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The Most Sane Thing Is To Say Goodbye to Patriotism…

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Patriot missile

Patriot is a real missile and a metaphoric word of mass destruction

Bloody Hell!

I’m tired of looking into the same sun and getting my eyes burned.

I’m not Catholic so I’ll confess it here… I listen to far too much CNN.

It’s an anti-Trump thing and a nasty addiction. Someday I’ll go back to cocaine and chocolate-coated popcorn.

Now it might not be cable news per se, but I hear the word patriot bandied about a lot.

Uh-oh…. it’s coming up…. yup… here it comes… Rant time… here goes…

I have a few pet peeves, and the word PATRIOT is on my Top Ten list.

…………….

CAMBRIDGE DICTIONARY
patriot:
… person who loves their country, and, if necessary, will fight for it.

…………….

You hear Patriot, I hear Polarizing.

Samuel Johnson: Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.

Patriotism sets up a ME vs YOU scenario. Good witch vs Bad witch. You are or you aren’t.

good vs bad witch

Patriotism is a rebel statue that implies separation under the guise of unity.

Patriotism suggests that if you reject anything emanating from “the other” (gun control, abortion, BLM, LGBTQ rights, gender equity, socialized medicine, etc etc) side of the ideological fence, then YOU are not a patriot.

Patriotism is a patriarchal word. Men make fists and pound desks and shout aloud.

Women understand. How many women use the word patriotism? Most women play games where everyone wins: no losers, fewer battles, fewer monuments and statues to war “heroes”.

Do we call the (former) Dixie Chicks unpatriotic because they reject a war? Is kneeling during an anthem as bad as mixing pickles and peanut butter on your sandwich? Is protesting an oil pipeline a sign of unpatriotism or … perhaps… just an expression of a firm belief?

Oscar Wilde – Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious.

Patriot has become a bitter wedge that divides.

A wedge and a wall that separates the good guys from the bad guys.

Is building walls the answer to our global problems?

A hungry person in Sudan, or Syria, or… even in my own town, is a hungry person in my eyes, regardless of borders or continent.

hunger

The answer to the question is not segregation and a simpleminded it’s your problem, deal with it.

Did we learn anything from segregating black children into ghetto schools and backs of buses? Or hijacking indigenous kids into residential schools?

The world is so interconnected now that I wonder how we can continue to look at the sun and not get burned.

We all need to be ready to do what we can to think of doing the stuff that is necessary and restorative.

It’s difficult, complicated and messy – change of action and thought always is – but compassionate human minds can and do find answers. It’s the reason humans are still walking this planet.

Can we agree to find a kinder, gentler solution without resorting to “patriotism”?

It’s not a big answer, but a tiny step forward…

Every year we add a host of new words to our lexicon. Social isolation and COVID will be a part of our dictionaries next year.

Language evolves and the strong and meaningful survive. Patriot is a word that has lost its usefulness in the earthbound web of humanity.

Run up the global United Nations flag of inclusivity and equality.

Patriot(ism) … It’s time to set it on a boat and push it away into a gentle sea along with my other pet peeve words moderation and retirement.

……………………

Post Script: I’m a slow learner… after writing all of the above, while looking up the definition for PATRIOT in the Oxford English Dictionary, I found this:

“2017 – Oxford University Press have confirmed that the word ‘patriot’ will no longer feature in future editions of the Oxford English Dictionary. 

The words ‘patriotic’ and ‘patriotism’ will also be removed, due to concerns that they have become synonymous with racial hatred and xenophobic buffoonery.”

Fishermen preparing for fishing

THE COLOUR OF RAMBLER SUMMER – The Song

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Carlos Santana and band on Stage at Woodstock Music & Art Fair

Where were you in ’69?

Or maybe… were you YOU in ’69?

I was ME… 12 years-old with a galaxy of unseen stars in my eyes, a limitless future of the still-to-be-known.

Almost heading into high school… sometimes over-confident, sometimes fearful, sometimes insecure, eternally hopeful.

Formative years… for me the most exciting, most challenging, most disruptive years of my life were probably between 1969 and 1977.

When you’re young, a whole life can be seemingly lived in just a few short years. The emotional heights and depths soar and crash. The intensity of our teenage times can feel like an eternity.

In 1974 I bought my first car.

It was a brown 1967 Rambler American bought off a used car lot. $900. Automatic. Bench seats. Defrost that rarely worked. Windows that kept some of the rain out.

rambler

Bought with the “riches” from my McJob with a starting wage of $1.55 per hour.  A full shift of flipping burgers put a little bit more than $12 in my pocket. I was good at it. Making burgers, that is…

I was a McDonald’s ALL-STAR (yes, Truly).

Buying that Rambler in the hot summer that I turned 17, symbolically and utterly shifted the shape of my life.

