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May you be on the side of history that doesn’t embarrass your grand-kids…

September 17, 2020 Leave a comment

It’s been about half a year now we’ve been dealing with this virus. We’ve certainly bounced around some, from disbelief to terror to resignation and then back again….depending on anything from how hung over we are to how moronic our facebook feed became overnight. For those of us who are not assholes, masks have become almost second nature……as important as car keys when leaving the house. The media hysteria has mostly died down. Our nation seems content with a weekly death toll of three 9/11s. As our President said, and I quote…”it is what it is.” It really is amazing what people can get used to.

Six months. Whipsawed back and forth. Don’t do this do this. No don’t do that do the other thing. There finally seems consensus. And it’s dead simple. Wear a mask. Wear it properly (it’s not used to hold up your fucking nose). Do your best to not get into anybody’s face. Suck it up….a vaccine is coming. Hang together, or hang separately. To which the rest of the world responded, “sounds reasonable enough”. To which Americans responded, “fuck off, myyyy rahhhts!” Which is why last Friday 0 people died from coronavirus in Canada and an anti-mask flash mob invaded a Florida Target Store today chanting “take off your mask!” . The virus doesn’t know a Canadian from an American. It does, however, seek out morons.

These are the times that try men’s souls. They are also the times that try our patience….which I suspect is what Paine was saying all along. It seems silly to rail against social media on social media, but here we are. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em….but try to stay on the side of history that won’t lead to you being grilled by your grandkids…….”Grandpa…..you didn’t actually VOTE for him, did you?” (Cue Grandpa desperately trying to delete his 30 year old Facebook profile before Jr fires it up and finds the bald eagle and flag pics with the pictures of Trump flanked by Jesus…)

Remember. What happens online is the opposite of Vegas.

And so it goes.

I’ve tried to stay busy. Every day I have to walk (at least 4 miles), and I have to write. If I don’t do both, I have a hard time sleeping that night. I’ve been fortunate. I have been able to work from home. I haven’t missed a workday since the pandemic shut things down. I’ve been luckier than most. And that’s all it is. Dumb luck. I don’t deserve good fortune more than others. A lot of friends are frustrated….struggling. On a razor’s edge. Tomorrow everything could change and it could be me. Sometimes you’re the windshield, and sometimes you’re the bug. I like to think I don’t take anything for granted….and that I can feel the lash when its applied to the back of another. That doesn’t make me special. It just makes me not an asshole.

I have a little home office, and it’s filled with the cures. Music. Books. Guitars. Recording gear. Framed pictures of Abraham Lincoln and Who posters and a large Bob Marley tapestry. ‘You can run, but you can’t hide’ is what they say. But at the very least you deserve a place to try the hiding part out in. To my right is an Amazon Echo I borrowed from my daughter (and “forgot” to return) blasting Bob Mould’s “Patch the Sky”, and to my right is vol 1 of the collected plays of Neil Simon sitting on top of Peter Guralnick’s 2 part bio of Elvis Presley. I wish you all had both of these things at your fingertips during a pandemic. It would help.

In less than 2 months, we’ll have a new road map. We get to vote. All the hate. All the division. All the lies. All the ignorance. It’s like a large dog shit on the floor. We can start the clean-up process, or let it fester.

Cynicism has split me in half. The better angels of my nature sometimes take a night off, and I’m convinced that fascism is what the majority of this nation wants. They seem to revel in the fact that the President hates the same people they do. So they don’t ask “is my life better than it was 4 years ago?” Instead, it’s “are their lives worse than they were?” And then they smirk in the affirmative….don the red hat as this generation’s white hood, and march. Backwards.

And then sometimes the angels return. And I realize that most of the people around me are appalled at what’s happening to us, and aren’t gonna give in to a pack of fucking soulless gangsters.

May you be on the side of history that doesn’t embarrass your grand-kids.

In a bit…

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

Where Do We Go From Here? (new song with Bret Alexander)

September 12, 2020 Leave a comment

download mp3

Where Do We Go From Here

written by Tom Flannery and Bret Alexander

Bret Alexander – vocals, guitar, mandolin, banjo, harmonica, piano
Tom Flannery – vocals

Scratch it off or mark it down for all that it is worth
A footprint or a whispered smile to spread around the earth
Scream en masse or breathe it in or clink a virtual beer
The question that remains is where do we go from here
where do we go from here…where do we go from here

Like thieves we come out at night and frighten without sound
And then send up a drone to watch the chaos on the ground
A dab of sanitizer or a wash in memory’s tears
If we keep it all at bay where do we go from here
where do we go from here…where do we go from here

If you can sing an old song and make it sound brand new
And the words come around the bend like the chosen few
That means the world is silent when the coast is clear
And with no sense of direction where do we go from here
where do we go from here…where do we go from here

Boots and hearts on the ground like the laughter of a child
That breaks away from fear like a river running wild
And all that we hold sacred and all that we hold dear
Are looking for a clue where we go from here
where do we go from here…where do we go from here

All boats rise with the tide to reach the summer moon
That lights the way for those of us who might have spoke too soon
Nothing seen or unseen can spread quite like the fear
Of a delayed new morning….where do we go from here..
where do we go from here…where do we go from here

Categories: Uncategorized

Memories of that day…

September 11, 2020 Leave a comment

9/11 memories.

