Saturday, December 11, 2010
An Al Larcher Christmas....AkA My First Radio Show In Years....AKA Santa and Al Might Be Stoned...AKA Marry Christmas To You.
Santa is tired but yet he still does a Christmas Radio show to spread his holiday cheer. R-Rated (Not Really just not kid recommended).
This is my first radio production in over two years. Jesus.
AFL & SANTA
An Al Larcher Chrismas (60 Minutes) CLICK HERE FOR THE SHOW
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Mongolian Beef Juice Spider Football Attack….aka Candycane Pie…aka Football Rules to Live By…aka Homeless Fashion Tips…aka Ramblings of Nothingness…aka TCB LIGHTENING BOLT REMEMBERED…aka “Alfred F. Larcher 2 runs down Alfred F. Larcher 3 with car, no word from Alfred F. Larcher the original.”
"Read, read, read. Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it.
Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window."
— William Faulkner
Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window."
— William Faulkner
It’s the kind of morning only Kris Kristofferson could write about poetically. I’m sitting in my chair listening to Louis Prima who is trying to swing my soul back into a solid place while the incense burns trying to cover up the stench of the Mongolian Beef juice I spilled all over my Snuggie last night in a lost moment of self decency. It happens. More so now than ever but at this point I’ll take any upward trend regardless of how negative it is.
I never knew how fucking terrible Chinese food smelled when not in the context of eating it. The worst part is the juice got everywhere, so I don’t know where the smell really is coming from, and I really don’t have the energy to investigate; nor do I really I care, even if it is making me nauseous.
My life has become very dull and regular. I wake up, go to work, go home go to sleep. I get out on the weekends, because I know I can’t trust myself alone with that much free time. In about a half hour I’ll be at Bakersquare eating breakfast while reading the news on my phone just as I do every Saturday. It used to be a newspaper in which I would rip out the articles I wanted to write about later. It worked perfectly, because if I didn’t get to them, the ink would start to run, and the paper would fall apart and the story would be lost. It sort of was the motivation I needed to get the fire burning. A dead line. Now I just hit ‘save’ and the story gets placed somewhere I guess I could get back to later, but never do. Ain’t it funny how the easier it gets the less important it becomes. That’s usually a good thing – but not when it comes to news.
I don’t know if it’s a lack of motivation, a realization that I’m not a very compelling writer, or just indifference to the world around me that his stricken me with this, ‘spiritual constipation’ as Kinky Friedman once put it. I’ve always preached the death of society is indifference to the running of the world around you. Voluntary slavery. This happens when things are either too miserable to care about anybody but yourself or to comfortable to want to care about anything because it all seems so good. Right now I feel like we’re all a little too comfortable with our technology, and distractions -- while so miserable and hurting in the fiscal reality of the world around us. Limited resources, increased demand, increased population, and enough knowledge for everybody to understand where we are, and the fight that is ahead of all of us.
It hasn’t all been dwellk
About an hour and a half ago when I was typing that sentence an angry and malicious spider attacked me in a vigilant terrorist strike -- apparently to stop me from completing this work. I don’t know what the spiders have at stake in all this, and why a dangerous looking yellow spider about the size of a nickel would risk his life to attack me in mind sentence. Perhaps it was the way I used to catch them as a kid and squash’em. I now don’t have the heart to kill a spider, unless in the act of war -- but to them perhaps I’ll always be a evil and vile figure in their history. Or perhaps the repugnant smell of spilled Mongolian beef juice is an orgasmic experience worth the risk just to smell once in the spiders life time. Perhaps he was a lone spider crazed on confusion and drugs just trying to end it all. When you can’t communicate you can’t understand and resolution is never found so we will never know the motives for the attack and really outside of these few words the history of it will be forgotten.
I have an electric recliner that takes a moment to reclaine, back to standard operating chair position. You have to hold the down button and just wait for it to get back down so you can stand up. Normally it isn’t an issue but in certain causes like a fire, a Chinese food delivery door bell, loose bowels, or spiders landing in your lap on top of a keyboard, the short delay feels like a life time. So the spider landed in my lap, I screamed like a girl, threw the wireless keyboard up to heaven along with the snuggie and the spider who looked to be as panicked as I was all landing on the floor while I did everything I could to get my legs to the floor to get out of the room.
After this belligerent attack I knew I needed to clear out of the house for a moment, and started to look for something to cover up my fat ass. I left the window in my room open which reminded me it was fucking cold outside. The only downside to the summer is you forget how cold the cold really is. Friday was the first time I felt it, as I headed to work without warming up my car Addison, causing my teeth to shiver the entire way as I begged the heater to get its ass in gear.
I don’t want to dwell on it but I helped out at a homeless shelter on Thanksgiving. What I saw were not the usual burnt out or mentally ill suspects but rather the faces of people sinking in the world around them, while trying as hard as they can to swim. I’m about fifteen years and one bad trip from being one of these guys. The world has a sense of timing we should all admire. I’m only about one move away from being one of these broken down on the side of the road fellow travelers, and with little to no family left its all becoming too real. My friends are there for me and I do have my father still, but there is a difference between friends and family and the older you get and more alone you are it all becomes clear. Love your family, they will always be yours and that’s important when you’re stripped down to nothing.
Anyway the point is I tend to dress like homeless guy in the winter. I love the feeling of all those layers and never really feeling the cold except when I sleep, which is when I want to feel it the most. Sure it gets hot inside crowded places, but you simply take off a few layers and you slowly cool down. Every winter I master the layering but summer somehow wipes the knowledge away and your arsenal of cloths disappears and you have to restock and relearn the whole process again. It’s why Midwest people are the way we are; tough, crazy, thick skinned, loud, and to the point.
