“Play some Styx, Chris!” a voice yelled from the darkness. Odd choice I thought to myself, most people yell out something along the lines of Free bird. By the way, don’t do that! There are a few songs musicians grow weary of performing. And free bird, although a great song, is one of them! “Renegade, Blue collar man!” Okay, now he was getting specific. I chuckled and began singing “it’s you babe whenever I get weary and I’ve had enough.” The crowd laughed and we finished our set without a glitch.
But as I was sitting on the tailgate of my truck drinking a warm glass of water between sets - That’s right, I said warm glass of water! It’s good for the vocal chords! Well, more room temperature than anything, but you get the picture! - a face I hadn’t seen in years approached from the shadows.
“Well, Chris.” He said. “I guess you did it after all didn’t ya!”
“Oh my God!” Kenny Johnson? Is that you? “
“Did what?” I asked.
“Got you a band and played some rock and roll”
“Yeah, Kenny! I guess I did.”
Kenny and I were best buds in grade school. And while all the other kids played Star Wars, we were busy putting together our pretend rock band. Kenny was more of a Kiss fan while I loved Styx, so the possibility of pretend artistic differences was very real indeed. In fact, our band pretended to disband on more than one occasion. You know how pretend musicians can be!! In many ways I never grew up. Oh, I got married, had children and went to work just like everyone else, but I never stopped pretending to be a musician. Hell, I even turned it into a pretty good avocation. People actually pay me to get up on stage and play music. Not much mind you! But they still do it!
However, I haven’t played a gig in awhile, and I told myself I would quit at the age of fifty. But that’s still a couple of years away, and I despise deadlines. So, I think I’ll just keep on keeping on until I just can’t physically do it anymore. Anything less would be an insult to my childhood pretend band!!!
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
The room felt cold and impersonal, and no matter how hard he tried, the sadness was inescapable. It was as if the building itself was weeping, not the kind of place she expected to find her husband.
“Why so many lab coats? God, what I wouldn’t give to speak with someone without a lab coat! I can’t believe you dragged me here, Jim! You know damn good and well I hate tattoos! And this place? Well, it isn’t exactly my cup of tea, now is it?”
Karen met Jim during her sophomore year of college and, though her overtly religious parents didn’t approve of his rock-and-roll nature, their love was undeniable.
But this was too much! He was an accountant for God’s sake! What person in their right mind would allow a tattooed, middle-aged, make believe biker do their taxes? But Jim was persuasive as usual and assured her it would be a unique and tasteful design.
“Nothing out of the ordinary, Honey! I promise.” he said. So, against her better judgment, she gave in. And now here she was in this whitewashed facade, looking at his dreadful tattoo, and praying it would end.
“Well, I’ll give you this, Jim! It’s a unique design; that much is true. But to be honest, When I look at you, all I feel is sorrow.”
She wanted desperately to be alone with her husband. But the lab coats, as she came to call them, were incessant.
“Mrs. Johnston! Do you know where you are? Karen, please! I know it’s difficult, but you must concentrate.
“Please! she said. Just give me a few more minutes! I’m not hurting anyone! Can’t you see I’m trying to have a private conversation! For God’s sake, Jim! Are you just going to sit there and let this fool talk to me like that? Say something! Why won’t you speak to me!”
“Karen that’s enough! Listen to me! My name is Doctor Nelson, You’re in the psychiatric ward of Saint Christopher’s memorial hospital. Your husband, Jim, passed away ten years ago in an automobile accident!
Karen’s eyes filled with tears as she realized what was happening. And with all the dignity she could muster, she wiped her eyes, straightened her hair and apologized for her irrational behavior.
“It’s quite alright, Karen. This isn’t my first rodeo. Is that your husband in the picture?”
“Yes.” Said Karen. “See that dreadful tattoo? I begged him not to get it. I kept telling him it was a bad omen, but he wouldn’t listen.
“I see it, but I can’t make out what it says.”
“Death will not own me.” She said.
“Mrs. Johnston, Please, take your meds. They will help with the hallucinations.”
Friday, September 8, 2017
In a culture dominated by unfettered consumerism, is it any wonder our elected leaders are disingenuous? I use the word disingenuous because it sounds really cool, and I’m a word junkie, but the fact of the matter is they're in the pockets of lobbyist and special interest groups! Our society idolizes power and wealth; and why not? We’ve been fed a steady diet of ego driven, money hungry marketing for so long that we feel happiness can only be obtained through purchasing power. If we wear the right clothes, drive the right car, and align ourselves with the right people then maybe, just maybe, we will find true contentment. I hate to be the bearer of bad news people, but it’s all bullshit! Everything from the news we watch to the music we listen to is designed to keep us in the dark. And when I say music, I’m not speaking of real music made by authentic musicians. No, I’m speaking of the top forty, pop rock, modern country crap the corporate owned radio stations vomit out on a daily basis. Are they intentionally trying to dumb us down, or is it easier and more profitable to pander to the lowest common denominator in all of us? I don’t know, but it’s probably a little of both.
Listen to me, please! You cannot find happiness buying more shit!!! I know because I’ve tried and all I have to show for it is debt!! Be yourself, find your calling, and do it!! Don’t worry about whether or not it’s marketable. Who cares! The whole world is driven by money! And money? Well, it isn’t the litmus test for happiness. Truth, honesty, and beauty are priceless! So, speak your truth, sing your song and build your cathedral to the sky. Will the world take notice? Maybe, maybe not! But those that need to hear it will, and that’s what it is all about!
Sunday, August 27, 2017
Life’s not easy, and if you lived any amount of time on this earth, you should now that by know. But I think sometimes we get lulled into a false sense of security; I know I do. The cold hard truth is nothing in this life is guaranteed, it all can - and will at some point - disappear. It’s the state of our humanity. But we often times refuse to acknowledge our own mortality, much less the precarious nature of our minuscule time here on earth. Why is that? Why do we go thru our lives as if nothing will change? Why do we put our faith and our self worth in temporary things? Our jobs, money, prestige and possessions are nothing more than dust, but we refuse to acknowledge this. Why? I’m not asking these questions for dramatic effect, I really want to know. It seems obvious to me that our lot in life - at least on this plain - is temporary, and we should put our faith in something eternal…..but not religion or dogma! Those things - although we too often don’t admit it - are shallow and temporary as well. Beside, I don‘t think God is religious anyway. But the question still remains. Why?