Why Old People Get So Mean and Angry

INTRODUCTION
My recent return to Facebook and my quiet observation of friends who are around my age got me thinking about why so many old people get so mean and angry. To be clear, the people with whom I am connected are not mean or angry, but they have friends who are, so I get to see that dynamic in action.

Summer 1982: Rehearsal on the field, weeks before band camp, in prep for performance at the Indiana State Fair. Drumming and music has been a major cornerstone of my personal identity.

When we are young, our identities are all about things like school activities, music, movies, and things like this. The activities in which we engage typically center around fun, as well as some responsibility, and even hobbies or interests.

For me, my clear interest has always been music. This was partially natural, but partially a conscious effort on my part. Growing up, I saw that most men who worked with my father had their identities wrapped up in their jobs. They were factory workers.

When these factory workers lost their jobs, they also lost their identities. Shortly after that, they’d lose their own lives by their own hand. I wanted to avoid this pitfall, which I noticed in late grade school, so I began building my identity around music. Because my grandmother had always told me that music is something that can never be taken away.


THE PROGRESSION
Now that we’ve established our identities of origin, and how they revolve around things that are fun, or things we like, we move into the next phase. For some, it’s going to college, and for others it’s about going to work. Either way, our minds are shifting toward our work. When we immerse ourselves in our learning or activities, our identities begin to shift.

During this time, I maintained my identity as a musician by playing music. It helped greatly that I was a Percussion Arts major. During my second year, when I changed my major to T-Comm/Psych, I played bass in a punk rock band.

The first year in particular was super-immersive. When I wasn’t taking a marimba class, a string bass class, saxophone class, piano class, or rehearsing two hours per day, per instrument, I could be found in the dormitory lobby, playing piano.


YET ANOTHER STEP
When we all start working, inevitably most of us end up in some kind of relationship. This can result in marriage and children. So we drop even MORE of our own identity for the kids, on top of dropping some for work.

Circa 1997: Sitting at the drums, and introducing my son to the instrument. He’s doing his best Bruce Lee impression.

When I was working, I always had a band or a music project of some kind. And when I became a father, I worked even harder to maintain an identity that revolved around music, while adding the role of “father” to my identity.

And while I am doing this, more and more of my contemporaries are getting lost in their jobs and children, thereby completely losing their own identities.


THE END PHASE
The kids grow up, move out, and visit less often. The job may be coming to an end, thanks to retirement. Or you can simply be shown the door because you’re too old, which was the case for me.

During this time, I was very active drumming with bands and writing and recording music on a variety of instruments.

Circa mid-2013: Drumming in a band called “The Wrong Dots,” lead by former child actor Robbie Rist.

While I was able to maintain my identity by staying involved in music, this was not the case for most of my contemporaries. Some had nothing, or they put things away because they were “growing up.”

Whatever the case may be, many of these people lost themselves in their work and in raising a family. When all of that went away, they had to fill it with something.

But what? The easy choice for many is politics. Some fall into religion as well.

Politics and religion. These are the two LEAST interesting things about people. But they have to have something, right?


WHAT MY ONLINE FRIENDS HAVE
They seem to have a wide variety of interests. Some are into quilting. Another is into making new kinds of whisky. Some are all about their grandkids, and their children still live close by. A few are all about music. At least one of them still performs music on occasion, and is into a type of low-fi, outsider type of music that is so cool and interesting to me. And another one is retired and she’s all about golfing and having drinks with her friends in a very chill pace.

They have interests outside of politics and/or religion. These are my people!

These are interesting people.


BUMPS IN THE ROAD
All of my efforts hit a bit of a bump in the road. After my job came to an end in 2016, it seems that Noodle Muffin [a band that I’d been involved with since 2002] was utilizing me less and less on recordings and writing sessions. Things were getting too expensive in California and I saw no end to my lack of employment, so we packed up and moved to the middle of nowhere, Oregon.

Before moving, when things were slowing down with my music, I took private master class lead guitar lessons with Zoot Hor Rollo of Captain Beefheart for a full year. I also spent a few years amassing an incredible guitar collection. It was my way of keeping myself in the loop.

But 2020 did me in, to a degree. Thanks to the pandemic, I had to sell ALL of my guitars, save for an old acoustic and a $100 Cort that doesn’t really inspire me. Plus, I got wrapped up with a woman from my past, and that situation turned out to be toxic.

2021 found me getting out a bit and jamming with some guys on occasion, in a very loose situation. We only got together a handful of times, and nothing big came of it, but it kept me in the loop and in touch with music.

June 30, 2021: Jamming in a hot, sweaty, dirty garage, in a way that was intended.

EXPANDING OVER THE PAST YEAR
As we get older, the times change, our situations change, and even our abilities change, I’ve decided it is best to expand upon my identity.

This is a wise move, considering the fact that I have no jamming situations or bands, I had to sell all of my inspirational guitars, I have two drum sets that I cannot play because there is nowhere to play them, and my body is beginning to betray me more than a little bit.

In this identity expansion, I’ve taken being a musician and extended it to the act of actively listening to music. I’ve also added writing to the fold, which must be obvious to anyone who has been reading for any amount of time.

Also added to this is gaming on the Commodore 64. I have been doing this for over ten years, and it’s a satisfying experience for me.

Since I’m not working, I have to find ways to deal with the time I have. On top of being responsible with chores and duties, improving my mental health and expanding my knowledge have been priorities.

And finally, I am experimenting with making videos. I won’t get into much detail, as I might make videos for my new channel, or I might be more general. I haven’t decided. But I did test my new set-up to ensure that the laptop, which replaces my dead desktop, can handle the work. I produced an 8-minute video that is nothing more than proof-of-concept, so nobody will see it and it’s not worth seeing anyway. This helped to confirm that the setup could do what I need for it to do.

May 14, 2022: Screen shot from a test video that I made yesterday. It was mostly a success. Now I have to work on my content, as well as adjusting a few minor issues. I don’t like that I cannot see my eyes in the video.

