Saturday, October 01, 2022

She Wears the BVD's

"She Wears the BVD's,"
"I Stand in the Street and Freeze." 
"It's Nobody's Business but my Own."

These are some of the fine lyrics I found on a fifty cent CD I bought over to Marden's some time ago.  I found it in a gaylord ( large cardboard bin) right next to the only check out open that moment.  Suddenly an image of the slogan, " I should have bought it when I saw it at Marden's" passed through that area I charitably call my mind.

Stark and sad images of  harsh lessons from my past popped up and reminded me that it was never a good idea to pass up a deal too good to be true, especially at Marden's. Missed some good shit in the past by telling myself, "I'll come back".  The good deals don't stay healthy out on the floor.  

I looked at the gaylord full of the 5000 or so CDs and decided they would not last. So I dove in. 

Maybe thirty minutes later and only a foot or so deep into the gaylord, I came up for air.  Had set aside 20, 25 CDs to take home.  I seriously considered diving back in when Reality tapped me in my pocket.  Nothing like a phone call from home to ruin any good buzz one has goin.  Damn.  I would have to come back I guess. Sadly I gathered up my paltry pile of bargain CD's and dragged my sorry ass over to the only check out counter open at that time..

The lady at the counter was soon underwhelmed by my purchases.  Only about a third of the pile had price tags.  Well Shit ..........  No bigger monkey wrench in the works exists at Mardens than plopping down anything without a price tag.  Days are ruined, Life sucks, and it is all because I had the indecency to not check the CD's for tags before I decided to buy.

I knew this to be a cardinal sin as I had on a previous occasion or two ruined some other Marden's employee's day, or maybe even their week.  I dutifully hung my head low and mumbled,"Sorry Ma'am."

Her piercing stare was all I saw as she reached for the loud speaker mike.  "PRICE CHECK AISLE 2".

Some moments passed as I endured scathing looks from customers and sales folks alike.  Only one sales aisle open and this flounder has not just one thing to price check, he has a dozen.  I know everyone hated me.  I deserved it.  I knew the rules.  My car was licensed in Maine.  Go to Marden's and keep up or go somewhere else like Job Lot.  Fuckin Texas Leaguer.  I know that is what everyone within eyesight was thinking.

Even with my eyes diverted to the floor, I sensed her presence.  Not so much saw or heard her; I guess I just knew an employee with pull was in my general vicinity and getting closer with every step.  A large and imposing figure blocked out my sunlight and said, "That damn CD box again."  Her withering stare was directed not at me but at the sales lady who actually bothered her while she was catching up on the latest harlequin romance to come in with the latest gaylord full of books.

At first, Sales Lady looked rebellious.  But Queen of the Counters was the big bad ass broad with the stare to end all stares.  She said, "Got a piece of cardboard?"

Sales Lady hesitated just a second too long for the Queen's liking.  "Well, do you?"  And then she looked down her nose as if to say, "What's the matter, don't understand English?"

Cardboard produced, the Queen took the 3 steps it took to reach the gaylord full of trouble I had dipped into.  Queen of Counters stapled a cardboard sign to the bin that read "50 Cents or as Marked".  Turning back to Sales Lady, "Got it?  ........ Learn to make a decision ferchrisakes. " And with a kind of a whinny, the Queen of the Counters cantered back towards the rear of the store.

Meanwhile, behind me, the only cash register functioning continued to back up.  At least I was at the front of it.  ......Poor bastards.  There's always someone and sometimes we have to be that someone, that guy, that poor bastard everyone in line will hate until they drive away in their cars.

I paid my $12 plus tax and hit the road.  As it turns out, there are at least 6 standout CDs from that gaylord.  "The Country Gentlemen" was my favorite. I saw them live , in person , up close with my brother in the mid 1960s at the Red Fox Tavern in downtown Bethesda, Maryland. Them, Flatt and Scruggs, and Doc Watson were responsible for my life long love affair with Bluegrass music. 

Keep it 'tween the ditches ...................................
____________________

Naturally I had to pick a tune off that fifty cent CD. Here is "Nobody' Business" by The Country Gentlemen.



( originally written - 2/13/2021 )

Friday, September 30, 2022

Anticlimactic

We spend the first twenty or so years of our lives just winding our clocks up, filling our fuel tanks with knowledge and sensory overload.  At some point, usually later in that twenty year curve, we are spit out into the World to sink or swim.  

Of course this only relates to maybe 98% of the planet's population.  There is that 2% who have no clue or ever had to have a clue from their beginning to their end.  And many of those 2% are the progeny of earlier two-percenters who had no clue either. With each generation, they lose even more contact with reality.  But that's okay, we have places for them;  Monaco, Aspen, Palm Beach, the list goes on and on. There is still plenty of room for the rest of us to stumble around finding our way.

So most of us spend the first twenty years getting ready.  We embark on our journey to find whatever it is that will end up being our fate, our direction, our focus.  Most of us will enter into everything at the ground floor, from the social basement to the corporate/labor basement.  We have lots to learn still, but our basic tools are out on the bench and ready when we know how to use them.

Somewhere between the twenties and the forties, we settle in, build our careers, copulate to create our replacements, and concentrate on building some kind of nest egg, physical or otherwise.  The lucky ones find it close at hand. Like the girl next door, its a wonderful life here in Pottersville.  Some will hit the road and follow their dream or a stream of cash, dragging anyone hooked into their trip with them.  And for some who are left, they will search for that spot to settle into and never find it.  

Regardless, we all seem to have a pinnacle.  A point we reach where everything we did led to that point of our lives.  Anything that comes after is just biding time to when we finally depart in a box with a tag around our big toe.

So why do we anguish about how long we will be around?  We have no real control over this.  Accident, war, disease, self destructive behaviors all conspire to take us out at any given moment.  But we insist on worrying about the time we have left to continue taking up space. 

I have been through the run up, the pre-adult prep.  I have done the build a family, a life, create a replacement.  And now I am in a phase I just do not know what to think of.  Empty Nest syndrome doesn't quite cover it.   I have been used to that now for years.  For lack of a better word, I will call it what it is; I am retired. 

Whatever.

I thought about this awhile back on an errand over to Home Depot in Rochester. I had about forty five minutes behind the wheel to consider where and when my peak was. Had I passed it without a clue? It certainly was not in front of me anymore, but just in case, I ran through some previous high points and low points just to make sure.  None of them seemed fitting to apply the word Peak or Pinnacle.  My life just looked like a series of  minor bumps and dumps on the graph covering the time I have been around.