I instantly looked cooler and more attractive (I thought), but it also allowed me, in reality, to be “grown up”. Paying for gas, insurance and repairs matures you in a New York Minute.

The purchase of that car marked my transition from a green-behind-the-ears teenager into a young adult living in the world of weighty responsibilities, giddy romance, love, and a new kind of heartbreak that felt so totally different from what I experienced when my Mom died.

The lyrics I’m posting here this week reflect a little of this Rambler Man period of tumultuous change in my world.

Maybe take a New York minute yourself and think about your teenage days and how they helped mould you – for better and worse – into the person you are today.

(Following the lyrics below you’ll find a link to a song (When Atlas Shrugged) that I wrote and posted lyrics for October 4, 2019. The song is my reflection on the #MeToo movement from the other side of the gender fence, acknowledging the privilege of being born male. The music has a slight Spanish flamenco-styling to suggest the bull in the ring… the one who believes he has the power, but ultimately ends up dead in the centre of the spectacle).
bull and girl

OK… today’s song… Let’s go:

The Colour of Rambler Summer

by Larry Green

Cool Butch and handsome Sundance
were the heroes of this laddish young’un
and I’d pretend to be the thuggish
bad boy that held the school hall fun
watching the shag cut kids with tabs to share
droopy eyes singed by drugs

We sat in movie theatre matinees
cool dark balcony with Steve McQueen
while outside buses fumed the air
sidewalks seared shoppers’ feet
city streets scorched humid in the sun
that curled the women’s hair

CHORUS
The colour of my Rambler summer
was a camouflage tone
like the melt of ice cream
syrupy sweet sauce
light and dark
wholesome and harmful
dreams only come free at a cost

The year before, the crickets chirped
Cool water sucked up from sprinklers
between turns at the bat
then Charlie slashed Sharon’s blood
ugly sickness stole the life unmet
death to pigs spelt in bloody black

This acned face shiny and pure
I craved and hoped with boy hormones rich
like trees draped with vines
I tasted alcohol I tasted kisses
in bittersweet Summer of ’42 flavours
not the tang of Bryan’s Summer of ’69

CHORUS
The colour of my Rambler summer
was a camouflage tone
like the melt of ice cream
syrupy sweet sauce
light and dark
wholesome and harmful
dreams only come free at a cost

I don’t know if I learned the truth at 17
or in my older days
pages turn and still I learn
the colours of a rainbow’s arch
seemed so clear in my first car
shared tones between the bars

The colour of my Rambler summer
… the colour of my Rambler summer
… the colour of my Rambler summer

CORONA-CHRONICLES… The Cup Half-Full Edition

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Good-News-Bad-News

A virus means bad news and perhaps… good news (that is cup half-full shit, I can hear you saying!)

First the bad.

I’m missing my popcorn fix. That wasn’t so bad, was it?

In “ordinary” times we routinely hit the movie theatre an average of about twice each month. Sometimes more if there’s a plethora of quality releases and maybe a bit less when all that’s out there is Sausage Party or Bill and Ted Anything.

I do honestly love popcorn… assuming that the butter:salt ratio is perfect. My Pavlovian response is classic science. I sit in a darkened theatre and get my doggie treat of popcorn just for sitting and watching for 2 hours. It’s perfect.

A picture show… I love absorbing the artistic product of others.

I live in a state of near-constant wonderment at the creativity and skills of a million creators.

I’m also in awe of the mathematics and science creators (researchers and academics),  but unfortunately I can’t as obviously see and experience the products of their tireless efforts. Alright, maybe I CAN every time I sit at a computer or look at my cellphone…

… but, they haven’t found a way of stuffing me with hot buttery popcorn when I view their stuff. What’s with THAT, bright minds? (Does that statement make you think of Lucy and Schroeder, Beethoven and bubblegum cards? At all?)

lucy and schroeder

So there, the bad news is out of the way. Almost…

Yes, more bad news: The obvious… D’OH… Millions will suffer and thousands will die from this black swan novel virus.

It’s not just numbers on a TV screen. It’s real people with real lives and real families. The repercussions will be felt for decades to come. Guess that FAKE NEWS didn’t make it to the White House TV screens.

You’ve suffered enough. Now the good news:

The good news about this virus is that movie theatres will re-open one day and popcorn will pour forth like summer Saskatchewan locusts… OK… not fair there  *slap my typing hands* … how about British Columbia forest fires? That’s better…

Even more good news:

There will be a golden age of scientific innovation in areas we can only dream of, as zillions of dollars and focus drill in on not only virus research but countless other areas and idea spin-offs (yes, Idea Sex).

Wars and moonshots have historically shown us the results of enthusiastic and dedicated research, and a global effort to rocket us forward in good, and sadly sometimes, some not so good ways.