And now, I am back on Facebook, in search of contemporaries who have done the same. That is, those who have identities that revolve around things that are by far more interesting than politicis and/or religion.


IN THE END
Recognizing all of this and coming to my conclusions is giving me more insight into those “friends” from the past who are so ugly [on the inside], angry, mean, grumpy, intolerable, and unappealing. It helps me understand why we can no longer connect.

It explains the disappointment that I felt when I’d try to re-connect and all they could bring to the table was negativity.

But it also helps me understand why the concept of the old codger exists. Because people get lost, and I do not yet know if this just something that happens as people get older, or if it’s something that happens out of necessity in preparation for death.

The rabbit hole continues.


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That Time I Broke My Nose

INTRODUCTION
Lots of guys like to brag about how something in particular is big in size. Today’s topic, however, is about something else that doesn’t get bragged about with regard to size.

I have a huge nose. There is no getting around it. Literally, we’ve tried traffic signs and everything. Yes, I’m exaggerating to make a point.

This entry was inspired by the Johnny Depp defamation trial, in particular where Amber Heard talked about having a broken nose, but then she went on TV the next day and looked and acted just fine.

I don’t buy her broken nose testimony, not only because I’ve seen serious broken noses in the past, but also because I once broke my own nose.


THAT FATEFUL DAY
It was back in 2001, a few months before 9/11, when I was in the lobby of the office building where I worked, at 444 S. Flower Street in Los Angeles. This building is somewhat famous, having been used in the television show LA Law. Specifically, this building can be seen in the show’s intro, and everyone refers to it as “the LA Law building.”

The lobby had [and may still have] pristine glass walls, including glass doors and a glass revolving door.

The actual glas revolving doors in the lobby of 444 S. Flower Street. It’s so clean that you can barely see the glass wrap-around that encases the glass doors.

I was about to hit the elevators to go to the office, when a co-worker saw me. He was very excited to tell me something.

“There’s a truck out there giving out free coffe and mugs! They’re going to leave soon, so hurry if you want some!”

Free coffee? Hell yea!! I was very pumped. I pushed my way through the revolving doors. I had thought that I was past the glass wrap-around that encases these revolving glass doors.

I had not.

I run full-force right into the glass, and left an incredibly large blood smudge all across it.

I didn’t let this stop me from getting my free coffee. It hurt like hell and my face was numb. But that was just the beginning.


THE AFTERMATH
I got my coffee, went upstairs, and put it on my desk. Then I went to the bathroom to see. There was blood everywhere. No wonder everyone was looking at me strangely while I was walking around.

Also, what looked like a piece of bone had broken through my skin at the top bridge of my nose. All of it was numb, and I was still riding the adrenaline train, so I did what any average person would do, and I forced it back in place.

It hurt like hell, but it also felt more “normal,” in a way.

I sat down at my desk to work, when I realized that I couldn’t remember who I was. I couldn’t remember anything. I was crying non-stop. My face was swollen.

Plus, I had a concussion.

NOBODY suggested that I go to the hospital. Nobody showed any concern about my well-being. To be fair, this was in a corporate workplace, where nobody cares about humans, so the problem transcends the people with whom I worked.

I sat there confused for the entire day. I didn’t log in. I didn’t get anything done. I just cried and struggled to remember who I was and what I was doing in this building.


THE DAY AFTER
My brain fog persisted, although I was regaining my memory and general faculties. While I don’t know how I drove home, I did remember driving to the office, so that was evidence enough that I was better.

I probably shouldn’t have been allowed to drive home, and I wasn’t in any condition to make any serious decisions. I just got lucky.

So I went to the security desk and reported what happened yesterday. They had someone talking with me. They asked if I felt fine, and I said mostly.

The conversation ended with me signing a document and telling them that I will not sue them, so long as they etch some frosting at around eye level on the glass parts that encase the revolving doors.

I suspect that they never lived up to their promise, as it would compromise the beauty of the building. You know, corporate aesthetics over human safety.

And I’d be willing to bet that someone, somewhere in that lobby has yelled out, “Free coffee!” more than once in the past 21 years.


MY SIMPLE AMBER HEARD ASSESSMENT
In watching how she did on James Corden the day after he supposed broken nose, two black eyes, and a busted lip.

Not only would NO ONE be able to really hide this type of injury, especially the day after, I would also suggest that one would probably not be this coherent after having their nose broken in an altercation, which would probably be more violent than the case of me breaking my own nose by running 6 inches into a glass wall.

It simply does not add up.

Part of me wants to stay away from this entire story. But another part of me relates to heavily to Mr. Depp’s involvement with a woman who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder [BPD].

I will admit that I may be biased, due to my experience with being in a relationship with someone who has BPD. On the other hand, I know precisely how this kind of relationship goes. I know what kind of problems a person with unchecked, unacknowledged BPD can cause.

It’s not good.


IN THE END
Based on my own viewing of raw, live court video streams, in real time, I am conviced that Ms. Heard is lying heavily. I hope that Mr. Depp comes out of this with his reputation restored.

Shame on Disney for dumping him when he hadn’t been convicted. Accusations are a dime a dozen.

As for her, my hope is that Ms. Heard can learn from this, get help for her BPD [via Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT], and that she will reach a place where she won’t put anyone else, or herself, through another mess like this.

But the biggest over-arching general thought that I have here revolves around the Me Too Movement, which has some dangerous and irresponsible slogans.

  1. Listen and believe.
  2. Believe all women.

To give my opinion on this some context, I have my own Me Too story. Basically, I was going to entertain as a Pee-Wee Herman impersonator for a bachelorette party. When I got there, all 6 women were completely drunk. It didn’t take long for them to start attacking me, while clamouring about how they needed to have a stripper at the party.

I experienced some major lacerations and my suit got ripped up. I drove myself straight to the police station and told them what happened. They accused me of “bragging” about a half dozen women trying to rip my clothes off. After I demanded that they take a report, they threatened to arrest me if I didn’t leave. So I drove myself to the hospital and got stitches.

