It's important to know when to quit. Never been a strong point for me. I have shared things here that should not have been written down. In fact, if I took the time to read back through these five years, most of it should have remained private. I apologize.
This isn't the first time that I've come to this obvious verdict. The fun that I derive from pasting my head on other bodies so that I can see the world and dance with pretty women has kept me going through periods of doubt.
My plan, as if I ever had a plan, is to wind this thing down gradually. I'll be in touch. If I share too much, remind me. You don't need my take on politics or religion. Certainly not on romance.
Live long enough and you run out of excuses. What I once saw as lines between beauty and heartache blur and the cosmos becomes a grand extravaganza in glorious 3-D and technicolor with a lush Jack Nitzsche soundtrack.
If it weren't for all this love in my heart, I probably wouldn't believe in anything.
When I tell you that I have no purpose, that doesn't really mean that I have nothing to do. I'm here to save the world and you are, too.
Maybe if you never love, your heart never breaks. Maybe. If it's time that heals a broken heart, how much time are we talking about?
Oh, how many times have I promised "forever?" I like to present myself as a man of honor. Someone who keeps his word. The only "forevers" that I can find around here are the ones gone on. Oh, and the unrequited love.
They let the heroes carry the olympic torch. Hopeless romantics carry that other one. You know- that one that just keeps burning you.
Times like these help me understand how folks believe in heaven. Oh, how I wish that I did. My consolation prize is love. When the body crumbles only love remains. I'm lucky. I've always been lucky. The love that I've seen, the love that has come to me, overwhelms me.
My own love has been watered with tears.
I guess I'm about the hokiest person in the world. I don't care. I love you.
Poppa, if you've got time, maybe you could tell me just one more time about how you picked me up at the pound. Tell me about all of the nice people oohing and ahhing about me being the cutest thing they had ever seen as we made our way out to the old Volvo. Remind me about how cocky I was as I stood on the floor of the front seat and watched you drive us home.
Let's get all misty-eyed thinking about Charcoal and Mama Kitty. Our Angel stayed with us until last year. We took that one pretty hard, didn't we?
Tell me again how I've seen Georgia and North Carolina. Talk to me about me in the snow and swimming in the Suwannee River.
Everybody seemed to agree that I was about the best athlete in the world until I tore up my ACL. Remember how we slept on the floor together in the sunroom for a week waiting for it to heal.
We moved a few years back and this became home and we were a family, me and you. Still are.
The doctor told you that I would let you know and I am. I have loved you all of my sweet life and I am literally loving you with my last breath.
While most of our pals rushed to the monkey races as soon as we got past the gate at the fair, my cousin, George, and I scurried straight to the teasing taunts of the sleazy barker pushing the prurient treasures inside the tent holding Club Lido. Every year there was a new peroxide blonde. I always fantasized that she was from Minnesota, right out of high school. I probably wasn't that far off.
The smell of sawdust and hot grease. Pig races. Oh, I miss it all. Not enough to ever go again, of course.
What I probably miss the most is the oddities. Not just the sideshows with the dog faced boy and the bearded lady. Those were always too sad for me. No, I long for a glimpse of the world's biggest bull and the man in the iron lung. Yeah, that was sad, too, but otherworldly. A precursor of reality TV.
This year Jerry Lee Lewis is performing at the Strawberry Festival. The Killer. Eighty two years old. The original rock'n'roll oddity.
Oh, holding hands. My first memories of holding a girl's hand all involve the fair. I miss holding hands.
We vote them out of office or we accept tyranny under this plutocracy. They mock our marches. Our candlelight vigils don't make their radar. While we convince ourselves that the government is mired in some sort of impasse they defund the State Department, the Corporation For Public Broadcasting, the EPA. They continue privatization of government services and cut taxes for themselves. They dismantle the sketchy start that we finally had for a public healthcare system and pour more billions into a bloated military machine.
There is no reason for me to name the repulsive sycophants who are enabling this repugnant monster. You see them on the news every night. Since the 1% is fairly obviously a slim sliver of the voting population, a coalition was formed. Somehow single issue voters who worry that someone is coming for their guns have joined forces with folks convinced that we don't say Merry Christmas any longer. To make it a party, no pun intended, the anti-abortionists have made nice with the folks who fret that we're not as white as we once were.
We're still talking about 35-38% of voters. Of course with some help from gerrymandering and hostile governments you can win with those numbers. For proof check Twitter.
Two years ago I would have scoffed at the suggestion that we would allow our free press to be threatened. You could not have convinced me that the intelligence community could be undermined from within.
