Fred

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Soundtrack “Just For The Record” by Ruston Kelly

Dear Jeanne,

Thanks for the invitation to attend Fred’s celebration of life event. Unfortunately I will not be able to attend. On August 3rd I will be thinking of you and Fred. Fred was a rare breed, a man of principle, integrity and one who always made a stand for the less fortunate. In these troubled political times we could use more activist and hell raisers like Fred. He was a force to be reckoned with and one not to be trifled with. I’ve always been a sucker for uncompromising son of a guns and men who go down swinging.

He loved his family, enjoyed his beer and was a damn good fisherman. Fishing is a great sport for a beer drinker, cause there’s plenty of downtime waiting for a bite that can be filled with relieving one’s thirst—-“If ya know what I mean” heh heh. A wise man needs time alone staring at a rushing river to watch the passing of time. He can once again find himself there—————so I’ve been told.

I think of you and your family often. I spent many a hot summer day at your Briar Lane home, swimming in your pool, hanging out and cracking stupid jokes——(somethings never change). God, weren’t we some of the fortunate ones to have grown up there within those loving walls of our Briar Lane neighborhood. Sometimes when I go back to Yuba City I cruse by the old neighborhood and put the pieces of “then and now” back together for a moment. When I was young my mom use to shake her head and say “Where does the time go?”. I too don’t know where time goes, but I know that it only knows one direction, forward——-with or without you.

Thanks for being such a good role model and a tolerant adult durning my squandered youth. You were an excellent teacher, therapist, and a strong woman who’s priority has alway been family first. I fondly consider you to be my second mom and me your insolent step-son.

So, have a great day reminiscing about Fred and all the things that made him unique and special. I’m not sure if I was anyone special to him, but I do remember him planting a few lip locks on me that kind of took me by surprise (damn near made me question my sexual orientation, heh heh). He surely wasn’t one to hide his emotions, and that I respect. So much wasted time spent worrying about what others think. Life, like love has a precarious shelf life, so curse the assholes and kiss those who bring ya smiles. And Fred, god bless ya and your ability to make us smile and cause the conservatives to stammer and become a-gasped at your choice swear words……I can hear ya now saying “Fucking hypocrites”. You’ll be missed, but we’ll carry on as you’d expect us to do.

I’ll leave you with this quote I like by Charles Bukowski and one I believe Fred would appreciate.

“For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can’t readily accept the God formula, the big answers don’t remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command nor faith a dictum. I am my own god. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”

Love Victor
AKA Brud

Amazing Grace In Reverse (exploding popcorn)

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Soundtrack “Son Of A Highway Daughter” by Ruston Kelly.

I messed up again, got drunk and pissed everyone off, let myself down with a thousand discarded and broken pledges, I’m wanting morning light at this 3:03 am, its the darkest of corners to turn in the middle of the night, the sheets have become untucked and tangled, the room is stuffy and hot, I’m mad at the likes of me for being a poor version of what I might have been, I’m pleading with the dark shadows and demons to stop coming round and convicting me with a movie reel on repeat, revealing me and all the stupid shit I’ve ever done, my sanity meter is starved for another quarter, for a shard of clarity——the walls are closing in=====Oh my god, where are you now, my holy ghost has gone MIA

I’m nervous all the time, my breath stale beer and bitter nicotine, people can see through me, I never learned how to be coy or clever, my bravado has caved in, I’m teetering on being too far gone to come back again, I no longer belong anywhere or to anyone, everywhere I go I feel out of place, people stare at me like I’m a two headed monster in a nickel and dime freak show——can’t you see, that under all this ugliness it’s still me

I’d call you, but at this hour it would be a selfish thing for me to do——-I wish I’d never worn you out with my rants and ramblings, I’m afraid I’m gonna drag you down with me—— a drowning man with arms flailing, we played hide and seek one too many times with our emotions, and what was once found is now lost. it’s Amazing Grace in reverse——-I’m sorry I painted you into my landscape, you’re far too pretty to be sketched within the same canvas with the likes of someone like me

Holy shit,

People want to choose relationships the same way that they pick out corn on the cob. They secretly peel back a small portion of the husk and take a quick peek to see what’s on the inside. They take a hurried look around to see if anyone is watching and then hastily decide if it’s a keeper or a throw back.

I wonder what becomes of the cobs that have been discarded and left behind, their husk pulled down exposing all their flaws, for all the world to see. Maybe some are fed to the pigs while others are sent to the popcorn factory.

And now you know why popcorn explodes—–

Wasting My Life

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Soundtrack “Mercury” by Ruston Kelly.

