Rutabagas and Wall to Wall Mirrors

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Do you ever just get tired of yourself?  I do.  I wake up sometimes and really want to make some radical changes in my life.  I want to be a better person. I want to start exercising, maybe even join a gym.  I hate gyms though, everyone there looks so fit and healthy.  When I exercise my hair looks like I just walked out of a tornado, the waistband on my sweatpants are all twisted and drooping revealing my boxer shorts.  My shirt is drenched in patches of sweat and I smell like an old wet dog.  The gym’s are narasitially plastered with wall to wall mirrors——Who’s that old guy stumbling about on the treadmill? Is that me? ——-Couldn’t be! ———Really? ———Pathetic!

And then I flirt with the idea of becoming a vegetarian.  It’ll be better for my over all health and I’d be reducing my carbon footprint by not eating flatulent cows.   There’s only one catch, I don’t care for most vegetables.  Whoever came up with the names for vegetables doesn’t understand the value of good packaging and marketing.  Who wants to eat something called a cumquat or a squash, or for that matter——-an eggplant? Eggplant is a misleading name, as there are no eggs to speak of in an eggplant.  I won’t even go into the name “arugula”.  It sounds like the name of a country in the middle east. At least put the product in a nice colorful box with a photo of the perfect veggie on the cover. Units that are not uniform in color, shape and size are to be summarily relegated to the dumpster. Stress the terms such as “natural”, “mother nature” and “pure”. Refrain from mentioning anything regarding pesticide residue, GMO’s, salmonella or chemicals used to create that shiny sheen on each unit.

Rebrand vegetables with new presentations and names.  How about renaming the “crooked neck squash” as the “Careening Yellow Swan”.  On the packaging include recipes such as “The Carmel Dipped Swan Of Paradise”.  I’d eat something like that.  But of course, I’d like to pair it with a glass of exotic red wine with a french name I can’t pronounce. 

Maybe it’s the change of season that’s got me in a funk.  The days are getting shorter and it’s rainy and gloomy out.  I wish I had a holy book to turn to when I’m feeling lost and alone.  Something like the Bible, the Koran, the Book of Mormon or even the goofy Scientology book.  None of them have brought me any solace or provided meaning to my life.  I’ve yet to find an owners manual or user’s guide to help me get my shit together.  I’m as lost and confused as I was at sixteen. At least then I had more time to figure things out. I still have no idea “What’s it all about?”.  I’ve pretty much given up on organized religion, political systems and the morning weatherman——-they’re all overrated propaganda.  I guess I’ll just have to get use to accepting the absurdity of life, death and all the B.S. that comes in-between the two.  

You probably have no idea what I’m ranting about, but that’s not your fault, I’m the confused crazed one.  You’re my surrogate friend with whom I share my secret fears and dark dreams. Hopefully I haven’t scared you off too.  Sometimes I feel like I’ve changed and grown a lot over the last fifty years, and then at other times I feel like I’m the same kid of sixteen waiting for my life to fall into place——it’s been a long wait and things tend to be spiraling towards entropy.  I’m somewhere between middle age and old and decrepit. I’m not sure what to do with the time I have left.  I do want to become a better person———compared to what or whom I’m not sure.  I suppose it’s the little things that help us all become more evolved human beings. Things like kindness, compassion and the capacity to laugh at oneself. Humor is nutrition for the soul. 

Here’s to carrots, treadmills and wall to wall mirrors. 

Tales from the Zen Cowboy

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This eclectic batch of original tunes were inspired by a mash up of styles including John Prine, Jackson Browne, Roger Miller and Bonnie Raitt.  These songs walk that tight rope between the sacred and the profane

I write songs, stories and tales about good love, bad love, no love at all, regrets, redemption, humor, hometowns, drinking, old memories, god, the devil, what was, what might have been and what is. Such is the perils of being human in an often less than human world. I hope you find a thread of yourself within this collage of words and music.

My job as a writer is complete if I can make you feel less alone and more comfortable in your own skin. We’re all weird, some of us just hide it better than others. My style of music will take you to places where being different is a badge of honor.

 

The CD or music download is available at Amazon.com, iTunes and cdbaby.com.  

 

Forgive

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

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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

Why Old Dogs Learn New Tricks

 

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Soundtrack by Paul McCrane from the movie Fame.

In my humblest attempts to write something that sounds Twain-ish, I came up with the following.

“If you wanna know a man, meet his dog first.”  You can unpack that quote several ways, but I’ll leave it up to you to deconstruct as you see fit.

 

For Chasey——-my Pal….

I don’t walk my dog, he walks with me. We go to fun places together, not stores, restaurants and malls, I think that’s stupid and weird.  That’s as absurd as taking a cat to church.  Cats don’t believe in god, they think they are god.

