Soundtrack, “Old and Wise” by the Alan Parsons Project.



I hate unsolicited advice. Most men know that it is not wise to give another man unsolicited advice. The most important thing to a man is respect and his pride. These things are earned and not idly parceled out like cans of beer—–although oftentimes such libations are swilled to make up for the lack of such noble qualities. On a rare occasion a man may give a fellow golfer advice about how to grip a club, how to adjust their swing or stance, but guys like that seldom get asked back for a future game. Guys have gotta figure shit out for themselves, it’s just he way it is.

Men like to give women advice. It makes them feel superior. It inflates their anemic ego’s. Most women will politely listen even though they know that men spend eighty percent of their time thinking about how to get pussy and what to eat next. The remaining twenty percent of their time is spent picking their nose at red lights or making fart jokes. Under the three piece suits, the impressive job titles and fancy cars, men are basic creatures bumbling their way through life. Women don’t give advice, they make sly suggestions. “Honey, maybe it would be better to use dental floss rather than a pocket knife to clean your teeth.” “Please don’t use gas to light the barbecue dear. Let me fry the burgers on the stove.” KABOOM!!!

But, in spite of my prior warnings regarding unsolicited advice, I have decided to dispense some brotherly advice. So please, “Forgive Me”.

Our time here is so short—–it doesn’t pay to deny ourselves and others forgiveness. Anger only cuts off circulation to the heart and puts a strangle hold on our ability to convey empathy. Forgive, because in the big scheme of things your petty grudges will emotionally bankrupt you. It’s like paying interest on a debt but never reaching the principle—-ya see, you can’t loan love or forgiveness, their value is only realized when given for free.

I wonder if we wear clothes out of shame, or is it a means to hide our insecurities. It’s tough to take another person seriously when they’re parading around bare ass naked. Nakedness is God’s way of showing us that in spite of Madison Avenue fashions and photoshopped vanities—–we’re all allot more alike than we are different.  Under skin and bone our fragil humanness flickers…..

Forgive——-because like a fart, the longer you hold it in, the more pressure it builds, hurting only you, and in time growing louder and smellier—- Forgive because sometimes you have to pull the bandaid off along with the scab in order for the wound to heal, Forgive because there is a child with a bald head dying in a hospital rather than playing on a jungle gym. Forgive because nothing seems that bad until it happens to you. Forgive because there but for fortune go you or I. Forgive because there is already enough darkness in this world—-enough sadness to superglue the softest of hearts eternally shut. Forgive because the shits already out of the pony. Forgive because with age the nights grow longer and peace more elusive. Forgive because winter need not be your favorite season. Forgive in spite of God and his promised heaven. Forgive because the shortest distance between point A and point B is love. Forgive because there’s a supernova a thousand times bigger than our puny sun imploding in on itself. Let go, let go, let go—–because as the old Zen proverb tells us “Let go or be dragged”.

Forgive, because one day you’ll realize that all the stuff you once thought so important were just things made up in your head. This clarity only comes after a major life event like getting fired, losing someone you love, going through a divorce, having a major health scare, facing your mortality or watching reruns of “Friends” (they all look so young). You’ll flop around like a trout out of water, realizing you’ve mistaken the barbed hook for the golden ring.

It all seems so absurd——all the girls you tried to impress with false bravado, the fake laughs given for free to please your dim witted boss, the loud arguments availing only hurt feelings——its all comes back to you like a strange dream, like staring up at the shimmering surface of the water while holding your breath at the bottom of the sea. Down there, there’s only shipwrecks, rusty anchors, the eight armed Kraken and the tiny fart bubbles you release as pieces of your forgiveness. Farting is God’s way of telling you to not take yourself to seriously.

We stubbornly withhold our forgiveness, we’d rather offer up snide remarks and sarcastic smiles. We expect others to rain apologies down upon us, but the sad truth is, some people don’t know how to be sorry. They only learn forgiveness by being forgiven—-and the bible along with all the other holy books speak of this irony. The currency of unspoken forgivenesses pays out in wasted time, it lengthens the bridge we’ve all come here to cross.

