“downhill” is now available

October 1, 2020 Leave a comment
Categories: Uncategorized

Inauguration Day

January 20, 2021 Leave a comment

Some things will change now.

A lot of things won’t.

My Dad and our current President

What we’ll notice immediately is a kind of behavioral normalcy. The simple act of not acting like a social buffoon….stomping into buildings with your wife trailing behind….keeping yourself dry with an umbrella while she gets wet. Speaking at the level of an educated adult. A willingness to do the job you’ve been entrusted with without stomping around on Twitter saying “ME ME ME” multiple times a day. We should be able to catch our breath for a bit, secure in the knowledge that nobody with a sharpie is going to attempt to re-write hurricane data and the like. Nobody is going to suggest raking the forests or that windmills cause cancer.

It seems ridiculous to say that the nation needs these types of small victories, but we do. And such things will help create the new foundation that our nation requires…..a nation brought to its knees over the last 4 years. We have to start somewhere…..and if that means speaking in complete sentences, so be it.

The division isn’t going anywhere. It’s as visceral as ever. White-hot hatred kick-started by a sort of divine ignorance that seemingly spreads as virulently as the virus that has killed 400k of us. We have a vaccine for one, but not the other. It would seem that the better angels of our nature have abandoned us, and need to be re-summoned.

It’s an awesome responsibility. An awesome task. No President since Lincoln has been handed such a divided nation. I do not know that it’s possible for Joe Biden….or a reincarnated Abraham Lincoln for that matter, to reset the brains of those who considered it a patriotic act to bust into the Capitol and threaten to lynch the Vice President in an attempt to overthrow a national election.

But the attempt has to be made. Because what else is there?

Our leaders are flawed humans. Joe Biden is flawed. Kamala Harris is flawed. Just like we are. But they both possess an inherent decency…..a sheen of empathy that we haven’t seen in the last 4 years. They will make mistakes, and I trust that when they do, they’ll admit to them and try something else. They are politicians yes, but they are not grifters. They love the country, and will place it above their own interests.

They deserve this chance.

The sun broke through the clouds today during the inauguration ceremony. Historically that almost never happens. It’s always grey….savagely cold. Today, something seems different. Our nation needs all the help it can get. So the sun did its part. Who’s next?

Just two weeks ago, a mob of domestic terrorists desecrated the very grounds where Biden spoke today. Our outgoing President fled the city like a scalded dog, divisive to the last…..unable to face his own wreckage. He’s back at Mar A Lago now, ignoring the laws that say he’s not allowed to live there, to golf and rage and eat cheeseburgers amongst an ever dwindling sect of enablers. It’s almost sad….until you remember that where he truly belongs is prison. It he manages to remain a free man, that’s when he should run across a rally stage and hug the flag.

After the Civil War, when Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy was on the run, Lincoln told General Sherman….

“Now, General, I’m bound to oppose the escape of JEFF DAVIS; but if you could manage to let him slip out unbeknownst-like, I guess it wouldn’t hurt me much”

I suspect Biden feels that same about Trump. Which makes him a better man that I.

But that’s ok. The President of the United States should be a better man that I.

And a woman is now Vice President. A woman of color. The dreams of girls across our nation have expanded, and while it’s historic, it seems like it shouldn’t be. We should have been here a long time ago. The fact that it took this long seems…..to my kid’s generation especially…..bizarre.

Through it all, thousands of us are dying every single day from COVID-19. Protecting each other from it remains a partisan issue…..despite the virus being an equal opportunity killer.

How do you even begin to address this type of derangement?

President Biden. Vice President Harris.

We sincerely wish you well.

But Joe, you’re from Scranton. You’re one of us.

You got this.

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

“I wish I knew how to quit you…”

January 14, 2021 Leave a comment

Welp. He’s been impeached. Again.

If you really think about it, he could have been impeached weekly, so it seems he got off easy.

Republicans who swallowed gasoline so they could piss it on Trump’s dumpster fire are now calling for “unity and healing”, as if finding common ground with the incel wearing the “Camp Auschwitz” t-shirt is what’s now required to save our democracy. Rapey wrestling coach Jim Jordan is chief among this crowd, and is fast gaining on Mitch McConnell as the most despicable shithead on Capitol Hill.

Banned from just about every social media platform without a large KKK presence, and too cowardly to actually do what President’s are supposed to do, which is to use the White House briefing room, Trump has resorted to making what appear to be hostage videos, looking like he’s desperately holding in a shit as he reads the words crafted by somebody else…..under strict orders not to hate-riff on his own and blurt out that he’s gonna own the libs by pardoning the shirtless flag-faced viking head and khakis guy currently in prison and insisting on organic food, because “muh rahts”. Even as Trump mocks his mob of supporters as “low class”, he just can’t help feeling that Brokeback Mountain thing in his loins….quietly weeping in front of “Fox and Friends” every morning as aides work on his weave, muttering “I wish I knew how to quit you…”

There are currently more US troops in Washington DC to protect our nation from its own President and his violent supporters than there are in Afghanistan.