Now that you have context, here are my thoughts on those two slogans.

Both of those slogans are highly irresponsible, and people like Ms. Heard tend to take advantage of this. The irresponsibility of these slogans has been supported by society, and that needs to stop.

In the name of equality, I would submit that women are just as capable as men when it comes to lying, cheating, stealing, or even killing. This is NOT because they are women, but rather because they are human.

Believe all women? No, because some women lie. They want revenge for their pain. Listen and believe has the exact same problem. And since I am pointing out the problem, I would like to offer my own solution. It’s one that would satisfy me, as a victim of sexual assault, and I hope that it would satisfy the women who are victims as well.

My slogan suggestion, which better supports ALL victims of sexual assault is this:

Listen, take seriously, and investigate.

You don’t have to automatically believe. In fact, the police, the medical personnel, and even the judge doesn’t have to believe. It’s not part of their job. But they need to take sexual assault and domestic violence more seriously.

Part of taking it more seriously involves not branding men as perpetrators by default, or women as helpless victims by default.

Treat everyone like the humans they are, and get to the truth. If we could do this, then we’d have fewer bodies left in the wake of this irresponsibility.

Oh, and if you get your nose broken, go to the hospital immediately and get checked out. Even if you break it yourself.


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The Twilight Zone Cashier

I went to do my morning shopping after my post earlier this morning. I typically go in the early mornings to avoid crowds, and to get in-and-out of the store as quickly as possible.

COVID mask restrictions have been lifted, but I still wear a mask, and I am still highly motivated to get out of the store as quickly as possible.

Look at list. Follow list. Get items on list. Pay. Leave.

In other words, how men typically shop.

But today, I’d not be allowed to leave the store quite so quickly.

Without going through my entire list, one item I got was 8 cans of beef stew. These cans weigh 20 ounces.

I know how hard the job can be for cashiers, so I will typically put one can on the counter, tell them I have 8, they look over, see the cans, then press “8” before scanning. It’s easy, and I don’t have to move the cans more than necessary.

Typically I go see the cashier, although sometimes I’ll do a self-checkout. Today’s cashier was an unfamiliar face, and I went with it.

I set everything on the counter, but just one of the beef stew cans. I then tell her that I have 8 of them.

She replies, “Oh no, I have to see all cans and scan all cans. Sometimes each number is different.”

I was hesitant to quote, because she has a very heavy Asian accent and I don’t want to come off as a racist jerk. She demanded that I take all of the cans out of the bag and put them on the counter. Fine.

She then tells me that a customer once complained that numbers were different for the same product. She was talking specifically about the bar code.

What I saw next confounded me.

She turned all of the cans on their sides, and meticulously inspected EACH bar code. Keep in mind, for those who do not shop in America, that these codes are put on by the manufacturer and NOT the store. It’s a generic print job that almost never changes.

I’m standing there, and there’s a guy behind me wondering what the hold-up is about, since I was only purchasing 12 items. I look back and apologize, and let him know that I have no idea what is going on.

“I’m just doing my job, sir,” she said.

I did let her know that I’m 57 years old and have NEVER, ever seen ANYONE do this at any place I have ever shopped. She kept repeating how she was just doing her job.

Oh yes, my patience was wearing thin. Since I abhor the behaviors of what we in America call “The Karen,” I didn’t want to complain about it in a rude way. But I was standing there, waiting and waiting, with nothing to do.

So I let her know that I would be correcting cashiers in the future if they fail to provide this highly unique service. Again, just doing her job.

I told her how wrong these other cashiers were to NOT be doing their job. Then I pharaphrased a line from a movie.

“They are both bad AND wrong. There needs to be a special word for this, like BADWRONG, or BADONG. Those other cashiers are SO BADONG. Shame on them!

“I’m just doing my job, sir.”

It was my attempt to be light-hearted, when I felt like just cancelling my order and taking everything over to the self-service checkout machines. But I could tell that she wasn’t getting the movie reference, so I put some distance between myself and her, leaning against the ice machine nearby, waiting for her to call me over to pay.

TEN minutes later, she was ready for me to pay. TEN minutes, to purchase 12 things.

I didn’t demand that I speak to her manager, like a Karen would, although it might have been an appropriate thing to do, given this situation. But since I’m a more civilized person, I will quietly speak with a manager during a visit later in the week, to let them know.

It really surprised me that a cashier would be this strange. Chances are good that she realized she said something dumb, but didn’t want to correct herself or look wrong, so she committed to her charade.

And she didn’t want to put any of my groceries in the bag because “some customer bags are dirty. Just doing my job.”

I am proud of myself for not getting upset during this ridiculous situation.

The next time I go, I will scan it all myself, which would be faster than going through this. But if one of the other cashiers is at the station, then I’ll gladly go see them. I’ll put one can on the counter, tell them I have 8 in total, they will look in the OPEN SQUARE BAG, verify, press “8,” scan, and we’ll be done.

My typical check-out takes 45 seconds when they do it, and about 90 seconds when I do it. Ten minutes is just way too long, and as unacceptable as this situation was, I was able to contain myself and not get upset.

This is a “big W,” as the kids say. A total win.

Between Worlds

When I was young, through the 70s and part of the 80s, the world was relatively simple to digest. America was a world leader, at least according to other more experienced adults around me. The USSR was America’s enemy, as godless Commie heathens. And everybody loved the guitar solo in a song.

Today, we’re somewhere completely different.

America is no longer the world leader. We could be world leaders. It’s just that our leadership is more about their own wealth building and culture war issues than actually doing ANYTHING, including helping American citizens, who are struggling.

The USSR is gone, although Russia is now lead by a former KGB member. Instead of viewing them as “godless Commie heathens,” we have American Republican Christians who LOVE Putin and Russia. They wear shirts that say, “I’d rather be a Russian than a Democrat,” with the back saying, “Trump for President.”

