Uncategorized

New House, Holy Turntable

zeppelin_houses_of_the_holy

I moved recently and have space for my albums, which I took out of storage and now have at my disposal along with my turntable, of course. It was like looking at an old photo album thumbing through those boxes – most albums, but some big 45s. I also have a box of the little 45s, which I’ve yet to break into.

I pulled out “Houses of the Holy” first, which is Led Zeppelin’s “Lovesexy” or in other words, an album that a great artist makes after a string of hits that seems effortless, and which I think might be their best. So maybe the designation is personal, but I’m sticking with it.

“Houses of the Holy” was the first Led Zeppelin album I owned. Prior to that I was at the mercy of my brother’s albums and mix 8-track tapes, which he named “Rock 1,” “Rock 2,” “Rock 3,” and so on, inspired no doubt by Zeppelin. The cover art features naked blond children climbing up a pyramid – or some pyramid-like structure. I was struck looking at it that in our panicked world, it would probably be considered perverted and racist.

I loved it. I wanted to be one of those kids, at the photo shoot, climbing up the rocks, and cracking up between shots with John Bonham, whom I assumed was really funny. Led Zeppelin was the real deal among us kids, which is ironic as I recently read they were pieced together by a producer, not unlike One Direction. But Led Zeppelin was king and deservedly so, no matter how they came together.

Robert Plant was the quintessential rock singer, maybe one small step above Roger Daltrey, but not quite Freddie Mercury who seemed to float above and beyond any and all other rock and roll singers. John Paul Jones was the bassist and like pretty much all bassists we really liked him but didn’t have much to say about him. It’s the usual fate of the bassist and most bassists seem to prefer it that way. Jimmy Page was a guitar god – pure and simple. And John Bonham, John Bonham; those drums ruled our world. Huge pounding beats exploding off in all directions! We were blown away by John Bonham.

Like all young people we had a hierarchy and most everyone would have Led Zeppelin at the top. If not, you could get away with The Stones because they were The Stones; The Who was doable; Rush would just inspire ridicule. They were Canadian, for starters, and the bass player sang and often high, but not high like Robert Plant who could freaking wail! Geddy Lee just sang, well, too high too much.

That’s about it though. It really was Zeppelin at the top and “Houses of the Holy” was a brilliant album. It was a good way to christen my new house – or really the detached garage where my turntable now sits like a time machine awaiting my next journey back in time. Right on.

 

Uncategorized

A Golf Story

They’re always diddling around, I run by each day and it’s only about two city blocks that I can see them and they’re always just blahbedy blah standing there or putt-putting around in the little cars – and there’s a green and a tee right there so I should as I run by see at least one shot by someone, but nooooo, some dude is taking fake swings over and over, as if that will help, another is looking at the green like he’s peering into a peep show and I’m just thinking, hit a god damned ball, someone, please hit a god damned ball, but every so often I get to watch someone chip up on to the green or tee off from the hill, and today I even saw a guy crush it – par 3 crush it – and land about three feet from the hole and his buddies all watch the ball until it stops then turn to him, and you know he knows, and I keep running, thinking, it was worth the wait.

brands, cool, Information, meditation, nature, ourselves, poetry, SCIENCE!, The Present, truth, Uncategorized

The Answer is No

certs_wintergreen.jpg_1I set out to suck on a Certs today with real purpose. I wanted to, well, not bite it, for one; but also to “be one” with my Certs. Seriously. I wondered if the Certs experience in my mouth would be enough to hold my focus, allowing me to enter into a deep meditation while the minty freshness sort of emanated out of me in all directions like a bright green wintry lightbulb of lovingkindness. I bit it in like four seconds.

The answer is no.

art, beauty, Uncategorized, weather

I don’t see a lot of films

I’m busy, or whatever, but this might be the coolest film I’ve ever seen. Sita Sings the Blues. It’s beautiful, quite funny and visually stunning. I actually got up during the intermission and got a bourbon and peed and when I got back it was just ending. Monty Python meet Vishnu, with some of the best music I’ve heard in years.

https://www.fandor.com/films/sita_sings_the_blues?utm_source=blog&utm_medium=referral

The Future, The Past, Uncategorized

Steve Griak

Steve Griak was a neighbor dad and a baseball coach. He and his family lived on the other side of the block down at one end. They had a modest house in a really nice neighborhood – so really not all that modest in the real world. Steve had a son, Mike, who was my age and one of my closest friends for much of my childhood. He also had a daughter, Susan, who I believe was my first kiss in a pile of leaves one fall. And he had another son, who arrived when we were twelve and so grew up entirely under my radar. And he had a lovely wife, Mary Jane. A beauty queen, if I’m not mistaken, and the quintessential mom. Her grilled cheese killed.

Me, Mike and Ben Johnson, a closer neighbor, just two doors down but a year younger, were the three amigos. We were all very different, but the proximity mattered, and we grew more alike, then mostly apart as adults. Mike connected me to Steve and Steve connected me to advertising; my first thought being, he gets to wear jeans to work.

