was going to go in his bedroom for something and when he came back it had better be cleaned up. He loved ultimatums. Being full of bottled balls there was no way.

When he came back he had a door knob in his right fist. Then there was a huge white flash. I thought I was hit by a train. I don’t remember much after that.

I grabbed him in a front headlock, more to keep me from hitting the ground than anything.

I bled all over his back, the kitchen and the back stairs on the way out.

I will never forget that feeling. It must be like getting hitting by a car and not surviving. I never looked at him quite the same way again.

It’s not that I ever thought he didn’t love me, it’s just that I knew if he had to, he would have killed me.

That’s what hurts. More than the punch.

I say all that to say this: I was married to someone once who did a despicable act. To me. It wasn’t an emotional reaction to something I said or did. It was a slow, methodical, cruel, process that took a lot of time, effort and concentration.

She put a lot thought behind it.

That’s what hurts. More than the punch.

In Good Form

Last Thursday, after throwing my lanyard at some under paid security guard and then being summarily escorted off the Verizon site, I felt like having a quick lunch and heading to the gym.

As I backed out onto my driveway, the garage door released and jammed like this. I didn’t want to leave it like that, so I jiggered it so it would close cleanly. After some doing, I took off for the gym to work on my frustrations.

At the gym, I really went at it. Nothing like the grip of cold steel and the smell of gym rats.

The next morning I could hardly get out of bed. My neck, my back, my stomach muscles felt like they were pulled out, twisted and put back in again. I thought I really overdid it at the gym.

That’s a worry because I work out hard. I like to work out hard and I want to keep on working out hard. So I start to fret.

I don’t need some doctor (who doesn’t work out) with his hand on his chin, telling me I have to kick it back a notch because of my age. Grrrrr.

Then it hit me. I always use correct form when I exercise. But I didn’t on the garage door. I was in a hurry and never contemplated the injury from different, unused muscle groups.

Always use good form. Think. Whether you’re taking something out of the oven, the washing machine or the fridge. Think first because you might not remember what it was that injured you.

Then someone might misdiagnose you and give you something to take the edge off.

Don’t ask.

500 Bucks

I need 500 bucks a week to survive. My problem has been looking at companies that pay roughly that. It has been a nightmare. These outfits will grind the life out of anyone that crosses their threshold.

At one outfit, I got a written warning because I lacked the motivation to shame someone into staying on the phone.

They use terms like “adherence”, “quality”, “corrective action” and “walked to the door,” to show they mean business. A car insurance company told me the key to my success would be my ability to tuck a $150 dollar “roadside charge” into each policy without the insured catching on.

Caring.com, CVS Healthcare, Health Plan One, TTEC, United Healthcare and Clearlink are some of the companies I have endured. I quit Verizon last week. That deserves its own book. And maybe a lawsuit.

I am an experienced sales and marketing pro, entrepreneur, video producer, licensed insurance agent, certified personal trainer with certifications in diet, nutrition and senior fitness.

There must be something I can do to brighten your day. I am also a professional chef, as well as a professional musician that could add to your organization. I am a total creative.

Be nice to hear something before I head to the homeless shelter. P.S. I do windows.

Sanctuary


I just sent an e-mail to the Kundala Taoist Sanctuary in Sedona, Arizona to see if they take Medicare.

I have finally come to the realization that my interpersonal skills are so lacking that I should remove myself from the herd.

I laid in bed this morning with vivid memories of all my spectacular romantic failures.

In short: I can’t pick ’em.

I’ve been robbed, maced, abandoned, stranded, diseased, betrayed, tortured and toyed with.

Linda: was a waitress who could jump start a vibrator and roll her own tampons. She actually tried to extol the virtues of anal sex to my mother. My mother never looked at me the same again.

Marie: who is by far, the worst of the worst, who up until this day, I have on a death watch. I’m thinking she could go any time. A great start to 2019 if she cooperates. Hope I’m in the area.

Dana: When she walked in a room, the heat kicked on. In 87 days she set my emotional development back 30 years. When I came back from a hike one morning my neighbor said, “Hey, didn’t you just move? ”

And then, this sneak in the night. A squeaky, mousey liar that waited until I was down, to rob and pillage by using the police, an unconscious court system, and some convenient distance.

This wasn’t even colorful. I hardly got my money’s worth.

And now…oops, hold on, it’s the Sedona sanctuary on line two. Gotta take this….