There’s evidence that a few lawmakers held trumper terrorist seminars the day before the riot, so the boys could get their directional bearings. That doesn’t sound too much like treason, does it?

In the wake of the coup, metal detectors have been set up at the entrance to the house chamber, and the law and order crowd are refusing to abide by them, unwilling to put themselves through what school kids are forced to put up with daily, on account of lawmaker cowardice in the face of the big bad NRA. If my kid refuses to pass through one, he can’t go to school. If a batshit congressperson refuses, the Capitol Police stand down (seeing a pattern here?), and are subject to verbal abuse in the process, which I’m sure they would put up with from a random black person.

Meanwhile, the hallway is filled with sleeping national guard troops sent to keep these brainiacs from being killed by the crazed supporters of the President they have enabled for 4 years. The ones who chanted “hang Mike Pence” repeatedly as they rummaged through the capitol looking for him to do just that.

Nothing to see here. Just your average, everyday banana republic.

It was never about “support the blue”. That was just symbolic gibberish, like the flag pin on your lapel (John Prine called you out for that nonsense 40 years ago). If the “blue” happen to be inconveniencing them, they’re tossed aside as quickly as the children of immigrants.

The job of the “blue” for these people is to keep their knees on the necks of the same people they hate. As long as the relationship stays that cozy……it’s as black and white as red white and blue.

But start applying the rule of law to these “Patriots”? That’s when the face paint and the flags come out, if not that masks. That’s when the cops start tumbling down the capitol steps while being beaten with flag staffs and fire hydrants.

Ironic that masks might not only have protected these clowns from Covid, but also federal penitentiaries. It’s pretty hard to not arrest you if you insist on real-time photographic evidence of your crimes…..featuring your faces and your live-streamed voices. Perhaps you could have gotten away with kicking your feet up on Pelosi’s desk if you were wearing an N95 mask. And it wasn’t hanging under your chin. I feel like I need to reiterate that part. Alas, the “hoax” is gonna bite you on the ass again. A prison uniform awaits. And quite possibly a ventilator.

If this wasn’t wasn’t reminiscent of that communion line of Jim Jones Guyana kool-aid drinkers, it’ll do until something better comes along.

We’re doomed.

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

January 6, 2021

January 7, 2021 Leave a comment

This one is for me.

You can read it if you want, but I just want to get it down on virtual paper….how I’ve been feeling the last 24 hours. It might be a bit disjointed, but then again, that’s to be expected, right?

Other than our parent’s religion, nothing is drummed into us as Americans more than the mantra “we live in the greatest country in the world”.

Flags and pledges of allegiance and apple pie and July 4th picnics and visiting the cemeteries on Memorial Day……our freedoms a sense of wonder to people all over the world. That shining city on a hill….that beacon of democracy. Pick your phrase. Pilgrims sharing turkey and stuffing with the Indians, all men created equal…unalienable rights…..life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s enough to make you feel red white and blue all over. As a kid, it’s pretty powerful stuff. As we grow and become more and more ignorant of history, it becomes dangerous.

We rarely live up to our own ideals.

Images from yesterday are what dance in my head today. Watching them in real time was familiar, because we’d always seen this sort of thing on the news….from someplace else. From “shithole countries”. Places too dumb or too dark to embrace the blessings of democracy, and the infallibility of the “free market”. Foreign correspondents being jostled by mobs as they reported from some unenlightened corner of the world, and we’d look up from our TV dinner trays with the smugness of God’s chosen people. It could never happen here.

And yet there it was…..as a mob waltzed into a strangely undefended Capitol building, and chased a lone terrified mall cop up a series of staircases, looking for the V-spot of their rage……the place where traitors had gathered to officially brand their Dear Leader a loser. To stamp it into the history books once and for all. It would not be allowed to happen. They screeched and they preened and they posed for LOTS of pictures. They waved flags, of course. But mostly Trump flags….they seemed to outnumber the red white and blue ones by miles. And then we all saw it. The confederate flag. In the halls of the United States Capitol. The flag of treason and racism, being waved in support of a treasonous and racist President, with no sense of irony at all. Meanwhile, our elected officials huddled on the floor, behind doors that were barricaded with whatever furniture could be dragged…..instantly calling to mind American classrooms during the height of school shooter season.

Cut to a side window. Weird to think that the US Capitol building could be breached by the simple act of breaking a window, yet here we are. Dudes straight out of central casting. Wild-eyed. MAGA hats. Incel beards. All flabby and pale….the color of snow mixed with dog’s piss. Clearly being filmed……and making no attempt whatsoever to hide their identity. They pour into the building one at a time, for the window can only fit one fat guy at a time. Being a revolutionary takes patience.