I’ve written about these before.

It’s somehow both crystal clear, and vague. I remember, and then I doubt myself.

We all remember that it was a beautiful day. The kind of blue sky that makes you squint looking at it. As close to a perfect early fall day as there ever was. Colors everywhere. The end of a long hot summer.

As it turned out, an awful juxtaposition. It gave them a glorious stage for their rage.

At the time I was working in a small office in Clarks Summit for a company based in Kentucky. We were riding on the fumes of the Y2K hysteria, and were able to resist their calls that we needed to move there. There were 3 of us in the office, then there were 2. And then once the company downsizing got vicious….well……I had the little suite all to myself. It was a pretty bizarre time. But if they wanted to pay rent to have a guy and his dog sit alone in a large office, that was fine with me. I tried to make the best of it. I brought a boom box into the office for music, and would sometimes bring my dog to keep me company. The suite next door was a doctor’s office, and I’d see the girl at the front desk coming in and out sometimes. We’d exchange good mornings and such. She was a good neighbor.

It was my sister who called me that morning. She was home and had her TV on. I think this was after the first plane hit. She tried to describe what was happening. I assumed it was a small plane. Some sort of pilot error. It surely wasn’t normal, but I don’t recall being concerned enough to stop working. I did take a minute to check the CNN website but I couldn’t load it. That wasn’t terribly unusual. The internet connectivity in the office wasn’t much faster than dial-up.

My mother was getting her hair done that morning, and while she was sitting in the chair the second plane hit. I can’t remember if she called me, or if my sister relayed the message. I still couldn’t pull up the CNN website, or any other. Everything was overloaded. I went to the doctor’s office next door to see if maybe they had a TV in there. They didn’t, but the girl had the radio on. She told me what she knew. It was 2 planes. It wasn’t any accident. We were under attack. Something about the Pentagon. And another plane, unaccounted for. Pennsylvania. Still, the words didn’t really register. There were no images to go with them. It was only later they would come. The ones that are still with us whenever we close our eyes and think of that day.

I went back to my office…..and it dawned on me that I had a boom box the entire time. I flicked the dial to NPR. There was some sort of commotion. I don’t remember the exact words, but the reporter was telling us that the south tower just collapsed. I heard the words but I assumed it was hyperbole. “Collapsed”? What does that mean? And then he told me that they were both gone. He was there, and watched it happen. Both towers were gone. This was lunacy. It was like a 21st century War of the Worlds. I kept waiting for the ghost of Orson Welles to break into the broadcast and tell me this was some sort of benign radio play.

But still. It was just words. I didn’t have the capacity to turn them into images. We didn’t have a Pearl Harbor. We’d known no war.

It was a terror attack. The name Osama Bin Laden meant nothing to me at the time. I’d never heard it before. Even on that day I noticed that nobody was clear how to pronounce, or indeed even spell, his name. His transformation into the boogeyman would come later.

And then I got home. Went to the TV. And there it was. Over and over. First one. Then the other. Slicing into the buildings at devastating angles…..like scythes. People hanging from windows. Fires glowing. Smoke billowing. And then recoiling in horror when you realized they had no options. They were jumping. Cut to other images. The Pentagon. Washington DC in a panic. (My sister worked for the FBI. Where was she?) The President reading to school kids, until somebody leaned in and whispered something into his ear.

And then I saw it for the first time. Like a demolition. First one tower. And then the next. Straight down on themselves. Like they were trying to be dainty. How many were in there? We had no idea. Whatever the number was would be unendurable. It still is. All these years later.

I stood in front of the TV in our bedroom. For hours. Didn’t sit down. Sleep came eventually….after I hugged my daughter about 17 times. Checking on her. Over and over. She was 3 at the time. In the morning, things would be different.

We all came together. And that sense of brother and sisterhood held. For a while anyway.

We’ve got short memories.

It’s long gone now. Some 3000 Americans deserved better than this. Once-a-year facebook memes and flag and firefighter pics and remembrances like this aren’t gonna cure what ails us.

Right now we’re not honoring anybody’s memory.

What’s it gonna take?

We all know the answer. You willing to go there?