So I got all my layers on, threw on the Ray Ban’s to hide my red and gray eyes and started to crossing the street. In a weird twist of fate one car was coming toward me to the East that I needed to stop in order for me to cross Addison Street. I noticed it was my father who isn’t the best driver. I was standing by a massive construction garbage bin and wasn’t sure if he could see me so I backed up and had to wait a long set of cars to cross. I could just imagine the headline and the family embarrassment of, “Alfred F. Larcher 2 runs down Alfred F. Larcher 3 with car, no word from Alfred F. Larcher the original.”
So I went to Bakersquare and had a nice meal of Cranberry juice, coffee, a Cuban sandwich on flat bread, buttersquash soup, and a slice of candycane pie. I love my country, and I love my pie, and with this many meaningless details I understand why nobody reads this. I got a few stares as I kept my shades on in the booth as I scribbled madly into my notebook. It’s been a long time since I’ve written pencil on paper watching as my mind comes to life through weird symbols scribed from the lead to the wood. If you write long enough in pencil it starts to become like watching a cigarette burn. It’s such a great feeling. I used to carry a notepad and pens in my pocket but the damn pen would always leak and destroy jeans and sweat pants. So I moved to click pencils and love them. My favorite is a green click pencil at Walgreens with the most perfect eraser and lead size. Jesus Christ am I rambling about nothing today? You’ll have to forgive me I need this; and I did survive two assignation attempts today: one by a vigilant spider and the other by my own father.
Anyway before I was attacked by a spider and thrown off on an hour long rambling I was saying how I haven’t just been dwelling in my own sadness. I went to the circus and want to write about that soon. Also I have been trying to figure out ways to improve football. It’s a heavy task but it’s about time we took a few measures to make the game more enjoyable. You see this is the only sport I love it’s lacking in a few areas.
Big Al’s Rules to Better Football.
1. All Bears games should be played on Sunday at noon. The Bears simply play better at noon, and personally I just like still having my afternoon to get ice cream, or drunk.
2. More endzone celebration time. Give these fuckers a good full three minutes to put on a show in that endzone. Bring a band out if they want. They have 3:00 minutes to get it done. Why the hell not? If they want to perform on the field they should have the right to perform for us in the endzone.
3. Have a few referee crews who are a bit lacks on the rules. Maybe keep them for Monday night games.
NO THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL. God said very clearly football should be played on Sunday and a few games on Monday night to ease the working man back into the week. Not Thursday night for God’s sake and it always fucks with football pools and fantasy.
5. Temperature control in indoor stadiums. If you have a stadium it’s your home turf and you should be able to play mind games. Nobody should dictate the thermostat in your own home. Imagine if the Dolphins of Miami marched into Detroit in mid December and Detroit opened all their windows and turned the air conditioning on. Miami would never see it coming. It would be great football an indoor ice bowl.
6. Guest commentators of local fans. If Matt Millins fat ass can still call football after pissing in the face of an NFL franchise destroying their very soul anybody should be able to call a game. Besides I hear better analysis in barrooms then I ever have on the TV. I want to hear what real football fans have to say and every American should be given a chance to call a football game in their life.
7. It’s 2010 can’t we get a GPS in the ball and have the exact yardage measured out. Golf is fucking ahead of us here.
Also Fuck’em if they can’t take a joke.
THROWING IT OUT THE WINDOW MR. FAULKNER
THROWING IT OUT THE WINDOW MR. FAULKNER
Sunday, October 31, 2010
The Grim Reapers’ Grave Diggers…aka…Happy Halloween.
(Photo taken by me in China Town. Seems about right.)
“Satan is real working in spirit.
You can see him an' hear him every day.
Satan is real working with power,
He can tempt you an' lead you astray.”
--The Louvin Brothers, “Satan Is Real”, 1959, Capital Records.
In American lore once upon a time a man would decide he no longer was a child, picked a career path, and worked towards building his own life --while creating a family along the way. It wasn’t always easy, sometimes downright gritty, with oil on his face and dirt under his nails -- but he was determined, and fought for it because after all he chose it; both for the good and the bad.
Sure he hated his boss who lived in the fancy part of town and had the sweetest wife at home, and the sluttest secretary in the office. Plus he drove a Cadillac, and that automatically makes his a real asshole. But at work the man would always bite his tongue while the slob babbled until the day ended at five and he came home to his small suburban home with the flag flying high on the front lawn – greeted by his daughter whom he would kiss on the forehead in the sunshine, walk inside, pinch his wives ass as she made dinner, and just bask in the simplicity of a day’s work toward a life time of comfort.
But America has a way of taking a good thing and expanding upon it until it topples and becomes obsolete; rusted and rotting in the clutter of other failed goods. A vast wasteland of ideals, products, fads, ideas, phases, and even old Cadillac’s stinking to high heaven of greed, and power. The smell is of the worst kind, so bad it burns noses and rots minds. It’s the smell the maggots love and draws them to.
So the wastelanders living in the stench unite and start building upward, out of the disgusting odor, on a magnificent ladder reaching to the stars. It started small but over time it grew higher and higher as wisdom and order helped move things along. Generations went by and the wastelanders became hipsters and smell they were building away from was long gone, and the stars are within reach; but as the smell fades so does lessons that are left in the rot. Soon the builders, generations later, fall, and everything started again. Much as Sisyphus in Greek mythology ,we come so close to getting that rock to the top of the hill only to watch it roll back down again.
What if one day you woke up to realize you had unknowingly been working for the devil? Not maliciously or ever knowingly; but rather a job of opportunity, never really investigated. Does anybody really know who they work for, anymore? What would you do? How would you survive? Where would you run?? Job’s are in short supply, and God ain’t hiring anybody these days, as he’s over staffed as it is, and Jesus it’s hard to find a good carpenter!