There are lots of wannabe Robspierre’s in this crowd, although I don’t expect this lot to know the reference. One poses in Mike Pence’s chair on the Senate floor. Another sits with his feet up on Nancy Pelosi’s desk. One is shirtless, carrying a bullhorn, and wearing a viking head and face paint…..but the look is sorta soothed over by the Steve Kornacki khakis. All I could think about seeing him was….”he’s somebody’s next door neighbor”.

Is that what my Father’s generation fought and died for?

And outside the more limber Patriots are scaling the wall like Avengers, surely a bad look for the “build the wall because that will keep ’em out” crowd, but there’s little time for retrospection when you’re live streaming on Facebook to your high school buddies back home. Talk of this day will fill barrooms for the next 50+ years. Assuming we’re ever allowed to go to bars again, that is.

This goes on for…..hours. Cops are….well…..nobody really knows. We do see one. Quite prominently actually. He’s taking selfies inside the Capitol with the rioters.

We’re repeatedly told the National Guard has been mobilized. Apparently they’re coming from Brazil, because they are nowhere to be seen.

All of us are asking the same question inside our own heads. What if the rioters had been black? How bloody would your shoes be from what was running into the sewers?

If you don’t think there’s such a thing as white privilege in this country, you’ve earned your self-inflicted lobotomy.

Finally the Capitol is clear. And by this I mean Trumpers had to be flushed out of the building……as they were everywhere. Finally they’re pushed back by an unfailingly polite police force……who have not made a single arrest caught on camera. Some of the mob are holding pro-police flags as they scream “fuck you traitors” into the face of the police…..the same force that used truncheons and tear-gas to clear a path so Trump could take a picture with a borrowed bible during the summer’s BLM protests.

It’s all enough to make you think….well….you know….

Four people have died.

I couldn’t sit down as I watched any of this. My steps were being counted by my fancy watch….and were increasing by the thousands as the night wore on. At 8pm the House and Senate re-convened…..almost like nothing had happened at all. Republicans stood up after enabling a brazen coup attempt watched by the entire world, and continued to contest the results of a fair election.

It was like a bad dream. We all woke up……and nothing changed. The same shitheads. The cartoon characters who invaded the United States Capitol were allowed to walk away, unmolested.

I can’t get that Menzingers song out of my head…..

“America I love ya but you’re freaking me out….”

With no accountability, there will be no change.

Trump should be removed. He should go to jail. As should his enablers.

What kind of shithole country allows the very man who fomented a coup stay in power?

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

11,779

January 4, 2021 Leave a comment

Well, it’s 2021.

Be careful what you wish for I guess. The pandemic rages on, as does our President, who is now on tape demanding the Georgia Secretary of State to “find” enough votes to overturn Biden’s victory there. ON TAPE. An hour long phone call in which he sounds even more unhinged than usual, which is really saying something. Clearly this is….well….something, right? Clearly we can all agree this this is….you know….

Apparently not. Republicans blamed the media for reporting their dear leader’s actual words, their shameless ass-kissing per usual knowing no boundaries. I’m not a legal scholar, so I’m not quite sure why US Marshall’s aren’t marching into the Oval Office and dragging him out in manacles for committing treason, but eventually somebody will sort it out for me I guess.

This will turn out to be another 2 day story, like all the others. Shit doesn’t stick to shit. Or if it does, nobody cares enough to notice. Our entire system of so-called checks and balances has been laid to waste by an obese reality TV star with a wretched comb-over and the linguistic skills of a held back 4th grader. Suddenly our founding fathers ain’t looking so infallible after all. It’s like that huge pile of dog shit on the floor that nobody wants to clean up. Or even admit to smelling in the first place.

I suppose it’s hard to fathom an entire political party ramming their morality through a wood-chipper, or the opposition party being so out of touch that they allowed a snake like Trump to slither into office in the first place. But alas, here we are.

And with no accountability….the circus will remain in town. The only thing that stops this in its tracks is these craven thugs going to jail. All of them. Trump…..and every single one of his enablers. But that’s not going to happen, and you know that’s not going to happen. Why?

There’s a scene in the movie “Jaws” where they hesitate cutting the shark open in daylight because they fear what may spill out all over the dock.

So yea, that’s why.

The criminality on the surface is staggering. These are dumb criminals too. I mean….they tape themselves committing crimes, like Nixon but with no panache and the IQ cut in half. They tweet their crimes.

But still, we can only absorb so much. Social media, the 24 hour spin cycle….you blink and you miss. Can you imagine what a legal autopsy might produce if everybody was focused for a few minutes? In between telling California to rake their forests to prevent wildfires and suggesting we deal with hurricanes by using nuclear weapons, Trump may have broken 17 laws while we slept. A full accounting of this crime family could fill libraries. And how ironic that would be, eh?