Clearly, they don’t realize that Democrats are Americans, and that Russians are up to no good. Ol’ Putin got what he paid for with ex-government employee Donald. But I digress.

And the guitar solo is essentially dead within the context of mainstream “music.” Many users on streaming services like Spotify will listen to a song, and then skip to the next song the minute a guitar solo shows up.

With all of this, I feel as if I am trapped between worlds. The world I used to be in sucked in many ways, and the world I see now is such utter garbage that I can’t believe ANYONE would think that ANY of this is a good idea, even if they’re getting super-mega-ultra-fucking-filthy rich from it all.

One big reason why I write is because I really have no idea what I can or should be doing at all. Yes, I can continue to play my archaic instruments and create for myself, and make myself happy.

But what about the external? The world? I used to go out and perform with other musicians. Now it seems like those days are gone. I had a conversation with someone last night, and they said, “I hope that you get to perform in front of an audience again. I’m not so certain that you ever will.”

Boy, I hear ya. I haven’t played drums in almost three years. I live in a small town, having left Los Angeles behind because the scene was dying out.

I mean, THE VIPER ROOM is getting torn down, and is being replaced by a 12-story apartment building. When I first moved to LA, it was called The Central, and hosted primarily jazz bands. Mine was one of the early rock bands to play there shortly before they became The Viper Room in 1993. That was really cool to play there, and I got to meet Johnny Depp as well.

The Viper Room, Hollywood [RIP]

There was a scene happening.

You can imagine me at The Rainbow Room in 1986, walking in and seeing Lemmy at his booth, and Mick Fleetwood, and Gene Simmons, among others. All of these heavy hitters, just hanging out. At this time, the club was only 12-13 years old. Today, it is 50 years old. I was there for the majority of its hey-day.

Now, all of that is gone. It has become a place where people go to talk about the past. That’s not to say that the past wasn’t in play back then. In 1986, clubs like The Whisky a-Go Go had murals painted on the side, bragging about how The Doors or Buffalo Springfield played there.

Now you can go see kids play there, and none of them have traditional instruments. They all have laptops and MIDI controllers. I have nothing against those things. They just don’t get a visceral response from me.

A really strong synth player, on the other hand, can really bring the house down. But with these “musicians,” they often times have pre-produced loops, where they just push a button and the loop starts playing. And all of the rigs are in sync, meaning the computer keeps time, so they don’t have to.

There is no human effort; no drama. There’s no risk. It’s safe and sanitized, and the laptops never make a mistake.

November 2009: Tearing up the drums at The Whisky a-Go Go as a last-minute fill-in drummer for a band I’d met a few days earlier.

I remember talking to Lemmy at The Rainbow Room about how he had sat and watched my band recently, and how much I really appreciated it.

He asks, “Ah, yea. And what did I say about you guys?”

I told him that he said we were “pretty good.”

He then tells me, “From here on out, I’m gonna call you Mr. Pretty Good.” And every time I’d go in The Rainbow Room, at least for a while, I’d see Lemmy at his booth. I’d feel like Norm on Cheers whenever he’d call out, “Hey! There’s Mr. Pretty Good!” We’d shake hands.

This is why, to this day, “pretty good” is the highest compliment that I ever give anything.

Another time, one of my bands played at The Joint in Hollywood, and I noticed Jimmy Page sitting in the audience. He was there to see his great-niece perform at this songwriter showcase. He gave me some constructive words about what we were doing, and it was awesome.

All of this is gone.

Everything that lives ultimately dies. I suppose that’s what brings some of the magic to it all; to be able to say that you were there way back when. That is, if anyone cares to listen.

Cities, clubs, eras, styles, sounds… they all die eventually. And some of the people die as well. It’s sometimes upsetting to realize that many of my music heroes are no longer alive. It’s weird to see news stories where they talk about selling their catalogs. Led Zeppelin, selling ownership of their music? Danzig, declaring himself to be “done” because he’s “too old,” and the same with David Crosby. Bon Jovi having vocal problems. Keith Emerson, taking his own life because hand neuropathy kept him from playing his best.

It kind of puts me in a very weird position. I’m not physically dead, but so far as society is concerned, I’m the walking dead. That doesn’t mean I have to lie down.

I need to reinvent myself. Writing has played a major role in this journey to figure out who I am now, and what I will want to be next. It’s difficult and sometimes scary. Six years ago, I tried to reinvent myself as an employee, and that failed miserably. This means no job. But if I fail at reinventing my self, then what happens? Do I merely exist?

These are the big questions that appear on the horizon as we get older.

To pare it down to one question would be to ask, “Must I actually BE something; anything?” Can I just exist? Can I just.. be?

Is this an acceptable place to be? I do not ask this on behalf of society, for society can shove it. I ask for myself.

Truth be told, it’s time that I care about myself and focus on myself. For most of my life, I’ve focused on others. It was focusing on school work or the various school bands I was in. I’d later focus on work, with focus on raising my son. For a while I focused on a potential career and spent 15 years building that, only to be shown the door because I’m old.

For the longest time, I thought that caring about myself and focusing on myself was narcissitic. Only recently did I learn that Narcissists DO NOT love themselves. They just only think of themselves.

In my situation, the challenge is to love myself, and then to think of myself. I’ve spent too much time putting myself on the backburner for the benefit of others.

This is my time. These last few years that are left are dedicated to me and those around me who care. And as I watch the world that I once knew slowly disappear into a land of obsolescence and forgotten memories, as I become progressively more culturally irrelevant, I watch it all with mixed feelings. Part of me wants those old days to stick around, yet another part of me wonders what will happen next.

Maybe it’s time to just kick back and try to enjoy the show.


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What Really Matters

This is a short tack-on to my previous entry about our broken system in America and the lies that are sold to perpetuate it. Most definitely, that is an entry that has lots of negative qualities. To some, it would sound like whining or making excuses. I suppose I didn’t want to end my morning on a negative note.

What really matters?

I cannot speak for anyone but myself. What matters is being healthy, having a place to live, something to eat, clean water, and a companion of some kind. This companion can be a friend, a group of friends, or even an significant others.

