bumper sticker

Your patriotic sticker makes me love America more.

A bit cynical here on Memorial Day. However, I pulled up next to a guy with a Marines sticker on his car on my way back from the grocery store and yelled, Thank you! He just smiled and kind of mumbled, You’re welcome. Humble soldier, indeed.

Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers

Listening to ZZ Top’s Tres Hombres LP and going back in time to the 10 year old with his sweet new album and feeling cool and old and Waiting for the Bus All Day and Jesus Just Left Chicago and staring at the pics of them like I did back then big fat headphones wrapped firmly around little head and that spread of food in the middle fold and lamenting the fact they are so defined by those fucking beards now. Once hell raisers now hair follicles. Really?

This does, however, remind me of just how awesome they were – add to the aforementioned songs, Move Me on Down the Line, Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers, La Grange… There’s not a rock band in the world that gets it that wouldn’t give their collective left nut to have made that album. Smart, clean, simple, straightforward rock and roll. Have You Heard?

mexican feast!

Crystal, Beware

Over the years I’ve been a great fan of American Idol. And for me it came to fruition with Adam Lambert. Most every week he blew my mind and I’m saying that talking about a fucking talent show on network TV – for the most part lots of fun and silliness, but over time ultimately artistically void. Some stars were made by it, but nothing that would have come within a million miles of my musical radar had they not been on the show. But Adam Lambert was different. He grabbed hold of the show and made it his own. You could see it in the eyes of the judges, there was a sense – no matter if they liked it or not – that they were no longer the judges at all. Maybe because you cannot judge someone who is going on about their own way, not despite you, but despite anything. “This is who I am and you can judge or not. Whatever.”

So he doesn’t win, and that’s no surprise; in fact, that is just what you’d expect. It’s a popularity contest for the love of god and can we trust art to popular vote? Of course not. It’s certainly valid in what it proves, but what it proves is entirely debatable.

But then with all that seeming integrity behind him, he led with his album For Your Entertainment. An homage apparently to the most popular pop songwriters and whatever dreck they’ll throw together for him right quick. A complete reversal of his old self – and for the love of god, his old self was boldly defined right there in the middle of the machine, where most “artists” fold like a pair of deuces. And yet now he becomes part of the machine and creates an album that so reeks of Lady Gagarbage that it stinks, horribly. Waste. Of talent.

He had an almost Freddie Mercury voice leading him. Had he found a partner songwriter and gathered a band and took his time and made an amazing record, he might have … might have what? Blew my mind. But then again who cares what blows my mind. I only hope he cares about people’s minds enough to reverse a bit, and blow em right quick. That Idol iron is only hot for so long.

Sweetness and Light

Wake up at 5 am and gaze upon one of our little creations who had come into our bed in the night. Big two-year-old head, thin neck and skinny shoulders, breathing softly next to me. A small miracle with big attitude, quiet now, practically purring. I slip out of bed and into the morning on a walking meditation. It is one of those mornings after a stormy night where blue skies lead to a bank of black clouds to the east just covering the rising sun, giving a sense of great anticipation for the day ahead. Words like “creation” and “glorious” keep coming into my head as I try to concentrate on my body and breathing.

I remember how large a world “creation” was to a little boy sitting in Sunday school. “God in his Creation” was like a commandment in itself. The start and finish of all we knew. But I was a decidedly skeptical kid and it never took – that version of the universe. It wasn’t long before “creation” seemed a tiny word in relation to my very slow comprehension of a more scientific view of how the Universe unfolded. Creation by some deity in six days seemed tiny and suspiciously fictionalized up against 13 billion years of the incomprehensibly complex and unfolding of our, again, incomprehensibly large universe. The simplicity of the former was a great bore in light of the great mysteries of the latter.

Bill Bryson does a wonderful job of describing for lay people those mysteries in his book “A Short History of Nearly Everything.” I have the audio book and particularly enjoy his voice. He’s obviously brilliant and with a great sense of humor. Worth it for anyone interested in how science and the scientists of note have over time helped us understand and define the world in which we life.

Walking around Lake Como I am treated to one of those moments when the sun, still covered by the black clouds, manages to cascade some light over the edge. You’ve seen in depicted in hundreds of paintings over the years. It was often used to signify “God in His Heaven” and it does a great job especially in light of the fact that the sun was one of our earliest gods and probably the one that makes the most sense. It gives us life, keeps us alive under its gaze, and is there when we die. Our ancestors, before understanding much about the firmament, could only have wondered at its heat, where it goes every night, why it sometimes hides behind great black clouds that rain and throw lightening down upon us, why every so often, it obscures itself with a disk in the middle of the day. God in his Heaven, indeed.

Now I will go upstairs to awaken them little creations to a new and gorgeous day. We like to open the shades and say, “Look! It’s another day full of possibilities!” And we like to give each other loads and loads of ever-changing nicknames. Today I am going to call ’em Sweetness and Light.

the other shore

Keep a positive attitude even when the little things
manage to rear up and scream into your psyche.
(You let them.) These are small potatoes you
elevate to zeppelin status. Brain boring, bone
gnawing, growling – tiny things. How do they
make you growl, yip, and twitch?

Be good, and proud of it.

Let them take the path of most evil insistence and watch them march slowly and inexorably down into the inferno.

