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Mar. 16th, 2019

"...you can't make your heart feel something it won't..." -- Bonnie Raitt

Talking with a friend the other day and I mentioned that tasting a particular wine brought tears to my eyes. She rightly observed, "Everything makes you cry."

For the past three months or so, that has been so painfully true. Emotions have been very close to the surface and so much has happened that even tasting a decent wine makes me blubber up like some Italian grandmother. Certain songs, reading particular passages, whatever. Talk among yourselves for a few minutes, okay? It's a tough diagnosis for a guy who used to pride himself on being a perfect Stoic. Matter of fact, I whipped that hardware out in late December when I pushed the reset button on everything. Just had to be done, emotions be damned. I'm good at it. Or at least I was.

My last entry in this space was about the ups and downs of being newly single and navigating dating sites and whatnot. But I'm not doing that anymore because, frankly, my head and heart are elsewhere. I can't be comfortable with it. I've found I prefer my time alone or with family or a few particular friends more than I want to impress Nadine in Alger or whomever. I'm sure she's a sweetheart but my experience the last few months is it's better to spend ten minutes with a particular someone than two hours with another. It's all part of setting up those boundaries for my way forward. I am getting comfortable in my own skin and more committed to the decisions I make and the people I choose. I have always been more comfortable in long-term situations and nowadays is no exception.

Not that casual friends aren't there, of course. I've been lucky enough to cast a wide net and there are plenty of folks I'd love to ask over for wine and whatnot. But as I move into being Just Craig I am also aware I am more comfortable with Just A Few Others. I'm glad to yuk it up at some party or at the shop on music night, But life afterward is bigger and I'm being very selective about the who and the where and other important stuff. Better to sleep in with Joey (the cat).

....so I'm kinda out on a limb, but it's one of my own choosing. I am more content with the quiet and the Being Alone and with long breaks in conversation. I am feeling things more deeply and rolling them over in my mind more slowly than in the past. Everything is kinda questioned and, if there's no answer today, maybe there will be tomorrow. I have become very patient.

I am comfortable being a romantic who leads with his heart, and this will always leave my head a bit vulnerable to some questionable decisions. I can live with that. Personally and professionally, I am very much Me these days. But the skin is very thin and I tend to bleed faster when scratched. I can have a very thick hide until I don't. And not having one seems to be more of a thing these days. But I prefer that to bottling up so much like in the past.

I'm in a good place. It's bigger than I thought it would be.

Mar. 10th, 2019

"...not now Frenchie. I gotta shave...." -- Harry "Steve" Morgan in "To Have And Have Not"

My son Matt texted me last week, congratulating me on being single for the first time since 8-track players were standard equipment on cars.

Ouch. But true. I've not been this single since 1978.

I am just beginning to dip a toe into the dating pool and I gotta say it's different. Used to be you'd meet folks at work or you'd cruise the bars or maybe a friend had a friend or something. Those all still apply, of course, but there's the additional Internet layer of swipe left and right. I was always a shitty dater, being much more comfortable with long-term relationships. I mean, even my high school girlfriend and I had a decent two-year run and it was the same in college. My only real time Out There was a few uncomfortable years doing radio in a couple of different towns. While I could (and still can) acquit myself well as a potential suitor, I am anymore unsure of The Rules. Time to learn.

First thing I've learned is to be specific on my profile. I mean things like "No Trump supporters" and other qualifiers. Weeds out a whole lot of bullshit. Another one is distance. I get come-ons from women in, oh, North Carolina. Stop it. If it's more than 30 minutes or so, my attitude is gasoline don't buy much love. Exception can be made (actual example) for places reached by ferry. It's only a drive to Anacortes. l'd think it would be time well-invested if it's right. But I'm a romantic and ferries can be just that.

That reset button I hit last week is continung to evidence itself. I'll be changing my status at the shop and reducing hours, though it will take a little time. Folks have to be trained, we've hired someone else (I understand) and little by little we'll get everything adjusted. Fact is I'm still in seven days a week, but I'm seeing openings to cut that back a bit. I'm not angry about it (though I sounded that way in an earlier post). I just want to move things along so I'm not as invested and those who are younger and more dedicated can take the shares of the business they deserve and earn. I'm not out to pasture. I'm just willing to stand against the fence and watch.