There is no republican party anymore. It’s gone. Ash heaped. Swimming with the fishes. You may see a few old white ghosts hovering over Ron and Nancy’s grave after some brandy’s, but that’s just for old time sake, gathering in the dark to make fun of gays and poor people. No, it’s a cult of personality now…..which is especially unfortunate when you consider….you know….Trump’s personality. A band of white thugs hangs on his mangled syntax, willing to debase themselves enough to risk dying on New Year’s Eve dancing with Rudy Giuliani and listening to Mike Love and Vanilla Ice while not wearing a mask during a pandemic. Entire news organizations exist to do his bidding…..to repeat lies so often that the truth becomes a liberal plot. He’ll be around until his arteries finally explode, heckling from the sidelines, playing the racists in his base as deftly as he plays cruel neanderthals like Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz. With no bottom, outrage is muted. Nobody can conceive of anything that he would not do, so when it comes to light, the give-a-shit meter just sorta fizzles. TFS.

Trump Fatigue Syndrome.

It’s real, Bubba.

Nobody outside of the cult thinks that any of this is ok…..but Trump’s constant idiocy is indeed exhausting. He’s embarrassed this nation on an endless loop since he’s been in office, so we seem content to just wait for Biden and Harris to come in and de-fumigate the place and start all over again. For a week I expect nothing but phone calls to foreign leaders saying “we’re sorry….we’re sorry” and “we’re not really sure how this happened” over and over again, and then arguing with the Kens and Karens to wear a fucking mask. I bet they can’t wait.

It’s 2021 y’all.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

The year in review….

December 23, 2020 Leave a comment

It’s getting to be that time when we sum things up. The year in review as it were. And…well…I’m not really feeling it. I’m tired and I’m cranky and I’m wearing the same clothes every day and everything is getting worse instead of better. Even Christmas is taking it up the ass, as there’s some sort of freak biblical storm heading our way, promising to flood us all out and then huff and puff and blow our houses down and then turn everything into a sheet of Covid-y ice because of course it is. I’m half expecting a forecast of flowing lava for New Year’s Eve.

2020 has been a dumpster fire, and re-living it, even for a few paragraphs, seems a bit masochistic. But as an OCD writer (are there other kinds?)…..blank space must be filled or angels lose their wings.

We begin our story in March. I’m sure January and February were fine.

Rumblings of a virus. In China. It already had a name. Covid-19.

It seemed a world away. What happens in China stays in China….that was the thinking. In short, nobody really gave a fiddler’s fart. The President, when asked, just assured us that our nation, under a red white and blue God, was immune to such shithole country shenanigans. So we went about our business, eating and drinking and being merry until the Scranton St. Patrick’s Day Parade was cancelled. Wait, what?

Finally, we started paying attention.

To gather in large numbers was now Russian roulette. People were actually dying of this thing, whatever it was. Apparently it was passed through droplets from the mouth and nose, and when some innocently suggested wearing masks, they were laughed out of the crowded bar. So, no masks. Got it. The President was asked again. He called it a “hoax”, without bothering to explain the increasing body count.

All our gigs were cancelled. We actually played a show on Sunday, March 15th, which was parade weekend. Rumors were that the governor was gonna shut it all down…..and there was a melancholy sense that this was gonna be the last time we were allowed to do this for a while. If I remember right, we lingered longer than usual after the show, nursing our beers and trying not to talk about what everybody was thinking. Then we all went home and stayed there. Overnight the streets were empty.

Everybody started talking about something called “Zoom” and we all did the best we could to remain connected. And then Tom Hanks and his wife tested positive, and then John Prine died. I took long walks around town at all hours. It didn’t matter. The streets were empty regardless. The fear was palpable. A new phrase become household. “Flattening the curve”. If we all hung together, it would take a few weeks. And then this thing might go away. Whatever it was. And weeks went by and there was no flattening of anything, and everybody started getting a little frantic. Businesses were closed. Now what? Teenagers making minimum wage literally risked their own lives checking the rest of us out in grocery store lines, and it was only in retrospect that people began to comment on how fucked up that was. The President downplayed the entire thing. NYC was running out of ventilators and Andrew Cuomo was becoming must see TV. PPE was a new acronym for most of us, and then we learned that we didn’t even have enough of that. Apparently there has been a pandemic response team that might have mitigated such things, but they had been fired. Trump went on TV and told lies and suggested we inject bleach, and then on the weekends he’d golf, which probably saved lives because at least then he wasn’t suggesting….you know…..that we inject bleach.

“Social Distancing” became a thing. Everybody knew this meant staying 6 feet apart, but try that in a Wal-Mart food aisle and see how you make out. Masks were in vogue again, except for the incels and Karen’s who were more and more convinced that Trump was saving us all from all those liberal pedophiles hanging out in the basement of pizza parlors. Grandma was expendable because “muh raats”……and seemingly every day a new video was making the rounds on social media of crazed maskless white people screeching at hapless teens just trying to do their jobs.

In the midst of all this came more black men and women being killed by cops, and protests erupted nationwide. It was a long, hot summer. The virus spread like rage.