ALL of these things — these people and situations — are by far more important and more valuable than financial wealth or acquiring more power. All of it is more important than having a dream realized or validated. All of it is more important than America’s failed Capitalism model.

A conversation with a genuine friend who cares is more valuable than a Bentley limousine.

Hearing the honest truth and working within the boundaries of that truth, is preferred to struggling to reach an ideal or standard that is an utter lie.

With that, I will sit and breathe. I will reach out to those who are close. I will value my friends. I will make music when I feel like it, or engage in writing or any other activity that suits me. I will ignore the negativity that is baked into our toxic culture of productivity and exploitation.

Indeed, I will die penniless, unknown, and long forgotten. But by that point, I will be dead. Who cares?

We get this one life. So far as I can tell, there was nothing before this, and there will be nothing after. Thank goodness this is it, for this can be a major burden at times.

Those who are negative and judgmental can go be those things elsewhere. I have no space for them.

Risk and Reward… or Punishment

INTRODUCTION
“If you would have taken a big risk and worked really hard, then you would have gotten somewhere if you were really any good.”

Someone actually told me this, to my face, when we were talking about the difficulties of getting into the “music business.”

It felt as if they hadn’t listened to ONE thing that I had said the entire time. I told them how I left the Midwest in 1986, moved to Bakersfield, CA with family, and then hitch-hiked to LA to put in the work.

This person knew some of my more detailed, personal stories, such as the nights where I’d cry myself to sleep because I was so hungry that the pain was becoming overwhelming. They dismissed the times that I ate out of garbage cans, or slept behind dumpsters.

They didn’t understand anything. While this was upsetting to me, it was not surprising, mainly because we are raised to think this way. We are raised to be judgmental. We are raised to point at a person who falls, instead of rushing to help them up. We are raised to laugh at people when they fail.

We are also sold a great number of lies, some of which are more powerful than others.


YOU CAN BE WHATEVER YOU WANT TO BE
You have no right to call yourself a musician unless you are earning your living with it.

Anyone who has an American “education” will recall our teachers and parents telling us that we can be whatever we want to be, but only if we work hard.

This was the type of talk that got me excited about becoming a musician. It seemed a legitimate enough of a job to me. But this message got confused by a second message that was very conflicting, and was delivered to me first-hand by my grandmother.

“You want to be a musician? That’s nice. But what will you do to earn a living? To make money?”

My response was that I’d be a musician. It’s a job, it pays money, and it’s what I want to do. Sure, I’d see famous musicians at work, but I also saw regular local musicians working.

I knew nothing of the dirty, dark secrets. But I would learn the hard way.


SOME OF THE LIES, BY NAME
One is already noted in the previous heading, that you can be whatever you want to be. This lie was told to me by many adults, including my first grade teacher. And she went BIG with the lie, telling us that we could even be president of the USA one day.

When you become an adult, you realize that the only way to get to that level is if you’re already rich, and are a career politician. Sure, being a career politician works against the very philosophy that makes up the supposed grand lie of America existing. They’re supposed to get elected, serve the public for their term[s}, and then go back to their regular jobs.

With that job, there are no exceptions to the rule. But in music, there sure are exceptions. Most people make it because their parents or family were involved, because THEIR parents were involved, and so on.

They might be really good and talented. Understand that there are musicians just as good as them, if not better, who will never, ever get anywhere because they don’t have that hook-up; that connection. You know, that thing that has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with music, at all.

But you can also get “in” with people who will rip you off. I’ve talked about my guitar teacher before. I won’t post his name here. He first got big in 1969 and had a huge selling album. That was followed by many amazing world tours and other great albums.

But he realized one day, “I have a handful of top-selling albums under my belt, on top of a series of successful world tours, and yet here I am, standing in line to get food stamps, while hoping that my mother mailed the rent check.”

In his situation, he fell in with someone who was out for themselves, and who ripped him off without even blinking.

Oh yea, you can bet that he’s hyper-bitter and VERY pissed about it, to this day. He’s in the Rolling Stone Top 100 Guitarists of All Time and still makes some incredible music. But he teaches to earn a living, because even HE couldn’t make it in the music business.

If he couldn’t make it, then I have to wonder what hope there ever was for me.

He’s one of many, many victims who believed another big lie: Being talented will bring you great success. This is a Meritocracy lie.

And the Meritocracy relies on another closely related lie: Hard work always pays off.

No, it does not. It is VERY possible, as well as likely, that you CAN work really hard and still get nowhere.

It’s something that most people don’t think about until they realize that they’ve been busting their asses and have NOTHING to show for it.


BIG MONEY SALES EQUALS QUALITY
Have you ever heard a really shitty song on the radio, and wondered how it got so popular, or how it made so much money?

Anyone who is a musician has most definitely experienced this.

At the same time, we also experience those incredible musicians and songwriters who pour their hearts into their work, and who see it go nowhere.

With Mike Schnee [as Chissum Worthington], aka Wormstew.

To avoid the appearance of bias, I will not reference any of my own music. Instead, this example is from a friend of mine who is still creating fantastic music and entertaining crowds to this very day. From my perspective, there are many musicians and songwriters out there who are by far superior to me, and they still never reach that place where society will judge them kindly.

I have consistently cried every single time that I have heard this song.
I find it heartbreaking that he has not been rewarded for his talents and hard work.
My body’s filled with blood and bones, and wrapped up in a skin
Amidst a field of bloody bones, she played her violin

My inability to make it is one thing, and it’s easy to have a great deal of bias when looking at one’s own self. Watching others struggle, when they have more talent and what I think is a better chance, is nothing short of disturbing. It’s yet more confirmation that I wasted my time pursuing music.


DID I REALLY WASTE MY TIME?
By American Capitalist society’s standards, I most definitely DID waste my time. Why? Because I wasn’t making money. I had always worked jobs to support my efforts, which were very expensive.