Get over your self——–Forgive

Trump-ing The Truth


As the old adage states, “Be careful what you wish for, because you just may just get it”. And in a word the republican party has what they’ve been wishing for “Trump”. He has picked up a mirror and placed it up to the face of the RNC. And, if the eyes are the mirror of the soul, then his beady little eyes reflect a narcasitic abyss.

Sitting at the head of the RNC table is Trump. And, those not offered a seat at this table include, Women, Immigrants, Mexicans, The Disabled, Muslims, LGBT, Veterans, Unions, Planned Parenthood and pretty much anyone who doesn’t hold the values of old white males still living in the “bad old days”. His tools of the trade include hate, fear and divisionism. As any totalitarian leader knows, employing these measures is the easiest way to inflame and manipulate the masses. It’s an “us against them” mentality. It thrives on a shallow myopic view of the world. It’s a philosophy that seeks to pit us against one another rather than unite us. It encourages walls rather than bridges. It feeds on intolerance and inflexibility. It allows no room for compromise and if you look at the disfunction and polarization of our legislators, then you will understand what I’m talking about.

A strange paradox has arisen in regards to those who say they will vote for Trump but don’t support his ideals. That’s like saying “I don’t support mass killings where AR-15 weapons are used, but I won’t vote to outlaw the sale of these weapons”. This is CRAZY THINKING.

Thinking before you speak is a sign of maturity and wisdom. Trump brags about not needing a TelePrompTer and prefers to blurt out whatever he is thinking or feeling at that particualr moment.  His unscripted speeches and tweets reveal someone who is insecure, manipulative and belligerent. Separately his rants may appear inconsequential and entertaining, but collectively they add up to someone who is flipant about their biases and prejudices. The sum of his rants are as great as his ego……And as he would put it “That’s HUUUGGGE”!

He dismisses the need for“politically correctness”. He seems to think that opposing “politically correctness” allows him to say anything he wants regardless of how mean, rude and immature it may be. He calls women pigs and objectfies females based on their body image. In his words “A woman who is very flat-chested is very hard to be a 10.”   He has made disparaging remarks during a debate concerning presidential candidate Carly Fiorina.  When describing her appearance he stated “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that?” He posted a picture of a challengers wife (Ms.Ted Cruz) intended to demean and disrespect her. His immature actions include callously mocking a disabled news reporter by sarcastically mimicking him in a cruel and unflattering manner (that type or behavior isn’t tolerated on a school yard).

Does dismissing political correctness allow Donald the right to revoke a news agencies press pass because they challenge his stance on specific issues? (that sounds more like a fascist  way of silencing ones critics).  He has called into question a federal judges integrity because of his Mexican heritage (Speaker of the House Paul Ryan stated “That’s textbook racism”). He discriminates against the entire Mexican race by insinuating that they are rapists, drug dealers and criminals.  His simplistic answer for stoping immigrants from entering the United States is to “Build a wall and make Mexico pay for it”.  With a similiar cavalier swagger he speaks about creating an enforcement agency to round up and deport millions of Mexicans.

His prejudice knows no limits. He spews hate and casts suspicion against all who are followers of one of the worlds oldest and largest religions.  His agenda demands that all Muslims be denied entrance into the United States.  What’s next?  Do we demand DNA samples from all who want to enter the United States?  Do we imprison and banish those that don’t meet Donald’s definition of Aryan?

He denies science by failing to accept that climate change is a major threat to our planets future.  This is sure to please the oil and coal industries. His allegiance to the NRA will make it virtually impossible to outlaw automatic weapons. And he’s the one who’s claimed that he would not be influenced by special interest groups—Yeah, right!

His mean spirited attacks go completely against what America stands for. In reality his racist strategies are no different than what ISIS propaganda attempts to do, which is to demonize anyone who doesn’t conform to their religious and political ideals. Inclusiveness unites us and makes us stronger, exclusiveness only breeds contempt and violence against those who hold differing religious, political and philosophical views.

Donald believes that if you say something long enough and loud enough it will “Trump” the truth (no pun intended). The news outlets that continue to allow him a free forum for spewing his divisive tirades are only playing into his propaganda machine. He is of the rich, for the rich and by the rich. He preys upon our insecurities and fears.  “They” hate Americans.  “They’re” taking our jobs.” “They” aren’t like us.  “I will make America great again.”