Sure there are the lucky few who know the owner, or are lucky enough to work directly for an owner, but very few of us are anything more than a number in massive pyramid scheme, or a gear in a deeply evolved machine. We know are boss, and they know their boss, but nobody really knows the boss. Everybody seems to answer to somebody enslaved to the unknown. The only true freedom is death, and that comes at too steep of a cost. Plus no guarantees and all sales are final.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not calling all corporations evil (just most), and its true somebody has to make money. Order and structure and system allow us to grow. But if you believe in evil, then the concept can take on life in a business just as it could in any human since we are the breath of industry. I don’t know if I work for the devil or not, I’m not that privileged of a man to receive or possibly even comprehend what is happening at the top. I’ve never been a fan of heights and I get high enough on my own in these lowest of times. But I have seen the devils minion. Never a tail and horns, but rather a fat man in a suit teaching desperate sales slaves how to make old ladies cry by pretending their husbands’ are dead. After all it’s the ladies who out live the men. It maybe our only saving grace in this testosterone fueled megaplex of megalomaniacal mice and men. But this isn’t about them and to Quote Dylan they are, “Only a Pawn in Their Game.”
You see the fear Democracy always worries about is that one group, person, or company becomes more powerful then the workers, government, or collective mass. If that happens the system topples and all balance is lost in a system of checks and balances. Right now with information as free as it is, and money being gobbled up by the few, the tower is shaking and swaying with a wind storm in the forecast.
I know of a company that deals in the death trade. I won’t use their name, not to protect them, but perhaps to protect me. I’m not scared, I’m just desperate, two very different twins. For the sake of dramatics, let’s call them the Grim Reaper Corporation or GRC for short.
With massive money and massive power GRC whom owns a lot of cemeteries and funeral homes spends a good portion of their money lobbying congress and donating to politicians. In many ways they are re-writing the rules to favor them and expand their powers. So everything I’m about to tell is perfectly legal. Ethical? Probably not. Dignified? Definitely not. Shrewd and deceitful? Probably. Greedy? Absolutely. GRC is staffed with the best lawyers to fight against anybody who opposes them and has some of the highest ranking public servants on their side, including the last President of the United States who intervened on their behalf a time or two while Governor of Texas. They seldom break laws instead they just shit all over them while funding the creation of new laws to make sure they control the game, the world, and the workers.
Does law exclude the question of right and wrong? Good and evil? Greed is steam, its force, its blunt and when controlled it powers humanity and hammers in the nails of civilization. When greed is controlled completely, it, as does all force, becomes a weapon. Greed is in no short supply at GRC who find ways to use its workers like slaves and disallows them to find comfort or security in their jobs.
Every good grim reaper needs a good grave digger to finish the job and finally let a soul rest in peace. The grave diggers occupation is tough; both mentally and physically and just like the postal workers they work in the blistering heat, the brutal cold, the rain, the snow, and all of God’s temper tantrums. They are dirty in appearance, smart in mind, and respectful to everybody they deal with. It’s not for everybody, but for these guys it’s everything.
I know of a cemetery where four guys are employed to work all the burials, sometimes as many as 6 in a day, often times scheduled right on top of each other. It’s dangerous as they use heavy machinery to dig the graves and then place in a thousand plus pound concrete burial vault inside the tight holes they’ve measured and perfected as in a business as final is this mistakes are not allowed. Two of the guys who work at the cemetery one we’ll call Frank and the other we’ll call Hector have working at the cemetery since they were in their teens, and this is the only job they have ever had or known. Just like the old tales of the old world American worker.
Frank is a bit older in his forties. while Hector is right behind him in his mid thirties. Both kids when they started, now longer in the tooth and grayer and lesser in the hair. Over twenty plus years of doing the same job they have become masters of their craft, and know the park backwards and forwards and of course underneath. Their loyalty and dedication over the years has resulted in a decent wage they have worked hard for. Both men own homes, cars, and are responsible members of society.
About two years ago they made an average of 25 dollars an hour. A good and fair wage (GRC charges the family over 1,500 dollars to dig the grave) in today’s world, which has allowed them to leverage a comfortable setting for their families and themselves. A salary they worked their entire lives to achieve, and depend on. However last year GRC (who bought the cemetery around three years ago) stepped in and told them that they were making too much and the gravediggers (who are union) and GRC went to war.
GRC cried poor, which is interesting because they own land, and no matter how bad things get land always holds value. They said these guys made way too much money, and their salary should be capped at 18 dollars an hour where they stood firm in their two hundred dollar shoes. Now imagine you have a mortgage and a set fiscal cycle you balanced, and now all of a sudden without warning you are dropping 30% of your income because some guys said you had. These are the times we live in.
It was terrible but these guys were union and could always strike. So GRC being wise to the world of negations took all the superintendents aside and offered them a sweet deal to leave the union working directly for them leaving their brethren behind. They did, and a strike was avoided as leaderships head was cut right off with a knife that cut flesh and bone like a warm knife through butter. All that was left was a pool of blood and a salary cap that hurt these men severely. No question if the devil is real he danced a jig in the shadow of the moon light slipping and sliding and laughing in the pool of blood.
But what choice do they have? Where are these guys, who’s only qualifications and entire life work was digging graves, going to get a job that pays 17 dollars an hour in their first year, a year after taking an eight dollar an hour deduction? The handcuffs have been tightened to the pole and all they can do is take the beating until their master bores of the game or figures out a cheaper way to get their jollies.