The notion of mortality; my mortality, visited for a minute.  Was there enough time left to find this pinnacle if it still actually existed?  Did I even care? If it was waiting out there for me to find it, could I step outside the comfortable box I have hammered together over the last fifty plus years long enough to even look for it?   The questions died unanswered. So I moved on.

We all look for climaxes. We look for them in our sex lives, our career lives, our marriages, our books, movies and music. Many of us it seems, look at Death as the ultimate climax.  Besides our birth, that is the only other event in our lives that really matters.  Instead of embracing the end of Life as a normal circumstance and not a climatic moment, we seek every measure we can to avoid it. We seek to put off that final breath, often leaving any quality of Life questions in the dust. 

I wonder.  I have seen death and it really doesn't seem to bother the person dying so much as those who witness it.  They are here and then the light leaves their eyes and they are gone.  All they leave are the memories they have created in those still living.  Some are lucky I guess to have left legacies that are recorded and examined from time to time by those who still walk the planet.  But for the most part, all we leave of ourselves is cached in the hearts and minds of the small circle we orbited in.

Death is anti-climatic and unpredictable. Is worrying about something I know is coming worth the time wasted fulfilling the worry? I decided no, it was not, is not, and never will be. 

It is Life that blows my dress up. I will continue on as if I have not peaked yet. This acid trip is not over.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ................................................
______________________________________

Originally written, 2/27/2011. Found today, leaving me to wonder what caused me to leave it in the "languishing Draft" folder. Seems I let quite a few posts from back then languish. I must have cared more then what folks thought of me and what I wrote. ............ Nah. 
__________________

I decided to use a band name to search for my musical choice today. I dug deep and remembered this song from an album I bought out of the back of a music store van back in the summer of 1970. Paid $1.50 for it. Along with the early Fleewood Mac and John Mayall, Climax Blues Band turned me on to the Blues. It is odd that it took British bands to show me some of the best music ever created in our country. Anyway, here is a classic blues tune off the album, "Plays On". Here is  "So many Roads"

........ Shots of whiskey go well with this song.


Thursday, September 29, 2022

Just Desserts - 100 Words


I decided to create a flash fiction challenge for myself from a crossword puzzle I just finished.

100 Words on #10 Down and Across on the Daily Crossword Puzzle on the AARP website.
The words are Demi and Dessert

Just Desserts

The ten guests were a mix of winners, losers and a couple of pot stirrers who kept the conversation elevated and robust.

“Will Hank be joining us?”

“Please, eat. Hank will be with us by dessert.”

After dinner, Demi disappeared into the kitchen. She returned with a skull on a platter filled with what appeared to be watermelon pieces impaled by fancy toothpicks. She offered each guest a piece. One took two.

She set the remaining dessert at the head of the table. Demi lifted her piece as if to toast.

“To Hank: I'm so glad you could make it.”

_________________________

Not sure what I think of this effort. Did not spend much time on it. And yes, I am rusty. 

_____________________
For the musical choice, I picked "Send Me to the 'Lectric Chair" as performed by David Bromberg. It was originally released in the 1920s by Bessie Smith. I decided I liked David's version best. I think of it as a kind of epilog for the 100 words above.


Wednesday, September 28, 2022

A Conversation at the Kitchen Table

Not sure why I did not post this back on Dec. 13, 2011 when I originally wrote it. I didn't and so it goes. I did save it I guess so I could find it later; like a written time capsule of sorts. Here we are eleven years later and Life is still "Same Shit, Different Day". 

I was reading old blog posts about this and that.  For some reason focusing on angry political posts did nothing for me.  Some pissed me off.  Others I agreed with.  I gave my usual responses, but without my normal level of righteous indignation. A few caused me to stop for a second and really ask myself how I felt instead of kicking it into automatic knee jerker mode and ripping off a few hundred angry words.

The past few years have found me wondering why I see political situations in certain ways.  I ask myself if I had the strength of backbone to actually be the one who decides an outcome or direction to resolve one of the million, Ka jillion problems facing us at any given moment.  In that I have an over blown trust in my ability to handle what comes at me, I thought I could.

Ten seconds into this self induced ego boost, I realized I had no clue whether I had the intelligence to first of all, make a good decision, or second of all, the discipline to follow through with it.  My life has been sprinkled with moments of grand failure to perform as advertised.  Trying to not beat myself up and not end up in a weeping pile of crippling disappointment, I did not look very hard.  Still, some glaring moments of falling well short of the goal line still jumped off the index card I keep in my mind just for nostalgic moments like this.

I was about to fall into one of my loser, nobody likes me, I'm going to eat some worms routines and work hard to create for myself a lousy day.  My lovely wife and a conversation not three weeks earlier crossed my mind.  Suddenly all was right with the world.  Instantly my spirits were lifted as I replayed our brief encounter.

She was sitting at the kitchen table when I came home from the bike shop.  I had been beaten up several times that day by disappointment, frustration, and failure to have the right answer when the phone rang.  Nothing had gone right that day.

"Hey"

My wife stopped eating.  "Hey Yourself".  She looked at me.  "What's wrong?"

What is it with women; they can pull from the word "Hey" that something is wrong?  

"Uh, well, I had a shitty day at the shop.  Everything I touched turned to shit.  I feel like such a loser."

She dropped her fork on her plate, turned slightly in her chair and stared at me.  I wasn't sure, but was that the beginnings of a gleam in her eye or was she..........

"You are a loser.  But buck up.  You aren't as big a loser as you were this time last year."

She picked up her fork and shoved it under a piece of pot roast that had been basking in well cooked juices.  She took a bite and smiled at me.

When she's right, she's right.  That is what I am - not as big a loser as I could be or have been.  

It was indeed a good day after all.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ................................
__________________________

The music accompaniment for this post has to be " Loser " by Beck. 


Sunday, September 25, 2022

Gird Your Loins

I wanted to come up with a post of Biblical proportions. I had to settle for my usual poorly proportional outcome. I believe planets have converged and stars have aligned in such a way that today is the day, the day all Christians meet God in his/her house high up in the clouds where the antelope play.

It's Sunday today and maybe today the planet finally divests itself of many whining holier than thou cross bearing troublemakers around the globe. They have been looking forward to this day forever. Today I hope to hold the door for them so it doesn't smack them in the ass on their way out. 

Today is the beginning or the middle, or maybe the end of  "The Rapture". I never could get the timing of this auspicious Christian fantasy straight. None of the various evangelical sects can agree on the details, the date, or what it means in the end. Yeah, they do have a hard, cast in iron loose set of guidelines in that factually challenged but rule specific book known as the "Holy Bible". Being holier than their neighbors in the church on the next block, they twist their take to their liking regarding the Rapture, Judgement Day, the Crack of Doom. 