Honestly, I want to sit here and write about rock'n'roll shows that I saw as a kid. Let me get back to whining about a broken heart. Oh, how I long for the days when I went to movies and listened to music. Until we exterminate the vermin in D.C., however, I'm on a mission.
Be leery of the leader with all the answers. The real scientist has a deeper understanding of god than many men of the cloth. The true seeker is always aware that the truth is in the mystery. In some ways god is a moving target. Here's a tip- don't mail money to anyone who tells you who god is and what god wants.
Me? All I want is to save the world. Maybe I should have set my goals more modestly. Let's be honest here, I wasn't blessed with all that many skills for this role. I figure that it's like catching a chameleon. I can't be obvious about it. I have to sneak up on it, if you know what I mean.
If you haven't given up on this claptrap already, you're probably asking yourself, " What the heck do you plan on saving the world from?"
Well, sir, to start with, if you're talking to yourself, don't end your sentences with prepositions.
My ambition is to ease suffering, stop war, end intolerance, provide love. I want to make sure that hungry people are fed and that sick people are cared for. I'm anxious to nurture the planet and all the non-human inhabitants, too.
Funny thing is most of the people in my life have accused me of having no ambition. Some of them would be happy if I would just tune my guitar. Clean up my yard. Tuck in my shirt.
As I check the New York Times this morning I'm reminded that my progress is shaky and I'm aware that the clock is ticking. I notice, too, that I end sentences with prepositions.
I'll tell you this, though- I love with all my heart just as hard as I can.
We can't out-hate them. In the first place, that's what they're good at. Besides, what kind of world would that make? As usual the kids see the truth. They're demanding that adults do something to change this gun situation. Let's change the whole shebang while we're at it.
What are you rebelling against, Ronny?
Whadda' you got?
1. Gun control
Yeah, let's call it what it is. Don't let them set the narrative. If they're too dumb to understand the second amendment, that shouldn't define the struggle. We control drugs, speed limits, alcohol sales and zoning. Guns should be controlled.
It doesn't matter whether we elect men or women but let's make sure that we don't continue to elect men who don't respect women. Legislation to insure equal pay should be written now.
With a defense budget more than 400% of China's we need to completely re-do our military. Again, they have set the narrative. If you question one of their wars or request specifics on their budget,
you're not patriotic enough. Cue General Eisenhower!
For starters, let's get it out of politics. While we're at it let's enforce laws against gerrymandering and let's legislate term limits. We can really reform the tax code and begin to pay for infrastructure and a social safety net. Where do we get the money? From where it is! They're not going to like that.
5. Health care
If pharmaceutical companies don't want to make drugs that can be purchased by sick people, maybe they're in the wrong business. Jonas Salk developed and gave away the polio vaccine. Those little twits in suspenders with their money and third homes don't develop anything. They peddle stocks. If insurance companies only want to sell product for healthy people they're not really in the insurance business. They rob folks and build tall buildings downtown. They're crooks and they're in the real estate business.
Now, if all of this sounds like "socialism" and you're wondering if I'm against "capitalism" it's merely that, once again, we have allowed them to set the narrative. Here's what I'm for: fair, honest, compassion, safety, peace, transparency.
I suppose that means that I'm against corruption, dishonesty, secrecy, war, environmental degradation and greed.
People come in good and bad, seems to me, not socialist and capitalist.
Allow me to suggest a new narrative. It's all about love. Look at the real leaders in history. People are the true resources and the well being of the people is our responsibility. The children and the ones who can't take care of themselves are our first priority.
Anybody can make money if they start with money and they write the rules. Anybody. Those two bunches who control our political system don't represent me and they don't fit my definition of "party" either. We need heroes to run for office. Heroes who make it fashionable to talk about peace and love.
1. Rapists and drug dealers are pouring across our border with Mexico. If we build a tall, pretty wall they will be kept out. Mexico will, of course, pay for this wall.
No, they're not. Can't be done. No, they won't.
2. Climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese. The climate is always changing. The scientific community disagrees on the data.
No, it's not. Donald Trump made this up. Yes, but not at this rate. No, they don't. There are some hacks funded by certain industries who accept money to challenge facts. You might check back on the tobacco "debate."
3. The second amendment guarantees every citizen the right to bear guns. Democrats have been trying to do away with this right for years.
The second amendment was intended to keep a militia armed to protect the population from tyranny. You might consider the present administration tyranny. I do. If you think that your bullshit bumpstock might defend you from the industrial military complex, you might want to re-think it all. If you've been feeding your family with wild game from the hunting lodge like Don Jr. and Eric, I don't know of any Democrats who have their eye on your gun.
4. It will all trickle down. Clean coal will put the miners back to work. Manufacturing will come roaring back when we finish deregulation.