In their mid thirties and early forties they men are dinosaurs in a world hurting so bad jobs are everywhere but none of them pay. An over inflation of education in our culture made the college degree as valuable as the fleeting American Dollar, in the lords year of the little date and time in the corner of your computer screen. If fired or laid off, these men’s lives would forever change most likely for the worst.
So they did the only thing they know how to do, and that’s work hard and get the job done. Sure the pay was lower but the future was scary and the jobs market a horror and something was better than nothing to stay in their professional homes. We are creatures of habit who seldom like change. The grounds staff, which at one time was upwards of fifteen man had been reduced from six, now down to four workers after a few layoffs Two experienced and two not. Thousand pound concrete vaults rushed into holes, rushed from burial to burial, these guys are asking for an accidental death and everybody knows it. Yikes. It’s dangerous and it will go bad, and they know it, but it’s what GRC wants and they always seem to get there way.
Now this year rolls around and the negations start up again. I’m not inside the negations, and none of the ground guys are talking. My information comes from what’s leaked from passing comments from no name people. What I’m hearing is the ground workers are asking for a one dollar raise and two extra workers to increase safety, and let them save a little face from the beating they took last year. Absolutely not says the Grim Reaper! Not even an option. As a matter of fact the always grim Grim Reaper wants to take away a few of the grounds guys days off, and eliminate overtime all together. Meaning these four guys are going to be forced to work twice as fast, to get the already large work load done, in less than forty hours.
So a strike is looming but probably will not happen. You see GRC is smart and they know how to play the game and run loops around guys who spent their entire lives in graveyards instead of law library’s and corporate seminars. GRC wants to maintain the cap while giving the other two guys who are not yet at the cap raises. This makes these workers happy now, who are unknowingly cutting off their future, while screwing over the guys who have been here their entire lives by avoiding a strike since it splits the workers, and GRC will win again. The tactic creates resentment and a dangerous work atmosphere which the GRC has very little concern with. Let them fight, let them be fired, let them be replaced by a lower wage and lower skill set worker. It’s their plan.
“Take the beating or look elsewhere,” the evil man smiles knowing once again these men have nowhere to go. The devils tactics and the greed that protects him is clear. What we can do to change it isn’t. Were all to scared of losing anything to help these guys who are losing everything. Tuesday is Election Day and before you vote I ask you to look at the candidates and find out where their money is coming from. Tracking the dollars is as important if not more important than tracking the issues. Because who are they working for? You, who just votes, or them who fund money and whip people to vote?
So what do you do? What does any of us do?
Happy Halloween 2010.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
(Phone in Arcola, Illinois)
“Work your fingers to the bone - whadda ya get?
( Whoo-whoo ) Boney Fingers - Boney Fing-gers.”
( Whoo-whoo ) Boney Fingers - Boney Fing-gers.”
--Hoyt Axton ‘Bony Fingers’
“...and everything is going to the beat - It's the beat generation, it be-at, it's the beat to keep, it's the beat of the heart, it's being beat and down in the world and like oldtime lowdown and like in ancient civilizations the slave boatmen rowing galleys to a beat and servants spinning pottery to a beat...””
I can only seem to be able to write in the fall, when the colors change bright, when the city appreciates itself just a little bit more, when the thermometer is unpredictable -- yet just right. I love to type with a political vigor while the incense floats out the open windows as the cool heavy air breathes life back into the dingy stale apartment atmosphere. But today is a flash back of summer, and I’m hot, miserable, and just wishing things would be as they ought to. Whatever ought to, ought to be?
I watch myself in the reflection off of the TV screen in front of me. It’s a ghastly sight of a beaten down man on the edge of losing it all. I’m doing everything I can to not look myself in the eyes man to man, avoiding a needed inner monologue, as I twirl my hair which has grown much longer then I like it. I usually keep my hair short to avoid this terrible habit of hair twirling, because a shrink when I was a kid warned me against it; but honestly I haven’t felt much like a hair cut lately. The twirling is a result of my mind battling boredom and sadness and is usually a precursor to a bad night which can usually be avoided by writing. So I open the window, light the incense, and turn the air conditioner on to manufacture a feeling of what is supposed to be the ordinary. Manufacturing the ordinary, sadly has become the ordinar,y in my uncommon common life.
Kerouac considered the beat generation a group of youth who were beaten down by the system around them -- which was unforgiving and cold. They were beaten down time and time again and whipped like a slave to conform until the only comfort left was the rhythmic sound of the whips crack. I feel like that is actually where we are now. It’s next to impossible to find a job with security regardless of education or work ethic. The corporations have taken advantage of an over abundance of workers who they use and burn out until the worker collapses or demands more money. The options are bleak usually 38 hour weeks with no overtime or benefits, or 60 hour weeks of heavy lifting and mental torture. The most valuable player in any company now-a-days is the trainer/task master.
I like many was laid off about two years ago as company’s started to scale back fearing the worse. I lived for a year back at home off of Government aid and I’m not embarrassed to say so. It wasn’t for a lack of motivation it was because of a lack of quality employment; as the worker has very few options. I didn’t mind losing my job, as much as I minded being without insurance and having that safety net. Sure enough I fell, as a pain in my side turned into a 70,000 dollar hospital stay, as I had a sloppy gallbladder surgery that almost killed me. But I’m a resilient fucker and I survived physically all the while dying financially.
I needed a job, and I needed a job fast, so one month out of the hospital with a nasty tube still draining fluids from my insides (Au Jus as I called it) I took the first job that offered me insurance. It was grim. In a cemetery. Selling grave plots and arranging final trips to the last resting places of sad Greeks and well spent hard living gypsies. I was thirty and still dealing with the suicide of my own mother, something I had to deal with unexpectedly after almost ten years out of work sitting alone in a dark room with nothing but my thoughts -- and welfare – and sad country songs. Now here I was, forced everyday to watch all those broken faces, as they watched their loved one slowly lowered into eternity while I was just trying to earn a living while slowly dying just like all the rest of us. But in three months I would have insurance and that mattered a lot to me, and all the struggle and strife would be worth it for the peace of mind I was looking for. Peace of mind is a hard piece of the pie to achieve in our current cake culture.