When sitting at a extra long red light, do you ever wonder if perhaps you’re wasting your life
When standing in the chips isle, struggling to choose between Doritos and Barbecue Chips, have you ever found youself questioning if maybe you’re wasting your life
When lying in bed with the snooze alarm going off for the third time do you ever conceive of the notion that you’re probably wasting your life
Have you ever sat in a crowded bar watching everyone laugh, flirt and drink and come to the conclusion that you’re possibley wasting your life
When sitting in front of your big screen watching the same commercial for the third time, have you ever pondered why you’re wasting your life
Sitting silently in a cluttered break room, have you ever decided that you’re definitely not doing what you’d like with your life
Have you ever sat on a couch in the middle of some big party filled with laughter and loud music and despise the idea of wasting your life
Have you ever traded three hours of inebriation for a tomorrow that guarantee’s a headache, sour stomach, a worn outness and once again it leaves you questioning why you’re wasting your life
Has your life ever felt like a grainy B movie with no plot, or a corny country song about a broken hearted cowboy and you find yourself humming along to the soundtrack of his wasted life
Standing in a long line at DMV waiting to renew your vehicle registration, have you ever viewed yourself from above and watched as you wasted away
Sitting on a squeaky pew in an empty church, crumpled up and praying for faith only to find that my guarding angel is refusing to circle, Jesus is busy choosing the next big lottery winner and the fucking silence of it all grows ever more deafening

Have you ever found yourself watching the news, different day, different names, but the same old bullshit and ask yourself why does everyone seems to be wasting their life away

While waiting in a huge line at Starbucks to pay an exorbitant amount of money for a fancy coffee, I suddenly become shocked by the insanity of it all
Does anyone else suffer a similar craziness to it all?????
I pump gas, pay bills, feed the cat, do laundry, shop, cook and clean, only to find myself tearing another month off my calendar

Have you ever walked into another room and forgotten what you came there for, and this is what wasting my life feels like

Amongst all the nothingness of me, I see us flying kites on a windy day and the green field smells of freshly cut grass, the blue sky stretches out to the Sierra Nevada foothills—–and your dress blows up in the wind and it makes us laugh. We let our kites go and I kiss you and it feels like I’m cutting all my strings. And for that small moment, all the nothingness of you and me no longer matters to anyone or anything……

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Wishing On My Sun—-Waiting On Second Chances

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Soundtrack “Empty” by Ray LaMontagne

There’s a fleeting secret hidden between night fading and morning coming on, it’s an experience not constructed of time———or belonging to anything. It’s hard to describe the color of that sky——it’s not a color, so much as an attitude, it’s a hello and a goodbye wrapped around one another, it’s traces of an emerging promise, it’s disguised in the sketches of grace, with its few stubborn stars not letting go of their reign in the sky. And in this eternal briefness the air is fresh and new, it taste of second chances and everything is right and as it should be. There’s no holding on too——-or———letting go of——it is——as it is—-it is—-as it is—-it is——as it is——it is——-All that unravels comes back together again—-is this universe falling apart or coming together? Who’s to say if your universe is the same as mine—–but for now we share this empty space in time.

In the city, there’s that transcendental moment just before all the lights go out in the tall buildings, it’s in the dying breath of street lamps losing their power to separate shadow from substance. It’s when being alone feels right. A city silenced is a beautiful thing to be a part of——-

Once, while camping, I awoke and built a new fire from the remnants of last nights dying embers. The air carries within it the sweet sappy scent of smoke, as the kindling pops and snaps, the dew drops glisten on the tips of lush ferns——-I’m not in need of anything. I’m aware, of being aware. I’m a part of everything and everything is a part of me. The chill in the air stirs an awakening in me stronger than a double espresso. The moon hangs his sleepy head over the horizon and says goodnight to the breaking morning.

Almost imperceptibly the sound of singing birds begins to fill the silence. The rising sun filters through the Jeffrey pines casting shafts of light between the tree branches. All the little floating specks of dust stand out in this light, each a universe within itself. I don’t wish on falling stars, I make wishes on our rising sun, that faithful star that returns to us each morning——In this immaculate light, anything and all things are possible. There are no wars, no hate, no religions, no heroes, no villains, no tomorrows, no yesterdays——there is only me compressed within the walls of this orgasmic moment.

I’m learning to love myself, like it or not, I’m eternally trapped within me———thank God I enjoy my own company.