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized

It Never Feels Like She Cares All That Much (new song with Bret Alexander)

September 1, 2020 Leave a comment


It Never Feels Like She Cares All That Much

written by Tom Flannery and Bret Alexander
download mp3

Tom Flannery – vocals, guitar
Bret Alexander – vocals, guitar

All I want is to make her day
for that I’d walk a million miles
all I want are the words to say
just so I can see her smile
sometimes she don’t fight fair
sometimes she’s cold to the touch
just another vacant stare
it never feels like she cares all that much
all that much
See thru corners of my eye
I hear the whispering late at night
I never caught her in a lie
but something still just don’t feel right
they say you should never go to bed pissed
and that’s good advice as such
but I ain’t slept since last we kissed
it never feels like she cares all that much
all that much
how do you get to happy
with nothing left to say
I put my heart on the line for you
by not turning away…

they say you should never go to bed pissed
and that’s good advice as such
but I ain’t slept since last we kissed
it never feels like she cares all that much
all that much

All I want is to make her day
for that I’d walk a million miles
all I want are the words to say
just so I can see her smile
sometimes she don’t fight fair
sometimes she’s cold to the touch
just another vacant stare
it never feels like she cares all that much
all that much
all that much
all that much

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Books and where to put them….

September 1, 2020 Leave a comment

booksI love books. I love them so much I’m running out of room in my basement office to hold them. So I started stacking them from the ground up against the walls, each stack maybe 5 feet high. They’re piled on every corner of my desk. On every available shelf. For years they’ve resisted my attempts to categorize them, so they are in no order whatsoever. If I’m looking for a specific title it can take me anywhere from 5 minutes to 3 hours to find it. I have to scan every single book, from the ground up. And I’ll never find it on a first pass. (In the past I’ve offered my kids $5 bounties to find what I’m looking for) Inevitably, it’s on the bottom of the stack, so I’ll have to try to pull it out without the entire pile falling in on me. Sometimes I’m able to do this. Sometimes. A few times I’ve searched in vain, and re-bought the book. Of course then the original copy presents itself. Right now I suspect I’ve doubled up at least 25 titles.

It feel like 100 years ago, but when the Kindle from Amazon came out, I was intrigued. Whenever I traveled somewhere….business, vacation, whatever…..I would bring at least 3 books, invariably large, heavy ones. And wherever I was, I’d buy more. Eventually they’d weigh more than the rest of my bag. It was getting a bit cumbersome. But this device would put an end to that. Hundreds of books, in the palm of my hand. Just click a few buttons, spend a few dollars, and the gratification was instantaneous.

Except it wasn’t, because it never felt like I was reading a book. I was cheating. If you want to read Normal Mailer’s “The Executioner’s Song”, you held its 1000+ pages in your two hands. You frayed the edges and left beverage rings on its cover and noticed the slight yellowing of the pages. You scribbled in it and highlighted passages and folded the pages in on themselves when a bookmark wasn’t available. You dragged it down to the beach or in your carry-on. You worked. You didn’t let technology do any of the lifting for you. My kindle currently sits in the same drawer with all the cables that don’t fit any devices anymore. A relic. I reminder that sometimes bigger is better.

I don’t know how many I have. I never counted. At least 1000. I do know that when we moved to this house, my books are what pissed off the moving company dudes most of all. They whined incessantly, over and over whispering to themselves (but making sure I might be able to hear as well)….”no way he reads all of these” as they dragged another 100 pound box up and down the steps. Of course this is what people who don’t love books always say. Poor sods. Not only have I read them, but many of them I’ve read multiple times. Which is why my collection only grows. And why I’m running out of room..

Once I did break them into subject matter. It took days. Sports. Music. History. Memoir. Novels. And then what sport, what artist, what period etc….and on and on it went until I had piles of sub-categories with post-it notes on them saying things like “Civil War – Union – Grant – Bruce Catton” and “Novel – Irish – Troubles – Belfast“. Everything was perfect…..until I started pulling books out, one by one. Since they’re stacked on top of each other, after a while I couldn’t be arsed to put them back where they were, and they’d just sit on top of a an unrelated pile. And within a month all my work was blown to bits and books by Bruce Catton were somehow mixed in with out of print Robert McLiam Wilson novels, and I decided I kinda liked it better this way, because I’d go searching for Civil War stuff and get distracted by a long forgotten Irish novel. Or the other way around. It’s a great way to avoid Netflix binges, believe me. (This exact scenario is how I recently went searching for a Mickey Mantle bio that I picked up in an airport gift shop and ended up reading a memoir on the wars in Congo.)

I just need to stack them higher I guess. Gloriously higher. In years to come I hope to scrape the ceiling. And if the piles fall over, I’ll set them back up, with the titles even more un-arranged. Like shuffling a deck of cards.

Pick a card. Any card.

In a bit..

–tf

Categories: Uncategorized