No Drinking and No Politics, Almost

A few years ago, I quit drinking on Cinco de Mayo. Yes, really, I did. Cinco de Mayo is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza. It has roots in the French occupation of Mexico, which took place in the aftermath of the Mexican–American War of 1846–1848 and the 1858–1861 Reform War. The Reform War was a civil war that pitted Liberals, who believed in separation of church and state and freedom of religion, against the Conservatives, who favored a tight bond between the Roman Catholic Church and the Mexican State.  I know you’re thinking some of this sounds like it’s happening in the world today.

These wars left the Mexican Treasury nearly bankrupt. On July 17, 1861, Mexican President Benito Juárez issued a moratorium in which all foreign debt payments would be suspended for two years. In response, France, Britain, and Spain, not being benevolent sorts, sent naval forces to Veracruz to demand reimbursement. Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew, but France, at the time ruled by Napoleon III, decided to use the opportunity to establish a Latin empire in Mexico that would favor French interests. The French outnumbered the Mexicans by over 4000 troops and were better armed, but the feisty Mexicans won the battle, and I would say that is a good reason for the Mexicans to celebrate. One suggestion I’d like to make here is that Mexico help King Rump build his damn wall to keep him and his manic minions out of their country.

In America, Cinco de Mayo is largely set aside as a day to drink heavily and in my case, remember a lot of W.C. Fields quotes that I can’t submit to paper here for fear of sending my editor to the nearest bar.

I did not stop drinking because I’m British or Spanish and not because I’m French and mourned our humiliating loss at the hands of a few ragtag Mexicans. I quit because I got tired of being Sicko de Mayo the next day. Now don’t get me wrong. I have not become a teetotaler and will on occasion have a glass of wine or Scotch to avoid the water (stop me before I slip into my best W.C. Fields voice).

There is a point and a deeper meaning to all this, and that is that I am now attempting to quit or at least control another bad habit that often leaves me waking up the next day feeling sick and/or wanting to drink heavily: writing constantly about politics, especially on Facebook. Just before I put this virtual pen to virtual paper, I read that King Rump signed an executive order to advance the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Oil pipelines.

In his song, “Spanish Pipe Dream,” John Prine advises blowing up your TV, tearing your newspaper to shreds, and running away to a farm with a stripper. I didn’t blow up my TV, but I did turn it off, and I did tear up my newspaper. I’ll leave the last of Mr. Prine’s suggestions to your imagination.

Due to technical frustrations AKA problems there is no podcast for now.  But there may be later on in the week so please stay tuned.

 

King Lard, the Press, and the Arts

 

The trivia question for this week is, What famous musician wrote a song about pop artist Andy Warhol?

King Lard announced on Thursday, January 19, that he will pick the media people allowed in the press room at the White House and confirmed where the press room would be. His High Ass said, “The press went crazy, so I said, ‘Let’s not move it.’ But some people in the press will not be able to get in. We have so many people that want to go in, so we’ll just have to pick the people to go into the room. I’m sure other people will be thrilled about that.” Translation: if he doesn’t like what you say, you will not be allowed into the White House press room.

There is only one hope to this restriction of access and resulting banning of information and that is that the press people allowed in will not be less than honest in their news reporting. The profession of a journalist should be a noble and trusted one, requiring straightforward, nonbiased reporting of whatever events they are covering. They are not fiction writers, as Trump portrays them to be. My hope is that this will not in any way be altered by his lordship’s bullying, say-what-I-tell-you-to-say regime. I also feel that it is the responsibility of people like me, the little guy with some voice and an audience no matter how small, to continue to make all the noise we can, even though there might be times when friends and certainly enemies try to bully, belittle, and intimidate us. I have already encountered some of this on Facebook and can only assume they must be happy in their serfdom.

