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Alone

There were colorful lights and people singing

Santa’s in windows

And popcorn stringing

I spent Christmas alone.

 

News years came and bells were ringing

Promises made and children singing

Skyrockets flashing across the sky

Helping to hide the tears in my eye

I spent New Year’s alone.

 

My birthday rolled in

As it does every year

Some seem to notice

But most didn’t care

I spent my birthday alone.

 

We come in and go out of this world on our own

I’ve had plenty of practice at being alone

But still at night as the north wind moans

It scares me to think

With my eyes final wink

I’ll still be alone.

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Once THere Was A Time

Once there was a time. It was a perfect storm of music, issues, and people all coming together at just the right time in just the right way in just the right places. Once there was a time that I think will never be equaled, and sometimes when I feel old—and those times happen more and more to me every day now—I see something or hear some music from the 1960’s and very early 1970’s, and I remember and  I smile. I smile knowing that yes, once there was a time, and I was there.

A very good friend told me the other day that I was his favorite hippie, and I told him it was likely that I am the only hippie he knows given our age difference and that we old hippie radio DJ’s are a dying breed.

I think many younger people today, and even some in my age group who might have somehow escaped the scars of the sixties, don’t realize that their idea of hippie is not what they might think. All hippies were not pot heads dancing naked at Woodstock or jamming to the Dead at the Fillmore. To me and to a lot of others, it was a belief, a lifestyle, and a commitment that while the world was not perfect, we could and would make it better.

I said “scars of the sixties” because of something I call “movement casualties.” We are the survivors who once believed so strongly in–and forgive me for using these terms—peace and love and making changes for the better, and then we watched as all our hopes crumbled. We watched as John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King fell to hatred stronger than our love. We watched as Brian Epstein, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan­­­­­­­­, ­­Phil Ochs, and many others left us behind. But we kept on believing, and maybe for many the final blow came when John Lennon was killed.

We old hippies learned that all the things we thought we could do were not strong enough to stop bullets of hate or the despair of a drug overdose or a raging social or political lunatic.

My friend replied to my statement about being a dying breed by telling me it was time to pass the torch and joked that he would start growing out what was left of his hair, growing it long. I said the tie dye was optional, but he would need either a peace earring or a pendant.

Just recently I realized that I was indeed tired. Maybe I had continued the struggle longer than most and got tired of trying. I posted this on Facebook last Wednesday: “I quit. I am tired of jokers and fools and arguments. I am tired of trying to convince anyone that certain things are just plain wrong, so I quit. I tried. Now go on and believe what you want, do what you want, and say what you want because it has become obvious that nothing I can say will make a difference in your way of thinking. So I quit. More on this on Sunday.” Well, here it is Sunday.

Maybe I should go put on some Grateful Dead or John Lennon music and remember and be glad that once there was a time. It was a perfect storm of music, issues, and people all coming together at just the right time in just the right way in just the right places. And I was there.

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To Sail or Sink,or Drown Trying

August 4th would have been Jennifer’s birthday if cancer had not wiped away that celebration from my life. I still commemorate her by remembering her unstoppable spirit. Jennifer woke up every day and grabbed the bull rope with one hand, threw the other high above her head, and yelled, “Let’s go do life.” For Jennifer, there was only one way to live and that was to ride it to the bell. Jennifer did not become that way after learning she had cancer. She was born that way.

One September night, windows open, wind calm, total silence, I heard two bells: One, two, swift ring, ring. Only twice did it ring, one, two. Whatever was tugging on the bell-rope knew it would be understood. Two rings, loud and clear. I have ears that have always heard even the tufted feet of my Maine Coon cat as he crossed my carpeted floor, but I had never heard this sound before. But now, two bells clean, clear, and near, just outside my window. Once, twice, gone, silence. Earlier that day, we had learned that my wife’s fourteen-year battle against cancer was entering a zone of last chances. “Chemo is not working. We have nothing else to offer you at this time.” Those words will haunt me for the rest of my life, and they ring as clearly as bells in the middle of the night.