Steve was an ad man, when it was cool to be an ad man, but he wasn’t Don Draper. More Bob Newhart/Robert Redford mix than Mannix. He was our baseball coach and a great one. He was patient and tireless and he rarely if ever, seemed even remotely perturbed. He made so many commercials that I remember seeing on TV as a kid and was reminded of those (and this great guy) with this video put together by Charlie Griak:

http://vimeo.com/110028821

 

Aliens, art, As it should be, beauty, common human decency, honesty, ourselves, poetry, revolution, The Future, The Past, the rest of us, truth, Uncategorized

Tell it like it is

My dad’s obit appeared today in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Saint Paul Pioneer Press and the Sioux City Journal and will also appear in the Lake County Chronicle on Thursday. What does that mean? Our little final story will hit three papers near to where he’s most recently lived and soon one where he really recently lived.

I’ve read the obituaries every Sunday for the last 25 years of my life. Since I was 25, I guess. I don’t know what got me into that habit, but the habit I got. It’s become a ritual for me because I find myself wanting to know who’s dying. And more than that, and here’s how most obituaries so fail, why. I was certain to mention what ailed my father before he died because I think it’s terribly important. An obituary without a cause of death is just a greeting card. With a cause of death, it’s a statement of fact.

We, the living, need to see what’s killing the rest of us – no matter how awful or what we think wrongly is embarrassing. It’s the truth that we need to recognize together. There’s no shame. Suicide or aneurysm or cancer or car accident. The truth of the matter is what matters. It’s what will touch us to be aware of what is killing the rest of us. Lewy Body Dementia isn’t pretty, but I’ve now heard from others that have loved ones that suffer similarly. That’s good. Because they find solace in the diagnosis, reason and love. And shared experience.

When I read those that do tell the whole truth, I feel alive. When I read those that don’t, I’m not sure exactly how to feel. Yes, I revel in a life well lived, but beyond that it’s what behind door number one. You guess. But you could never possibly figure it out.

Death by any means is noble – whether it is an old woman dying in her sleep at 95 surrounded by family or a young person suffering from mental illness who commits suicide. It’s entirely equal and important. Obituaries need to spell it out and allow us to respond as human beings. Even a suicide bomber. We should know that, see who they were and who loved them, and we’ll be that much closer to knowing what causes something so hideous, and maybe be there to affect such a decision in the future.

But that is extreme. What about the rest of us and all the diseases and accidents that take us out of this life? The more we know, the more we can understand and be prepared and aware. Cancer, stroke, old age, [insert that which killed your loved one here] – let the people know. Let them know what took this great person’s life so they, the rest of us, can be aware with the ones we love.

We hear statistics, trends, numbers, chances, but they’re just that. Not human beings, but numbers. Give the body a reason. Give the people a chance to understand and maybe respond. All death is noble, if we take the time to understand why. Life is what we’re living, death is not just a concept, it’s more true than you can ever be yet. Tell it like it is. Let that be your favor to the future.

Aliens, common human decency, devil, honesty, Information, meditation, ourselves, poetry, SCIENCE!, The Future, The Past, trouble, truth, Uncategorized

Lewy Body Dementia

There but for the grace of God go I. Lewy Body Dementia. Look it up if you’re looking for yet another chink in the armor of this loving God of grace. Or if you’re more modern, explain to me why evolution would evolve such a thing. It’s a cocktail, not to be enjoyed surely, but jammed down the throats of the unsuspecting; a mix of Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease with a double-shot of hallucinations tossed in for good measure. Shaken. Stirred. Scared. To death.

“Dad, are you all right?”

Eyes of terror, hands shaking, trembling in the middle of the familiar family room.

“No.”

“Can I get you anything?”

“Yeah, a casket.”

It’s one of the sickest parts of the sickness, this in and out of reality, with little of the blissful ignorance that can accompany some forms of dementia. Just confusion, then awareness, then terror, then anger, then anxiety, then awareness, then frustration, then and again and again and again.

The hallucinations started out fascinating, even funny. “Do you see that garden party over on the Johnson’s lawn?”

“No.”

Or

“Do you see the couple standing on the rocks down by the lake?”

“No.”

“Well, then, what about their dog?”

They got less funny over time. Long, complex hallucinations he recounted later. The three women who put him in a car and took him across the country, stopping at gas stations, not letting him out of the back seat. The same three women who would show up unexpectedly in the house. “I don’t know how they get in here.” Then maybe funny: “But damn they work hard around here. Never seen anything like it.”

He’s moving into memory care now and if anyone’s memory needs some care, it’s his. It’s the sickest thing I’ve ever seen, this Lewy Body business. Reduce a once proud, hyper-intelligent, orthopedic surgeon, to a trembling, mumbling “resident” (read “patient”).

There are moments of transcendence, fewer and farther between these days, but, still, and occasionally.

I love my dad. I hate this fucking disease.