America doesn’t need to be made great again.  America has been great sense its inception. What makes America great is the Bill Of Rights and our Constitution.  Trump overrides the promises of freedom and liberty that is promised in these documents when he redefines who  is eligible for these protections.

He is a master at manipulating the system for his own personal gain. His tax returns will reveal a man who is more interested in amassing a financial empire rather than paying his fair share in taxes. His Trump University and business dealings reveal a man devoid of integrity. His flawed character is displayed in his inflammatory tweets and hate laden rants. He has incited his followers to be violent towards those who protest at his rallies. He once stated “I want to punch him in the face.” Is that presidential or diplomatic? Is that the kind of behavior we expect from the leader of the free world? Once again, THAT’S CRAZY TALK!

Language is sacred. It’s the tool of poets, politicians, teachers and preachers. What we say and how we say it defines us. Listen closely to what Donald says, his choice of words and his voice inflection. Don’t defuse the things he has said by giving him a free pass or writing it off by saying “He didn’t really mean it, he was just being funny”. Such comments may seem funny and “entertaining” until you are on the receiving end of such hate and disrespect.

Those that support Trump may believe that after all is said and done they will be able to wash off his fifthly rhetoric with a sponge bath. I don’t think so. You can’t wash off a tattoo nor can you redeem your integrity by claiming ignorance or naïvety.  Those in the Republican Party that fail to denounce Trump and his ideology are complicit by their silence.  By choosing not to say or do anything is making a choice.

Politics is seldom taken personally until it hits home. It’s easy to say “That’s not my problem, it doesn’t affect me”. But in fact, when the validity and freedom of one person is jeopardized, it weakens freedom for all of us. It starts when we allow politicians and ideologies to single out and dehumanize those that are cast as“different”. This group becomes a scapegoat for all the current political and economic ills. Then comes the laws and justifications to marginalize that targeted group.

We must be our brother and sisters keeper and stand up for them when their rights and freedoms are called into question. This reminds me of a piece written by Pastor Martin Niemöller regarding the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis’ rise to power.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Don’t allow Trump and his divisive rhetoric go unchecked. Now is the time to put him and his manipulative and mean spirited tactics to shame. In solidarity there is strength—with compassion comes understanding and in the long run a whispered truth has more power than a screamed lie.


Feeding The Lion


For Haley and Taylor.

Soundtrack “It’s For You” by Pat Matheny

So ya wanna be a writer. Writing takes enormous courage, at least for those who dare to stand in the center-ring and call themselves the master of ceremonies. When I say master of ceremonies, I mean standing in the center-ring with a chair in one hand and a whip in the other—–cracking that whip as you attempt to tame language, coaxing those unruly words to jump through rings of fire. It’s being honest and pure——it’s as insufferable as siphoning ink from an anemic soul. To go to such places you must first face down who you are or who you thought you were–you must be prepared to shine a light on your blind spots and shake hands with your darkest shadows. What’s in there? What’s way deep down inside me, that thing I’ve carried with me from the womb, that shameless thing that’s a part of me like a birth mark in the shape of original sin. If you can go that far down then you’ve earned the privilege to call yourself the zoo keeper of words. You have fed the lion, but you have not tamed him. Beauty, danger and fear are the bars that cage our confessions. A long lost friend once told me “Where the beauty of the soul is, there’s always danger.”

The next step is to put your head in that lions mouth. Choose honesty over insecurity. Allow space for venerability, don’t be anonymous——be outrageous, be original not a trend chaser, be forthright rather than pious and vain——take no-ones word other than your own, search everywhere for yourself and then let it all go, unleash your restrained emotions and when all the stiff mannequins misunderstand you, tell them to fuck off———it’ll be scary, but it’ll make you feel awake and alive—–trust that it will be worth it. Your words are your weapons, surrender is your shield. Make shit happen, even if you have to make shit up as you go along, walk the high-wire, be a fire eater, play the clown, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, it’s how you’ll learn to orchestrate your circus. Be persistent, have tenacity, be a seeker. Be good to yourself, be kind to others, smile, even when you don’t feel like it—-take the body and the mind will follow. .

Life is a beautiful thing——-people like you make this so.