It was about four months later I realized I was over three months into my job and my insurance should be kicking in. I called corporate to find out why no money was being taken out of my check for a health insurance policy. It was then I found out I missed some enrollment deadline and I couldn’t get insurance for another 10 months. I crashed. Hard. A coworker found my in a puddle of my own tears at my desk where I was just numb. Tears came out of my eyes without sadness or any kind of feeling. He comforted me and my boss assured me it would be straightened out. It wasn’t, and a few weeks later my grandmother died, and I really lost it, as I questioned life and the cost of living.
The darkness of winter was really dragging me down and my friends seemed to be turning me away, and with nowhere to go, with running not an option, I had the first full mental breakdown of my life. Everybody should experience this crash at least once in their lives as it builds that some kind of toughness and character that the Great Depression generation had. As they say, every strike chisels the stone. Absolute bottom forces you to search for a way out, and survival becomes the only instinct.
For the first time I was scared for my life, I had thoughts of beating the beat down to the punch as they danced eloquently through most of my thoughts as I held a bottle of pills in my shaking hands every night single night. If I just spent 3 months working for insurance and a massive corporation who is beating me down and paying me peanuts can lie to me then what hope do I have? It’s hard to have much of anything without money, let alone a chance, and it was clear I wasn’t making any.
The company offered free and confidential vists to a shrink (5 visits), and I was willing to give anything a shot, before I took a shot at myself. It was a disaster, as I went to some women who I didn’t really like although I did tell her everything. She seemed not to believe it but I kept going into one beating after another until she told me I should just be grateful that I’m as functional as I am, and if I want to go into therapy it could destroy that shaky foundation I am on, and I probably would crash. In other words I was to fucked up to fix, yet just functional enough to survive; and she wanted to know how I was going to pay for it once the company’s free sessions expired. I knew she was right, and I never went back because I couldn’t afford it, and I couldn’t face it, plus I’m not sure I need to either. So I just squeezed onto my rock and faced the work as best I could.
I came out of it about a week later and I hate to say it but my grandma’s inherence helped. Money can’t buy you happiness but it certainly has no problem renting some. I found a little bit of confidence and I was able to laugh it all off, as I always do. Pissing in the wind can get messy but there is something about doing it that just feels right and natural plus if you are all alone the collateral damage is minimal. I’m still much drained, but I have a smile again on my face which is oddly tough to find in the TV age of Glee.
I moved out of sales and into the administration staff where I do data entry. This means I no longer have to go on burials or deal with the bereaved. Plus it gives me weekends off giving me something to look forward to as I explore new towns and seek out what I have no idea of what I’m looking for. Maybe a story, maybe a life, I don’t know, but I sure enjoy the trip. Now I’m a month away from health insurance and getting a new lease on health. But in perfect rhythm here comes another swing from the beat of our generation.
I don’t mean to offend anybody as I realize my comparison is extreme but it’s just how I feel. I feel like a Jew building a concentration camp that will ultimately lead to my demise. At work they are forcing me to train on new software, which clearly does everything I do; only it does it without me. By most calculations, I have between one and three months before I’m once again laid off due to the progress of man. Just at the perfect time, when winter is once again stirring at it’s fiercest. I again trusted the company to give me insurance, and right when they are about to, they will lay me off. It’s a comedy of errors that leaves me with no choice but to laugh. It’s true this is all speculation but it’s also true the writing is on the wall and the company has a large staff outsourced to begin with, so they clearly only look at numbers. That’s all I am is number, and even when I die, all I’ll be is two dates of eight numbers and a dash. My mother used to scream and fight with me to be more than a number but clearly it’s unavoidable.
The funny thing is unlike last year, and two years ago, this time I’m ready for it. I’ve been down this road a time or two and know where the good bars are and which restrooms are the cleanest. There is a part of me that worries about how dark it could get and how I’ll actually deal with it when it happens; but all that is speculation, and speculation I can laugh off at this point in time. So bring it on, I’m ready for round three.
After all it’s Sunday, and I’m off relaxing, watching my Chicago Bears beat up on the Carolina Panthers without an offensive line or a quarterback. A feat that probably should be getting more attention by the so called experts who yap about the game. I’ve never seen such a disaster of a team actually win games. A win is a win no matter how ugly it is or hard it was to get.
All of this makes think back to Paris, Illinois where I would often give prizes out while on the radio. It was always humorous to me especially early on before I built a fan base, to gauge the response I would get based on the prize. Sometimes it defied logic. One day I could have fifty calls for a shitty Tim McGraw CD while the next day I could be giving away one hundred dollars cash and nobody would call. I would actually be begging people on my knees to call in and win. So when I had University of Illinois football tickets, I really wasn’t sure what I would get. I took the tenth caller and some guy named Yoder won and his excitement was so electric I feel the energy over the phone.
I asked my boss if he heard the call, and he said he did, “a ‘Yoder’ won.”
“What the hell is a Yoder,” I asked with my city drawl.
“An Amish,” he responded.
“Like horse and buggy?”
“Yes, they live just outside of town.”
“They have radios and listen to me,” I panicked as my mind started working on how to drum up Amish listenership as my ego increased.
“No, they don’t listen to you,” he laughed, “when their kids reach a certain age usually around sixteen they are allowed to explore the modern world. They understand kids need to be free and that kids are kids and they make mistakes. So they are allowed to run wild, until a certain point, usually a few years later when they are asked if they will give up all the fun and be baptized into the Amish way --or be cut off from their family and be free to join our world. “
“That sounds exhausting.”