No, it won't. Never has. Coal will come back when spats come back. Deregulation benefits greedy business owners at the expense of our health and quality of life. There has never been any sign whatsoever that they intend to share any gains.
5. Obamacare has ruined the finest healthcare system in the world. The Democrats party would socialize the system completely and demolish this great tradition without protection from the Freedom Caucus and a few Republican heroes.
Our healthcare system is a sad joke unless you're wealthy, a U.S. senator or representative or you have particularly lucky genes. Look at our infant mortality rates.
I could go on. And on. My point, if I have a point, is that we're down to facts vs. lies; good vs. evil; greed vs. compassion. We're beyond red and blue states, Democrats and Republicans. It was obvious to some folks that the U.S.S.R. was crumbling. Look around. Why should we allow ourselves to be bullied by thieves, nazis, cowards, nitwits and narcissists?
Okay, that's it. I have shot off my mouth for years about being an anarchist. Now I have had enough. This government does not serve me. Does not represent me in any way. This school shooting is the final straw. Life is bigger than Washington, D.C. The Koch brothers money doesn't mean a thing to me. Charles and David are old. I don't care how fancy their caskets are, they're going in the dirt to be devoured by worms.
Instead of working to right the wrongs of slavery we demonize the dreamers who were brought here for a better life. Rather than atonement for what we did to fifty million natives we allow a scrawny little fucker from Wisconsin to trick uneducated poor people to strip away all means of support including health care for them. I don't need to remind you that his healthcare is funded by taxpayer dollars. We pay his salary and fund his retirement. The Koch brothers pay for his campaigns.
In junior high school I learned that anarchists were violent. Up to no good. Well, as I read through the new testament it seems to me that Jesus was an anarchist by my definition. Funny thing is, they called him the Prince of Peace.
Me? I don't kill bugs. I drive the speed limit. Maybe. I certainly don't exceed it! I suppose that I'm a socialist, pacifist, patriotic anarchist. I don't care much what you think of me.
My vocation is love and my tools are three chords and a fountain pen.
It's pretty much all random unless, of course, you happen to be riding in the back seat in Dallas. Meanwhile, fools rush in and fools fall in love. We generally prefer the term "poet."
My plans to start a 12 step program for victims hit a snag this week when I discovered that the snappy moniker, VA, was taken. Back to the drawing board, I suppose. Is that further back than square one?
Do ends ever justify means? Do you suppose that loneliness is ever a legitimate alibi? Asking for a friend.
So ol' Elton is calling it quits. I booked him for a concert here on his first tour. He wasn't anywhere near a rock'n'roll star. Not a legend. No icon. He wore tan, corduroy overalls. He did dance on the Steinway concert grand which cost my boss, Phil Gernhard, a pretty penny.
Oh, I remember old geezers telling tales about the swing era, arguing about whether or not it was over. Sure, Ed Shaughnessy played his old drum kit five nights a week in Doc Severinsen's orchestra. Even if you closed your eyes you weren't gonna make believe you were listening to Jack Teagarden or Charlie Ventura, though. Technically those guys could swing. Technically don't count.
Let's drink a toast to Little Richard and the Killer and Don Everly.
I hear some songs that I really like on the radio. Technically, they rock. Technically still don't count.
Alone seems like such a sad word. Creativity lurks there. So does despair. Slowly now and finally I begin to understand what makes me different from most other folks. I wasn't instilled with shame, inhibition. I wasn't told that I was the center of the universe as a child. I was the center of the universe. I never had to earn love, I was showered with boundless, unconditional love at every turn.
My first grade teacher, Miss Gamon, came to visit while I was in the hospital recuperating from my tonsillectomy. She held my hand and told me all about who the smartest kids were with me gone. Oh, I loved Miss Gamon.
Cynicism never occurred to me.
As Lottie taught me to pray, beginning with, "Now I lay me down to sleep...," it ended with, "Give us peace on earth and end this dreadful, dreadful war. Amen." It was never about this war or that war. We were praying for an end to the horror and the evil of war. Amen, indeed.
Of course cynicism and sarcasm came to me. Honestly, I was pretty good at it. See what I mean.
Somehow I always seem to find my way home. I'm Maxine's son. Lottie's boy. I am the smartest kid in the class, the center of the universe. You are, too.
You'll find what you're looking for. Be sure to look for the right thing. Patience may be a virtue but it's not my strong suit. Oh, I've described myself as a patient man but I'm really just talking about being stubborn. On a warming planet, I'll wait till hell freezes over but I won't like it.
Raise a fist for freedom and raise a glass for love.
To tell you the truth I'm a touch ashamed of this old raggedy heart. I'll keep it at home on Valentine's Day. Some of us just consider that a holiday for amateurs.