Trump set a good example by holding large, maskless, un-socially distanced pep-rallies. Eventually he got sick himself, and was helicoptered from the White House to the hospital where he had 20 private doctors who pumped him with $100k worth of drugs not available to the unwashed, and this morbidly obese 74 year old junk-food addict got all better in 2 days and told all the dying people that there was nothing to be afraid of if you were just a manly man like him.

It was madness all around.

We were warned of a second wave…..that it would be much worse than the first. And then it was upon us and was much worse than the first and everybody seemed shocked. All my Trumper friends said that all of this would mysteriously “go away” the day after the election and yet here we are, re-locked down with 3000+ dying every single day……watching hoaxers Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio get vaccinated before front line nurses, awaiting the scraps from the tables of the millionaires we keep voting into office to fall on the floor so we can kick each other in the teeth fighting over them.

Meanwhile New Zealand is 100% virus free.

Our President has failed us. Congress has failed us. The Senate has failed us. We’ve failed each other.

Hate flows unvexed to the sea.

2020. Piss off.

In a bit…

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

It’s all a bit surreal out there….

December 18, 2020 Leave a comment

It’s all a bit surreal out there. News of a massive, unprecedented Russian cyber attack has dropped….like snow landing on warm ground. Nobody is quite sure what it all means, or what damage may already be done, and most don’t really seem to give a shit. It’s been likened to Russian fighter planes trolling US air space, but our President hasn’t mentioned it at all. He hasn’t mentioned a lot of things lately, but one might expect this would focus him long enough to compose a tweet at least. Apparently he’s too busy chaining himself to the bed, daring the deep state, which now includes Mitch McConnell, Geraldo Rivera, and the Supreme Court, to remove him. We live in strange times, Bubba. I can’t wait to read all the books.

A Covid relief package may or may not hit before the end of the year….and it may or may not include stimulus checks…….laughingly small but they might buy two week’s rent and a case of beer. Washington remains stunningly out of touch with the struggles of average Americans, who are drowning in a system that hasn’t “trickled-down” since that stupid fucking term was invented. People ordered not to work are given nothing. Covid numbers rage out of control. Three thousand plus are dying every day, while the Wal-Marts and shopping malls are filled to the brim, 50% occupancy and social distancing be damned. But at least you can’t grab a beer at Joe’s Corner Bar, so there’s that. We just got walloped by a historic blizzard, because of course we did. There is talk of another government shutdown (although I’m not sure how we’d be able to tell). There’s a vaccine, but no solid time-line on when it will be available to all. Considering how bad our government fucked up covid testing, it’s hard to believe distribution of a life saving vaccine isn’t gonna turn into a massive bureaucratic shitshow. Disinformation from anti-vaxxers is already rampant, and the usual stupids are gobbling it up like oxy from a pill mill. This vaccine will give the Klan a chance to pivot away from getting all jizzy about not wearing masks and instead turn them all into Jenny McCarthy. I can’t wait.

Christmas is a week away. How is this possible? Since March time has ebbed and flowed……we’d forget what day it is, sleep cycles were decimated……it suddenly seemed dark 20 hours a day. If lucky enough to work remotely, we’d log on early, or late, or somewhere in between, somehow covering portions of all 3 shifts at the same time. Wide awake at 3am, standing on the porch watching the stars and listening to the silence. Staying up all night. Or sleeping all day. Staying connected somehow…..Facetime or Zoom or just a social media post saying “is there anybody out there?” Music and Netflix and Middleswarth BBQ with lager chasers and trying to tamp down the paranoia when you started coughing or feeling something else vaguely Covid-y. Friday didn’t feel like Friday anymore. The weekend didn’t feel like the weekend. Even Monday got lost in a depressive cycle. It’s been a week of Monday’s since March. I guess this is all what a wardrobe of hoodies and pajama pants does to the mind. Merry Christmas!

Because 2020 has sucked so hard, you’d have to be a monster to think that 2021 isn’t going to bring some improvement. So we’ll virtually gather on New Year’s Eve and suffer through Ryan Seacrest and horrible lip syncing and watch the ball drop and expect that this is the start of a less shitty world because we’re adorably optimistic, especially when we’re drunk as monkeys.

And then we’ll awake to 3000+ more dead, and more crowded stores and more lies and more disinformation and the dumb people will still be dumb and the scientists will still be ignored and Trump will still be mad-tweeting while tied to the bed and this will go on and on until the economy collapses in a cacophony of one final greed-induced screech by savage un-empathetic rich white men. Or, you know, maybe things really will get better with the vaccine in place. I mean, anything is possible. But I’m an irish catholic, so I always expect and plan for the worst because it saves tons of time.

But I’ve been wrong before so…..

Stay safe out there my friends. What I want more than anything else is to gather and hug and raise glasses with you all. Many glasses. Many hugs.

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

There’s a storm a-comin’….