Did American Capitalists respect that I not only worked hard on my dream, but also worked really hard at a more standard job? Of course not. To them, I was just a failed musician who had no choice but to work shit jobs.

That’s our society, in a nutshell. Toxic. No wonder there’s so much suicide in our culture.


IN THE END
Logically, to me, I know that I did what I felt I had to do. I pursued my dreams, and then didn’t work out for a variety of reasons. I may not have a great deal of money, or a retirement account, but there is also one other thing that I don’t have.

Regret.

Sure, I didn’t get very far with it, or really anything else. I didn’t have the proper connections, or family who was involved, or an entertainment lawyer with the right nude photos of the right producer. I didn’t have the LUCK that so often plays a role in ALL success. I also showed up too late to the game, as the music I played started fading in popularity in 1986, the year that I went to LA. And I didn’t know that one year earlier, Metallica left LA with their tails between their legs, crying about how people in LA “don’t like” them.

Yes, talent is required. Without the luck, the talent isn’t “successful” in the way that Americans expect. But DO NOT discount luck. Ever.

And also consider the environment and infrastructure. Tosin Abasi, one of the modern-day players who re-shaped the guitar in a way similar to Mr. Edward Van Halen, has said in an interview that it wouldn’t matter how hard he worked or how good he was, if the proper infrastructure wasn’t in place.

Much like Hendrix or Van Halen, Abasi is one of those genuises who is able to change the landscape of music. Most people in the music business are not at this level.

Being in my Autistic shoes in America is not a happy or fun place to be. I have to constantly remind myself that I lived my life as I wanted, that I pursued my dreams, that I tried my hardest, I did my best, and there was no reward for me at the end of it all. I have to realize that this happens more often than not, which is why it is impressive when someone actually gets somewhere.

If I do not remind myself, then my mind will get poisoned by all of those misguided and negative people who have nothing better to do than to crap on people who actually took a risk and found out the hard way that risks and hard work do not always pay off.

They crap on people who tried and failed to make themselves feel better. Most people I grew up with didn’t have interesting dreams to pursue. They’d inherit dad’s gas station or work on dad’s farm, and they’d have a level of financial success in taking on the family business.

I don’t need to crap on someone else in order to feel better. What I MUST do, however, is acknowledge a system that mostly works against people and keeps them financially broken, adding humiliation and depression to the mix. I have to acknowledge those who are not capable of acknowledging these lies that have been sold to us in order to drive us in a certain direction to facilitate our control.

It is not a conspiracy. It’s right before our eyes. The Meritocracy is not real, and hard work does not always pay off.

You see that rich guy rolling down the street in the back of his new Bentley limousine? Well, if you work really, really, really hard, working through days and nights, weekdays and weekends, forsaking your spouse, children, and loved ones, missing birthdays, holidays, and special events, ignoring invitations to parties or vacations, foresaking ALL friends, and keep on pushing… then maybe… JUST MAYBE… one day, that rich man will have a SECOND Bently limo.

Linds Redding did just that, working harder than anyone else while forsaking all that is noted in the previous paragraph. When he got his cancer diagnosis, he realized that he has wasted his life over nothing. He wrote about it HERE.

Linds has been dead for a very long time. But you are still here. I recommend reading his blog and taking in his hard emotions. Then, look in the mirror and be honest with yourself about your life, what you’re doing, where you want to go, and what you want to be.

Whatever you do, DO NOT shape your life based on the lies that have been sold to us. Because the hard reality is that Capitalism may start out with the exploitation of legitimate merit for the purposes of growth, but it ends with aristocracy, inherited wealth, and inequality. There is no more growth for our Capitalist society. All that remains for it now is death.

And America is in a phase known as End-Stage Crony Capitalism. So if you pursue a dream or start a business, work hard, and it goes nowhere, this is why.

It’s not an excuse, but it is an explanation. Just remember that the system is by far larger than you, or any of us, and that you are subject to its whims and erratic tides. So look at your failures, examine them, and make adjustments if you can and try again. But at some point, one must eventually accept that the system is not set up to be working in their favor. Some will make it, but they are the exception. The exception DOES NOT negate the rule, and in fact fortifies it.

Just try to not be too rough on yourself.


If you like what I write, then please consider sending a one-time donation to me via PayPal. Please use the following link and click SEND to donate, and thank you for reading! https://paypal.me/drumwild

Back In Biz, Kinda

The replacement laptop showed up yesterday. It was by far better than I had anticipated. It has a touch screen, and it can bend backwards so that the screen can be used like a tablet.

It is missing things I would need to make this a complete replacement, such as a CD-ROM drive, which means I can’t install my old Photoshop CS3. It also does not appear to be powerful enough for music production. I may try my hand at video production in the near future.

For now, the main goal is to continue the setup and get the system to a point where it’s 100% usable. While I do that, I can watch Dr. Dawn Hughes [Forensic Psychologist] getting grilled by Johnny Depp’s legal defense.

Extra JPEG added to this photo for maximum drama.

So far as the Depp trial goes, I am going to wait until the entire thing is over, as I have a great deal of thoughts regarding this subject and how Domestic Violence is handled [and mishandled] in America.

This computer crash means that I currently do not have access to any music production files or software. I should also note that the external backup drive is also dead.

Indeed, these computer issues are bigger than I let on to be. And yet, my biggest accomplishment in all of this is that I did not lose my cool.

In short, rebuilding is in progress, and recovery will be happening at a later date.

Until then, thank you for reading and hanging out.


If you like what I write, then please consider sending a one-time donation to me via PayPal. Please use the following link and click SEND to donate, and thank you for reading! https://paypal.me/drumwild

My Problem With Today’s Social Networking

The laptop will be here tomorrow, but I wanted to write about this today, so here we are!


INTRODUCTION

Facebook has always confounded and annoyed me. What really has bothered me most is why I can never get it to work.

It’s not like I’m some kind of n00b. I got on AOL the day it was released and dove into the chat rooms. I would later do the same with CompuSERVE.