Verizon Terminus

“Welcome to the gulag” I said, as my badge activated the gate this morning onto Verizon property. I did not have a good feeling. That feeling would prove to be uncannily prescient as I was being escorted off those premises four hours later.

When I arrived, as usual, the trainers were not there. They never come in to prep for the day. We sit around and wait for them to get it together. About 45 minutes. One is an ex-car salesman and the other is an idiot savant. After a week of training, not one of us 25 has any idea what they’re talking about. None.

At 10:00 am, I decide to use the bathroom. When I return only minutes later, the room is empty. I can’t imagine. I ask the guard and he only says they left. All the doors on the whole floor are secure so I don’t know where anyone is.

I go back inside the room to wait. After I empty my pockets out to the guard for the ninth time.

Ten minutes go by and and I’m still sitting alone, so I start to worry I might be missing something important. I put my hand on the door knob to leave when it gets pulled open and a morbidly obese security guard grabs me by the collar and cocks his fist to my face. I’m stunned. He says, “This goddam room is supposed to be empty.” He slightly apologizes and limps away.

Just then, the idiot savant shows up and asks me where the hell I’ve been. I try to explain but she’ll have none of it and takes me to another room where the rest of the group is.

As we’re seated, a Verizon regional director takes the floor and tells us why he’s a snake spirit.

He was up, he was down, he was rolling on the floor. We had to pull our chairs back. Never seen the like of it. Spittle flying everywhere. I was praying for 5:00.

When he gives up the stage, the savant says the other director wants to see me in her office. On the way over she says, “Don’t worry, you’re not in any trouble.” I think, what a stupid thing to say.

A part of me is thinking this director must be aware on some level how bad this training is, and might be looking for some help from someone with corporate experience.

Oh, I would be so wrong.

We have half a dozen passwords that have to be memorized. Nothing can be written down anywhere. When I got locked out, they start talking to me like I’m senile.

I listen very carefully to the words they’re using because I’m a 72 year old, age sensitive, man.

I don’t like what I’m hearing.

When I get over to the other director’s office, I find out they are going to serve me with a corrective action for getting locked out of my system three days ago.

Oh no, they’re not.

I flip out and ask the director if this is a slow day for her. “You have anything else important to do with your time?”

She runs out to get security while I’m still going off on how bad the training is. The savant is still in the room with me, wishing she was back on the ward.

As I’m pulling my lanyard over my head on the way out, I make sure I stop in every office that counts to get a bunch of licks in and to ensure they have a nice, uncomfortable day.

Like I’ve been having all week.

I, of course, will stay with AT&T. There is no Verizon on my horizon.

 

 

Killin’ Floor

When I was playing in blues bands around the Boston area in the 70’s, we had a favorite tune called, “Killin’ Floor”.

The term comes from the Chicago slaughter factories back in the day. When a cow was designated for destruction, it was brought out on to the killing floor. It would just stand there helplessly and wait for the end.

Not a place anyone wants to be.

When my relationship was ending, I needed a little mercy. I wasn’t gonna get it. I felt that lonely, helpless, hopelessness in my bones.

I realized after all of my generosity and trust was expended, I would be left standing naked and vulnerable while someone carelessly dropped the hammer on me.

Leaving me defenseless and up against financial predators and legal buffoons. Life’s a bitch. And has a name.

Right now I’m on the killin’ floor. And I will take care of this business in this life, or the next.

You better hope there ain’t no next.  🙂

 

Unrequited Violence

He passed by on the left. Within a foot of me. I never heard his bike tires. There was no need to pass me that close. He deliberately crossed into my space. I could smell his breath. It was 2:00 am. There was no one else on the planet as I was lost in the usual, “revenge in a small room” scenario I go through nightly.

When I felt him, my heart stopped. Shock. I tingled all over. He wanted to put fear in me. I have enough fear in me.

Then… the rage came. I screamed obscenities as I unhooked my fanny pack and started to run after him. He stopped up ahead and dismounted.

I scaled him against his bike and quickly knew he was bigger. I didn’t care.

I just wanted to pound his flesh.

The closer I got, the better I felt. I’m gonna kill this motherfucker. I need release. For some reason, he thought better of it and mounted up. In my insanity, I thought I could catch him. It was not to be.

As I stood there empty handed, in the middle of that dark lonely road, I dropped my hands and wept. I would get no release this night. I have such rage. I need to get better. I’m not better…yet.