art, As it should be, beauty, Civics, common human decency, cool, God Bless America, honesty, kids, meditation, ourselves, poetry, Politics, Reading, truth

Perspective from the Mini Van

I was driving the other day with my daughter in the back seat when she asked, “Papa, are we rich?

I looked around me at the cracked and worn interior of our ten-year-old rusted Mazda Protégé, glanced at the 126,000 miles on the odometer and noticed the always-on engine light. My mind wandered to our other 10-year-old mini-van, our 1,100 square foot house in need of windows, siding, and roof among other repairs and thought about the piles of debt our family had, laughed a little sarcastically, and said, “No, Olivia, we are not rich.”

Then it dawned on me and I added, “Actually, we are rich.”

“We have our own home with a roof over our heads, that we can keep 70 degrees when it’s 30 below and 68 degrees when it’s 100. We have more than a thousand square feet in there – plus the basement! We have two cars that run – with just two drivers in the house. We have a pantry, refrigerator and freezer that are bursting with food – there’s no room to put anything more! We get new clothes constantly. We have so much stuff that we get to go to the Goodwill twice a year and give a box or two away to people who are not as rich as us! We have computers, an iPad, smartphones, internet access, and cable tv.”

I was just getting started.

“We have a brand new street in front of our house, and roads to take us anywhere we want to go that are lit at night. We have free parks, schools, and libraries all around us. We have wonderful family and great friends who love us and we love back. We have amazing neighbors. We have our own business that provides six darn good jobs. We are surrounded by great little Vietnamese, Thai, East African and good old American restaurants that we have enough money to enjoy!”

“Yeah, there are a lot of people with much more than us and many with much, much more, but there are a hell of a lot more people on this planet with much, much less! We are blessed! So, hell yes, Olivia, we are rich!!

I half expected some applause to accompany my goose bumps, but when I looked in my rear-view mirror, my little girl was just gazing out the window of the van at the world passing by.

“Pretty sweet, huh?” I asked, and she turned, met my eyes in the mirror and smiled.

“Yeah.”

Aliens, aminimals, art, As it should be, beauty, common human decency, cool, God Bless America, honesty, ourselves, Politics, revolution, SCIENCE!, truth

Joe Six Pack is Dead – in Praise of a Nine-Pack

Joe Six Pack was something other than a real man.

The kind of guy who would flinch. Step aside. Protect himself

when the damsel’s distress got ugly.

Sure, he was buzzed, but also cognizant of his own mortality and I think a drink should conjure immortality.

Save that girl.

Step in front of the bullet.

Or you’re just Joe,

just plain Joe.

And a twelve pack is a bit much, ain’t it? A six pack gets you up the chair lift,

but a twelve pack will lead you                    astray,

a ski stuckinarut,
and off the peripheral cliff,
crashing
onto the rocks
below,
the end of Joe.

Much too much.

A nine-pack would give you the gumption to get up the hill and then

drop

down

over the lip,

through the moguls and flats, over the jump into a Steamin’ Streamin’

(daffy, tip-drop, daffy, if I recall),

then back into moguls, dips, flats, and whatever the mountain had to present.

Represent, mountain, it’s our challenge now.

So let us all call unto the brewers, the big boys and the small taps. Give us a nine pack, we ask,

or give us death – or trepidation. We need neither, but the sweet spot in between, the middle, the fiddle-de-diddle.

Let us fight the tyranny of the six and the twelve together.

As it should be, beauty, God Bless America, kids, SCIENCE!, truth

Plenty of Time for Kale

I bought some Pizza Rolls for a cabin outing that did not get eaten so we brought them home. Tonight the kids had already had dinner but were still hungry so I heated them up and put them on plates and gave them to them. I went upstairs for something and came down and my eight-year-old daughter was actually facing away from the television and had just one left on her plate. I sat down next to her and she was biting into a roll and said earnestly, “Oh, my god, these things are amazing.”

Look, I know, I know that from a modern michaelpollanated parent, this was sacrilegious and in fact probably evil. The end of society. Child abuse, damn it! However, I am sorry, but she’s absolutely right! And don’t think the Pizza Roll people didn’t employ the best science in the modern world to figure that out. Fuck kale. Pizza Rolls rock.

We all have to learn to eat better, or most of us, some of us already do, and really, who likes them? But the rest of us do have to eat more veggies and fruit, control our portions, exercise more and all that. But, man, Pizza Rolls? You can bring the greatest chef known to man, who nowadays probably has a show and a line of food things to sell you, and let him or her do their absolute best – give me the tastiest, most delicious, dish you can muster, and really, Pizza Rolls will kick your ass.

I know yours is BETTER with the capital B, but Pizza Rolls are just plain amazing. And shouldn’t life be amazing – at least, occasionally?

There’s plenty of time for kale.

As it should be, beauty, Civics, common human decency, God Bless America, honesty, ourselves, Politics, SCIENCE!, The Future, The Past, Uncategorized

the republicans have been robbed!