There were also stand-alone programs dedicated to chat. ICQ, AIM, and Yahoo Chat were a few. Then there was my favorite: mIRC.

Rounding out the list is MySpace, a social networking site that I loved so much that I worked there for three years. I used their chat feature with a great deal of success, and also participated in the forums.

Circa 2007: Outdoors with my former boss and everyone’s first friend on MySpace, Tom Anderson.

But now, I suddenly cannot make Facebook work for me in the same way that all of these other websites did. I do have a few ideas of why this is the case.


THE USER BASE

With all of the other experiences noted above, I was always in a situation where I was dropping in cold, not knowing a single person on the site.

But with Facebook, I already “know” the majority of them. In past Facebook attempts, it was all people I had met in high school or college.

No strangers. No new blood. And no curiosity. The attitude is that we are already friends, and already know each other.


SOCIAL CLIMATE

Today’s world is simply too mean, cruel, rude, insensitive, entitled, tribal, and unaware.

I can’t really add much to that. Today’s social climate stinks to high hell.


THE ACTUAL INTERNET CONNECTION ITSELF

Of all my ideas, this one may be the most compelling.

I would spend at least 12 hours per day online in the early days. When I used AOL, my internet habit was costing me between $400 to $700 per month.

When I was offline, I was completely offline. And when I was online, I was online with a purpose.

I would get online because I was ready to chat with others, and I suspect it was the same for many others. Sometimes the connection was costing money, so I wanted to spend that time in chat with people I was meeting.


CHAT: OLD VS NEW

In the old days, when I sent someone a message, they wrote back. They had things to say. We had conversations. And, as noted above, they were online for this very purpose.

But today, when I write to someone, I have no idea if they are actually in a place where the are dedicated to engaging in a conversation.

They might be at work, or shopping, or driving, or in a club, or really anywhere. And chances are very good that now is not the time, and the time will never exist.

In the earlier days, I could write to someone who was online, and we’d end up engaging in some good discussions. At least one person from those days is reading this right now, and can confirm.

But in my last Facebook conversation, from the last time I had an account, I wrote to an old friend. I was engaging in conversation as if we were catching up. After all, it had been more than a few decades.

It wasn’t long before he interrupted with, “I’ll be right back.” So I waited for him to return, for TWO hours. After about a month, I realized that he was never going to return, and we would NOT be having a catch-up discussion, ever.

No wonder I was so frustrated! I’m used to having actual conversations with people. Instead, Facebook dictates that I post something and hope that a like or comment is good enough.

Sometimes I will even try to engage in conversation in the comments. That doesn’t work, and I end up getting ignored.

This has also ruined other people’s ability to engage in conversation. I once got a message from an ex-girlfriend that said, “We need to talk.” To give this some context, she and I met on CompuSERVE in the mid-90s, and she was a moderator in the forums. We had a history of chatting very well online.

I reply and figure that we would be talking right then and there. Nope. Instead, I could see her posting innane comments on other posts. It was one right after the other, and every single post seemed as if it were more important than our chat that we seemingly “needed” to have.

I never did find out what we needed to talk about.


IN THE END

It seems that this issue is highly complex. If I had to pick just one big point, it would be the fact that we are always connected to the internet. Connecting is no longer special, so nobody looks forward to it.

A message from someone, which used to be special, has now become an annoyance that interrupts a person’s engagement with memes and other nonsense content.

Besides, it seems that people would rather be angry about something, instead of having a pleasant conversation.

For me, this has completely ruined the internet, and I am not certain that it can ever recover.


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The Aggressive Quest for Peace

Yes, I decided to attempt a long form entry on my phone. Let’s see how this ends up.


INTRODUCTION

There are many things that get in the way of peace. For some, there are more obstacles than there are for others. As an Autistic adult, my Autism can get in the way.

My Autism also fuels my Major Depressive Disorder, as well as my insomnia.

This is on top of what the average neurotypical person experiences in our post-modern dystopian society, where the wealthy, the privileged, and politicians make life difficult for those of us who are just trying to live our one-and-only lives just a little bit before we die. Just don’t die on the clock, or you will be admonished as you lay in your coffin, for being lazy and inconsiderate.

Because NOBODY dies without giving a two-week notice.

So it’s a case of our complicated problems being complicated by complicated complications. Something like that.

Get me a drink.


AUTISM ENHANCED LIFE

For Autistic people like me, one small failure can throw the entire day, week, or more completely out of whack. I have read of Autistic people who will notice a chair slightly out of place and lose their minds.

I am not that far down the spectrum with regard to this. But changes in schedule or major changes typically produce some rather horrible results.


THE DYING COMPUTER

My computer seemingly died a few weeks ago. I took it to a shop for diagnosis, after spending 8 hours sweating over the entire thing.

They found nothing. So I brought it home, hooked everything back up, and the problem persisted. I could not get Windows to boot up.

I would eventually figure out that a problem with the external hard drive was causing all of the USB ports to become non-responsive. The cable was loose, so I opened the external hard drive.

There, I found a standard 4TB hard drive with a USB interface card. Those cards often go bad, so I found a new one on Ebay for just under $15.

But then I realized that my computer had an extra port for a hard drive. This drive is standard, so it would fit. So I decided to make my external hard drive an internal one.

So I drove to Best Buy to get an essential cable for $7, before heading back home to try my hand at installing this.

But there were problems, where the hard drive was not responding. I tried just about everything. Eventually, I just unplugged the external drive, leaving the new cable plugged into the motherboard, and it all booted up. So I figured that I would take that drive out and stick to the original plan of fixing the external drive as it was.

So I took everything out and set up the computer. Nothing worked. I later figured out that a BIOS error was preventing it from booting, and the solution would be a reinstall of Windows. With my computer, there is a Windows installation available on the SSD, but the computer can’t access it.

This was when I realized that my computer was effectively dead, until I take it to a pro shop, which will cost money I do not have.


REACTIONS AND RESPONSES

When the computer had troubles the first time and I spent at least 8 hours stressing over it, I had what could be described as the worst day in recent weeks.