A few little examples of research bonuses: cordless tools, artificial limbs, LED’s, CAT scanners, superglue, radar, GPS, duct tape, epi-pens, penicillin…

I can’t begin to fathom the possibilities that will flow from today’s “let’s science the shit out of this” era of COVID-19… Matt Damon called it correctly in the movie The Martian…

… but I can confidently predict there will be humanity-altering discoveries not just for this particular virus but perhaps for the question of the common cold or a dozen or more other medical mysteries and problems.

There will also be unexpected and surprising innovations unrelated to the cure for a virus. Research has a way of running madly and wildly (and productively) off in many directions. This is usually a good thing. Climate change anyone?

Sadly, there may be some unwanted discoveries that create their own set of future problems. Weaponry of all sorts has progressed negatively in times of global stress before and I anticipate it may once more.

Yes, bad news and good news.

Yin and Yang. Black and white. Push and pull… within Yin lies the seed of Yang and vise versa.

And I can even return to one of my earlier blogs where I quoted the famous country music philosopher Garth Brooks. Brooks meditates on the nature of opposing forces when he describes fame and other aspects of life as, “a blessing and a curse”.

These days of virus awakening will jet-charge those natural opposing forces creating both a blessing and a curse in its wake.

As a cup half-full kind of guy (most days)… I’m counting on the blessings coming out on top.

Strap yourself in, maybe grab a bag of popcorn, because another famous philosopher of our times with the name Dylan said:

Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’

dylan

The Borrowed View

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borrowed 3

The borrowed view… the lovely, sexy borrowed view… no, it’s not a morning TV panel of women in heated discussion… or a euphemism for a Peeping Tom.

No, of course not. But close your blinds just to be on the safe side… although my lawyer will be using it for my legal defence after I raise bail and return to social isolation instead of solitary confinement.

No, the borrowed view is a term my wife often uses as she gazes west out our living room window towards lush, sweeping Ambrosia apple orchards and a mammoth volcanic rock edifice in the near-distance called Giant’s Head Mountain…

… neither of which are situated on our “owned” property but that we happily accept as part of our daily vista ie. our borrowed view.

Gh 2

A view from our window of Giant’s Head

Usually, a borrowed view is understood as the Chinese-originated principle of “incorporating background landscape into the composition of a garden” found in traditional East Asian garden design.

You should know by now that I’m into Idea Sex, mixing ideas in a blender to create a new thought.

As we’ve trudged through these troubled days of climbing virus infections, obvious racism and other human rights’ problems, I’ve reflected and Idea Sex’ed on my personal “borrowed view” of a slightly different sort.

It’s a sort of Peeping Tommery, but in a positive light.

Racism and hatred would be lessened across the globe with this version of a borrowed view, or as my Syrian friend says in his newfound English idiom… taking a walk in someone else’s shoes.

Life’s good fortune, and admittedly, some not-too-bad choices of my own, have afforded me opportunities to see the world through others’ eyes… to walk in others’ shoes, to at least a limited degree.

I benefit from the richness of a borrowed view of the people I’ve encountered (and so do you when you think of it).

On the flip side of this, I know I’ve been able to share my “view” with others so that they can see the world a little bit differently from my perspective.

We’ve both been enriched by this borrowed sharing of the walk.

OK, one small example of this.

In 1982, Lionel, a young, black-as-night skinned Guyanese man and his wife and five young kids, lived in a tiny house next door to our rental basement apartment in a picturesque small town called Hantsport, Nova Scotia.

Lionel had migrated to Canada in order to train to become a clergyman. He had a thick accent and a gorgeous smile. And a big bible.

I liked Lionel instantly, and for the next few months we spent some time bonding over (or under) some barbells in the cramped basement area next to our apartment.

He was a man of great religious faith. I sat on the opposite side of the God-fearing fence.  However, Lionel and I both grew as humans (no, not just muscle-wise!) as we sweat-pumped iron and talked about our life experiences and views.

We were both inquisitive and respectful. It was heartwarming to get to know him a little.

My WASP worldview was broadened, altered, and enlightened, just as Lionel astonishingly discovered that a heathen could understand and live the Golden Rule sans a bible in hand.

We were able to pass to each other a “borrowed view”.

Another example? OK, a bit more recent.

Ten years ago, we travelled to Cusco, Peru where we lived for 4 months in the high Andes. We studied Spanish and became lightly immersed in ancient Incan culture, but more importantly, immersed in a lovely family of Incan descendants.

This Quechua family generously took us into their home on occasions, and shared meals and holidays, market shopping trips and local football games, dancing and much-too-much chicha (corn beer). My Spanish conversation skills jump dramatically while quaffing chicha!

They lived a simple, rustic life under precarious conditions where a heavy rainfall might possibly destroy their house (and actually has done so partially in the intervening years).