Pardon The Cello

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Soundtrack “Learned A Lot” by Amos Lee

Today they would’ve called us geeks or nerds
But when I was a kid we were the misfits, the oddballs

The ones who ate lunch at the ketchup smeared cafeteria table
None of us had cars or the money to eat off campus
all we had was acne, braces and Walmart clothes

Individually we were vulnerable and easily bullied
but as a pack we were freaks of nature to behold, a beautiful mess
We were the ones that were too short, too tall, too fat, too skinny, too smart, too shy, glasses too thick, too this, too that, and all the things that come after “too”

The one gift of being “too” is that it allowed us the freedom to not give a shit
about what others thought or said
We carried our band instrument cases with pride
The weirder the case, the better, and I think the french horn was one of the more cryptic ones

The cello was the Yeti of all cases and sure to turn a few heads on the bus
You could hear the hushed voices saying “What the heck is in there?”
Making its way down the narrow bus isle, banging the case into the bullies heads
“pardon me” spoken with mock sympathy

We found the halls best sonically suited to practice the Messiah
And we sang with gusto as the football players, cheerleaders, skaters and preppies filtered by
Some would actually stop and listen, while wise asses would goof off by making fart noises from down the hall

We read fantasy and SIFI books, we were proud Trekkies
We were at home in our daydreams and fantasies
Yes, we were virtual kings and lords of the video games we conquered
We were kids doing kid shit, in no hurry to be cornered by grown up responsibilities

The girls in our clan didn’t fit into the strict rules of fashion and make up
They were smart and had a good sense of humor
They allowed guys like me to give them a ride on my handle bars
crashing into the tall weeds, an accident becoming the prelude to an innocent kiss—–maybe not an accident??? maybe not so innocent???

All the pretty girls were constrained and selling their souls to be popular
They seemed in a hurry to grow up fast and become dissatisfied adults
with Republican biases, expecting to be privileged, smiling smug, indifferent, clinging to their 401 K’s, mouthing simple answers to complex questions, marching like a minion to Fox News and its right wing christian hypocritical drumbeat, dismissing everything and everyone outside their protective bubble of good paying job, new SUV and nice house in the suburbs, with their gardener Jose, whom they never asked to verify his citizenship or green card along with Juanita their maid

for them being an adult was just an extension of high school, sacrificing ones self to fit in with the most current trends

Occasionally I pull out my old battered cello and squeak out a wobbly rendition of our school fight song

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Sound track “Beloved” Jesse Cook

After a million miles
It’s still running through you
A blinding light deafening a sky of jealous stars
We knew a round love in this world of flat earth-ers

Backyard tire swing, like a pendulum of gone by days
Pool chlorine mixed with honey suckles, the smell of summer
July laid out before us like a thousand unused Saturdays

Your cities are lonely
A careless milky-way evicted from time and space
Other people’s suns drenched in nothingness
Other worlds out of reach
Physics, another flawed human endeavor
Didn’t you know that the numbers never added up

Where’s the revolutionaries
Where’s our freedom fighters
An entire population of fools staring at smartphones
A generation of selfies, ego sponges

Angry, ignorant tweets, dissonant wind chimes
Where’s this generation’s John Lennon and George Carlin
Who’ll shame these fuckers
Hypocrisy is the breaking news
Truth has become negotiable
Climate change compromising happy endings

I’m the soundtrack of pissed off
Is everyone else drunk or high on recreational weed
Democracy a chess piece for the rich
Check mate, ponds against kings

Living in virtual bubbles
No longer “We hold these truths to be self-evident”
No more “We the people”
Wall street thieves and politicians
Who can tell the difference
Divisiveness is the cost of doing business with the greedy

Your birth was not an accident
Don’t let this one precious life play out like a sitcom laugh track
Be angry, fight complacency, believe in your power
To be about it, is the way

A Body For A Soul

 

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All I wanted was to be understood, to once again lose myself in someone’s eyes, rather than being sucker punched in the heart. She said it’s hard to be understood when you don’t even understand yourself.   I thought to myself “Yeah right, you never even took the time to try and know me, you were too busy trying to prove how you were right——-and how I was wrong.”  One thing for certain, I was right about her being wrong for me. Love with all its inherent bad descions makes fools of us all. The more I tried to reach out the harder she pulled away. Maybe blindness is what love is. Maybe it’s tracing with my fingers what I can’t see with my eyes. She shoved my hand away, “Stop, you’re gonna smudge my make up”. Damn, she had all the romance of a cactus.

I’m a fool for girls with sexy eyes in lose fitting see through sundresses. I’ve bumped into a lot of people, but we collided and burst into an awkward erratic orbit—-pulling together then pulling apart. When I peered closer, I realize that I was never really in her eyes. But god, I remember how the sun shown through her cotton dress and how I mistook a body for a soul.