The Titanic Swim Team


Soundtrack “Cascada” by Jesse Cook

This life, man how it pisses me off, locked in, locked out——-passing me by, I don’t know——— I walk around with this old skeleton key, and every lock I slip it into refuses to give way. Lovers, friends, careers, hopes and dreams—even god, they all seem dead-bolted and out of reach. I wanted it all so bad, I wanted everything, I wanted to know something or someone in a better way, a closer way, cause I’m afraid that someday it’ll be to late——-I can’t find my way in——or is it my way out that leaves me feeling orphaned. Another rainy hungover Sunday, cold black coffee, black and blue marks, questions marks, exclamation marks—-moving on, moving out, falling down, falling apart—-how many overs make an end?

I admire but a few professions. The boxer, the standup comedian and the poet. They perform naked, no props, no cue cards, turning the disconnected nothingness of life into form and art. They allow us to take mundane moments and eye them up close as we tumble them over in our hands, like “curiosities” or “what nots” at a rummage sale——It’s a fine line between junk and treasure, truth and consequence, fate and happenstance, synchronicity and chaos———— the “you’s and me’s” and “what use to be’s”——-I wish you could see yourself through my eyes, because beauty is not so much what’s reflected in a mirror—–it’s what lies behind the reflection.

And baby, how I wish I could call you up and ask you to come over, but that number you once pressed into the palm of my heart at 2:00 am under a flickering failing streetlamp is now disconnected, no forwarding address, you’ve gone underground, unlisted, unavailable, I’m just another one of your gypsy memories——- I wish I were more like you, an emotional hitchhiker, leap frogging my way from here to there at another’s expense.

A prize fighter knows the score. He’ll take the hardest punch you can muster and then throw one back at you just as hard, until someone is so busted up that they can’t answer the bell. His only way out of this is through you. You think you’re tough, then bring it on brah! Sweat, spit, tears, Vaseline and the taste of blood fill his split lipped mouth. Rights, lefts, upper cuts, jabs, body shots——with back against the ropes, the jeers of the crowd fade until all he hears is the sound of his own labored breath——-  and from deep down there comes the throb of blood surging through his veins. Don’t get pissed or take it personally if he fucks you up, cause mister, he comes from a neighborhood where there’s only one bone for every five dogs——-

Oh my god, listen to how that comedian weaves rhythm and tempo into a syncopated groove like a jazz tenor player creating tension and release as he steers his ship between awkward truth and twisted absurdity. His riffs cut through tendons and bones with the deftness of a surgeon wielding a chainsaw——-daring those out there in the safe darkness of audience to laugh till it hurts, until tears stream down their cheeks. Killing them softly as he makes them contort and grimace with the intensity of an epileptic orgasm——cause the better part of foreplay is always laughter, and right beneath that G spot lies her funny bone. And I never doubted that Charlie Chaplin had more groupies than Gene Simmons and Elvis combined. If you can get her to laugh, the world is your oyster. Or, if you can get her to laugh, her oyster is your world——-“Drummer!——Rim shot please!”

Then there’s the melancholy poet bending words like forged metal into swords that cut to the marrow as he dissects cumbersome words such as love, and truth, and beauty, doing his best to make you cry until you laugh, cause even the saddest of life conditions eventually reaches a point of hilarity——life——- at its best is a tragic comedy, at its worst, an epitaph marred by graffiti and eraser marks——-

I’ll add one more profession to my list. Magician. He suspends reality as he toys with your sense of certainty. How did that rabbit get into that top-hat? How did his beautiful assistant disappear into thin air? He snaps his finger and a white dove appears, the ace of hearts appears at the top of the deck at his command——his cane becomes a bouquet of flowers. We’re becoming children again, believing in the Easter Bunny, Santa and the Tooth Fairy. Life is magic, like the color blue, like the sky blue, like love at first sight, like the purity of children, like ocean sunsets and mountain thunderstorms————like free candy on Halloween….

But adults lose their sense of wonder. Hope and dreams are the currency of youth. Age causes the investment to become devalued by routine and complacency——somehow discounting the small miracles that appear daily——Why? I don’t know, but it scares me when I see those my age stiffen with rust like the Tin Man——If they only had a heart rather than a brain stuffed with straw. Maybe under it all, they’re concealing a cowardly lion. Fear is the lock we must all learn to pick. It takes a titanic amount of courage to swim through this life, cause an ocean of frozen tears can sink the mightiest of ships.