I understand that one of the hard and fast rules is the Rapture will occur and only "good Christians" will be allowed on board. This is a pretty straight forward rule. Everyone who is anyone in the evangelical culture seem to agree on this point. But as in the rest of this book of contradictions and nonsense, what makes a "good Christian" is left up to those interpreting its meaning; especially if one draws their life lessons from both books found within. 

A Bible Thumper in Colorado has decided today, September 25, 2022, is the day all good Christians will have their tickets punched. Tomorrow they will wake up at the Pearly Gates where toothbrushes, toothpaste and shampoo will be handed out. There will be no need for towels in Heaven as there are at least two body blowers distributing God's breath on the faithful on every corner. The Thumper knows this as fact or they would not have spoiled the lines of their beautiful Subaru "Outback" with their message. 

My question to them is how does a surburban dweller of the Denver area know today is the date when so many more sanctified holy rollers who are closer to God's elbow were always wrong. The Rapture has had an infinite number of start up dates and so far, it has failed to launch.

I keep rooting for them to be right at some point. Sooner would be preferred than later. If they vacate the planet, that will lead to less confusing contradictions worldwide and the card carrying atheists might just shut their pie holes about there not being a God allowing the not so perfect, but friendlier Christians God leaves behind with bragging rights.

My hopes have been dashed before. If there is no Rapture or at least a pre-game warm up, my tattered hopes will have to wait for the next sure fire prediction. Seems to me the odds have to be narrowing. At some point they may just get it right.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ......................................

BTW - I always wondered where the term "gird your loins" came from. I always knew what it meant but not of its origin. As it turns out, it is a befitting title for this Rapture post. It has its origins in the Bible. ........ Of course it does. 

____________________

Again it's "Google's Choice" for the musical pick. I am punching up "Rock music about the Rapture"

The Alternative/Rock band, "Hurt" offers up two versions of the same song. One is a metal/rock version and the other is a fine acoustic version. I could not decide, so here is both.


Saturday, September 24, 2022

US Route 301

Recent memories of the Florida I lived in back in the early 1960's included the many road trips my family and I made north back to Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maine during the three plus years we lived in the Sunshine State. 

There was no I-95 yet, no awesome super slab to love life while smoothly cruising between 60 and 65 mph. No gliding down  gentle curving exits that ended at clean restaurants and immaculate gas stations with friendly and helpful attendants all wearing clean shirts and name tags.

In the South of the early 1960's, the fastest route north or south on the southern East Coast was US 301 or nothing. Every Podunk town large and small anywhere near it, insisted on being part of it.  And pretty much every town made you slow down while driving through. Speed traps were everywhere. 

Driving further North, the options increased but did not make the drive any better. The service went from surliness with a smile to no fooling in your face surliness as we got closer to the Big Apple. The New Jersey Turnpike was nice. There was a  Ho Jo's every 30 -40 miles or so. Because it was a feeder highway to New York City, the bumper to bumper traffic was intense all day and into the night. I witnessed amazing incidents on those trips. Horrific accidents, Traffic backed up so badly in New Jersey once, it took over six hours to make it to the George Washington Bridge.

Heading back to Florida in late summer 1962, we became entangled with thousands of KKK party goers on US 301 in southern Georgia. It was past sunset and I had been sound asleep in the back seat for awhile. My mom jammed on the brakes throwing me onto the floor. When I regained the seat and took stock of what was going on outside the car I saw two endless lines of red tail lights moving south at maybe five MPH. Most of the cars in front of us in the right lane were turning into a huge field covered in rows of flaming lanterns marking where to park. Men in hooded white robes holding flashlights, guided the Johnny come lately's into their parking spots.

Further in the distance up on a wide knoll, many yards apart were two large crosses on fire with people in white robes and pointy hoods milling around them. PA systems were blaring and the folks just getting out of their cars were in various stages of putting on their KKK outfits. Georgia Highway Patrol was everywhere, guiding traffic, answering questions or just jawing with good ole boy goobers in pick ups and beat up sedans.The tension in our car was enough to make me nervous and cause my 10 year old mind to imagine all sorts of awful scenarios. It was an awesome experience, but not in a good way.

We were hung up in that traffic snarl for over a half hour. Naturally in that time I had questions my parents deftly talked around. It was not until we got back home in Tampa that answers were attempted even though my parents were as dumbfounded as I was.

I would drive by one other KKK hoedown before we finally left Florida and resettled in the Washington DC area in the summer of 1964. The harsh and often brutal lessons from the race education I received over the three plus years I lived in Florida have stayed with me without forget and have always been easy to bring to the surface to remember. I learned about the evils of racism through witnessing it and experiencing it firsthand.

Keep it 'tween the ditches .........................................

____________________________
Musical selection is going to be another "Google's Choice". I punched up "Music about US 301" and got zilch. Damn, I would have thought at least one tassled Buck Owens wannabe country singer had recorded a tune about US 301. I did find one. It was awful. 

So I punched up "music about KKK". Here is a nice reggae tune by Steel Pulse, "Ku Klux Klan"


Thursday, September 22, 2022

Stumbling Off the Trail

When I was in South Portland a month or so ago, I stopped in at Harbor Freight, that purveyor of all the gizmos any dad with shallow pockets could ever want. I bought a hi falutin headlamp that can blind low flying aircraft, should any decide to buzz me. I have been walking Maggie early mornings of late and under the canopy where it's dark as a pocket, this headlamp really lights up the night.

A week or so ago, I wondered just how well did I know the trails at Mary's Park across Sam Page Road from my dooryard. I had walked those trails thousands of times with a dog, dogs or just by myself. I knew most every root or embedded rock well. Most had tripped me up at some point in the last 50 + years. But could I navigate them without help? I began to turn off the headlamp to see if my memory was good enough to guide me out of the woods on trails I was familiar with.

Mixed results of course. Most stupid things I have ever done had mixed results. But for the most part I did fairly well, often making it 100 yards or so until I stepped off the trail or tripped over something. One morning I tripped over Maggie, who had decided to stop in front of me. Anyway, I was almost impressed with myself.

During these early dark thirty AM excursions, funny things happen to the light just before dawn. It might just be a glitch in the light sensing hardware of my brain. But if memory serves from my days of driving trucks at night instead of the day, those dim periods of transitioning light at Dawn and Sunset have always been tricky. 

One morning when I turned off my headlamp, I was faced with a wall of  light waves vacillating between dark and light. It looked and felt like a Acid Trip flashback. I stopped and reveled in the optical confusion and quickly pulled a couple of tokes off the  joint I had cradled in my hand. Maggie ran by me and through the wall of wavering light creating a series of trails as the light waves opened and scattered for a moment. It was awesome.