The summer of 2010 was her last generally healthy summer, but she was also in phase one trials at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Phase one trials are done with experimental drugs on people when traditional chemo treatments have failed. She took a drug that less than a dozen people had ever tried; I think the actual number was only six people before her. Jennifer would say lab rats had a better life than she did, but she said that with a big smile and a happy heart, feeling much sadder for the lab rat than herself. She also said that she knew it was unlikely that the drugs would save her life but maybe somewhere down the road and just around the bend they would save someone else’s. In this final summer, Jennifer decided against my better judgment to become part of a small crew aboard an all-wooden, 118-foot, totally wind-blown sailing ship with the appropriate name of Raw Faith. Raw Faith ( pictured above) was well known for not being seaworthy, having been rescued several times by the Coast Guard, and had come dreadfully close to descending to the bottom of the Atlantic at least once. She had been built by a man whose heart was bigger than his shipbuilding and sailing abilities, and her purpose was to take handicapped children on seafaring adventures. While I wasn’t sure how far we would make it, surer we would more likely sink than sail, Jennifer was sure we were going sailing and by god then, sail we would, or sink trying.

 

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The Gambler and Me.

For me, it was a Greyhound Bus Station in St. Petersburg, the one in Florida not Russia around 1974. And as I sat there listing to the bombardment of departure announcements, busses now departing for all places north, south, east, and west, and I thought and many places in between. This old gentleman came over and sat down next to me. We listen together for a few minutes and then he looked over at me and said “I’m not going anywhere myself, I’m just resting.  “

 

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Memories

I’ve had a theory for a long time that as years pass and we look back on our personal history and at the people and events that have come and gone in our lives, we develop something I call compressed remembrance. It’s a feeling that something that occurred many years before happened only yesterday. Time collapses and years become weeks, weeks become days, and days seem like only hours.

On Friday, November 22, 1963, I was in history class, and it seems surreal that I would have been in history class on a date that will be read about for hundreds of years. I have no idea what I was thinking about before the news was delivered to the classroom. I probably had my mind on the upcoming Thanksgiving football game and practice after class. I’m sure I was not listening to Mrs. Loffler drone on about the Magna Carta or the Louisiana Purchase. I don’t remember the names of most of my high school teachers and fewer names of my college professors, but I remember Mrs. Loffler because she was there that day. That was the day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.  I can still hear how her voice changed as she gave some brief explanation and told us that school would be ending early.  I remember feeling very detached from whatever new reality was taking place and annoyed that whatever this event was had suddenly disrupted my well-planned afternoon and weekend.

Quickly now it’s 21 years later, November 23, 1984. I’m no longer living on Staten Island, a naive teenager dreaming of gridiron glory. I’ve resisted a war, lived in the mountains of West Virginia, and been to prison. I’m back in radio and living in Boston. The Boston College Eagles are playing the University of Miami. There are 28 seconds left in the game, and Miami is leading 45 to 40 when some too-small-to-play quarterback guy named Doug Flutie dropped back and let what became known as the “Hail Mary” touchdown pass take flight. It traveled 48 yards, taking what seemed like forever to go that distance and reach its target, Gerard Phelan, and gave the football Eagles a 47-45 victory. I remember it like it was yesterday.

Fast forward. It’s now 2017, and I am watching what will be remembered as the greatest Super Bowl ever played. My granddaughter is about to become the same age I was on November 22, 1962: Sixteen, a magical age full of hopes and dreams but also fear. She was born into a time when the world seems to teeter constantly on the brink of disaster. I’m watching a man named Tom Brady who is leading the New England Patriots to a mind-blowing come-from-behind victory over the Atlanta Falcons. No team in history has ever come from 21 points behind to win a Super Bowl, but in the last quarter New England tied the game and went on to win in the first Super Bowl overtime in history. I saw people laughing and cheering and watched, even if only for a twinkling, the cares and troubles of their everyday lives dissolve away. I was proud of my city of Boston as they danced in the streets, not one-act of violence and no arrests. I have a few more years to keep that memory.