I argue with god, but I’m not sure if it’s him that I‘m taking to task or just one of the cast of voices that loiter in my head. They mumble to me like homeless bums hiding in the shadows of a urine stenched alley. The chorus of voices implore me to watch my cities burn, to stop rattling the chains across my doors——to give up on you, to give up on me——-to severe all connections with an innocence lost.

I”m looking for love by brail, cause love can’t be seen, it’s only felt—-like music. Every word you speak has the power of a million waves, wearing away my walls and causing my granite facade to cave-in like castles made of sand. And did I tell you that I still love you, it’s not a choice, it’s an addiction, stronger than herion, more like oxogen than a drug, something that comes to me in gasps, and at night I suffocate in my bed. And if your phone rings at 3:00 am, it could be me, just wanting to hear the sound of your voice one more time. The right key turning the right lock is a once in a life time chance, like Sir Lancelot pulling a sword from a stone to become king—-but you cut my hair and broke my crown—–

Make no mistake, this is a world where the keys you’ve been given seldom match the locks that you find yourself stranded behind. It’s a place of paddle locks, deadbolts and door chains with squinty eyed peepholes. If ya want in, if what ya need is behind that door, if that’s where your dream lies, where you passion leads you, then you’re gonna have to kick that fucker in, your gonna have to bust it down, you’re gonna have to throw yourself against it, again and again, with all you might——until you get in, or get out, or get through————until you are allowed passage to that place where you know that you were meant to be, that place where you belong.

Hitler’s Jews are now Trump’s Mexicans

The script is old, but the strategy remains the same. Hitler manipulated the masses by making Jews the scapegoat for the woes of Germany. He created mass hysteria by blaming the Jews for destroying the German economy. Hate and vengeance were powerful elixirs used to unite the masses against a “fabricated common enemy”. It’s a technique the 1% have historically employed to take the focus off their hold on power as they covertly manipulate the system for their gain.

And today, we have Trump pulling a page from the same playbook but using undocumented immigrants as the targeted enemy. He claims that undocumented immigrants are stealing our jobs, robbing, killing, raping and destroying our economy (sound familiar). The technique remains the same, just the names of the “designate enemy” have changed.

At one time it was communism threatening our way of life. We were told that we needed to stop “them” in Korea before they arrived at our doorstep. Next came the cold war with Russia and then Vietnam and the domino theory. And who can forget the ruse regarding “Weapons of Mass Destruction”. The title of “designated enemy” has been penned on Blacks, Russians, Gays, Welfare recipients and Muslims The boogieman comes in all shapes and sizes. Hate mongering is the easiest and most sinister way to achieve power.

Trumps solution for dealing with Iraq is to bomb their oil fields and then invite Mobil and Shell to take over the operation. He stated that he’d use US troops to encircle and protect the oil companies interests. This sounds like a page torn from Hitlers book on diplomacy. He arrogantly disregarded the non aggression treaty and invaded Poland. He dehumanized the enemy to justify his unbridled aggression.

This “us against them” mentality allows the controlling minority to splinter the majority into squabbling factions. They manipulate the masses by creating friction between nationalities, races, creeds, religions and the social/monetary classes.

In the name of capitalism and short term profits the 1% shamelessly pillage and plunder the earths natural resources. Even though 97% of the science community agree that Climate Change is real, the carbon based industries continue to ignore their responsibility in this man made disaster. In the name of greed children die of starvation and disease even though there is available food and medicine. But there is no financial incentive for companies to distribute food and medicine to those in need. Pharmaceutical drugs are sold at inflated prices and remain out of the reach of sick patience while insurance companies record record profits.

There was a time in America when it was touted that if you worked hard and applied your gifts, talents and skills you would be able to earn a living wage. And, if you followed the rules and made sacrifices, you could own your own home, you could have access to health care, you could afford to send your children to college. Over the last thirty years the middle class has dramatically shrunk, and with it, the American Dream. The wealthy continue to get richer while the middle class evaporates. Who is going to stand up and fight for those who do not have a voice in our current system? “Spoiler alert”, this rhetorical question is to be addressed at the end of the article—-!!!