I find stumbling around in the dark to be more fun than it sounds. And I should. I have been a stumbler since the day I was born.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ..................................

_________________________________

I gave up looking for a tune yesterday when I wrote this post. Nothing I found fit or even came close. What a difference 24 hours makes. Here is an easy listening tune from Sheryl Crow, with James Taylor sitting in. I have never heard it before. "Flying Blind". Enjoy 


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Concussed

Junior Seau - Suicided as CTE took over
The Ken Burns documentary on Ernest Hemingway and my post about it yesterday brought up an issue both Ernest and I have in common. We both have dealt with an abundance of head blows in our lifetimes. Granted, Ernest's incidents were all more serious than any of mine, but we both tended it seemed, to put our heads in danger without any thought to the potential repercussions.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy ( CTE ) is a medical condition we really have little information on. At this point, its existence in our brains can only be confirmed by autopsy after we die. Suffering a series of blunt blows or sudden stop traumas to the head over time is believed to be the primary cause. It can go undetected for years. But there is no doubt that any hit on the head can create the beginnings of nightmares in our futures. How some folks seem to live with the damage just fine and others are affected harshly the rest of their days is I guess still a puzzle. There is no doubt however that any blow to the noggin will leave traceable evidence in its wake if anyone is inclined to crack open our skulls to check us out after we pass onto the great beyond.

CTE has been around well, forever. Only in recent years has it been given the attention it deserved. We can thank the NFL for finally acknowledging its existence among their player ranks as the primary reason we even know about it. After all, the players of the National Football League are the perfect poster children for this life changing condition.

All this new information on just how fragile the contents of our heads are makes me wonder just where I stand with regards to this problem. I have had so many blows to the head over the years, I can only remember the ones that knocked me out and/or sent me to the ER for stitches. 

Hmm ..............

I stopped writing so I could try to pin down as many head banging incidents in my life as I could. A few or more moments have passed now and I have decided the list is most likely endless. There are some stand out moments though that rocked my brain hard and had residual effects later. 

My first known encounter with objects as hard or harder than my head was at age four. I have no memory of the incident but I am told I slipped on a throw rug while running in the house and fell cheek first into the corner of a coffee table minutes before my parents were about to leave for a trip to Japan. Seven or eight stitches closed the cut, but my vision didn't recover for several days. My parents still made the trip but only because my father had control over the flight as it was his assigned plane. I understand it was the first of many actions on my part that would piss him off over the years.

The years following were full of intermittent visits to various emergency rooms to have my scalp sewn up followed up by strict directions to keep me awake for 24 hours until my pupils regained their uniformity. The head blows were always different. A brick thrown over a wall once on a dare that I would not move to avoid it sits near the top of the youthful stupidity I was so full of. That was the first time I remember waking up after being unconscious. The dare I took to be the one who climbed the highest in that tree and then found the one limb that refused to hold me. The kids who gathered around my unconscious body later claimed I was out for many minutes.

And on and on and on; I continued to lead with my head sure in the knowledge I couldn't hurt a billiard ball. How many blows did I suffer from by participating in contact sports up to and including college. I broke two windshields in college and suffered concussing effects; one riding my bike on York Road and the other defending a pass from Bill Frank while playing intramural flag football. To add to my pain, I had to pay for the damages in both incidents.

My self inflicted punishment did not stop when I became a responsible adult either. I broke 5 helmets riding and racing bicycles. I once walked into an unforgiving steel part of a trailer that knocked me out. I was in the back field safety checking the empty trailers we used for hauling scrap and salvage. I think I lost a half hour at the least. The blood on my face was dried up by the time I got back to the office. The receptionist squeaked a little when she saw me. That one took over 10 stitches and I had headaches for several days.

So I have had a lifetime of head blows. Based on what I know now, there has to be some long term accumulative effect. And that is okay. I am lucky any damage has not ruined me. But it makes me wonder if I had been more careful, would I be different than I am today? Just wondering is all.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ..............................................

_______________________________

Music for this post is ....... uh, I don't know yet. Hmm ..........

After screening a series of unsatisfactory videos about blows to the head, concussions, etc. I remembered a Pink Floyd tune from my college days. It was a tune I had become convinced was the best pot smoking song ever............ until of course the next one came along. Here is "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd from the their break out album "Dark Side of the Moon". Enjoy.

The song seems appropriate somehow in that while I have not ended up comfortably numb. I have enjoyed though, the many years of searching for comfort and numbness. 


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

All You Have to do is Write One True Sentence

I watched the three part Hemingway documentary yesterday. It was a Ken Burns documentary. I expected a well rounded and informative accounting of Ernest Hemingway's time on the planet. I was not disappointed.

Ken confirmed that yes, Hemingway was a royal asshole much of his life, but he was also brilliant, dynamic, charismatic and he did redefine what the American Novel was during the 20th Century. His unapologetic approach combined with terse, unadorned, and to the point writing style was antithetical to the flowery language and filigree encrusted writing that had been the rage in Europe for the last so many centuries. I had an English professor in college who called Hemingway's style "blue collar writing". He did not think much of Hemingway, but he was a big fan of Shakespeare. Me, I did not care. I liked some of Hemingway, but I favored Steinbeck, Kerouac, JD Salinger. I did always like his simple to the point style though. The man could pack a lot in a few words.

I watched this three part series not as just an interested viewer, but as a viewer who also liked to write. I hoped to glean some writing nuggets of worth from following the tragic life of Ernest as he stumbled his way through the many Hells he created for himself and those he loved. Again I was not disappointed. Ken Burns provided me some wonderful ideas to try to bring into my own style of writing.

The one Hemingway nugget that stood out was Ernest's contention that good writing springs from that first sentence, that "one true sentence". This beginning was not necessarily restricted to the beginning of a story, but to any effort to write, daily, weekly, or after a long break. Find that one true sentence and what followed would come easily. 

Hemingway was a disciplined daily writer who often pounded out thousands of words. If he could not find the one true sentence that day, he would often shit can that day's efforts and start over the next day.

The other Hemingway-ism I learned years ago. In an interview, he was asked how it was he made writing look so easy. His reply was not friendly nor accommodating. He replied that Good writing is never easy, nor should it be. A writer should suffer sometimes to find the words that are locked away in their minds. That once he finds the right words, there is no better feeling for him in the world. At least that is how I interpreted his response to such a stupid question.

Regardless and for what it's worth, Ken Burns' biopic of Ernest Hemingway is excellent and is only 3 chapters long for a total of 6 hours I think. PBS is currently streaming it. Check it out.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ................................................