During the day it’s easy to believe in god, clocks and getting to work on time.  When the sun is up I can find purpose in simple walks down by the river.  I’m not shaken by the absurdity of remaining stopped at stale deserted red lights.  But at night, the enormity and emptiness of the universe fills me with an uneasy feeling of insignificance.  I toss and turn in my bed and then get up and stumble into the kitchen for my fourth glass of water.  I’m stuck in a midnight cycle of drinking water to ease my dry mouth and then having to get back up and take a piss.  She hollers from the bedroom.  “What’s wrong with you? Why are you up.”  I reply, “I can’t sleep, I’m worried about stuff.”  Her voice is tired and cracks as she speaks, “Worried?  Worried about what?”

“I’m worried about life and the inevitability of death and what’s it all for.  I’m worried about things I should’ve said and done.  I’m worried about pretending to be something or someone I’m not. I’m worried about my insecurities, my false intentions and my need to be validated——–by people I don’t give a shit about.  I’m worried about our sun and how someday it’ll become a super nova and explode vaporizing our solar system and turn our planet into ash along with all it’s history, paintings, music, books and everything that makes up me and you.  I’m worried about sick kids lying in hospital beds, scared and praying under their starched and stiff hospital sheets.  I’m worried about lonely old people in rest-homes with nothing to do but watch gameshows and play bingo. I’m worried about never being able to write with the truthfulness and rawness as Bukowski, Steinbeck or Kerouac.  I’m worried about roads not taken. I’m worried about why I no longer have friends who I can trust with my secrets.  I worry about being misunderstood.  I’m a hypochondriac so I worry about every phantom ache and pain. I’m worried and wonder where’s god in all this mess?” She gasps,”What the hell’s wrong with you?  You make Woody Allen seem normal.  Come back to bed.”  I gulp down another huge swig of water and head to the bathroom to relieve myself——I swear, how is it possible to pee more liquid than I drink? I’ve grown weary of waiting on another tardy sun.

When I go back to my hometown I drive down my old street and park near my childhood house with it’s yellow nightlight burning on the porch.  It’s just me and a moonless sky dipped in ink.  Tonight I’m filled with melancholy as I creep along in the shadows of haunted streets. Maybe we all leave little pieces of ourselves in the places we once called home. I’ve come snooping for clues that will put “then and now” back together.

When I grew up I was in a hurry to get out of my hometown and escape this puny street that once comprised my world.  But now I’m ironically drawn back to this tired old house on a dead end street. After everyone has gone to bed I buy myself a tallboy and park by the field that’s adjacent to the Catholic church and my childhood house. The cold air with its silent stars brings back the loneliness I knew as a child.  Even then under that misty Milky Way galaxy I’d lose myself in the majesty and unreal-ness of it all.  I think about my old friends and my family, I listen for voices and keep an eye out for falling stars or maybe a UFO. I haven’t come here to repeat the past nor exhume old ghosts, I’m in search of a lost innocence. Right now, all over town it’s autumn and the wind is creating mini tornados of yellow, red and purple leaves. The air is filled with the scent of burning wood streaming from brick chimneys. November is breathing its chill into the coming night.

This was the place where my father would come home wearing his weary work-face.  I think back on all the sacrifices my folks made for me and my sisters. For my dad, everyday must’ve felt the same except for paydays.  On paydays he’d come home late for dinner with beer on his breath and the smell of tobacco clinging to his work shirt. I remember how he’d wrap mom up in his arms and foxtrot her around the living room singing “I don’t get around much anymore”.  Is that what life is, brief moments of joy surrounded by days of nihilistic sleepwalking? In spite of all the hardships we were a family fortified by love who found ways to share our tears and exploit life’s humor. Our house was filled with loud voices and much laughter. My folks did a good job making us a home and they were always there for me. There is still something calming about this funny little house with it’s sagging fence and unkempt gardens——it still defines home.  Memories are my eternal path back home.

This is where my mother cooked our dinners and neatly ironed our clothes. Maybe I’m guided back here to try find pieces of me that I’d forgotten, or that I’d left behind. I can hear the voices and see the ghosts as I sit in my car with the heater on and the radio tuned to jazz. I sip off my beer and let the smell of fresh laundry and pot roast cooking in the oven bring me back to a simpler time.  

I know now, that you can’t go back in time and fix things or make good on delinquent thank you’s.  Things break, mistakes are made, we all say things we regret.  And then there are those missed opportunities where kindness and patience would have played better than selfishness and unrealistic demands.  I watch as we all age.  There’s a feeling of solace that’s found in marching together through the passage of time.  I search for myself with the eyes of days gone by. Buddha would say that attachments to the past is the cause of suffering, but for me there is such a sweet sorrow in these nocturnal sojourns. I feel a sense of belonging under these frigid autumn skies. We may all just be passing through, but my life is held together by the continuum of shared memories.