We could see their smiles and hear their laughter but also understand some of the hardships that life had brought their way.

It was/is a difficult existence that they bear with grace and love, and they unselfishly shared it all with us giving us a beautiful borrowed view. We remain friends to this day.

These days, my borrowed view comes through the eyes of a young Syrian man that I tutor each week (online currently). We study and work hard together but also laugh deeply and share a trust and affection. I have the privilege of understanding the world a tiny bit better through the lens of his Muslim perspective.

The more borrowed views I take in, the more I understand the one-ness of our planet. It’s never good to think of the world as US against THEM… it’s US with THEM.

The search for common ground and compassion is much simpler when we experience through our own individual encounters and not the media or the internet.

Hatred is so much easier when it’s held and seen at a distance.

These are the things that remind me that we all live with boundaries and borders just as I have a property boundary here in Summerland.

But life is much richer for us all when we search out and embrace the “borrowed view”.

Just remember, the borrowed view is best applied looking OUT your window and not INTO someone else’s.

DSC_0421

One of my favourite borrowed views… WALL STREET! Booyah!

 

 

 

 

WHEN I BECOME INVISIBLE – The Song

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invisible

This coming Tuesday would be my Mother’s birthday.

Happy Birthday Mom I’d gladly say and sing to her if she wasn’t so long gone (1973 to be precise).

Every one of us has or will most likely say a final goodbye to our parents. It’s a sad but very natural day, and a universal experience.

My children will one day say it to me as they carry forward in life.

I’ve lived long enough now following my mother’s sudden death from a heart attack at 61 years to lose a huge amount of the memory of her. The fine details, the individual days – like a Vaseline-smudged camera lens – are mostly badly faded or well tucked away in my brain’s recesses.

I declare my day a success when I can remember where I set a single pair of my many reading glasses… aye aye aye…

Mom didn’t change the world in any outwardly measurable way… no discoveries, no political or professional accolades… but the thing that really lingers, and is a testament to her meaning is the satisfied feeling and warmth she left inside me and her family around her. No resentments, no angers, no bitterness. Just pleasant smiles and warmth.

This song is about her last day, and the final moments I shared with my mother. Her death came without warning, or providing any opportunity for me to reflect or share with her her importance in my world, to even say thank you or I love you.

goodbye

Most songs I write these days I tend to fill with a good deal of symbolism and metaphor. I like representation by symbols and the pictures they create in my mind.

But this set of lyrics is largely straightforward and more prose-like (OK, there is some symbolism and metaphor)… a bit more straight from the heart.

One final note: I’ve been publishing a good number of song lyric posts lately sans music. I know this feels incomplete, only half the “story”. Many of you have asked for the actual song in its musical form.

TA DA!

I’ve been struggling for months about how I might best post some of the lyrics in their song format for you to hear. It’s not perfect, and of course my singing isn’t stellar, but at the bottom of this post you can follow a link to one of the songs about our COVID times that I posted (The Blessing and the Curse) on April 26, 2020.

Now onto today’s song:

 WHEN I BECOME INVISIBLE

When she said the simple words
See you tonight
there was no real meaning
it happens a billion times
like stars we see on cloudless nights
it’s so easy when we can’t
see our future moments
through our eyes or through our mirror

CHORUS
When I become invisible
Will my final words be as plain and
filled with meaning as yours
See you tonight

Could I have ever guessed
what your final words would be
Could you know your push for me
to earn a buck or two
was our final blurb
Could I know I’d soon watch you
take your final breath
on the asphalt by the curb

CHORUS
When I become invisible
Will my final words be as plain and
filled with meaning as yours
See you tonight

We think we know the boundary
is the cliff’s edge far and distant
hidden beyond the horizon
myopia makes a foot away
seem like the angels outpost
sweet heart and smiling eyes
her days come down to seconds
her memory becomes her ghost

BRIDGE
In evening twilight
the stalking lion
slithered its way
through your veins
struck fast with madness
longer spring days
couldn’t hold off the sadness

CHORUS
When I become invisible
Will my final words be as plain and
filled with meaning as yours
See you tonight

 

On Being An OPSWG – The Unbearable Heaviness of My LGBTQ Ignorance

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weighed down

Am I woke yet?

Nope, probably not…

This post is about my ongoing evolution as an older privileged straight white guy (OPSWG).

I admit it. I’m fairly LGBTQ ignorant, even to this day. Using pronouns scares me.

I remember almost like it was yesterday, the day I met Brian, a McDonald’s work friend in a Woolco store in Hamilton’s Eastgate Square Mall. The year was probably 1974 or ’75.

Brian and I were always friendly and “jokeable” with each other.

He had a ready smile and was easy to chat with, we were a couple of teenagers shooting the shit. That’s just what we were doing in-between the racks of shirts and pants in Woolco when I noticed an emblem on his T-shirt and naively asked what it was about.