_____________________________

Music for this post has to be a Bach fugue. Ernest insisted that his first inspiration in his writing came from listening to and playing Bach tunes on his cello as a child. Enjoy this Bach piece composed for those huge church organs from the way back in the days long before the more recent back in the days.

Fugue in G Minor BWV 578


Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Educate Yourself

A comment on Facebook jerked me around some a few minutes ago. In the comment section under the image to the left, a comment went like this:

"I got to where i am

As well without an education. Well I did go to school but didn’t even get into that field, so felt it was such a waste!"

I'm tired of listening to many Americans continuing to buy into the notion that if we don't go to college or finish college, we are somehow less educated and of lesser value than if we had a college degree. I am tired of the false sense of superiority given college graduates over non-graduates; especially in light of the quality of the college educated leaders we have running the show right now. Their example certainly does not speak well of college as environments that build leaders.

A dumber class of movers and shakers I have yet to find. Oh sure, there is always a dimwit in the gang. Just look to Ronald Reagan or most any Republican since. Never has the intellectual quality of Congress, the Judiciary, or the Executive Branch dipped so low as it has in the last six years. We are still dealing with these idiots and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Those of us who chose different paths other than the expected worn out trails that led us to college need to stop saying we are uneducated. Education is not what is in books. Education is not learning to pass tests or degrees. Education is an ongoing process that involves everything we see, hear, read and observe as we make it from one day to the next. Each and every one of us should be involved with whether we are teaching ourselves or in a classroom. Seems to me a person claiming they are uneducated is a convenient excuse pulled up to cover for well, usually shit that needs no covering. Its an admission they are not of the same caliber as the folks with the mortar board caps and tassles.

Bullshit.

Necessity and want are the two primary drivers of real education. Existing in an educational world because it is/was expected. "Everyone in our family went to college" is not the best reason to attend. There is no doubt that college holds the possibility of broadening one's horizons and possibly increasing one's chances for a good career. As to setting oneself up for the real world, college is only part of the puzzle. Information is useless until one knows how to apply it. Educating ourselves can show us what might be possible, but only hard work and tenacity will make that education work for us. If making money is the only reason to go to college; in my opinion, that is possibly the poorest reason of all.

Later .....................................

_______________________________________

Only one tune fit the post and more importantly, the mood I am in. Please enjoy "Another Brick in the Wall" by Pink Floyd. The song pretty much sums up the current quality and aim of conventional education today, yesterday, and well, like forever man.


Monday, September 05, 2022

It's a Rain Out

Normally I would say that Labor day was ruined here in the pucker brush of southern Maine. There will be no outdoor BBQ's under blue skies, no volley ball on sandy beaches, nor any pleasant moments sitting on a dock on a pristine lake sipping Mai Tai's. It's solid, no bullshit raining outside and has been all night I think. It is supposed to be gone by afternoon, but this is Maine; only believe what you see when open your front door.

Though many annual outdoor festivities will be limited today, I figure the rain is a damn sight better to see than happy smiling groups sitting on logs eating Smores. We can party anytime. The rain, well, the rains have been mostly missing in action this summer. And this one is a soaker. Excellent.

Maggie hates the rain. I have to yank her out almost kicking and screaming so she can do what dogs do after eating and drinking. But because we never had the foresight to potty train her, or for that matter, find a toilet that would make that possible, out in the rain she goes. Funny thing though, she refuses to be out there by herself in the rain. If I do not accompany her, she will just hang out at the door and whine.

"What the Hell dude? You make me go outside in the rain, but you won't get wet with me? That's Bullshit and you know it."

I hang my head and step out there with her. Fair is fair.

I will say, the rain certainly makes her focus better. No chasing butterflies; no stopping to smell her last dump. She's all business. Piss and shit; three minutes and we are headed back to the bunkhouse. 

I don't make plans much anymore. So today has not been ruined nor did it force me to find alternative activities to engage in. I mighta, coulda, and maybe shoulda done some kind of grunt work out in the yard today. That would be a classic way to spend "Labor Day". But no, the rain ruined that idea. Hey, another reason to be grateful for the rain.

As I reveled selfishly in the pleasure of much needed rain, I was crudely and rudely brought back to reality when the news reminded me that many parts of the world have been suffering from too much water in the form of torrential summer rains and in Pakistan, their glaciers are breaking up. What a tragedy.

One man's blessing is often another man's curse. Never so evident than in today's environments.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ...................................

_________________________

Music on this rainy day should have a rain theme I think. My first search yielded too many choices. Seems we like to write about rain almost as much as we write about sex and romance. 

Immediately I thought of Creedence Clearwater Revival and John Fogerty's fascination for rain: or so it seems anyway. I picked "Who'll Stop the Rain" because it is a rain on someone's parade tune and it is a song used in the 1978 Movie, "Who'll Stop the Rain"; which was/is a great movie you may never have heard of.

Check out the tune and maybe the movie also.


Saturday, September 03, 2022

We Don't Deserve this Planet

It's Saturday morning. I haven't a clue about what to write. I've been poking around in the dust bin of my cranial void only to discover that the cranial void is indeed empty and actually lives up to its name. There may be a shadow or two dancing in and out of the weak light, but for all intents and purposes, there is not even a promise or inkling of any worth waiting to be shared.

On that note, after copious amounts of coffee, a few righteous tokes, and after an hour of dealing with the mundane chores I usually steer clear of, I came here with something to share but in this run up to the big share, damned if I haven't become lost in the wonderment of my own words and forgotten from whence I came and why.

Whew! That was a long sentence. I used to write that way all the time. When it works, it can be a wonderful way to express myself. More often than not though, it falls flat and inspires no awe and leaves the reader thinking, "What the Fuck?" I know for sure it hasn't worked when I read what I just wrote and go, "What the Fuck" ?

We have had a couple of A+ days recently. We have one more time, been lifted out of the Heat Wave summer we are not used to here in the Pine Tree State. Mainers can take the bugs. They handle the cold and snow without thinking about it. We look forward to Mud Season. But the heat, Jeezus, it gets into the low 80's and we start melting. No exaggerations, I am not shitting you, people melt up here, become puddles, and have to be scraped up off the asphalt. We hate the Heat. Well, I do anyway. 

One of the reasons I settled here in Maine was because of the cooler temps. I have lived in warmer climes like Florida in the 1960s and Maryland in the 1960s and 70s. Yeah, I am no stranger to heat and humidity. I learned at an early age that when it is cold, you can always warm up by putting on more clothes. When it is hot, you can only take so much off and if you are still hot, you are a loser. 