Of course, we all know that Trump doesn’t like the freedom of the arts. Artists have too much to say that he finds disagreeable, for example, his demanding an apology from the cast of Hamilton when they courteously attempted to engage Pence in dialog and then his tirade against Meryl Streep because of her comments at the Golden Globe Awards.  Has there even been a thinner-skinned president?

On January 19, the website The Hill, citing unnamed sources from inside President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, reported that among other cuts, Trump plans to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Washington Post’s Philip Bump noted that removing these programs would make a remarkably small dent in federal spending as each received $148 million — 0.003 percent of the federal budget — in 2016.  It’s obvious that Trump is not a man of arts (he probably thinks Dick and Jane is a porn novel, and I bet his favorite classic movie is Debbie Does Dallas.)

In the podcast, there will be more thoughts on current events, the answer to the trivia question, and as always some rock and roll. I hope you’ll join me on the shores of Rambling Harbor.

Footnote

Somehow in the podcast I and my fever glazed over the Boston protest which was first on my list and a good friend attended, she tells me it was the best large crowd she had seen in a long time and no arrest.

King Lard, the Press, and the Arts

The trivia question for this week is, What famous musician wrote a song about pop artist Andy Warhol?

King Lard announced on Thursday, January 19, that he will pick the media people allowed in the press room at the White House and confirmed where the press room would be. His High Ass said, “The press went crazy, so I said, ‘Let’s not move it.’ But some people in the press will not be able to get in. We have so many people that want to go in, so we’ll just have to pick the people to go into the room. I’m sure other people will be thrilled about that.” Translation: if he doesn’t like what you say, you will not be allowed into the White House press room.

There is only one hope to this restriction of access and resulting banning of information and that is that the press people allowed in will not be less than honest in their news reporting. The profession of a journalist should be a noble and trusted one, requiring straightforward, nonbiased reporting of whatever events they are covering. They are not fiction writers, as Trump portrays them to be. My hope is that this will not in any way be altered by his lordship’s bullying, say-what-I-tell-you-to-say regime. I also feel that it is the responsibility of people like me, the little guy with some voice and an audience no matter how small, to continue to make all the noise we can, even though there might be times when friends and certainly enemies try to bully, belittle, and intimidate us. I have already encountered some of this on Facebook and can only assume they must be happy in their serfdom.

Of course, we all know that Trump doesn’t like the freedom of the arts. Artists have too much to say that he finds disagreeable, for example, his demanding an apology from the cast of Hamilton when they courteously attempted to engage Pence in dialog and then his tirade against Meryl Streep because of her comments at the Golden Globe Awards.  Has there even been a thinner-skinned president?

On January 19, the website The Hill, citing unnamed sources from inside President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, reported that among other cuts, Trump plans to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Washington Post’s Philip Bump noted that removing these programs would make a remarkably small dent in federal spending as each received $148 million — 0.003 percent of the federal budget — in 2016.  It’s obvious that Trump is not a man of arts (he probably thinks Dick and Jane is a porn novel, and I bet his favorite classic movie is Debbie Does Dallas.)

In the podcast, there will be more thoughts on current events, the answer to the trivia question, and as always some rock and roll. I hope you’ll join me on the shores of Rambling Harbor.

Footnote

Somehow in the podcast I and my fever glazed over the Boston protest which was first on my list and a good friend attended, she tells me it was the best large crowd she had seen in a long time and no arrest.

Hurt and Hope

The trivia question for this week is, What famous country/folk/rocker wrote a song about revolution considered one of the top protest songs of the 2000s?

Hi, it’s me, the bleeding heart, the angry young man growing old but no less angry, watching dreams disappear along with friends and lovers. It’s me, remembering places and people that seem as fresh in my mind as if they were standing before me today. Some left me only recently, some so many years ago that I have to squint through the fog of time to call them back. I have scars left by lovers and friends but maybe none cut as deep as the scars left by lost hope.