With no sign of embarrassment or hesitation, Brian replied that it represented the Gay Association for Hamilton and that he was the President of the group.

I could feel the red rise in my cheeks as I tried to formulate a response… any response. I fumbled and hmmmm’ed and dug myself roughly out of my own discomfort. He was cool, I was flustered.

I liked Brian before. I still liked Brian. A lot.

Nothing changed in that moment except everything changed.

eyes open wide

Someone I absolutely, completely knew now to be gay was a good guy. He was no threat to me or a Boogie Man.

There was no such thing as LGBTQ in that era. It had no meaning yet. Sounds like a delicious summer sandwich, right? No, he was just homosexual.

I wasn’t actively anti-homosexual in those days.

But you might not have guessed it because I stood nearby on a number of occasions while some of my friends made jokes and derogatory remarks about the guys I knew who were “most likely” gay or had some effeminate characteristics.

It was cruel and hurtful and plain old bullying.

I was too weak to protest or stand tall and defend the young boys who were marginalized and ridiculed.

For most of my days, and like a zillion other dudes, the sight of two women kissing (or more) has unsurprisingly been a sensual turn-on for me. Conversely, the sight of two men kissing (or more) has – until recently – been a huge repulsive turn off. I don’t turn away anymore.

Everyday normal people doing “normal” human things and yet I had visceral reactions in different directions.

Meandering in the fog, I’m learning to change and correct course.

I had a good friend from an immigrant Italian family that I hung with for a number of years leading into high school. We were both in a classical-music-is-kind-of-cool stage. Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring was our hit song of the day.

jesu joy

He didn’t really display any outward signs of “non-heterosexuality”… sure, he wore tight pants that often showed the outline of his “manhood” (ewwwww), somewhat like the inverse look of a snake after eating a whole rabbit where you see a sharp outline of the ingested critter … but I think that was more young teenager stuff than a what-is-my-sexuality issue.

But there were others in the high school cliques around us that must have picked up on something and began to harass and make fun of him as a “faggot”.

Again, I did nothing to defend him against the bullying… and I do know now with certainty that he, like my McDonald’s friend Brian, is gay. Big deal!

Years have passed and I cringe at my lack of a backbone when others suffered needlessly over something that they hadn’t chosen to be… you might call it God-given… I go with plain old genetics.

……………………………

I know my good fortune in life has been swayed hugely in my favour because of the womb I came from… billions of others have suffered oppositely because of the womb (or country) they burst out of.

I know my life has been simpler because I was born:

  • white-skinned and male.
  • “straight” sexually.
  • into a middle-class upbringing with access to good education.

As a result of no choices that I’ve made, I’ve been given the gift of relative ease in a difficult world.

Suffering should not have to be what triggers compassion. At the very least, can I (and you maybe too), show compassion for the life of others who are sent to the hitter’s box with two strikes and a cracked bat… a putter for the Tee shot?

Our inner thoughts and – sometimes – outer actions, might just as well put our knee on the throat of someone who is already at a disadvantage.

I’ve travelled fairly extensively in my adult years and have watched and heard others down-talk persons of other colour, socio-economic strata, different religion or cultural belief, gender, psychological makeup… you name it…

It never makes us or the world a better place.

No, I’m probably not woke and likely never will be. I’m still an OPSWG…

But I know that seeking out the kindness inside of us will never steer us wrong.

Each day I’m going to Yoda-try to evolve and be aware and reach a little higher up Maslow’s hierarchy… probably the closest this old heathen will ever get to heaven!

heaven reach

 

 

 

I Feel Pregnant With New Normal Spring

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chest burst

SPLATTER! My belly bursts open and ruby red blood explodes violently over spring’s natural art canvas.

Despite all the negativity associated with this viral pandemic – and there is tragedy in all directions, whether to health or economy or social structures – there’s an immense pressure of delight inside me that wants to burst out like the gooey creature in the movie Alien.

I pry my eyes open and check to see that I’m still intact after this scintilla of daydream imaginings subsides.

Yes! No burst belly. No blood. I’m all here. I smile.

This explosion of non-medicated pleasure must be akin to the feeling that others experience when they talk of being “Reborn”.

It’s spring.

The perennial Louvre that awaits outside my front door is so much more apparent to me this year. Thank you Coronavirus.

More than I can recall in decades. Thank you Coronavirus.

The lilacs and lily-of-the-valley are sweeter, the rhodos are more colourful, the Scarlet Tanagers more orange and chattery. Thank you Coronavirus.

Maybe it’s all a sense of nostalgia. Or … could it be my caffeine consumption has skyrocketed from lack of scheduled activity? Where’s the cause and effect?

Bottom line? I LOVE spring.