Of course I came up with this observation back in the days before universal interior climate control. Now days, most folks would not think about not having air conditioning where ever they are; the house, work or while driving their car. Climate control is no longer something odd and special. We take it for granted now.

BA and I have acknowledged that Air Conditioning has its place, but its presence is not necessary usually up our way; a couple of weeks a summer maybe. We have AC in our cars, but not the house. This summer, there were many days in a row I wanted to have any excuse to drive the car somewhere so for awhile, a few instances, I could bask in the cool air hitting me in the face off the dash. I cannot imagine how miserable further south has been. 

All this brings to mind that we have ended up with what we deserve for being such poor stewards of a beautiful planet. And I don't want to hear recriminations, denials, or accusations. The shitty climate we are dealing with now is at the least partially our fault, but more likely, mostly our fault. Regardless, we were warned it was coming over 50 years ago. Instead of taking commonsense measures to mitigate the future Hell we were and are facing, we turned the issue into a political football being tossed back and forth while nothing got done. ..........  The conversations were endless and useless. 

We don't deserve this planet.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ................................

____________________________

Once I remembered this cover of a favorite Led Zeppelin tune I knew this was the song for this post. Enjoy turned to WOW, here it is, "When the Levee Breaks" - from "Playing for Change", a charity working towards Peace through music. Performers around the Globe work together remotely to create some of the best music available today. It's a damn good charity also.



Friday, September 02, 2022

Liberal Paradise


I took this picture in 1977 when I hauled Rock n' Roll shows all over the US and Canada. I picked it solely because it was an image of a crowd, which seemed at the time to have a connection to the idea of crowds who coagulate because of shared interests. It might make some sense once we get further into the post. But then again, it might not. It is dark thirty in the AM and I am not all here. Part of me is still on the couch sleeping where I passed out way too early last night.

So I have recently found the social media world I am part of offers me less fun and recreation than they use to. I spend, uh, waste most of my time on Facebook. There are issues for sure, but they are consistent issues and frankly I feel FB is a much more intuitive operation for Booming fumblers like me.

I am still a registered user on Twitter. But I am probably done with the twits on that social media platform. Less than 12 hours after I joined, I was sent to their "Your account is inaccessible until midnight" jail. A few days later I found out who really runs the place. Twitterville is overrun by righteously indignant gangs who will descend on you in a heartbeat; throw darts at you, and then block you so you cannot reply to their over sensitive take on how the World is run, was run in the Past and certainly should be run in the Future. Those folks seem proud of the stick they have up their asses. Besides, navigating Twitter sucks. Yeah, I am probably over Twitter.

I tried another social media site. It took me about a New York second to realize I had entered the heart of White Wingin Nirvana. I lurked for awhile just to see what their lizard people do when they get together with no humans around to muss their hair. A couple of weeks into my visit they indicated they would be asking me for my credit card because what they offered was somehow worth money. I skedaddled as fast as my icon punching fingers could punch.

I had resigned myself to a tolerable existence on Facebook as a stop gap. I understood it. I rarely found myself in Jail and I had friends. I began to enjoy Life again and pressed on, happy as if I had a brain. 

Then "Occupy Democrats" put an ad on my feed pushing a new social media operation called "Tribel". Their enticement was finally there was a social media outfit who knew what I wanted out of the social media world. Plus if I joined now, I would or could be a founding member. Sort like an ad form my youth that used the statement "Be the first kid on your block to...".

Whatever they did worked. I was weak and looking for something else. 

Tribel seems to be a progressive, libtard paradise set up to, well, give us woke folks a place to hang out with our own lizard people. Just like the Wingers, we know we are special too. I have only been a member now about a week maybe. So far, I have not been impressed nor have I been unimpressed. My jury is still out.

Keep it 'tween the ditches .................................

_______________________________

I never liked this tune and still don't. But it seems obviously appropriate for this post about Internet tribalism. It's always easier and less stressful to preach to the choir and insulate ourselves from any potential for ugliness or challenges to our take on the world.

And though I really, really hate this tune, for your consideration, " The In Crowd ", by Dobie Gray, 1965. Proof that not all Boomer music was not the cat's meow. 


Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Down Another Rabbit Hole

I checked back through some posts of my recent past. It seems I have actually been somewhat successful in staying away from writing about politics, religion, healthcare; you know, all the fun stuff to rant, rave and get my panties in a twist over.

Recent posts have found me writing about dreams, my union experience, Anarchy, my wife, a historical fiction piece about a friend in college who was gay; the angry political hyperbole is almost nonexistent these past few weeks.

That I have been able to bring my righteous indignation down from the roar it was to a more subdued seething anger is a victory for me. I am grateful. There is so much more to living than just being publicly pissed off all the time. 

For instance - The Semicolon, that much maligned and misunderstood grammatical red haired stepchild of the Grammar Kingdom. I recently began adding them into my writing. I had an idea of their connecting qualities from my days in the classrooms of my youth. Today I thought I might want to double check what I thought a semicolon was and what the Internet says it is. As it turns out, I have been mostly using them correctly. That's fine with me because "mostly" means I am adhering to the rigid rules of grammar better than I usually do.

While I am on this grammar kick, I thought I'd run through some of the other bedrock grammar celebrities to see if I still understood their purpose and how to actually incorporate them into my writing. Again, "mostly" is the high bar here but I'll settle for "sometimes" most days. When I am in a drunken stupor, or high on cannabis in one of its many manifestations, I will often settle for "barely legible". I was born a loose dog and that is one habit I won't bother trying to fix at this late date.

When I was a kid in class, I had some trouble with certain grammar definitions. One of the ones I had memorable trouble with was understanding and retaining the purpose of an "Adverb". I missed many questions about adverbs on the many pop quizzes, real tests, and stand in front of the class and embarrass myself moments in fifth grade. The teacher knew they were a weakness of mine. We definitely hated each other. Whenever she could, she would call me out about adverbs. I just could not, did not get it.

It was in sixth grade in a new school that Mrs. Savage identified my blind spot regarding adverbs. She caught me after class one day and asked me to stay late. I was suspicious. Staying after class meant I was in trouble. Not that day however. That day she opened my eyes to what an adverb was and how not to forget it. The secret she said was in its name. "Ad-Verb" - a word that is "added" before or behind a verb to beef up the image of that verb. 

Think, "He got drunk"; now help it out with just how drunk he got by adding one word, "He got stupid drunk". Okay, okay ,using "stupid" as an adverb, well, there must be a rule somewhere I have broken using it in such a way. But I did make my point. 

I never forgot Mrs Savage and the many lessons I learned from her. Best teacher I ever had. 