So here was a guy who in his life had probably made a handful of phone calls and one of them was to me. My voice was floating across the corn fields like magic in his minds eyes as he had the opportunity to be given free tickets to a sporting event, that was in many ways only a myth to him. I was excited as hell to meet the guy.
Later that afternoon a horse and buggy pulled up and out stepped a young man of about sixteen dressed like any other farm boy. My radio station was playing from a small 80’s style boom box on the floor of the carriage. He got out and came to the farm house station, with the eyes of a child on Christmas morning.
I gave him the tickets and we talked about football which he’d never seen, but only read about. It was all new to him as I showed him the stations transmitter and other technologies. Not only had he never seen football before, he had never been to a stadium with that many people attending at once. Never a concert, never a festival, never even a circus as a kid. The idea of that large of a gathering to cheer on a game was magnificent to him. I could tell Saturday couldn’t get there soon enough.
I don’t know what happened to him, if he enjoyed the game, or if he freaked out at the mass exposure of disgusting ,drunken, face painted maniacs chanting fight songs as an Indian dances on the side line (for the last time) while he cowers in fear and rushes home to tell a tale of the barbaric world. My guess is he loved it but who the hell knows. I did watch him ride away in horse and buggy as I to thought about football and how much I love the game and just how lucky I really am. I’m way over exposed to the world, hell I can’t get off my Droid for more than an hour (looking at football apps) but I do love and appreciate just how simple it all is.
So I get hit again. Look at Cutler he got hit so hard he got concussed and he’s ready to step back onto the field next week. I’m happy with whom I am but sometimes I do think of that Yoder, and I’m glad to have met him to remind me just how lucky we are to be this far advanced. I guess.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
I have nothing to write, yet I feel the need to hear the keyboard’s rhythm as I tap out words. The sound every letter makes as my flesh impacts the plastic is the same sound produced by a warm summer rain falling on an old wooden roof. I guess, I type out of vanity, and to hear something in the silence of another night sitting in my chair soaking in the darkness.
I’m indifferent to everything which seems to be a common trait amongst my generation. Force fed so much information, from every single direction, we’ve become lost in the madness of the cluster; all the while feeding it. Feeding it, but feeding it shit. Such as mass quantities of garbage at a cheap price and a drive thru wait. Make no mistake about it that the meals we’re serving are not healthy, and the cluster keeps getting fatter and uglier.
Most people never mention the cluster in an effort to hope that it will never consume, or over run us -- despite all the obvious writing on the shit house walls we simply ignore it. The cluster is allowed to exist because it feeds on the one trait we all seem to have. Greed. Who’s going to turn down information, social connection, and a chance at fame in order to be left in the dark? Not many people, so we allow it to keep growing. Like a tree that produces golden pineapples until the gold becomes so common it becomes a health hazard, as uptight citizens keep tripping on it; physically, mentally, and pharmaceutically until we’re all too high to counter strike, and too sore from our broken toes to run from it. Soon the pineapples beat us over the head until we all die a bludgeoned death in a mass exodus of raining golden pineapples as fat jolly Hawaiians think it’s a sign from God.
Unchecked growth in any facet of life tends to be dangerous, and end with an over production that becomes a burden. Life’s very nature is to expand and survive. We always grasp this concept when placed into ‘living” things such as the spreading of germs, bugs, migrations, and ecosystems but we often fail to see the living into such man made growths like a political system, a social movement, a dance crazy, a business, an artistic renaissance, and technology.
The cluster is a mix of all the man made life forms such as the internet; and mass communication advances which I’m fairly certain will consume and destroy us. I’m scaring myself with these thoughts, as all of a sudden I realize I’m starting to think like the Unabomber. The only difference is I’m not against the cluster per say, and enjoy its fruits; that and I don’t believe in terror to influence thought. We already have enough of that with politics, reality television, love, and religion.
News and accuracy is blurred through opinion and pandering to a point where nobody knows what is truth. What is truth? Dollars and suits with powers are behind every single source of information that we consume. With so many voices shouting, and updating, and poking, nobody really knows what’s going on, and that’s where social networking comes into play.
American’s have always been protective of their freedom and privacy. There was a time in this country’s history where men would yell at their wife, “I don’t want my phone number in some public book you tell those fuckers at the phone company we’re not interested.” Now we update our locations, pinpoint our thoughts, and flaunt our interests. The people who have access to this information have absolute ownership of the collective thought of America. In a representative government the person with the knowledge of the people will control the people.
Four Square is the newest and most dangerous trend. Remember to always follow the money in this world; and Four Square is new money. Four Square which launched in March of 2009 is now valued at over 100 million dollars (CEO: Dennis Crowley Investors: Union Square Ventures, O’Reiley AlphaTech Ventures, Jack Dorsey, Kevin Rose, Alex Rainert, Ron Conway, Joshua Schachter Chad Stoller, Sergio Salvatore, Andreessen Horowitz.). This is not a corporation owned by shareholders but rather a private company hoping to start making in the big bucks like Facebook.
Four Square (a virtual city where people check in to locations they are at to earn points to try to become the mayor of the virtual place which is a real location. In other words you can create your house and your work and your favorite bar has already been created. So when you are out you check into work, when you are at the bar you check in there, and so on. You track yourself freely so that whole world knows where you are as foursquare gets to study human pattern and trends. Pure vanity and a self imposed tracking devices we’re feeding into our own ankle bracelets.