Oh, the stories I could tell. This is not the first low point in our culture during my tenure. I'm hoping to live long enough to see a golden age, an enlightenment that re-aligns the populace. In the meantime I'm planning to listen to a lot of music that I've been ignoring and I'm gonna look up at more stars. There are songs waiting for me to write them and I will.
In a running start towards Valentine's Day I think about love. Well, I suppose that I always think about love. If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn't have known much. Oh well.
Give us peace on earth and end this dreadful, dreadful war.
Here I find myself searching for my own distractions. I'm afraid that if I tear out the cable connection I'll wind up peeking through a neighbor's window. This is becoming a place that I don't want to live anymore. Where are the heroes?
It's not democracy that I mourn at this point. It's human decency, empathy, compassion. Love.
As fifty million Native Americans were being annihilated, it must have felt very surreal. Where were the heroes?
Is it just me or is the human race failing to live up to its potential? Maybe my expectations were too high. We tend to kill the good ones, don't we?
Maybe my only role here is to show the ones around me where the joy hides.
The villains have devised a way to keep any of us from criticizing the military industrial complex. Shame the critic as unpatriotic. Scare the populace with the threat of terrorism, nuclear holocaust, raging immigrants. Imply that to question the military is to disrespect the soldier.
The real enemy wears stars.
We need to fight for love. Not oil, power, land and ego.
Well, sir, having been sliced and diced, fried, dyed and laid to the side, folded, spindled and mutilated, run over, run down and run ragged- here comes Valentine's Day. If cupid sees his shadow I don't see my heart until April fools' day. I'll be glad when this silliness is over.
Sometimes I worry, whatever will I do when my beauty fades? How will I make my living? Then I remember, I don't have any beauty. I don't do anything. You call this a living?
The simple minded always seemed pure of heart in my eyes. Then came politics.
If overthinking is the major source of unhappiness, I must be the most miserable soul alive. To tell you the truth, I'm making big plans for happiness. I'm learning more about love and dignity from my sweet Jamaica as our precious time together runs out.
No wonder I've never loved successfully. I've wasted time looking for it and it's always right in front of you. Let your love flow, indeed.
Sometimes the quicksand of despair gets the upper hand and I writhe for what seems like forever in an attempt to figure it all out. You might just call it the blues. I come by it honestly. My mom had a knack for misery.
Lucky for me, I score high on the other end of the scale, as well. Maxine had a penchant for joy, too. I test well.
Sometimes I talk too much. Sing too loud. I see stuff that other folks don't see. Oh, it's there. You just have to jiggle the dial to pick up my frequency. In an AM world, I'm all FM.
If you're gonna keep your soul and your heart open, you're gonna suffer some scrapes and some bruises. If you don't, you're gonna miss the best parts. Don't look for love, just love.
If I had known I was gonna live this long I would have danced more. Loved harder. I wish I had peed outside more often like the other guys. I regret not having spent more time with each and every pet. I'm sorry that I chased the almighty buck, sold out and made all that commercial pop music.
Just kidding about that one.
If I ever told you that I love you then rest assured that I love you.
At some stage in life I remember overhearing older folks whining that there was a time when their spelling was perfect and their handwriting was pretty. I never believed a word of it. Now I can't spell kat. I can recall watching old fools pick up hula hoops and sigh about how easy it used to be as it slipped over the beer belly and down over the white socks. There's nothing to forget. Right? I can juggle bowling balls as well as I can hula hoop.
We all laughed a decade ago when Willie Nelson quipped that he had "outlived his dick."
I suppose that I've defined myself by rock'n'roll since I was a kid. Everything that I might call myself sounds pretentious as it echoes in my head. I'm no poet. Oh, I can string together a little alliteration and a few cheap rhymes but if you're waiting for me to swoop in for the kill with a pinch of assonance or a bit of flashy onomatopoeia with sentiment to stir your patriotism, take a seat.
If anything I'm less of an artist and I don't qualify for musician by anybody's standards.
Rock'n'roll was an attitude. The music was incidental.
Chuck Berry was an artist. A poet. A musician. Chuck Berry was a genius. Chuck Berry was rock'n'roll.
When a nineteen year old white boy went downtown in Memphis in 1954 wearing pink pants and a black lace shirt with too much eye makeup, that was a punk. That was attitude. You ever been to Memphis?
Little Richard. Gene Vincent. Fats Domino. Even the names drip attitude. What's an Elvis Presley ?
The music wasn't new in 1956 and the music's not dead in 2018. The attitude went out of fashion. The fact that it was unfashionable then is what sold it to us- the rockers.