We are all a lot more alike than different. We all want the same things; a job that pays a living wage, a place to rest ones head and to call home, access to medical care, affordable education and training, a clean environment and a shot for the next generation to have a better life then we’ve had.

In its early implementation capitalism rewarded competition and innovation, but now that the money and power is only in a few hands, it has breed corruption and abuse of the system. Those who have money and power control the political agenda. The special interest groups and the privileged have the collateral to manipulate the system for their gain. Influence is for sell to highest bidder. And, no one knows this better than Trump and his cronies.

Trump and Hitler oversimplified the issues by blaming one segment of the population for all of our troubles. But we can no longer invade, occupy, bomb, kill, incarcerate and marginalize our problems out of existence. To solve our issues today there is a need for all of the stakeholders to have a voice in the process. This is a fundamental right that the Constitution and Bill of Rights intended to protect. But the balance of power has been compromised away from the majority and tipped in the direction of the controlling minority. Our hard won democracy has become a oligarchy. Our forefathers would shake their heads in disgust if they knew what had become of their noble experiment.

We need to move towards a system that rewards cooperation and collaboration. A system that requires those who have more to contribute more by paying their fair share of taxes. Tax loopholes for the rich and cooperate welfare needs to be exposed and eliminated. Campaign contributions need to be limited so that special interest groups and those with money and privilege are prevented from manipulating the system.

I am imploring you to stay involved in the political process and vote for those who give a voice to the working people and the middle classes. Don’t allow hate, fear and indifference to prevent you from demanding that the system serve all of its constituents.

I encourage you to take a look at Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren as representatives who champion the needs and rights of the working and the middle class.

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
― Elie Wiesel

Pocketful of Soul


Sitting on the hard Christian pew in the front row of Saint Joseph’s Church, I idly listen as the pipe organ fills the stained glass chamber with the sound of Ave Maria.  The beauty of the melody is occasionally punctuated by the echoes of a cough or a child’s desperate whine.  The organ stops and the room is consumed by a ponderous silence; the silence of a funeral is louder than that of any other decibel—it is the deafening sound of stillness.

It’s hard to say how many times any of us may have lived or died, but today, eternity surges through this space like static electricity during a thunderstorm, death teaches us about the impermanence of all things—-a million days or a million years, mortality will never empty my pocketful of soul.

The priest droned on in a thick accent, perhaps Indian or some foreign place from the far east—-his fouled up mispronunciations make the ancient stories from the bible even more esoteric.  The messages within these texts I’ve heard hundreds of times.  At different stages of my life I’ve interpreted them differently, isn’t that the way of any true art.  For me, faith is an art, something that grows and changes as it finds new ways to connect with me in a place beyond my limited five senses. I‘m not a biblical purest or fundamentalist, I am a spiritual personalist—I believe God speaks to us all in his own personal language of love.   I hear him in the wilderness, others may feel his presence on a commuter bus, God finds a way to adapt to our idiosyncrasies.

Ironically, things become so twisted when we force God to conform to our personal needs and demands—-oh the horrors perpetrated in his many names.  I prefer the belief that we are created in the image of God, rather than God created in our self serving image.  Such a subtle yet profound change of outcomes when choosing  between these two conflicting points of view.  My puny prayers are composed out of a humble desire for there to be less of me and more of God in this broken world.

I’ve never had much of a grasp on God, religion or spirituality, but in the peacefulness of this moment I’m absorbed by a sweet serenity.  In the presence of the sacred statues, symbols and the mumblings of holy prayers I’m filled with a sense of communion to all things.  I suppose this sublime feeling may also be evoked from Gregorian Chants, Hindu Mantras or Zen Koans, we are all reduced to the simplicity of oneness in the presence of God.

“If Jesus were alive today, the last thing he’d be is a Christian.”

by Mark Twain


The sentiment communicated in the above quote may be applied to all prophets and spiritual leaders who have been merchandized, propaganda-sized, materialized, cauterized, convicted and tried, dehumanized, demoralized, rectified, deep-fried, electrified, televised, commercialized and apostatized—–