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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