We live in a world where smiles and good times are difficult to come by, and we don’t have many years in a lifetime to make memories. I read somewhere that someday we will only be a memory to someone, and we should do our best to make sure it’s a good one. Trust me, I’m dancing as fast as I can.

 

A Little Piece Of Blue

The sun sets west of me

And if the light is just right

It cast a little piece of blue across the sky

Disappearing beyond the tress like you

Just west of me

You left to go not far

From where I started

Sitting on the White House lawn

Surrounded by unrest

And waiting for arrest

To a Stool in a cheese shop

Seeking rest

Drifting away

Worlds from anything I had ever known

Floating on a vagabond’s ship of memories

Attempting an even keel

And then

You Softly interrupting with

May I have a little piece of blue

I need to tell you before the sun sets

In the west one last time

And while the light is just right

Sometimes I miss those days

Thank you for a little piece of blue.

For What They Bring.

I love old things

For what they bring

Memories of those that touched them

And now are gone.

They loved them long before

My name was known,

Then they touched me

And now are gone.

The pain wounds the heart

But I still love old things

For what they bring.

The Farm

The following is just a small part of a story I started over two years ago called Mountaintop Days. Most of the story is still here on my website but the whole story has never been told. This part popped up on the great wide web and it’s a fond memory, so I am republishing it alone. I hope you like it.

The Farm

Just south of Kane, Pennsylvania, and a little west of Johnsonburg, there was a farm that had existed in some form or other long before the Civil War and had served to hide runaway slaves and those seeking to escape the tyranny of southern plantation owners. It was protected from the east by cliffs and mountains that literally bordered the large creek that ran across the back of the farmland. The front of the farm was cleared so that a small dirt road flanked by large expanses of land led the way to the farmhouse, making it easy to see anyone approaching from the front. To the left of the house stood a barn, open on both ends, and from the back of this barn ran a secret trail that led into 512,998 acres, or 801.6 square miles, of wilderness that was the Allegheny National Forest. It is easy to imagine that anyone could escape forever into that vastness, even a modern-day fugitive, and it would also be easy to imagine that many a runaway slave became a great dinner for a bear or mountain lion, not knowing where they were going or what to be aware of how to survive. I did not intend to become dinner for anyone and especially did not want to test my survival skills. After all, I had only come here to leave West Virginia, my original destination being a warm Virginia Beach, accompanied by a bottle of tequila, a ripe lime, some salt, and a Southern belle whose closest association to a cow was the local hamburger stand. I didn’t drink much, and the Southern belle did not materialize. After all, Emily was still living in my heart. However, after bathing in a running stream or in some hot water heated over a large fireplace, I must say the thought of ocean water and the warmth of my original plan sounded good.

But here I was on a farm probably 300 years old by 1968 that had been a refuge for so many seeking survival, seeking freedom, and seeking peace. It was now welcoming me into the fold of their attempted sanity away from a world rapidly losing its mind.

The farm was now home to an artists’ commune composed of writers, musicians, painters, and all manner of less-than-mainstream-conformist pacifists, a few inhabitants having been there since its inception in the early 1950’s. Legend has it that Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac had actually stayed there, Kerouac just before On the Road was published in 1951. Imagine what a heady experience it was for a young man like me to be there, on the road and out to change the world, with hopes of becoming not the next Jack Kerouac, but more, oh so much more. Jack had shown the way, and I was going to find new roads and bring the world to a new place. Yes, I was!

My days on this farm would be short but colored beautifully and forever by the changing leaves and the mountains ablaze with the kaleidoscope of fall and by a woman named Alice. Alice was an intensely gifted artist who made the mountains come alive on canvas and who had a talking parrot that loved to repeat only the words her ex-husband had taught it just before he left her: “Fuck you, Alice.”

 

Tennesse Whiskey

Written and performed first by David Allen Coe in 1981 and until tonight Coe’s version was the only one I had ever heard. I always thought it should be low down and bluesy which Coe tried but fell a bit short. Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake damn near threw a perfect horseshoe ringer, is it country, is it blues, rock or gospel, who cares its damn good music. https://youtu.be/WSfQw-Qhr14

Just Random Info, That’s Random not Rambo.