I am relishing my newfound time alone. While I have friends and opportunities to socialize, the past week has been precious to me in terms of Being By Myself. It's what I wanted and it has come true and there is a price to pay and I am willing to pay it. Just to rebalance and get back in touch with a guy I haven't known in a while. Maybe he's the same and maybe he's not but I won't know until we spend some time figuring it out.

Got me a truck and some tunes and I'm old enough to buy cigars and bourbon. Es suficiente por ahora. Verdad?

Mar. 3rd, 2019

"...I was misinformed..." -- Rick Blaine in 'Casablanca.'

My dad was a self-made, successful entrepreneur who was always one of those do-it-now kinda guys. He would always end his workday trying to do one extra thing so he didn't have to do it tomorrow, saving himself time to do another extra thing on and on ad nauseum until he finally decided to sell his business to a valued employee

A few years later, he and I were cutting firewood at the farm and he suggested we go to lunch at a nearby barbecue place. I told him sure, let me finish this one tree and we'll go. But he says, "Son -- if we do everything today, there'll be nothing to do tomorrow." My jaw clanked to the ground like in a Tex Avery cartoon, not understanding his change in attitude.

When TBK and I moved up here to the PNW, the idea was for me to cut back to part-time work and take Social Security while she could work full- or part-time and we'd get to know this marvelous new grandchild. But that's certainly not how it has all turned out, what with me now owning a part of The Woolley Market and being in charge of the kitchen plus retail beer/wine sales PLUS filling in other spaces around the shop, depending on what needs doing. All-in-all, it's a seven-day 50-hour work week that's not exactly what I had in mind.

One of my friends is very good at holding up a mirror to my life and telling me to take a close look. Nearly every time this happens, I notice something I hadn't seen before, and this particular time the question was, "what do you want to do with the rest of your life?" It took me a full half a day to be honest with myself.

I want to stop. Just stop.

This is my fourth time running or helping run a business. I am more than aware that Being The Boss means filling shifts when employees can't, staying longer than the others, doing things others won't or can't do, training them, hand-holding and the myriad other things employers do. We are also the last to get paid and the first to be blamed and I knew what I was signing up for when I agreed to become a shareholder. I could not ask for better partners or employees.

But damn.

I'll be 65 years old in a little more than 90 days. I have been working for literally a half century and I am stepping back for my own health and in the best interest of The Woolley Market. My job is for those younger and more creative and more flexible and durable and more focused. My health is good, but won't be if a keep up this pace.

So much of this came home to roost last week when I went for lunch at a state park on a beach not far from here. The park has a number of little waterfront cabins and I enjoyed peeking in the windows and wondering when I'd get a chance to actually stay in one for a night or two. But the answer came back pretty quickly that I simply could not -- or at least not without plenty of advance notice or otherwise having to scramble back to town on some kind of schedule to make sure things are the shop are in order. It also occurred to me I am working more hours in "retirement" than I was when I was 45.

Ain't right.

....so I've told my partners I'll be transitioning. It's going to take some time and that's okay, since at least there's a goal in mind. I don't mind holding up my end of things for at least a little while. And I have to keep in mind that I'm lucky to be able to make this kind of decision because so many others my age and older don't have such options. But I hit a reset button on my life in late December and this has to be part of it. .

I have stories to write, windmills to tilt at and experiences to experience.I'm old enough to command respect but still young and healthy enough to kick a little ass if need be.

That's the idea.
 

Feb. 17th, 2019

"....My hand's on the wheel of something that's real...." --Willie Nelson

Been listening to a lot of Willie Nelson lately, largely because my life over the past few months has been pretty much a replay of many of his albums -- loss, an attitude shift, absolute joy, heartbreak, new love, alcohol, nights that last too late and days beginning too early. If Jimmy Buffett was the soundtrack of one life, it has been Willie (and Waylon) that have been the constants since about high school. It's a blessing and curse of being a Texas Boy, I suppose.

What TBK calls The World's Friendliest Divorce continues apace, with her return to Southern California scheduled for March 5th. We settled on details today, with me agreeing to kick in money and insurance coverage for a couple of years until and unless we renegotiate. I have more faith in her than she does, something I guess understandable for now. I've lately learned two months is a lot of time, so two years is plenty to get back on track. But again, it's easy for me to say because I'm physically able and have a very long and smooth job history. I'll do what I can to help as we go along. I know her mom and stepdad aren't wild about what's going on, but at least Kim will arrive with sobriety and a consistent income. Neither was true 60 days ago and I know she's proud of what's been accomplished so far..