I think I know why we are given only a certain amount of years to walk the earth. It’s because the pain of living would drive us insane if we had to endure more than one short lifetime here. Someone asked me recently when the pain of personal loss, the death of a loved one, would get better, and I answered this way. I said sometimes you will drift on relatively calm waters, your emotions rising and falling with some predictable current, and then whoosh, a tidal wave of pain takes your body and slams it against a seabed of hurt. It knocks the breath out of you and tumbles you around until you don’t know which way to go or how to escape, and you’re sure you’re going to die. In fact, you almost welcome that possibility. But then slowly a small light breaks through the swirling tides and gradually the air returns to your body, and you learn how to float again.

Some people set themselves up for a different kind of hurt, and I am one of them. We are the ones who never learned to color inside the lines, never learned or even tried to fit inside the pigeonhole or the cubicle, and never learned the art of keeping our mouths shut when we see injustice, hunger, war, prejudice, bigotry, and hate in all its ugly forms. We were the radicals and the prisoners of the 1960’s. We marched in Selma and sang at Woodstock. And please don’t call us liberals. I surpassed that label many years ago. In fact, I think I was born a radical headed straight for outrage.

We are the young and old who recently felt a movement taking place. We believed that one man had an idea that would ignite a flame of change. But the worst president this country will ever know (at least I hope there will be no one worse), and also the worst human being I have ever watched strut around a stage (if I dare use the term human being) was elected. Since then, as many of you know, I have tried to crawl into my virtual cave and create a monastery out of my small place by the sea. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked because there is a little voice of conscience inside my head that keeps screaming “You can’t let this morally bankrupt clown win and you have to keep fighting with every ounce of strength you can muster, even if it’s only with words on Facebook, in blogs, and face to face with those you meet.”

The idea of community has been suggested, and it is an idea I not only agree with but am very familiar with. It can work not only in the form of organizing but by providing the support we all need to survive the hurt of caring too much, and it will help keep us from losing hope again.

In the podcast, there will be more on the revolution, the answer to the trivia question, and as always some rock and roll news and history. I hope you will join me on the shores of Rambling Harbor.

A Different Animal

 

The trivia question for this week is, What furry critter, one we might see every day, is known to adopt orphan babies of their own kind?

One of the great joys of my life, especially as I look back on it a half-century later, is living in the aptly named Mountain State of West Virginia in a very isolated area of that magnificent place.  I can still see the old bear scratching against the fence and my friend the West Virginia bobcat, knighted as Brook Cat, the Mystical Man of the Mountain. At night when the coyotes yip outside my window now, I remember the howl of the mountain wolves as they called to each other across the hills. I developed a deep understanding and a feeling of oneness with these animals and have no respect for game hunters and the needless slaughter and cruelty to those who share this planet with us and are helpless before us.

Did you know that a wolf pack, as it moves across the land, will have the oldest and sickest in the front to set the pace for the strongest ones in the pack? That is because if the oldest were in the back of the group they could get left behind or caught in an ambush. The strongest wolves are at the back of the pack and move according to the pace set by the elders. They are there for protection.

In the ocean, Dolphins exhibit strong social bonds and are a species that not only show caring toward their own but toward others as well. They have saved humans from shark attacks and drowning and have also helped seals and whales.  Did you know sea otters–a mother and a pup–will hold on to each other while sleeping to keep from drifting away from each other? They also make use of kelp! They wrap themselves in long strands of kelp, which grow from the sea floor all the way up to the surface of the water, and use the kelp as an anchor so they can sleep without worry of floating out to the open ocean.

Elephants! I’m sure we have all read stories about elephants mourning a death of a herd member, but perhaps the most famous story, which also shows their deep caring for people, is about the elephants that walked for 12 hours to the home of Lawrence Anthony, the conservationist who saved their lives. They walked slowly, many with heads bowed, until they reached Mr. Anthony’s home, and stayed for two days mourning his death.