December 14, 2020 Leave a comment

There’s a storm a-comin’.

I think anyway. It’s been all over the news that we’re about to be pulverized by the Winter Warlock, anywhere from 4 inches to 24 inches (depending on who you ask and how prone to exaggeration your Facebook friends are), which seems like a lot of wiggle room for the weather peeps but whatever. To prepare I made sure that our snow blower is still broken (it is), and dug out some old shovels from the basement. I fully intend to wage relentless war against this thing by shoveling and re-shoveling every hour if need be, through the night if I have to (I’ll sleep when I’m dead, and my driveway is cleared off), anything to prevent that insane knee-high morning-after mess that awaits those not as OCD as I am. My kids will laugh at me the entire time, but it will all be worth it. I think.

That’s the kind of snow that’s so heavy that it feels like you’re in the Mount Everest Death Zone moving it. A few feet then you have to stop and gulp for air and watch all the plow trucks go past your house building that ice wall at the end of your driveway ever higher. It doesn’t matter how many times I clear the driveway….as I’m convinced there’s a drone somewhere pin-pointing my location for the trucks to immediately plow me back in again. And when they plow the driveway in, they completely bury the mail box, so that needs to be re-opened as well. The mail folks…..I’m sure this is just what they need at this point in their turned-upside-down-7-days-a-week-16-hour-a-day lives…..a route full of buried mailboxes with their trucks filled with a 100% increase in Amazon Prime packages.

There will also be 2 cars in said driveway….so I’ll have to be relentless in clearing them off….then moving them from side to side, and then back again. It’s all planned in my head, like a military operation. My plan will go awry of course….within minutes…..and depending on how long my paper-mache back holds out.

You have to choose the proper clothes. Pajama pants work well with boots (I’m assuming you’ve been wearing them exclusively since March anyway….so a no-brainer). They are quick to dry off once you’ve completed your round. A hoodie with a scarf for the face (and aren’t we all used to this already anyway?) and a good ski jacket. A good skull cap is a must…..gotta keep the head warm, especially if the wind is howling, which is what they’re calling for. If you’ve got a fire place, fire it up. You can dump your gear in front of it to dry between outings. After the initial cleaning, you should plan on 15 minutes on, and 45 minutes off. Until the snow stops. You can doze on the couch but always have your phone alarm set.

(Remember, there’s nothing normal about any of this. This is strictly OCD behavior talking, so if that’s not your thing feel free to move along.)

Of course, the last time they called for “flurries” we got dumped on, so now that they’re calling for us to get dumped on it’s possible this is all just an elaborate ruse, but they seem deadly earnest this time, and have seen fit to share all sorts of official looking graphics showing the path of the storm and the snow totals, using pretty colors and interactive maps. It’s national news…..so there has to be shoveling or they will be buried in an avalanche of social media ridicule.

I don’t know if there is any such thing as a “snow day” anymore. It seems pretty quaint in 2020, as we all sit in front of Zoom screens in our pajama pants and lose track of what day it is. A pity that kids may not be let loose to lay their burdens down for a bit and roll on the white stuff…..then inside for some hot chocolate topped with marshmallows, and then back out again, in a loop until the darkness falls and the red-cheeks are returned to normal by the cool side of the pillow. As kids we used to look forward to winter storms….and now it just seems like Mother Nature made it to the front of the line and has her chance to drill us with another unwanted 2020 face tattoo.

But she ain’t gonna win. I’m gonna be down to the pavement by Thursday morning. Who’s with me?

In a bit…

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

Covid-depression

December 10, 2020 3 comments

Depression is a real thing. I can’t define it but I know it when it arrives. And sometimes it gets its hooks into you and does strange things. It fires all the wrong synapses and all you’re left with is the feeling that you’ve fallen and you’re not so sure you want to get up. Sleep is more of a refuge than a comfort, but no matter how many hours you pour on…it never seems to touch the tired spot. The seasonal blues is normal enough, but in the midst of a crippling pandemic, it’s like it’s been given a dose of steroids. It gets dark so early, and you can find yourself actually looking forward to the sun going down. It’s less competition. It levels the playing field.

We’re not built for all this…..this enforced isolation. The only thing still on the same schedule are the bills that arrive, pandemic be damned. All the worry. What if this? What if that? What if I lose this? How am I going to pay that? There’s no help. There’s no cavalry. There’s no safety net. There’s no leadership. It’s the privilege we were born into, and then just blind luck. Some will make it. Some won’t. Burdens shared are burdens lighted. But we can’t share. It’s reckless to share. We need to hold. And be held. And that’s not allowed. We know what we need to do but half won’t do it. We know what we want, but can’t get there until everybody pulls in the same direction.

Imagine living along the coast during World War II and being asked to turn off your house lights at night so that lights on shore would not help the German U-boats find their way in the darkness, and saying “Fuck you, I’m keeping my lights on because my rights…..”.