I’m always curious about what went on, on a certain day in time that I have been circling the sun.

On this date, in case you might think this has been a boring day then hop on the time machine to March 21st,1976 after a David Bowie concert at the Community War Memorial arena in Rochester, New York, Iggy Pop and David Bowie were involved in a drug bust at their hotel room where the police found 182 grams (a little over 6.4 ounces) of marijuana. The pair spent the rest of the night in the Monroe County Jail and were released at about 7 a.m. on $2,000 bond each. Wow $2,000 dollars bond, crap 6.4 ounces may cost that much now. All of Massachusetts is refusing to exhale until July 1st.

On March 21st the number one song was “Silly Love Songs”, I understand that Paul wrote that in response to John saying all Paul wrote was silly or stupid love songs. If you look at the top 100 songs of 1976 no wonder Bowie and Iggy needed a bag or three. But out of all this dismal sound came brilliance at # 18 on March 21, 1976.  https://youtu.be/fJ9rUzIMcZQ

 

People Like You, Country Music Fans.

A lot of you already know I am a songs lyric person, it could be country, country rock, rock and on an on, I love lyrics so I had to look up Hailey Whitters to see who she is after listening to this song that someone suggested I should hear, so I did and I really like the lyrics, still not sure why someone wanted me to hear it 😉. I don’t listen to a lot of radio anymore, I’ll not go into all the reasons why, but I don’t. However, I probably miss a little and some of you may already be aware of this song and Hailey. There isn’t much I have found in my research so far, but country music fans will find this interesting Whitters released her debut full-length album in 2015 titled Black Sheep. Whitters co-wrote Little Big Town’s song “Happy People”, from their 2017 album The Breaker. Song, “People Like You”

 

 

Woody the Lion and Me, A St. Paddys Day tale

It’s the eve of St. Paddy’s Day 2018, in the most Irish town in America, Boston, and what better day to have an eve (small e) on than a Friday depending on the Eve (capital E) any day could be a fine one. And so, I have decided to tell you a story, an Irish story it’s one of many I have but this one happens to be true, pass the bottle, please. I was sitting in the game room occasionally known as the conference room of a radio station one day as we drank a few beers hit a few shots of Jack Daniels back and smoked a few illegals and no not aliens. We were talking about nationalities. It seems everyone had a bit of Irish on them this day even a guy named Feinberg (I used an alias for him) So finally after a few more beer and shots it was my turn to tell my nationality, pass the bottle, please. I started with the strongest two and that was as far as I got. I was never able to add and a little of this and little of that nationality. There was a guy there with thick long red hair and a bushy red beard, a very Irish lad indeed named O’Rourke (I made that name up for him, I think), pass the bottle, please. O’Rourke looked a lot like the original cowardly lion from The Wizard of Oz. So finally, the bottle and my turn rolled around, time for me to lay claim to my birthrights and I began to proudly announce that I was half, wait, before I get to that did I tell you that Feinberg, not their real name looked a lot like Woody Allen, and I didn’t make that up or  what O’Rourke looked like, don’t reread if you forgotten he looked like the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz.  So, my turn. Yes, my turn to drink, toke and talk, if I still could? And of course I can, I’m a highly rained Ofessional Brewdcaster. And if you have read and followed me this far I’ll bet you’re saying this better be worth it, well it’s not you can stop now.

So here we are, Woody the Lion and Me on the eve of March 17, which is supposedly the day of St. Patrick’s death.  I’ve never been sure why we celebrate that, dying doesn’t sound like party time to me. And now it’s my turn to proclaim my DNA results, I am, I said proudly part Irish and part Cherokee Indian. At this, Woody felt faint as the lion stood up with red hair and red beard and eyes ablaze and said, “My God man you’re an alcoholic looking for a place to happen”. To which I replied, and I found it, pass the bottle, please.