Things will change a little when I get moved back into the duplex on the 5th. With Kim's things being or about to be mostly moved out, I'll be getting a better idea of what I want of my own to keep and what to simply toss. It'll be my first time living on my own in some 40 years, though there will still be housemates. Those housemates have slowly absorbed the rest of the square footage including the garage, so I'll be reducing what I keep to a bare minimum. A few things will go over to Nanette's because she can use them, but what I'll mostly be doing is retooling for a possible move in the fall. I know Chad and Jahnavi  want to stomp out their own place and this might be it for a little while. I'm more mobile and will have no dependents.

For some reason last week, I had a day of being on the edge of a panic attack. I think it was the first and maybe only time that all the recent happenings had caught up to me at one time. Having to get Kim moved around, resettling in the shop basement, unexpectedly beginning a new relationship, taking over some ownership duties at the shop, etc. Nanette reminded me yesterday what Stu told me last week -- that a lot of life-altering shit has been going on lately. Possibly I've been so focused on moving ahead to the rest of my life that I just hadn't stopped to take in all that's happened in the past little while. Actually, things haven't been the same since the trip to Alabama for Matt's wedding last Labor Day weekend, what with Catherine and Jay getting stuck up here and Kristen spending some time as well. Plus growing grandkids and, well, there ya go. Pretty easy to figure out the past eight months or so have been the most life-changing eight months of my life -- all after I'd opted to "retire."

Despite it all, I sleep well and my mind is (mostly) a pretty serene place. I am confident in my decisions and in the way forward and about who and what I will be facing; I've learned a lot lately about myself and about simply handling the unpleasant. In short, I've gone back to being who I was at 24 in a lot of ways. The body is broken in but not broken down and the spirit remains as resolute as ever.

"...and I feel like I'm going home...."     

Jan. 22nd, 2019

"...That's right -- the woman is smarter...." -- Harry Belafonte

One of the things about my pushing away from the dock these days has been a newfound candor and transparency -- a difference borne partly of simply getting older and partly from wanting everyone to be on the same page about what I'm doing. My feeling is (statistically) I have about 20 years left and I will no longer dawdle with people and places with a history of negativity. It's not that I don't care, but rather I refuse to make the time anymore. To quote the great Captain Ron, "If anything's gonna happen, it's gonna happen Out There" and I want to get Out There as quickly as I can.

This has been a wonderfully fresh feeling, not that I had much to hide anyway. Self-confidence has never been an issue for me, made only stronger by the recent decision to move ahead on my own. But I didn't realize until last night that I've been using my renewed outspokenness as something of a club, beating people with my new openness and flipping a lot of triggers and questions in others. In short -- I was told to sit down and shut up by a friend who was being as transparent with me as I've been with everyone else over the past month or so. She is absolutely correct and, though she did not say so, it's clear I've been an ass.

This isn't to say I'm shifting gears or changing course or planning to be any less open or transparent. But I've been ignorant of just how wide the wake is and how it's affecting the other boats in the marina. Things will throttle back quite a bit when I get back in my own place again in the coming month or so. .

I'm still getting used to all this. I've been spending time with more folks who don't have a filter and some of the discussions, such as the one last night, have been brutal but necessary. I am sure there will be more as I find a new balance. But I'm going to have to pay more attention to what others are hearing instead of what I'm saying.

What a concept, right? 

Jan. 19th, 2019

"...Damn the torpedoes! Four bells Captain Drayton! Go ahead!" -- Adm. David Farragut

You reach a point in life when things become so clear and so focused that you wonder why you were ever confused about anything ever. While I still see myself as a wide-eyed child, there are far fewer things I am wide-eyed about. Life remains an adventure, but I am anymore particular about who I share it with. I realize I am ending sentences with prepositions. Don't care. See?

Like good sex, a good life is a balance of focus and relaxation. You can't really enjoy it unless you're relaxed and receptive, but it's best when you're also tightly focused. So I find myself as such going into life on my own for the first time in 40 years. (Gasp! Did he just say that? But what about....??). It's okay. Those who know us well know why and part of me is sorry. But sometime around this past Thanksgiving, the pilot light flickered a last gasp and whuffed out. Our Lord and Savior Willie Nelson proclaimed "there's nothing cold as ashes after the fire is gone" and verily it is so. We each have our stories and we remain friends. Enough on that for now.

I have lately been spending a lot of time with comtemporaries -- those closer to my own age and experiences. I had been unaware just how important it is to share that unspoken understanding of common attitudes and, well (for lack of a better term just now), outlook. I had thought I had simply to turn 50 to be a part of this Great Understanding, but that's simply not enough. I am not exactly sure where the dividing line is, but for me it appears to be birth in the 1950s. Before that, too old. After that, too young. The distinctions can be vast. Damn you and bless you Dwight Eisenhower.

I enter my 65th year as a man of substance -- not so much of money anymore but of experience, accomplishment and pride. I will not be taken lightly, misunderstood, ignored, patronized or used. I am healthy, (mostly) sober, decently dressed, well-read and properly employed. My work ethic remains strong, my heart light and my personal optimism undimmed. In short, it is good to be me right now.

The past five months have been the most educational of my life, experiencing much but observing even more. I have seen entire lives turned upside down by nature, place, happenstance and attitude. There is so much we cannot control except how we handle it (fellow Katrina survivors stand up!). But I'm also grabbing the damn wheel when I can and now is the time. I know where to find the brake, the clutch and the accelerator. Little Deuce Coupe and all that shit. Red, yellow, green.

Warp Nine, Mr. Data. Engage.

Oct. 17th, 2017

"...memories appear in the strangest of places..." -- Willie Nelson

I had a thought today, while rummaging around. It's amazing how some things come back to you (to quote The Firesign Theater) like the hot kiss at the end of a wet fist ("Nick! You're such a tool!").

My maternal grandmother died when I was nine (in 1963) in La Grange TX -- a delightful town that was and remains a bucolic little spot along the Colorado River, just north of I-10 about halfway between Houston and San Antonio. My dad and his brother were raised on a farm just outside of town, but decided to move their mom into town after her husband died in 1948.I don't know how she felt about it because I wasn't around at the time. All I knew is I loved visiting her small house, which still stands on the south side of town. I visited there about seven years ago.

Anyway, I was nine and my sister was seven. It was August and we made a hurried drive from Dallas down to La Grange at night (I remember the drive, since we passed a massive house fire in the dark and I was watching bug-eyed from the back of the Plymouth station wagon). Mom was driving, since dad was already in La Grange, and I'd never seen mom drive for that long before. I knew it was big shit and I was frankly scared they'd make me see my dead grandmother.

Grandmother's tiny two-bedroom house was full with other relatives, so we took a room at a little motel (that also still exists) a couple blocks away. We arrived late and my sister and I crashed while mom and dad and the other adults did Adult Things. We were awakened the next morning for breakfast at a cafe and all the adults were red-eyed from crying or fatigue or drinking (or likely all three). It was clear there was still a lot of Adulting to do, since all the conversations remained hushed and tight-lipped. My cousins, who were a few years older, weren't joking around like they usually did. It was weird.

After breakfast, our folks pulled us aside and told us they had stuff to do and my sister and I were gonna have to simply handle ourselves for awhile. We could stay in the motel room if we wanted, but whatever we did we had to stay together. Dad gave me a little money and a key to the motel room -- one of those keys with the old-school plastic "drop in any mailbox" tags in case it got found by the side of the road or you drove off with it. They told us that if we left, we had to be back at the motel room at one in the afternoon because there was other stuff to do. Then they left.

We were hung about halfway between my grandmother's house and downtown La Grange -- about four or five blocks either way. I knew it wouldn't be any fun at grandmother's house, so we opted to walk downtown. I'd walked around that old square many times with my dad, so I knew Schroeder (Rexall!) Drug and the grocery store where my dad had his first job and the ornate Fayette County Courthouse. On the way, we dropped into a gas station that had Houston Colt .45s (now the Astros) booklets with player bios (Rusty Staub!). We wandered all over, into the drug store with its lunch counter, the grocery, a hardware store and all kinds of spots. I bought a Sgt. Rock comic book. My sister started whining. We got some candy. I think we lapped the square two or three times until I saw a clock and it was time to head back and we returned to the room with about 20 minutes to cool off from the window-unit a/c.