That’s where we are.

Until this monstrously selfish behavior ends …..it’s a 9/11 every day. And soon it will be an Antietam every day. It’s appalling and sad.

There’s always somebody worse off than you. If you have food and shelter, and the bank isn’t threatening you, you’re near the front of the line. If you’ve remained untouched by this virus, you are fortunate. The numbers are terrifying, and there doesn’t seem to be any plan to get them under control. Since March, the selfish gene has gone viral. No amount of crippled ICUs or dead bodies can dent the mask-less heads of those who can only feel the lash on their own backs. If anything, the worse it gets, the less empathy we see. We only seem to double down on cruelty. Yesterday the Governor of PA announced he tested positive for COVID-19, and within 15 minutes I was reading posts from “Friends” wishing him a speedy death. This is not the same country in which I was born. It’s out of this poison soil that depression grows, and spreads. It’s watered by ignorance.

We all have ways of trying to cope. Reading or writing or exercising or eating and drinking or staring at Netflix like a stoned Elvis (hopefully unarmed for the TV’s sake). For those lucky enough to be working…..it’s wake up in the dark and come home in the dark, dodging freak snowstorms and black ice. Trips to the grocery store and booze runs with just enough on the debit card to get you in and out. Watch over the kids like paranoid lunatics, maybe bring a Spotify playlist for a ride through your childhood, remembering distant memories and recalling other names. Leaving the house and then coming right back because we forgot our masks. Some things will never be normal.

Everybody says they understand. But they don’t. Everybody says “I’m here if you want to talk” but what are you gonna say? You can’t talk about depression without sounding whiny, which is why nobody talks about it. So you wait it out. And you hope for a better tomorrow. But these days? It’s hard to hope for that when you don’t know if it’s Wednesday or Thursday.

I don’t remember what “normal” felt like, so if we do get back to it I’m sure I won’t notice.

It looks like another shutdown is coming. The screeching will commence….but for the most part it’s the screechers who have got us here, by thinking of nobody but themselves. The longer they fight this, the longer and darker this winter is going to be. It should be over now. Like it is in most nations on earth. Americans seem perversely willing to walk across dead bodies to preserve their right not to sacrifice to keep the pile from growing.

I don’t know what comes next. I’m tired. And I’ve been lucky. Extraordinarily lucky. And still, it gets hold of me. And won’t let go. It’s all too real.

I feel for everybody. Please take care of yourselves so we can soon get back to taking care of each other.

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

He might have changed the world even more than he changed the world…

December 8, 2020 Leave a comment

I was 14 years old when we lost John Lennon. It was a senseless act of violence…….perpetrated by a nobody. I’ve tried to forget the killer’s name. Some religious zealot with a broken brain and a hard-on for JD Salinger.

Howard Cosell told me, and told the world. In the middle of the Monday Night Football broadcast. It didn’t seem real. It still doesn’t seem real. I don’t remember if I cried or not. I was alone upstairs, watching the game on my parent’s color TV in their bedroom. They placed it on top of a tall dresser, so I would watch it standing up to get the best view. All I can recall is being sort of frozen in place. I must have yelled out to my sisters or my parents. I’m sure I was the one who broke it to them. Cosell scooped the world.

The Beatles weren’t even out of their 20s when they called it quits. My introduction to their music came from the usual places. Big brothers and big sisters and the radio. These songs would not go away. One of my earliest Christmas memories was finding the famous “red” double album of their early work under the tree. I had a high fever and was shivering on the couch, but underneath my blankets I clutched the record, and spinning it on the turntable burned my fever away.

I knew nothing then of Paul and Linda and John and Yoko or Apple record lawsuit chaos. The Beatles were gone already, in my mind they were old and retired. Every once in a while one of them might release a Christmas song or something. I didn’t have a favorite Beatle. I kinda agreed with George Harrison who when asked how many Beatles did it take to change a light-bulb answered “four”. John sang some and Paul sang some and George sang some and even Ringo got to belt out “Octopus’s Garden” and “With a Little Help From My Friends”. Why choose sides when you’re surrounded by friends?

So I was shocked to be reminded that Lennon was 40.

That sounded crazy to me. That was like….almost as old as my Dad.

John Lennon had been frozen in time……a perpetual mop-top who rebelled with the help of psychedelics and granny glasses. The ride from screeching “Twist and Shout” with a mouthful of lozenges to asking the rich royals to “rattle yer jewelry” to donning Yoko’s fur coat on the Apple roof seemed like a million miles, but it was actually a mad sprint that took place in a few short years. And in our heads he was now on Mount Rushmore, and the legend had begun to take over. It was easy to forget he was a newly committed husband and a proud father and still too young for grey hair. At 14, 40 sounded like an eternity. Today, I can’t remember that far backwards. John Lennon had half a life in front of him, and suddenly 40 wasn’t old anymore. It was heartrendingly, tragically young.