We prefer walks around our neighborhood or hikes in the woods.  Being a Lab, he loves his swims down by the lake.  He tips the scale at over a hundred pounds.  That’s twenty pounds of sweetness, thirty pounds of slobber and fur and fifty pound of love.  He shakes his wet coat all over me, drools water across my freshly shined hardwood floors and steps on my bare feet with his heavy sharp paws—–Ouch!!!—–If he wasn’t so damn cute he’d get a lot more scoldings.

There’s a quiet calm about him.  He’s at peace with himself and the world, minus the mailman, garbageman and the neighbor’s cat.  The cat sits smugly behind her window as Chase is pulled back to his yard by his collar. I’ve never been at peace with myself, the world, or anybody or anything. I’m more the restless type who’s easily tangled up in my own expectations.  I anxiously cling to desired outcomes that are out of my control. He stares up at me with his eyes that seem to say “Don’t worry bro, it’s all good man, everything is as it should be”.  Chase is Zen; he’s simple, honest, loyal, kind and empathetic——-he expects nothing. He lives in the moment, joyfully running in circles, never mired in selfish conclustions. He doesn’t even care when he misplaces his favorite tennis ball.  He naps when he’s tired, eats when he’s hungry and walks around with a big contented Zen smile on his doggie face.  In his serene mind he wags his tail in time to “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley.

He doesn’t much care for fighting, but if provoked he can be vicious——-he has a highly developed “bullshit detector”. Lying and cheating must give off a subtle scent, because his keen sense of smell can detect those qualities from miles away. His intense listening skills alert him when someones words don’t match their voice inflection. He’ll piss on the lawns of those who are deserving of his mark….

People fall out of love.  They change, they lose touch, they move on,  They’ll selfishly take more than they give, until one day they wake up and  find themselves friendless and loveless. Little by little they wear out others with their chafing annoyances. I think you know what I mean, like the petty cruelty of repeatedly leaving the cap off the proverbial tube of toothpaste. It becomes a process of slowly wringing out their partners patience like a stiff old dish rag until they’ve squeezed out every last drop of civility. All that remains is bitterness and lawyer fee’s.

Dogs don’t know how to keep score. They only have two emotions, love and forgiveness. Unlike humans, dogs make great listeners.  Most folks don’t listen, they just yammer on with all the eloquence and articulation of a squawking Stellar Jay…….Chase cocks his head sideways, props up his floppy ears and offers up a sigh of acknowledgment.

There’s a fine line between love and hate. Most people don’t know when they’ve crossed that line until it’s to late.  They refuse to learn or change, they prefer casting blame rather than trying to become a better person. It’s hard to teach old humans new tricks.  They always want to know, “What’s in it for me?”

Old dogs don’t learn new tricks just for a treat, they learn new tricks to please you. Some folks will say “I love you” every chance they get, but they never take the time to show it through their actions.

My dog is ten years old. They say a dog ages seven dog years for every human year. My dog at ten knows more about life and love than I ever will—–and I’m middle aged—– I’m being conservative in regards to defining my age.

Chase and I are growing old together.  He’s slowed down a bit, but he still has the heart of a pup.  He barks a jet airplanes, gets excited when I put on my shoes for a walk and would follow me to hell and back agin.  I  wish my dog would never grow old, because when he’s gone I’ll be lonely here without him……..

What You Deserve

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This tune was written in homage to John Prine, my favorite folk artist.  He could write a lyric that straddles that fine line between silly and sad.  He can take the ordinary and make it seem extraordinary.

 

Drip, Drip, Drip

I danced with the devil
I stepped on his tail
Got drunk in a tavern
Found Jesus in jail

Drank enough beer
To piss me an ocean
It’s hard to get lost
When ya don’t care where you’re going

I bummed me a smoke
fired up a light
Now I’m stuck in this tree
Like a tattered old kite

Chased a few rainbows
Searching for a pot of gold
When I was young
Never thought I’d grow old

Times a wad of gum
stuck on your shoe
you can try and out run it
but it’ll catch up with you

Fates a leaky faucet
That drip, drip, drips
What you deserves
Is usually what you get

One night stands
Well, I had me a few
When it comes to loving
Bit off more than I could chew.

Made some mistakes
Yeah, I paid my dues
Smashed my TV
Tired of, the same ole bad news

You might say I’m crazy
Nutty as a fruit cake
If the fish ain’t bitting
It’s time to change your bait.

Chased a few rainbows
Searching for a pot of gold
When I was young
Never thought I’d grow old

Fates a wad of gum
stuck on your shoe
you can try to out run it
but it’ll catch up with you

Time’s a leaky faucet
That goes drip, drip, drips
The good times I’ll remember
The bad ones I’ll forget