Then there is the animal that has been known to leave companions to die and often think only of themselves. They wage war on each other for profit and power. As a whole, they are a self-centered, narcissistic group that is so afraid of its own peril they build walls to keep away anyone who is not just like them.  Today they are attempting to cut survivor benefits for the elderly and unlike the wolf, effectively leave their own behind. They put them in “homes” where they are often mistreated and forgotten even by family members. The list of atrocities of this group of animals, called humans, is so egregious it will someday clog the history books and disgust those who read about it, if indeed there is anyone left to read. Those in the future who might read may be as revolted as we should be today, before it’s too late. Yes, I want to be an animal with fur, four legs, and paws because the species of animal I was born into totally sickens me.

Fortunately, there is hope. I have friends who feel the same as I do. But feeling it is not enough. We need to walk behind the weakest to hold them up, wrap ourselves in the kelp of unselfish kindness, and walk the extra mile for a friend who may have saved our lives without even knowing it. We need to take down the walls we all build and say come on in. When we do that, I will start to feel a part of a pack worth following, and if I can’t have fur and four legs and paws, at least I can be proud to be a human.

In the podcast there will be some random thoughts, some rock and roll, and the answer to the trivia question. I hope you’ll join me on the shores of Rambling Harbor.

2016: Good-Bye and Good Riddance

 

The trivia question is, Why do we celebrate New Year’s on January 1st each year?

So here we are racing hell-bent for leather into another year. No matter which side of the political fence you are on, for most of us it was a nerve-racking election process. Over a month later it still has me babbling to myself and likely will for a long time to come. The scary thing is the campaign and election process was probably only taking our emotional inclinations up the roller coaster that will slowly reach the summit and teeter very quietly until it plunges us ass over teacups, screaming, to the bottom of some great unknown political and social abyss.

I took the last two weeks off from publishing new blogs. First I ran a story from a couple of years ago that many said they liked, and more said so this year, called “A Radio Christmas to Remember,” and then last week I reprised “Once There Was a Time.” Both are on this website, and both are true and wonderful memories for me, some of the many I can look back on in my life, both good and bad, that remind me life is worth living.

To put it in the most polite terms I can think of, the year 2016 really sucked when you weigh the really happy vs the not so happy/really bad. The list of well-known people who died in 2016 is staggering: Glenn Frey, David Bowie, Prince, Alan Thicke, Carrie Fisher, George Michael, Harper Lee, Alan Rickman, Nancy Reagan, Muhammad Ali, Sir George Martin, Leonard Cohen, and the list goes on and on. As always, I have a soundtrack playing in my head, and right now I’m listening to Jim Carroll’s “People Who Died.” I lost two very dear friends, Father Daniel Berrigan, the radical priest, and Larry Miller, radio personality. I also lost my sister, and my brother is now perched on the edge of the final answer.

John Lennon sang of UFOs over New York in his song “Nobody Told Me.” What would you think if I wrote a song, some of the lyrics which follow?  Maybe you would think I found some dynamite shrooms until you realized every word is true (and no, Dylan, you can’t have it. I’ve given you enough lyrics over the years).

There’s an orange man in the white house

And a black man on the street,

The Russians have my phone number

So please be discreet,

My neighbors can’t be trusted

And death lives in the wheat…

But as I said, even though this last year has been a great big double whammy, no fun at all, I can still look back on memories and people and places and be glad about them. They make me want to carry on. I hope no matter how difficult your year was you will find those things that say yeah, it was still worth it and I’m glad I’m here now, but good-bye and good riddance 2016.

In the podcast is the answer to the trivia question and some news and thoughts and rock and roll. I hope you’ll join me on the shores of Rambling Harbor.

Once There Was a Time

­­­Last week I shared one of my favorite radio memories in “A Radio Christmas to Remember.” This week I’m returning to another time and place. Just like everyone else, this time of year is my time for remembering, regretting, and rejoicing. Beginning in January 2017, I’ll start writing new blogs and do what I like to do, which is to tell a good story. Until then, I hope you’ll like these blogs from months gone by of memories that seem like lifetimes ago.

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.