 

Longing

Once upon a time

As the story is told

we happened

Knowing our love

would never grow old

No Soft-spoken whispers

Just cries of longing

Taking each other by storm

For once feeling like belonging

In all our desperate cries

Of yearning

We knew our time

Would not last for long

For like the summers burning

One would soon be gone

We threw off the guides

And let go the tether

Making the most

Of our fleeting

Summers together.

From the Shores of Styx, The Unbroken Circle.

­

A baby cries from

The shores of Styx

A child cries from the darkness

Of a ghetto

A baby cries

And a child cries

A mother cries

As a father dies

A war starts

Jobs end

House is lost

A father dies

The child grows

The child says why

But the man knows

Like those before him knew

And so

The child sighs

The man dies

From the shoes of Styx

From the deepest part of Stygian

A baby cries again

Screaming out of the darkness

Crawling out of the gloom

Refusing to keep the circle

The child from the darkest recesses of Stygian

Screams I will fight

For light and though I may lose

And die alone in the dark

I will have created a glimmer

Of hope

As the man cries

The woman dies

And once again

A child rises from darkness of Stygian

Screaming I will create light

And the circle remains

Unbroken.

**In Greek mythology, Styx is a deity and a river that forms the boundary between earth and the underworld(the domain often called Hades, which also is the name of its ruler). The rivers Styx, Phlegethon, Acheron, Lethe, and Cocytus all converge at the center of the underworld on a great marsh, which sometimes is also called the Styx. According to Herodotus, the river Styx originates near Feneos.Styx is also a goddess with prehistoric roots in Greek mythology as a daughter of Tethys, after whom the river is named and because of whom it had miraculous powers.

 

The Rust Belt Rattled

This was first written and published one year ago today.

Well, the Make America Gasp Again campaign is over. It ended in a night of shock and awe-my-God as Donald Trump walked all over the prognosticator’s predictions as they watched their nice little map of blue states and red states fall to pieces like the jigsaw puzzle maps I constantly got for my birthday when I was a kid. It seemed I heard the same mantra on every channel I went to: What are we seeing? How could this be happening?

What was happening was the mad-as-hell scene from the 1976 movie Network. People might not have been screaming out their windows at the top of their lungs, but your average Joe or Mary were rattling the rust off the belt in the upper northeastern United States, the Great Lakes, and the Midwest, areas suffering economic decline, population loss, and urban decay due to the shrinking of its once-powerful industrial sector. Joe and Mary didn’t get to move on up to the east side, and if they got any pie at all, it was old and stale. Now they are just mad as hell at what they see as false promises and business as usual in Washington and are ready to have their voice heard and make a change. Apparently, the loudest they could scream was by voting for the biggest change they could, a racist, sexist person who makes fun of disabled people and calls for offensive bombing attacks on sovereign nations because someone gave the middle finger. This is a very short list of the insane thoughts of the man some now call president, but maybe when you have been kicked long enough and you feel powerless and someone with high visibility comes along shouting many of the things you feel, even if you don’t agree with all of them, you’ll let them get away with groping women and make fun of the disabled just as long as they seem to be telling the establishment to take an effing walk off a short pier.

I was driving a young friend home from work the other day, and we were talking about the election and the surprise we both had at how completely Trump marched to victory. I got on my soapbox about the 1960’s and protest and “The People” working for change. My friend, while young in years, is wise, and she said, “I am afraid that kind of passion is gone.”

Did you hear? The immigration website in Canada crashed with people wanting to leave America (or at least wanting to know how). To me, leaving is the wrong move. Stay in this country and organize, write, talk, march, protest. Do everything you can to make Donald Trump miserable and bring his regime to a quick end. Remember, it is still a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and this is our country. He may be in the White House, but he can be impeached. Watch him closely and draw attention to his every false move. In my mind, he’s only one discovered crime behind Richard Nixon. If there are enough people to crash Canada’s immigration website, there are enough people to bring his Big Top Circus in D.C. crashing down on the clown’s head.

I would like to say this is my last political blog and write about cute cats and puppies and clever kids that do tricks, at least for a while. I would like to say that and so I did, but I may also have lied.