Mississippi is the nation’s 30th largest state and in less than two years Four Square has already eclipsed its population. So it has information and money, what is stopping it from organizing its members and becoming a major political player? Democrats and Republicans will be a thing of the past as companies such as four square fights Google for the big white house with the outdated red phone. Google is a frightening super power as it knows what everybody is thinking and grossed 6 BILLION dollars last year in pure profit. TO put that in perspective the 2008 presidential campaign cost the two candidates a combined total of somewhere around 5.5 Billion dollars. Google out grossed both of their budgets and with the accessibility to voters could easily win or sway an election.
I really don’t know who runs Google, or any of these new money super powers. The could be run by some vile kiyoodle or some genius think tank -- and its frightening how little we all know about the people who run these products that own us. What is Google and four squares product? Our habits and out thoughts. Unlike the TV or the Radio we feed these machines knowledge so we are actually working for them. They built the roads on the internet super highway and all they ask is for complete knowledge of what information we seek to ride on the roads. A steep toll when you really think about it.
I feel like a cockroach kicked back on a soft hotel bed watch HBO not realizing the poison I was breathing. Like an old timer who knew the cigarettes were bad for them, but smoked because nobody had yet proved it. How long are we going to play this game?
Job security is non existent as our jobs vanish to the progress of man and these new communications options allow work to go overseas where labor is free. As the world shrinks our jobs become deluded and job security diminishes. It’s not like the old days where you can give yourself to a company and earn a secured living. Now the companies don’t want us because they have grown so large and we’ve become so small.
Eventually the replaceable part that is you and I will no longer be able to afford the internet as the job market shrinks. Soon the information will be cut off to the poor and only the super elite will have access after robbing us of all our thoughts for so long. The death of this age of enlightenment that we are actually living in.
I’m sorry for the rant and if it don’t make sense I’m sorry for that as well, as I am just purely emptying the gibberish from the back of my brain as I sit here with nothing to write just wanting to hear the sound of my keyboard in motion, writing for nothing but the vanity hoping somebody discoveries me for my fifteen minutes of fame -- just feeding the clutter.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Labor Day: Make Somebody Happy
It was Monday and it was Labor Day and America was alive and well inside of O’Malley’s Pub on Harlem. Dim lighting, shadowy figures, strong drinks, cheap prices, Chicago logos, an earned blue collar attitude, broken souls, bitter lovers, a cute bartender; a place where people come to drink while drowning away pain, not to flirt or laugh. A definitive Chicago working class bar in one of the last strong holds of windy city community in the outer rusting shell of that old Chicago machine.
Wednesday would be the ten year anniversary of my mom’s suicide, and I needed a drink. Many drinks, to be honest with you, and let’s face it honesty is hard to find in this era of communication. I had spent most of Labor Day at a Polishfest, taking pictures of a polish Elvis impersonator, all the while biting my tongue, hard, from making terribly easy ethnic jokes. I sat with a gypsy who read my cards and fished for truths in everything I said. I wanted answers and all I got was stories and parlor tricks. But after all it was Labor Day, and these folks were all just working their crafts in a nation of dreamers covered in a smog of reality.
A biker was sitting next to me plotting the assassination of his own liver in desperate scheme of self annihilation. My own damn self was kind of jealous of his well laid plans, so I called over my old friend Jack, to help see if he knew anybody I could talk to about my own coup. Jack got mixed up with a pretty little diet coke, so I got drunk, and the plans were laid to rest as my mind hummed a dirge and said a prayer for the all of us.
I’ve been depressed for about two years with the worst of it coming in the coldest nights of last winter when I lost my grandma. As the fall approaches I search for a parachute, and warmer clothing. But this isn’t about me it’s about Labor Day, and a cozy picture of the America I love. The reason I mentioned it is because I haven’t written in a while because I don’t feel much anymore, and yet when I witnessed what I saw and all the simplicity of it, I once again felt so alive.
What I saw was two old men holding onto their smiles, while dancing the night away, as they fed twenty dollar bill after twenty dollar bill into the modern day juke box full of all their old memories. Aged smiles full of false teeth sang along as song after song of old crooners overran the sound speakers of the bar. Sinatra, Darin, Bennet, Davis, Dorsey, Martin, they were all alive again in these old men’s hearts.
I started coming to this bar about ten years ago when I was going to college. Some nights I would work the grave yard shift, and so I would stop into O’Malley’s, just as it was opening around 7am. An old Irish man who looks a bit like Mickey in Rocky movies, always tends the bar until about 4PM. Gravelly voice, kind eyes, rough face and a heart of gold, his name is Tommy. The first time I introduced myself he told me about how he used to drink with my grandfather at this same bar when they were both younger. My family has owned a building down the street for years and I remember as a very young man my grandpa taking me to this same bar where I would sit and drink Pepsi.
Tommy is getting old and I hear he’s sick (something you often hear of the aged) but every time I see him he’s full of so much piss and vigor I figure he’ll out live me, especially if I keep sitting next to bikers hell bent on self destruction. I’ve seen sadness in his eyes especially when he talks of his wife who died a few years ago from the cancer, but he’s from the old world where men kept marching on -- and there is no time for sadness.
Tommy’s shift usually ends around 3pm, and is generally replaced by a large chested face of youth. The day crowd at a bar is very different then the night crowd, yet both share a tendency for darkness and sadness. Jeopardy usually signals the changing of the guard as the unemployed, third shift workers, and retired loners start moving out and the workers move in still in their cable uniforms, business suits, and dirty construction pants. Seven exits the husbands, and eight brings in the losers, followed by the junkies, followed by the outlaws, then the yuppies, a few Mexicans, and usually a Pollock or two. Rinse and repeat in a cycle of cultural exchange and you get the eco system of most bars. So when Johnny and Tommy were still playing the jukebox at 4:30 we all started to wonder.