Part of me wants to say “Hip Hip Hooray for Rob Portman!” The republican senator from Ohio came out yesterday in support of same-sex marriage – which is gutsy in a party that generally thinks homosexuals are deviants, the earth is seven thousand years old, and all you need are bootstraps to be as fat and happy as Wall Street CEOs.

It seems Rob’s son came out to him and that is what changed his mind. This is all still laudable, but when you are unable to have empathy for any sort of person until there is one of those sorts of people in your own family you might be lacking a sufficient amount of empathy. I’m not even sure empathy is what we feel for our own children considering the absolute closeness we feel with them. The sadness and joy we feel when our own children feel sadness and joy seems closer to some sort of Vulcan mind meld than something called empathy.

Either way, I’ll go with “Hip Hip Hooray!” And add, “Welcome to the enlightenment, the 21st century, and common human decency!”

aminimals, art, detritus, devil, God Bless America, Information, poetry, Politics, Reading, SCIENCE!, television, The Future, Uncategorized

We’re just buggin’ the shit out of each other

It started out with stopping by, droppin’ in and poppin’ over. Cave to cave. Cabin to cabin.

Then we learned to write with letters and along came letters written to drop in the box and on to whomever.

The telegraph turned letters into tweets – instantaneous and terse.

The telephone turned everything else upside down, inside everywhere – voices over lines of metal – spoken in Spokane heard in Japan. Conversations across the universe. There was nothing more to say. And when they got into homes, there was nowhere to hide. They had you in your house. The perfect crime.

Then phones divided into cellphones and proliferated. Popping up everywhere, public spaces, intimate places. Joined at the hip. Cool shit. The crime perfected.

Emails hail down upon your desktop, your laptop, iPad and cellphone. Damage occurs.

But that was not enough – we’ve rebuilt the telegraph from man to man, phone to phone. Tweeting everything. Leaving out nothing.

We’re dropping by all the time.

We’re just buggin’ the shit out of each other.

Aliens, art, As it should be, beauty, brands, Civics, cool, God Bless America, la musica, poetry, The Past, Uncategorized

Three Dog Days of Summer

It’s hard to say just how cool I thought Three Dog Night’s version of “Mama Told Me Not to Come” was back when it was released and to which I sat listening on the thick shag carpet of my older brother’s basement bedroom playing The Game of Life and surrounded by his LOVE, PEACE and eyeball wallpaper, not to mention Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper and maybe surprisingly Steve Gibbons albums passed out on the floor; all this beneath his drop ceiling above which he hid a huge bag of some of the worst ditch weed imaginable – weed, no doubt, actually found in a ditch by some county road near Brainerd and if you really didn’t want to get high you’d smoke a bunch of this shit; and outside his egress-ed window was an old stone wall on the other side of which was a vacant lot where we built an underground fort inside of which we kept a couple of found Playboy and a Oui (French, baby) magazines (back in those days you could occasionally find Playboys or pages from Playboys on the street and I’ve no idea why nor why you no longer do) that appeared to have survived three thunderstorms and burial in dirt for decades and to which the older boys tossed off to now shockingly innocent images lit by candles and choked by incense and the younger boys went inside confused; this fort we decided to protect and what better way than to pound six inch nails through two-by-fours and hide them in the long grass to “catch” anyone trying to get to our fort; one particular nail on which I stomped because I was told to “run and get more nails” and stabbed it up, in and out my right foot leading to nothing more than a tetanus shot and pissed off parents, but 70s parents who then told us,“Don’t be a baby and go back out and play with the others”; and we would walk across the street to Lake Calhoun where there was the Black beach on the north end where they washed and waxed their cars to Stevie Wonder, the gay beach on the east end where they lay sunning to disco, and the hippy beach right in front of us on the southwest side and where I walked with my mom years before and asked, “Why do they all share the same cigarette?” and to which she replied, “They’re poor”, and they looked poor; the lake where I saw a bus stop and 50 Jesus-looking dudes descend down the steps and walk in line in white robes and beards and long hair, handing out pamphlets and clasping their hands in front of them or holding them palms up as if praising the sun or hoping for rain, and looking probably more like one of the dudes from Three Dog Night or Mott the Hoople than the historical Jesus who would have been much blacker; the lake that in those days pretty much no one ran around because pretty much no one ran around anything at all, but we did, and in Converse shoes that totally suck as shoes – unless you’re in some sort of alt-something band and think it’s cool to wear the sort of sucky shoes that we had to wear because that was the only choice besides PF Flyers and they were a little better and while this is when Nike and Pumas and Tigers came out no half-way decent parent was going to pay that much money for tennis shoes for their kids (they’re kids, for god’s sake!); the sort of shoes that we all buy for ourselves, kids and infants now because we’ve become such a bunch of suckers and rubes. Open up the window, sucker, let me catch my breath.