Spring blossoms - The Boston Globe

Sure, I like all the seasons, but I love Spring.

Spring and fall are like a pair of fraternal twins… similar in some ways, but definitely not identical.

Spring is Vivaldi’s helium-laced concerto… I listen to the bud-burst of violins and my mustard-stained T-shirt morphs into a tux, my bottle of Corona Lite becomes a delicate flute of champagne, and I speak with refined precision where once I generously littered my sentences with F bombs and ill-spoken slang.

  • Spring is a newborn lamb that frolics and delights in the moment with no thought for the future or worries or negative events that may befall it in months and years to come.
  • Spring is childlike and curious and naive.
  • Spring is young and full of enthusiasm and forward-looking hope and wonder.
  • Spring is full of light.

Fall too shares many of the same beauties as spring; temperatures moderate, chrysanthemums and asters bloom in profusion and crisp autumn scents fill the air from ripening fruits… but…  in those same beauties lie the seeds of a coming demise, a hibernation and creeping darkness.

Now, I wonder if we can compare the trajectory of our lives with the tenor of the seasons.

Are pubescent and teenage years our spring… our elder and retirement years our autumn? Is one superior to the other?

Is this even debate-worthy?

Beats me… but lets look further anyway…

I see teenage and elder times as the fraternal twins of our lifespan. They have their own sets of excitement and vivacity, and also their snags and nuisances.

Our spring and fall seasons.

spring and fall

  • I remember pimples and thick, dark hair… now I see smile lines and male-pattern baldness (you might see grey roots).
  • I remember worrying about the lack of puberty’s male frippery ie. armpit and groin hair growth, voice deepening… now I worry about excess hair growing on the rims of my ears.
  • I remember the boyish excitement of buying my first car at 17 and then worrying about where the hell I’d find the dollars to pay for the repairs needed on the beat-up old Rambler that got me to college… now I think of a lifetime of savings and healthy financial gains while simultaneously worrying about tanking stock markets and will there be sufficient money to maintain a lifestyle into these elder years.
  • I remember studying and working to learn the amazing wonders of human biology, hoping to pass interminable tests that would lead me forward and give me the basis for a life ahead of stability… now I live with the internal desire to learn and progress knowing that it’s out of interminable interest, curiosity, and passion.
  • I remember ridiculing (and being ridiculed by) “others” who were different (I won’t even outline who these “others” were, you make it up according to your own experiences)… now I cringe thinking back, and I understand today that understanding and compassion comes from meeting, interacting and living in the shoes of others – to feel their joys, pains and difficulties as they see them.
  • I remember the giddy elation of fresh love bounded by the heartbreak and loss of unrequited or broken-off love… now I revel in grandparent love and worry about the heartbreak and loss of loved ones that surround me.

The spring and fall of our lives… the children we love (let’s be realistic, and sometimes abhor) equally but perhaps for different reasons.

This year – this spring – has given most of us an opportunity to settle into a unique moment where we see and hear things just a little differently than we have in our past.

There is more fog when we look out the “future window” but more clarity in the present.

While I’ve always enjoyed the pleasures in the awakening of spring…

… with this season’s opening…

… I’ve unlatched my senses a tiny bit more than ever and saturated myself in the extreme charm and elegance of it all.

I’ll stay splatter free for now and contain that cute little alien inside me that wants to burst out… but only barely.

Thank you Coronavirus…

cute alien

 

 

 

ONLY HALF A LIFETIME – The Song

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half life 2

The soul-shaking sound of metal crashing, blood dripping and tears flowing…

The answer to whom has been the greatest songwriting influence for me was savagely swept from this earth, violently and tragically 39 years ago.

Harry Chapin… 39 years old…. writer of musical stories like TAXI, CATS IN THE CRADLE, COREY’S COMING, BETTER PLACE TO BE, I WANNA LEARN A LOVE SONG and dozens of other amazingly emotional and vivid tales.

On the afternoon of July 16, 1981, Chapin was killed in a freeway collision with a truck while on his way to perform at a free concert in East Meadow, New York.

Almost half of Harry’s concerts were benefits to raise money for social and environmental causes… Harry wasn’t interested in saving money. He always said, “Money is for people”, so he gave it away.

I was fortunate to have sat and listened to an Ontario Place (Toronto) under-the-stars concert of Harry’s, way back in about 1976 or ’77. He was enthusiastic and ebullient, mesmerizing and spellbinding.

Today when I sit to begin a songwriting session, I almost always ask myself… “how would Harry look at this – how would he inject this story with warmth and life and love.” Of course, it’s a rarity that I ever come remotely close to achieving any of what he was able to accomplish before he turned 40.

But that doesn’t deter me from trying, and as it really should, it inspires me.