The tough bikers said to the bartender, “somebody has to do something about those guys,” giving her the hint.
“Today is Labor Day, in the same state and city where men died for it to exist”, I said. “These men have labored for probably more than 6o years busting their ass’s in a tough, cold, and brutal city we know is a bitch to live in. I think tonight is there night, and we’re all along for the ride. Let’s enjoy it and hope to have it one day our own damn selves.”
I always wanted to be a politician and occasionally I let my voice heard. I wasn’t sure if the biker was going to hit me but I was sure the bartender wasn’t going to have wild sex with me tonight as she rolled her eyes. I winked and smiled.
Jimmy Durante “Make Someone Happy” was playing as the biker also found his smile, said nothing, and went back to the assignation of his liver. He didn’t hit me but I’m fairly certain the fucking prick snatched my sunglasses later that night while I was buying a hamburger.
I thought for a moment of the 13 workers killed by the hands of the government in Chicago at Pullman Square in one of the largest labor strikes in our nation’s history. The railroads cut the workers pay causing the workers who could no longer feed their families to strike. At its peak about 250,000 workers in 27 states with little ability to communicate managed to organize. President Grover Cleveland ordered federal troops to stop the strike and all hell broke loose. When it was all said and done we were given Labor Day to remember the 13 dead and what should never happen again. How many of us remember? History repeats if it’s not heard. Jesus my writing is starting to feel like a Charlie Brown cartoon.
What’s often lost to us in the passage of time is the magic that’s created along the way. In these two old men’s lives they saw this music live in concert halls and in bars. It was the hits on their radio, and the record player was the king of the party scene. But rock came hard and they were pushed away fast and hard. They still had their records, and radio still had the oldies. Record players broke and went out of style and all of a sudden Rock became the oldies and radio was gone. Today no 24 hour radio station in Chicago plays Sinatra type music (if I’m not mistaken). Tapes, CD’s, IPods, were never fully understood by this generation. Jukeboxes only had Rock in it with maybe a Frank CD as a novelty thrown in. Our generation can hold on to our sounds, and our ways with ease, but this generation couldn’t or refused to.
So here they stand in front of a new machine they can understand. A Jukebox. They watched the juke box grow from a novelty to a center piece in some bars (this being one of them). What is before them they don’t really understand but they know if they type in a name on the touch screen chances are somebody they know is going to play. A whole database of music, and not just a hand full of songs inside of an old box. Here they are at the end of their lives, old honky tonk heroes who have been a regular in this same bar since the first Daley started in this same city. For years that sound lost, they thought they lost forever. I smile as here these men are, on Labor Day, as they drink and sing along to their sound in the bar that was once there’s to rule. It’s magic to them, and so routine to you and I.
Erick, a friend of mine who joined me on this Labor Day, asked me if I thought he could play them a few songs. I told him it wasn’t a good idea, even if I knew his intentions were good. After a few drinks Erick walked to the juke box and started looking.
“He could look, but he can’t play,” a gravelly voice barked from Tommy’s mouth.
I yelled the words verbatim to Erick and started laughing loudly. Tommy started laughing too and when Erick came back over by us Tommy threw his arm around him like an old grandpa and everybody was laughing as Sinatra sang about New York.
Everybody knows I’ve always been an old soul probably from being around a lot of really old people during my formidable years. My grandmother took care of all the old people in the neighborhood bringing them food and love when I was young and my mom was getting her life together. When my mom had her life together it was as a nurse’s aide in nursing homes and I tagged along. But tonight, it wasn’t the feeble in nursing homes, the nice old people shut in their own homes, or even my own grandmother dying in that bed last winter -- it was all of them -- alive again and having fun.
Some cities have superheroes that lurk at night doing good and spreading fear in the hearts of the evil. Chicago has a guy that looks like GI Joe, who spreads cheese and cholesterol into the hearts of drunken Chicagoans in the mist of Cubs and Sox debates. I pointed out to Erick, a hopeless cubs fan, that when this music was originally playing in this bar the Cubs were about the same in their losing ways. Some things never change. Anyway the rumbor is that if you enjoy yourself in the city of wind long enough a magical butch shows up in a white butchers apron lays out a spread of some of the best cheese and sausage you’ve ever tasted (intoxication level may help the rating) and then sells them from his mobile deli. I bought a summer sausage and cheese and just enjoyed myself.
7 turned into 8 and 8 turned into 9 and the old men were still going. Some songs were even so nice we heard them twice. Johnny, who was the one feeding the machine and singing along with every song was back at the screen. He was lost in the music all night and in his mind that bar was 1953. He gave me a dirty look when I waved for his attention.
“Play ‘Mack the Knife’ for me, will ya,” I pleaded.
My grandpa on my mom’s side’s last name was McDonald so everybody called him Mac. I remember that song was he and his brother’s theme song, and I knew every word as I used to sing it with them when I was like five. Johnny kind of nodded as he went back to his selections. It was selfish but I wanted it.
The night passed and my mind started to wonder. I really was enjoying myself just watching these old men be happy. I don’t know what about made me feel so right, but it did. It was Labor Day and they deserved every minute of it. There night faded around 10:3, a good four hours later than any of us would have guessed. Soon 60’s rock, Mexican (an odd ball right out of the gate when they left), Metal, southern rock, classic rock, and rap would all fight for control of the night but before it did me and Johnny sang Mack the Knife word for word ending with a big high five on my favorite Labor Day in my nations history.
Aah … I said Jenny Diver … whoa … Sukey Tawdry
Look out to Miss Lotte Lenya and old Lucy Brown
Yes, that line forms on the right, babe
Now that Macky’s back in town …
Look out … old Macky is back!!