Hail the good, the diligent.
Cross to the other shore
while they run about
on this one.

Done Most For School

According to the Nation Brands Index the amount that President Obama has added to America’s “Brand value” is $2,100,000,000,000, aka two trillion one hundred billion dollars. And that’s ADDED to it so it’s got to be twice that, right?

So let’s sell it. Give the whole kit and caboodle (name, bald eagle, stars and stripes and whatever else) to the highest bidder, exceeding, say five trillion dollars. We’ll be flush with cash, can pay down our national debt and then rebrand to something else, something fresh. Be like Blackwater and just change your name as if nothing happened. Not that as a nation we’re as bad as Blackwater by any stretch of the imagination, in fact, if Blackwater were a nation they’d be much more akin to either Nazi Germany or Stalin’s Russia.

We’re the United States of America and whatever warts we have, we’re still faster, stronger, happier and cooler than pretty much any other country. Sure some countries might beat us in some things, but admit it, world, we get the “Best Overall” trophy as well as the “Done most for World” award when you think about cars, planes, lightbulbs, world wide web, personal computers and all that. If you could magically yank all of the inventions originating from the United States out from existence, we’d all be riding donkeys and writing with quills.

That is not to say I’m bragging. I invented none of those things. I just happened to be born here. Which brings me to something I’ve always believed: you know the kids in high school who honestly believed that your school was far and away superior to the other schools around town, the ones who practically wept at pep rallies? They’re the ones with great big flag stickers on their cars now. At some level they are convinced that their world, their existence, their country, their place and time, is the best of all possible worlds! God bless them. And God Bless America.

Tree Stump Jell-O Pudding

It is the end of the school year and that is true also for North Como Pre-School up on Larpenteur Avenue. My daughter Olivia is “graduating” from there this spring (notice how many grades graduate these days?) and being it’s the end of the year, the resident Betta fish needed a home and Olivia was chosen among the whole class to have the fish. What an honor for her and a $30 tab for us to purchase the tiny tank, bubbler, plastic plants, water purifier, and so on.

I was first thinking we go full-on to a ten or twenty gallon tank as I had in high school. (I remember crumpling tin foil and then opening it up and putting it behind the tank. The light reflected off it at all sorts of groovy angles. It was a sweet 70’s era fish pad.) We could then fill it with rosy barbs, tiger barbs and any other fish we wanted. But someone pointed out to me that the Betta is rather unsociable with other fish, particularly other Bettas. In fact, put a mirror up to the side and the Betta would bash it’s little fish head against the image until it died. (I do wonder what the Betta would think of the disjointed image from my tin foil background. Some one-eyed Picasso-esque image of himself staring back. Freaky for the Betta no doubt.)

So we blew $30 on a tank for one fish we never asked for. A fish who has to live alone its entire life. An angry killer fish unable to inhabit space with any other fish – or he’ll kill it. Nice.

Anyhow, my daughter named her fish Tree Stump Jell-O Pudding. Middle name: Jackson. It’s a nice name, evocative of nature and, for me, Bill Cosby. The Jackson bit I’m not sure about but I don’t see us using the middle name much as Tree Stump Jell-O Pudding is rather much to say already.

After purchasing the tank at a store that overcharged us no doubt, we went to Target (where the kids were unruly, annoying and bordering on nutso) and after checking out, Jana and the kids walked ahead and I purposely hung back 25 feet to have, and I’m serious about this, a few moments of relative quiet. It was bliss. I walked past the checkouts in what felt like slow motion. I shut out every sound. I walked blissfully toward the exit, alone, like a Betta, though not as ornery.

But soon, Olivia turned and saw me, and as she is wont to do, felt bad for me all alone back there and came running over. It’s great to be loved. And odd that the only quiet time I get is at the busy checkout of Target. Maybe if I was a bit more ornery…

don’t move.

i was with a friend at her aunt’s house. this aunt had lived alone her entire adult life. she was in her late thirties. she left the room to get us drinks and my friend said, “watch this,” and moved a picture frame on a side table about an inch to the right. her aunt came back in and served us all drinks, then walked over to the table and moved the frame back. it was uncanny.

poor, lonely landlord

Poor, lonely landlord
love cannot find you
and you’ll be certain of that,
behind the walls, up the stairs,
raging at the injustices
you so carefully tend.

The hiss, the spit, the victim’s screech,
the trembling hands that torch bridge
after bridge after bridge
that lead to the island
alone where you sit
hissing and spitting and screeching.

[Penny-wise. Pound-foolish.
Save a nickel. Spend a friend.
Count your blessings. Not your jewels.]

But the walls are crumbling,
holes are opening,
the edifice no longer protects.
The gardens are dying,
they no longer feed
the imposter that’s stolen your soul.

There’s just you
poor and lonely and lording
over what

sara palin is brilliant

Really. Let’s admit it. Politically she’s a fucking cipher, dumb as grizzly-shat-upon log but still brilliant in her own way. She can change this tiny world of hers and ours if she positions herself as the Redneck Oprah – maybe not so much in those words – but actually in that talk show manner. Stay out of policy and talk the talk she talks. For many it’s beyond scary ignorance, but for a very wide swath of people, she’s a straight-shooter, a truth teller, a hockey-talky-mommy.

Cater to them, outside politics, you’ll be genius. And you will be a bipartisan entertainer entertaining us all.