The details were sickening. He was executed, essentially. Four bullets in the back. In front of his wife. From a guy who asked for and graciously received an autograph a few hours earlier. Lennon’s blood-splattered glasses became a ghastly, iconic symbol of the relentless gun violence that only seemed to happen here. Vigils popped up around the world. Everybody with candles, singing “All You Need is Love” and “Give Peace a Chance”, gathering for the type of communal hug that, ironically, we all desperately need right now.

For my generation, this was our JFK moment. This was when time stood still, and when the date rolls around every year we get goosebumps.

Like JFK, Lennon was a giant of a man with giant flaws who nonetheless always fought to bend that arc towards justice. They were fearless and feared. They were saints, and they were sinners. They led from the front.

Oh the things he might have gotten up to if he lived. After years of silence, he was making music again. He was in a good place. I can’t help but think of him surrounding himself with younger musicians, the kind that would push him down the roads he hadn’t already traveled. He might have re-made the 1980s. We’ll never know. He and Paul might have pulled out the acoustic guitars and sat knee-to-knee one more time and created one last bit of magic together, just for the crack. Or he might have sat back with his son, and watched the wheels.

He might have changed the world even more than he changed the world.

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

Spotify stat day….

December 2, 2020 Leave a comment

Spotify is sending users their stats for the year…what we’ve been listening to and how often and for how long. I expect that during the pandemic the streaming services are booming. It’s unfortunate that this increased usage doesn’t trickle down to the artist, but since it’s 2020 we’re all quite used to being screwed so it’s just another “meh” in a line of “mehs”.

My top artists of the year are a varied lot. The Tragically Hip and Bob Mould and the Drive-By Truckers and Joe Henry and AC/DC and a big Van Halen surge when Eddie passed. I hate myself for supporting greedy devils like Spotify but it’s like a morphine drip and I’m always in pain. Being able to listen to Mozart and then the Menzingers, Beethoven and then the Badlees….and back again without getting out of my chair is obviously addictive. A shelf of disorganized CDs sits to the right of my desk at home, a quaint reminder of the past. In the other room sits my 160 gig Ipod, the Apollo spacecraft of its day, loaded up with over 25,000 songs, pretty much my CD collection digitized. Relics all, replaced in an instant by having the entire musical world on your smart phone for the cost of a 12 pack of PBR a month. It’s utterly insane how much we’ve devalued music. It sucks, but it’s great.

I’m struggling with my own addiction, as you can clearly see. But let’s try to stay positive, shall we?

And these small little blue tooth speakers are just as goofy, throwing sound back in my face with crispness and at a Spinal Tap-ian volume. I don’t know how these little things work, but my old school stereo sits across the room from me covered in dust, flanked by its 2 speakers, each the size of a college dorm-room refrigerator. And I don’t miss it one bit. Well, ok. Maybe I miss it a little. But my blue tooth is a lot easier to drag outside on warm summer nights. And it’s equally capable of annoying the neighbors.

Spotify allows me to soothe my inner geek as well. Always been a sorta-hidden power-pop-punk-emo type, which is kinda weird when my desk is piled with books by and about Woody Guthrie and Joe Strummer, but don’t judge me. I think The Wonder Years “Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing” is fucking great and if you don’t agree with me you’re wrong and kinda sad. My nieces and nephews used to be amazed that I had all the same records they did, because I’m really old compared to them, but I’m pretty sure I was blasting New Found Glory records before they were. So there. I adore bands that are melodic and fun and play hard and I don’t care what category somebody puts them in and I don’t care if it’s cool anymore. I’m not that big on the gang vocal thing, but I admit that after about 8 beers it can sound pretty catchy. About 10 years ago my aforementioned nephew got 50 of his buddies to ante up $100 each and they hosted the band Saves the Day for a backyard barbecue and I still haven’t forgiven him for not letting me sneak in.

Remember, you’re only as old (or young) as the music you listen to, which gives you lots of options, no?

So where do we go from here?

I can move on. Or I can stay entrenched.

I can search out the new, or seek shelter in the comfort of old friends.

It’s my own record store, and there’s no categories to plow through. The power-pop is next to the Merle Haggard bin, and the blues is mixed in with the sea shanties. And it’s open 24/7, and it’s even MORE open during pandemics. The doors have been ripped off their hinges, and rocks have been thrown through all the windows.

But still.

I miss unsealing the albums. The liner notes. The anticipation of dropping the needle. The waiting is the hardest part, but can you ever remember it not being worth it? The anticipation. Sometimes waiting in line on release day. You just HAD to have it….it was a point of honor. And you’d watch the record spinning as your listened, hard. If a song skipped, you just grinned and bore it…..the skip became part of the song. Later when you replaced your albums with CDs the song didn’t sound right, because the skip wasn’t there anymore.

It sucks. And it’s great.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

I’ll never make up my mind.

But I’ll never stop listening.

In a bit…

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized