Archive for June, 2016

Thank You For Speaking

June 29th, 2016

“Thank you for speaking.”

I heard those words a few times Tuesday afternoon.

If you have read my post from a few days ago “I Go To Confront My Enemy” then you know that I had something in my heart and on my mind. I had to go to Bowling Green to comment on the governor’s disastrous health-care proposal.

I really thought I would be one of maybe a few who spoke up against it. Had to be ready to accept snickers from the crowd (laughs, not candy bars). Imagine my surprise when I was the first called to speak.

I was nervous but I got out what I needed to get out. I ended up being recorded by WBKO, interviewed by someone from WKU Public Radio and someone from the Louisville Courier-Journal. The meeting was streamed on WKU’s website. That was all very cool.

“Thank you for speaking.” That makes me feel good because other people felt the same way I did and were grateful that someone went up to say it. I’m proud of myself.

I’m also proud that as the meeting went on, every speaker that went up spoke against the proposal. It was an ill-conceived, poorly-thought out plan that wouldn’t help Kentuckians, take health care away from them and cost the state more money in the long run.

People from all walks of life. People who depended on medicaid and medicare, eye doctors and dentists, private care practitioners, private citizens, non-profit workers who work with mentally ill, homeless and victims of domestic violence. People who had not been considered by Matt Bevin’s new health care proposal.

It’s hard to stand up in front of a lot of people and admit to being vulnerable. To admit to needing help. I need help. I need medicaid and medicare. I cannot work. I’m not even close to good health and it would be a long road just to get back to a place of fair health. I’m just trying to maintain and keep my head up while politicians keep tinkering with my health care and every time they do it people like me have to pay.

 

This is about the state trying to curb spending and fix the deficit, but I can’t think of a more important thing to spend money on than the health and wellness of its’ citizens. Taking from low-income families is not a solution. Shaming them into giving up on receiving health care is a Scrooge-type twist of the knife.

 

So I spoke up. And after the meeting I heard it again and again. “Thank you for speaking.” That means a lot to me. A lot of good things were said and intelligent points were raised at the meeting. I’m proud of that moment in my life. No matter what comes of it or of Bevin’s proposal.

 

Later that day I called my mom and we talked about what I did because I hadn’t told her about it. I don’t know why I hadn’t mentioned it to her. But I went and she said “thank you for going”. She was glad I stood up and spoke, too.

I Go To Confront My Enemy

June 25th, 2016

I didn’t think I had any real enemies but I do. The governor of my own state is my enemy and he has a hard-on for making me and my fellow Kentuckians miserable. Perhaps he has it in his mind that he can turn the state into a giant smoking crater between now and 2019, the year where he will (hopefully) be voted the hell out of office.

Moments later, the cat was appointed to UL Board of Regents

Moments later, the cat was appointed to UL Board of Regents

This is irrational. Matt Bevin doesn’t hate me, does he? He doesn’t know me. And yet by tinkering with health care in Kentucky he keeps messing with me. I can’t help but take it personally even though it affects over a million other people.

 

There’s a public hearing on Tuesday in Bowling Green. I am going to address the changes Bevin wants to make to health care in Kentucky. The auditorium where the meeting is being held has capacity of about 160. It’s being held at ten in the morning. One of three meetings being held in the state, along with Frankfort and Hazard. He should have a meeting in Louisville as well but I doubt the University of Louisville would be hospitable after he fired the University Board of Regents and replaced then with his own handpicked stooges.

 

This will be a moment when I make my voice heard. I will have to stand up. I can’t stand up very well or for very long but I will stand up and I speak my piece. I may start shouting and cursing. He isn’t me. He doesn’t know what the average Kentuckian goes through. His life has been one of overwhelming privilege and now he tries to save money by punishing the poorest citizens while giving $18 million to some creep to build a fake Ark that won’t even float.

 

I have written from the safety of my home, on this website, on social media. I’ve made numerous phone calls to Frankfort. It’s not enough. I have to stand up and be counted as someone who said “no” to all this shit. No sideline garbage. I am the man for my times whether I want to be or not.

Eat That Question

June 24th, 2016

We could really use Frank Zappa right now but we lost him twenty-three years ago.

frank-zappa-live-in-luxemburg-1984-e4a72e96-f41a-4981-8341-31d7d3c75e1a

When a major news event breaks, I sometimes wonder what Frank would have had to say. After 9/11, or Hurricane Katrina or even now with the UK and its’ Brexit news. Frank died at the young age of fifty-two in ’93. It’s possible he could still be here if not for the cancer.

A new movie called “Eat That Question” compiles interview footage from Zappa’s entire career, from years before his ’60s fame until months before his death. He was an intelligent guy, outspoken and unafraid to state his opinion when asked. He fought for the First Amendment, the rights of creative people, and pushed the envelope in his own music. He fought governments, record companies, public views of what’s acceptable.

 

The world is a better place because Frank Zappa was in it. Frank Zappa stood for freedom and actually applied it instead of paying lip service to the idea of freedom. I would like it if somebody could do that now. Is it too hard now? To stand up for what you believe in wholeheartedly? To not compromise in your integrity or your art? To say what you want to say without fear of backlash? If it is then we’ll need another person to come along and show the way again. They needn’t have to compose music as incredible as “Peaches En Regalia” but it couldn’t hurt.

 

I want to see “Eat This Question” and am waiting for a screening somewhere near me. The nearest so far are in Indianapolis and Atlanta. I’m holding out for a Louisville or Nashville screening. I want to see this in a theatre. I want to see this with other people who want to see this. I want to take my best friends to see this and say “Here. Here is the guy I wanted to be when I grew up.”

I Have To Do Rolling Stone’s Job For Them

June 22nd, 2016

RollingStone.com has an article up called “22 Terrible Songs by Great Artists”. Two songs in and I already know they need my help. So I’m going to help them. They don’t know what they’re doing over there, what with the death of print media and the struggle to monetize clicks. Sometimes in the middle of all that, people forget to make sure their content is tip-top. It’s clear that they ran out of steam after about 15 and forgot they needed to include hip-hop acts just for inclusion’s sake.

 

Their pick: “The Laughing Gnome” by David Bowie (1967)

My pick: “Too Dizzy” by David Bowie (1987)

Bowie was embarrassed by “Gnome” but being a 19-year-old who wasn’t DAVID FREAKING BOWIE yet he had to do what he could in order to be famous. So let’s leave “Gnome” alone and pick “Too Dizzy” from 1987’s “Never Let Me Down”, a song so bland and boring Bowie left it off future rereleases. “Gnome” might be worse, but 1987 Bowie had more options than he had twenty years earlier and something as phoned-in as “Too Dizzy” should be heralded with equal mockery.

 

Their pick:”There’s A World” by Neil Young(1972)

My pick: “Lotta Love” by Neil Young (1978)

Hear me out, HEAR ME OUT. It’s a fine song, but listen to this version. It’s like he’s barely trying. Then you hear the Nicolette Larson version and then you go “oh, that’s how it should sound”.  Like that’s what a song sounds like when the musicians are trying and the microphones are pointed they should be and the singer cares and someone is actually producing the thing. Neil didn’t give a shit.

 

Their pick:”Tea For One” by Led Zeppelin (1976)

My pick: “Hots On For Nowhere” by Led Zeppelin (1976)

Same Zeppelin album. Presence isn’t a good album by any means. “Tea For One” is actually not a bad track. Starts with a nice riff then goes into a slow blues burn. “Hots On For Nowhere” is just. . .there. It exists in the universe. And the title is horrible. I’m not even going to link it. Just picture the most generic, shabbily recorded Zeppelin song. There you have “Hots On For Nowhere”.

 

Their pick: “France” by The Grateful Dead

My pick: “Truckin'” by The Grateful Dead

With the exception of a handful of songs, the best and worst Grateful Dead songs are tied. If you say the Dead are “great” artists? Fine, it’s your list.

 

Their pick: “Did You Steal My Money” by The Who (1981)

My pick: “Music Must Change” by The Who (1978)

Why pick on post-Moon Who when we can pick on a song from the last Moon-era Who album that didn’t have Moon on it because he was in such decline he couldn’t play the drums. So the song has no drums, just a few cymbal splashes. The only reason either song works at all is due to Roger Daltrey’s vocals.

 

Their pick: “My Fist Your Face” by Aerosmith (1985)

My pick: “Voodoo Medicine Man” by Aerosmith (1989)

The ‘Smith were trying to sober up and “My Fist Your Face” is the best they could come up with under the circumstances. 1989 (fully-sober) ‘Smith has this lyric “Livin lovin, gettin’ loose/masturbatin’ with a noose/now someone’s kickin’ out the chair”. I confess that I thought the lyric said “masturbating with a goose”. Why, because Steven Tyler seems capable of anything.

 

Their pick: “We Are The Clash” by The Clash (1985)

My pick: “Mensforth Hill” by The Clash (1980)

It’s literally another song in reverse. The whole thing. It’s from Sandinista! which is three-LP’s which is a sure sign of filler bullshit. “We Are The Clash” is the second best song on the worst Clash album because Mick Jones was fired. On “Mensforth Hill”, there’s no such excuse. This is the Clash in their prime. And it’s filler.

 

Their pick: “Driftin’ Too Far From Shore” by Bob Dylan (1986)

My pick: “Man Gave Names To All The Animals” by Bob Dylan (1979)

Bob Dylan has put out a lot of stinkers. He even recorded an album with the Grateful Dead. He did three albums of Christian-influenced originals. “Man Gave Names” is a reggae song. Bob Dylan doing Christian reggae just pushes things too far.

 

Their pick: “German Kid” by Dee Dee King (1989)

My pick: “Go Lil’ Camaro Go” by Ramones (1987)

Dee Dee King is the rap persona of Dee Dee Ramone. It sucks. Everyone knows it. It’s not great. The Ramones are great. So I chose a bad Ramones song written by Dee Dee. It has backup vocals by Debbie Harry. What a waste.

 

Their pick: “My World” by Guns N’ Roses (1991)

My pick: “Get In The Ring” by Guns N’ Roses (1991)

Insecure Axl challenges a bunch of rock writers to a fight in song. Fails to follow up with an actual fight even when he was taken up on it. Got beat up at a party by Tommy Hilfiger in the 00’s. Couldn’t beat up anybody but his wife. Wimp.

 

Their pick: “Smart Girls” by Brian Wilson (1989)

My pick: “Some Of Your Love” by The Beach Boys (1980)

“Smart Girls” was not officially released. Brian was still under the “management” of Eugene Landy. Go back a decade to when all the Beach Boys were still around and explain the lack of quality control. Late ’70s Beach Boys is a real pile. Look at the album: The band is trapped in a giant bubble in a frozen wasteland.

 

Their picks which I won’t argue with:

Elvis Presley: Confidence

Chuck Berry: My Ding-a-Ling

Paul Simon : Cars Are Cars

Joni Mitchell: Dancin’ Clown

Bruce Springsteen: Real Man

 

 

 

LeBron

June 20th, 2016

I’m going to tell you a story about a hero. Heroes are hard to find. I learned that in a Fleetwood Mac song. But this hero is easy as heck to find. His name is LeBron and he plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

 

In the short term he doesn’t seem like a hero. A basketball star and maybe the best player in the NBA lead his team to a championship. So what? But it’s a story that goes back a long way. It goes back to when LeBron entered the NBA, a fresh-faced high schooler out of Akron, Ohio. Drafted by the Cavaliers, dubbed “King James”, the next Michael, the next Kobe. But his path is far more interesting than their paths.

 

If you really want to go back, you can aim the prelude beginning in 1989 when the best player in NBA played for the Bulls and the Cavaliers were another team he had to go through in order to be the best. A moment called “The Shot”.

 

 

It was the beginning of a rivalry that would continue for years but history records Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls as on the upswing while the Cleveland Cavaliers would eventually begin a decline that didn’t cease until the drafting of LeBron in 2003.

 

Cleveland, the sad city in decline. A decades-long joke of a city. Championship barren in professional for the last fifty-two years. The Browns, Indians, and Cavs had all failed to bring home a title for five decades. The city was cursed, in sports and in life.

 

LeBron James spent a good amount of his NBA career as the villain. It started in 2007 when LeBron’s Cavs failed in the NBA Finals. It continued when the Cavs failed to make it back to the Finals and was confirmed when LeBron needed a prime-time ESPN special to decide he’d take his talents to the Miami Heat where he would win two NBA championships. Without Cleveland, which faltered without him.

 

A local boy leaves his hometown team a failure and comes back from Miami a man, leading his team to two straight Finals and a championship in 2016.

 

A championship! In Cleveland? In 2016? Really? It happened. And it couldn’t have happened without the villainous foils of the Golden State Warriors. The Oakland Google dingbats. A nice area overran by the tech community. Ugh. The snobs vs. the slobs. And LeBron is the slob captain even if he’s not a slob at all. Even if he’s a near-billionaire. Because it’s a redemption story. And the industrial town vs. the tech community city.

 

LeBron is a hero for being the man who helped break the curse for Cleveland. It took a lot for one guy to burden. It took leaving and playing the villain. But when you see a hundred thousand people dancing on the street after Game 7, you realize what impact a hero can have.

Gunsplaining

June 14th, 2016

Wow. What a horrible weekend, eh?

 

I wrote the last post in the immediate aftermath of the Orlando gay nightclub shooting. The one about Zandig, the ultraviolent hardcore wrestler. It was a weird thing to write at a weird time to be awake. And a horrible moment.

 

Fifty dead, over fifty wounded in an Orlando, Florida gay nightclub. It was not a paramilitary group. It was not a Seal Team one would use to take out Osama Bin Laden. It was one (1) person. One (1) private citizen carrying a Sig Sauer MCX rifle.

 

Anything that can take down that many people that quickly is too powerful. It does not belong on the market. At least 100 direct victims of this senseless tragedy and even more relatives and friends affected by one person’s attack.

 

I spent Sunday away from the computer and the Internet (yes, I capitalize like one might capitalize “TV” or “God”). It was a real good idea to do that. I spent some time with my band practicing. I got an eye exam. I went to a concert in Bowling Green. Some of the people I hung out with at the concert happened to be a lesbian couple and I volunteered my band to play their wedding reception in the fall. I’ll be glad to do that. They are my friends.

 

I have friends in the LGBT community. I’ll stop bragging now. The Orlando attack was a specific attack on people in that community in a place that they congregate. Every one of them innocent.

 

For me, two major takeaways from the Orlando attack. We need to do more to protect the rights of our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community. We need to do away with the type of weaponry that can cause one person to kill fifty and wound fifty more by the time the cops arrive to shoot him down.

 

gunsplaining

There is so much more to say but I’ve coined a new phrase: “Gunsplaining”. This happens when gun owners show up on social media to correct people who are hysterical about the latest mass shooting/massacre. “Assault/automatic weapons are already illegal.” “That gun is not an automatic weapon. You don’t know what you’re talking about.” It’s like mansplaining, but for guns. Feel free to spread it around. It’s safer than rapid gunfire.

A Man For His Post-Apocalyptic Time

June 12th, 2016

The world is on a collision course to Hell. No one disputes this anymore. The Zika virus threatens to wipe us out, that is if we aren’t mowed down in an act of terrorism (international or domestic). This year’s Olympics are going to be held in Rio where the sewage-laced water contains bacteria resistant to drugs and vaccine yet athletes from around the world are going to go and compete. The next two World Cup soccer tournaments are held in Russia (where you can be made to “disappear” if you are known to be homosexual) and Qatar (where hundreds of migrant workers have died building the stadiums that will host these soccer games).

 

Are you beginning to feel like you’re living in a late ’80s action film like The Running Man or RoboCop? Because I certainly do. Movies set in a dystopic urban setting America. Not post-apocalyptic but not that far off from it, either. This is the era of ultraviolence. An ultraviolent society needs to get its’ kicks in kinky ways.

 

And that is why we need John Zandig.

 

 

You may be your asking yourself “Who the fuck is John Zan- OH MY GOD THOSE PEOPLE ARE TOTALLY DEAD AREN’T THEY THOSE TWO GUYS WHO WENT OFF THE ROOF THERE OH MY WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?”

 

That is a fair response. I believe both of those men are alive. That was John Zandig piledriving Joey Janela through a plate of glass and fire off the roof of a tall building. I’m not exactly sure what they were doing there except putting themselves at great bodily risk.

 

If you believe we are on our way to some sort of Mad Max: Fury Road hellscape then maybe it’s better to represent the times you come from then live in denial. I’m not saying you will enjoy it or even that you should enjoy it. But watching the hardcore ultraviolent wrestling matches of one John Zandig will tell you more about living in the 21st century than many other pieces of disposable pop culture.

 

 

John Zandig was a pro wrestler who formed a league called Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW), which is still active to this day although Zandig sold the company years ago. CZW is still most associated with hardcore wrestling, going to (sinking to) a level that even the beloved ECW wouldn’t go to (5:30 in the video above you can see Zandig being hung from the ceiling on meat hooks).

 

 

Some people want to watch the world burn. Others want to burn things and then throw other people through those burning things. And if you think this is isolated, you’re crazy. In 2000, Zandig went to Japan where he found some like-minded people and they decided to throw down. This looks like it could have been done yesterday. This is the strangest, dumbest, most over-the-top amazing thing I’ve seen this morning and I’ve seen this video before.

 

 

So many aspects of pop culture look to be inoffensive to the point of antiseptic. Meanwh- OH SHIT THEY SET THE FUCKING RING ON FIRE GODDAMN RUN FOR YOUR FUCKING LIVES THIS IS A NIGHTMARE WHY IS THAT GUY JUMPING OFF THE TOP OF THE TV TRUCK?

Zandig

It’s 2016 and he has returned. He is back after years out of the game. Why? Because it’s his time. Maybe the world wasn’t ready to accept where it was headed when Zandig was in his shit. But now? Now with the election a six-month crawl away and with the staggering number of violent incidents in the news. . . maybe we don’t only condone violence, we sort of need it or something to stand in for it. . . ultraviolence. For one man so loved the world, he gave his blood over and over again. He also gave the blood of his opponents. And now he’s back to do it again. And maybe we’ll cheer and laugh and not be so damn violent ourselves. Maybe we’ll channel our bloodlust into hardcore wrestling and keep our streets safe and our guns unloaded. Maybe we won’t even need guns anymore. Maybe we’ll be so happy watching people hit each other with light tubes and Nerf bats covered in barbed wire we’ll decide that we don’t want to shoot each other anymore.

 

Nah. That’s too much to hope for. But one can dream. And a dream goes on forever

I Hold Back

June 5th, 2016

I hold back a lot.

 

This is common sense. Why give it all away? You can overshare. I have been forthcoming about a lot of things. My struggles with depression, my health, my friendships and relationships. My struggle with mourning. I have shared when it seemed beneficial to me. And yet there’s so much I don’t share, whether out of self-preservation or paranoia.

 

Adversity is not a mountain. Adversity is a hurricane. Adversity is one hurricane after another. You are the one that has to withstand it. You don’t have to overcome anything. You have to withstand adversity. You have to endure wave after pounding wave until it subsides.

 

I try not to let things get to me but they do. This week was the first anniversary of Colonel Jon’s early passing. He was buried a year ago on the sixth of June, if I am not mistaken. There were fifteen pallbearers that day and I was one of them. It affects a lot of people still and I am but one. He passed away June the first. Some days I will remember for all the wrong reasons.

 

Muhammad Ali passed away. A great man. A great Kentuckian. The Greatest. I keep thinking about how he wouldn’t go for the draft induction in 1967 during the Vietnam war. It was a brave stand to take. I don’t know if there are many celebrities or sports figures who would be willing to take any kind of stand in this day and age. A stand that would cost them years of their prime, years of income, potentially years in jail. On principle. We aren’t those people. Celebrities don’t have to be those people, and normal people don’t have to be generally either thanks in part to the draft dodgers and those who objected to and protested the Vietnam war. Those who helped end the draft.

 

There’s a lot of reasons to be down. A great man is gone. On the bright side, a great man who was held down by the horror of Parkinson’s disease is free. His pain is over. The slings and arrows of haters and racists are even less potent than they were when he was alive.

 

Life is a battle with hatred and pain. I feel like half of what I’m writing is being co-written by George Lucas. But it’s true.