Of course, writing songs about artists that have come to tragic ends is not new at all. Don McLean captured the premature deaths of a number of musicians in his song American Pie.

Following here is my ode to the too-short life and personal impact of Harry Chapin…

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ONLY HALF A LIFETIME

by Larry Green

Alarm rang one summer’s morn
Thirty years ago erstwhile
The radio sang your voice again
gentle words that draw my smile
but this early candle’s flame gone numb
with breath caught short
when I heard them say
you’d played your final strum

The early clubs and roads on buses
your musical best friends
Your east coast Beach Boys
played concert halls and sang the gems
songs of cats and taxis rose the charts
guitar and cello sweet breezes
mixed falsettos filled the heavens
in starry summer parks

CHORUS

Your mischief smile has left me full
lit stages and the showtimes
like a jealous lover I glance your way
still learning from your stories now
though it took you only half a lifetime

*********************

Years slid by, I heard more tales
Sagas of a mail-order bride unfold
Wistful railyard yarns and a man who
sang bass while cleaning clothes
this magic muse you held inside
where lives emerged
from inner eddies
dark shadows on the road

Wet snow weighed heavy
burden on my windshield
you sang those first few strains
chalky road blurred with truth revealed
my eyes welled up, my gut cried out
your voice deepset with father’s pain
broken lives you wrote so dear
as if it was my private shame

BRIDGE
Seconds too short
metal screams too loud
tales saturate sanguine into the ground

CHORUS

Your mischief smile has left me full
lit stages and the showtimes
like a jealous lover I glance your way
still yearning for your stories now
though it took you only half a lifetime

*****************

POST-CHORUS

The stage gone black, Taxi meter expired
shadow embers smoulder dim
“Oh if a man tried
To take his time on Earth
And prove before he died
What one man’s life could be worth
I wonder what would happen
to this world…”

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Advice Column… Be The GOAT …

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Mommy! Mommy!!

Watch me Mommy… WATCH ME!!!

goose watch

I’m locked in and feel the need to give a lecture… maybe it’s because my adult kids roll their eyes when I launch into my spiel… or maybe it’s a viral side effect…

… will you be my soundboard for a couple of minutes?

I’ve opined and pondered about the magic of 10,000 hours and/or 1,000 hours as keys to prowess in whatever area(s) your greatness lies…. the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT).

It’s not my original idea, but it is magic. Hard work magic. Stinky, sweaty magic.

YOU have greatness of a kind that is unique to you. Your mother knows… FaceTime or Zoom with her and ask her… send flowers too, after all it is Mother’s Day.

Now is the time to strike. Be the GOAT.

One thousand hours is somewhere in the orbit of 42 days…

… which sounds almost biblical in terms of Noah and arks and making sure we keep at least 2 Unicorns and 2 Ogopogos and 2 “Murder Hornets” alive during the big rain (saying this feels eerily dramatic to me as I look out my window and see a water curtain, the first big rain occurring in Summerland in far more than 42 days).

1,000 hours. 42 days. Passion.

1000 hours free

OK, I’ll give you sleep and meal time… let’s be generous and say 84 days.

Over many decades, I’ve squandered my 1,000 hours a 1,000 times, so do as I say and not as I do. But I honestly Yoda try, now more than ever.

So… If you’re on an employment recess, a vacation from your vocation… thank your lucky stars (as long as you have food, shelter, and good health).

This is your chance… your once-in-a-lifetime – once-in-a-hundred years – opportunity.

And especially, if you’re on the south side of mid-life, say, under 40 or so, listen up because the coming years will slip past like a Midsummer Night’s Dream.

COVID-19 has passed a beautifully wrapped gift into your capable hands and is daring you to open it.

Just Do It. Open it…

Capture the glorious “infection” of energy and motivation… the call to action.

Don’t: squander the gift.

Don’t: delve further into the cavernous recesses of Netflix or AmazonHuluHbo-world.

Don’t: rollover in bed… burp, fart… then eat one last potato chip.

DO: Wake up every day and set aside at least 2 hours to work into the passion that you feel. You need time (it doesn’t have to be all in one session, split it up into 2 segments if you wish) to let the muses and folkloric and genetic powers rise to the surface.

DO: Get a little obsessed. Focus. Drill in. But don’t become a stalker, OK?… channel your obsession positively. I am not your accomplice in court!

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I’ve already served MY time in my younger days! That moustache is a crime!

Let’s sum up today’s mini-lecture, shall we?

You need patience and persistence.
You need confidence in yourself.
You need inspiration and cheerleading from any source you can find.

We all want to hear our Moms calling out to us telling us how wonderful we are… and if by chance you don’t have a Mom to tell you this… I’ll tell you… YOU are wonderful!

A year or two or three from now… I want you to look back and say to yourself… “as bad as the virus was, as worrisome as the time was, it gave me the gift to do important things that allowed me to explore my real self and find a fabulous path going forward.”