All day long, I would unhook the computer, take it to the kitchen, open it up, try a few ideas, put it back together, take it back to the office, set it up, and find failure.

It was all caused by that external drive. And my stress was through the roof. I got more and more stressed as the minutes passed. It would not be hyperbolic to describe my stress as something that could have easily killed me.

But when the computer actually died, I decided to accept the truth of the situation and walk away.


WAS KNOWING THE CAUSE A FACTOR?

The first time I thought the computer had died, it was due to an unknown issue. I didn’t know until after the technicians looked at it, and I brought it back home to experiment, that it was a failure of the external drive. And really, the drive might  not just have a dead interface, but might be completely dead.

But the second time it died, it was clear to me that I somehow killed it with my investigative actions.

This has me wondering if the mystery of the cause of the problem was what had me stressed. Sure, the computer problem interrupted my morning routine. But my routine was destroyed, at least on a short-term basis, by the computer death.


REPLICAS [AND SOME SPOILERS]

The other night, we decided to watch REPLICAS on Netflix. Trust me, it has something to do with this.

REPLICAS is a movie, starring Keanu Reeves, about a guy who is involved in a business that is working on technology that can copy a human being’s thoughts, memories, and everything, and transfer them into a robot.

The robot transfers aren’t really working out, but they have another process where they can create a human body clone in 17 days, and it will then be a full replica of the person that died.

He hasn’t yet tried the new clone process yet, when he is in a horrible car accident. In this accident, he survives, but his wife and three daughters do not.

In a total panic, he calls his assistant to bring equipment to the site, where they are going to attempt the clone experiment after he downloads all info from their brains.

During this time of panic, he demands a great deal from his assistant. You can feel the stress. As great as this stress may be, the stress that Keanu’s character endures is somehow even stronger.

Keanu’s character is risking his job and his life, as well as billions of dollars, trying to pull off this experiment in secret. The amount of stress he goes through to pull this off is nothing short of unfathomable. At one point, when he learns that they are short one pod, so he has to choose which family member he will not be saving.

From there, a series of unforeseen and unexpected things happen that make the stress even worse. I don’t think that I have given away too much, and recommend watching this if you can.


A REALIZATION

As I watched this movie, I saw the stress, and also saw what was causing the stress. As I noted this, I ended up being reminded of another movie titled Jacob’s Ladder. It’s about an American soldier who was fighting in Vietnam, and he starts having bizarre experiences.

Spoiler below, about the ending.

In that movie, at the end, the chiropractor [Danny Aiello] tells the main character [Tim Robbin’s], that the reason he was suffering so much was because he was clinging to all that he had in life. But once he let’s go, those demos will turn into angels.

Ah. I see.


KNOWING VS. PRACTICING

Knowing what to do is one thing. Actually doing it is a completely different beast. Years ago, I had started reading the works of the great Stoic philosophers, such as Epictetus and Seneca. So far as I was concerned, I was trapped in a classic case of what I call “easier said than done.”

With my personal computer crisis, I knew that I had to accept the situation and let go. Letting go was what I needed to do, but I had yet to figure out how.

I thought about the situation and what I could specifically do about it. Turns out, I did not have the tools necessary to continue working on the computer, so I had to acknowledge that.

Next, I had to step away. I went onto the patio balcony and exhaled. The cold air hit my face. I closed my eyes and took myself back to a time before computers became a part of everyday life.

Suddenly, there I was, at my grandmother’s farm house. I could smell the farmhouse, the great outdoors, and the garage. The best way I could describe this is by saying that I could smell the 80s.

But this time, it wasn’t a case of nostalgia or a yearning to go back. I had actually gone back. In my mind, I was there! I enjoyed the sensation for a few minutes before opening my eyes and returning to “reality.”

I then realized that I was  not sitting at my desk. My desk was a source of stress, since I had worked from home on occasion for my last decade of work. I could not go back to my desk. There as no reason to go back to my desk. My computer, which was a tool for pleasure AND work, was out of commission, and I accepted that there was nothing I could do about it.

There is was. I felt freedom. It’s the kind of freedom that I hadn’t experienced since I graduated from high school, when I drove my 1972 Pontiac LeMans through the back roads in farming country. Music up. Wind in my/ face. Power beneath my feet. Money in my pocket. And NOBODY knew where I was. It’s the kind of experience that you cannot plan or easily replicate.

I also noticed the absence of stress, anger, and panic. These are powerful forces that had ruled my mind and my life for the longest time.

Then I had a wild thought. What if I could hang on to this feeling by not hanging on to it?


IN THE END

My awesome computer died, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m expecting a laptop to be delivered at some point next week, thanks to mom’s support.

I can’t record music or produce any decent videos, and a great deal of convenience is lost. That’s okay. I am fine with that. For what I have now is by far more valuable, and that is peace of mind.

And I won’t be writing like this again because the android app is just too janky. Every single paragraph AND line wrap takes forever to generate and show up, causing me to sometimes have to experience long pauses before I can see what I wrote and continue. Given that I type over 100WPM, this is a situation that is not sustainable. It’s probably caused be the Bluetooth keyboard. So I will see you all shortly after the laptop gets here.

My makeshift writing setup.

If you like what I write, then please consider sending a one-time donation to me via PayPal. Please use the following link and click SEND to donate, and thank you for reading! https://paypal.me/drumwild

A Short Update

One week ago, my computer died. A laptop is coming to the rescue. Until then, I have my phone and a Bluetooth keyboard to write if something comes to mind. A few friends I have do get concerned if I do not write, so this entry is partially for them.

An interesting thing happened when my computer died. I suddenly felt a sense of relief and freedom, like when I was a young adult in the 80s. I decided to let it go, accept that the computer was broken and I can’t do anything about it, and see how it goes.

I could smell the 80s.

Anyway, I will be back sometime next week, and I will be writing about the computer experience in more detail upon my return. .

Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you all soon.

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