The funeral was the next day. I saw a dead person for the first time and was kinda impressed. I also saw plenty of relatives even older than my grandmother -- including a great uncle who'd lost a leg in World War I. Lots of German accents and pats on my head and being finally released out into my grandmother's back yard to play with the chickens. My cousin had brought a jug of ice water from San Antonio and we agreed City Water was much better than country water. We drank RCs, which my cousin referred to as "soda water." We watched the chickens and ate fried chicken, which made me pause to look at the drumstick in my hand.

What brought all this to mind was looking at our housemate's two boys, who are about the same age my sister and I were in 1963. They're good kids -- raised well and curious and as self-controlled as you could expect any kids that age to be. We live in a town about the same size with, from what I can tell, pretty much the same overall values and a similar downtown in many ways. But I can guarandamntee if these two boys were simply turned loose for three or so hours with a few bucks to wander around downtown under their own administration that their mom would be dragged into the police station to face, if not a series of charges, at least to explain herself and be shamed for being a poor damn parent.

Ain't right. But it's just how things are anymore. Maybe there are some towns where a nine- and seven-year-old can wander around pretty much on their own these days. But while I see kids cruising on their bikes, they're older than we were when turned loose the same way.

I mourn for innocence lost and yet not lost at all -- just shifted. Our Internet brings hard-core porn and other Very Adult things into our homes for fuh-ree yet I know young people in their 20s who are nearly incapable of life away from their parents. I don't blame a particular generation for this, since there have always been helicopter parents and every generation is blamed by the previous ones for being lazy, ungrateful and spoiled. I don't know the answer(s) and I cannot offer solutions. My own parenting days are done and I'm very proud of how my kids have turned out. They each had their backsliding and immaturities along the way, as did I. I'm also proud of their generation, which so far seems much truer to itself than mine has turned out.

I understand how things are, if I agree or not. But I wish these boys and all the other kids could have the freedom I did at their age. I am quite sure most would live up to what's expected to get along and behave mostly responsibly. We adults, in our litiguous and scared society, have taken it away from them and from ourselves. Life is full of hard floors and sharp corners and we pad things for too long. I'm reminded of this each week when we watch our granddaughter, who is a very busy and active 15 months. I will not let her get into a situation where she will injure herself simply because she's 15 months old. But neither will I stop her from learning a rough lesson, like trying to stand up underneath a coffee table. I'll drag her out once, but after that she'll just have to bang her head. That's life, in both fact and allegory.

I think one of the major differences between then and now is what would have happened had my sister and I misbehaved or gotten caught doing something we shouldn't while walking around downtown La Grange. It wouldn't have been our parents who got in trouble. It would have been us (or specifically me, since I was In Charge). Other adults would have stepped in, treated us as the misbehaving children we were, and solved the problem. Our parents would have been absolved because they had Adult Shit to do and my sister and I would have been expected to just grow the fuck up.

A shame no one will do this to our president.

Oct. 10th, 2017

"...we are men of action. Lies do not become us..." -- Westley in The Princess Bride

I am writing reluctantly. TBK says I need to anyway. She's right. But there is no Muse anymore, or at least has not been for months. I do so only in hopes of staying in touch with what used to be a delightful habit and a calling. "Write every day!" is what they say but, really, they don't know.

On the one hand, we're in a delightful situation. We split a big duplex with co-workers who are great roommates in what I call The Socialist Experiment. We all bring what we can to the table (sometimes literally) and we are essentially three generations of experience and attitude. We are near our families without daily intrusions of such (this is important). We love seeing our granddaughter (pretty much) every week and being so close to Stu and Lily but without interfering or being a daily or hourly incursion. I'd hate that and they would too. The best parents tromp out their own space indepedent of in-laws and grandparents. We're close if needed, but far enough away.

We both remain part-time at The Woolley Market -- a wonderful spot to be, where we both can cook and I'm in charge of beer and wine and TBK gets well-deserved huge kudos for her tremendous food and the crew is spectacular. We love our little town on the edge of the Northern Cascades......

But goddammit.

I just wrote three paragraphs on how stupid our president is and another three on the absolute stupidity of his dwindling number of supporters. But I deleted them because no one cares. I refuse to rant anymore. Thanks to two decades of gerrymandering, the co-opting of our national system by the NRA and other rich white-boy lobbying groups and the sheer ineptness of any sort of organized opposition, I figure my best course of action is to simply play it out on a local level. That's always been the best appoach anyway, if John Adams can serve as a guide.

We're in serious times these days, with a mentally ill president, a theocratic VP and a Congressional leadership ignorant of public benefit and terrified of lobbyist abandonment. Our wages are stagnant, despite record low unemployment, our environment more imperiled than at any point in five decades and our infrastructure continues to crumble. Puerto Rico is an afterthought and our president now wants to conduct an IQ danceoff with the Secretary of State while keeping a close eye on who's standing up for the national anthem at some stadium somewhere.

Oh, and the rest of the civilized world laughs at us. Except Poland and a few other newly nationalist outfits with little to show but plenty of white faces and closed borders.

The problem is it's only going  to get worse. There's a whole cadre of folks thinking what we have now ain't far enough. They're the ones who think my daughter and granddaughter oughta be grateful just to have some goddamned man take notice they exist. These are the really scary mofos who see our current issues as only their beginning. They're the ones pushing denial of reproductive rights and all sorts of related crap that would resubjugate an entire gender. I'll not go into what they want for anyone who's not a card-carrying white boy. These Neanderthals hate the idea of being a minority.

What bothers me most of all is having to refight and re-encounter the old bullshit. We fought this crap in the mid '60s though the mid '70s and these days folks who never lived it are trying to bring back some bogus Better Days that Never Were. It's simply not true.

My life is pretty damned good these days in so many ways. I'm enjoying it.

While I can.

Aug. 15th, 2017

"...you know how you sound, Mr. Blaine?..." --Victor Laszlo in 'Casablanca'

We tried to watch TV news Saturday evening to get a sense of what was happening in Charlottesville, but all we got was the inane panel punditry that passes itself off as broadcast journalism anymore. I spent some three decades in that business and briefly wondered what icons like Murrow, Cronkite, Frank Reynolds and even KRLD's Alex Burton would have said. But they're all gone and so is the era of historical perspective with certain agreed-upon truths. Tried again Monday to see if maybe we could see TBK's daughter in the protest outside Trump Tower, but same result. This is why my only TV news watching anymore is spotty at best. It's not "fake" news (which so far I've seen just as unpleasant truths for the president), but more along the lines of flaccid pushback from an industry worried about audience erosion. Maybe if they got a journalistic hard-on, they could recover some of that. Glad I left.

Anyway, our sad excuse for a president again revealed his true self today and everyone's wagging their head about what a terrible guy he is, like this wasn't clear as Bombay Dry Gin three decades ago. Or even a year ago, when his rallies were lame excuses for racism and violence. But I log on every day see otherwise outwardly decent folks defending him in the "not all Trump voters" way. One of the memes implies judging all Trump voters by street Nazis is the same as judging all Muslims by ISIS.

Well, no.

I want to follow this by saying, "Dumbass." But I won't.

What the hell.

Dumbass.

It's the wrong word, since I have some otherwise very smart friends who voted for Donald Trump. Some are now very sorry they did. But it's also the right word because some are still making excuses for this sorry son of a bitch and that's what I don't get.

Since Day One of the campaign, this jackleg has encouraged violence and bigotry at literally every rally he has held. He has brought advocates of such into the White House and given them actual offices and titles and credibility. His Cabinet consists of halfwits or Goldman-Sachs oligarchs or those who would enforce a 1958 social code.

This isn't a political argument. We can talk all day about economic policy, health care, foreign affairs, gun or reproductive rights, the church/state divide, etc. I don't agree with Paul Ryan. But I also don't think he's a freaking sociopath. Mitch McConnell might be another matter. But at least he can admit defeat.

What I'm talking about here is being a decent human being. As in, "don't be a dick." As in, "we're all in this together." As in, "let's all just get along." But anymore this seems a foreign concept when some feel genetically superior and get encouragement from, as intoned in joint sessions of Congress, "the prrrresident of the United States." Listen -- I have plenty of politically conservative friends who I argue with on virtually any topic. But they couldn't pull the lever for this ningnong because it was clear he was and remains insane. No, he wasn't the only choice.

Those who voted for the president either recognized and encouraged the obvious bigotry and racism or they were willing to overlook it in pursuit of something else maybe grander and greater (or "her emails." Christ. Give me a freaking break). But, for the life of me, no one who still supports this lousy excuse for an administration can tell me what it is. Except they're afraid of something -- and that's simply a euphemism for bigotry and racism. It's worse when cloaked behind religion, which brings up our bobblehead vice-president. At least Trump cuts his own vile path. Mike Pence hasn't had an independent thought since, well.... oh, wait. His wife might be watching. Ain't happening.