Make the 1,000 hours, these mere 42/84 days, your personal “ark building” moment and discover the GOAT gold at the end of the rainbow after the contagious rains let up.

Tomorrow, you might learn how to paint nudes, and NOT at PornHub!:

https://coursehorse.com/san-diego/classes/art/drawing/drawing-and-painting/live-model-

… and then …

…. move on to some group singing (Fleetwood Mac tonight!):  Choir!Choir!Choir! – check their FB page for details: https://www.facebook.com/choirx3/

OK…  now get out there (by which I mean stay in) and give your Mommy a big hug (by which I mean, from 2m away!)

moms day card 2020

The Clock Stands Still… The Race That Isn’t…

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BMO Vancouver Marathon / RUNVAN®

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SUNDAY, May 5, 2019.

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BANG!

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YAHOO!!

17,000+ of us fresh-faced/fresh-bodied fools smile and joke as we break into a slow jog down the long tree-lined tube … the chute leads us out of bucolic Queen Elizabeth Park… first into a gentle uphill climb… then turning hard right onto Vancouver’s Cambie Street and immediately into a 2 km.-long downhill slope leading onto the Cambie Bridge… overlooking some of this world’s finest ocean-mountain scenery on an early Sunday spring morning.

The beginning of any large race like this – the Vancouver Marathon/Half Marathon – is the danger zone.

All of us runners are looking down and sideways, gingerly avoiding bumps and crashes and possible trips over others’ feet that send us ass over teakettle.

The newly-risen sun is brilliant but the air is cool and delicious, filled with scents of fresh-brewed coffee and mentholated body rubs.

Families and friends already line the long asphalt route with funny signs and cantankerous noisemakers to stimulate and energize the jogging throngs.

Simultaneously run-breathing and laughing can be complicated sometimes.

OMG it’s breathtaking and inspiring and likely as close to endorphin spiritual nirvana as I can come. I’ve done this particular race for maybe 10 years now and I get monster goosebumps every time.

Yes – right as I publish this week’s post – this Sunday is the annual Vancouver Marathon/Half Marathon race.

EXCEPT. NOT. THIS. YEAR.

Cambie bridge running

No boisterous crowds, no joyful noise, no communal sweat.

*sigh*

The first Sunday of May is a perennial event day like a hundred… a thousand… a million other world-wide events that won’t achieve their “annual” billing this time around the sun.

The year the earth stood still. The clocks stopped and went silent.

You and I can count on our fingers and toes all of the things we might normally do over the coming weeks and months… but not this year.

We take it all for granted because our lives have always been this way. (This is a needed reminder to us to avoid using the words ALWAYS and NEVER)

Remember Y2K?

We chewed our fingernails, anticipating and worrying for a couple of years leading up to the stroke of midnight.

It was going to be an end-of-the-world happening.

Respirators and electricity and computers would seize up and go to sleep. People would perish and insurrection would flame like Dante’s Inferno around the globe.

Nothing would be the same afterwards… except… everything was the same afterwards. We worried and anticipated needlessly.

But how many of us woke up on New Year’s Day of 2020, rubbed our eyes, and thought to ourselves… I wonder what strange and possibly horrific event will take place this year where my life will be turned upside down in ways I can’t imagine?

Now, 1/5th of the way into this new century, we’re barely a third of the year in and EVERYTHING looks different and none of us had the slightest clue of it all.

The Black Swan caught us in her trap.

black swan

So, this Sunday morning I’ll wake up early and slip into my running tights and shoes and head out into the early morning air.

Quiet. Still. No 17,000 runners. No noisemakers. No crazy signs.

I’ll absorb the (hopefully) gentle warmth of the sunshine on my face. I’ll smell the heady scent of spring apple blossoms and lilac.

It will seem just like a thousand other beautiful mornings throughout my life…

… everything will look and smell the same, but inside… in my inner core…

… I’ll feel a slight difference, a little like you feel shortly after a loved one has died and you know that your world will never be quite the same again.

On the surface, nothing has altered… the sun rises and sets, the moon continues to wax and wane… but beneath the still surface waters… the undercurrents have turned decidedly chillier … for a while at least.

And as I run along solo, I’ll miss the comradeship of those 17,000 people.

People of all colours and ages and genders and body types that shared with me a couple hours of intense sweaty physicality… a physicality we can only experience alone … for now…

And… ultimately friends… this is all small potatoes in the larger picture where many many people are coughing and feverish… people gasp a final breath in wards surrounded by gowned and masked angels… people are separated from family and adequate housing and food.

It’s all a stark reminder to me of how friggin’ fortunate I am to exist in a bubble of health and goodness…

I can wait for the clocks to start ticking again one day.

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