Over the years I have been filling notebooks or wasting bandwidth with my writing, I have evolved as a writer.  As a child, I was a loose dog stream of consciousness writer who used punctuation and capital letters only by accident or when forced into it by assigned essays. I eventually became a better loose dog writer who is still capable and willing to break the hard and fast rules of grammar if he likes.

I am under no delusions that I am a great writer. Not even close. Adequate might be an honest assessment. But that is not a worry. I picked up writing again in the 1990s with the intention of becoming a better writer. And I have done that. The bottom line here is I have never enjoyed writing more than I do now.

Keep it 'tween the ditches .................................

______________________

Musicchoice for today? Hmm. Sometimes creating new habits can be a pain the ass. But I need some order and consistency in my life and this regular new feature is one small effort at accomplishing that. So what's a theme from the post I can find music for? ..... Hmm ....

No problem. Easiest call in awhile. "White Rabbit", by Jefferson Airplane. I had this tune on a forty five when I was a young. It was not until I played an LP that had it I understood what it was all about. I was tripping on LSD that time and I was sure this song had all the answers we needed - "Feed Your Head".


Saturday, August 27, 2022

Rainbow Night at Club Venus

James always looked sharp. His bell-bottoms always wore a sharp crease and his platform shoes never went out in public sporting scuff marks or cigarette butts stuck to their heels.

One day James convinced me to accompany him to Club Venus over at Perring Plaza to pick up women who were amenable to dancing under the big glass ball.

"But”, said James, “we gotta take you shopping for some new threads.  I have seen your wardrobe man and frankly it sucks. Might work for those big Mother Earth, Ms Natural types I see dragging you around, but the women over to the Venus need you to step up your game. They have some class.  They actually shave their armpits and use lipstick.”

He could tell I was a tad miffed.  He turned me to face the big glass doors on the front of the Towson State University library.  “Look at yourself fool.  You’re a schlub, what with all that tye dyed hippie shit cut off jeans flip flop look you are sporting. Really Bro, time to pick up your game.  No sulking, we are hoofing uptown to Hutzler’s. Besides, what are you going to spend that paycheck on anyway, more weed?” 

So we began the hike up York Road.  James strutting in his everyday best and me flip flopping beside him in my everyday worst.  After a short stop at the bank to cash my check, we crossed the street and entered the department store.

Forty five minutes later we strode out of Hutzlers looking like twin brothers of different mothers.  I had transformed from an ugly duckling into an imagined swan. Tucked into a pair of baby blue bell bottoms was the classic “Fever” shirt with the big collar and puffy sleeves opened of course to show off the authentic fake gold chain. Toss in those outrageous 3” platform Disco shoes and Jack, I was ready to kill me some ladies.  Least ways, James said I was gonna knock em dead.

Thursday night came.
  James called me.  Said something about being jammed up and he would meet me at Club Venus around eight - eight thirty.   Left to get there on my own, I bummed a ride with some other folks from the dorm and walked in the club.  A banner over the entrance to the ball room claimed in three foot letters, that this night was the first annual “Rainbow Night”. 

Not placing any special importance to the notion of “Rainbow Night”, I walked onto the massive dance floor.  Disco Jacks and Disco Jills were getting their grooves on.  I was maybe halfway across the floor when it dawned on me that I was seeing mostly bucks dancing with bucks and does dancing with does.

“That goddamned James, …..I’ll kill the bastard", I thought. I smiled instead.  James thought he had been safely living in the closet.  He had no clue most of his friends knew he was gay and didn’t care.  …… “But yeah where is that little bastard?”  I finished crossing the dance floor and found the 50 foot bar.  I ordered a shot and a beer and settled on a bar stool and watched the light in the loafer folks do their thing.

Into my second shot and second beer, I noticed a woman heading in my general direction.  She was taking disco to an ultimate height, fashion wise.  She was wearing a one piece silver hot pants outfit, thigh high silver platform boots, and topped off with an brilliantly white afro two and a half feet across.  Woah, she wanted everyone’s attention.  She would not be ignored.  She smiled at me and………..  Damned, if it wasn’t James, doing his best tranny act and pulling it off to boot.  He looked perfect.  But then James always looked sharp. 

All I could do was grin and head out to meet him on the dance floor for his first coming out dance.  I had a blast that night with him and all the friends he used to keep in his closet.
________________________________
 660 words -more or less
  • First written in Fall of 2018 for a writing class I was in.
  • Cross Published in the original "Lost in the Bozone ll"
  • Added a smidgen and a half of fictional bling just to gussy it up some.
____________________________________
Music for this tune has to be the infamous, one of the first of its kind, a song from back in the day that tied Anita Bryant's panties in a knot, the one and only  - "Lola" - The Kinks Live


Friday, August 26, 2022

The Future is a Hoax

 


I didn't feel very good yesterday. It wasn't anything specific, I just felt out of sorts I guess.

Age related? Nah. The same old aches and growing infirmities were the same ole, same ole's of recent years. I just did not feel right; or maybe I just did not feel right in my own skin for a time. Call it a moment of readjustment and I just needed a day to work out some wrinkles that pop up from time to time.

Yeah, it felt like wrinkle time; a feeling I have dealt with on an erratic, yet recurring cycle throughout my life. It was a familiar kind of out of sorts, one I recognized too late to fight. But then did I even want to fight it? After all, I had been here in this frame of mind before and I always came out of it fine....... next day fine usually.

And here it is the next day. The planet is still spinning, the humans are still insane, and I am back safely ensconced in  what I consider my normal frame of mind. And normal is just fine.

I have recently stepped up my blog writing. I have done it not so much to reach any specific audience, nor even reach myself for that matter. I am writing more because it soothes me, calms me down, and sharpens my focus. The time I spend taking a blog post from one end of the creation process to the final product, I am in my own world, free of the overwhelming Bullshit and pettiness of the Reality I exist in along with everyone else on the planet. 

When I write, either fiction or just commentary, I am in a safe place like when I read a book. The outside world is stripped away leaving a blank canvas for me or my chosen author to create a new imagination or momentary delusion for me. All that matters in that moment, that instant, is how what I am doing makes me feel. Self aggrandizement maybe? If so, so what?

Which brings me to another Facebook meme I came across yesterday. It is about living Life, not for the future, but for the now, this instant, not tomorrow. 

I had probably heard of Alan Watts back in my psychoactive drugging days. He was a 20th Century philosopher who was a force behind moving Zen and Buddhism in from the fringes of Mainstream and giving them some everyman cred in Western thought.