I have to laugh at those who use the term "anti-fascist" and so forth to describe the pushback against the far right. To call "antifa" is to acknowledge there is indeed a "fa," which would be fascism -- as in the very thing we fought a damn war against 75 years ago. But it seems too many of my damn generation has either forgotten it or mis-studied it or simply doesn't care anymore. I got mine so fuck you, right?

...and that's the point. A particular cadre of society wants to recreate a mythical used-to-be that never really was. It seems the path toward that end includes a fear or rejection of anyone and anything that isn't or wasn't, um...... Wait. I'm not a racist. I don't advocate violence. What happens at these rallies "isn't who we are."

Well, yes it is. You opened the door and blocked it in place. The movement to "stir things up" in Washington kicked over an anthill that will sully our nation's international standing for a generation, if it ever recovers. If we ever become a true nation again. It's the politically motivated abdication of humanity that bothers me.

Nice work.

Dumbass.

Feb. 14th, 2017

"....in a land that's known as Freedom, how can such a thing be fair?" -- Graham Nash

I'm not usually one to just shut the world out with earbuds. I spent much of the earlier part of my adulthood wearing headphones at work every day -- jacking the sound of daily life to earbleed level while I broadcast it to the rest of the world. It has left me largely but functionally deaf, much to the usual delight of my kids and two wives and to the bewilderment of too many co-workers, who think I'm ignoring them. Sorry. I just don't hear shit anymore. At least I can still see.

...but this morning I was looking out the window at work and there's some Old Dude around my age trudging down the sidewalk, his earbuds ensconsed, hands jammed in quilted vest pockets, eyes focused clear and unafraid straight ahead and his mind is clearly focused on whatever the hell it is he's gotta face.

Or escape.

I had to wonder what was playing in those earbuds. When we lived in Southern California for a coupla years recently, I'd walk to work nearly every day and crank whatever fit the mood. The range stretched from The Beach Boys to Mana to whatever, but it was always for purely recreational purposes. The beat extended a stride, improved the cardio, reduced the boredom and made a good day even better.

...but it's stopped being recreational anymore. It's either to reinforce or as a defense mechanism. And things are happening so fast, we can't decide (to borrow a phrase from my dad) whether to shit or go blind.

For a brief while a few years ago, I contributed regularly to The Huffington Post. Given events since this past Jan. 20th, I thought I'd go back to it. I drew up a piece, complete with all kinds of hyperlinks, two weeks ago. The usual process is write a piece on Day One, it's edited on Day Two and published on Day Three. But it didn't happen this time because the relevence of my piece had vanished within three hours of its submission -- not because what I wrote had inaccuracies but because the bizarreness I'd written about had been superceded by even more weird, outrageous and wrongheaded events than I'd cited. Literally, my noontime observations of incivility and untruth were (rightfully) cast aside as not extreme enough before 4pm.

So here we are. I don't spend much time with earbuds these days, mainly because we've developed a day-to-day that's very pleasant, reinforcing and uplifting. We're surrounded by good, supportive friends and family. Our life is so sweet and good in so many ways right now. But that's only for our limited, personal and selfish outlook.

Without earbuds, every day and virtually every hour, my mind hears Bob Dylan. Woody Guthrie. Pete Seeger. Stephen Stills. Paul Simon. Joan Baez. Tish Hinojosa. David Crosby. Their words and music are disturbing, discomforting and, these days, very, very accurate. Demons we fought two and three generations ago are these days reincarnated, strengthened and bolstered by the blind and ignorant. It's only fitting music equally as old be brought to bear, since it won out before.

My g-g-generation has produced three presidents -- the current 70-year-old toddler, the dullwitted frat boy and the well-liked but inveterate womanizer who gave us private prisons and welfare "reform" - and the latter is by far the best of the lot. Hell of a legacy from the "Greatest" Generation (don't get me started). The sad thing is Gens X and Y are sucking wind and the Millennials are simply underwhelmed by politics and who can fucking blame them?

But I refuse, dammit. I refuse to stand down. I'm getting older, but this gives me something of a license Be A Dick if need be. And, despite the politically flatulent reputation of too many of my contemporaries lately, I will not retreat from our original goals of inclusion, empowerment and common brotherhood.

Resist. Every. Fucking. Day. Resist.

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