The little research I have done on him makes me want to check out some of his writings and also some of his lectures as he was a regular on some California Dreaming station in Berkeley back in the 1960s. He experimented with LSD in 1958 and spent some time smoking Pot. What he said of his psychoactive experience and why he stopped was:

"If you get the message, hang up the phone. For psychedelic drugs are simply instruments, like microscopes, telescopes, and telephones. The biologist does not sit with eye permanently glued to the microscope, he goes away and works on what he has seen."

There are hundreds of his lectures and radio broadcasts available online. He wrote over twenty books. The man was a prolific communicator. And now after listening to one of his short lectures, "The World is an Illusion", he definitely has an ability to explain stuff in ways I would never have thought of. 

Yes, I will hopefully check into more about Mr. Alan Watts. But maybe not. After all, according to Alan,

 ".... the future is a hoax."

Keep it 'tween the ditches ..........................................

___________________________

I had another tune picked for this post. Then I found a personally up until recently unknown Van Morrison tune, "Madame George". I have always admired his music, his musicianship, his lyrical composition. Yes, he will always be in the top tier of my musical quiver. "Madame George" is now maybe my new all time favorite of his. It came out in 1968, which begs the question how did I miss it? .... Hmm... I started missing a lot back then I guess.

Anyway, please enjoy the song. And if you like I have attached a link to the lyrics....... they are awesome and you can find them HERE.



Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Working to Rule


The term "Quiet Quitting" has crossed my FB page a few times now. I looked it up and was amused that it is a term used to describe worker bees who only perform at the levels they are expected to. Once off the clock, they close the door on their workplace. No overtime, no work texts, no work emails, nothing. Do what you contracted for and that is it. In the needlessly contentious world of labor relations in the US, we are supposed to look on employees who only do their job and nothing more as somehow not living up to the work ethic browbeaten into us for the last 150 years. 

But this post is not about our work ethic or imagined lack thereof.

Today a fellow pointed out that there is actually an older definition for "Quiet Quitting". It was created back in the hey days of the union movements. It is known as "Working to Rule". Follow the rules of your workplace but nothing else. Nothing. When your shift is up, go home, crack a PBR and relax.

Immediately I was reminded of my time as a Teamster working out of Baltimore in the late 1970's.

Lever Brothers (now called Uni-Lever) had a soap plant on Holabird Avenue in Southeast Baltimore. At the time I was jockeying between driving jobs when I answered an ad for drivers needed at their plant. Little did I know I was stepping into a shit storm battle between two union shops, the Chemical Workers Union and a brand new Teamster local just trying to get off the ground. All I knew was the pay was fantastic. I mean fantastic. It was 1978 and I was going to make over $50K a year. Hello new pick up truck.

The new division was to be a team operation ( two drivers per truck). A team could make the coast to coast run to the Lever plant in Los Angeles and back to Charm City in a week. That was the plan. I made that run that first month solo. Ran two logs, gobbled go fast pills and looked for a way to hook up an intravenous tube for coffee infusions. Eventually they gave me a co-driver and we turned the run faster than any other team. Yeah, we broke rules. but we were the fastest turn in the operation.

A result of this new setup at the Baltimore plant was hard feelings from the workers in the plant. They felt the new transport division should have been theirs. But since Lever brothers was saving I think around $8 an hour by using Teamsters, the Chemical Workers were left out. 

In retaliation, the local Chemical Worker shop negotiated some very strict rules about where, how, and when we Teamsters could go, work and use the toilet. For use outside of the truck, we now had only one picnic table set up near the stairs to the Dispatch office. Our movements were restricted to a twelve foot wide strip that ran the length of the loading docks. We had one bathroom we could use. And we could not engage any Chemical Worker in job interfering jocularity. All this happened while I was out on the road the previous week.

Back now from LA, I backed my trailer into the dock, got out and went in the only door I was allowed to use and went upstairs to dispatch. I did not notice the new red lines painted on the floors in front of the docks. Dispatch mentioned nothing about them. I turned in my paperwork for the last run and picked up my papers for the one coming up on Sunday evening. I left dispatch and headed to the dock my trailer was backed into.

I had not gone twenty feet towards my trailer when the blast from the plant whistle sounded. It made me jump. Blue lights started flashing and before I knew it,  the plant had gone quiet. Not thinking it was because of anything I had done, I continued to the back of my trailer. I looked down the line of dock doors and noticed all the fork lifts were sitting idle with no drivers on them. They were all headed for their break room. 

Just then my dispatcher came running towards me,"What have you done? Did you cross the line? Jeezus Christ, the whole plant shut down. I didn't think they would do it."

I don't know how I looked, but I am guessing I had a blank look on my face.

He stopped in front of me. "Seriously, did you cross the line?"

"What line",  was my response. And then I saw the freshly painted line that had not been there when I left for California a week earlier. 'You mean that line?"

"Yeah dumass, that line."

Still not understanding the seriousness of my mistake, I remember trying to shrug it off by saying, "Uh yeah, probably. Why?"

"You shut the whole plant down by crossing that line." ........... I will always remember how upset this guy was, and then he said, "It is going to be an hour now before the plant gets back up to speed."

And still I had no clue how deep my mistake ran. I said something to the effect, "Sorry guy. Maybe you should have warned me. If I didn't know, how is it my fault? Looks to me this is on you."

That was the first write up I received of the three I would get that would allow them to fire me. The other two were also bogus write ups for things we drivers all did on the road to make our turns faster. I ended up losing my job for not "working to rule". 

My year as a Teamster did not sour me on unions though. On the contrary, my year as a union driver consolidated my feelings about the need for unions. And then the last 45 years watching management destroy the healthy labor market sealed the deal. 

The US business model is based on an antagonistic relationship between managers and labor. Union people understand this and use their collective power to fight it. It is too bad too. Working conditions in this country could be so much better, productivity could be so much higher and relationships between the worker bees and their queens could be so much friendlier.

This American "Us against Them" workplace mentality does no one any good.

Later ...............................................

______________________________

Along with a musical selection, today's post is also offering up a blast from my past, a commercial for the laundry detergent made from the raw materials I picked up and delivered all over the US. I also picked up the Cannon towels millions of lucky women found inside their boxes of Breeze detergent; Their slogan was, "A towel in every box!"

For music that might be appropriate, well, um, not sure. Well, I decided to tip my hat to one of the best fans of unions in American history. A quote from a discography site says this about his most famous song:

“This Land Is Your Land” was recorded by (Woody) Guthrie in 1944 and was his response to “God Bless America.” The song is pro-American from every background. He saw “God Bless America” as too sappy and didn’t do it for those Americans facing the rough edges of the Great Depression.